$2,000 Stipend: Is the NCAA on the Verge of Allowing Payments to Players?

Posted by rtmsf on October 24th, 2011

Perhaps the winds of change are in the air after all.  Not a month after Taylor Branch’s opus in The Atlantic excoriated the NCAA for its stubborn adhesion to the twin tenets of amateurism and the “student-athlete,” and not five months after Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney floated an idea to provide a “full cost of attendance” stipend to its players, the NCAA’s president, Mark Emmert, appears to be on board. Emmert told the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Monday that he feels the time is ripe for addressing such an inequity for the first time in a couple of generations.  What does the NCAA say the gap between the value of tuition, fees, room, board, and books versus the full cost of attendance amounts to?  Try $2,000 per year.

Emmert Appears Willing to Open the Floodgates

This week, I’ll be asking the board to support a proposal to allow conferences — not mandate anyone, but allow conferences, not individual institutions — to increase the value of an athletic grant in aid to more closely approach the full cost of attendance. […] We are going to create a model that would allow — probably… up to $2,000 in addition to tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies.

Interesting.  A couple of grand may not seem like much considering the astronomical dollar figures that schools make on the backs of these players, but it’s not insignificant either.  A two-semester school year encompasses roughly nine months for an athlete: dividing that figure by 39 weeks results in an allowance of roughly $51 per week. What college student couldn’t use a little shy of ten bucks a day to buy pizza, fill up his gas tank and occasionally join his buddies for an evening out to the movies and some greasy spoon afterward?  It seems a pittance given the figures going into the coffers of the power conference schools, right?  But therein lies the problem.

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Summer Updates Wrap-Up

Posted by rtmsf on August 23rd, 2011

Now that we’ve spent the last six weeks reviewing most of the Division I conferences, let’s take a look back at the entire list with the summer #1 power ranking for each as we head into the fall…  [ed note: to see all of the Summer Updates in order of release, click here]

We currently have openings for conference correspondent roles with the following six leagues. Please email us at rushthecourt@yahoo.com with links to writing samples if you have an interest.
  • Atlantic Sun
  • Big West
  • MAC
  • MEAC
  • SWAC
  • Southland
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Renewing a Classic Rivalry: Memphis vs. Louisville in the HOF Shootout

Posted by rtmsf on June 1st, 2011

There are many, many things to love about college basketball, but one of the best parts of being a fan is to glance at your team’s schedule for the upcoming season and quickly locating the two, three or four ‘big’ games on the slate.  The mind’s eye wanders with anticipation of a season filled with opportunities to lord over the fans of the schools one hates the most, whether longtime conference foe, annoying regional rival, or up-and-coming frenemy.  Those ‘rivalry games’ on the schedule are often just as intense and in some cases more important than the other 30+ games combined — just ask Carolina fans how important it is that the Heels beat Duke, or Tennessee fans how badly they want the Vols to beat Kentucky.  In the absence of any other major successes in a given season, that one victory can carry the day for an entire fanbase through the offseason.

Pitino & Calipari Elevated the Memphis-Louisville Rivalry

Some of the very best such rivalries in the game today involve pre-conference matchups between regional rivals where the fanbases simply do not care for one another.  Kentucky-Indiana.  Wisconsin-Marquette.  Missouri-Illinois.  Gonzaga-Washington.  Cincinnati-Xavier.  BYU-Utah State.  Any Big Five game.  A few others have either been lost to the dustbins of history for any number of reasons, or never got started to begin with.  Maryland-Georgetown.  Connecticut-UMass.  Ohio State-Cincinnati.  Memphis-Louisville.  Ah yes, that one.  With today’s announcement that the former MVC/Metro/Great Midwest/Conference USA powerhouses will meet this coming December as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Shootout, one of the grand old rivalries of the sport will soon resurrect from the dead.  

The game, on December 17 at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, will represent the first of a two-year home-and-home series that we hope the schools have enough sense to continue.  They have not played since the Cardinals left CUSA for the Big East in 2005, the longest such drought in nearly fifty years between the two schools; and while the press releases all state that Louisville owns the all-time record against Memphis, 51-34, the insider nugget is that the two schools are deadlocked at 24-24 since the 1980-81 season.  In the modern era, this rivalry has been one of the most competitive in the entire landscape of college basketball, and the two fanbases are already juiced for the opportunity to see their old enemies again.

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O26 Primers: Conference USA, Mountain West, Southland, SWAC and WAC Tourneys

Posted by KDoyle on March 9th, 2011

RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.

With three conference tournaments concluding last night, it is only appropriate that five more get underway today. Conference USA and the Southland Conference are two of the most balanced leagues in the nation, while the WAC and Mountain West were just the opposite as they were dominated at the top. The SWAC is always a bit of a mystery come Championship Week and tournament time, but Texas Southern is the class of the league this year and will no doubt do their best to bring respect to the league if they are fortunate enough to advance to the Dance.

Conference USA

The Favorite: UAB won the regular season title with a 12-4 record, but that means very little in the ultra competitive CUSA this season as five teams are just behind the Blazers. There is something to be said though about UAB’s strong play down the stretch and the steady play of Jamarr Sanders and Cameron Moore. These reasons alone amidst several injuries that Mike Davis‘ club has overcome makes UAB the slight favorite over the rest of the bunch.

Dark Horse: Southern Mississippi is one the teams that are nipping at UAB’s heels. Although they fell in their last three games of the regular season, Larry Eustachy’s squad proved throughout the year they can beat anyone in the conference. Having Gary Flowers roam around the pain never hurts either.

Who’s Hot: UAB has won their last four games and seven of eight heading into the tournament. As well as UAB is playing, it would be very easy for that to stop on a dime. Throughout each week during the conference schedule, it appeared that one team in CUSA was emerging as the top dog, but they would quickly fade. Can UAB keep their streak going all the way into the NCAA Tournament?

Player to Watch: Papa Dia, Southern Methodist’s senior forward all the way from Senegal, is enjoying the best season of his career as he is averaging 18.5 points and 9 rebounds a game. In each of the previous three seasons, SMU has been below .500; Dia and his teammates clearly have something to prove in this tournament.

First-Round UpsetCentral Florida over East Carolina. UCF was the nation’s favorite story in the early going as they jumped out to a 14-0 record with wins over Florida, Miami (FL), and Princeton. The Knights then went onto lose eight straight games, thus proving that their early success was a fluke. Now, UCF has won five of seven games and if they can regain that success they had in those 14 games, a victory over East Carolina is absolutely within reach.

How’d They Fare? After going 7-9 in the conference, Houston caught fire in the tournament to surprise everyone by winning the title. In doing so, the Cougars stole a bid from a team on the bubble and earned a #13 seed in the Tournament where they lost to Maryland 89-77. UTEP—the team Houston beat to advance onward—was trounced by Butler as a #12 seed.

Interesting Fact: The last team to win an NCAA Tournament game hailing from Conference USA not named Memphis was Louisville in the 2005 Tournament. The ‘Ville advanced all the way to the Final Four that year where they lost to Illinois 57-52 in the semifinals. Both UAB and Cincinnati also won Tournament games that year.

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RTC Live: UTEP @ Tulsa

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2011

Game #121.  RTC Live visits Tulsa this evening for what should be a key Conference USA battle.

We are expecting a good game tonight in this high-stakes bout between the UTEP Miners (17-4, 5-1) and the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (10-10, 3-3). For Tulsa, this is a revenge game. They were defeated 69-59 by the Miners in the conference opener on January 5, and they would love nothing more than to upset the C-USA standings, and hopefully right the ship with a win tonight. UTEP has a little more than just pride on the line. They are currently tied atop the conference standings with Memphis; I’m sure they would love for things to stay that way. It will also be a matchup between the conferences two biggest stars. Tulsa is led by leading scorer Justin Hurtt, who is averaging 20.7 points per game, while UTEP is led by Randy Culpepper; the returning Conference USA Player Of The Year.

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The Other 26: Week 10

Posted by KDoyle on January 21st, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.


The week is here, long at last. Going into the season, BYU and San Diego State were projected to be strong, but this strong? Just to give you an idea of where these two juggernauts stood before the season, the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll had San Diego State receiving 73 votes and BYU 55 votes in the top 25 poll. In Zach Hayes’ Bracketology—a bracket that, in my mind, is very accurate for his latest edition—he had SDSU as a six seed and BYU a seven. Clearly, each team has exceeded many of the critics and so called experts expectations. Who would have thought that the teams would combine to have a 38-1 record at this stage of the season? Not even Steve Fisher or Dave Rose would have thought that.

In the grand scheme of things, the tilt in Provo, Utah, next week will not have an impact on whether or not either team will make the NCAA Tournament—it is a foregone conclusion that both are in—but this may be San Diego State’s biggest roadblock between them having an undefeated regular season or not. Can the magic carpet ride that San Diego State has been flying on continue, or will Jimmer Fredette and Co. take the air right out from under them? It will all go down on Wednesday evening in Provo.

The Other 26 Rankings

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That’s Debatable: Most Compelling Conference Race

Posted by rtmsf on January 20th, 2011

That’s Debatable is back for another year of expert opinions, ridiculous assertions and general know-it-all-itude.  Remember, kids, there are no stupid answers, just stupid people.  We’ll try to do one of these each week during the season.  We’re fairly discerning around here, but if you want to be included, send us an email with your take telling us why at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

This Week’s Topic: We’re a couple of weeks into conference play and early results are in on some of the contenders and pretenders.  Which conference race have you found the most compelling so far and why?

Tom Wolfmeyer, RTC contributor

The most compelling conference race this year is in the SEC.  The reason is that out of the twelve conference teams, only Auburn is so ridiculously bad so as to not cause problems for another conference team on a given night.  And hell, even the Tigers beat Florida State (y’know, the team that defeated Duke last week).  It’s a veritable trainwreck of a league this year, but what’s the adage?  You can’t take your eyes away from it, because you have no idea what will happen.  Which Tennessee team will show up — the one that beat Pitt and Villanova or the one that lost to Oakland and Charlotte?  Will Mississippi State gets its act together or will Renardo Sidney start throwing haymakers on some fans during a timeout?  Will Kentucky figure out how to play on the road or will they self-destruct due to selfish m*****f***** play?  Consider that the SEC East, by far the better division, has South Carolina at the top of its standings at 3-1.  South Carolina!  Three of the teams from this division projected to make the Tournament are 2-2 already.  On the other side, Alabama and LSU are on top.  This isn’t football, folks — those two teams have been largely terrible for the better part of the last three or four years.  Yes, this year’s most compelling league is the SEC, if for no other reason that nothing would surprise us about this basketball quagmire of a conference.

JL Weill, RTC contributor

Another year, another dog fight in the Missouri Valley. No unbeatens in the conference and all five teams with three losses or fewer have a chance. And as with most so-called mid-major conference teams, there isn’t a lot of meat on the pre-conference menus for any of the contenders. Wichita State beat Virginia and LSU, but they already have two losses in the MVC. Last year’s NCAA Tournament darling Northern Iowa took out Indiana and Iowa State but has three losses to conference foes.  The firing squad effect means that the team that finally emerges from the pack will be battle-hardened for the conference and postseason tournaments. It also means that there’s a good chance that for the fifth year in a row only one team from the MVC will make it to the NCAAs. While the conference has four teams in the RPI top 100, only one of them is in the top 40 — Missouri State — and Cuonzo Martin’s Bears haven’t beaten anyone of note. Finding an at-large berth from the MVC, even with an expanded field, could be tough. Wins are at a premium, and it’s a multi-horse race. Gotta love it.

Kevin Doyle, RTC contributor

It is anyone’s best guess as to what team will be the last one standing in the Atlantic 10. Throughout much of the non-conference slate, the Temple Owls and Richmond Spiders emerged as the frontrunners. Bill Clark and the Duquesne Dukes quickly knocked Temple off of their pedestal, while Richmond lost a heartbreaker to Bucknell at the buzzer in their final OOC game. Now, it is the school from Pittsburgh along with Xavier who are the lone squads undefeated in the A10. There are, however, five schools that are 3-1 in the conference who are nipping at the heels of the two leaders. You’d be foolish to think that the two teams up front won’t fall at some point in the coming weeks. Even Dayton—the lone .500 team in conference—has a supreme amount of talent and is fully capable of going on a run. But, losses at UMass and Xavier have set them back in the conference. Unlike many of the BCS conferences—although, the Pac-10 and ACC sure are weak this year—the Atlantic 10 is likely to only receive two bids to the NCAA Tournament this year. Ranging from 2-2 Dayton all the way up to 4-0 Xavier and Duquesne, there are a total of eight teams that are vying for an Atlantic 10 championship and that coveted automatic berth.

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Tuesday’s Conference Check-In Teaser…

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 11th, 2011

Our conference correspondents around the world of college hoops get you caught up on the week that was in their conference check-ins. For the full articles, click the links or point your mouse to the “Conference Check-Ins” dropdown tab at the top of the page.

  • ACC: Duke (15-0, 2-0) dominated UAB before getting the job done against Maryland.  Duke’s two close wins to start conference play might be cause for concern, but no one has waltzed through their schedule so far.  The Blue Devils are going to lose a couple of games this year, probably on the road when threes aren’t falling–and the other team is shooting well.  But wins are wins, and it’s very important to know how to win close games as well as blowouts.” (Matt Patton)
  • Big Ten (The conference names will be hyperlinked to live posts): “The Big Ten powers continued to dominate this week, as Illinois, Purdue and Ohio State are a combined 10-0 in conference. The other teams though are starting to look very vulnerable. Michigan State’s loss at Penn State revealed some problems with the Spartans’ attack, while Minnesota doesn’t seem to have the firepower to hang with the top teams in the conference. And where is Wisconsin going to be when this all shakes out? The Badgers are the conference’s biggest enigma.” (John Templon)
  • Big 12: “Outside of conference play, there were two more games of note.  Saturday, Texas dropped one at home to the ninth ranked Connecticut Huskies late in overtime by just a point.  Right now, the sense is that the Longhorns have solved the concerns from a year ago, but this Longhorn team actually sits at a worse record than the team that collapsed so epically last season.” (Owen Kemp)
  • Missouri Valley: “The Missouri Valley Conference has been known historically as a guard-oriented league, but several teams are relying on their frontcourt players to lead them along:   Missouri State’s front line of Kyle Weems and Will Creekmore, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Kenny Lawson, and Gregory Echenique, and Southern Illinois’ Gene Teague, Mamadou Seck and Carlton Fay are examples of players that are carrying their teams that are not necessarily guards.” (Patrick Marshall)
  • Conference USA: “It took three overtimes to decide the winner of UTEP at UAB on Saturday afternoon. In a nationally televised game, the Blazers and Miners went back and forth with UAB coming away with a much-needed 100-97 win in their conference opener. The Blazers had been beaten by more than 20 points earlier in the week by No. 1 Duke. Before that, the team had won five in a row. As for the Miners, they had been winners of ten of their last eleven until Saturday’s loss.” (Stephen Coulter)
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The Other 26: Week 7

Posted by KDoyle on January 4th, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.


I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the college basketball season is nearly half over. It is not all bad though, with conference play beginning we are just another step closer to Championship Week, Selection Sunday, and, of course, the NCAA Tournament. During this time of the year, the Other 26 and BCS largely go their separate ways, only to be reunited just two months later on the biggest stage of them all. As it is every year, the non-conference is nothing more than a tease of what is to come later. What are five major things that we learned during the first half of the year?

  • The top three teams in the Mountain West (SDSU, UNLV, BYU) will all be a force in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Gonzaga and Butler are not as dominant as they have been in past years, but both seem poised to perform well in their conference play as they drastically improved in the latter half of the non-conference schedule.
  • Temple and Richmond can go toe-to-toe with the big boys. In one week, the Owls defeated Maryland and then Georgetown, and then just weeks later they were points away from beating Villanova. As for the Spiders, they have beaten four of five BCS teams they played against.
  • Don’t sleep on Conference USA. Although the league probably will receive only two bids—maybe three—Central Florida, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, UAB and UTEP are pretty darn good.
  • The Mountain West and Atlantic 10 will combine to have more teams in the NCAA Tournament than the ACC and SEC. Okay that is a bit of a reach, but don’t be surprised if this is close to happening. Right now, the only lock in the ACC is Duke, obviously. As for the SEC, it is only Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The MWC will almost certainly have SDSU, BYU, and UNLV, and the Atlantic 10 is a bit of a crapshoot at the top. Over the last three years, however, the A10 has sent three years to the Dance in each year—food for thought.

The Other 26 Rankings

Tidbits from the Rankings

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Mid-Week Conference Check-Ins…

Posted by rtmsf on December 15th, 2010

We missed it last night, so let’s get you caught up on the last couple day of conference look-ins…

  • Atlantic 10How does the A-10 compare to the other conference? With 65% of the conference teams’ out of conference schedule completed, the conference-wide out of conference record stands at 71-52, for a winning percentage of 0.577.
  • Big EastI’m willing to bet that there are a lot of people around the country that haven’t heard the name Marshon Brooks before because, you know, he plays for Providence. But it’s about time you start noticing this young man. In the past two weeks, there may not be a player in the country in more of a groove that Brooks.
  • Conference USAGary Flowers is garnering Player of the Year consideration after scoring the final 12 points in Southern Mississippi’s big win over California on Sunday. The biggest basket was a turnaround jumper with three seconds left that lifted the Golden Eagles past the Golden Bears 80-78.
  • WACUtah State is the only league member in the RPI Top 100 (#29) and just one of two schools along with Louisiana Tech (#130) in the Top 150. To further illustrate the tough times the league is encountering this season, the longest current winning streak in the league is two, by Fresno State and Utah State.
  • WCCGaels coach Randy Bennett has said his goal with transfer forward Rob Jones is to turn him into a scoring leader, and Jones may have gotten the message this week with lines of 24 and 11 against UC Riverside following a 17 and 11 outing against Denver.
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Monday’s Check-Ins…

Posted by rtmsf on December 7th, 2010

Here’s what we had go up on Monday…

  • Big 12: The lone winner from the Big 12 on the day was from Colorado, who will soon be departing for the Pac-10. Tad Boyle’s team looked like a group turning a corner in a 26-point win over Oregon State. The Beavers are far from a good team, but Colorado might just be getting closer to being the team that many expected.
  • Colonial: One: That’s the number of free throws Richmond attempted against Old Dominion in ODU’s 77-70 victory December 1. Conversely, the Monarchs attempted 20 shots from the charity stripe, hitting 15 of them. This is more than likely a statistical anomaly, but even so, it speaks to Old Dominion’s discipline and ability to limit the number of ways its opponents can score.
  • Conference USA: What a start it has been for Donnie Jones’s Knights. UCF is out to a 7-0 start after beating in-state foe Florida 57-54 last Wednesday in Orlando. Jones, a first-year coach, defeated his old boss, Billy Donovan, in his first signature win since taking over the program.
  • Horizon League: Fans unfamiliar with the Horizon League would assume that Butler is the team to find at #1 in this week’s Mid-Major Top 25. They’d be wrong. Butler has given way to Norris Cole and Cleveland State, who are all the rage as they take no prisoners.
  • Missouri Valley: The Missouri Valley Conference is still showing signs that it has not risen up to a multiple bid conference once again.  Over the past two weeks, the losses against the Power Six conferences have continued to mount— Purdue,  St. Johns,  Notre Dame and Connecticut, to name a few.  The Valley is 3-11 against the power conference teams.
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Monday’s Check-Ins…

Posted by rtmsf on November 29th, 2010

Monday is chock-full of BCS or Super Six or Power Conferences, whatever you like to call them…  regardless, here they are…

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