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Daily Surf Report: Great hotel discounts?

Posted on: September 20, 2011 8:11 am
Edited on: September 20, 2011 10:20 am
South Carolina could be in very serious trouble in the wake of the NCAA charging that numerous South Carolina athletes and prospects received $55,000 in improper benefits from boosters, according to a notice of allegations sent to the university on Monday. School president Harris Pastides said the school takes the allegations "very seriously," reports Jeff Hartsell. The boosters involved -- called "representatives of the school's athletic interests" by the NCAA -- have been disassociated from the school.

South Carolina has until Dec. 14 to respond to the allegations, which occurred from May 2009 through February 2011. The case could go before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions next February, with football coach Steve Spurrier asked by the NCAA to attend. The allegations are "considered to be potential major violations," the NCAA notice said. USC could be subject to more stringent penalties because of violations under former football coach Lou Holtz in a case decided in November 2005, within the five-year window for "repeat violator" status.

"The University will review the notice and respond accordingly. I assure you that we will continue to take all aspects of this investigation very seriously," Pastides said in a statement. "We are prepared to continue to work with the NCAA to resolve any issues."

The latest allegations stem from two cases, one involving the Whitney Hotel in Columbia and the other the Student-Athlete Mentoring Foundation, a Delaware group that "provides supplementary support to high school student-athletes," according to its website. The NCAA charged USC with a "failure to monitor" in both situations. In the Whitney Hotel case, the NCAA says 10 football players and two women's track athletes paid "reduced rents" to live there in 2009 and 2010. The football players paid $14.59 per day or about $450 per month, the NCAA said, resulting in improper benefits of as much as $19,280 for one player and $16,940 for another. The Associated Press reported that the NCAA deemed the rate should have been $57 per day for a total of $1,710 per month.

One of the athletes involved is touted freshman WR Damiere Byrd, who is currently serving a four-game NCAA suspension. The timing of this case will drag on past signing day in February and given the dollar values involved it will be quite a headache for the school.

*A defiant John Marinatto, the Big East commissioner, said Monday night that he was confident the league would emerge stronger from the loss of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the Atlantic Coast Conference over the weekend, writes Pete Thamel.

Marinatto said in a telephone interview that he planned to hold Syracuse and Pittsburgh to their 27-month contractual exit obligations, meaning that they would not be able to leave the Big East until June 2014.

Marinatto also echoed the disappointment of his peers around the Big East that A.C.C. officials like Commissioner John Swofford and Boston College Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo had openly speculated about playing the league’s postseason basketball tournament in Madison Square Garden. The Big East holds a contract with the Garden for its basketball tournament through 2016 and has played the tournament there since 1983.

“We have a track record of coming out stronger than we did before,” Marinatto said, referring the A.C.C.’s raid of three Big East teams in 2003. “We may even hold the opening round of our basketball tournament in Greensboro,” a frequent site of the A.C.C. tournament, he said in jest.

*Speaking of conference realignment, despite what you may have read or heard, Texas and the Pac-121 are “nowhere near any agreement,” reports Jon Wilner.

For one thing, the Longhorn Network would have to be folded into the Pac-12 regional model — it wouldn’t exist as a separate entity.

What’s more, there is no chance that any school will have more than 1/16th of the revenue, whether it comes from the conference’s first, second or third-tier rights. NO CHANCE. We’re more likely to see USC give up football and join the Big West. Remember, the Pac-12 CEOs would like to have Texas, but they are not desperate to have Texas.

*Tennessee coach Derek Dooley didn’t sugarcoat the loss of Justin Hunter on Monday in his first public comments since the star receiver’s season was officially ended by torn anterior and medial cruciate ligaments, and the Vols coach made clear his attack would look different moving forward, writes Austin Ward.

The Vols already have an idea who will be involved on the Committee for Offensive Change, starting with the other standout receiver in Da’Rick Rogers and including another veteran target in Zach Rogers.

But without Hunter, the Vols are likely going to have to lean more heavily on the running game, putting pressure on tailback Tauren Poole and maybe expanding the roles of freshmen like Marlin Lane and Tom Smith. The Vols also need other options in the passing game, which brings in two more two freshmen to audition for work in DeAnthony Arnett and Vincent Dallas.

Hunter's ability to challenge defenses downfield was huge, especially for such a young offense with issues on a very green O-line as it gets into the teeth of the SEC schedule.

*Penn State is off to a shaky offensive start and Bob Flounders has some telling stats, including the number of catches by PSU No. 3 wideout Shawney Kersey in three games (two). 

The Lions frequently use multiple-receiver sets but the QBs are locking in on Derek Moye and Justin Brown. Kersey is plenty fast, but what good is all that speed if the Lions don't use it?

Incidentally, the Nittany Lions are one of just three teams in FBS who have played three games and still haven't thrown a TD pass, joining UCF and San Jose State. 

*More stats talk: Even though Nebraska's defense, three games into the season, ranks 61st nationally in rushing defense, 66th in scoring defense, 67th in total defense and 78th in pass defense, Bo Pelini isn't worried about the numbers, reports Brian Rosenthal.

"It's why they put 'Coach' in front of our name," Pelini said. "You don't panic, you don't sit there. You look at it for what it is, and you work to get it fixed. That's what I've learned over a long period of time. You don't make rash adjustments. You do hold guys accountable. But you don't chuck what you do, because you know what you're doing works, and you've got to trust in that."   . . . Overall, Pelini's biggest concerns involve playing with correct technique, communicating and adjusting. Many times Saturday, not everybody was on the same page, resulting in players being put in bad situations, he said.

*Just what Pac-12 defenses needed to hear: Oregon has another weapon emerging in tight end Colt Lyerla, a speedy 6-foot-5, 225-pound five-star recruit whol has three catches this season — all for touchdowns. With two new starting receivers entering this season, QB Darron Thomas said defenses have been focusing on stopping David Paulson in the passing game, writes Adam Jude.
“But it’s going to open up,” Thomas said, “and he’s going to get some balls.”

 *Well-travelled former Florida linebacker Chris Martin has left Navarro College to go to City College and be closer to his ailing mother, reports Tomas Verde. Martin, a former top recruit, bounced to three high schools, originally committed to Notre Dame, then to Florida, then signed with Cal, but soon bolted for UF because there were too many distractions at Cal. He eventually left UF for junior college in Texas.

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