Posted on: October 27, 2011 2:11 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 2:12 pm

NCAA Board of Directors adopt $2K scholarship aid

By Jeff Goodman

Baby steps.

The NCAA Division 1 Board of Director approved a set of proposals on Thursday that includes legislation where student-athletes (in football and basketball) are able to receive additional aid for the full cost of attendance up to $2,000.

"This is certainly not pay-for-play," NCAA president Mark Emmert said.

The Board also approved a set of academic requirements that could and will hinder programs from being able to play in football bowl games and also the postseason for basketball programs.

Under the new requirements, there would have been seven programs that would not have been allowed to participate in the NCAA tournament and eight that would not have qualified academically for bowl games.

- The Board also adopted the concept that coaches will be able to work with prospective and enrolled student-athletes in the summer - although the leadership council will consider alternate models in January, one that could be tied into summer school attendance.

- The Board will not revisit the $2,000 amount for the cost of attendance for three years.

- The Board will raise the Academic Progress Rate (APR) at 930. Teams must achieve a 900 multi-year APR or a 930 average over the most recent two years to be eligible. In 2014-15, teams that don't achieve a 930 for their four-year APR or at least a 940 average for the most recent two years will be ineligible for postseason. The Board will provide special allowances for historically black colleges and low-resource schools.

- Junior college transfers will now need a 2.5 GPA instead of a 2.0 GPA and will also have increased core-course requirements.

- The sliding academic scale has also increased.

- Multi-year grants have been approved up to the full term of eligibility - with one-year remaining the minimum.

- Presidents also voted to allow institutions to provide financial aid to former players who remain or return to complete their degrees after exhausting their eligibility.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 24, 2011 10:22 am

Siena takes a hit with 2 players ruled ineligible

By Matt Norlander

Siena was hoping to get Lionel Gomis and Imoh Silas on the floor this season. The two African-born players were considered critical to getting the program back toward the top of its league, the MAAC. The Saints finished 13-18 last season, taking a dramatic step back from the dominant MAAC team they were the previous four years.

But on Friday, the NCAA ruled Gomis and Silas were not eligible for 2011-12, upholding its initial ruling from early September.

Siena Saints Blog writes that the compliance office at Siena is being quite diligent in digging up information that would implore the NCAA to reverse the decision once more. Silas (from Nigeria) and Gomis (Senegal) are stuck in a situation where they've found themselves prey under a new rule. Per bylaw, any student-athlete "who delays enrollment full-time in college is charged in his eligibility for every year between graduating and enrolling full-time in school."

The two repeated a year of schooling after coming over from Africa. There's dispute over how much education has been completed by these two. Basically, the NCAA is trying to tighten up yet another loophole that kids could expose. They don't want teams to be able to put players on the floor by skirting any type of academic requirements. But with Silas and Gomis taking prep-school courses, it's still too foggy for the NCAA right now to decidedly side on the side of Siena's interests, partly because Gomis dropped out of school for two years following the death of his mother.

Siena believes the two have completed the necessary education thresholds in order to be able to play this season. The two were delayed in their enrollment at the school, and Siena compliance is attempting to prove bureaucratic, collegiate paperwork, not gamesmanship, was the reason for the two's delayed enrollment at the school. As of now, both have three years of eligibility left.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 6, 2011 10:47 am

Bill Russell the latest to be suing the NCAA

By Matt Norlander

Bill Russell, the greatest winner in the history of basketball, is putting his name against the NCAA.

The case, titled "Russell v. NCAA, 11-04938, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland)," is an antitrust suit that deals with an issue the NCAA completely wishes would just go away: licensing. Licensing players' likenesses long after they've left college and profiting off that is a business practice the NCAA's been in for decades, and it's a battle it will ultimately lose. It's trying to drag out as many lawyer fees and court dates and postponements as it can, but with my amateur view of law, I'm definitively telling you right now the NCAA cannot go on profiting from people years, decades, after they leave their institutions of higher learning.

Russell taking a swing is just the latest, and perhaps biggest, name to take on the NCAA. The NCAA continues to insist it's not really doing anything wrong by acting in such a way. It's one of the worst stances the association can be affiliated with.
Electronic Arts Inc., the second-largest U.S. video game maker, is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Russell accuses it of using his image in a “Tournament of Legends” feature on an NCAA basketball video game. Russell, who led the University of San Francisco to NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956, said in the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Oakland, that the association sells $150 videos of the team’s championship games. At least 54 video clips featuring him are available through the website of the NCAA’s for-profit business partner and photos of him through an NCAA on-line photo store, according to the complaint.

Russell seeks a court order blocking further sale of the videos, plus disgorgement of profits from the videos and unspecified damages.

Chris Radford, an NCAA spokesman, and Jeff Brown, an Electronic Arts spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to e-mails and voicemails seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case Ed O'Bannon has spearheaded will swallow Russell's case, and the litigious fight will continue. The two share a common complaint, issue and fight with the NCAA. It's not going away, either.

And what innocently started as a curiosity -- O'Bannon only discovered his likeness being used when a youngster asked him to play a game one day -- could end up being the most expensive lawsuit the NCAA has ever had.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 29, 2011 12:01 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2011 12:02 pm

College players on precipice of getting more cash

By Matt Norlander

We could be weeks away from one of the biggest concessions in NCAA history. It's not paying the players, but it's close to that notion as we've ever seen. And it's been a long time coming. The movement toward upping cost-of-attendances scholarships has gotten tremendous backing in the past couple of years, and it seems the NCAA is ready to gives its players more for their participation in intercollegiate sports.

USA Today reports college players could get as high as a $2,000 bump in benefits when the NCAA's board of directors votes on that prospect in Indianapolis next month. There will be a number of things put to a vote, in fact. Many of them related to recruiting and cellphone rules. The catch: plenty of them could be put off until the 2012. But we'll deal with that if and when it happens.

Why are thinking positive when it comes to the NCAA getting together? One of the most powerful athletic directors in the country, Notre Dame's Jack Swarbrick, is saying he expects such things at the meetings. Swarbrick is on the board of directors.
The NCAA ... would act on the proposal when it meets Oct. 26 and 27 in Indianapolis. There is "widespread support" within the committee weighing the measure, Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick said during a presentation to major-college ADs earlier this week in Grapevine, Texas. Swarbrick sits on the panel, which also appears likely to ask for a move from single-year to multi-year scholarships. ... Analysis by USA TODAY found that, in 2009-10, median college costs at public universities exceeded an athlete's scholarship coverage by about $4,000. The range at individual schools varied from $177 to more than $9,600.
The change in scholarships is also great, so long as it applies to students across the board. That's the kind of reform that looks evolutionary in theory, but I wonder if there are flies in the ointment. Basically: Will coaches still be able to hand out one-year scholarships to the 10th guy on depth chart, essentially putting him at some sort of risk of losing that scholarship down the road? They're the ones who need four-year scholarships the most, after all.

Gettting back to the cost-of-attendance (COA) scholarships, word is, the rate a player would get would entirely be dependent upon the school. Consider the NCAA the U.S. government, and each university or college implementing the rule as a state. It's set out to be an overarching mandate, but the money allotted will depend on the school. Obviously, the bigger/richer the school, the more money a player will receive.

And if you care about the grades issue, know that's going to be a focal point of the meetings. There will be a proposal that demands a collective 2.5 GPA in English, math, science and social studies classes in order for a player to earn a scholarship. That's an entirely different debate.

With everything involved, inevitably a few issues are fated to fall on the backburner and get bumped to January. But plenty of others won't, COAs chief among them, I'd think. It's setting up to be one of the most influential October meetings in NCAA history. Whatever proposals are passed, they'd be implemented at the start of the next school year.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 26, 2011 6:05 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 11:53 pm

Powerless Emmert scolds ADs over realignment

By Matt Norlander

Some of the most powerful people -- university presidents aside -- in college athletics met Monday in a town named Grapevine. To call that location and appointment apt is to fail to give it enough credit.

The men and women were there, in Texas, for their annual meeting/leadership conference. And when given the microphone in front of those who matter most to him, Mark Emmert did not hesitate to criticize. The NCAA president took the opportunity at Monday's get-together to essentially scold athletic directors who've been all too eager to swap conference affiliations. In this arena, Emmert is powerless, so his words (not even threats, just words) are all he has, and even those were most likely washed down by the time lunch arrived.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported
Emmert's "lecture" from Monday.
“People today have greater doubt, greater concern about what we stand for and why we do what we do,” Emmert said to a packed room of athletic directors and faculty athletics representatives, who have all gathered here for their annual meetings. “And that is a huge problem for us. The specter of the past couple weeks of conference realignment has not been a healthy thing. ... The world’s convinced that’s all we care about ... that all this is about money. I didn’t read many of us stepping up and saying that this will work really well for student-athletes because we’ll do X, we’ll do Y, it will create more resources, it will help us stabilize our programs.”

In face of those who're changing the kingdom he cannot preside over, Emmert did his best to dress down the culture-shifters and tradition-killers. Picture a 15-year-old attempting to dictate behavior at a frat party and you've basically got a similar situation.

But there is change coming in college athletics Emmert is related to. In October, many rule-changes will be voted upon. These range from phone-call and text-message rules, to big-picture fundamental principles, like cost-of-attendance scholarships, and how universities can evolve by affording players more money without technically paying them to play intercollegiate sports. It's been a crazy past eight weeks in college sports. October could be just as big, even if adapting new rules and obliterating old ones doesn't grab you like Texas A&M giving the middle finger to Texas and the Big 12.

“The confusion and disruption of the conference realignment adds to, doesn’t detract from, our ability to get these things done,” [Emmert] said. “Because, candidly, I think we were all embarrassed by some of that behavior, and here’s our chance to show what we really care about.”

It's Emmert's job to spew sentences like that last one above. There are plenty -- especially the ADs representing the dozens upon dozens of schools not involved in realignment -- of people that agree with Emmert. But that's not going to stop the big boys from shifting away from where they've been for the sake of ego, survival, more money and new opportunity.

For all Emmert's diligence in trying to get a house he does not own in order, it's likely today's speech didn't upset the applecart. Rather, he cursed its bloated presence as it whizzed by, ignoring Emmert and the errenous sense of power he's been given by those who undermine his fermenting mission.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 12, 2011 10:11 am
Edited on: September 12, 2011 10:17 am

NCAA deflects issue of UConn scholarships

By Matt Norlander

It's a Monday morning after the first weekend of the NFL season, so few general, Joe Q Six Pack sports fans are invested in the college hoops scene, what with everyone eager to quarterback. (My analysis: the Bears are winning the Super Bowl. NEXT QUESTION.)

Somehow, we press on over here in our digs, and I wanted to bring this item to your attention.There was a good column filled with a lot of curiosity written by Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant over the wekend. Jacobs has been on fire this year, and I thank him for giving the blog a little bit of extra content fuel.

Jacobs -- probably the most outspoken sportswriter at any of the Connecticut newspapers -- had been mainly silent since the news of Andre Drummond's arrival to Connecticut's campus. Why? Why did the most prominent sports voice at the state's biggest newspaper sit on this for so long? Well, he wanted to talk to the NCAA, particuarly president Mark Emmert first. But it appears Emmert wasn't made available to discuss why a program that's been put on probation, that's suspended Jim Calhoun for three games, that won a national championship despite living under the heat lamp of the NCAA for the better part of the past two years, was able maneuver within the system once again.

On Friday came my answer from Erik Christianson, NCAA director of public and media relations: "We do not know the specific details of this situation, so we encourage you to contact the institution for that information."

So much for expanding the public discussion.

Going to UConn for answers does nothing. All you'll get from the school is a quaint and correct, "We worked within the system that's allowed."

Jacobs makes the point that UConn isn't at fault here, and he's exactly right. It's faulty to blame a school for finding ways to win within the weak/manipulable rules that are already at play. UConn knew it could get Andre Drummond in this year and knew it'd have to boot someone off the scholarship docket to do so. Turns out it's Michael Bradley, a kid who grew up in a Tennessee group home who's taking the hit. (He'll no doubt end up not really incurring that debt, right? So who's ultimately paying for that, and when?) With Drummond, the Huskies a legitimate national championship team, the first group with that acclaim coming off a title since Florida five years ago.

And the reason Drummond's even learning about the best and most boring spots in all of Storrs, Conn., is because the NCAA still has a one-year-renewal scholarship policy. A mini contract for players the institution vehemently refers to as amateurs. If you implement a four-year -- or even a two-year -- scholarship policy/guarantee, Drummond is at St. Thomas More Prep right now, gearing up for a quiet post-grad season. Jacobs merely wanted to ask Emmert about that, above anything else.

But the NCAA hides and deflects issues to its member institutions. How is that leadership? Sitting back and allowing UConn to do what it did without so much as a comment isn't indicative of new policy, it's proof of continued contentment with so many of the system's flawed keystones. Emmert and Co. look compliant and complacent in place of proactive and perturbed over how UConn's seemingly gotten stronger despite sanctions for violations that would've forced 99 percent of programs to find a new head coach.

Photo: AP
Posted on: August 20, 2011 11:32 am
Edited on: August 20, 2011 12:06 pm

NCAA responds to Hathaway leaving UConn

By Matt Norlander

Jeff Hathaway did in fact end up "retiring" Friday, shortly after news reports surfaced that he was done at UConn.

"It has been incredibly rewarding to have collaborated with so many exceptional individuals during this proud period of academic and athletic excellence," Hathaway by way of a statement. "After 20 years of being associated with UConn, I felt the time was right for me to pursue new challenges. I wish the very best to all those associated with UConn athletics, and to this great university, now and long into the future."

A little surprised by the kind words, considering Hathaway was effectively shoved out the door? That's because his agreement to leave includes a clause that states he can't turn heel on his former employer, a school that he worked at for nearly two decades.

Hathaway's departure presents a new opportunity for UConn, but that can be addressed later. What about the NCAA? Hathaway is the chair of the 2011-12 Selection Committee. He's the guy who has to deal with media and fan scrutiny in the seconds, hours and days after the brackets are revealed for the NCAA tournament.

And now he's no longer affiliated with a member institution of the NCAA. This situation, I believe, is unprecedented. The chairman suddenly no longer working for anyone. On one hand, it's a good thing -- he'll have all the time in the world to watch as many games as possible! But on the other, you've got a somewhat-disgraced former athletic director out on the street and simultaneously being the face of your most publicly known committee.

This was the NCAA's response to this transgression, per VP of communications Bob Williams:

“Earlier today, Jeff Hathaway informed Greg Shaheen, NCAA Interim Executive Vice-President of Championships and Alliances, of this evening’s announcement of his retirement from the University of Connecticut.

Mr. Hathaway is concluding the fourth of his five-year term on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.

In the near future, our staff will work with Mr. Hathaway to determine the best approach regarding the balance of his term, including the status of his service as chair the committee during the 2011-12 academic year."

Ominous. I've put in further questions to the NCAA regarding Hathaway's status, and if there's currently any legislation that prohibits someone from participating on the Selection Committee if they're not employed by a member institution. This post will be updated when I can get a response.

Update: I have spoke with a source at the NCAA. There is a rule in place that states a non-employed member of the NCAA can't be on the Selection Committee. But the NCAA isn't quite sure how they're going to tackle this delicate situation right now, as it's never occurred before. My completely speculative guess: Hathaway won't be on your TV screen the night of Selection Sunday, 2012.

Photo: AP

Posted on: August 5, 2011 10:42 am

NCAA getting closer to nixing outdated rules

By Matt Norlander

Most coaches want a spread-out recruiting calendar and more liberation with text message and phone calls to recruits.

It looks like they're going to get their wish.

The Division I Leadership Council met in Indianapolis this week, and there was much time spent on these issues. What you need to know: We have another significant step toward improving the recruiting model and the recruiting calendar. It looks as though a ready-for-shipment proposal will be put together well in time for when conference presidents vote on such overhauls in October.

This was what the Council could agree on, per the NCAA:
  • A start date for official visits beginning after the men’s basketball championship in April of the junior year.
  • Deregulating the type of communication between coaches and prospects (including text messaging and other forms of electronic communication).
  • Allowing unlimited communication after Aug. 1 before the junior year in high school.
  • Permitting evaluations at certified nonscholastic events on two weekends in April, with some restrictions.
  • Permitting some contact at a prospect’s educational institution in conjunction with an evaluation, with some restrictions and requirements.
Think of it like this: if you consider coaches to be completely straight-jacketed when it comes to recruiting kids, now the jacket's off, but they've still got cuffs around their wrists and ankles. But these guys have been inside the walls for so long, this much progress feels like running through a meadow after years of confinement.

The ability to have juniors take official visits once the NCAA tournament ends could be pretty big, by the way. You'd have 16 programs coming off winning two or three NCAA tournament games, and so there could be tiny bursts of visible recruiting coups down the road because of it. Coaches also love this because, if a junior visits, say, April 10, and then there's a sanctioned AAU event two days later, a real connection, a relationship, can develop.

This could make April such a pivotal, critical month. For coaches, it will essentially be an extension of the stress of March. Their season won't really end until May begins. And the deregulation of text messaging and other forms of communication has been a long time coming. With this, you not only get up to date, but also eliminate a heavy amount of would-be violators.

The rule book is going to get a little lighter, and everyone can agree the NCAA needs that.

If approved in October, these changes would go into effect next summer.
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com