Category Archives: The NCAA

Academics vs. athletics: when push comes to shove…

… you know which way the chips are gonna fall.

This spring, a new group will begin studying Division I transfer rules. Its goal: to recommend changes that will be considered during the 2015-16 legislative cycle.

During a conference call earlier this month, the Division I Council Coordination Committee appointed the Ad Hoc Transfer Issues Working Group to consider where improvements can be made to current rules. The group’s focus will be on graduate transfers and permission-to-contact rules.

“Student transfers are an important issue in higher education, and it is no different in athletics,” said co-chair Jere Morehead, president of the University of Georgia. “The group will be mindful of the integration of athletics and academics when creating recommendations for Division I transfer policy or legislation.”

Transfer rules were not included among the specific areas of autonomy within which the Division I Board of Directors has given the 65 schools in the Big 10, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC the ability to make rules for themselves. However, the leadership in those five conferences indicated at that time that they were dissatisfied with the current transfer rules and hoped changes could be made quickly for students in the entire division.

One of the new group’s points of emphasis will be to consider whether to update the policy for graduate transfers to more closely mirror a new policy adopted last year for undergraduate transfers.

Yes, because giving kids an incentive to do what they’re supposed to be in school for – earn a college degree – might have to be compromised in the name of a greater good.  Like this:

The group will discuss whether that policy should be consistent with the undergraduate transfer policy, which requires students competing in baseball, basketball, bowl subdivision football and men’s ice hockey to sit out of competition for a year after transferring. The new policy allows those students to request a waiver to extend the number of years they have to complete their eligibility, but they can no longer request a waiver to compete immediately.

That policy applies to any undergraduate student-athlete seeking immediate eligibility starting with the 2015-16 academic year, regardless of when they enrolled. The group that recommended the undergraduate policy change was interested in exploring similar guidelines for graduate students, pending further research into the issue.

The new working group will examine graduate transfer data collected by the NCAA research staff when considering whether changes would be appropriate.

Consistency.  Yes, we all know when it comes to the NCAA, that’s an issue of paramount significance.  That’s why you should pay no attention to minor concerns.

 High-profile situations that have arisen under the current rules have spurred some athletics administrators to believe a better solution is possible.

“We plan to build on the great foundation of work done by the Leadership Council subcommittee on transfer issues, specifically in the areas of graduate transfer and permission to contact,” said working group co-chair Keith Gill, athletics director at the University of Richmond. “We want to ascertain whether there are better ways to appropriately balance providing our students with the opportunity to transfer when necessary and ensuring that the recruiting process has an end once students are enrolled. I look forward to working with the group toward possible solutions.”

They’re building!  What could possibly be wrong about building?

But given the focus on academics, taking away a benefit for players who actually get their degree would seem to contradict the stated goal of the NCAA. Expect plenty of public backlash against this potential change.

The NCAA contradicting one of its stated goals?  That’s consistent.

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Freedom’s just another word.

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that as the NCAA was willing to wade into the murky waters of Confederate flagdom, it’s now preparing to take a stand on another culture war matter.

On the eve of next week’s Final Four in Indianapolis, the NCAA expressed concern about a new Indiana law that will allow businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers based on “religious freedom” and suggested future NCAA championships in the state could be impacted.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday signed into law a measure that has created uproar in the state where the NCAA is located. Some conventions are threatening to pull out of Indianapolis. Greg Ballard, the Republican mayor of Indianapolis, broke with the Republican governor on the bill and said it would put the city’s economy at risk.

“The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement Thursday after the bill was signed. “We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees. We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill. Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.”

I don’t know where the NCAA has been on this before now.  It’s not as if Indiana is setting a trend here.  Does this mean Emmert’s prepared to announce that the organization will prohibit championship games it sponsors in every one of those nineteen states (soon to be twenty, if Georgia’s proposed law passes) that allow individuals to discriminate against gays?

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UPDATE:  The Big Ten weighs in.

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Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

The Ohio State Way?

Does what Braxton Miller did the other day rise to the level of an NCAA violation?

I have no idea.

With Ohio State’s announcement that the school “is looking into the situation”, do you think it’ll handle what’s happened differently than Georgia, if presented with a similar problem, would?

I have an idea.

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Filed under Georgia Football, The NCAA

The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back

The document dump in the Todd McNair defamation suit against the NCAA has generated the shitstorm anyone who’s watched the NCAA desperately try to prevent the information from being released in public predicted was coming.  There’s plenty of damning information…

•Also in a memo, Uphoff went to great lengths to compare the Bush case to the Oklahoma City bombing trial. Uphoff was attempting to show how witnesses’ credibility could be attacked by challenging the weight given to hearsay.

“This evidence in this [Bush] case is, for example, [is] markedly stronger than in the OKC bombing case which was built entirely on circumstantial evidence,” Uphoff wrote. “In fact, there was no direct evidence that [Terry] Nichols was ever involved in the bombing plot.”

•Howard added in correspondence to committee members: “McNair should have all inferences negatively inferred against him … we need not say why we disbelieve him, we only need to let the public, or whomever, know that we do disbelieve him.”

Lawyers for McNair argued in their lawsuit that the lengthy messages by Uphoff and Howard were intentionally sent to voting infraction committee members in violation of the NCAA’s procedures to influence them in their decision. Howard had just joined the infractions committee but was supposed to only be observing the USC case. Neither had voting rights to decide the case.

•Infractions committee member Eleanor Myers admitted to a “botched interview” in which investigators got the year of a key phone call wrong between McNair and former agent wanna-be Lloyd Lake. That contention had been a key part of McNair’s appeal to the NCAA, which was rejected.

… but the funniest stuff has to be the bridge too far – Junior.

The emails, among nearly 500 pages of documents filed in the case Tuesday that were obtained by the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/1HA4eCv), include members of the NCAA infractions committee deriding the school for hiring back as its head coach former assistant Lane Kiffin, who had been an offensive coordinator for coach Pete Carroll during the Bush period that led to school sanctions.

“USC has responded to its problems by bringing in Lane Kiffin,” committee member Rodney Uphoff wrote in an undated memo to other members of the committee. “They need a wake-up call that doing things the wrong way will have serious consequences.”

Another committee member expressed similar sentiments about Kiffin in an email dated March 2010, after Kiffin had returned to lead USC after stints as head coach of Tennessee and the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.

“Lack of institutional control … (and do we add the hiring of Lane Kiffin?), is a very easy call for me,” committee member Roscoe Howard wrote.

I wonder if the committee has any misgivings about Nick Saban now.  You can bet if the members do, they haven’t put those in writing.

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Tuesday morning buffet

Chock full of goodies for your reading pleasure.

  • According to Khari Harding’s dad, local media sussed on to the problem with the new NCAA transfer rule before Tulsa did.  Ugh.
  • Five reasons why Tennessee will win the SEC East in 2015… and five reasons UT won’t.
  • Here’s Athlon’s Georgia spring preview.  Nothing particularly revelatory.
  • The NCAA is okay with a crowdfunding project for student-athletes?  Count me skeptical; it’s probably more like the NCAA hasn’t figured out a way to shut it down yet.
  • Auburn’s home/road splits over the last ten years are rather eye-opening.
  • Hoo, boy“Senior linebacker Jordan Jenkins said he thought there was an underlying issue in the team’s setbacks, though. The players who served as leaders weren’t very good, in his opinion.”
  • And this is why they pay Cam Cameron the big bucks, I guess.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, The NCAA

“Deregulating the feeding of the student-athletes”

I thought the dumbest thing about the NCAA’s arcane food rules was the bagel topping nonsense.

It’s the NCAA; I should have known better.

“Not many kids growing up in Texas eat a bagel in the morning with nothing on it,” said University of Texas sports dietician Amy Culp.

It wasn’t that three meals wasn’t enough. It was that the athletes’ packed schedules often had them missing one or several of the dining hall time frames each day. The NCAA allowed one “training table” — a meal specifically geared for athletes — per day, but if a player had a class then he missed that window for the biggest meal of the day. When players missed their meals, they had to use money from their living stipend to find something on their own, which often resulted in bad decisions like fast food or pizza, like any college student would do.

The more often players had to use their own money, the less they had to do other things.

Stupid me, thinking the NCAA was aware student-athletes have to go to class.  D’oh!

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The NCAA and the “VP of Common Sense”

Andy Staples has a piece up today about amending the NCAA transfer rules.  I’m not saying I agree with everything he pushes in it, but this part made me think he’s definitely on to something:

The athletic director at the previous school signs a form allowing the transferring player to play immediately.

That’s it. If the coach and athletic director at the previous school don’t care if the player contributes to his/her new team right away, why should anyone else?

If this rule was in place now, there would be no confusion about Harding’s situation. Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs and coach Gus Malzahn are human beings with functioning hearts, and neither would object to letting Harding play in 2015.

Had this rule been in place in 2012, receiver Justin McCay would have been allowed to play immediately after transferring from Oklahoma to Kansas. The NCAA denied McCay’s request for a waiver even though Sooners athletic director Joe Castiglione went to bat for McCay and requested that he be able to play immediately…

All of which makes me wonder exactly why the NCAA is in the transfer rules business in the first place.  I mean, if transfers are a matter of competitive balance, or however else you want to describe putting the brakes on kids jumping from one program to another, then in the case of a specific student-athlete, why should it be a matter of concern for the NCAA to be involved?  Doesn’t Staples’ hypothetical example make more sense?

If a hypothetical Georgia football player wants to transfer, he would request a release from his scholarship. If he decided to go to Maryland, the Terrapins could offer him a scholarship if they had one available. If the player wanted to transfer for dubious reasons, Bulldogs AD Greg McGarity could do nothing and the player would sit a year. There would be no appeal process because the only “penalty” is an extra year of free school. If the player wanted to transfer for a good reason, McGarity could waive the year-in-residence requirement and the player could suit up immediately.

That’s not exactly a rhetorical question.  I don’t know the origins of the NCAA rule, but I suspect nowadays it’s a handy place for a weaseling AD or head coach to hide instead of coming out directly to validate a decision blocking a student-athlete’s departure.  That’s hardly justification for screwing over Khari Harding’s family.

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