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Posted on: February 23, 2011 11:04 am

USC, Vols receive NCAA Notice of Allegations

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Lane Kiffin's NCAA chickens appear to be coming home to roost.

Both Kiffin's former employers at Tennessee and his current ones at USC have announced today they have been served with NCAA "Notices of Allegations," essentially the list of violations which the NCAA has discovered during an investigation. That list as it pertains to Volunteer football, via the official Tennessee website :
The notice contains the following allegations of violation of NCAA rules against the football program:
  • By former members of the football coaching staff: impermissible telephone contact (16 total calls) with prospective student-athletes from Jan. 3-9, 2010.
  • By a former assistant football coach: allegations relating to impermissible contacts with prospective student-athletes.
  • By a former head football coach: failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program and failure to monitor the activities regarding compliance of several assistant coaches have also been made against a former head football coach, and permitting a football recruiting intern to make impermissible contact with high school staff during a recruiting visit.
The headlining charge here is the "failure to monitor" violation levied against Kiffin. Though in the past coaches have typically been absolved of blame once they've left their previous university behind, it seems unlikely in this instance, with Kiffin's (well-earned) reputation for ignoring the finer points of NCAA regulations. There may be more forthcoming than the typical slap on the wrist.

As for the Trojans, their Notice of Allegations likely includes the same violations committed by Kiffin (and assistant Ed Orgeron, believed to be the "former assistant" in the second bullet above) in Knoxville. The official statement from athletic director Pat Haden :
"We have received from the NCAA a notice of allegations against Lane Kiffin pertaining to his tenure as the head football coach at Tennessee. The NCAA enforcement process provides for Tennessee and Lane to address those charges. Until that process is completed, it would be unfair and premature for me or USC to comment on this matter.

"However, I will say this: Since his return to USC last year as our head football coach, Lane has been vigilant in making sure he and the football program follow the NCAA's rules and compete the right way. Lane has my support as our head football coach."

Eye on College Football will have more on this story as it develops. Follow our Twitter feed for further updates. 

Posted on: February 22, 2011 6:02 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2011 10:45 am

Own your own Jadeveon Clowney action figure

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Jadeveon Clowney hasn't yet taken his first class at South Carolina, hasn't had a single Gamecock practice, hasn't yet even had a jersey number assigned. (In fact, there's some question about whether his academics will even allow him to enroll in Columbia, or force a prep school/JUCO detour.) But that hasn't stopped one enterprising Gamecock fan from building in Clowney's honor ... well, it's not a statue. But it is a much smaller version of one, kind of. And you can own it!

Because courtesy of user "spurrier_is_my_homeboy", fans can visit eBay right now to bid [Update: Sorry, no you can't, see below] on a presumably-homemade "Custom McFarlane" Clowney action figure, in the vein of the popular Todd McFarlane "Spawn" figures. (An official version would no doubt violate three-quarters of the NCAA rulebook.) Photos :

The current winning bid is $47. That might be a bargain, since if Clowney does prove to half the player Gamecock fans -- and just about everyone else who's seen Clowney play, to be fair -- expect him to be, the next time this figure appears on eBay, it's may not come so cheap.

UPDATE: The auction has been taken down, not a huge surprise given the dodgy ethics of using a not-yet-college athlete's image without his permission. But the photos are still just as fun, right?

HT: Charleston Post and Courier .

Posted on: February 21, 2011 1:29 pm

NCAA to get more involved in recruiting

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's been quite an enlightening year in the world of college football recruiting. We've learned a lot about the contact between players and agents in the recruiting process, as well as of alleged solicitation of money by player's parents. Which, when you get down to it, has shown that the NCAA has been on the outside looking in more often than not. I mean, if these are the cases that are being caught and brought to the public's attention, try and imagine everything that has gone on that we don't know about.

It seems that the NCAA has thought about this, and that's why it is planning on getting a lot more involved in the world of college football recruiting in the immediate future.
The NCAA enforcement staff will focus on football recruiting in a new way in the coming months, a project Vice President of Enforcement Julie Roe Lach has discussed with member institutions and the media since assuming her new position last fall.
The initiative – which is not guaranteed to lead to a football-focused, dedicated staff like the Basketball Focus Group – is part of a collaboration between the major-enforcement and agents, gambling and amateurism staff. The latter group made headlines last summer for uncovering various agent-related violations among football student-athletes at several Division I institutions.
Five investigators from major-enforcement and two from the agents, gambling and amateurism staff will spend the next several months building relationships in the football recruiting world (both scholastic and non-scholastic) and gathering information about what is happening in that sport. AGA Director Rachel Newman Baker will lead the group. The intent is to make sure the enforcement staff becomes as knowledgeable about football recruiting as it has grown to be about basketball recruiting.
“We have an idea of what’s going on, but we don’t want to assume anything,” Lach said. “We are trying to find out what the issues are that we need to be tackling. The idea is just to get more information."
In other words, instead of finding out what has happened after the fact, the NCAA plans to be in on the process as it's happening. According to our own Bryan Fischer, he talked to a couple of members of the NCAA that told him they were handing out cards to as many players and coaches as they could. This way both sides can remain in touch about what is going on during that player's recruitment, and could possibly help stave off any kind of trouble. It also sends a message to everybody that the NCAA is aware of what's going on, which may help keep violations from occuring.

Now, while the NCAA still has a long way to go before it can clean up the world of recruiting in its entirety, it's nice to see that it has taken this important first step and that it's now a priority.
Posted on: February 18, 2011 7:19 pm

The gray gloves come off

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Oh the colors there will be! For the last several years, college football players had been required to wear gray colored gloves on their hands. The NCAA implemented this rule to ensure that players couldn't wear gloves that were the same color as their opponent's jerseys and make it harder to see a hold or any other possible infraction.

Well, as is often the case for the NCAA, it took them quite a while to see the stupidity in one of its decisions. No longer will players be shackled by the oppressive nature of the color gray, and its doldrums-inducing personality traits.
A change approved last week by the Football Rules Committee allows players to wear any color gloves, negating a requirement that all gloves be gray.
“The committee fields numerous requests each year to allow team colors on gloves,” it explained in a statement, “so the membership clearly would like flexibility with this rule.”
Which means that Oregon will be the first team in the NCAA to have 1,300 different color combinations of gloves next season. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 13, 2011 1:58 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2011 2:08 pm

Mark Emmert talks NCAA transparency, Cam Newton

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Mark Emmert is only four months into his tenure as the NCAA President, but he's already had quite a bit on his plate in that short amount of time. Between the dealings between agents and players at places like North Carolina, the Cam Newton investigation, and the suspension of several Ohio State players, there have been a lot of rulings by the NCAA during his tenure and a lot of confusion about those rulings.

So with that in mind, Emmert met with a group of AP sports editors at IUPUI on Saturday night. There Emmert stressed that transparency is critical to the future of the NCAA, and that he hopes the NCAA and media can work together in the future. He also shared plans for holding a mock hearing in which the media would be allowed to participate and ask questions.

Of course, no discussion between the media and Emmert about transparency could finish without Emmert being asked about the Cam Newton case

"We try hard to get it right every time," Emmert said. "Getting it right is often in the eye of the beholder. The cases we saw this fall were highly controversial and highly debatable. I understand that, and some of them were even enormously frustrating to me.

"I said very loud and clear that I think it's absolutely a fundamentally wrong for a father to try to sell the services of his son or daughter to the highest bidder, to a university. We ought never to allow that to happen, but yet, having not anticipated that, we didn't have any rule or structure that said it was a violation of any of our rules. I found that grossly inappropriate that didn't have a structure in which we could say, 'No, you can't do that.'

"There was no evidence that money had changed hands and there was no evidence that Auburn University had anything to do with it. We would up making a decision that felt to many people morally objectionable, but that fit the facts and the circumstances.

"We find ourselves making those kinds of judgment calls often."

Newton, of course, was suspended for a day but never missed any games and Auburn went on to win the national championship with him at quarterback. Looking at it now, though, it's still hard to believe that the NCAA didn't have any rules in place for a parent selling their child to the highest bidder. Considering all the shady dealings that have taken place with player recruitment in the past, it's hard to imagine that nobody ever saw this type of thing coming.
Posted on: February 10, 2011 6:31 pm

NCAA considering 10-second run off rule

Posted by Tom Fornelli

I suppose we could call it the Music City Rule. When Tennessee and North Carolina played in the Music City Bowl, the Tar Heels spiked the ball with one second left on the clock to set up a game-tying field goal. The problem was that the Tar Heels had too many men on the field and were penalized for their transgression.

Though there are plenty of Tennessee fans who don't feel the Heels were penalized enough, as North Carolina would then tie the game and go on to win in double-overtime. Well, here's some news that may come as solace for those Vols fans who were twice vandalized by too many men on the field and too much time on the clock this season. The NCAA is considering adding a 10-second run off rule.
The NCAA Football Rules Committee has recommended that penalties which occur in the last minute of both halves, and stops the game clock, inlude a 10-second runoff of the clock -- just like the NFL does it.
The opponent would have the option to take the penalty yardage with the 10-second rundown, take the penalty without the rundown to preserve the time remaining, or decline both the rundown and the penalty yardage. The clock would restart when the ball is marked ready for play.
"The idea is to prevent a team from gaining an advantage by committing a foul to stop the clock," Rogers Redding, secretary-rules editor of the committee, said in an NCAA news release announcing the proposals.
There are other rule changes in the offing as well. The NCAA is looking to make blocking below the waist illegal unless you're on the line of scrimmage within seven yards of the center -- read: linemen -- or a receiver or running back in certain situations. It'll also now be illegal to line up three defensive players shoulder-to-shoulder over one offensive lineman on placekicks.

The intentional grounding rule may also be amended. Where as it currently sits, a play was deemed intentional grounding if the quarterback's "pass" to his receiver wasn't reasonably catchable. It seems that will be changed to the receiver just needs to be in the "area." What exactly the "area" is, I don't know.

Also, while it isn't a rule change, the NCAA also plans on monitoring the number of helmets that come off during play next season in an effort to see if any changes will need to be made in the future.
Posted on: February 10, 2011 4:38 pm

Oversigning debate hits Connecticut legislature

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If we haven't yet, let's go ahead and call this the Offseason of Oversigning. No topic has proven to be a bigger hot button since Auburn polished Oregon off in Glendale, with everyone from Nick Saban to USA Today to Bernie Machen to Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples to compliance officials to (as of today) Jay Paterno weighing in on the subject ... and we're not even halfway through February.

Such has been the topic's rapid rise to critical mass that it's even being debated outside the world of college football--in this case, inside the halls of the Connecticut state legislature , where a bill called the "Connecticut Student-Athletes' Right to Know Act" would "require universities to spell out the details" on how and why their athletic scholarships could be revoked or unrenewed.

Appearing before legislative officials to argue for the bill were local professor (and former Notre Dame football player) Allen Sack and former UCLA Bruin Ramogi Huga:
While NCAA rules state that athletic aid cannot be reduced or cancelled during the one-year period of the award because of athletic ability or injury, Sack said, "the rules are murky when it comes to conditions for the renewal and non-renewal of the scholarships in the subsequent year."

"Some universities renew scholarships for four years as long as athletes continue playing and adhere to team rules," said Sack. "Others cancel scholarships for poor athletic performance or for injury" ...

Huma, a former UCLA football player and president of the National College Players Association — a California nonprofit made up of more than 14,000 Division 1 student athletes — also testified at the hearing and went one step further. He said the majority of high school recruits decide which college to attend based on "false information given to them by athletic recruiters."

Most recruits and their parents have no idea, Huma said, that colleges can "leave them with sports-related medical expenses, take away their scholarship for any reason, leave them with tens of thousands of dollars in educational-related expenses, and hold their eligibility and scholarship opportunities hostage when they try to transfer schools."
Though neither Sack nor Huga specifically refers to the practice of oversigning, the controversy over whether teams (in Sack's words) "cancel scholarships for poor athletic performance" in order to make room for new recruits nonetheless puts it at the heart of the bill. It's hardly coincidence it appears just as the debate over oversigning reaches its most heated point, just as it wasn't coincidence Saban prematurely echoed Sank's words by saying "We have never gotten rid of a player because of his physical ability" in his defense of his recruiting practices.

The bill still has many hurdles to clear before passing, including a check with the NCAA to make it sure it doesn't run afoul of (or further complicate) NCAA regulations. And, of course, there's a massive, massive gulf between one such bill passing in Connecticut (where UConn would be the only FBS program affected) and nationwide oversigning reform enacted by either the NCAA or the government.

But the point remains: more than ever it appears college football is sloping towards some kind of oversigning legislation, and that the only real question is how slippery that slope will be.

Posted on: February 9, 2011 10:59 am
Edited on: February 9, 2011 11:00 am

Auburn spent $170k on legal fees for Newton case

Posted by Chip Patterson

What does it take to win a national championship? In order to keep preserve Cam Newton's eligibility, Auburn University was willing to shell out six figures.

The Birmingham News reported Wednesday that Auburn has spent approximately $170,000 in attorney fees during the ongoing Cam Newton NCAA investigation. Lightfoot, Franklin, White LLC, the school's Birmingham-based legal counsel has once again pulled in the big bucks defending a high profile NCAA investigation.

Michigan paid the same firm $600,000 during its recent infractions case, and Connecticut paid $338,000 over 12 months during the investigation of the Huskies basketball program.

As the report details, spending such a large amount of money for legal counsel is not unusual with such a high profile investigation. After all, Auburn was competing for a national championship - a reward that holds no price tag in the hearts of Tiger fans.

However, if you are measuring dollar amounts against each other, it should be noted that Auburn's need for legal assistance is likely far from complete. The NCAA has issued no ruling to completely close the Newton case at Auburn. Some would assume with Newton gone, the trouble would go away. But after a Heisman Trophy and National Championship, this story isn't fading away any time soon.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or