Posted on: August 30, 2011 6:13 pm

NCAA has this Miami thing nailed

It was not a good afternoon for you film buffs who attach historical significance -- or meaning -- to those riveting Donna Shalala videos of late.

The Miami president lately has been greeting every new shred of Miami sleaze with her version of fireside chats from her office. Nice touch. Where exactly is that bunker she is speaking from?

Doesn't matter. Shizzle's about to get real. The NCAA suspended eight Miami players Tuesday for varying amounts of time (one to six games) in the scandal's latest chapter. But the most significant thing to come out of that announcement was a name in the first paragraph.

Nevin Shapiro.

The NCAA felt no reluctance naming the sleazy central figure of the Yahoo Sports report. Usually in these cases, the NCAA uses phrases such as "a person representing the university's athletic interests" or "third party" or something like that. It doesn't want to be sued in case the person they name is, you know, innocent.

On Tuesday, the NCAA just come out and said it: Nevin Shapiro offered it. These players took it. We've got this thing nailed.

It may wait months or even years for the final verdict but it's clear the NCAA is well on its way to discovering everything Yahoo reported.

The lengths that the NCAA went to get the information may be debated. Former Hurricanes Arthur Brown (now at Kansas State) and Robert Marve (now at Purdue) were allowed to keep their eligibility. That basically confirms my story regarding limited immunity.

It was another not-good day for Dr. Shalala's program. Earlier in the day a bankruptcy lawyer made noise about subpoenaing all 72 players in the report. Seems like those victims of Shapiro's Ponzi scheme have the audacity to want their money back.

How long is it going to take the IRS to weigh in on this?

There are two levels of pressure here: At Miami where there has to be a lingering anxiety over whether Shalala will have a program to rebuild when the NCAA gets done with it. The other is at Maryland. The on-field pressure now shifts to Randy Edsall and Maryland. They get the downgraded Hurricanes Labor Day night.

If they don't beat Miami in its current crippled state it may never happen.

The only winners for now figure to be the guys selling bootleg T-shirts near Byrd Stadium: (Prosti)'Tutes vs. Turtles, anyone?




Posted on: August 22, 2011 4:28 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 11:19 am

Rand joins with organization to look into NCAA

A California-based organization seeking to change the NCAA enforcement process has invited representatives from the BCS conferences to attend a kickoff meeting at the end of the month.

College Athletics Protection Association (CAPA) has joined with international think Rand Corp. in what would be an ultimate effort by another party to lobby Congress to change NCAA enforcement procedures. Any effort to approach Congress would need to be done by a separate entity. 

The invitations from CAPA were sent out Thursday. As of Sunday, the organization had not received a confirmation from any of those leagues. However, interim director Daniel Lustyan said high-ranking parties in those leagues have shown interest in attending.

CAPA advocates compliance should be placed in the hands of an independent third party. NCAA penalties are currently decided by the NCAA infractions committee, a nine-member volunteer group of college faculty and sports administrators. CAPA's interest was piqued following the rash of major scandals nationwide. In particular, the Miami scandal. Former Miami AD Paul Dee stood in judgment of USC as chairman of the NCAA infractions committee while his own program was allegedly being gutted by booster Nevin Shapiro.

 "I'm a fan, not a USC alum, just the average citizen," said Lustyan a retired Fresno, Calif., businessman. "Something doesn't sit right."

That Rand is involved has to raise some eyebrows in Washington, D.C., and at the NCAA. Rand is usually associated with the Department of Defense and U.S. policy decisions. Specifically, the Rand Institute for Civil Justice is working with CAPA, already registered as a non-profit orgnaization.

RCJ's mission, according to its website, is to "conduct the highest level of empirical research to address policy questions related to the civil justice system [and] regulatory frameworks ..."

"It's fair and safe to say the current system doesn't work," Lustyan said. "The NCAA is not an objective partner here."

The meeting is Aug. 29-30 at Rand's Santa Monica, Calif., offices.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 18, 2011 1:13 pm
Edited on: August 18, 2011 1:39 pm

Former agent calls Saban a "whore"

Josh Luchs seems like ancient history. The Sports Illustrated story detailing the former agent's lavishing extra benefits on college players is 10 months old. 

Since then we've had Ohio State, North Carolina, Miami, etc. But there's one thing about scumbags: If they see an opening, they're likely to take advantage of it.

Luchs is in the process of writing a book that essentially is an extension of the SI story. If you listen or watch close enough, you can probably catch Luchs going through the national carwash promoting himself.

Imagine that, a sleazy former agent hawking his wares.

Luchs has turned righteous just in time, or maybe it's because of the times.

"The ideal of amateurism truly doesn't exist, and I don't know if it's existed since the '50s," he said. "Until the powers that be realize they're trying to operate in a broken system, nothing is going to change."

I caught one of his radio interviews Thursday morning. Suddenly, Luchs sounds like the voice of reason, ripping the NCAA and the culture that allows cheating. It's a lot of the stuff that those of us without books to sell have been saying for years.

Ah, but the money shot came while talking about Nick Saban. Speaking on WHB 810 in Kansas City on Thursday (listen), Luchs was asked about Saban's infamous "pimps" comment from July 2010.

You'll remember how Saban reacted to a question about unscrupulous agents during the '10 SEC media days: "Are they any better than a pimp?"

Luchs took particular issue with that statement Thursday, reminding his audience that Saban made more than $5 million per year, adding, "What he's done here is he's showed who the whore is."

Whore? Really? Can't wait to see how that plays in Alabama. While you're likely to hear/view Luchs as he, um, prostitutes himself, you may not hear those particular words from him in future interviews. A recording of the interview has been passed along to Alabama. I'm not expecting a reaction. There will be enough of one from 'Bama Nation when this gets out.

Scratch Tuscaloosa off his book tour list, I guess.

Other nuggets from Luchs:

 He says he was sought out by the NCAA to speak at East Coast and West Coast compliance seminars. That, in itself, isn't surprising. The NCAA has used convicted gamblers to speak on the evils of gambling. This quote from Luchs, though, sticks out.

"For the 20 years that I was in the business -- half of which I spent breaking every one of the rules, breaking rules paying players -- I had never once seen a compliance person."

 Luchs also said the compliance business has a fundamental flaw, those directors are paid by schools.

"When you think about that for a minute, it's mind-boggling. It's against the schools self-interest to find the wrongdoing. The checks should come from a pool at the NCAA ... This, to me, is at the heart of this Miami issue."

 Luchs spoke of Nevin Shapiro with a sense of jealousy.

"This guy provided illegal benefits to 72-73 players over an eight-year period ... I only gave [benefits to] 32-33 over an eight-year period. Heck, this guy was just killing me."

Posted on: August 15, 2011 6:24 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 10:18 am

Breaking: NCAA head contacts CEOs on realignment

NCAA president Mark Emmert has contacted various conference commissioners and school CEOs on the subject of conference realignment, the NCAA told CBSSports.com Monday.

There were no specifics but observers were wondering if Emmert would get involved in the increasingly volatile Texas A&M-to-SEC situation. A&M president R. Bowen Loftin was giving permission to pursue conference affilation issues by the school's board of regents Monday. However, Loftin, in a sometimes confusing interview session, said there was still a chance the school could stay in the Big 12.

The NCAA released this statement first to CBSSports.com through a spokesman:

"President Emmert has had conversations with a number of presidents and commissioners related to recent conference realignment issues and these discussions mirror many of the topics raised last week during the [Division I] presidential meetings."

The presidents came away from that meeting promising radical reform in academics and in enforcement.

What was once thought to be a slam-dunk, done deal for A&M is now fraught with legal entanglements. The New York Times reported that the SEC is possibly leaving itself open for a tortious interference claim should it be perceived that the league is raiding the Big 12. Texas A&M may be looking at a buyout that approaches $30 million if it leaves the Big 12 only 14 months after the 10 remaining schools made a 10-year pledge to stay together.

It's clear that ESPN has a major stake in the issues being discussed. It could be upset that if the SEC gets Texas A&M that would allow the conference to renegotiate a new deal at a higher dollar value. The SEC is two years into a 20-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and CBS. 

If A&M leaves, then that would put in jeopardy the future of the Big 12, which is due to go out to bid in an exclusive negotiating window with ESPN within the next two years. ESPN could also be concerned about the future of, and its investment in, the Longhorn Network at Texas. 

In essence, ESPN would be paying more for the SEC but potentially lose a property in the Big 12 if that league breaks up. The net result, potentially, would be less inventory for ESPN to telecast. That's the reason why ESPN and Fox combined to save the Big 12 last summer. If it had dissolved, ESPN would have lost the Big 12 and possibiltiy been shut out of the Pac-12 if that league had gone on the open market.

As it stands, ESPN combined with Fox to get the rights to the new Pac-12. 

Posted on: August 12, 2011 1:21 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 4:11 pm

Ohio State not out of the woods

INDIANAPOLIS -- Despite a swift, four-hour NCAA infractions committee hearing Friday, Ohio State's celebrated, infamous case is not over.

Documents released Friday show that the school was sent an amended notice of allegations by the NCAA in July and warned that it could form "the partial basis" for a charge of lack of institutional control or failure to monitor. That could lead to enhanced penalties if further wrongdoing is found.

The original NCAA notice of allegations did not include such findings. However, the letter seems to suggest that the investigation remains open. The letter from Stephanie Hannah, an NCAA director of enforcement, to an NCAA liaision states the amended notice has to do with the "first allegation."

Allegation No. 1 in the case summary has to do with the Ohio State players trading memorabilia for tattoos from Columbus, Ohio tattoo parlor owner Eddie Rife. The NCAA could be looking into a report that former quarterback Terrelle Pryor made as much as $40,000 during his time in school autographing items. A different report by Sports Illustrated also said the gear-for-tats scandal was much wider than original thought. 

Ohio State AD Gene Smith said, "evidence at this time does not warrant additional allegations ..." The key phrase being "at this time". The biggest news of Friday is that the investigation is not over. The NCAA letter confirms two reports earlier this week that the NCAA was still looking into Ohio State wrongdoing.

A source familiar with the process explained it this way: The parties agreed to deal with what was on the table to this point and went through with Friday's hearing. Usually, that is the final step before penalties are applied approximately eight weeks later. However, there is still a chance Ohio State could be called before the committee for a second hearing.

The school already has self-imposed a vacation of the 2010 season and applied a two-year probation. During a brief statement Friday Smith said the school would forfeit its bowl share from the Sugar Bowl, $338,000. Adding the $800,000 that Smith said the school had spent on the investigation to this point, the case has cost Ohio State more than $1 million.

Jim Tressel and his attorney Gene Marsh had no comment as they left the conference room.  

Category: NCAAF
Tags: NCAA, Ohio State
Posted on: August 10, 2011 7:04 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 7:10 pm

NCAA CEOs promise sweeping change. No, really

A grizzled reporting comrade, tired of the NCAA process, once said: "Just tell me when they actually do something."

He, like most of us, had grown weary of the NCAA's tough talk, but lack of action. Every new problem was met with some sort of meeting, retreat or summit. Change was slower than Yadier Molina to first base.

That sort of changed on Wednesday. Sort of, because presidents invited to the NCAA's celebrated retreat emerged Wednesday with talk of sweeping change. It was specific, it was bold, it challenged.

It might just happen.

"Some of these things," Penn State president Graham Spanier said, "our coaches and boosters may not like."

"It's time," Cal-Riverside chancellor Tim White said, "for some tough love."

Tough love? When did college athletics start to resemble a bunch of 14-year olds being sent to Rikers Island to see the inside of a jail?

It's the new NCAA, folks. They're wearing the same old suits, but they're also carrying shivs. Figuratively. There are further signs that these guys mean business. If the CEOs accomplish half of what they talked about Wednesday in an afternoon presser, then amateur athletics, not just college athletics, will have changed significantly.

The presidents potentially did more in the last two days than their predecessors did in the last 60 years.

They promised to streamline the NCAA Manual, a monumental undertaking. Their intent: To concentrate more on catching the intentional rule breakers, not necessarily the coaches who make too many phone calls.

"We're going to de-emphasize the rules nobody cares about," Spanier said.

I'm pretty sure the words "sentencing guidelines" have never been mentioned in the enforcement process. That was, before Wednesday. That's why penalties were so maddeningly inconsistent. Now there may be some sense to them.

There was serious talk about a hard 930 Academic Progress Rate. If not, schools don't get into the NCAA tournament. (Note: UConn, already hit with scholarship reductions because of a low APR, would not have been eligible for the 2010 tournament based on the 930 baseline.)

It looks like players are finally going to be paid. It will be a modest amount and the NCAA will bend over backwards to make it look like it's not pay for play, but let's be honest. It is. It's also fair.

So is the idea of multiple-year scholarships. No longer will schollies be renewable year-to-year at the whim of the coach. Kids deserve more security than that. College shouldn't be an annual tryout for a scholarship, it should be about education.

It would be boastful to suggest our July series on reform planted some small seeds in this debate, ah, but what the hell. Let's just say it did. It's a new day in the NCAA and its president Mark Emmert looks like Patrick Swayze in "Road House". Emmert/Patrick has entered the bar, the band has stopped playing, now he needs to clean house.

There is a very big caveat that comes with it. All, or most, of this tough talk has to be backed up. Emmert and The Presidents (hey, not a bad band name) are talking months instead of years in terms of implementing change.

They're on record now. Their reps are at stake. If this doesn't work, it's time to blow up the model and start over. That's what makes me think these sweeping changes are coming. The NCAA live streamed the retreat presser. It interviewed participants. We know who these people are. Where they work. They're frauds if they don't follow through.

Wonder what Walter Byers is thinking about this. The NCAA's first executive director (for parts of four decades) ruled the association with an iron fist. He controlled television appearances, he oversaw the enforcement department like a small-town sheriff dealing out penalties with impunity. It was under him that the perception began: The NCAA protected the rich and punished the poor.

In the last two days Mark Emmert has proved there is a new sheriff in town. One who looks like he's ready to clean house. Just don't ask Emmert/Swayze if he shaves his chest.

Posted on: August 8, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 7:36 pm

Q & A with Mark Emmert

It seemed like a good time to seek out Mark Emmert. The world has changed a lot even since the NCAA president's state-of-the-association press conference at the Final Four.

On the eve of this week's presidential retreat and a few days before Ohio State's infractions committee hearing -- both in his town -- Emmert talked to me about the issues of the day.

CBSSports.com: You said that this retreat had nothing to do with the current climate. When and why did you come up with it?

Emmert: "I was thinking about this even when I was transitioning into the job. One of my assumptions was, at some point as I came to know the NCAA, I would want to have a broad-based retreat with presidents.

"Then, as all the issues unfolded, and I got to spend more time with presidents commissioners and ADs and coaches it was clear that we have some very significant issues that need to get addressed. It has been months in the planning stage."

CBSSports.com: Has the retreat taken on an added significance because of the current climate of wrongdoing?

Emmert: "Absolutely. The high-profile cases that we've had have been these huge exclamation points about a number of the issues that we have especially around integrity problems."

CBSSports.com: What did you think about SEC commissioner Mike Slive's comment last month -- "Intercollegiate athletics has lost the benefit of the doubt"?

Emmert: "I've said that a number of times myself. I think it's true. It's true of most big institutions these days. It's hard to say that Congress has much of the benefit of the doubt. I daresay even parts of the media.

"We're in a moment in time where there is lots of skepticism. With these big cases that have been out there and the publicity that has surrounded them, there is a lot of reason the public and our fans and members of the higher education community have serious concerns. I'm among them."

CBSSports.com: What is significant about Slive and the rest of the commissioners making specific reform recommendations. Could you, for example, suggest a rise in the minimum GPA from 2.0 to 2.5?

Emmert: "Many of the issues that Mike and others have described have been works in progress for some time. Going from 2.0 to 2.5 is an active proposal that is coming out of the committee on academic performance ...

"I was delighted that Mike and [Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany] and all those putting proposals out there are doing so. It's a different day when commissioners are almost in competition to see who can come up with the best reform package."

CBSSports.com: I just wonder if there is something else at work here?

Emmert: "I've been meeting with them as a group of 31 commissioners. Many of them individually. I've been to many of their presidential meetings. Everywhere I've gone the refrain is pretty much the same. We have some significant challenges that need to be addressed."

CBSSports.com: Ohio State president Gordon Gee said recently, that presidents go to these meetings and say all the right things. But as soon as they come back on campus there is tremendous pressure from their boards of directors or trustees to produce winning teams. How much leverage do presidents have since the change has to come from them?

Emmert: "The presidents at the end of the day are the ones who are responsible for all of our athletic programs ... They are the NCAA. They're the ones who have to make those calls.

"There always has been, for a century, this struggle to find the right balance between the academic component of sports, the athletic component and the entertainment component. At different points of time different elements of that equation have had greater sway. It varies by institution.

"Every school has to find that right balance. We as an association have to find it in total."

CBSSports.com: What is your stance on cost of attendance. In general everyone is for it, but you have said you have some concerns.

Emmert: "I am adamantly opposed to paying student-athletes to be athletes. There is merit in having discussion about increasing of the support they get to manage their legitimate costs of being a student, much like we would do with a merit scholar.

"As you know, there is presently a gap between what is provided through a full grant-in-aid and the legitimate cost of attendance. I am happy to have a conversation if we want to consider closing that gap, but nothing more than that."

CBSSports.com: Why does the vacating wins work as a deterrent? It seems like it is being used more frequently.

Emmert: "I don't know if I can answer what works as a deterrent and what doesn't. When you have someone win a competition with ineligible players ... it's not fair to the teams who were their opponents. If nothing else, it's a setting of the record straight.

"I hope it acts as a deterrent. People don't like to take banners down."

CBSSports.com: Why not TV bans? (The last was applied in the 1990s)

Emmert: "I don't think it should be off the table. I think it's one of the things that should be under consideration.

"What you have to do is find a way not to penalize other programs. If you can figure out solutions to that it shouldn't be off the table."

CBSSports.com: Should there be any more significance put on the Ohio State case given the climate right now?

Emmert: "I can't speak about any one individual case. All of the high-profile cases right now are getting special scrutiny because they came in such rapid succession."

CBSSports.com: Your predecessor Walter Byers once said, the only real change in the NCAA has to come from the outside. Do you agree with that?

Emmert: "Obviously, I don't. I wouldn't take this job. I can't speak to his comment. The point of this retreat is to demonstrate we can make real change and do it collectively ourselves.

"I don't think that's impossible. In fact, I think we're going to get a lot of good things done."

CBSSports.com: When can we expect something to emerge from this meeting?

Emmert: "It's critical we come out of this meeting with a clear commitment and level of support from the presidents about the issues that are most critical to them and are most critical to advancing intercollegiate athletics.

"Obviously, this group doesn't have any authority other than a group of presidents coming together. But they can state unequivocally what's important and what they think needs to have happen and the speed with which they'd like to see it happen.

"If we're going to move forward, I want us to move forward aggressively."

CBSSports.com: Do you have an opinion on if high school games should be televised?

Emmert: "It's a really interesting issue. First of all, high school games are televised. I suspect the televising of high school games will continue to grow and grow rapidly. What the role is for any of the conference and institutional networks is just a difficult question ...

"In the meanwhile, as you've seen some folks [Big 12] are self imposing their position on it. I'm sure the Division I board of directors and I are going to have a good discussion about it. It may well be a time where we pause and figure it out and move on."

Posted on: August 8, 2011 6:45 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 10:17 am

What to expect from this week's NCAA retreat

Let's calculate the odds of any real change coming out of this week's NCAA presidential retreat.

All we have is history which has not been kind. In the late 1980s, the nation's college presidents were charged with taking control of athletic landscape amid a time of scandal. In other words, live up to their job description.

So much for that. In the quarter century since 1987 (SMU death penalty) college football has averaged three football major violation cases per year. In one 13-day period in July (during our reform series, consequently), three schools went on probation in football in less than two weeks.

The presidential initiative hasn't failed -- the venerable Myles Brand was the first NCAA CEO to come from the academic side. It has been more uneven. For good reason.

Athletics aren't a front burner item to most college CEOs. They are in charge of what are frequently billion-dollar budgets. Athletics is a small part of that budget. They would be no big deal if the embarrassment factor weren't plugged in.

"Athletics is about two percent of my budget," Penn State president Graham Spanier said, "but probably 10 percent of my time. Clearly, I spend a disproportionate time on athletics. It's the one area that brings credit to you if you do it right. At the same time it's the area of the university that has the chance to bring discredit to the university."

Remember, this is from the CEO of one of two schools with football national championships that have never had a major violation in football. (BYU is the other.)

Look at what has happened recently at Ohio State and North Carolina. The presidents, in a way, have ignored the importance of athletics as their school's reputation took a hit. Ohio State's outgoing Gordon Gee is still being ripped for his March 8 comment about Jim Tressel.

"I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me."

While watching his football program slowly disintegrate from within, North Carolina chancellor Holden Thorp inadvertently committed an NCAA secondary violation.

These are the leaders of the NCAA. And their time is running out.

"I'm deeply worried about football," Spanier told me this summer. "I believe if we don't fix some of the problems in football, [that] in five years it will be as bad as basketball."

That's as damning as it gets. There are a lot of folks in college athletics who believe basketball is so far gone that it is irretrievable. Football still has a chance. That's why this retreat was called, to discuss the big picture but to concentrate on football.

A collection of presidents (Spanier is among them), ADs and commissioners will gather in Indy to discuss academic success, fiscal sustainability and integrity. Those are NCAA president Mark Emmert's words. We'll see if anything comes of them.

The difference this time is we have talking points. Most notably, SEC commissioner Mike Slive proposed a new model at the conference media days. The BCS commissioners basically agree with him.

If the NCAA (read: presidents) don't take significant action on those proposals, the commissioners can throw up their hands and say, "Hey, we tried our best." In a small way, Slive's words publicized the leverage those commissioners hold. Do nothing, and the minutia of the NCAA Manual could drive them to someday break away and form their own division.

That move alone could be driven by the current discussion over cost of attendance. But NCAA president Mark Emmert is against any kind of model that would make players employees.

"I am adamantly opposed to paying student-athletes to be athletes," he told me. "There is merit in having discussion about increasing of the support they get to manage their legitimate costs of being a student."

We're back, then, to the old conundrum of fitting a profit-driven pursuit into an academic/amateur model.

"I would rather do away with collegiate athletics than abandon the amateur model," Spanier said.

 It is more than interesting that it is the commissioners who are suddenly taking the lead on NCAA reform.

"It's a different day when commissioners are almost in competition to see who can come up with the best reform package," Emmert said.

Slive makes perfect sense when he suggests doing away with text and phone call limitations for coaches. This is how modern teenagers communicate. If they choose not to respond to a coach, they don't have to.

"When you really think about it, why can't coaches make phone calls?" Slive said. "Our focus needs to be on those rules and regulations that go to the heart and soul of the integrity we want in intercollegiate athletics."

In other words, smash the Tressels. Ignore the texters.

So it's up to you, presidents. If you don't want to get that integrity back it's time for action. In a vague and complicated way, those commissioners have issued a challenge. It has become clear that the NCAA controls basketball because of the billions being produced by the tournament. The commissioners, though, control football. They created and manage the BCS, which awards $200 million in bowl payouts.

And if you control football, you control college athletics. Slive did what Emmert couldn't, call from specific sweeping changes to the NCAA. Emmert has no real power on the subject. He is a figurehead -- a highly educated and accomplished one, but still a figurehead. He represents 1,200 schools with different constituencies, goals and budgets.

All you have to do is look at the Longhorn Network situation. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe took the lead, issuing a temporary ban on televising high school games. Big 12 ADs voted unanimously last week on a one-year moratorium. With a summit addressing the issue scheduled for later this month, I asked Emmert if there was any NCAA bylaw to cover the televising of prep games.

"Maybe," he said. 

(Here is a full Q & A with Emmert.)

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