Posted on: July 19, 2011 7:23 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 8:15 pm
There's no arguing about the timing of LSU's first major violation in football in 25 years. It's fantastic. Coming a day before the start of the SEC media days, the gossip is sure to be flying in the halls of the Wynfrey Hotel when the interviews kick off on Wednesday. Flying like the anticipated quips from South Carolina's Steve Spurrier.
But let's focus. For now this is about LSU. The present is somewhat uplifting. The NCAA threw roses at the school's proactive approach during the investigation. The future, NCAA-wise, looks murky.
Certainly Tuesday's penalties are nothing more than embarrassing: probation, a couple of scholarships. Nothing really damaging -- for the moment. It's the way LSU got there. A former assistant coach was charged with unethical conduct in the recruitment of a juco receiver who never saw the field.
That adds up to a major violation which opens up a whole new world to NCAA wrongdoers. If you're counting, that's two former SEC coaches charged with the most serious of NCAA crimes -- unethical conduct. Tennessee's Bruce Pearl is the other. SEC commissioner Mike Slive cannot be amused. Neither can the NCAA. Suddenly, the clock is ticking on LSU.
If you're not familiar with the term, "repeat violator" it was installed by the NCAA in the 1980s. It was meant to be a deterrent to habitual cheaters like SMU. Two major violations within a five-year period and you're eligible for the death penalty. Since 1987, though, no other school has been hit that hard in football. So much for being a deterrent.
LSU is in a unique position. For years it took pride in being one of only two SEC schools not to have a major football violation in the last quarter century. The other was Vanderbilt, which has never had a major violation. LSU's last big screw up was in 1986.
But these are different and possibly treacherous times for the Tigers. They are perceived to be SEC and national title contenders. But at the same time the penalties were announced on Tuesday, the football program was simultaneously under investigation because of Will Lyles. The infamous mentor/talent scout has reportedly been paid a combined $26,000 since 2008 by the school for recruiting information.
Nothing wrong with that if, in fact, Lyles provided recruiting info on the up and up and didn't guide players to Baton Rouge. Les Miles told me in April that he didn't know who Lyles was until December. That's plausible but strange considering Lyles reportedly had a long-term relationship with the program and had been paid five figures in the last three years.
That's fishy enough. Let's not forget Lyles is at the center of the Oregon investigation as well. Cal has been linked to him too. That possibly makes Lyles the Hart Lee Dykes of his generation. The former Oklahoma State receiver put four schools on probation after his recruitment. There is still the possibility that Lyles damns three BCS programs to the fiery hell of NCAA probation.
Those two particular violations (Tuesday and Lyles) wouldn't qualify LSU as a repeat violator because the Lyles case started before Tuesday's was completed. But two major violations so close together -- if indeed it comes to that -- aren't going to be looked favorably upon by the NCAA.
Maybe we shouldn't be surprised. Vanderbilt is now the only SEC school without a major violation in its history . Maybe that's life in the SEC. Maybe its winning percentage reflects that fact.
So let the gossip begin in the halls of the Wynfrey. Sure, it looks like business as usual in the SEC. Alabama is on probation. Defending champion Auburn is being investigated on two fronts. Slive won't be happy having to deal with more transgressions.
How bad is it? Since we started our series on college football wrongdoing on July 6, LSU is the third school (from three different conferences) to be hit with a major football violation. That's three in 13 days. Three is the average number of such violations nationally PER YEAR since 1987.
There's still five months left in the year to make those numbers even more alarming. Meanwhile, the NCAA has all the time in the world. Maybe it's not an SEC thing, it's just a college football thing.
Posted on: July 19, 2011 11:43 am
Edited on: July 19, 2011 11:46 am
The NCAA has announced a 3 p.m. ET teleconference Tuesday to discuss a "decision regarding Louisiana State University."
The call is expected to deal with the findings in the D.J. McCarthy-Akiem Hicks case from 2009. LSU self-reported violations regarding McCarthy, a former receivers coach, in the recruitment of Hicks. Hicks never played at LSU. McCarthy has left the program.
The announcement is not expected to deal with the Will Lyles, the mentor/talent scout who reportedly has been paid $26,000 by the school for his recruiting services.
Posted on: July 19, 2011 9:55 am
Four conference commissioners have been added to the roster for next month's NCAA president's retreat, CBSSports.com has learned.
Sources said WAC commissioner Karl Benson, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, Colonial Athletic Association commissioner Tom Yeager and Atlantic Sun commissioner Ted Gumbart will join the presidents Aug. 9-10 in Indianapolis.
The NCAA announced last month that 50 Division I collegiate presidents and CEOs had been invited to the association's headquarters in Indianapolis for what was termed a strategic meeting on the future of college athletics.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said he wants to focus on three subjects during the two-day meeting: academic success of players, financial differences among Division I schools and maintaining the amateurism model.
Ostensibly, Beebe will represent the BCS leagues, Benson will be there for the non-automatic BCS leagues, Yeager for the Football Championship Subdivision schools and Gumbart will represent Division I schools without football.
Beebe is a former NCAA investigator. Benson has testified before Congress in the past on the subject of major-college football's postseason. Yeager is a former chairman of the NCAA infractions committee. Gumbart has been with the Atlantic Sun since 1991.
In announcing the retreat last month, Emmert said that results "take time". No immediate proposals or changes are expected after the meeting.
Over the past year, several scandals have stained college athletics. Research by CBSSports.com showed that since 1987 almost half of the current 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools have been charged with a major football violation.
Posted on: July 15, 2011 10:59 am
Apparently Ohio State doesn't understand why six suspended players were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl either.
That is among the conclusions drawn from a digestion of the documents released last week by Ohio State in conjunction with its reply to the NCAA. You know, the one where the school promised to cross out a couple of lines in the media guide, vacate 2010, and call it day?
But if you've got a few hours and need some comic relief, dive into the docs. Among the revelations ...
--Ohio State ended its exhaustive appeal of the player suspensions by reminding the NCAA that the affected players were sorry and "chose to bypass potential careers," by staying in school. That was before Terrelle Pryor quit the team.
--Ramped-up rules education about taking extra benefits occurred the same month that Ohio State wore new uniforms specially for the 2009 Michigan game. Might it have been a good idea not to tempt players with more merch to deal on the streets?
--The school was asked for a schedule of all televised games during the next three seasons. Such a request isn't new and a TV ban hasn't been applied for years, but it is interesting to note that the penalty remains available to the infractions committee.
--The NCAA has asked any new evidence be turned in 10 days prior to the Aug. 12 infractions committee hearing.
--Jim Tressel's "resignation" turned into a retirement that more resembled a golden parachute. The school forgave Tressel's $250,000 fine, gave him benefits and, in fact, awarded him $52,000.
--Tressel admitted he "prioritized potential criminal activity and the possibility of interfering with an ongoing criminal investigation over NCAA violations," according to the school. Also, the school stated that Tressel would issue a public apology in March, almost three months after the wrongdoing was discovered.
--A repayment schedule set up for the suspended players has them making a final payment three days before this year's Michigan game.
--Tressel's response to the allegations includes his admission of unethical conduct but also that he and his wife have donated more than $3 million since 2001.
--The U.S. Attorney's office discovered 52 separate "lots" of memorabilia and jewelry seized from tattoo parlor owner Eddie Rife. That included 75 items ranging from a high school ring to game jerseys to two diamond rings listed as belonging to Rife's wife.
--After his May 30 resignation Tressel exercised "his option to retire as an employee of The Ohio State University."
At the heart of Ohio State's cooperation with the NCAA is presenting itself and its actions in the best possible light. Rife is scolded by the school for "affecting [players'] eligibility." The school said "[Tressel's] issue was self-detected", but failed to admit at any point that the program gained a competitive advantage.
The school went on to call Tressel's actions "indecisiveness" as opposed to "blatant disregard of NCAA legislation." Tressel, the school added, "is a man of integrity and high moral standards."
The NCAA is reminded that Tressel's "integrity and proven history of promoting rules compliance should be weighed by the Committee on Infractions." From 2000-2009, Ohio State reported 375 violations to the NCAA, most of the 69 FBS school who provided documents to the Columbus Dispatch.
The school's appeal to the suspension of those players for the first five games of 2011 is among the documents released by Ohio State. While the message winding through the documents is meant to distract the NCAA from the football program's significant wrongdoing, the appeal calls into question NCAA "withholding exemptions" for players guilty of receiving extra benefits.
Six players, including former quarterback Terrelle Pryor, received approximately $10,000 in benefits. They were made to reimburse that amount to local charities.
The school appealed a fifth game added to a four-game suspension because those players weren't forthcoming about receiving extra benefits in return for memorabilia and autographs. It remains a mystery why the fifth game was added and yet the players were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl.
CBSSports.com revealed on April 28 an archaic seven-year-old policy that seemed more like a loophole than a rule allowing the "Buckeye Five" to play in the Sugar Bowl.
Among the arguments made by Ohio State in its appeal which was ultimately turned down:
--While the school said it shares the expectation that players should "self-report" violations, the "vast majority" of violations are discovered by the school, conference or NCAA. (What Ohio State forgot in that conclusion is the media is providing the bulk of the juicy stuff these days.)
"It is rare," the appeal states, "for a student-athlete to self-identify an impermissible benefits violation."
Kids these days. Why even try to make them do the right thing?
--Then Ohio State concludes that there is no incentive to come forward and telling the truth.
" ... a student-athlete's self-disclosure of violations does not "reward" student-athletes who DO come forward ..."
Paragraph 16 of the NCAA's Student-Athlete Reinstatement Procedures and Policies states that there not be any competitive advantage. Ohio State not only gained a competitive advantage by those six players participating in the season, it also had a huge advantage in the Sugar Bowl when they played.
"There's no question that I don't understand how they were eligible to play in the game," Bobby Petrino said during this offseason. "I just don't and I never will. They [the NCAA] kind of changed the rules for that bowl game."
Ohio State essentially argued that the Sugar Bowl shouldn't have been a "trade off" for the fifth game. It goes on to argue succinctly that Paragraph 16 allows a bowl exemption if players are "innocently involved." If they are innocently involved, Ohio State says, then why a fifth game suspension?
In denying the appeal, the NCAA said: Players "had numerous opportunities to ask compliance or other members of staff regarding family circumstances and permissibility of selling items."
The school is on record as saying the extra benefits were taken during the players' freshmen and sophomore years (2008-09, 2009-10). It better hope that there is nothing beyond those years.
Talk about mixed message: Ohio State says its "targeted" rules education for players was begun in November 2009 in conjunction with the debut of the Nike "rivalry uniforms" for the Michigan game. Here's some good rules education: Don't tempt players to sell jerseys by giving them another set of collector "rivalry uniforms."
The appeal concludes with that 150-word paragraph stating that the players are sorry. The NCAA was not moved.
Posted on: July 14, 2011 4:57 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 5:00 pm
Well, at least Georgia Tech didn't win the ACC in 2009. Right?
I'm sure once the "shame" dies down at Tech over Thursday's NCAA football penalties a lot of folks at the school will "re-examine" their "consciences". Then they'll laugh out loud.
There was absolutely nothing in the NCAA's findings that will deter the next school from cheating. Specifically, that would be coaching a witness (in this case, a Tech player) prior to an NCAA interview.
That would be playing a couple of ineligible athletes in the ACC title game. That would be letting a repeat violator skate after the latest slap on the radiocarpal joint. The NCAA said one thing and did another when it scolded Georgia Tech for -- among other things -- "lack of cooperation" and failing to meet the "conditions and obligations of membership."
Some wise guy on Twitter called the penalties the same as Ohio State, plus a $100,000 fine. The difference is, Ohio State self-penalized and still faces a significant day in NCAA court. This time, the governing body talked big Thursday, stepped into the batter's box, then checked its swing.
This was serious stuff to everyone except the infractions committee that assessed the penalties on Thursday. The COI got so incensed that it applied what has become the default "penalty" for indignation. A vacation of wins -- in this case all of one for the program -- has become like those Biscottis you receive on flights. They look all fancy. They taste like toasted air.
The only people penalized in these type cases are the SIDs who have to edit their media guides to indicate (per NCAA orders) that USC really didn't win the Pac-10 or, in this case, Georgia Tech really didn't win the '09 ACC title.
Our Brett McMurphy was the first to report that the ACC is going to vacate that conference title. I'm sure the school is so upset that its next move will be to give back the championship rings and its portion of the BCS bowl money. I'm sure coach Paul Johnson will return the $200,000 bonus he received for winning the title. #sarcasm
The NCAA wants us to believe "this case provides a cautionary tale". The message: If you deceive the NCAA, if you play ineligible players, if you become a candidate for the death penalty, you might get a $100,000 fine, a four-year probation and a whole bunch of Biscottis.
Posted on: July 14, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 2:51 pm
As our five-part series ends, it's time for action. Our own. The following are meaningful and realistic reforms to clean up college football (and by extension college athletics).
Create a commissioner for college football: This is not an original thought. Our Mr. College Football, Tony Barnhart, suggested it in April.
The sport suffers from too many competing views and constituencies. There needs to be a person with some sort of meaningful authority over the sport. A go-to guy (or girl) who could, for example, explain in plain English why those five Ohio State players were allowed to participate in the Sugar Bowl. An authority figure who could suspend a coach for a game or two for ripping officials. Someone who loves the game and has its best interests in mind.
An objective mind with enough respect to shake hands on press row, and enough of an iron fist to make the hard and fast decisions.
In all seriousness, I would nominate our Mr. College Football.
Quit sweating the small stuff: On Wednesday, our Bryan Fischer tweeted that the NCAA came down hard and banned media from filming involuntary offseason workouts. Brilliant. Meanwhile, players are partying on South Beach and making small fortunes selling their gear.
The best way for the NCAA to gain the trust of coaches and get the attention of players is to separate violations into another sub-category involving violations involving a competitive or recruiting advantage. Those are the violations that make a difference in the game. Those are the ones that piss off coaches the most.
"If you lump all violations of the law into one category, then all of us are guilty," Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said.
Brett McMurphy pointed out this week that former Oklahoma State receiver Hart Lee Dykes put four schools on probation. Ohio State was able to win a Sugar Bowl and win a sixth consecutive Big Ten title because it fielded ineligible players. Concentrate on the major stuff. Everything else is details.
Call Spielman and Meyer for advice: You knowingly cheat, you're gone. Six months, a year. Doesn't matter. Put it in the rules. Players and coaches alike. In fact, create a list of penalties equal to corresponding violations.
The infractions committee has leeway in assessing penalties on a case-by-case basis. Too much leeway. That has become a crutch when explaining why one school gets The Big Haircut, while another gets off. This is the No. 1 way the NCAA could gain the trust of the public, coaches and administrators. Moses had the Ten Commandments. Not too hard for humanity to follow for thousands of years.
The NCAA has a 434-page manual that is all over the place. It can't be that hard to tighten things up.
Call Warren Buffett for advice: Former Oregon AD Pat Kilkenny suggested a brilliant way to cut through the B.S. Get four or five power brokers in and outside college athletics and figure it out, or at least begin to figure it out.
Start with SEC commissioner Mike Slive and Big Ten commish Jim Delany. Throw in Phil Knight from Nike. Maybe Warren Buffett. The roster doesn't matter. Just make sure the participants are smart, powerful and willing.
Slive and Delany two of the most lucrative amateur entities in the country. Knight and Buffett are accomplished businessmen. I wouldn't be allowed anywhere near the room but I'll you a number familiar to Cecil Newton that these guys could come up with a way to save college athletics.
Whatever happens, please, no ... more ... committees. It's take for action.
Coaches must be removed from the player discipline process: Coaches are naturally prejudiced in favor of their players. That's not to say they can't be objective when the star quarterback gets a DUI, it means most of the time they won't be objective.
Coaches get paid to win. The best way to win is to have the best players on the field. The AD or a faculty committee should determine appropriate discipline. That would lessen the likelihood of player entitlement and or enabling by coaches. If that means one less Stephen Garcia on the field, so be it.
Make infractions committee hearing public: This was actually recommended by the Lee Commission in 1991. It has been stubbornly ignored since.
Twenty years ago, then-NCAA executive director Dick Schultz asked Ronald Reagan's Solicitor General Rex Lee to look into the enforcement process. Eleven of the commission's recommendations were adopted. Open hearings weren't.
NCAA types continue to argue that allowing the public into the process would keep witnesses from coming forward. Balanced against the NCAA accountability that would result from open hearings, the trade off would be worth it. For years, the accused have griped about "secret" nature of the proceedings. Now they know what the media feels like when practices are closed. Open 'em both up.
Give the infractions committee subpoena power: This has been suggested for years. The NCAA has no power to make people show up for hearings who are not under their jurisdiction. Think if they had the ability to compel Reggie Bush to testify.
There are all kinds of political and legal reasons not to compel witnesses to testify in an issue involving amateur sports. Few want more of Big Brother in our lives. But we're talking about rules-breaking here, not a murder trial.
The NCAA process resembles an administrative proceeding. Remember when O.J. was sued for monetary damages [and lost] after he [allegedly] killed two people? That's closer to the NCAA process than the trial that allowed The Juice to go free.
This one change has the chance of wiping out cheating as we know it. Picture a process where subpoenas could be issued and witnesses -- such as coaches who have left to school -- would have to testify under oath.
Read this transcript from a 2004 House Judiciary hearing for an entertaining and compelling argument both for and against NCAA subpoena power.
Call 254-754-9000: That's the phone number of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) in Waco, Texas.
Seriously, where is executive director Grant Teaff and his leadership as the worst of his Millionaire's Club members drag the profession down the drain? The NCAA can't be responsible for all the reforms.
Posted on: July 12, 2011 10:48 am
NCAA Football 12 is out today and I'm jacked. Hope the feeling is mutual because college football needs a break. The sport has been dipped in controversy, cheating, lawyers and courts too long this offseason. We need us some cfb even if it is from a PS3.
Quick background: For those of you who don't know, NCAA Football 12 is a video game. It is more addicting than 30 Rock depicting the thrills, detail and game day experience. This year's edition is the best yet. The Coaching Carousel function puts coaches on the hot seat. The new version includes the ability take the BCS out of the equation. That fantasy alone should be worth the $60 price. A MAC team can play in the Rose Bowl. The Big East can be kicked out of the BCS.
Think of the possibilities:
--Can't wait to play Ohio State in "shame" mode. That's assuming I can navigate my way through the "having a conscience" function to access the Buckeyes.
--Miami (Ohio) in the Rose Bowl. The RedHawks have never won a national championship in anything. Ever. This streak goes back a couple of centuries to when the school was founded. This being a video game is it possible Paul Brown (Class of '30) could jump on the dog pile if Miami beats USC for the national championship?
--Will asking the game to assemble the current membership of the WAC crash my PS3? Don't even try to sort out Legends and Leaders.
--If the Big East is cut out of BCS will West Virginia start an ugly rumor about the game's creator having a "reputation of being a partier"?
--Mascot mode must: Delanys vs. Slives.
--There has to be a seven-on-seven function where gamers start with $10,000 in funny money and can pay it out to players any way they want. Will Lyles could narrate the tutorial.
--In light of the upheaval at Ohio State and deadlines for the game's production I'm really interested in who will be coaching the Buckeyes. Mike Leach is available.
--Need input, gamers: Jordan Jefferson on EA: Cotton Bowl version or spring-game version?
--Does Texas Tech include Craig James on the sidelines or not?
--Where's the Pac-12 Network button?
--It seems only fitting that Mark Ingram graces the cover of this year's game. A tailback who won the Heisman in 2009 is pimping a fantasy version of the 2011 season marketed as NCAA 12.
Some things never change. In what might be an EA first, it is featuring a player whose school is currently on probation. Since 1987, Bama has been involved in more major football infractions cases (three) than national championships (two).
In this offseason of sleaze, there are some things you can't escape.
Posted on: July 1, 2011 3:10 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 11:33 am
It turns out Oregon was that dumb.
It did get in bed with a talent scout to lure tailback Lache Seastrunk to Oregon if you draw the thinnest of conclusions from Friday's Yahoo! Sports story. It turns out that talent scout/mentor/third party/opportunist Will Lyles did essentially Photoshop a national recruiting package together follow Yahoo! Sports' initial report.
I didn't think Oregon could be so dumb. I was wrong.
The report details what is clearly a close relationship between Oregon and Lyles. The story says relationship with Chip Kelly goes back to 2007. The NCAA won't even have to try hard to classify Lyles as a representative of the university's athletic interests. In other words, a booster.
The tragedy of it is, Oregon and Kelly didn't have to do any of this. The program had the support of Nike behind it. Kelly himself is a heck of a coach and a tireless recruiter, although even that label must now be in question.
This isn't a case of the media fireflies being drawn to an upstart championship contender. The likes of Kelly, Jim Tressel and Bruce Pearl are making it too easy for us. They're sloppy and arrogant in their alleged wrongdoing. Think about how simpler life would be for Tressel if he had merely walked down the hall to his athletic director with those emails. Pearl would still be coaching if he told the truth. Kelly didn't need Seastrunk that badly. So far, the kid hasn't panned out.
Instead, he allegedly funneled tens of thousands of dollars to a shady character with a relationship to a recruit. My God, it's Texas football. There's plenty to go around for everyone. Was Seastrunk worth it? We know now the answer is no.
Fallout? According to the story, the NCAA has already been in to talk to Lyles. But Lyles said they didn't ask specific questions that Yahoo! Sports did (go figure). You can bet they'll be back in wanting to see Lyles' emails and phone records too. Why wouldn't he cooperate? Lyles has the morals of a slug anyway. It looks to me that the only reason he rolled on Oregon was that they weren't going to pay him again.
Be very concerned Duck Nation. Oregon is in line for major penalties, the kind that burn a program to the ground. USC-like. Kelly's job could be in jeopardy. This is not USC looking the other way while Reggie Bush took money, this is a willful attempt to gain a recruiting and competitive advantage.
Can anyone win big without cheating? The question remains unanswered.