Wednesday, October 31, 2007

USC & Reggie Bush: New Developments

One of the longest running, but potentially spectacular cases of skullduggery in NCAA sports took another step towards a conclusion yesterday:

Former USC and Heisman Trophy-winning running back Reggie Bush and his family are being sued by the co-founder of a failed sports marketing agency, according to a filing Tuesday in San Diego County Court.

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys for New Era Sports & Entertainment co-founder Lloyd Lake, alleges Bush and his family failed to repay a wide array of benefits they received from New Era while Bush played for the Trojans. One of Lake's attorney's, Paul Wong, said that in addition to filing the suit, Lake has agreed to meet with NCAA investigators this week to discuss Bush's involvement with New Era Sports. . . .

Tuesday's filing purports that from November 2004 through January 2006, Bush and his family received cash, a vehicle and shelter as well as labor, material and services tied to New Era Sports – the agency that expected to represent the USC star when he declared for the NFL draft. The suit places the total value of the benefits extended to Bush, now in his second season with the New Orleans Saints, and his family at just over $291,000.

The suit also claims to have written communication from Bush that promises to repay some of the benefits, stating "On January 14, 2006, Defendant Reginald Bush – reaffirmed his commitment to repay (Lake) in a written communication."

If it is determined by the NCAA and Pac-10 Conference that Bush or his family received extra benefits, he would be in violation of NCAA rules. In accordance to NCAA bylaws, Bush's amateur status could be retroactively voided, prompting USC to forfeit games from the 2004 and 2005 seasons, including its latest national championship. Bush's 2005 Heisman Trophy could also be in jeopardy. Per the language on the Heisman ballot, any winner of the award "must be in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA student-athlete." . . .

In Friday's scheduled meeting with the NCAA, Lake could reveal a variety of information, from receipts, bank and phone records, as well as taped conversations between himself, Bush and Bush's stepfather LaMar. Sources say the recordings were made as Bush's agreement to sign with New Era Sports began to fall apart in December 2005. . . .

Sources close to the failed New Era Sports & Entertainment venture said Bush and his family demanded payments be made in cash, to keep the transactions hidden from NCAA scrutiny. Payments were said to have been made in person to Bush's parents in San Diego, while Lake would personally drive to Los Angeles to deliver monthly payments to Bush at his apartment near the USC campus.
The question, of course, is whether ANY information will be handed over the the NCAA, or whether the threat of a meeting is merely leverage in an attempt to get Bush to settle the lawsuit. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports comments:

Tuesday afternoon, Lloyd Lake, ex-con, former aspiring sports marketer and worst nightmare for the University of Southern California football program, dropped a lawsuit in a San Diego County courthouse and a bomb on the Trojans.

While few of the allegations are new, the lawsuit, and Lake's scheduled meeting with NCAA investigators, changes the entire dynamic of the Reggie Bush case. It is the single worst development that could have happened to USC.

About the only thing, if anything, that can save the Trojans is Bush settling the nearly $300,000 suit between now and Lake's Friday meeting with the NCAA.

NCAA investigators had cited a lack of cooperation with key witnesses in determining whether Bush received extra benefits during his final two seasons at USC and whether the Trojans should have known about it.

That includes Bush, his current marketing agent Mike Ornstein and the two partners in a would-be marketing company called New Era Sports & Entertainment, Lloyd Lake and Michael Michaels, who tried to sign Bush. . . .

Bush and Ornstein are saying nothing to the NCAA. Neither is Michaels after Bush settled out of court with him earlier this year for what sources say was between $200,000 and $300,000. Part of that deal, sources said, is a clause that prohibits Michaels speaking with the NCAA.

While the NCAA has other evidence and witnesses, the most dangerous party for USC was Lake. He was the last major witness who could blow this thing up. . . .

The case against USC, like all similar cases involving players and agents, will revolve around two basic lines of questioning, according to three athletic directors and one former NCAA investigator with whom Yahoo! Sports discussed the generalities.

1. Did Bush receive extra benefits that would make him ineligible for competition? And if so, when did they begin?

2. Did or should have USC officials and coaches known about the extra benefits. . . .

Yahoo! Sports previously reported Lake and Michaels didn't just attend USC games, but after two games even went into the Trojan locker room. That's a place most schools severely limit access to and would investigate the background of any non-relative who gains such access.

"Two guys don't just walk into your postgame locker room," said one athletic director. "You confront them immediately and find out. That's basic stuff."

Yahoo! Sports also previously reported that sources claim USC assistant Todd McNair knew of Bush's relationship with both Michaels and Lake. Moreover he spent a night out in San Diego with Bush, Michaels and Lake and knew Bush was staying the night in a $500-a-night suite at the city's Manchester Hyatt.

Yahoo! Sports obtained a receipt for the stay that was paid for by Michaels' credit card. USC refused to allow Yahoo! Sports to interview McNair.

Those bits alone, especially if Lake provides details, could prove to be damning blows for the Trojan program. . . .

But for USC, Tuesday's lawsuit was a terrible development, the kind that can blow open the doors on Heritage Hall, imperil both the past and future and send Carroll scurrying back to the NFL.

Three days and counting until Lake meets with the NCAA. Only another last-second bit of Reggie Bush heroics – this time in the form of a big check to Lloyd Lake – can probably help his Trojans now.

At this point, however, Bush's lawyer says that the lawsuit will be 'vigorously' fought. Stay tuned.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania Sanctioned

Cheating, and enforcement, is not confined to the highest profile schools:


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS---The NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions has penalized Indiana University of Pennsylvania for major violations in its men’s basketball and men’s and women’s swimming program. The violations include two charges of unethical conduct, a failure to monitor and impermissible benefits.

Penalties for the violations include placing the university on probation for two years; reducing the number of scholarships for both programs; a vacation of select swimming records; and placing the former head swimming coach on a two-year show cause order. . . .

Regarding the infractions in the swimming program, the former head swimming coach impermissibly hired one of his student-athletes, forged signatures so the student-athlete could be paid, and arranged for her to be paid for work she did not perform during the 2005-06 academic year. It was determined that this student-athlete was paid an hourly wage of $13.90, which was far above the usual $5.15 rate paid to students employed on campus.

The former head swimming coach also supplied three student-athletes with impermissible extra benefits totaling $1,365 during the 2004-05 academic year. These funds were provided to pay for personal expenses, as well as the student-athletes’ lodging, transportation and pool rental during an annual trip to Florida. The university typically requires student-athletes to cover these costs, except for meals.

In addition, during the fall of 2005, the former head swimming coach failed to withhold two student-athletes from athletics competition even though the former head coach was previously informed by the university’s compliance office that the young men were ineligible to compete. He allowed the student-athletes to represent the university in a swimming meet on October 29, 2005. . . .

In the men’s basketball program, the former head men’s basketball coach engaged in a scheme from the 2000-01 academic year through 2005-06 designed to stretch his scholarship dollars. During that time, he had 14 men’s basketball prospects complete their admission applications using Pennsylvania addresses, including that of the former head coach, so that the student-athletes could qualify for in-state tuition rather than the more expensive out-of-state rate. In some instances, the former head basketball coach completed the applications for the young men. His deceit caused inaccurate information regarding financial aid to be recorded on the men’s basketball squad list and, although neither team nor individual equivalency limits were exceeded, the actions of the former head men’s basketball coach caused the university to grant a men’s basketball student-athlete impermissible state aid in the amount of $6,450.

Further, during the summer of 2005, the former head men’s basketball coach arranged for the textbooks for two student-athletes to be paid for out of an account the former head men’s basketball coach established at the campus bookstore.

IUP President Tony Atwater has released the following statement:

The university has been fully cooperative in the NCAA investigations relating to our basketball and swimming programs. Swift and decisive action has been taken to address the compliance and personnel issues relating to this matter. We continue to pursue strategies and practices to strengthen our system of oversight to ensure that our athletic program is in compliance with NCAA regulations and is operated in accordance with the university’s high ethical standards.

In this case the statement appears to be more than lip service, given that both coaches in question, Gary Edwards and Dave Caldwell resigned over a year ago, and that the NCAA declined to impose institutional sanctions beyond IUP's self implemented penalties.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Indiana University's Spin Control. . .

. . .has been asleep at the switch until now. It has finally stepped into the fray:

Indiana Releases Men's Basketball Documents

Oct. 30, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Indiana University Department of Athletics today announced its release of all documents relating to its discovery and subsequent investigation, and self-disclosure of recruiting violations and issues with the sanctions involving the men's basketball coaching staff.

"When reviewed as a group, these reports provide a very clear picture of what took place in this matter. Accordingly, we have chosen to impose very significant self-imposed sanctions that we are operating under currently and have recommended to the NCAA," said Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan.

Thats right. Nothing more to do. We have handled it all ourselves.

The documents include an October 3 independent investigative report that was submitted to the NCAA Committee on Infractions focusing on 111 telephone recruiting calls last season that were found to exceed limits on the number of times a prospective athlete could be contacted under NCAA sanctions (109 of the calls) or NCAA rules (32 of the calls, 30 of which also were contrary to the sanctions). A second document is the self-report to the NCAA enforcement staff regarding the phone calls that violated NCAA rules. That report concluded that out of these 32 phone calls it is likely only 13 actual conversations occurred. Also among the documents are two other reports detailing the circumstances of impermissible personal contacts with recruits or their families not related to telephone calls.

Note how the writer sets up a distinction between the violations committed as a result of the sanctions on Sampson, as opposed to standard rules violations, as if that gets them off the hook for either set.
All the violations are being reported to the NCAA as secondary infractions. . . .

"Through extensive and lengthy discussions with our legal counsel, it was concluded that these violations are of a secondary nature because they represented isolated instances. They provided little, if any, recruiting advantage and did not involve any extra benefits," Greenspan said.

Once again, NCAA, nothing more to punish us for!

"However, Indiana University expects and demands full and complete compliance with all NCAA rules and will continue to do so. I will continue to send a very strong message to our coaches, student-athletes and supporters that our standard is and will always be complete compliance." . . .
Then why did you not fire Kelvin Sampson? I sense more spinning on the way. . .

Greenspan said the limitations on recruiting were extended for another season to ensure that the full effect of last season's NCAA sanctions on recruiting is realized.

The Ice Miller report found that of several thousand recruiting calls made from May 2006 to May 2007 by the assistant coaches, a total of 111 exceeded sanction or NCAA limits. Of those, 101 were made by assistant coach Rob Senderoff, in addition to 9 other three-way calls in which he connected a prospective athlete with head Coach Kelvin Sampson.

Although permissible under NCAA rules, three-way recruiting calls involving Sampson were in violation of the stricter, NCAA-imposed sanctions which were in effect on the IU staff last year from May, 2006 to May, 2007.

Greenspan said the Ice Miller report did not conclude that Sampson acted deliberately to violate the sanctions he was operating under last season.

In its conclusion, the report states that investigators "considered the fact that with so few impermissible calls involving Sampson out of the thousands of recruiting calls made from May 2006 through May 2007, this could not have been a purposeful plan to circumvent the sanction."

So we are to believe, then, that Kelvin Sampson was not aware of what recruiter extraordinaire Rob Senderoff was up to?

The investigation found that most of the impermissible calls occurred because Senderoff failed to log calls made from his home telephone, thus making it impossible for compliance staff to accurately track the number of times each prospective athlete was contacted by telephone. Most of Senderoff's calls were made from his cell or office phone and were properly logged.

Because of the inaccurate records, some prospective athletes and their families were called by assistant coaches more often than permitted under the sanctions or NCAA rules.

Ahhhh. Calls from home. Inaccurate records. PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY. But there is more:

Two violations unrelated to telephone conversations were also reported to the NCAA:

On May 12, Senderoff arranged a 15 to 30-minute meeting at Assembly Hall between former IU President Adam W. Herbert and the mother of a prospective student athlete. The mother had come to Bloomington to watch her son participate in an AAU basketball tournament at Assembly Hall. NCAA rules prohibit schools from making recruiting contacts with tournament participants or their families until after the tournament is over. To determine whether a violation had occurred, the university had to confer with the Big Ten conference, which in turn had to request assistance from the NCAA to clarify the complex rules in this area.

Ummmm, seems pretty clear to me. Student at tournament. Recruiting contact. Violation.

On June 30, assistant coach Jeff Meyer arranged for Sampson to meet with a prospect who was in Bloomington to participate in a Sampson-sponsored tournament. Because NCAA rules prohibited Sampson from making recruiting contacts with tournament participants, the prospect's coach was told he would have to withdraw from subsequent participation if he met with Sampson. The meeting took place, but the prospect returned to the tournament the next day unbeknownst to Meyer or Sampson.

Both of these infractions were reported as secondary violations because they provided no recruiting advantage and did not include any inducement or extra benefit.

NO RECRUITING ADVANTAGE? FROM A MEETING WITH AN EX UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT AND AN EXTRA MEETING WITH THE HEAD COACH!?!?!? Ok. I have screamed. I feel better now. I will hopefully feel alot better if the NCAA comes down hard on Kelvin Sampson and Indiana, who may be looking at the dreaded phrase 'lack of institutional control' before long.


The Indianapolis Star has released a PDF of Indiana's self-report to the NCAA.


Here is where, institutionally, Indiana really screwed up. From page 17 of the self-report:
These three-way calls were not noticed during the compliance staff's regular and usual monitoring of phone calls during the course of the academic year as both manual and computerized searches focused on the declared recruiting phone numbers being called and the frequency of calls to these numbers, not other columns or information on the phone bills. In addition, because the three way code was always attached to a local call on the phone bill, it was not detected in analyzing the calls to the declared recruiting numbers. Further, since the coaches had requested and received a clear interpretation from the Committee on Infractions in June 2006 that three-way calling with Sampson would not be permissible (see Item No. 8, Attachment L), three-way calls should not have been an issue.
So, since the coaches were told that they could not do something, the compliance staff simply assumed that they would not? This is a classic case, in NCAA speak of a 'Failure to Monitor'.


Audio from the afternoon teleconference at Indiana, courtesy of the Bloomington Herald Times. Nothing in the way of significant new information.

UPDATE: Wednesday 3:26 PM

Rob Senderoff's severance agreement has been released. It is uninformative legalese for the most part.

1. Kelvin Sampson Cheats Again
2. More on the Kelvin Sampson Imbroglio
3. Indiana University's Spin Control. . .
4. The Kelvin Sampson Bomb is Set to Blow. . .
5. Kelvin Sampson: "Time to Cleanse the Slime"
6. In June: Sampson versus Senderoff?
7. Source: Sampson Out, Dakich in at Indiana
8. Commentary on Sampson's Departure

Monday, October 29, 2007

More on the Kelvin Sampson Imbroglio

There is some excellent commentary from Mark Tupper of the Decatur Herald and Review:
CHICAGO -- No, Kelvin Sampson did not throw himself on the proverbial sword and resign. Nor did anyone walk up to the Indiana basketball coach and hand him a cell phone, saying, "Here, coach, it's for you."

Would have been funny, but it didn't happen. . . .
This is already an old joke, but expect those sorts of hi jinks during every Indiana away game this season.
Even Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany voiced his displeasure that Sampson is once again on the hot seat.

"I expect three things from the coaches in this league," Delany said. "I expect them to coach and educate. I expect them to abide by the rules. And they are expected to win. The first two supersede the third.

"The conference will wait to see what the NCAA report says but I am disappointed."
Starry eyed moralizing? Nah. Scandal is bad for business.
Sampson danced around the issue, saying, "We're focusing on basketball now."

It was interesting Sunday to hear other coaches talk about one of their Big Ten brothers. No one wanted to hang him out to dry - including Illinois' Bruce Weber, who wouldn't lose a wink of sleep if Sampson vanished, never to be heard from again.

But one gets the feeling that no coach really trusts Sampson, either. And who can blame them? I mean, who cheats while they're on probation?

Sampson, by the way, would dispute the notion that he was cheating. He blamed the violations on "sloppiness," implying they were innocent of any maliciousness and were simply careless in the process of trying to do things right.

Yeah, right.

Although the cases are not the same, it's worth recalling that when Fresno State head coach Ray Lopes flagrantly made a number of improper phone calls (after he'd done the same during a previous employment), the NCAA barred him from coaching at a member school for three years.

And that previous school? Oklahoma, where he was an assistant coach for Sampson. . . .
Yep, Lopes learned to cheat from the best.
If I asked, "Why would those same fans put up with Sampson's shenanigans now?" it would be a rhetorical question. Because we all know the answer.

Some fans, regardless of school affiliation, will always justify transgressions if it translates into success. One Indiana fan was asked by the Indianapolis Star what he thought of the situation and the decision to withhold Sampon's bonus pay.

"Is Eric Gordon and a national championship worth $500,000? I say yes."
See also this article in the Indiana Daily Student:
CHICAGO – For the second year in a row, IU men’s basketball coach Kelvin Sampson fended off questions at Big Ten Media Day about his recruiting practices. . . .

Assistant coach Rob Senderoff, the man the IU Athletics Department has said is responsible for making dozens of impermissible phone calls, did not attend a men’s basketball open practice Friday. When asked about Senderoff’s absence, Sampson sharply declined comment.

“No, I’m not answering none of those questions,” Sampson said. “I am not even getting into any of that stuff. We’re dealing with stuff, and I’m going to coach my team.”

When asked what Senderoff’s role has been in practices, Sampson said “I’m not getting into that.”

The brief exchange with reporters came during a three-hour interview period at the annual event.

After the open practice, Director of Athletics Media Relations J.D. Campbell said Senderoff missed the practice to tend to personal matters.
How convenient.


According to Fox News, Assistant Coach Mark Senderoff will be thrown under the bus:
Indiana assistant coach Rob Senderoff will resign Monday in the wake of the recent phone scandal involving the Hoosiers, according to two sources close to the program.

Senderoff has become the "fall guy" for Indiana head coach Kelvin Sampson, who came to Bloomington and was immediately hit with NCAA sanctions back from his days at Oklahoma.
In other news, dog bites man.


FOX News Report is 'Off the Mark':
IU spokesman Larry MacIntyre would not confirm reports Monday that Rob Senderoff will resign as assistant IU men’s basketball coach.

MacIntyre said he did not know whether Senderoff is currently a University employee, and he said he was not informed of any pending resignation.

However, MacIntyre said reports by Fox Sports that sources close to IU athletics said Senderoff would resign today were “off the mark.”

“I think that reporter does not know what he is talking about,” MacIntyre said.
The plot thickens. . .


Without citing any further sources, Mike DeCourcy at the Sporting News is reporting that the resignation of Rob Senderoff is a foregone conclusion, and adds some details:
Here is the basic punishment if you commit secondary NCAA rules violations: They put you on a plane, send you off to take a seminar on how the rulebook is supposed to work, then put you back to work doing whatever it is you do -- presumably, recruiting new athletes for your university.

Here is what happened to Indiana assistant coach Rob Senderoff: He was given three days to accept the offer to resign his position. . . .

At Indiana, he was charged with making roughly three dozen impermissible phone calls over the course of 15 months -- a little more than two a month. You don't get rid of somebody like that. You yell at him, tell him he was extremely foolish to break that particular rule under this particular coach, and then put a note in his personnel file.

If this was to be the solution, why was it not the original conclusion? Did Indiana suddenly find religion? Or did the initial media reaction to the revelations present a convincing case that firing a lower-level employee would be a keen public relations move?

Well, it wasn't.

Absolutely. If true, it looks like a failed attempt to cover Sampson's ***.

This was the worst call anyone at Indiana has made in years. . . .

Actually, that was hiring a cheater in the first place.

UPDATE: 11:35 PM

The Bloomington Herald-Times is reporting the same thing as Mike DeCourcy, and adds some detail:
Indiana men’s basketball assistant coach Rob Senderoff has resigned at the university’s request, according to sources close to the situation.

An official announcement is expected today.

Senderoff, 34, could not be reached Monday. The voice mail message on his university-issued phone had been changed to say that he can no longer be reached at that number and will not check any messages left there.

Indiana head coach Kelvin Sampson and athletic director Rick Greenspan were not available for interviews Monday.

Senderoff was told on Friday, the same day he was absent from a basketball practice open to the public, that he had three days to turn in his resignation. He did so, and will receive a severance package from the university. . . .

Assuming the story is true, the manner in which Indiana University mishandled this story is breathtaking.

UPDATE: Tuesday 12:02 AM

Another small detail in the Indianapolis Star:
Indiana University assistant basketball coach Rob Senderoff's resignation will be announced today by the school, according to a source close to the program.

The resignation is being characterized as voluntary.
Lawyers for the university and Senderoff began meeting Friday to discuss a settlement. Monday afternoon, they reached an agreement, the source said.
Voluntary? As in resign or be fired?

UPDATE: Tuesday 11:43 AM

Its official. Indiana University released the following statement this morning:
Bloomington, Indiana - Rob Senderoff has decided it is in his and Indiana University's best interests that he voluntarily resign from the University. His resignation is effective immediately.
The internal report on the recruiting violations has also been released to the local media:
The Ice Miller report that details Indiana University's self-reporting of impermissible telephone calls made by the IU basketball staff during the period when Kelvin Sampson was under NCAA sanctions for recruiting was released to the media this morning.

The report, which is 4-inches thick, gives specific details on the more than 100 telephone calls that IU believed could potentially be violations. There were 35 calls in particular that the university singled out as being possible NCAA secondary violations.
Considering the ineptitude with which Indiana handled this matter, along with looming NCAA sanctions, do not expect this story to go away any time soon.

1. Kelvin Sampson Cheats Again
2. More on the Kelvin Sampson Imbroglio
3. Indiana University's Spin Control. . .
4. The Kelvin Sampson Bomb is Set to Blow. . .
5. Kelvin Sampson: "Time to Cleanse the Slime"
6. In June: Sampson versus Senderoff?
7. Source: Sampson Out, Dakich in at Indiana
8. Commentary on Sampson's Departure

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Inside the World of NCAA Compliance

Check out this interesting article about compliance activities within the MAC in general, and Ball State specifically:

MUNCIE -- Ball State University was ahead of the curve in 1992 when it was the first Mid-American Conference school to hire an athletics compliance director.

That was then. This is now.

The Ball State athletics compliance department no longer sets the bar for the MAC. Since 2002, the school has fallen behind many of its conference counterparts in having enough staff to track its compliance with a burgeoning NCAA rule book. . . .

"If it was up to me, I'd have more people," said Kyle Brennan, the director of athletics compliance and eligibility at Ball State. "It's really just me. That is low for the MAC. I'm grateful to athletic director Tom Collins and president Jo Ann Gora for the GA. I've tried to get more people on the staff to keep up with every team and all the NCAA requirements."

The compliance department interprets the NCAA rule book for athletes, coaches and administrators to ensure that the athletic department adheres to the guidelines. A copy of the manual -- all 440 pages of small-print jargon -- sits on Brennan's desk.

"It's not a pop-up book," Brennan said. "It seems to be written by lawyers for lawyers. They read just like statutes."

Brennan was a probation litigation attorney in Denver before he accepted a compliance assistant position at Northern Illinois in 2004, so he understands the lingo. His responsibility is to make sure the coaching staffs for all of BSU's 19 sports, 430 student-athletes, and the Cardinal Varsity Club understand it as well. And with the NCAA rules constantly expanding, the responsibilities for a compliance department have become burdensome on staffs of three and four, let alone one. . . .

The textbook violation occurred when David Land was the athletics compliance director. He was replaced by Brennan before the 2006-07 school year, but there were no additions made to the staff.

"Is it enough?" Gora said about the size of the compliance department when questioned during a Star Press editorial board meeting last week. "I don't think any of the violations would have been avoided with more people. The compliance official at the time there was David Land, and the NCAA was very hard on him. He should have monitored the situation."

Brennan already applied to the Office of University Compliance for more additions to his staff for next year but that seems unlikely, according to Gora.

"I'm satisfied with our compliance office and the staffing," Gora said. "We changed compliance officers and instituted a program of rules education that is significant.

"I don't think the number of compliance officers is key, but what they do and how they function."

In other words, Kyle Brennan, you are expendable, and you are the scapegoat should Ball State have any future compliance problems.

The Ball State compliance office funds the staff salaries, but the athletic department pays for all the other expenses. Those expenses range from camps to clinics to software updates to travel. Brennan said his options are limited because his budget, including salary, is less than $100,000. By comparison, the Eastern Michigan director of athletic compliance, Melody Reifel Werner, said her budget is around $200,000.

When asked if he understood Brennan's worries about being understaffed and underfunded, Ball State athletic director Tom Collins said, "absolutely."

Werner once operated under similar conditions as Brennan. Underfunded and understaffed, she took her case all the way to the top. Now, she has a faculty compliance associate, a graduate assistant and two interns.

"Like everybody, we were understaffed. I went to our president and explained I thought we were vulnerable and at risk of violations because we were understaffed," she said. "The president granted a 100 percent release to a faculty member, so I have someone with 25 years of teaching experience working for me full time." . . .

Ahhh, so the practice of minimizing reported athletics expenses by utilizing other budget lines extends to compliance as well.

Some compliance departments benefit in the long run from their athletic departments committing NCAA violations. Michigan State associate athletics director for compliance Jennifer Smith said the NCAA recommended changes to the department after the school committed violations in 1997 that landed the school on probation. The school responded by bringing in new leadership and adding two positions. The sweeping changes bolstered the compliance department, and since then Michigan State has steered clear of any NCAA investigations.

So if the NCAA punishes Ball State further after ruling on the Thompson investigation, will the school follow Michigan State's example and bolster its athletics compliance department? There's no reason to think so at this point.

"I would hope so. I don't know," Brennan said. "With the book scandal, they've known about it for two years and there's been no staff added."

Best of luck Kyle, best of luck.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Arkansas Penalties: Tyson Gay 'Disappointed'

Although he was not named in the NCAA report, Tyson Gay, the World 100 meter and 200 meter champion, was the athlete whose improper benefits resulted in the vacation of Arkansas' 2004 and 2005 Men's Track and Field titles amongst other penalties. He spoke out about the sanctions last night:

I'm very upset with the situation. I really can't comment too much (because) Arkansas' appealing it. That's a good thing. I'm just disappointed about the fact they're taking the team title from people who worked really hard to win as a team. Some of those people, those were their last races. They'll never get to run again or have another championship. I don't think it's fair for you to take that from people who work really hard.

On one level I have to agree with the inevitable 'ITS NOT FAIR' chorus which always accompanies NCAA sanctions. There are always many student-athletes who are penalized as a result of the rule-breaking of coaches, boosters, and fellow teammates. At the same time, vacating titles and, in some cases, wiping entire seasons off the books has proven to be one of the only methods of punishment which everyone from University presidents, to athletic directors, coaches, and boosters takes seriously. It is precisely because it is a penalty which really hurts, unlike others such as scholarship losses, recruiting restrictions, and probation. In other words, it is a punishment which actually has deterrent effect.

As for Gay himself, he claimed ignorance of the violations:

Gay repeated last night that he didn't know anything was wrong until he had completed his collegiate eligibility.

"It was a shock to me. I found out when (federal prosecutors) told me I had to testify," he said. "They told me 'either you come and testify or you go to jail.'"

Gay testified and Brauman, who remains his coach, served a year in prison. Gay says he and Brauman "haven't talked about (the violations) much."

My sympathy for Gay just evaporated. . .

Friday, October 26, 2007

Blog Games

Tip from Little Professor:

Can you find five searches on Google in which your blog comes up #1?

Here are five for PROFANE, which were actual searches done by others:

2008 Bowl Lineup
FBS vs FCS record
Graduation Grats
Salary Inflation History
Simeon Castille Saga

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Arkansas Penalized Again; Must Vacate 2 National Titles

The hammer has been laid down on the University of Arkansas for its latest bout of cheating, this time in the Men's Track & Field program:

INDIANAPOLIS---The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has penalized University of Arkansas, Fayetteville for major violations in its men’s track and field program. This case involved several violations of NCAA recruiting rules committed by one former assistant coach and one prospective student-athlete, including unethical conduct by the former coach and an admitted failure to monitor by the university.

Penalties for the violations involve vacating the men’s track and field records including two national championships; placing the university on probation for three years; accepting the reduction of the number of men’s track and field scholarships; and placing the former coach on a two-year show-cause order. . . .

In reviewing this case, the committee was particularly concerned that the university has had three appearances before the committee in the past 10 years, making the university a rare ‘double repeat-violator.’”

Of further concern to the committee was that this case is another in a long string of major infractions cases involving, at least in part, violations associated with prospective student-athletes arriving on campus prior to full-time enrollment. . . .

On 10 to 15 occasions, the former coach made arrangements through his wife for his sister-in-law to tutor the prospective student-athlete. For each tutoring session, the prospective student-athlete was provided transportation between his apartment and the sister-in-law’s home. Further, the correspondence course required online submission of the answers to 17 unit lessons.

Either the former assistant coach’s wife or his sister-in-law obtained the answer sheets from the prospect for the unit lessons and entered them online. . . .

The committee found that the former coach’s actions were deliberate and in violation of fundamental recruiting rules and that his knowing involvement in arranging or providing recruiting inducements to the prospective student-athlete collectively rose to the level of unethical conduct.

The committee also found that the scope and nature of the violations demonstrated an institutional failure to monitor. The committee stated that the university’s major violation case in 1997 involved issues very similar to those in the current case and should have heightened the university’s attention to monitoring. . . .

The penalties in the case are as follows, with the university’s self-imposed penalties so noted: . . .

The university will vacate all NCAA, school and conference individual records as well as all individual meet results attained by the prospect (then a student-athlete) during the time he attended the institution and competed on the track team. Further, all team results from any competitions in which the student-athlete participated during the same time frame, as well as the record of the head coach, will be reconfigured to reflect the vacated records/results. This includes the 2004 and 2005 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships won by the institution. . . .
John A. White, the Chancellor of the University of Arkansas, is none too pleased, and is whining about the decision:

As we previously acknowledged, the violations in this case primarily involved a rogue former assistant coach and one student-athlete over a short period of time. We are disappointed with the penalties imposed by the infractions committee and believe they are disproportionate to the violations. The university vigorously investigated and self-reported the violations, and then implemented corrective measures and self-imposed penalties, including a reduction of scholarships and a period of probation. The university intends to file an appeal.

Perhaps making sure Arkansas does not hire rogue coaches in the future is the better response? Especially ones who do not get tossed in jail for committing multiple felonies?


Head coach John McDonnell reacts; history of vacated championships:

Arkansas Coach John Mc-Donnell grimly declined comment when reached by telephone in Kentucky, where the Razorbacks will attempt to win their 34 th consecutive conference cross country championship Saturday.

“I can’t even comment on it because we’re appealing it,” Mc-Donnell said. “We’ll see with the appeal what will happen with that. We have 30 days.”

McDonnell reacted briefly to the idea of losing two of the 42 national championships he has won in track and field and cross country.

“Oh yeah, I would say it was [a heavy blow ],” McDonnell said. “I can’t comment on it. I’m sorry. I would if I could.”

Arkansas is not the first track program to vacate a national championship, but it is not a common occurrence. Texas El-Paso lost its 1983 Outdoor title because of recruiting violations, but there have not been many other high-profile dockings. UCLA vacated its 1995 women’s softball championship, Hawaii lost its 2002 men’s volleyball title and Syracuse lost the 1990 lacrosse championship.

Will the USC football program be next?

SEC: End of the Enforcement Bad Old Days?

Columnist Gentry Estes at the Press Register in Alabama seems to think so:

University handling textbook probe correct way

Thursday, October 25, 2007

TUSCALOOSA -- Cloudy skies and chilly temperatures have settled over the University of Alabama's campus since Saturday's emphatic 41-17 football victory over Tennessee.

Maybe it's just another coincidence.

Maybe it's also a coincidence that Ball State was punished by the NCAA for textbook violations two days before Alabama's discovery that five football players violated institutional policy in the receipt of textbooks.

And maybe, like Alabama has insisted, it's only a coincidence that NCAA officials were in town on routine business last week when it occurred. . . .

Alabama now approaches the possibility of more NCAA trouble (who would have thought textbooks could have been a cause?), but don't overlook a reason for optimism for the future in all this.

The school's handling of the textbook situation to this point has been notably improved from situations in the recent past.

A quick, decisive internal investigation was called to examine every athlete to see who may have violated NCAA rules by receiving extra benefits. The president's office has been involved from the start. The media have been informed at each step.

Football coach Nick Saban uttered words Tuesday that reporters here have never heard him say: "You'll probably know about it as soon as I do." That line explains best who is calling the shots, and it is not anyone in the football program. . . .

No, this is not your father's Alabama. Or even your older brother's.

Suspending five football players, including two offensive line starters (on the eve of the Tennessee game, of all weeks) proved that the university is now serious about rule enforcement.

In many ways, this is the new reality of Commissioner Mike Slive's Southeastern Conference. There are to be no secrets, and it has almost become unwise for compliance offices not to report regular secondary violations.

"When we have seen compliance departments that we don't believe are up to standard," Slive said this summer, "we are not bashful about letting that institution know at the highest levels."

The SEC likes to boast of the decline in NCAA trouble during the past few years. Slive added that his office is in "constant communication" with the compliance departments in each of its 12 athletics departments.

This particular situation at Alabama may get worse before it gets better. The school headed into this sweeping probe without knowing exactly what it would find, which paints administrators into a corner. If more misdeeds are discovered, they must be dealt with swiftly and openly.

It remains to be seen whether Alabama is ahead of the curve where enforcement is concerned compared to its competitors in the SEC, where rule-breaking has been endemic. Is this the beginning of a trend? Or will Alabama, and the SEC as a whole revert to type?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

University of Alabama Suspends 5 in New Textbook Scandal

Coming in the wake of the recent penalties against Ball State, the University of Alabama made the following announcement minutes before yesterdays game against Tennessee:
TUSCALOOSA – The University of Alabama has suspended five football student-athletes – Antoine Caldwell, Glen Coffee, Marlon Davis, Marquis Johnson, and Chris Rogers – for today’s game with the University of Tennessee for a violation of institutional policy involving impermissible receipt of textbooks. The infraction was discovered on Thursday, and the school immediately initiated an inquiry that is ongoing. The student-athletes were informed of the suspensions on Friday upon the initial results of the inquiry. The University is still in a fact-finding phase and will release further details when it is completed. “This is a situation that developed late this week and we are actively investigating,” said Director of Athletics Mal Moore. “These suspensions are a measure aimed at dealing with the facts as we know them at this time. While I cannot discuss the situation in great detail, I can assure you we will address it fully when we have completed this inquiry."
Coach Nick Saban commented:

Obviously, there were some players who did not use good judgment in what they did. I don't know all the circumstances surrounding it. There's also a system in place that shouldn't allow this to happen that obviously didn't work. . . . It's poor judgment on the players' part. You've heard me say this before. We can't tolerate poor judgment. You need to do what's right, and when you don't do what's right, most of the time there's serious consequences for it. . . . We're going to support those players and help those guys be successful. It ain't a problem.

Move along. Move along. Nothing to see hear. . .

Friday, October 19, 2007

College Football News: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good:

Harvard fullback Noah Van Niel has an interesting career ahead of him. Whats next? Blogging medieval historian skiing alumni? Nah. Way too outlandish. In any case, enjoy the whole article:

Practice isn't over until the fullback sings

Harvard player eyes opera career

By John Powers, Globe Staff | October 18, 2007

So, people ask Harvard's fullback/tenor, is there any connection between football and opera? "Incredibly so," nods Noah Van Niel, who handles defensive linemen and Donizetti with equal aplomb. "It's rehearsing a set of skills and then going out and performing. There's pressure and there's an audience and there's nerves: Can I do this?" . . .

And later this fall, when Van Niel is auditioning for postgraduate programs in vocal performance, he'll have to know Dies Bildnis from Mozart's Magic Flute and four other arias by heart. "It's just like football," Van Niel says. "When they call a play for you on the goal line, you can't say, 'I don't know that one.' "

So after football practice at the Stadium, the curly-haired, barrel-chested Newton native walks back across the Larz Anderson Bridge to Dunster House, his riverside dorm with the crimson dome, locks himself inside a practice room, and has at Signor Donizetti for an hour.

The Bad

The run-up to the rape trial of Penn State running back Austin Scott is beginning, in a sadly predictable manner, with an assault on the alleged victim:

Similar rape claim made at Moravian by Scott's accuser

Student in 2003 case was acquitted by a jury

The woman accusing Penn State running back Austin Scott of sexual assault leveled similar charges in 2003 against a Moravian College student, who was later acquitted of rape.

In both cases, the woman said the attacks happened after she spent the night drinking. And in both cases, she said she woke up to find the men forcing themselves on her, court records show.

Scott's attorney, John P. Karoly Jr. of South Whitehall Township, said the Moravian case shows the woman is ''pathological'' and has a history of falsely accusing men of rape.

'This girl has made similar allegations before that were not believed by a jury,'' he said. ''… If they insist on going forward with this case, we are going to petition the court to have her examined by a psychiatrist.'' . . .

Scott, one of the top high school football players in Lehigh Valley history, was charged with raping the woman, now 22, in his apartment on Penn State's campus in the early morning hours of Oct. 5.

He was suspended from the Nittany Lions during his last year of eligibility after the woman accused him of rape. He remains enrolled at the university, and is free under $50,000 unsecured bail.

The woman testified at a preliminary hearing Wednesday that she went out drinking with friends on Oct. 4 before meeting up with Scott and going to his room. She testified that Scott, 22, began forcing himself on her, and she initially tried to resist but he hit her in the back, so she let him have sex with her because she was afraid. . . .

The Ugly:

Baylor offensive line coach Eric Schnupp had, errrr, an 'accident':

WACO, Texas -- The Baylor assistant football coach cited for public urination resigned Thursday.

Offensive line coach Eric Schnupp was suspended indefinitely by the university this week after being cited for urinating on the bar at a tavern. His resignation was effective immediately. . . .

Schnupp wasn't arrested but issued a citation early Sunday for disorderly conduct-reckless exposure at Scruffy Murphy's, police said. The citation is a Class C misdemeanor carrying a $258 fine, according to Waco Municipal Court.

Bartender Danny Severe said an employee saw Schnupp urinating on the bar, and a manager told police officers who were there on an unrelated matter, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported Tuesday.


Blog Gifts: Paying it Forward

There is a 'pay it forward' sort of game going around the blogosphere at the moment:
By the end of the calendar year, I will send a tangible, physical gift to each of the first five people to comment here. The catch? Each person must make the same offer on her/his blog.
I took up Dr. Virago's offer at Quod She, so the game is now in play here. The gifts from me will be some sort of small athletic memorabilia. If you have any specific requests, I will consider them!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Kelvin Sampson Cheats Again

The whole sorry story is here. Naturally, we should not be surprised, given his history of rule-breaking, although the looming sanctions were not, of course, brought up when Sampson was hired. What is remarkable about this story, however, is the extent to which University of Indiana alumni and press have turned on Sampson and Athletic Director Rick Greenspan, despite success in the first season and a number of recruiting coups. This editorial in the Bloomington Pantagraph captures sentiments well:
Rick Greenspan got his man. Now, he’s getting what he deserves.

Greenspan’s 2006 national search for Indiana University’s head basketball coach ended in the hiring of Kelvin Sampson, a curious choice given the number of available candidates who were not under NCAA investigation. . . .

Thus, in May 2006, two months after being hired at Indiana, Sampson was banned from recruiting off campus for one year and, among other things, prohibited from participating in three-way calls with recruits.

At the time, he said he’d “learned an invaluable lesson.”

Turns out he learned nothing, unless you count knowing how and when to throw an assistant coach under the bus.

On Sunday, a red-faced Indiana announced self-imposed penalties against Sampson, which include not giving him a $500,000 raise he was due and stripping his team of a scholarship for next season. An internal probe found he had taken part in 10 three-way calls between May 25, 2006, and May 25, 2007, a direct violation of his NCAA sanctions.

His excuse?

He said he only knew of one of them (one too many?), and that assistant coach Rob Senderoff was responsible for patching through the three-way hookups.

Indiana punished Senderoff, freezing his salary and banning him from recruiting off-campus or making recruiting calls through July 2008. Yet, the responsibility rests with Sampson, leaving Greenspan, the former Illinois State athletic director, to wait nervously as the NCAA conducts its own investigation and mulls further sanctions.

That puts Greenspan right back where he was when he hired Sampson, so yes, he had this coming. A change of address has not changed Sampson, and perhaps only Greenspan believed it would. . . .

Why did Greenspan bring in a coach with dirty laundry, particularly at a school the volatile Knight kept squeaky clean for so long? Knight’s downfall was his inability to control his temper. But when it came to NCAA rules, he never lost his grip.

Clearly, Greenspan looked at Sampson’s 12-year record at Oklahoma — 279-109, three NCAA Sweet 16s, two Elite Eights, one Final Four — and felt he was worth the risk. There was pressure to win following the forced resignation of embattled Hoosiers’ coach Mike Davis, and Sampson provided hope for a quick fix.

Greenspan got what he wanted.

Now, he has to live with it.
We will have to see whether all will be forgiven, as is the pattern, should Sampson remain successful on the court.

1. Kelvin Sampson Cheats Again
2. More on the Kelvin Sampson Imbroglio
3. Indiana University's Spin Control. . .
4. The Kelvin Sampson Bomb is Set to Blow
5. Kelvin Sampson: "Time to Cleanse the Slime"
6. In June: Sampson versus Senderoff?
7. Source: Sampson Out, Dakich in at Indiana
8. Commentary on Sampson's Departure

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Random Amusing Links

Check out Gordon Smith's post at Conglomerate on Texas A&M football coach Dennis Franchione's super-duper-secret newsletter.

Sportsprof notes that Every School Should Have an Owner Like Boone Pickens and offers some gold-digging advice to Oklahoma State wannabees.

Finally, have a gander at EDSBS's take on the firing of University of Nebraska Athletic Director Steve Pederson, and the (re-)hiring of Tom Osborne. TEE HEE!

Ball State Penalized; More Trouble on the Horizon

At least where academics are concerned, Ball State is one of the better actors amongst NCAA Division I schools. Graduation rates run from a low of 52% in the baseball program to 100% in women's gymnastics. Unfortunately, it is finally facing the consequences of rules infractions dating from the tenure of former Athletic Director Lawrence 'Bubba' Cunningham, who is now safely ensconced at the University of Tulsa. Yesterday, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions announced penalties stemming from prohibited practices and excess financial aid, and it was determined that there was the 'lack of institutional control' which Athletic Directors dread:

INDIANAPOLIS---The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has penalized Ball State University for major violations in its athletics program, which included several student-athletes using nearly $27,000 in scholarship funds for books for other students through the university bookstore. The violations include a lack of institutional control, excessive financial aid and exceeding practice hour limitations.

Penalties for the violations include placing the university on probation for two years; reducing the number of football and men’s tennis scholarships; and reducing the maximum number of hours per week spent on countable athletically related activities for the softball team. . . .

From the 2003 spring semester through the 2004-05 academic year, 89 student-athletes in 10 sports impermissibly obtained a total value of $26,944 in textbooks through the book loan program for scholarship student-athletes. The textbooks were obtained by the student-athletes for classes in which they were not enrolled or for classes in which student-athletes obtained multiple copies of the same book. . . .

At the time the violations occurred, the university’s bookstore had a computerized system that placed a $1,000 per semester balance in the account of each student-athlete with a book scholarship. There was no system in place to check the class schedules of all student-athletes to ensure the books being obtained corresponded with the classes each student-athlete was taking. . . .

During an investigation by the NCAA enforcement staff, it was also found that from 1999 through 2006 the then head softball coach and the university’s softball program failed to count student-athletes’ work at camps, clinics and program fundraising events as mandatory athletically related activities. The program repeatedly exceeded daily and weekly practice hour limitations, failed to give student-athletes a required day off each week from athletically related activities, and conducted individual skill instruction sessions in violation of NCAA rules. . . .

While this activity was corrected, the violation was not reported to the NCAA. Further, the university received information in exit interviews with student-athletes that these violations might be occurring; however, it failed to act on the information. . . .
One of the strengths of the current enforcement regime is that this has become one of the biggest no nos for athletics programs. Athletic Director Tom Collins, who inherited the mess, commented on the sanctions:
Anytime you have rules violations, anything like that, I think it puts a mark on you. . . .I think the good news now is, now we know what it is. Now that it is done we can move forward. We just need to be diligent in our rules education for not only the staff, coaches and student-athletes, but we also have to be diligent in our monitoring.
The football and men's tennis coaches were, however, none too pleased by the additional sanctions which the NCAA meted out. Football coach Brady Hoke commented:
It was a little bit of shock that there were more penalties by the NCAA. I really thought it was over with. I haven't thought about it until today. I thought because of the actions of the university to right what went wrong and to punish the people involved, that would be enough. . . .Whenever you don't have your full compliment of scholarships it's disappointing, regardless of the sport you play. If you say you get 85 scholarships, I wouldn't know why you would want less than 85 student athletes.
As for Tom Collins, he is still facing a potential train wreck over allegations of significant rules violations committed by former basketball coach Ronny Thompson:

The allegations described by the NCAA include that:

• Thompson may have provided financial assistance to someone involved with a basketball player at another university whom the coach was recruiting to transfer to Ball State.

• The possible recruiting violation was brought to the attention of associate athletics director Pat Quinn, who tried to investigate before being reprimanded by athletic director Tom Collins for pursuing the matter.

• Thompson provided Nike shoes to athletes as a reward for improved grades, which could be considered an extra benefit.

If the second allegation is true, then this is a mess which is entirely of Collins' making, and one which should cost him his job.

Friday, October 12, 2007

STUDENT-Athletes at Boston College

The article by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports on the Boston College athletics program should be required reading for everyone, especially those who maintain that high academic standards are incompatible with success on the field. Here are some excerpts:

In an upset bigger than Appalachian State and Stanford combined, the most likely place to find the actual players on a serious national title contender is – get this – in class. (And eventually, caps and gowns.)

Boston College has a whole bunch of numbers going for it right now. There is the record (6-0), the national ranking (No. 4) and the possible position in the Heisman race for quarterback Matt Ryan (No. 1).

Then there is the number that makes the Eagles one of the most unlikely national title contenders in years: 93.

That's the graduation rate for BC football players according to the latest NCAA figures. The Eagles finished third in the country behind Navy (95) and Northwestern (94). . .

It's not like the 93 percent was some aberration. Last year it was 96 and for nearly two decades, through various formulas, it's almost always been above 90. Four times – 1992, 1994, 1995 and 2004 – the Eagles finished No. 1 in the nation. Best of all, there is no trend of hiding athletes in basket-weaving majors, no fifth-year seniors who are still "undecided."

"The statistics show that we take the term 'student-athlete' very seriously at Boston College," athletic director Gene DeFillipo said.

Meanwhile, the rest of the national title contenders seem to prefer the term athlete-student. BC has a 40-percentage point advantage on the three teams ahead of it in the AP poll – LSU (51 percent), Cal (52) and Ohio State (53). Those three aren't even the worst offenders, either.

No matter what many of these big football factories say, no matter how many excuses they make or how well they promote select success stories, the reality is few of them put any real care or concern into the long-term educational welfare of their players. . . .

Certainly neither the school nor the athletic department is perfect as the occasional scandal (more than once gambling related) and off-campus flare up prove. . . .


. . . .But when trouble hits there isn't a cover up, a stonewalling or an "everyone-else-does-it" defense.

They refocus and not just with lip service.

Back in the mid-1990s, successful basketball coach Jim O'Brien got into a battle with the admissions department over whether it should relax standards for a couple of recruits. The school sided with the admissions people and told O'Brien it was their way or the highway, no matter how popular he was.

O'Brien left immediately for Ohio State where he got the Buckeyes to the Final Four, then on major probation, then into a multimillion dollar wrongful firing lawsuit. BC just shrugged and hired a new coach, Al Skinner, who could win within their standards. . . .

If they get there, who knows the fallout? Will Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany write an open letter complaining that the Eagles are too smart? Will the BCS formula be tweaked to punish teams capable of doing calculus? Will the Boone Pickens of the world suddenly scrap plans for some Taj Mahal football dorm to construct "one of them thar library thingies?"

The current average graduation rate of the last five BCS champions is 54 percent.

In a corner-cutting climate like that, can Boston College actually wind up the best team in the country?

For some of us, they already have.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Stanford Football

Several weeks ago, columnist 'Betting Fool' posed his 'Question of the Week':
How do you fix the Stanford football program? Is is worth fixing? How long should it take to have a winning season?
Some choice responses:
Drop the educational idealism nonsense and make the football program a "Football" program. No one with dreams of playing in the NFL will go to a school that doesn't make football the priority. Top programs groom their players for the NFL. Stanford makes them students first and football players second. Maybe it is "the right thing to do" but that is not the question here. If they are the only ones with STUDENT Athletes instead of ATHLETE students, the talent won't show and neither will the wins.

Simple answer: Have Stanford Admissions Dept. let in the same quality of student athlete that Cal does.

The way to fix Stanford football is take schools like Stanford, Vanderbilt, Duke, Baylor, Tulane, Notre Dame, and the Military Academies, and form the only 1-A college football conference where players actually go to class. Don't give the conference a BCS berth, but give the conference winner an automatic bid to the CarQuest Bowl. As Ross Perot was fond of saying, problem solved!
How shocking that Stanford would do the right thing on several points:

- Embracing 'Educational Idealism' rather than making football the priority.
- Making sure the players are in fact STUDENT-athletes.
- Maintaining admissions standards.
- Forcing players to go to class.

With these thoughts in mind, lets congratulate the Stanford Cardinals (graduation rate 91%) and Coach Jim Harbaugh on their 24-23 win over #2 ranked USC (graduation rate 54%) last night. Do not, however, hold your breath on the sentiments expressed by commenter sean2834 at
Stanford's win confirms the cardinal rule of college sports: coaching matters. The winning stopped in Palo Alto with Willingham's departure, and it looks like Harbaugh is putting the Teevens/Harris Era to bed. Now maybe we can stop hearing about how Stanford can't recruit the right talent owing to high academic standards.

Friday, October 5, 2007

More Self-Congratulation from the NCAA

Item #1

The NCAA is trumpeting its Colloquium to be held at the NCAA convention on January 10-11, on 'College Sports: A Legitimate Focus for Scholarly Inquiry?' For a far more instructive scoop on this, review the post at Sports Law Blog from April on the Lost NCAA conference.

Item #2

On Wednesday, the NCAA released its latest data manipulation efforts I mean Graduate Success Rate measures:

INDIANAPOLIS—Division I student-athletes continue to perform well in the classroom, and more of them are graduating from college, according to the latest NCAA Graduation Success Rate figures.

From 1995-2000, Graduation Success Rates increased in many sports, including high-profile men’s sports such as basketball, football and baseball, and high-profile women’s sports such as basketball, ice hockey and soccer. In fact, Graduation Success Rates in men’s basketball jumped nearly 8 percent.

WHOOT! WHOOT! Time to jump for joy! Not so fast.

The 'Graduation Success Rate' for Men's Basketball made it all the way to 63%, and that falls after all of the data manipulation, the most important element of which is the fact that students who depart eligible (whether they graduate or not) are counted positively. If one digs deeply enough into the mound of data which the NCAA has released, one discovers that the federally reported graduation rate still stands at an appalling 45%.

It sickens me that the NCAA's propagandizing efforts on behalf of the revenue sports continue to overshadow the laudable efforts of the STUDENT-athletes in other sports.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Tony Joiner's 'Misunderstanding'

On Tuesday, a laudatory story on Florida safety Tony Joiner appeared at On the same day, he became the eighth player on his team to be arrested this year, although there was good reason to believe that the felony burglary charge was, indeed, the result of a 'misunderstanding'. After all, the owner of the the property where the burglary allegedly occurred went to bat for him:
But the owner of the property leased by the towing company, Stan Forron, said Tuesday afternoon that the whole thing is "a big misunderstanding." . . .

Forron said Joiner had made arrangements to pay the towing bill and pick up the car. But when Joiner arrived, no one was around to help him.

"I don't know if he was late or early or what," said Forron, who plans to urge the state attorney's office to drop the charges. "I don't understand why he was arrested. Is it a crime? Yes and no. It's kind of my fault because I left the gate open.

"It's like going to breakfast at Cracker Barrel and when you go to leave there's no one there to take your money. How long are you going to wait?"

Forron acknowledged that he is a Gators fan, but he insisted that it had no bearing on his desire to see the charges dropped.

"I came forward because right is right and wrong is wrong," Forron said. "I don't think he should be in trouble."

It also appeared that he had made no attempt to get away:

According to the police report, witnesses said Joiner opened the gate to the towing company, got into a car, drove out of the lot and was trying to close the gate when he was confronted by one of the witnesses. The witness said Joiner drove back into the lot and waited for police to arrive.

Over the last 24 hours, new details have emerged, and Stan Forron's story has been contradicted by both witnesses - and himself. From the Tampa Tribune:

In a telephone interview with The Tampa Tribune, the owner of the lot, Stan Forron, said he inadvertently left the gate open before he left work early Tuesday morning. Forron said he was not present during the incident.

From the Miami Herald:

Stan Forron, who on Tuesday identified himself as the property owner (lease holder) where Watson's Towing and Recovery is located, said the towing service will not press charges against Joiner.

He called the incident a ``big miscommunication.''

Forron said that he left the gate open and that Joiner called earlier in the morning about picking up the car.

Forron said that the towing service employees asked the police not to arrest Joiner.

But no mention of a complaint withdrawal was written in the police report and Gainesville police information officer Lt. Keith Kameg said Tuesday that Forron was never at the scene of the incident while the police were there.

Forron told The Miami Herald that ``the boys didn't know I was there because I was in the back.''

So depending on which story you believe, he was either there, or he was not. Furthermore, that he left the gate up, which is flatly contradicted by witnesses (including the suspect), and his employees asked that he not be arrested. We cannot be sure on that last point, but his employee Travis Watkins did make a couple calls to the police during the incident, and these have now been released.

Excerpt from Call #1, 4:32 A.M:
Watkins: “I need GPD down here now.”

Dispatcher: “At Watson’s?”

Watkins: “Yes ma’am.”

Dispatcher: “What’s going on there?”

Watkins: “Well, I had somebody trying to break into the yard trying to steal their car.”

Dispatcher: "Is he still out there, the suspect?"

Watkins: "Yeah, he's still here, its, ah, Tony Joiner from the Gators."
Excerpt from Call #2, 4:37 A.M:

Watkins: “Could I have GPD step it up please?”

Dispatcher: “OK. What’s going on there right now?”

Watkins: “They’re getting a little hasty with us.”

Dispatcher: “OK. What are they doing?”

Watkins: “They’re getting up in our face and [expletive]. They’ve already broken into the yard and tried to take the car, and I blocked them in.”
It thus does not sound like the innocent incident which was first portrayed in the press, and it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the fact that Stan Forron is a Gators fan has influenced the various versions of the event that he has recounted.

Yesterday, Urban Meyer attempted damage control by stripping Joiner of his captaincy. Yes, thats right, Joiner was one of the team captains. It is now difficult to escape the conclusion that Meyer has lost control of the Florida football program.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Inside Higher Ed on Academic Fraud

Apologies for the long hiatus. This is my first semester on tenure-track and marking my 150 exams is currently consuming my life. Thankfully University Diaries has been ably reporting on most of the important scandals in intercollegiate athletics. There was also an excellent article yesterday at Inside Higher Ed on Academic Fraud. Both the article and the comments thread are well worth reading. Here are a couple excerpts:

Largely as a response to sagging graduation rates for football and basketball players, the NCAA put into place several years ago new academic rules that require colleges to report each term whether their athletes are on progress toward a degree — with penalties awaiting those whose students aren’t progressing and aren’t performing.

At the same time, the NCAA reversed its previous approach of continually raising initial entrance requirements and began allowing students with SAT scores as low as 400 (or a corresponding ACT score) to enroll so long as their high school grades were high enough. That move appeased critics of the standardized test score requirement who said it adversely affected minority students.

In the years since the changes, many have expressed concern that the combination of heightened academic expectations and lowered entrance regulations would put the campus employees responsible for providing academic support to athletes in a tough spot, asked to help a growing number of marginal students — potentially at all costs. . . .

David Goldfield, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who served on the academic eligibility and compliance cabinet of the NCAA, which helped craft the new policy, said he supports the new progress standards but still opposes lowering entrance requirements — which he said strains the entire system of academic support.

“When there’s pressure applied you’re going to get a reaction, and the reaction we’re seeing is academic fraud cases,” Goldfield said. “From a coach’s perspective, the major task is to win, but now with the new requirements, the second and often equally pressing task is to maintain the eligibility of players.”

Goldfield fears that academic fraud cases are far more widespread than just the ones reported to the NCAA. Compliance officers can have a difficult time tracking down such cases, he said, because they can involve wrongdoing by people in all parts of an institution, and often rely on self-reporting by athletics officials. . . .