Posted on: February 8, 2011 8:36 pm

Haden supportive of Kiffin despite new allegation

Posted by Bryan Fischer

USC athletic director Pat Haden threw his full support behind embattled head coach Lane Kiffin in the wake of a recent report saying he would be named in an NCAA violations case at Tennessee.

AOL Fanhouse reported last Wednesday that Kiffin would be cited for a failure to monitor violation arising from his time as head coach of the Volunteers. Kiffin’s brother-in-law David Reeves, who was an assistant on staff, will reportedly be cited for improper contact with recruits.

“I read the report and I know he can’t comment on it,” Haden said. “I can’t really ask a lot about it because it happened at Tennessee. Right now it really is not a USC issue.

“What I know of Lane Kiffin is he’s been more than compliant with everything we ask. He is doing the right thing and we’ll see how this report turns out, how the investigation goes, what the results are, I just have no idea what’s going to happen. All I know is our (case) took a long time and I don’t know how long this will take.”

The violations stemmed from a group of school hostesses who allegedly made improper contact with several recruits, with Reaves reportedly instructing the hostesses on how to contact the recruits. It was one of several alleged violations committed by Tennessee during Kiffin’s short tenure at the school. Despite the run-ins with the NCAA at his previous school, Haden believes Kiffin is doing everything by the letter of the law at USC.

“I did not hire Lane but in my seven months, he has been very positive in terms of compliance,” Haden said. “The reputation and reality of Lane Kiffin are two entirely different things. I understand what his reputation is but the reality that I’ve dealt with is not that reputation.”

USC was placed on four years of probation by the NCAA for violations stemming from a lack of institutional control following an investigation centered on the school's football and men’s basketball programs. The school is currently appealing several of the sanctions placed on the football team but Haden did not think the recent news would have any effect on the appeal.

“I sure hope not,” he said. “Those are two separate cases and it should not, that’s the Tennessee case. The way these play out, I would expect we’ll hear from the Appeals Committee long before the Tennessee situation is taken care of.

Haden spoke to reporters following a six hour summit designed to discuss issues related to agent awareness and education. Representatives of the Pac-10, SEC, NCAA, NFL and NFL Players Association were in attendance.

Posted on: February 7, 2011 1:48 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2011 1:53 pm

53 FBS schools committed major violations in '00s

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The number that really jumps off the page in this Inside Higher Education report on major NCAA violations is this one:
The review finds that 53 of the 120 universities in the NCAA’s top competitive level, the Football Bowl Subdivision, were found by the NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions to have committed major rules violations from 2001 to 2010. That number appears to have held largely constant from the previous two decades, but the 2000s show that the number of colleges that committed serious violations of the association’s academic rules nearly doubled, to 15 from 8 in the 1990s.
For all the NCAA crackdowns, burgeoning compliance departments, and ever-expanding regulations and rules, "serious violations" are as prevalent in major college sports as ever.

That's the depressing news. But as the bulk of the report endeavors to show that there's positive news, too: violations involving widespread academic fraud and pay-for-play transgressions are down, replaced in the numbers by problems like excessive phone contact. (It's also worth noting that the "53" number includes allegations across all athletics programs, not just football.)

The problem, as noted by former Committee on Infraction member Gene Marsh, is that that increased compliance is coming at a cost:
“We’re admitting more people who really don't belong there, and spending millions on academic support to keep them there,” [Marsh] said ... And while most sports officials remain “focused on educational progress for students for their own sake,” the potential penalties for colleges whose athletes don’t succeed academically “means you’re going to get more people getting cute, more professors who lose their will and their ethics.”
When observers of college football discuss the increasing financial gap between the sport's haves and have-nots, it's typically in terms of coaching salaries, new facilities, recruiting budgets, etc. But the gap is just as wide -- and maybe wider -- when it comes to compliance and academic performance. The teams at the bottom of FBS often don't have the millions to spend on "academic support to keep them there"--a major reason many of the teams that have gotten dinged by the APR have been on the lower rungs of D-I.

For the time being, despite the (Jerry Tarkanian- espoused ) conventional wisdom that the NCAA hammers smaller programs while looking the other way on the violations of larger ones, the upper echelons of college athletics were found guilty just as often as the lower ones during the Aughts. ("More universities in the Big Ten Conference [eight] were punished for major violations than in any other league," the report notes.) But with compliance coming at a steeper and steeper cost and the APR-induced punishment for academic failings growing steeper and steeper, it will be worth watching to see if this decade is defined by a brighter and brighter NCAA spotlight on the programs that won't be able to afford to stay out of it.

Posted on: February 4, 2011 5:04 pm

College football sets attendance record in 2010

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Turns out that this college football stuff is pretty popular. The NCAA issued a release today to let everyone know that more people attended college football games this season than any other season in the history of the world. During the season, 49,670,895 fans made their way through the turnstiles and to their seats to watch a game this season.

Which is good news for the sport, because after routinely setting attendance marks from 2006-08, the sport saw a dip in attendance in 2009. While some may say that it's because people were more willing to spend money on entertainment again following a bad year economically, personally I'm of the opinion that it has to do with the emergence of this blog. Just look at the facts.

In 2009 attendance drops, and there is no Eye on College Football blog on CBSSports.com. In 2010 the blog debuts, and all of a sudden attendance increases across the country. It's a pretty open and shut case if you ask me.

As for which schools held the top spots, it's the usual suspects. Michigan topped everybody -- generic Big House joke goes here -- with an average of 111,825 fans a game, and Big Blue was followed by Ohio State (105,278), Penn State (104,234), Alabama (101,821) and Texas (100,654). Now, while the top three spots were all claimed by Big Ten schools, the SEC claimed every spot from 6 through 10 with Tennessee, Georgia, LSU, Florida and Auburn.

So it would seem that college football is popular in the Big Ten, SEC and the state of Texas. Who knew?
Posted on: January 26, 2011 12:11 pm

Texas A&M has "many questions" about UT network

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The recently-unveiled "Longhorn Network" hasn't even started broadcasting yet, but it's already provided Texas with plenty of benefits: a contract with ESPN worth millions upon millions of dollars, a high level of "buzz" regarding what the finished product will look like (and what kind of benefits it might offer down the road), and -- unsurprisingly -- an awful lot of ticked-off Texas A&M Aggies down the road in College Station.

At least, we're assuming that's how most Aggies feel about their archrivals' latest venture, considering that Aggie athletic director Bill Byrne made clear yesterday that he is -- to put it politely -- not a fan. He's asked for the NCAA to have a look-see:
"I can't speak for the NCAA, but I would imagine the governing body will look into the use of a collegiate television network airing games of prospective student-athletes," Byrne said in a statement. "I understand networks such as FSN and ESPN airing high school sports, but whether or not employees under contract with a university that may have additional contact would seem to be an issue" ...

"There are many questions regarding this new contract that will be discussed at length here at Texas A&M and within the Big 12 Conference, as well as with our television partners."
An NCAA official contacted by CBS said that without the "particulars of the specific arrangement with the network," they could not determine whether high school games airing on the Longhorn Network would violate NCAA regulations or not.

But even aside from that issue, "many questions ... that will be discussed at length" is A.D.-speak for "dude, we are seriously not pleased with this." Byrne's not the first A&M-affiliated official to express his misgivings about the Longhorns striking up their own TV deal, either; a "prominent Aggie" who spoke with the Austin-American Statesman's Kirk Bohls last week suggested that A&M could try to arrange its "own deal" with the television powers-that-be, or even rally the league's other eight non-Texas schools into an "Everybody But the Longhorns Network."

However you slice it, the natural rivalry between the two schools appears to have grown into a legitimate administrative rift, and one that's showing no signs of closing any time soon. When the Pac-12 and (according to some) SEC came calling last summer, A&M nonetheless elected to follow their in-state brethren's lead and remain in the streamlined, wobbly-looking, title game-less, 'Horn-dominated Big 12 . If the Longhorn Network proves to be as beneficial to Texas's bottom line and on-field product as Byrne and the rest of A&M are clearly worried it will be, the Aggies may decide their best interests dictate a different course of action next time around.

Posted on: January 18, 2011 1:42 pm

Q&A with Julie Roe Lach

Posted by Bryan Fischer

It’s been a busy few months for NCAA vice president of enforcement Julie Roe Lach. After taking over officially at the start of November, Roe Lach has been busy meeting with compliance officers and those connected with enforcement as part of the NCAA’s top-to-bottom review of enforcement processes. Additionally, she’s had to deal with several high profile cases that have attracted intense media attention. 

At the recent NCAA convention in San Antonio, Roe Lach took the time to discuss a number of topics, including new legislation, high profile cases and her thoughts on how busy the enforcement staff has become this past year. 

CBSSports.com: Although you’re not directly responsible, what’s been the reaction from the membership on the Ohio State and Cam Newton cases? 

Roe Lach: The cases you mentioned were decided by our Student-Athlete Reinstatement department, which is actually housed in the Academic and Membership Affairs branch. That group decides all athlete eligibility issues. I work in the enforcement side and we investigate and deal with institutional responsibilities, boosters, coaches, administrators. I don’t go and talk to them. If issues come up that’s one thing. (The compliance offices) understand there are different processes in play. Those discussions, if they have questions, comments, support, or concerns, would be directed towards our Academic and Membership affairs group. 

CBSSports.com: President Emmert said he will be introducing legislation that will look to close some of the loopholes regarding parents soliciting pay for play, do you have any details on the legislation? 

Roe Lach: There’s been a lot of input not just from the national office but staff, from our enforcement experience, the Academic Affairs group, also membership input. That’s part of what President Emmert has shared. I met with the football coaches earlier this week and shared the concept with them. President Emmert has also met with a group of their leaders and he’s working to get together with basketball coaches as well. Right now, it’s in concept form. The ideas are there but we want to make sure that we’re going to get it right. That’s why there’s not any emergency legislation being adopted at the convention. We recognize the need to bring in all the stakeholders and say, ‘What makes sense here, what doesn’t, what are we missing?’ We hope that by taking the time now, in the drafting process, that something concrete can go forward in April. Even then, if the board adopts it, it can still go out for comment if they want more input from the membership at that point. 

CBSSports.com: Agents have been in the news a lot recently, what are some of the steps the NCAA is taking to make sure they are not violating rules by talking with or paying athletes? 

Roe Lach: I think it’s important to note that our rules currently allow for conversation and seeking advice by prospects from agents and advisors. The issue is you can’t have a contract and you can’t take benefits. Where I think there’s confusion at times is, schools or teams will have rules that say no contact with an agent during the season. And then of course the NFLPA has what’s coined the ‘Junior Rule.’ The one issue is just making sure everyone understands what rules currently exists and by whom. I don’t think we’re suggesting rules that we’re going to somehow restrict that access that is currently allowed. It’s just the issue is larger than that. Rather than approach it from a regulatory standpoint, let’s look at it from an information standpoint. What information is currently going to our student-athletes that have the potential to go professional, when is that information going to them and who’s giving it to them. Are they getting it when they come on campus and saying, ‘I want to go to the NFL or NBA.’ And if they’re not getting it from a coach or academic advisor or someone they’ve developed a relationship with on their campus, then are they getting it from someone that doesn’t have their best interests in mind and how can we fix that. Rather than passing new rules, let’s really look at what information is available and who’s giving it and what should be available and who’s giving it and when. 

CBSSports.com: Starting with the USC case earlier last year, it seems as though we’ve had a lot more “high profile” cases recently, is there something you have to tell schools to focus on in light of these cases? 

Roe Lach: I think one thing we continuously tell schools is the need to recognize what are the issues that you have on your campus. Whether its elite athlete issues or you’re in a college town with a couple of elite big time boosters that want to employ your student-athletes, there’s a laundry list of issues that don’t exist on every campus. Maybe one or two exist on each campus. So what our school do, and do a good job of, is say here’s our situation, here are the potential landmines so we need to be looking out for these issues and then what do we need to do from an education standpoint and then from a monitoring standpoint. 

CBSSports.com: Has there been any thought to creating a Football Focus Group to deal with issues similar to the Basketball Focus Group? 

Roe Lach: What we’re doing is exploring if we need to have a dedicated group focused on football. So we’re working on it. We’re trying to figure out, and we think we know what the issues are, but rather than just base that on our current knowledge, we’re doing some outreach. We’re going to be out there in the spring. We’re already attending some of the elite events, 7-on-7 tournaments, going to high schools in hotbed regions where football prospects pull from to talk to those folks and say what are the issues from your perspective, especially in the recruiting environment. Then how does that translate into what do we need to do from an enforcement standpoint to be the most effective. Do we need to have staff dedicated to football like we do in basketball? Do we need to approach it from a different standpoint rather than have four people do you have eight who spend half their time doing football or something else? Do we need to hire some former football coaches because we don’t have the level of expertise we need? I think all those questions need to be asked but it’s premature to start answering them. We need to get more information.” 

CBSSports.com: You’ve worked in enforcement for awhile, can you remember a time where you’ve been busier than this? 

Roe Lach: I’ve been getting that question a lot. We certainly are busy. I think most of our issues are generating more media scrutiny or attention, as well as the public. I don’t know if that means we’re busier, it’s just in the past, so many of our issues were not on the front page. So the level and scrutiny wasn’t there. It’s not like we’ve had this huge upswing in cases. We have seen (a rise), like on the agent side, but that’s been a five year effort to develop sources and outreach as a result. As a result of that, the staff has generated some cases that they weren’t generating five years ago because we didn’t have the knowledge and contact base. I don’t know if that means they’re busier but the work has changed a little bit.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 18, 2011 12:14 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2011 2:36 pm

A reminder: the Buckeye Five are coming back

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Columbus Dispatch issued a kind of update this morning on the appeals process with the "Buckeye Five," the five Ohio State players -- including star juniors Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey and Daniel "Boom" Herron -- suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of 2011 for receiving improper benefits at a Columbus tattoo parlor (among other offenses). The appeal should begin soon, though based on the precedents set by the NCAA when reviewing similar appeals last season, it seems unlikely any of the five will have their suspensions reduced.

But the simple fact that the appeal is moving forward as planned, even after the deadline for early draft declarations, means it's worth making note of another fact: all five suspended players will return for their senior seasons.

That's not an insignificant deal. Yes, all five players reportedly promised Jim Tressel they'd return before getting the controversial OK to play in the Sugar Bowl, but it's one thing to make that promise. It's another to keep it with hundreds of thousands of dollars available in the draft and a five-game suspension waiting on the other side of the offseason.

Obviously, it's terrific news for the Buckeyes, who with their Pryor-Herron-Posey "triplets" intact should be able to make a run at yet another Big Ten championship down the 2011 stretch. But it's also a huge rebuttal to the many, many critics of the NCAA's (and Tressel's) decision to allow the players to play in the bowl game. Much of that criticism was centered around the assumption that faced with the suspensions, many of the Buckeye Five would simply declare for the draft instead, thereby avoiding punishment altogether.

We know now that's not going to happen. Pryor, Posey and Herron will "do their time," so to speak. The NCAA's form of justice, whatever you think of it, will be served.

There are still valid reasons to criticize the NCAA and Tressel for allowing the Buckeye Five to take the field in New Orleans. But "they won't get punished at all" is no longer one of them, and as frequently as that charge was levied in December, more than a few critics owe the parties involved here a retraction.

HT: DocSat .

Posted on: January 14, 2011 9:45 am

Paterno accepts NCAA award, optimistic about '11

 Posted by Bryan Fischer

Penn State coach Joe Paterno was presented the 2011 President Gerald R. Ford Award during the NCAA’s annual convention Thursday night for his significant leadership in intercollegiate athletics during his long and storied career.

“I got to know President Ford at one of the Heisman Trophy dinners,” Paterno said. “He was vice president at the time, I think, when John Capeletti got the Heisman Trophy and he was one of the speakers. We start talking football and talking about Michigan coaches and the whole bit. He was such a true, blue Michigan guy. He wrote me a note, so we corresponded.

“He was a great guy, very unassuming. We got to be pretty good friends.”

Paterno is the ninth recipient of the award and it follows on the heels of his 44th season as the Nittany Lions head coach. Admittedly not as active in the NCAA as he once was, Paterno was concerned about the rise of high profile enforcement cases the association has been dealing with.

“Oh yeah I’m troubled, but I’m realistic,” he said. “There’s always someone looking for some sort of an advantage. My theory has been, when my coaches come back and say hey, so and so is doing this, so and so is doing that. We’re not policemen. We’ve got to take care of our house and we work at that.”

The Nittany Lions finished the year at 7-6 after falling to Florida in the Outback Bowl. Despite not reaching the nine win plateau for the first time since 2004, the coach was optimistic things would be better in 2011.

“I think we should be a little better than we were this past year,” Paterno said. “We had a lot of young kids, a lot of injuries, a little bit unsettled at a couple of key spots. I think if we can have a good winter program, a good spring, I think we’ll be a little better football team. How much better? Oh I don’t know.

“We’ve had a couple of coaches that have looked around to become head coaches but I think everybody will be back and it’ll be kind of a fun year.”

When asked if he would be back as head coach to lead Penn State for season number 45, the still sharp Paterno quickly flashed a large grin.

“I’m hoping,” he said. “My boss is here, our athletic director, ask him. I’m hoping. I feel good. I’m in good health. It’s amazing how the internet and all that kind of stuff can spread rumors so quickly.”

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 8, 2011 2:21 pm

Newton investigation still ongoing

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Cam Newton will be taking the field Monday night in Glendale. There's no doubt about that. But it doesn't mean he's out of the NCAA woods just yet.

That's the biggest takeway from this report by Fox Sports' Thayer Evans , who spoke to a pair of Atlanta-area contractors who had agreed to do repairs on Cecil Newton's church in Newnan, Ga., and were interviewed by NCAA investigators the week before Christmas. The good news for Cam is that both said they weren't aware of any kind of scheme to funnel money to the Newtons:
[Emory] Wilcox and [Eddie] Norris, listed on separate city permits for work to be done on Cecil Newton’s struggling Holy Zion Center of Deliverance, each told the NCAA investigators that they were never asked to deliver nor did they deliver money to Newton.

“There may be something there, but nothing related to me,” Norris told FOXSports.com.

The interviews also did nothing to support the theory that the Newtons had used an illicitly-paid windfall to repair the church, as Wilcox revealed that Cecil had yet to pay him for even minor electrical work. The church has avoided being condemned, a Newnan city spokeswoman confirmed, but is not yet up to code enough to host church services.

Despite all that, Evans' story illustrates that while the attention into the investigation into Newton's eligibility has waned, the investigation itself is carrying on all the same. Until the NCAA announces that it's officially concluded its look into the Newtons' finances -- and that that look produced nothing damning -- the possibility will remain that the next overturned log will uncover the improper benefits that would make Cam ineligible for the 2010 season. 

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