Martin Report About UNC Academics Released: Leaves Questions Unanswered

Posted by mpatton on December 20th, 2012

North Carolina released the independent report from former governor James Martin Thursday morning and a lot people aren’t happy. Admittedly biased rival fans aren’t satisfied (or here), and North Carolina fans and alumni aren’t either. The primary reason for people’s disdain is simple: The report doesn’t add much, in substance, to what was already known. Yes, Martin throws out some statistics about the number of grade changes investigated, but the major players weren’t interviewed. That means Julius Nyang’oro (the head of the African American Studies department, who taught many of the fraudulent classes), Debbie Crowder (Nyang’oro’s assistant) and Wayne Walden (the counselor who came to North Carolina with Roy Williams but left in 2009 when basketball players stopped taking African American Studies classes) were not interviewed.

Jim Martin released his report on the UNC academic scandal, which left most questions unanswered. (Photo: Chris Seward / Raleigh News & Observer)

Jim Martin released his report on the UNC academic scandal, which left most questions unanswered. (Photo: Chris Seward / Raleigh News & Observer)

The report puts the onus of the scandal on the African and African American Studies department with Nyang’oro taking all the blame, but the lack of relevant interviews leads to a murky picture (emphasis added):

We were unable to discern a clear motive for establishing and offering these perverse and anomalous courses. The evidence is consistent with one hypothesis that these courses were provided for the primary purpose of enlarging the department’s enrollment, as a factor for increasing its allotted faculty positions. As a generality, no one was paid extra for having more than the normal number of these courses. There is no evidence that anyone outside of the Department office was active in its instigation and continuance. I believe personally that the big money from television contracts does distort values of collegiate sports programs; but we found no evidence that it was a factor in these anomalous courses. Despite what one might imagine, there is no evidence the Counselors, or the students, or the coaches had anything to do with perpetrating this abuse of the AFRI/AFAM curriculum, or any other.

So essentially after the Martin Report, we’re no closer to finding out why these classes existed. Were they for athletes? To increase enrollment? Because Nyang’oro loved reading 20-page research papers instead of lecturing? The paragraph above admits that the money in college athletics “does distort values” of programs, but in the same paragraph accepts absence of evidence (from what appears to be a corporeal investigation) as evidence of absence.

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College Basketball By The Tweets: Champions Classic, #FREE Shabazz & UNC Cheating

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2012

Nick Fasulo is an RTC correspondent who writes the column College Basketball By the Tweets, a look at the world of college hoops through the prism of everyone’s favorite social media platform. You can find him on Twitter @nickfasuloSBN.

Aside from a great night of hoops at the Champions Classic, week two of the college basketball season was fairly tame, as hungry fans await the always entertaining Feast Week. There’s been a of talk lately about how college basketball is an eroding sport, but don’t tell that to Tim Brando, who was giving his undivided attention to the Champions Classic on Tuesday night.

https://twitter.com/TimBrando/status/268512307582226433

And Brando couldn’t be any more spot on, as the now annual event did not disappoint last Tuesday. Michigan State snuck past Kansas due to great late game execution on offense, while Duke’s experience was too much for Kentucky’s youth. A fantastic four hours of hoops.

Calipari, Duke & Flopping

The incident that sparked the most witty tweets this week? That would unquestionably be John Calipari‘s public indictment of Duke’s uncanny ability to flop around the basket. Cal dropped the zinger to Andy Katz while heading into the locker room at half time, when the Wildcats trailed the Blue Devils by two.

The tweets came in droves…

https://twitter.com/Mengus22/status/268557963688570880

https://twitter.com/BH_Orange44/status/268560524336324608

https://twitter.com/DanWolken/status/268562089164034049

Never one to back down, Coach K did not shy away from offering a response to Calipari during his post-game press conference.

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ACC M5: 11.19.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 19th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: After several months of beating his drum, Dan Kane finally found a whistleblower from the North Carolina athletic support staff. Mary Willingham is the first named source to come out and directly say that plagiarism was tolerated by the tutors and professors in many no-show classes at UNC. A witness has been the missing piece to this story, and Willingham’s criticism is damning to say the least. She alleges special treatment for revenue sport athletes, both in terms of admissions and questionable classes. Willingham’s comments will take some further dissection but do not look good for the school at first reading.
  2. ESPN: The biggest news over the weekend was the bombshell dropped out of College Park when sources within the athletic department told ESPN that Maryland is far enough along in negotiations to join the Big Ten (along with Rutgers) and that an official announcement could come as soon as later today. This makes the ACC’s recent addition of Notre Dame even more important, though it could also spark additional expansion moves (does Connecticut become an ACC target?). By switching leagues, Maryland would likely see a significant boost in television profits in the long run, but the recently increased $50 million dollar ACC buyout could cripple an athletic department already in the red in the short term.
  3. Washington Post (pro and con): Two Maryland legends spoke out for and against the Terps’ potential move to the Big Ten. Gary Williams is all for the move despite supporting the ACC throughout all the expansion rumors. It should be noted that Williams serves as assistant to the athletic director, so it may color his opinion a little (though Williams was never scared to speak his mind before this). He cited the increased television revenue and hinted at a lack of respect from the ACC (noting the conference tournament was only hosted in Washington, DC, once in his 22 years). Len Elmore on the other hand fought for tradition: “Anything that’s driven solely by dollars, it’ll turn out badly.” Elmore took some shots at Maryland’s president and athletic director for not having Maryland pride. Expect more from us here at the ACC microsite on the potential move today.
  4. Wilmington Star News: NC State’s Debbie Yow earned herself an extension with increased supplemental compensation. Yow’s new deal runs through June 2017 and is a direct result of a successful coaching search (in hindsight at least) and the steady improvement that the Wolfpack’s athletic teams have seen under her tenure –most prominently, on the basketball court. Yow will continue making $354,000 a year with an extra $150,000 in supplemental earnings and an enhanced bonus structure going forward.
  5. Hampton Roads Daily Press: David Teel sat down with John Swofford to talk all things ACC. The majority of the interview is covered in his excellent profile, which ran Sunday. But the extras are also worth reading, especially Swofford’s optimism on merging the Notre Dame and ACC football deals in the near future. He also talked briefly about working above Dean Smith at North Carolina and the ongoing scandal in Chapel Hill.
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Morning Five: 08.23.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 23rd, 2012

  1. It seems like all we talk about in these M5s are player eligibility issues, but something new is released almost every day. The latest release involves the other half of the top two players in the incoming freshman class (depending on whom you ask). With UCLA”s Shabazz Muhammad sitting in Westwood yesterday as his team flew off to China without him, SI.com‘s Pete Thamel published a piece revealing that the NCAA is taking a closer look at the recruitment of Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel, visiting his former high school for the second time in three months to inquire about some of the associations he has with various prep basketball hangers-on, and specifically, how Noel paid for some of his unofficial recruiting visits. As expected, Kentucky fans have been quick to play the victimization card by their media public enemy #1, Thamel, but the truth of the matter is that this is becoming NCAA standard operating procedure for elite recruits in today’s environment. Just this offseason, Noel, Muhammad, Providence’s Ricardo Ledo and NC State’s Rodney Purvis have been more carefully vetted by the NCAA, and in the era of players frequently jumping high schools, more and more powerful AAU basketball, and vast coteries of agents and runners looking for a piece of the action, these careful evaluations of elite recruits is going to continue.
  2. It was therefore superb timing on CBSSports.com to release another of their Critical Coaches series Wednesday asking a question along these lines. They asked their coaching contacts which player’s recruitment from the last decade was perceived (there’s that word again) to have been the dirtiest? Recall that a couple of weeks ago, John Calipari, Scott Drew and Ben Howland were perceived to be the biggest cheaters in the sport — among the group of players named in this follow-up question, the top four named and six of the top 10 were recruits under either Calipari or Howland. Interestingly, none of Drew’s guys — from Quincy Miller to Isaiah Austin to Perry Jones — were named in this poll. But boy, both Calipari and Howland’s guys sure were — the top four: Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Davis, John Wall, and Kyle Anderson. The next two on the list? OJ Mayo and Derrick Rose — two players who, you know, were proven to have committed serious violations during their recruitments. A number of other players received votes but it’s clear that, with nine of the 24 players named (Terrence Jones, DeMarcus Cousins, Enes Kanter, and J’Mison Morgan were also named), the Kentucky and UCLA head coaches are perceived to be playing a different game than everyone else.
  3. Sigh… While on the subject of the shamelessness of some of the questions in this Critical Coaches series, would it be too much to ask the CBSSports.com gentlemen — all of whom are good and capable dudes — to follow up with some of the hundreds of coaching contacts they have and do the proper journalistic legwork to prove (or disprove) these perceptions? If Shabazz Muhammad’s recruitment is perceived to be the dirtiest in the last 10 years of college basketball (or Anthony Davis’… or John Wall’s… or Kyle Anderson’s… you get the point), how about spending some of that energy nailing the people responsible; or, alternatively, clearing those mentioned from that perception? It all just feels a bit too US Weekly, which as John Clay suggests, is fine if that’s what the site wants to be — but unlike most college basketball portals, that group has the resources, the time, and quite clearly the contacts to find out where the bodies are buried. Instead of pure sensationalism, how about digging up a few bones here and there along the way?
  4. Let’s continue a theme with today’s M5 by mentioning that UNC has “quietly” moved its director of academic support services for athletes into another position at the university. Specifically, Robert Mercer, the department’s leader for 10 years, has become a “special assistant for operations” at the school’s Johnston Center for Academic Excellence (where everyone who wants an A, gets an A!). Sorry. UNC of course went to great pains to lay blame at the feet of Mercer for the problems that occurred under his watch, but it’s clear to anyone watching that he’s falling on the sword in return for an opportunity to keep his job (current salary: $81,900 + bennies). One note on this story — outside of Tobacco Road, it’s not well-known just how much vitriol exists between NC State and North Carolina. Take a read at some of the 15 pages of user comments under this Raleigh News & Observer article, and you’ll understand very quickly that the hatred between those two fan bases runs very, very deep.
  5. Back to basketball. One of the best ongoing columns if you’re looking for insightful information about the sport is Mike DeCourcy‘s Starting Five piece. If you can get past DeCourcy’s floating head at the top of each article, it’s really an excellent read, and this week was no different. He doesn’t get cute with it, but the insight is that the questions he answers are often a step or two beyond the typical “how do you see XYZ next year?” type. In this installment, he discusses the paucity of elite point guards in college basketball, Keith Clanton’s loyalty to UCF, and the possible upside for a number of non-power conference teams, among other things. There are few regular offseason columns that we’d describe as must-reads, but DeCourcy’s Q&A is definitely worth a few of your minutes each week.
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Morning Five: 08.21.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 21st, 2012

  1. In one of the shortest collegiate careers that we’ve quite frankly ever seen, Kansas freshman Milton Doyle has already decided that he’s had enough in Lawrence. That’s right, Doyle, still some seven-plus weeks away from his first Midnight Madness, is transferring from KU due to — can you believe this? – a lack of playing time. Sure, Bill Self was diplomatic when he announced Doyle’s departure on Monday — he said, “[Doyle] thought it was better for him to go to a place where he had a better opportunity to impact a program early in his career” — but the 6’4″ guard played sparingly during the Jayhawks’ recent trip to Europe, and it was clear that he was going to spend much of his first season at KU sitting behind experienced players such as Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Naadir Thorpe in the rotation. Why this should be a problem for a player who was headed to FIU last spring before head coach Isiah Thomas was fired, we don’t know, but it’s painfully stark further evidence of the pervasive attitude of instant gratification that this generation of prep basketball players seems to carry as a birthright.
  2. From a freshman player who should have considered himself lucky to have an opportunity to wear a Kansas uniform to a pair of future freshmen who will no doubt very much enjoy their six months of the college experience in 2013-14, two of the top five players in the Class of 2013 — Aaron and Andrew Harrisonhave announced through Nick Jones at the Kentucky Kernel that they will announce their joint college choice on October 29. The date represents the day after the pair’s 18th birthday and presumably gives them plenty of time to take some visits in September and October among their five finalist schools — Baylor, Kentucky, Maryland, SMU, and Villanova. According to Adam Zagoria, the first three on that list are the schools contacting the twins most frequently (maybe they’re just picking up the phone for those caller IDs?).
  3. Mike DeCourcy checked in with Ben Howland just shy of UCLA’s Wednesday trip to China, and if summertime coachspeak is your thing, this detailed article will give you a very good sense as to how good the head coach thinks his team will be next season. It’s well worth the read for the information that you will glean on how Larry Drew II is handling point guard duties; whether Kyle Anderson can man the position if Drew falls through; the development of the Wear twins; the so-called best shooter at UCLA since Michael Roll; and, Shabazz Muhammad’s limitless motor. But the real jewel of the article is when Howland gives a frank assessment of the weight and conditioning status of center Joshua Smith — put simply, after nearly an entire offseason to get in shape, Smith is, according to his head coach, “the same.”
  4. The Lapchick Character Award’s 2012 recipients were announced on Monday with two of the most influential college basketball coaches in history honored along with one of the most revered in the women’s game (Cathy Rush) as well as the high school game (Morgan Wootten). CM Newton and Pete Newell both left their marks on college hoops in different ways, but few have questioned their character along with their contributions. California’s Newell was the one coach whom John Wooden had to get past to ultimately become John Wooden, and the legendary “big man” coach who retired at the absurd age of 44 is one of only three men to coach a team to an NIT title, an NCAA championship and an Olympic gold medal. Newton never cut the nets down as the head coach at Alabama or Vanderbilt, but his teams were always very good and he was instrumental in breaking the color barrier in SEC basketball both in terms of players (recruiting Wendell Hudson, the first African-American scholarship athlete at Alabama) and coaches (hiring Tubby Smith while acting as the athletic director at Kentucky). Both are deserving recipients, and they, along with Rush and Wootten, will be honored on November 15 in New York City during the 2kSports Classic.
  5. The UNC academic scandal took an ironic twist on Monday as transcript-outing victim Julius Peppers announced that he is donating $250,000 to North Carolina’s Light on the Hill Society Scholarship Fund in support of African-American students. Even when considering that this is his second contribution to the fund — he also donated $500,000 in 2009 — the timing here is certainly rich. When you consider that Peppers has earned tens of millions of dollars in his highly successful NFL career as a direct result of what may have been academic shenanigans to keep him eligible, his charity certainly seems like a wonderful return on the school’s investment. Furthermore, not even one week after the school made an egregious privacy error in throwing his academic chops to the wolves, Peppers still came through with the money. We’d probably suggest to the Martin Commission, given Peppers’ ongoing and convincing loyalty to the Tar Heel program, that they need not bother knocking on his door for additional dirt. You know, more than what his transcript already suggests.
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Morning Five: 08.20.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 20th, 2012

  1. How many Gasols does it take to win a championship? That might be the question asked by basketball-loving Angelenos who are not only Laker but also UCLA fans now that Adria Gasol, the 18-year old younger brother of NBA stars Pau (Lakers) and Marc (Grizzlies) is walking on to the Bruins’ roster. According to all reports, expectations for the 6’10” player should be tempered, as he is far behind his two older brothers in terms of on-court skills at the same age. Still, the bloodlines are there and Marc in particular took some time to develop into an effective player, so Ben Howland stands to lose nothing by giving the young center a chance to learn the game with minimal pressure on him. He certainly wouldn’t be the first big man prospect who has trouble with the fundamental basics of the game at his age.
  2. Indiana athletic director Fred Glass made some interesting comments over the weekend in a piece from the the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel that compared the problems of cheating that go on in college football versus college basketball. His perception is that because of AAU/summer league basketball, cheating is more of a problem in hoops (“It’s terrible, man. I mean, it’s gross.”), and he would go considerably further than the NCAA has in getting control over it. To wit: “I would encourage the NCAA to hire a bunch of former FBI guys that know how to follow the money. [...] I think you need to hire guys that know how to find bad guys and that know their way around tracking money. That’s what I’d do. If we’re serious about cleaning that up, we need to have some people who have a real ability to track money and require people to give them the information they need to do that.” This kind of strong language from someone in a position of power at one of the nation’s pre-eminent basketball schools is what we like to see — otherwise, the pressure will never reach the tipping point needed to make significant changes.
  3. Central Florida may have been facing a lost season in its final tour in Conference USA with a postseason ban hanging over the program’s head, but with the weekend news that its best player, Keith Clanton, has decided to return for his senior year, next year may not be so bad after all. As a result of the NCAA sanctions, Clanton and his senior teammates CJ Reed, Josh Crittle and Marcus Jordan were allowed an opportunity to transfer elsewhere to play immediately, but so far only Reed, heading to Georgia Southern to play for his father Clifford, is jumping ship. According to CBSSports.com, Jordan is set to return to UCF too, although he appears to only be taking classes and is not expected to suit up for the Knights again.
  4. Over the weekend, former UNC two-sport star Julius Peppers confirmed that a leaked transcript purported to be his on a North Carolina portal last weekend was in fact his own, and that all of his grades were earned, “whether good or bad.” In light of his admission, the Raleigh News & Observer outlined its ongoing two-year saga in requesting aggregated and de-identified transcript data from the university — needless to say, the newspaper feels as if it’s been stonewalled, and according to legal professors familiar with the student privacy laws the school is hiding behind, UNC is purposefully misinterpreting the law to protect its own interests. Will the Martin Commission, put in place by UNC chancellor Holden Thorp last week, have the power to get to the bottom of this growing scandal? Or as one commenter notes below the piece, have all the bodies already been buried?
  5. We’ll have more on this in a piece later today, but the New York Times over the weekend published a tremendous article on the whereabouts of former high school star Jonathan Hargett, a Richmond, Virginia, uber-athlete who was compared favorably in the early 2000s with Allen Iverson for his size, crossover dribble, and unbelievable hops (reportedly at 44 inches). Hargett had offers from everywhere, but he told the Times’ Pete Thamel that he chose to attend West Virginia (then coached by Gale Catlett) based on a promise of an assistant coaching position for his older brother and a guaranteed annual “salary” of $20,000 per year. He only survived one season at the school before leaving and becoming involved with drug trafficking on the streets — he is now in prison in Chesapeake, Virginia, and eligible for parole in January 2013. These sorts of cautionary tales about legends who never made it seem to pop up all too often, but if we have to believe that the SIDs in Morgantown are burning the midnight oil with statements and talking points for Monday.
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Morning Five: 08.17.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 17th, 2012

  1. Ever wake up on a random summer Thursday to learn about something planned for five years from now, and spend the rest of the day giddy thinking about it? Yeah, us too. When the Champions Classic was announced two years ago featuring a rotating schedule between Kansas, Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State, we were happy. When the as-yet-unnamed Phil Knight event was announced yesterday featuring a ridiculously cool dual tournament format that includes the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Connecticut, Michigan State, Gonzaga, Ohio State, Texas, Oregon, Stanford, Butler, Oklahoma, Georgetown, Xavier and Portland facing off over four days, we were ecstatic. Everyone loves some March Madness — this one-of-a-kind event to celebrate the 80th birthday of Nike founder Phil Knight will be as close as it gets to November Madness. Football people have trouble understanding this, but basketball at every level has always been a tournament sport — you win, you advance; you lose, you go home. Our only beef with this idea — why only one year? Make it permanent!
  2. If all the contracts are signed and this Phil Knight event actually comes to pass in 2017, perhaps some of this summer’s younger prep stars will be playing in it. This year’s high school juniors would be college seniors in the 2017-18 season if they played straight through, after all. SI.com’s Frank Burlison released a summer recruiting report for those of us who haven’t kept up with all the news from the summer camps and tournaments, and from his perspective, North Carolina and Florida had the most successful season on the prep circuit. Interestingly, Burlison’s analysis of Jabari Parker, SI’s cover boy as the best prospect since LeBron James, rates him fifth in his own class. His educated opinion is that Class of 2014’s Andrew Wiggins is the best player in high school basketball, regardless of class. Maybe SI will put him on the cover next year with the headline “Best Since Jabari Parker!”
  3. Everyone knows that Boise State‘s blue-fielded football program is poised to join the Big East on the gridiron beginning in 2013 — what was less certain is what would happen to all of the university’s other sports, including men’s basketball. No longer is this in question, as it appears that the Broncos will join the Big West just as fellow Big East/Big West member San Diego State has already done. Confused? Yeah, when you take into account that Boise State’s football (Big East), wrestling (Pac-12), gymastics (WAC), women’s swimming and diving (Mountain West), and men’s basketball and all other sports (Big West) reside in five different leagues from coast to coast, it really hits home just how ridiculous certain results of conference realignment has gotten. The volume of paperwork running through the athletic department alone must be downright Himalayan.
  4. Most college basketball head coaches are notoriously apolitical — at least publicly — being either too busy or too strategically diplomatic to engage in much discussion about the issues facing the country in an exceptionally polarized political environment. In a slightly odd twist from the norm, a number of prominent head coaches including Tom Izzo, Ben Howland, Johnny Dawkins, Tubby Smith, Jamie Dixon, Mike Montgomery, and Phil Martelli recently filed a “friend of the court” brief along with the NABC and Black Coaches and Administrators organizations regarding a Supreme Court case about race-based admissions decisions. The amicus brief (in full here), one of over 50 submitted for this case, argues that public universities should have considerable discretion in how they choose their admitted students, which may include attempts at balancing diversity by considering factors other than test scores and grades. This is a touchy subject for many people, but we’ll leave it at this — schools have always found ways to admit people who fell outside the numbers, long before anyone knew what affirmative action was. There’s no reason to believe that will ever change, simply because it’s not in their best interests to do so.
  5. It appears that all of the external pressure on North Carolina is resulting in some much-needed action. On Thursday, UNC chancellor Holden Thorp announced that former North Carolina governor James G. Martin (for those of you wondering, he’s a Davidson alumnus) will lead an independent review of UNC’s academic issues prior to 2007 in tandem with Virchow, Krause & Company, a national management consulting firm. Thorp said that he expects the team’s findings to be reported within a few weeks in the hopes that the school can put this scandal behind them, but of course that will also ultimately depend on what any new findings actually reveal. It’s good to see that UNC is taking this seriously, though, and has removed the investigation from its internal mechanisms. Roy Williams has an opinion on the matter, for what it’s worth.

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Morning Five: 08.16.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 16th, 2012

  1. As we’ve discussed in this space all week long, the Big East has a new negotiating team and a new commissioner, both brought on board with one clear goal in mind — to get the best possible television deal for its member institutions during the upcoming TV negotiation window. Mike Aresco was introduced as the new commish at the New York Athletic Club on Wednesday, and his overarching theme in his opening speech was one of stability and unity. With a ragtag group of schools playing different sports in different leagues all over the country, he certainly has his work cut out for him; but, the good news for Aresco’s vision of conference stability is that there aren’t all that many valuable and poachable schools left in his league. Only two-sport schools Connecticut (ACC) and Louisville (Big 12) could reasonably be expected to receive future offers, and although either would jump at the chance, at least Aresco will have an opportunity to put all the Big East’s financial cards on the table before those offers come to pass.
  2. Julius Peppers has been the topic du jour in the ACC this week, and prominent writers from around the country continue to weigh in on the depth and the breadth of the developing scandal. Mike DeCourcy is the latest to note that UNC absolutely must take the lead in thoroughly investigating and extensively reporting the situation, dating back as far as it needs to go (translation: even before 1998, if the evidence points in that direction). This statement says it all: “It is essential North Carolina commence the sort of comprehensive self-examination Penn State undertook in regards to the Jerry Sandusky scandal. For all the pain and embarrassment that resulted from the Freeh report, Penn State is much closer to recapturing its soul today than Carolina.” And therein lies the rub. Like Penn State before it, UNC has long been quick to tell anyone who will listen that it does things differently. The evidence that we’ve now seen suggests otherwise — Carolina must get its head out of the sand and show that they’re serious about finding the truth here, even if that veracity stains the very premise of sanctity on which the whole house was built.
  3. CBSSports.com’s survey of coaches has caused quite a bit of buzz over the past 10 days, but its most recent key question resulted in nearly as many different responses as their were respondents. Well, not really, but asking coaches an open-ended question about what rule they’d like to see changed was certain to produce a great deal of variance. The most popular response was a desire to reduce the 35-second shot clock to something approaching the NBA’s 24-second limit, but eight different answers received at least five percent of the vote. John Infante at the Bylaw Blog broke down each of the prominent responses (our favorite: “No postseason ban for APR: That tells me the penalty is effective.”) but his greater point is that college basketball coaches, unlike other sports, have no consistency in their message because they’re not even sure what they want as a group. He suggests that the NABC should make itself useful by putting together a comprehensive and logically consistent platform about how to regulate the sport of college basketball. It’s a good read, and makes too much sense for it to actually happen.
  4. Have you guys heard that Indiana is back? Apparently the students of IU have gotten the memo, as the Indianapolis Star reported this week that the school has already sold out its entire allotment of student tickets for the 2012-13 season. A total of 12,400 tickets were sold for the largest student section in the country of 7,800 seats, ensuring that every student ticket-holder will be able to attend at least 10 of the Hoosiers’ 16 home games. This is all fine and well, but at a school like Indiana with its extremely rich history and an ingrained statewide basketball culture, it shouldn’t take 10 years for student seats to sell out (the last time was 2002-03). We understand that demand always rises with winning, but the fact that it’s been since before the Iraq War started for the students to fully support their team is just shy of ridiculous. We expect fair-weather that stuff at places like Auburn or USC, not Indiana.
  5. In the 1982-83 and 1983-84 seasons, Jim Boeheim‘s Syracuse Orangemen matched up against Dean Smith’s North Carolina Tar Heels two times, and the results were not pretty. UNC spanked Boeheim’s team twice, coincidentally by the same score, 87-64, each time. A guard by the name of Michael Jordan led the Heels in both games — dropping 18/7/4 stls in the first game (in Charlotte), and 19/5 in the second (in Syracuse). Perhaps Boeheim has never forgiven His Airness for those dual beatdowns, as he recently gave an interview to Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio where, in light of his experience with Team USA and LeBron James, he dared to say that he’s “not so sure anymore” that Jordan was the best player he’s ever seen. We’re only being silly about Boeheim holding a grudge against MJ 30 years later, but there’s no question that King James has had a fantastic 12 months — the question that needs to be answered, though, is whether he will sustain it.
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Morning Five: 08.09.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 9th, 2012

  1. International basketball has a number of differences from the US game, ranging from the legal goaltending rule to the trapezoidal lane to a much higher tolerance by officials of cheap shots during game action (see: Anthony, Carmelo vs. Argentina). While Team USA’s core group of players has gotten used to FIBA rules by now, Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks are learning on the fly while they’re touring around Switzerland and France. According to this Lawrence Journal-World report, in KU’s first game on Tuesday night, Swiss forward David Ramseier lost his s#&% after a technical foul call went against him in the second quarter. From Bill Self: “He went nuts. He went absolutely nuts. I’ve never seen that. I saw Bill Romanowski do it in football one time, and I saw Roberto Alomar do it in baseball one time. But this guy went and actually did it twice. He’s going after the official and did it twice.” A physical assault that may have resulted in expulsion from the team (or at least a suspension) in America apparently held no weight overseas — Ramseier was back in the Swiss lineup on Wednesday. For what it’s worth, KU won both exhibition games but not without working for it; the Jayhawks outlasted the Swiss team by three points on Tuesday and four points on Wednesday.
  2. Moving stateside to poor treatment of officials, the NCAA on Wednesday publicly reprimanded Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin for his “profane and abusive language toward a game official” during UC’s Sweet Sixteen loss against Ohio State last March. The NCAA had previously censured Cronin for this same incident, but UC had appealed it on his behalf — that appeal was denied. For the record, Ohio State was tallied with 11 total fouls in that game versus 21 for the Bearcats, resulting in 27 free throw attempts for OSU (making 19) against eight for UC (making five). That 14-point difference in foul shots made essentially accounts for the difference in the game (81-66) — no wonder Cronin was so hot. Does anyone know what he actually said to warrant such a strong reprimand?
  3. CBSSports.com has been crushing it this week with its series revealing what coaches really think about a number of topics. We learned Tuesday that Temple’s Fran Dunphy is considered the most underrated head coach in the land, a fact not too surprising considering how well his teams have done at both Pennsylvania and now Temple. On Wednesday, the most overrated head coaches were listed and the “winner” is a man who 98% of programs around the country would love to have on their sidelines — North Carolina’s Roy Williams. In nine years at UNC, he’s won two national titles and taken the Heels to three Final Fours and six Elite Eights. Everyone knows that he always has great talent at his disposal, but come on… should Williams have gone to six Final Fours and won four titles in the same period — would that make him accurately rated? Rick Barnes, the second-place “winner,” on the other hand…
  4. While on the subject of Roy’s alma mater, ESPN.com‘s Dana O’Neil wrote a piece Wednesday excoriating the NCAA for its seemingly (ok, definite) inconsistency in refusing to further investigate North Carolina for an academic scandal featuring athletes getting pushed into certain courses for easy As. As she clearly writes in the article, it’s certainly no secret that college athletes and students alike know where to find the easiest professors and courses, but there’s a clear distinction between “equal-opportunity baloney classes” and those that exist as fraudulent academic portals for athletes (Jim Harrick, Jr., on line two). She correctly points out that the NCAA would have no problem calling such grades into question at the high school level; but, when it involves its member institutions, it says it has no jurisdiction? It sounds like a really weird mandate, but Robbie Pickeral takes the time to explain in detail how the NCAA defines the issue: If players are clustering in certain classes as a result of academic-related counseling, then the NCAA defers to the university in handling it. If players end up in those courses as a result of the athletic department steering them there, then and only then does the NCAA get involved. What’s left unsaid here, of course, is what happens when there’s an unspoken pressure — even a wink/nod agreement, perhaps — for academic counselors to push players to those classes in the spirit of what’s best for the university (largely influenced by UNC sports).
  5. While we’re piling on the NCAA today, we may as well use this opportunity to check in on the Ed O’Bannon antitrust lawsuit against the organization and its licensees regarding the ongoing usage of his and other players’ names and likenesses in video games, published materials and so forth. The three-year old case is working its way through the system, but on Monday the O’Bannon group of plaintiffs convinced a judge to agree with them that the NCAA must “turn over information relating to revenue that its members receive from broadcast television, radio and Internet rights as well as reports tied to income from sponsorships, licensing, sales of advertising.” Clearly this sort of information is highly sensitive, but it’s a key victory for the athletes in that it shows that their case is meritorious enough for a federal judge to require the NCAA to release such documentation. In a nutshell, this case isn’t going away.
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