Sunday, April 29, 2007

Grats to the Lady Bulldogs/Graduation Data

Many congratulations to the Lady Bulldogs of Georgia on their third straight NCAA women’s gymnastics championship. They bested host Utah, along with Florida, UCLA, Stanford, and Nebraska in the team finals on Friday.

Georgia sophomore Courtney Kupets also took her fourth and fifth career individual titles yesterday, winning the all-round championship and the vault. Other individual titles went to Terin Humphrey of Alabama in the Uneven Parallel Bars, Ashley Postell of Utah in the Balance Beam, and Morgan Dennis of Alabama in the Floor Exercise.

Georgia also commands a respectable 73% graduation rate in sports ‘Other’ than Basketball and Cross-Country/Track. It is no great surprise that Stanford tops out the graduation rate amongst participating teams at 88%, followed by UCLA at 78%, Florida at 64%, and Alabama at 63%. Utah brings up the rear at a disappointing, but respectable, 61%.

A Brief Minnesota Note

Check out the post at University Diaries regarding the University of Minnesota stadium saga. The entire interview where University of Minnesota president Robert Bruininks speaks with a forked tongue is also worth reading.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Breaking News. . .State Penn Brawl

Six State Penn players have been charged with a total of 10 felonies, 8 misdemeanors, and 6 summary charges, including Burglary, Criminal Trespass, Criminal Solicitation, Assault, and Disorderly Conduct stemming from a brawl on April 1:

Press Release and Complaint courtesy of the The Daily Collegian.

Update (1):
From The Daily Collegian, which is scooping everyone on the story:

The players turned themselves in at the Penn State University Police office at Eisenhower parking deck shortly before 10:30 this morning to be arraigned via video by Centre County District Justice Carmine Prestia. All six players arrived together in two cars, and did not comment on their way into the arraignment.

Baker and Scirrotto were released on $50,000 unsecured bail. King, Hayes, Sargeant and Sales were released on $10,000 unsecured bail. . . .

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 8:30 a.m. next Friday in courtroom 2 at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte.

Update (2):
Head Coach Joe Paterno has issued an extraordinarily disappointing statement:

Speaking for our football staff, we are very concerned with the accusations made today and will determine the appropriate consequence for each player's status on the team when due process has transpired. Until such time, we will have no further comment regarding the situation.

Update (3):
The Penn State University spokesman has issued a statement:

University spokesman Bill Mahon did not return phone calls yesterday, but he issued a statement that read: "It is distressing to learn that Penn State students have been charged with several crimes in the case of an off-campus incident. The university's office of judicial affairs will review the information collected during the borough police investigation and determine if there were violations of the university's code of conduct.

"Of course the students have to deal with the criminal justice system, but we also have a responsibility to review these cases in relation to our code of conduct. That process is separate from what goes on in the criminal courts. There may also be additional sanctions imposed by [the Penn State athletic department].

"In some cases the judicial affairs process is completed before criminal court proceedings, but it is not possible to predict the timing."

Update (4): Lawyerspeak

The attorney for the football player accused of triggering an apartment invasion and alleged assaults said police have misrepresented the facts and charged his client with crimes he didn't commit.

"Nothing shows he touched anybody, did anything to anybody, marshaled forth the troops or anything," Attorney Ed Blanarik said. His client, Anthony Scirrotto, 20, was charged Friday with three felonies for allegedly soliciting several other football players to seek revenge on two men for an altercation with Scirrotto and his girlfriend.

"Just because he may have made a phone call to somebody and several members of the team showed up doesn't mean that he solicited them to commit a crime," Blanarik said. . . .

Blanarik offered no explanation for why 20 some members of the football team arrived at Scirrotto's aid that night. "I just know that he didn't ask them to come," Blanarik said. . . .

"He may have been inside the apartment, but nothing shows he did anything while in there or that he gained illegal entry," Blanarik said. A criminal complaint states that Scirrotto was turned away from the apartment before he made a phone call to fellow player, Lydell Sargeant. . . .

Attorney Ron McGlaughlin said King and Hayes did not hurt anyone that night, even though police argue they committed a crime by entering the apartment after being told they were not welcome.

"Do you mean to tell me you become a criminal because you go inside and say, 'Come on, it's time to go?'" McGlaughlin said.

Attorney Karen Muir, who represents Lydell Sargeant, 20, said she looks forward to the football player being exonerated.

"At this point, we are still investigating the allegations. And they are just that, allegations," Muir said. "We are looking forward to defending the case and having the preliminary hearing Friday."

Update (5): Subpoenas have been issued for this Friday's Preliminary Hearing

Thirteen football players are among 37 people who have been subpoenaed to testify Friday at a preliminary hearing for six football players who were
charged last week in connection with an April apartment invasion in State
The Penn State football players subpoenaed are:
• Jedediah Hill
• Knowledge Timmons
• Nicholas Pinchek
• Vincent Deon Butler
• Brennan Coakley
• Tom Golarz
• Michael Lucian
• Bani Gbadyu
• Austin Hinton
• Richard Ohrnberger
• Matt Hahn
• Dan Connor
• Lou Eliades . . .

Larry Himes and Joseph McGarrity, who are the occupants of the Meridian
apartment, also were subpoenaed, along with Bernd Imle and Thomas Skalamera, both of State College, who were cited Friday for criminal mischief for their role in an initial street altercation with Scirrotto. . . .

With Role Models like these. . . Part Deux

Two incidents resolved this week establish that coaches’ skullduggery occasionally extends into non-revenue sports as well.

On Tuesday, Boston College Women’s Ice Hockey coach Tom Mutch resigned, according to this statement, “to pursue other career interests”. Gene DePhilippo, the Athletic Director, commented that "Tom Mutch brought our women's ice hockey program to a new level and built a strong foundation for the future. We wish him the best in his future endeavors."

Coaches who post 24-10-2 records, win coach of the year honors, and bring their team to their first final 4 ever do not, however, resign “to pursue other career interests” if there is not a deeper story:

Hockey East Coach of the Year Tom Mutch, 39, who’s married and whose wife just had a baby, abruptly stepped down hours after the Herald began making inquiries to authorities at the Heights.

Sexually graphic text messages that BC hockey star Kelli Stack, 19, allegedly wrote to Mutch were discovered on a cell phone the Hockey East’s Player and Rookie of the Year gave to a teammate, neglecting to delete them first, sources said.

One source familiar with the messages described them as “filthy. They were very sexual in nature.”

The official line emanating from the BC athletic department did not survive for a day:

But in a statement released to the Herald last night, Gene DeFilippo, director of athletics, said, “We take this matter very seriously.

“Boston College Athletics began an investigation of the alleged incident as soon as it was brought to light. Coach Mutch subsequently submitted his resignation and his resignation was accepted.”

Leave it to The Heights, the Boston College student newspaper to provide the best commentary on the situation:

For Boston College athletics, the past few years have been marked by a number of triumphs and successes in tournaments, rivalries, and key wins across the board. From football to basketball to hockey, the Eagles have been a force to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately, in recent memory, nearly every accomplishment amassed on the turf, hardwood, and ice has come with incidents of misconduct or unethical behavior off the field. The recent scandal surrounding former women's hockey coach Tom Mutch is just the latest in an onslaught of negative publicity for the University generated by the athletic department over the past 10 years. . . .

Though this steady stream of bad publicity is certainly frustrating and overwhelming for both students and administrators, athletics play a major role in the image and community of the University.

The success of BC's athletic programs undoubtedly builds unity among students and fosters school spirit. It brings alumni back to campus regularly. It puts BC in the national spotlight on many occasions. . . .

Nonetheless, something must be done to stop this negative attention. It is embarrassing and marginalizes academics and other non-athletic pursuits. Something must change. Athletics should be something for students, alumni, and fans to rally around. It should be a source of pride for the University. It is a shame, however, that negative events such as these tend to overshadow all the good of the program.

It is a shame, as well, that the Athletics Department managed to handle this matter so clumsily. Meanwhile, on the left coast, Stanford swimming coach Skip Kenney has finally received his slap on the wrist for not merely kicking people off the team who he did not like, but erasing their existence from the record books. He will serve a two-month unpaid suspension, which conveniently comes right at the end of spring practice, and will end just before the recruiting season commences. A fellow blogger has created this comic anti-tribute to coach Kenney. Here is some serious commentary:

Stanford University – predictably and cravenly – attempted to close the scandal of men’s swimming coach Skip Kenney’s doctoring of team records with the announcement that the head of a program with a streak of Pac 10 championships dating back to the Reagan administration has been suspended … for two months of the offseason. . . .

Jason Plummer, Michael McLean, Tobias Oriwol, Rick Eddy, and Peter Carothers were among the Stanford student-athletes who defied Kenney in various ways over the years; McLean, for example, once exercised his right to take an internship rather than practice full-time in the summer. As a result, they saw their accomplishments erased from the Cardinal record book. . . .

In the antisocial swamp that so much of American sports has become, we sometimes forget that corruption, warped values, and sick behavior aren’t confined to our most celebrated spectacles. Readers of this space know that I believe some of the most revealing cues aren’t even on the playing field; they come from the coverage of sports by market-grubbers like ESPN, and by entities that technically don’t even fit the definition of sports, such as World Wrestling Entertainment.

In Kenney’s case, we see confirmation that esteemed institutions of higher learning don’t play dirty only in the “revenue” sports of football and men’s basketball. While these may be the prime examples of a fish that rots from the head, there are well-heeled coaches and hacks all the way down the line with an interest in rationalizing and romanticizing a win-at-all-cost ethos. It would be more accurate to say that, at Stanford and on other high-powered campuses, all sports are “revenue” sports, distinguished only by whether they are existing high-revenue sports or wannabe high-revenue sports. . . .

Correcting Stanford’s records in future editions of its media guides is not good enough. The university has a moral obligation to proactively publicize the corrections, and thanks to its deep-pocketed benefactors, the Arrillaga family, it has the resources to make things right. Kenney, athletic director Bob Bowlsby, and president John L. Hennessy should dispatch appropriate apology letters to the victimized swimmers – and release them to the press and put them up on the web. The new media guide should publish not just the re-re-airbrushed records, but also these apologies. Finally, parallel errata should be inserted into all old media guides in the athletic department archives.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for such a high-minded brand of academic justice. Indeed – as they say on the pool deck – you’re well advised to breathe on both sides.

Boston College and Stanford are, of course, two institutions whose overall reputations do not require any burnishing by athletics success at any cost. Why, then, have they immersed themselves in this cesspool?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

With Role Models like these. . .

. . . it is no wonder that there are so many misbehaving NCAA athletes.

If Mark Fox of Nevada established anything at the end of the Basketball season this year, it is that he cannot handle losing. On March 1, after a call went against one of his players late in the second half in an overtime loss against New Mexico State, he charged onto the court, bumped an official, and had to be restrained by one of his assistants. Little more than a week later, Nevada once again lost to New Mexico State, this time in the semifinals of the WAC tournament. After the game, Fox chased down the game officials, launched into a profanity-laced tirade, and had to be restrained by a police officer. The following are some selections from the police report:

I heard a male voice using loud, boisterous, and profane language toward the officials. I looked back and saw that it was the coach from Nevada whom I know as Mr. Fox. As Mr. Fox continued to curse and be abusive toward the officials he continued to close distance. . . Mr. Fox was about two feet away and I slowed down and put my hand out across his chest to prevent him from getting any closer to the official. Mr. Fox raised his voice and said, "Don't put your ****ing hands on me". I told Mr. Fox to back off. . .

While waiting for my supervisor I spoke with Joe from the Special Event staff. . . He further said that that as Mr. Fox climbed the stairs he continued to curse and yell at the official climbing as fast as he could. . .

I met with Amanda Bowen, Mr. Herb Taylor, and a gentlemen identified to me as the Western Athletic League Commisioner. I explained what had happened to all of them and also that I was considering arresting Mr. Fox and charging him with Assault on a Peace Officer and another single count of Assault on the official. After discussing the matter I chose to allow the Commissioner to handle the situation internally. I did request that Mr. Fox apologize to the officials for his behavior which amounted to a criminal level.

The Commissioner has now proceeded to ‘handle the situation internally’, and it should come as no great shock that on Tuesday Fox was merely issued a reprimand, and forced to issue an apology by the Western Athletic Conference.

Todd Bozeman is obviously another fine role model. His past misconduct as a coach at California, including payments to a players’ family, resulted in an eight year show-cause ban from NCAA coaching, but this did not stop Morgan State from snatching him up last year. On February 3, Morgan State traveled to Longwood University, a school still going through the DII to DI transition, and blew a ten point lead, losing on a buzzer-beating shot. This incident followed, resulting from botched order of sandwiches from Mulligan’s, a local restaurant:

Police were called to Mulligan's restaurant near the Longwood campus to handle the resulting uproar, and a restaurant employee swore out a warrant against Bozeman alleging misdemeanor assault. "The coach . . . just went belligerent, screaming that he didn't want ham sandwiches," the manager of Mulligan's, Carlos Holland, said last night. "He put his hands on one of our managers . . . just grabbed her and shook her."

Holland said an assistant coach for the Morgan State team had ordered 52 sandwiches, requesting Philly steak or chicken. Holland explained that they couldn't handle 52 Philly steak sandwiches but could put together a variety of sandwiches, and the assistant coach told him to do what he could. When Bozeman arrived to pick up the sandwiches, he was apparently angry about the selection of ham and turkey sandwiches, Holland said. "He yelled, 'I ain't scared of you country bumpkins. I want my **** money back!'"

Shortly afterwards, Bozeman surrendered to authorities in Farmville Virginia, was charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault, and ordered to appear in court on April 24. On Tuesday, the charges against Bozeman were dropped, in exchange for an in-court apology, and an undisclosed financial payment made to Stephanie J. Schreck, the employee he assaulted:

"From the get-go, all we wanted from Mr. Bozeman was an apology," said Matt Hurley, the owner of Mulligan's. "We did not need to be in court. Everybody has jobs. We'd all rather be somewhere else." . . .

"The settlement reached was between her [Schreck] and the defendant," Ennis said. "We do not take a role in that. She has an option to enter into that agreement.

"On the basis of that settlement, we are asked to dismiss the criminal charges. In my 32 years, I can never recall a case where the court refused to do that. It [a settlement] is certainly not an unanticipated event on our part."

Ennis said that the amount of the settlement is not part of the public record.

Bozeman’s misbehavior is, of course, no great matter to Morgan State:

Morgan State spokesman Clint Coleman said: "We are pleased that this matter has finally been put to rest. We believe it was a matter of a terrible misunderstanding."

So, how many ‘terrible misunderstandings’ have you been involved in which ended in your hands around someone’s neck?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Random Ugliness: Omnibus Edition

I. The post over at Sports Law by Richard Southall, Assistant Professor at the University of Memphis and Associate Director of the Drake group, on The Lost NCAA Conference should be required reading for everyone.

II. Cory Boyd and other University of South Carolina football players are still under investigation for involvement in a shooting incident on April 15. Reports that they were off the hook have proved to be wishful thinking.

III. Three Iowa State football players, DB Devin McDowell, WR Derron Montgomery, and OL Jose Vargas have been charged with fifth-degree theft as a result of stealing items from an unattended purse, and then trashing it. They have all been suspended indefinitely from the team, but suffered a lesser fate than RB Josh Johnson, who has been dismissed from the team for multiple violations of team rules.

IV. Xavier Kilby, a forward on the Colorado State basketball team, was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of felony menacing and prohibited use of weapons after he pointed a revolver at the head of his teammate Ronnie Aguilar, and then fired the gun into a couch. He has been banned from team activities, and faces a court date next Monday.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Farce and Scandal in Arkansas Basketball

It has been an annus horribilis for Arkansas basketball. After a lackluster regular season in which the Razorbacks went 7-9 in the SEC, they did manage a bid to the NCAA tournament on the strength of a good run in the SEC tournament. They then proceeded to crash out of the tournament in the first round and Stan Heath, coach since 2002, was fired for his efforts despite leading Arkansas to two consecutive 20 win seasons for the first time since 1997-1999.

Then followed one of the most tortured coaching searches in recent history. Initial speculation surrounded Billy Gillispie of Texas A&M, who rebuffed Arkansas, before bolting less than a week later to take a job at Kentucky, where Tubby Smith had resigned to take a job at Minnesota, but not before Gillispie signed a new contract with the Aggies, who hired Mark Turgeon of Wichita State as his replacement. (Got all that!?!?)

Next, the Hogs set their sights on Dana Altman of Creighton, who traveled to Arkansas on Monday, April 2 to accept the job, and rehearse the WOOOOOO! PIG! SOOIE! hog call in a press conference. The next day, he was on a plane heading to Nebraska, where he (successfully) begged Creighton to take him back. Altman took the high road in his statements, citing family issues, but it soon emerged that this was not the whole story. It turns out that two Arkansas players had recently tested positive for marijuana, and that there were issues of academic ineligibility. Altman had not been informed of this information until Tuesday, April 3, although the Athletics department managed to put its best spin on things.

Less than a week later, Arkansas succeeded in hiring John Pelphrey of South Alabama, and have, so far, managed to keep him Hog Calling. The pigs were joyful, although it should be noted that Arkansas is now paying three basketball coaches as a result of buyout clauses in the contracts of Heath and his predecessor Nolan Richardson. The joy lasted until Saturday, when starting forward Charles Thomas was arrested on suspicion of third-degree domestic battery. Can the situation in Fayetteville get any worse? One hopes not.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Louisiana-Lafayette slapped on the wrist

The NCAA has issued its latest slap on the wrist as a consequence of ‘unintentional’ infractions in the University of Louisiana-Lafayette (ULL) football and men’s basketball programs. The men’s basketball team will retrospectively have its 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 seasons blanked, lose 2 one-year scholarships, and forfeit some NCAA tournament revenue sharing. The football team merely loses 5 hours of practice time/week in one Spring semester. The entire athletics department has been placed on probation:

The Committee on Infractions found that a men's basketball student-athlete relied on correspondence courses taken through another institution to meet his percentage-of-degree and grade-point average requirements in order to maintain satisfactory progress for eligibility during the 2004 spring semester and 2004-05 academic year. NCAA rules stipulate that student-athletes cannot use correspondence courses taken from another institution to meet these requirements. The 15 hours of correspondence work were used to certify the student-athlete as eligible for 2004-05 and he competed throughout the season, which included an NCAA tournament game.

The report also notes that the school's compliance coordinator at the time, as well as the director of academic services and registrar, all "failed to catch the obvious error."

"The committee is dismayed that the institution failed to comply with a simple, unambiguous bylaw and, as a consequence, allowed a star student-athlete to compete for a full season and half of another," the report states.

Not dismayed enough, apparently, to issue more serious sanctions. Hint to ULL - if you violate the ambiguous bylaws you will get away with it.

The violations in the football program occurred during the summers from 2002 through 2005 and involved voluntary conditioning activities becoming mandatory because of actions by members of the football and strength and conditioning staffs.

The strength and conditioning coach at the time provided both written and verbal updates to the coaching staff about student-athletes participating in summer workouts. Also, members of the football coaching staff occasionally observed workouts, provided skill training and tracked student-athlete attendance in the summer conditioning program. . .

The committee also believed that the failure to provide adequate education to the football and strength and conditioning coaches on NCAA legislation related to voluntary and countable athletically related activities during the summer contributed to the violations in the football program.

The report specifically noted that, "Meetings specifically for the purpose of educating the coaches on compliance issues were not held and the institution acknowledged that the education efforts were inadequate and constitute a failure to monitor."

ULL Interim Athletic Director David Walker gracefully accepted the slap:

"It is very important to note that the NCAA committee explicitly stated that there was no finding of the university intentionally violating any NCAA rules," Walker said.

That’s right. The compliance department UNINTENTIONALLY let 15 hours worth of forbidden correspondence classes slip onto a basketball players transcript, thus creating the appearance of eligibility. The football staff UNINTENTIONALLY showed up, on a regular basis, to voluntary summer practices.

In other news, Razorbacks fly.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sports, Community, and Healing

During moments of incomprehensible loss, sports events can become powerful focal points for healing communities:

BLACKSBURG - On a perfect football afternoon at Virginia Tech, Lane Stadium sat empty.

But thousands of fans who had booked hotels with plans to attend Saturday's annual spring game kept their reservations. Even after the scrimmage was canceled following the deaths of 32 victims here, Hokie fans simply showed up to pay respects and show support.

There were overflow crowds at Virginia Tech's baseball and softball games, which went on as scheduled. There were passers-by who posed for pictures in front of the castle-like football stadium.

There was a single crew of tailgaters, refusing to stop doing what Hokies do, in a parking lot where there should have been hundreds of grills going and coolers crammed with cold ones.

In Pennsylvania, at one of the country's most storied stadiums, there was a stunning display of love for Virginia Tech.

This is not a tale of what people didn't do Saturday. It's a story of what they did. . . .

Solidarity and support has extended into all levels of intercollegiate sports, perhaps most notably at Penn State’s annual blue and white game:

UNIVERSITY PARK – Penn State’s annual rite of spring – the Blue-White Game – became more a tribute to Virginia Tech’s Chicago maroon and burnt orange on Saturday.

Students spell out VT in colored T-shirts in the stands at the Blue-White Game to show their support for the victims of the mass shootings at Virginia Tech. Approximately 71,000 were on hand at Beaver Stadium to watch Penn State’s spring football game.

And Joe Paterno couldn’t have been prouder.

A large portion of the estimated 71,000 fans on hand at Beaver Stadium wore some form of Hokies’ school colors as a way of honoring the 32 victims of Monday’s tragic shootings on the Blacksburg, Va., campus.

“To see all these kids and all these people around campus,” Paterno said, his voice filling with emotion, “there’s something about intercollegiate athletics that’s special. You’re almost fascinated by it and proud to be a part of it.

“It’s a better world than we think it is.”


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Coaching and Personal Discipline

If you can’t be on time be early. If you can’t be early, don’t show up.

Even before I heard Tim LaVallee speak, the note on the chalkboard that greeted me when I entered the first team meeting as a walk-on to the Bates Ski Team in the fall of 1990 gave me an inkling of what I was getting myself into. Mercifully, I had arrived a couple minutes early, and was spared the point to the board, and acidic look which welcomed the handful of poor souls who did not show up on time. Here was a coach who was not merely interesting in Blood, Sweat and Tears. [In point of fact, it was skin left on the road during fall roller ski training rather than tears that was important, but that is another story]. He was also interested in instilling the importance of discipline in us, a point underscored by comments he made while we signed the forms indicating that we would refrain from alcohol during the four month season:

“If you screw up, two things are going to happen. First I am going to kick your ass. Second I am going to kick your ass off the team.”

Far too few coaches, especially in the revenue sports, take this page out of the Tim LaVallee school of coaching. Cheers must, however, go to Louisiana State football coach Les Miles, who decided that he did not want to improve his fifth place position in the Fulmer Cup, and booted three players, DB Troy Giddens, and offensive linemen Kyle Anderson and Zhamal Thomas off the team on Thursday. Giddens and Thomas were already suspended after their arrest and charge of burglary and identity theft on April 9. Anderson was arrested on April 16 and charged with second-degree battery. Miles commented:

"There is a standard that we insist upon with members of our football team when representing this university, our community and the state of Louisiana," Miles said in the LSU news release. "When that standard isn't met, some adjustments must be made. In this instance, it's the dismissal of these three players.

"It's unfortunate, but this action is necessary. I wish these young men well in their future endeavors."

He elaborated further in an interview:

"There's a responsibility to playing football here and representing a great state and a great school."

"There's a responsibility," Miles said, "and with that responsibility comes privilege, and the privilege is taking the field. Our guys have got to be respectful of that, and they will. They will be."

Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier take notice.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Michael Pohle 1984-2007

Among the victims of the Virginia Tech Massacre was senior Michael Pohle, of Flemington NJ, who played football and lacrosse at Hunterdon Central and on the Hokies club Lacrosse team. The following article is a touching and tragic look at one of the lives cut short on Monday:

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 17 There was a trivia game Mike Pohle and his fiancee, Marcy Crevonis, liked to play called Imaginiff, where they took turns posing silly questions: Imagine if you were a circus performer, what would you be? Imagine if you were a car, a color, a movie. They had their own version of the game, too, where they imagined the life they planned to spend together. Mike already had named the five children they would have.

He was 23 when he was killed in his Monday morning German class at Virginia Tech.

She is 19, left trying to imagine a life without him.

Michael Stephen Pohle Jr. was due to graduate with a degree in biochemistry in just three weeks, worrying about finding the right job and staying close to Marcy, a freshman who graduated from Langley High in McLean and met him at a mutual friend's party last fall. They argued over their favorite sports teams, and were inseparable from then on. She gave him a Phillies jersey last Christmas, and he slept in it every night. Yesterday she went back to his apartment and put it on, inhaling the lost scent of him as she lay on his empty bed and wept. . . .

Thursday, April 19, 2007

2007-2008 Bowl Lineup Announced

Yesterday, the NCAA Postseason Football Licensing Subcommittee announced the Bowl lineup for the 2007-2008 season. The good news is that there will be no new bowl games. The bad news is that there will still be 32 bowl games, meaning that 64 of the 119 teams in Division IA, *CORRECTION* Division I ‘Bowl Subdivision’ will have the opportunity to participate in the postseason. Once again, we will be able to witness epic battles between deserving, high quality teams, as they proceed to advertise pizza, computers, gasoline, and obscure hotel chains, shipping companies, and western states. Here are a few of the most notable matchups from last year:

Bell Helicopter Armed Services Bowl
Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (8-4) vs. Utah Utes (7-5)

Champs Sports Bowl
Purdue Boilermakers (8-5) vs. Maryland Terrapins (8-4)

Emerald Bowl
Florida State Seminoles (6-6) vs. UCLA Bruins (7-5)

Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
Clemson Tigers (8-4) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (7-5)

Insight Bowl
Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-6)

International Bowl
Western Michigan Broncos (8-4) vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (8-5)

MPC Computers Bowl
Miami Hurricanes (6-6) vs. Nevada Wolf Pack (8-4)

New Mexico Bowl
New Mexico Lobos (6-6) vs. San Jose State Spartans (8-4) Bowl
South Florida Bulls (8-4) vs. East Carolina Pirates (7-5)

PetroSun Independence Bowl
Oklahoma State Cowboys (6-6) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (6-6)

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Rice Owls (7-5) vs. Troy Trojans (7-5)

Did anyone who is not a rabid supporter of these teams go to any of these games? Did anyone who is not a homer actually watch them on TV? I didn’t think so. It is time for the NCAA to, at minimum, demand a winning record for bowl eligibility, especially considering that wins against IAA, *CORRECTION* Division I ‘Championship Subdivision’ opponents are now allowed in the win count.

Do not, however, count on this happening any time soon, especially with resident foxes in henhouses issuing platitudes like this:

“The subcommittee is pleased to license all 32 bowls that took place last year,” said Jeff Hathaway, director of athletics at the University of Connecticut and acting chair of the NCAA Postseason Football Licensing Subcommittee. “It shows the good work and management that these bowl organizers have done to create a positive experience for the student-athletes.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Four Notes

I. There was a tragedy in the basketball world on Monday which was, naturally, eclipsed by the massacre at Virginia Tech. Guy Alang-Ntang, a forward from Cameroon who currently plays at New Hampton High and was recruited by Wichita State, collapsed on the court during a pickup game, and was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Keep him and his family, friends, teammates and classmates in your thoughts and prayers.

II. SportsProf made an excellent post yesterday on how St. Louis University provides an excellent example of how NOT to play on the coaching carousel.

III. A search warrant filed in Hennepin County District Court has revealed a few more details in the case of the three University of Minnesota football players suspected of raping an 18-year old woman last week. Evidence seized included bedding, cell phones, couch cushions, mattress pads, and used condoms. It was also revealed that the victim had drank heavily at a party in the players’ apartment, and that the players sent her text messages after the incident which may very well be crucial evidence. The investigation remains open and any DNA evidence will likely be available in June.

IV. I praised Steve Spurrier several days ago, but, as fair is fair, I must rip him today. On early Sunday morning, several South Carolina football players were involved in a confrontation with gang members. This ended with running back Cory Boyd firing shots into the air, and gang members returning fire. Boyd was suspended for the 2005 season for violating team policy. This news breaks on the same day that Spurrier reinstated freshman quarterback Steve Garcia. Garcia was arrested on February 17 and charged with drunkenness and failing to stop for a police officer. He was suspended, reinstated shortly afterwards, and then arrested on March 3 for malicious injury to personal property (he keyed a Professor’s car). Insufficient and ineffectual discipline appears to be a pattern in the South Carolina football program Steve, and it is time that you cleaned things up.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Grats to the Nittany Lions/Graduation Rates

Many congratulations to the Nittany Lions of Penn State on making the home advantage stick, and taking their NCAA-high 12th National Championship in Men’s Gymnastics. They defeated Oklahoma, Stanford, Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota in the team finals at State College on Friday. This came on the same weekend when police descended upon the campus to interview football players suspected in a burglary and assault. No points for guessing which story received more press.

The all round individual championship went to Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons of Oklahoma, whose teammate Jonathan Horton took the individual titles in the floor exercise and horizontal bar. Tim McNeil of California also scored two individual titles, in the pommel horse and the parallel bars. Stanford teammates Alex Schorsch and David Sender picked up the individual titles in Rings and Vault respectively.

Penn State also commands a respectable 78% graduation rate in NCAA sports ‘Other’ than Baseball, Basketball, Cross-Country/Track, and Football. It is no great shock that Stanford is tops amongst the participating teams at 89%, followed by Illinois and Michigan at 88% and 81% respectively. Minnesota at 61% and Oklahoma at 60% post respectable graduation rates, but considering the shenanigans that continue to proceed in both athletics departments, it is not surprising that they lag the other schools.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

BRAVO to Steve Spurrier

Throughout college and graduate school, I heard Sociologists talk about ‘White Skin Privilege’ without fully understanding what it meant. Within two hours of moving to South Carolina in 2001 to take my first full time teaching gig, I understood. I had become, in the 21st century, a beneficiary of it, and it was an extraordinarily uncomfortable experience to someone who grew up in Maine, and then went to graduate school in a cosmopolitan European city. I soon realized that greeting my African American students outside the campus environment, whether it be in a bar, restaurant, or shop, was a political act (at which point I resolved to do it as much as possible!) in a society where legalized racism had gone, but racist attitudes are still very much alive. I should not have been surprised, however, considering that David Beasley had, only three years earlier, been defeated in his bid to be re-elected governor largely as a consequence of his support for removing the Confederate Flag from atop the state capitol. It was eventually relocated on July 1, 2000, but is still displayed on state house grounds, next to the confederate war memorial.

Fast forward to yesterday. While accepting a community leadership award, University of South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier commented:

"My opinion is we don't need the Confederate flag at our Capitol," Spurrier said Saturday. "I don't really know anybody that wants it there, but I guess there are a lot of South Carolinians that do want it there." . . .

On a video of the banquet, Spurrier is heard saying the South Carolina-Tennessee game last year, which was featured on ESPN's "GameDay," was marred "by some clown ... waving that dang, damn Confederate flag behind the TV set. And it was embarrassing to me and I know embarrassing to our state.

"I realize I'm not supposed to get in the political arena as a football coach, but if anybody were ever to ask me about that damn Confederate flag, I would say we need to get rid of it. I've been told not to talk about that. But if anyone were ever to ask me about it, I certainly wish we could rid of it."

BRAVO! Interviewed by The State, Spurrier elaborated:

“It would make us a more progressive, better state, I think, if the flag was removed. But I’m not going to go on any big campaign to have it removed. That’s not my position,” Spurrier said in an interview with The State. “But if anyone were to ask me, that would certainly be my position. And I think everyone in there, it was their position, too.” . . .

“I’m not trying to be a politician. I just gave my opinion,” Spurrier said. “I did mention that if our team wins big and wins the conference championship, then I’ll have a bigger voice. That’s just the way life is. If we stumble-bumble around, no one gives a dang what I say.

“If I want to make a change to hopefully make this state better, we need to win big.”

Sorry Steve, the Confederate Flag is so intrinsic to South Carolina politics that you have, like it not, become one of its central figures. You have also inevitably exposed yourself to the sniping that comes along with it. Sniping like this:

The 61-year-old Spurrier, who grew up in east Tennessee, said he did not know anyone in South Carolina who was in favor of flying the flag, “but I guess there’s a lot out there somewhere.”

Don Gordon is one of them.

Gordon, a state officer with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said Spurrier’s call for the removal of the flag was “the moral equivalent of calling our ancestors ‘nappy-headed hos.’”

Hopefully Steve Spurrier will stay in his job and spark a re-examination of the flag issue. It is possible, however, that the Don Gordon’s will be triumphant, and Spurrier will face adverse consequences. The end result will be an excellent indicator of the extent to which society in South Carolina is now willing to face up to the past.

Update: Check out this excellent column in todays State:

Spurrier shows great social timing

NEARLY LOST IN the aftermath of Steve Spurrier’s stand against the waving of the Confederate battle flag on State House grounds is the fact that South Carolina’s football coach took a stand at all.

Spurrier said the quality of life in South Carolina could improve greatly by removing the flag from the State House grounds. He also said he is no politician, that he simply was voicing his opinion.

Spurrier does not need to be a politician. He is bigger than that. He is this state’s biggest and best ambassador. He is without question the most recognizable name and face in the state. His words, frankly, carry more weight than even those of Gov. Mark Sanford, or any U.S. or state senator or representative from South Carolina.

It can only be interpreted as refreshing to hear someone with the state, regional and national clout of Steve Spurrier take a stand on an issue that continues to serve nationally as a black eye to our state.

Perplexing, though, has been the response from those who support Spurrier’s USC football program while holding to a time-worn belief that this symbol of hate has something to do with heritage. . . .

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Grats to the Lady Commodores/Graduation Data

Many congratulations to the Lady Commodores of Vanderbilt on their 4-3 defeat of Maryland East Shore in the finals of the NCAA women’s bowling championship. Their victims on the last weekend included 2006 champion Fairleigh Dickinson, and 2-time champion Nebraska. Two of their players, Josie Earnest and Kaitlin Reynolds, joined Kristin Kerr of Fairleigh Dickinson, and Marion Singleton and Jessica Worsley of Maryland East Shore on the all tournament team.

Bowling is a sport for which there are no specific graduation rates available, so only the rate for Women’s sports ‘Other’ than Basketball and Cross-Country/Track can be listed for the participating teams. Vanderbilt comes in second at 81%, behind only Sacred Heart at 86%. Central Missouri, Maryland East Shore, Minnesota State-Mankato, and Nebraska are all respectable at 65%, 67%, 68%, and 68% respectively. Fairleigh Dickinson’s 47% graduation rate does, however, come as a bit of a shock.

Special props must, however, go to the Lady Gothic Knights of New Jersey City University which, despite being a non-scholarship Division III school (and thus not mandated to report graduation data), advanced to the finals for the fourth year running and were eliminated in the second round by Sacred Heart on a 4-3 score.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday Recipe Blogging - Tales from the Dip Files

Texas Caviar

2 14 oz cans black eyed peas
1 15 oz can hominy
2 tomatoes
1 bunch spring onions/scallions
1 jalapeno
1 small white onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup cilantro
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin

Drain and rinse the peas, and add to a mixing bowl along with the hominy. Chop the tomatoes, spring onions, jalapeno, onion, and cilantro. Add these ingredients to the mixing bowl and crush in the garlic. Add the vinegar, olive oil and spices (substitute 8 oz of Italian dressing if you are lazy), and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least two hours (preferably overnight).

Serve with tortilla chips, beer, and a game of your choice.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lady Knights/Imus

I have been hesitant to blog about this story since, frankly, it is more a story about an obnoxious *** making racist and sexist comments than it is about intercollegiate athletics. This incident has, however, accomplished something which I did not think possible. My already high esteem for Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer, earned as a result of her personal struggles and the on and off court success of her players, has now entered the stratosphere. The Tuesday news conference at Rutgers should be required viewing for everyone, just as her statement should be required reading:

"I am deeply saddened and angered by Mr. Imus' statements regarding the members of the Rutgers women's basketball team. These talented, articulate young women put forth a great deal of hard work and effort this past season to reach the nation's grandest stage - the NCAA title game.

Throughout the year, these gifted young ladies set an example for the nation that through hard work and perseverance, you can accomplish anything if you believe. Without a doubt, this past season was my most rewarding in 36 years of coaching. This young team fought through immeasurable odds to reach the highest pinnacle and play for the school's first national championship in a major sport.

To serve as a joke of Mr. Imus in such an insensitive manner creates a wedge and makes light of the efforts of these classy individuals, both as women and as women of color. It is unfortunate Mr. Imus sought to tarnish Rutgers' spirit and success. Should we not, as adults, send a message of encouragement to young people to aspire to the highest levels as my team did this season?

It is of the utmost importance to be an inspiration to young people and I truly believe my team represented Rutgers University, the state of New Jersey and NCAA student-athletes across the country in the highest manner. I am proud of these young women and strongly encourage Mr. Imus to instead read the headlines and the stories that told of our triumphs the past six months.

Thousands of alumni and fans have reached out to me the past few days to share their warm wishes and congratulations on a special year, fans of not only Rutgers University but of women's basketball. I appreciate their kindness and am proud to be associated and surrounded by ten exceptional student-athletes."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hoodwinked in Minnesota?

A cynic might ask why time should be wasted recruiting players who MIGHT commit felonies. Why not, like the University of Minnesota football team, just recruit players whose rap sheets extend into their high school years? Officials at the University of Minnesota are, naturally, denying any knowledge of the Armed Robbery charges pending against Robert McField when he was recruited in 2006:

University of Minnesota football coaches believed they had scored a coup by signing Robert McField to a scholarship tender in February 2006. . . .

Now, McField is likely headed to prison. He pleaded guilty to two reduced counts of second-degree robbery and one count of armed criminal action -- all felonies -- on March 26 and is awaiting sentencing in June.

Prosecutors are expected to seek a 12-year prison sentence.

McField, 19, who was recruited by former coach Glen Mason's staff, practiced with the Gophers football team for two months last fall, although he did not play in games. University officials said they suspended him from the team Oct. 6, when they learned of his legal problems in a call from the St. Louis County prosecutor. McField still was listed on the team's bowl game roster in December. . . .

"This is one of those things where honestly I think we in athletics did everything we could," Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi said. "We found out and suspended him immediately. We did a criminal background check immediately and found nothing. When he pleaded guilty, we did what we felt was the appropriate thing and immediately dismissed him from the football program and the athletics department." . . .

Mitch Browning, a former Gophers assistant coach who recruited McField, said no one associated with McField told him about his legal issues.

Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Browning initially declined to comment. When pressed about McField, Browning said he had no knowledge of his criminal background.

"His [high school] coaches gave no information, his counselors gave no information," Browning said. "I don't know how you prevent it. It's really an unfortunate situation." . . .

An unfortunate situation? Or business as usual in the University of Minnesota athletics department?

Denise McField, Robert's mother, said she and her son did not divulge the arrest to anyone during the recruiting process.

"The university knew nothing [before October]," she said. "I was just hoping it would be resolved. ... I was hoping the legal system would see what kind of guy Robert is, hoping they'd see that this is a good kid who got influenced by friends. But unfortunately, they didn't see it that way." . . .

Yep, that’s right. The ‘my friends made me do it’ defense did not wash. How shocking.

University records show that McField was a roommate of Keith Massey and E.J. Jones. Those two players were arrested last week along with another player, Alex Daniels, in connection with a rape investigation. . . .

Now the plot really thickens. I suppose that if the rape charges have merit, then Massey and Jones will utilize the ‘my roommate made me do it‘ defense? One cannot help but feel sorry for UM head football coach Tim Brewster. It appears that he has a cesspool to drain, and one can only hope that UM athletic director Joel Maturi gave him advance warning of what he was getting himself into.

Duke Case to Be Dropped? Yep, Like a Hot Iron

It is being widely reported this morning that charges in the Duke Lacrosse case will be dropped this afternoon. Given that that paragon of accurate reporting, Fox News, has been saying that the case will be dropped ‘imminently’ for several weeks now, I will believe it when I see it. Hopefully one of the most publicized recent cases of egregious investigatory and prosecutorial misconduct can be put behind us, pending, of course, the possible disbarment of Mike Nifong. Hopefully as well, this whole incident will serve as a warning to student-athletes of the knock-on consequences of disgusting, but apparently not criminal behavior.
Check out the breathtaking statement by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper:

. . . .
The result of our review and investigation shows clearly that
there is insufficient evidence to proceed on any of the charges. Today we are filing notices of dismissal for all charges against Reade Seligmann, Collin
Finnerty and David Evans.

The result is that these cases are over, and no more criminal
proceedings will occur.

We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and
a failure to verify serious allegations. Based on the significant
inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the
accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these
charges. . . .

In this case, with the weight of the state behind him, the Durham district
attorney pushed forward unchecked. There were many points in the case where caution would have served justice better than bravado. . . .

Therefore, I propose a law that the North Carolina Supreme Court have the
authority to remove a case from a prosecutor in limited circumstances. This
would give the courts a new tool to deal with a prosecutor who needs to step
away from a case where justice demands. . . .

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fulmer Cup

EDSBS, for Every Day Should Be Saturday, is arguably the most entertaining college football site on the web. Whereas I prefer to rant when problems strike, they prefer to laugh, and have developed a mock Scandal Scorecard which charts the severity of each teams’ off field performances. It is dubbed the Fulmer Cup, to (dis)honor the epic misbehavior of players under Phillip Fulmer, the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers. The leader so far this year? The University of Illinois Fighting Illini, who have scored a total of 24 points on the strength of 8 counts of residential burglary leveled against Joseph 'Jody' Ellis and Derrick McPhearson. Some recent mob action at State Penn could, however, dump the Illini unceremoniously into second place. . .

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Grats to the Spartans/Graduation Data

Many congratulations to the Spartans of Michigan State who came from behind again to defeat the Eagles of Boston College 3-1 in the final of the Frozen Four. The lone goal for the Eagles came on a power play, and was the lone goal given up on a power play by the Spartans, who went a ridiculous 17 for 18 in penalty-killing during the tournament.

Academics also appear to be taken serious by both finalists, with 72% and 85% graduation rates for Michigan State and Boston College respectively in ‘Other’ sports. [The NCAA only lists sport-specific graduation rates in Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country/Track & Field, and Football]. The other Frozen Four participants have nothing to brag about. North Dakota at 56% has a graduation rate only 2% higher than the rest of the student body. Maine, at 46%, has a graduation rate lower than the football team (48%), the basketball team (50%), and the rest of the student body (55%). What is chilling things up in Orono?

Saturday, April 7, 2007

More Ugliness Brewed at Minnesota

Just when it appeared that things could not get any worse for a University of Minnesota athletics department which is losing millions, and carries debt in line with a small developing country, new head Football coach Tim Brewster has a situation on his hands. Three of his players, junior Alex Daniels, and sophomores E.J. Jones and Keith Massey have been jailed for the suspected rape, on Wednesday morning, of an 18-year old woman. Bail has been set at $100,000 for each of the players, and they have been suspended from the team. Inconveniently for Brewster and Minnesota, the news has come out in the same week as the annual spring scrimmage, and they have taken steps:

Meanwhile, U athletic officials tried not to let news of the arrests infiltrate this afternoon's annual spring scrimmage, in which several thousand alumni and fans turned out at the Metrodome.

Players were told by communications staff not to discuss the situation, which has resulted in suspensions for the three players. Reporters were told that if they raised the issue, interviews would be cut short.

First-year coach Tim Brewster, who suspended the players upon learned of the arrests, this afternoon declined to discuss the situation beyond his comments yesterday that he would cooperate with the police investigation. . . .

"Obviously, this is disappointing news for any coach to receive," the first-year coach said in a statement. "There is an on-going investigation and we will cooperate fully with law enforcement on this matter."

When reached Friday evening, Gophers athletics director Joel Maturi said he knew little of the incident.

"It's in the hands of University of Minnesota police, as it should be, and we will support their investigation," Maturi said. "At the same time, we will support the young men that were recruited to Minnesota until we find out what the facts are."

Considering the ugly media circus surrounding the Duke case, upon which KC Johnson has so effectively blogged, both Brewster and Maturi are probably wise in keeping their comments to a minimum. In the Duke case, the prosecutors also have an excellent example of how NOT to proceed. Lets hope for a thorough, effective, and speedy investigation, which results either in the players exoneration, or trial and conviction, as the evidence warrants. Most importantly, best wishes to the victim on her recovery.
Update: Details from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

If the Hennepin County Attorney's Office does not file charges against them by noon Monday, the three would be released from the Hennepin County jail, said University Police Chief Greg Hestness. . . .

According to Hestness, the alleged rape occurred late Tuesday or early Wednesday at the University Village Apartments on University Avenue, where the players live.

He said that the 18-year-old woman is not a resident there and that she is not a University of Minnesota student.

Hestness said police are continuing to investigate, and he would not discuss how the woman and players encountered each other, or what led to the alleged attack.

He also did not discuss details of the allegations, though he noted the players "were booked on criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. And that usually does involve penetration, nonconsensual penetration."

On the day of the incident, the woman did go to a hospital for a sexual-assault examination, and was offered services from victim advocates, according to a police report.

Early Friday, she flagged down a university officer who was on patrol to report the rape, Hestness said.

"It's really not uncommon for victims of sexual assault to delay reporting," he said. "It's a difficult decision for a lot of women."

Several detectives began investigating the incident, including searching the apartment complex Friday, he said. The players were then arrested and booked at the jail just before 9 p.m.

Update (2): WCCO in Minneapolis is reporting a couple more crucial details:

The 18-year-old woman who reported being sexually assaulted is not a University of Minnesota student. Police say she did know the accused players.

"We have good cooperation from witnesses. What we've heard so far is corroborative of the victim's initial report,” said Greg Hestness, Chief of University Police.
Update (3): Charge or Release/Lawyer's Comments

While the Hennepin County attorney's office could file charges at any time,
the players would have to be released from custody if charges are not filed
by noon today. . . .

On Sunday, Jeff DeGree, the attorney for Jones,
said he is "cautiously optimistic" that charges won't be filed.

Update (4): Suspects released pending further investigation/Lawyerspeak
Three University of Minnesota football players suspected of being involved
in the alleged rape of an 18-year-old woman are being released from jail today, pending further investigation. . . .

Jeff DeGree, representing Jones, said of his client, “Obviously he’s very
happy. I’m not surprised. This is what I expected to happen. These are not very credible allegations. They’re all good kids, great students.

"All three guys are good, serious students and are dedicated to be
football players. It’s a terrible experience for them.”

DeGree said his client will try to “live his life as normally as possible,
go back to school and, I think, he’ll soon be back on the football team. He’s
very, very upset and wants to put it behind him. He didn’t do anything wrong. “Ultimately, these are 19-, 20-year-old kids and I don’t know where they go to get their reputations back.

“They’re not the kind of guys a coach worries about on Friday night."

As Massey left the jail he declined to comment except to say. “I want to
thank everyone who supported us.”

Daniels left separately and would say only “go Gophers.” . . .
Update (5): UM taking the high road in its statement:

"The University of Minnesota takes allegations of sexual misconduct and violent crime very seriously. Everyone, from the central administration to the department of intercollegiate athletics, is cooperating with law enforcement throughout the course of this investigation.

"In coordination with the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, the University of Minnesota Police Department continues to investigate the alleged crime. These are serious matters and obviously demand a thorough investigation.

"These student-athletes are innocent until proven guilty and continue to be students of the University of Minnesota and attend classes. They have relocated to off-campus housing until the completion of the investigation and also remain on suspension from the football team until the investigation is complete."

Update (6): Alternate Reality Watch, not for the Easily-Offended

Friday, April 6, 2007

Friday Recipe Blogging

Jalapeno Guacamole

4 ripe avocados
2 jalapenos
1 medium tomato
2 cloves garlic
1 small white onion
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin

tortilla chips

Seed and peel the avocados, and place in a food processor. Chop 1 jalapeno, and the tomato and onion finely. Add these ingredients to the food processor along with the lemon juice and cumin, and crush in the garlic. Process on low until mixed thoroughly. Place in a serving bowl. Slice the remaining jalapeno into small slivers and place around the edge of the bowl as a garnish, along with the olives.

Serve with tortilla chips and a game of your choice, and be sure to have a beer handy if you cannot handle the heat.

Serving to in-laws not recommended.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Frozen Four Faces Off

The Frozen Four faces off this afternoon at 3:00 with the Black Bears of the University of Maine taking on the Spartans of Michigan State. I have a word of advice for the Spartans, as well as Eagles of Boston College and the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota:


Well, you get the picture. In all seriousness, although my colors are rather spectacularly nailed to the mast, best of luck to all. And to any non-Maine fans out there – you are hereby granted an indulgence to talk trash in this thread here if you wish.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Grats to the Lady Vols/Graduation Data

Many congratulations to the Tennessee Volunteers on their 59-46 victory over Rutgers last night in the DI Women’s National Championship game. Many congratulations, as well, to Pat Summitt, on winning her seventh National Championship as a coach – in Basketball, only living legend Coach Wooden, at ten, has won more.

The programs at both Tennessee and Rutgers also deserve kudos for the academic performance of their players. Tennessee has an 80% graduation rate, and Rutgers a 77% graduation rate. What is most impressive about Women’s Basketball is that, even beyond these two programs, there is no need to put an asterisk next to the term student-athlete. Tennessee would not even place within the top 10 programs represented in this years’ NCAA tournament. The following schools post better graduation rates: Baylor (82%); Notre Dame (82%); Duke (83%); Texas Christian (83%); Stanford (85%); Wisconsin Green Bay (85%); Temple (86%); Texas A&M (86%); BYU (90%); Vanderbilt (91%); Depaul (92%); Harvard (98%). But Harvard does not come out tops. Both Belmont and Holy Cross have posted 100% graduation rates in their Women’s Basketball programs.

But, as we are always told for revenue sports, success requires making compromises? Right? Four Women’s programs appear to be making those compromises, and they deserve to be named and shamed (the irony being that only one of these teams advanced beyond the second round). Boise State, West Virginia, and Arizona State posted graduation rates of 47%, 40%, and 30% respectively, comparable to the middling programs in the Men’s tournament. The real stinker, however, is the University of Texas at Arlington, which is graduating an appalling 8% of its players.

Dishonorable mentions must also go to Final 4 participants North Carolina and Louisiana State, who managed graduation rates of a whopping 50%. Lets hope that each of these programs remain to be the exceptions that prove the rule.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Grats to the Gators/The Academic National Champion

First off, many congratulations to the Florida Gators on winning the National Championship in DI Men’s Basketball. I was pulling for Florida, not out of any loyalty or connection, but because of the teams that advanced to the Final 4, Florida is tops in its team graduation rate, at 67%. Ohio State is appalling at 10%, and UCLA at 38% and Georgetown at 47% have nothing to brag about either. So lets execute a thought experiment here. If the games in the tournament had been settled by the graduation rates of each of the teams, how would the tournament have proceeded, and what would the post-game comments have looked like?

Play in Game - Tuesday, March 13

Niagara 71 Florida A&M 0
Florida A&M coach Mike Gillespie: “We were quite lucky to make the tournament, but extraordinarily unlucky to draw a private university like Niagara in the play-in-game. I see them reaching the tournament’s second weekend.”

1st Round
Thursday, March 15

Maryland 13 Davidson 75
Maryland coach Gary Williams ranted after the game: “*GRUMBLE* Mid-Majors *MOAN* Do Not Belong *WHINE* This Is Completely Unfair!”

Butler 82 Old Dominion 63; Duke 50 VCU 31; Pittsburgh 38 Wright State 33; Boston College 50; Texas Tech 38; Georgetown 47 Belmont 73; BYU 33 Xavier 67; Vanderbilt 67 George Washington 58; UCLA 38 Weber State 43

Marquette 73 Michigan State 75
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo: “It is unfortunate that two teams as fine as these had to face each other in the first round of the tournament, as this was a Sweet 16 or Elite 8 quality matchup.”

North Carolina 64 Eastern Kentucky 0
UNC coach Roy Williams: “I am glad we had an easy draw in the first round, as those scholars over at Michigan State are TOUGH.”

Louisville 22 Stanford 69
Stanford coach Trent Johnson: “Thank god this game was not decided by our ability to play basketball.”

Texas A&M 15 Pennsylvania 93
Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie: “WOW. What stunning academic ability. If there was a third half we would have lost by triple-figures.

Ohio State 10 Central Connecticut State 62
CCS coach Howie Dickenman: “This win clearly establishes us as the premier basketball school in the great state of Connecticut.”

Washington State 33 Oral Roberts 23
Washington State coach Tony Bennett: “They do not make Christian Universities like they used to.”

Indiana 67 Gonzaga 22
Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson: “They do not make Christian Universities like they used to.”

Friday, March 16

Virginia 62 Albany 54; Tennessee 8 Long Beach State 29; Virginia Tech 17 Illinois 64; UNLV 10 Georgia Tech 23; Wisconsin 60 Texas A&M-CC 25; Arizona 36 Purdue 50; Florida 67 Jackson State 57; Notre Dame 53 Winthrop 57; Texas 50 New Mexico State 44

Southern Illinois 67 Holy Cross 86
Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard: “Although they were outbrained today, Southern Illinois is clearly no ordinary directional state University. It showed today, and they are to be commended.”

Kansas 40 Niagara 71
Kansas coach Bill Self: “Not again. Well, we might have had a shot if we were playing Florida A&M.”

Kentucky 23 Villanova 64
Kentucky coach Tubby Smith: “We did not have a chance against a Christian University made like they used to.”

Memphis 36 North Texas 38 OT
Tied at 25 after regular time, this game was ultimately decided by the NCAA’s so-called ‘Graduation Success Rate’ measure. North Texas Athletic Director Rick Villareal: “All credit for this win goes to NCAA president Myles Brand. From the top down, the NCAA has mandated that data-manipulation is vital, and we followed Dr. Brand’s direction. Otherwise, this one probably would have slipped away.”

Nevada 33 Creighton 78
Nevada coach Mark Fox: “We did not have a chance against a Christian University made like they used to.”

Oregon 0 Miami-Ohio 57
Miami-Ohio coach Charlie Coles: “This is no surprise.

USC 38 Arkansas 33
USC coach Tim Floyd: “Thank god for Arkansas. Or is that Alabama?”

2nd Round
Saturday, March 17

Central Connecticut State 62 Xavier 67
Xavier coach Sean Miller: “We would have preferred a shot at Ohio State, but, frankly, CCS was by far the better matchup.”

Stanford 69 Pennsylvania 93
Stanford coach Trent Johnson: “If we are ever going to truly compete with the Ivy League schools, we will probably have to buckle down and give up the athletic scholarships.”

Butler 82 Davidson 75; Duke 50 Pittsburgh 38; Vanderbilt 67 Washington State 33; Indiana 67 Weber State 43

Boston College 50 Belmont 73
Boston College coach Al Skinner: “In retrospect, it is clear that a move to the Atlantic Sun Conference would have been a far better move. The ACC is dragging us down.”

UNC 64 Michigan State 75
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo: “It is healthy that there are still opportunities for traditional powers to compete for a spot in the Sweet Sixteen. It will take several miracles, however, if we are to proceed much further.”

Sunday, March 18

Virginia 62 Long Beach State 29
Virginia coach Dave Leitao: “Lucky draw. I will say it again. LUCKY DRAW.”

Illinois 64 Holy Cross 86; Florida 67 Purdue 50; Winthrop 57 Wisconsin 60; USC 38 Texas 50

Creighton 78 North Texas 25
North Texas Athletic Director Rick Villareal: “Not even the best data manipulation available could have overcome the brainpower available at a fine Christian University.”

Georgia Tech 23 Wisconsin 60
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan: “Thank god for Georgia. Or is that Mississippi?”

Niagara 71 Villanova 64
Niagara coach Joe Mihalich: “It is always entertaining to see a smackdown pitting Vincentian and Augustinian values against each other, and I am delighted that the Vincentians emerged triumphant.”

Sweet 16
Thursday, March 22

Virginia 62 Xavier 67; Creighton 78 Pennsylvania 93

Holy Cross 86 Niagara 71
Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard: “It is always entertaining to see a smackdown pitting Jesuit and Vincentian values against each other, and I am delighted that the Jesuits emerged triumphant.”

Duke 50 Indiana 67
Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson: “While I hate to say it, today’s result establishes that this is no more a classic Duke team in the classroom than it is on the basketball court.”

Friday, March 23

Vanderbilt 67 Belmont 73; Wisconsin 60 Winthrop 57

Texas 50 Michigan State 75
Texas freshman Kevin Durrant: “It appears that I will have to forego the NBA for several more years if the Longhorns are going to have a chance to advance to the later stages of the tournament.”

Florida 67 Butler 82
Florida coach Billy Donovan: “Noah and the others came back to win another championship but came up short. Hopefully they will stay on and graduate so we can begin to compete with the likes of Butler.”

Elite 8
Saturday, March 24

Xavier 67 Pennsylvania 93
Xavier coach Sean Miller: “If only Pennsylvania was merely a big public state university, as that is the sort of school against which we have had consistent success.”

Indiana 67 Holy Cross 86
Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson: “There is absolutely no shame in losing to a fine Jesuit institution. But would someone tell me how it is appropriate for a Jesuit institution to have a Crusader as a mascot?”

Sunday March 25

Wisconsin 60 Butler 82; Michigan State 75 Belmont 73

Final 4 - Saturday, March 31

Michigan State 75 Pennsylvania 93
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo: “As a big public state university with a huge athletics budget, we were surprised and delighted to make it as far as we did. We were overachievers this year.”

Butler 82 Holy Cross 86
Butler head coach Todd Lickliter: “This was a classic Final 4 matchup between two small, elite, private universities, but we were ultimately outsmarted by the Crusaders. Best of luck to them versus the titans of the tournament, Pennsylvania. They will need it.”

National Championship - Monday, April 2

Holy Cross 86 Pennsylvania 93
Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard: “Kudos to Pennsylvania, who did the same thing to us tonight that they have done all season. They chose a random 13 students to play, used them interchangeably throughout the entire game, and ran us ragged. Stanford coach Trent Johnson nailed it a couple weeks ago. If you want to compete with Penn, you had better drop the athletic scholarships.”

But in all seriousness, it is both sad and sadly predictable that low graduation rates make for an excellent predictor of athletic success in revenue sports. At the same time, there are big-time programs like Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, North Carolina, Villanova, and Wisconsin that have proven that there does not need to be a dichotomy between success in the classroom and on the court. What are they doing that other programs are not? How can all academically successful programs be rewarded? What should done to ensure that the laughable NCAA penalties for academic failure are given teeth?

Monday, April 2, 2007

Salary Inflation Hits Home

Adrian Wojarowski of Yahoo sports has some telling words about spiralling coaches salaries in a recent Column:

Now it isn't even basketball schools that are spending like crazy to build winning programs. Until Billy Gillespie arrived three years ago, Texas A&M's chancellor didn't know the Aggies had a basketball team. Just Friday, they announced his new $1.7 million-a-year contract. "While it's embarrassing for me to be compensated so well to perform my passion for a school I love …" started a statement from Gillespie, and well, he really isn't too embarrassed, is he?

More than Kentucky paying $3 million a year, it's Quinnipiac paying $300,000. Connecticut's Tom Moore had been an assistant for Jim Calhoun for 12 years and turned down a lot of small Division I jobs along the way. Before him, Moore watched Calhoun's assistants get DePaul and George Washington. He no sooner would have taken the Quinnipiac job than tell Calhoun to sit down and shut up as he berated his coaches on the bench.

Well, Quinnipiac built a $55 million gym, and just guaranteed Moore $1.5 million over the next five years, so there he was, working through the Hilton lobby Friday, leaving the Big East for the Northeast Conference.

"I was obviously pleasantly surprised when they started talking about figures in that vicinity," Moore said. "I think it's great for the whole league because every time a school in the league sets the bar high, I think everyone else tries to raise their level, too."

Is the world a better place if St. Francis (Pa.) and Monmouth want to ante up on winning programs? Really? Moore interviewed for five openings last year and heard two university presidents ask him: "How can we become the next George Mason?"

Here's the answer: You don't, so get over yourself. This is the voodoo economics of college basketball, the trickle down from Kentucky to Quinnipiac. NCAA president Myles Brand threw up his hands this week and said that the NCAA could do nothing to stop the runaway salaries in his sport. As history has shown, the bigger the rewards, the bigger the corruption. Cheating never has been so sophisticated in the sport, and the money changing hands has never been worse. Ask any coach in a private moment and he'll just shake his head and sigh. Most know they're living in a house of cards, and it all can come crashing down at anytime.

But they'll run the risk because one guaranteed contract, and maybe one extension, makes them multimillionaires for life.

The latest contracted multimillionaire is none other than SIU Carbondale's own Chris Lowery, whose seven-year, $750,000/year contract extension was announced yesterday.

The denizens of Saluki Nation are ecstatic that SIUC has managed to keep a coach who is, at the ripe old age of 34, both a veteran coach and one of the brightest rising stars in the coaching cadre.

As is our new Athletic Director 'Super Mario' Mocca:

Director of Athletics Mario Moccia said the contract sends a strong message about the University's commitment to keeping the 34-year-old head coach, who has been the youngest head coach in the NCAA Tournament each of the last three years.

"Our basketball program is not only a vital part of the athletic department, it's also a critical component of the University as a whole," Moccia said. "Given Coach Lowery's track record as a head coach, we felt it was essential to retain him. It gives our athletic program and our University the opportunity to expand their horizons."

As is SIU President Glenn Poshard:

"The success that he's shown, being the winningest coach in SIU history over the first three years that he's coached, he's deserving," Poshard said. "I know there's a lot of folks that think it's a lot of money and so on, but this is market demand. That's the way you have to deal with it if you want a good program."
As is Missouri Valley Conference Commish Doug Elgin:
"I think it is a statement of how committed Southern Illinois is to keeping its basketball program at a very high level," Missouri Valley Conference commissioner Doug Elgin said. "There's no question that this does send that message."
Do not get me wrong, I am delighted for Chris, who performs admirably in all three of the areas which should be demanded of coaches - he graduates his players, serves as an excellent ambassador for the University, and wins. At the same time, it is clear that the voodoo economics of College Basketball which Wojarowski decries has arrived at SIUC. Whether I should actually be delighted for the University is an open question.

At a University where, for the last year, the faculty and staff have been asked to both look for savings and prepare for future cuts, it is only natural that there was considerable grumbling in the hallways today about where the money for Lowery's half-million/year raise is coming from. Both AD Mocca and SIU President Glenn Poshard have been cagey on this question. The Southern Illinoisan reported:
Poshard said he did not know how much of Lowery's salary would be paid by public funds, but that several donors apparently helped make the deal easier for SIU to offer.
And according to our student newspaper the Daily Egyptian:
Athletic Director Mario Moccia said "a lot of the money" for Lowery's raise in pay will come from private donors, some of which he is meeting with in Atlanta, where he is with Lowery for the NCAA Final Four.

"All along we talked about targeting new sources of revenue like those floor seats, but in addition private money by individuals," Moccia said. "There's a big outpouring of support to keep coach Lowery among alumni, certainly during our run to NCAA Tournament, and a lot of those folks had pledged to assist in the ability to keep him."
Fine. The question for Dr. Poshard is why he has not been able to tap any donors for the bargain $2 million which will be required to complete the seventh and eighth floors of the library. Should that not be a higher priority than keeping a coach for an extra $3.5 million?