Memphis Learns Its Fate, Can’t/Won’t Tell Anyone the Results…

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2009

Sometimes the NCAA’s policies, procedures and processes are so difficult, convoluted and nonsensical that it’s difficult to even begin to explain why they don’t make much sense.  It took a little while, but we think we have a grasp on the latest chapter in NCAA idiocy covered.  It all comes down to transparency (or the NCAA’s lack thereof).  Quite possibly the biggest complaint that fans of schools investigated (or not investigated) by the NCAA is that the whole process — from how schools are targeted and chosen for investigation, reviewed, and ultimately adjudicated, is shrouded in a veil of secrecy.  Sometimes college sports fans must feel like the NCAA is actually a poorly-functioning arm of the NSA given the way they operate.  Some of the more notorious examples of what we’re talking about from the last few years are no surprise to anyone.  For example:

  • How does Corey Maggette not get Duke into hot water after the fact, but Derrick Rose does for Memphis?
  • John Wall and Ryan Kelly, anyone?
  • Eddie Sutton took down Kentucky over payoffs but Kelvin Sampson is banned for five years over phone calls?
  • Why are some legal doctrines (strict liability) selectively used in some situations but not in others?
  • Can anyone, anyone at all, explain Reggie Bush/USC?

secrecy cartoon

There are many others, but those are a few off the top of the dome.  Why do things seem so inconsistent?  How does the NCAA decide to investigate, and when they do so, what are the criteria they use to make their findings?  Do they use generally agreed upon principles of auditing, quasi-legal doctrine, administrative law, or something else they make up as they go along?  How are penalties assessed and what are the mitigating factors that they consider in making those decisions?  Is every single case a uniquely-judged “case-by-case” situation, making it all but impossible to draw generalizations about how the NCAA rules enforcement folks will act in a given situation?  Or is that ultimately the point — to make it so confusing and inconsistent that any school can get in serious trouble for nearly anything (or the perception that you can)?  Now that we think about it, we already go through this seemingly every year in terms of what the NCAA Selection Committee wants to see on NCAA Tournament bubble teams’ resumes — it shouldn’t surprise us that things out of this shop often seem wildly arbitrary and inconsistent.

So here’s the point of this post.  Memphis announced today that it had learned what the NCAA’s response to its appeal in the Derrick Rose SAT scandal was, but according to some bylaw borrowed straight from the Soviet playbook, the school is not allowed to make the response public nor can it/will it (?) discuss these findings.  Memphis is undoubtedly doing some grandstanding here, but it doesn’t change the absurdity of the NCAA’s rule keeping their logic and reasoning secret.  So we now sit in Act III of theater of the absurd while we wait for someone at Memphis to leak the information contained within the document (which can only be viewed on a secret, read-only website administered by the NCAA — sadly, this is not a joke), or for an enterprising news organization to force the NCAA to release the document under open records laws in Tennessee (as recently occurred in a Florida State cheating scandal).

Does the NCAA not understand that operating in this manner in no way engenders public trust and faith in the fairness and equitable nature of the system?  Do they not see that, regardless of the strength of their argument on the merits, John Q. Fan reads this and can only conclude that the NCAA is hiding the ball so as to get its way in the end?  Are they too dense to realize that a simple and consistent application of rules and policies are the first step toward removing much of the thinly-veiled cynicism that those still following big-time college sports have for it?

RTC Applauds RC Johnson's Audacity

RTC Applauds RC Johnson's Audacity

It would be hilarious if it weren’t so pathetic.  Kudos go to Memphis Athletic Director RC Johnson for telling the world that the NCAA has responded to his appeal, but sorry, we’re not allowed to tell you what they said or the logic they use for agreeing/disagreeing with it.  That’s incredibly rich, and it gets exactly the right message across.  Memphis is going to pay for this anyway — the NCAA has already cornered itself on the strict liability argument — but at least they’ll go down lobbing shots across the bow at the absurdity of it all.

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RTC Live: Detroit @ #13 California

Posted by rtmsf on November 11th, 2009

RTCLive

Tonight at 11pm ET we’ll be visiting California for our second RTC Live of the young season.  On Monday, we had a nice turnout  for Cal-Murray State considering it was a late-night game for people in the East and there didn’t seem to be a lot of excitement for that particular game.  But it ended up being the best game of the evening, and maybe we’ll get lucky again.

Detroit is projected as a middle-of-the-pack team in the Horizon League, but they have one thing that could give Cal trouble: a strong frontcourt.  Eli Holman and Xavier Keeling are two former Indiana players who transferred after the Kelvin Sampson fiasco blew up.  You might even recall that Holman was escorted out of the IU basketball offices two years ago because he threw a potted plant at someone or something during a meeting about a transfer with Tom Crean.  We’ve already discussed that Cal’s kryptonite is a strong frontcourt, and this could be a good barometer for Jamal Boykin, Markhuri Sanders-Frison, Harper Kamp and Max Zhang.  Cal has a major advantage in the backcourt, however, and it was clear that Jerome Randle wasn’t happy with his performance on Monday night, so it’ll also be interesting to see how he and Patrick Christopher responds.

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Tim Floyd & Henry Bibby Save the Day!

Posted by rtmsf on November 5th, 2009

The first thing we thought (and most anyone would think) when we heard last night that a Youtube video was circulating (h/t Rome is Burning) involving Tim Floyd and a fight at a southern California casino was “uh-oh.”  These things almost never turn out helping one’s reputation, and given the summer that Floyd endured (turning down the Arizona job, only to get forced out at USC after recruiting improprieties resurfaced), we placed both hands over our eyes and peeked through to see just what kind of horrible offense Floyd may have committed to further sully his rep.  But like a 1000-to-1 shot coming in on the slots, the video shocks you, but it does so not with the horror of watching coaches behaving badly, but rather by showing a random act of sanity and kindness that is often unseen in the world of gotcha-videos taken with cell phones and digital cameras.  Watch for yourself.

There’s Tim Floyd acting as peacemaker, and another former USC coach,  Henry Bibby (who knew they were buds?), coming out of nowhere to save his boy from getting whacked like the moles in the carnival fun house game.    Mark this down – guaranteed.   This video will enter some random AD’s mind in the next couple of years when he’s deciding whether to hire the much-maligned Floyd, and despite all of the baggage he carries with respect to recruiting, he’ll be reminded that Floyd is at heart a pretty good guy and decide to give him another chance. 

Memo to Kelvin Sampson – you might want to have a camera crew start following you around as you help little old ladies cross the street. 

 

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Mike Bellman: Mizzou’s Bartman?

Posted by rtmsf on September 29th, 2009

It’s a good thing for the University of Missouri that Kelvin Sampson and Rob Senderoff haven’t been in their employ in recent years.  Otherwise, the Big 12 school would undoubtedly be facing the death penalty with the goldmine of information about coach’s calls, text messages and general cell phone usage that Mizzou is practically giving away to people off the street (actual price: $7.60 per phone).  Mike Bellman, a Columbia-area information specialist for the public school system, bought twenty-five of the old phones from the UM athletic department, and was surprised to find that the private information stored on them hadn’t been erased.  From the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune:

text msg

Mike Bellman thought he was buying a box of old cellular phones he planned to resell as parts. Instead, he wound up with a collection of electronic information from the University of Missouri’s Athletics Department.  Now, Bellman is auctioning former Athletics Department staff phones as collector’s items. He’s asking $3,000 for all 25 phones.  One cell phone, a Sprint Treo, belonged to MU basketball Coach Mike Anderson, according to Bellman’s online inventory. Photos of the phone’s screen show text messages between Anderson and MU football Coach Gary Pinkel and Athletics Director Mike Alden. The messages appear to be well wishes for upcoming games and congratulations after victories.  Other phones from assistant coaches and Athletics Department staff have hundreds of contact phone numbers, e-mail messages and text messages.

Somewhere in a dungeon on that campus, the intern responsible for this is getting flogged by the Ghost of Norm Stewart. 

Bellman is insane if he thinks these phones will nab three-large, but he’s definitely onto something with respect to marketing the information to rival schools (especially those Jayhawks down the road a piece).  All we know is that Missouri AD Mike Alden better be having a candid conversation with head coaches Mike Anderson and Gary Pinkel before they allow these phones into the wrong hands.  “Hypothetically speaking, Coach, is there anything you’d not want people to know about what’s on those phones?  Just in case, you know?”  Of course, if there is some kind of illegal text messaging or evidence of foul play on those phones (and for the record, we have NO reason to believe that there is), would Bellman become the Steve Bartman of Missouri?  That’s an interesting question.  Let’s wait until tomorrow (the deadline Bellman has imposed for sale at $3000) to see what happens here. 

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Questionable Test Scores Piling Up At Memphis

Posted by nvr1983 on June 3rd, 2009

As we mentioned in an update to yesterday’s column about how Memphis was handling Derrick Rose‘s questionable test scores, more reports of questionable test scores out of Memphis are surfacing. As Gary Parrish reported earlier today, Robert Dozier‘s SAT scores were questionable enough that Georgia refused to admit him. What most of the media has missed is that a third member of that Memphis team (Doneal Mack) that lost to Kansas in one of the most exciting title games of the past 20 years also had a suspicious ACT score that led Florida to deny him admission too.

the-perfect-score

While Memphis claims to be innocent in Rose’s case because the actions took place before he enrolled at Memphis and that they were unaware of potential inconsistencies in his test scores, the fact that they admitted two other players who had already been denied admission to other schools because of questionable standardized test scores makes the school’s claims of innocence more laughable unless they are going for another version of “don’t ask, don’t tell” with regards to SAT scores. Since John Calipari has already headed to Kentucky the administration at Memphis is left handling this mess.

The question is what kind of punishment, if any, will be handed down by the NCAA. Given the fact that they have done absolutely nothing with the mess at USC, it seems unlikely the Tigers will face any major sanctions particularly since there probably will not be any money trail like there was at Michigan where the Fab 5 played. It will be interesting to see if the NCAA and Kentucky police Calipari more closely than usual to avoid a Kelvin Sampson situation where he committed several violations at Indiana after committing similar violations at Oklahoma.

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Norman, Oklahoma… Where Getting Wasted Is Not a Hobby nor Interest

Posted by nvr1983 on April 21st, 2009

Methinks someone is getting a liiiiiittle too specific with their social networking policy (such a thing exists?).

sooner-cheerleader

Indeed.  The University of Oklahoma, still smarting from probation based on impermissible phone calls by Kelvin Sampson and a pay-for-play scandal involving bogus jobs (not to mention former Sooner Josh Jarboe’s profane riffs on existentialism), has released records of its new social networking policy, which endeavors to outline exactly the kinds of news feed updates, photo montages and tweets that, as student-athletes, are not in the best interests of the Sooner Nation.  Specifically, from the AP:

[A]thletes are warned that their postings must comply with a code of conduct and can be punishable with education, counseling, suspension or expulsion and with the reduction or cancellation of financial aid. It warns athletes not to post pictures that would portray them negatively nor post contact information that agents or their runners could use to put the athletes’ eligibility in jeopardy.  “‘Partying,’ ‘drinking,’ and ‘getting wasted’ do not qualify as real hobbies or interests,” the policy warns.

We’ve yet to see the entire document of prohibitions, but hopefully the OU compliance folks managed to capture some of the other necessary guidelines to avoid the ignominy of NCAA gumshoes once again sniffing around Norman:

  • do not wear a dress ten sizes too small (Blake Griffin)
  • do not publicly refer to the NCAA as the National Communists Against Athletes (Brian Bosworth)
  • do not shoot teammates, rob the coach’s house, distribute controlled substances to the FBI or gang-rape coeds (Switzer’s crew)
  • do not pick up the phone if a coach is indiscriminately calling you whenever he damn well pleases (Kelvin Sampson)

That should do it.  There are undoubtedly more, but these will get the Sooner Nation started.

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Was Nate Miles’ Restraining Order the Best Thing That Could Have Happened to UConn?

Posted by rtmsf on March 25th, 2009

As it stands today, the #1 West seed UConn mens’ basketball team  is sitting in Glendale, Arizona, awaiting its Sweet Sixteen matchup against Purdue on Friday night, having obliterated its sub-regional opponents by roughly 1000 points in two blowout wins.  It’s still relatively early, but the Huskies appear to be the favorite going into the rest of the Tournament, with their scoring threats at every position and their game-changing defensive presence in the middle known as Hasheem Thabeet.  Scarily, UConn isn’t even at full strength, as two players who were on the roster at the beginning of the school year are no longer playing for the Huskies - we all know about Jerome Dyson’s injury, but what about the other guy… Nate Miles? 

You remember Miles, right?  Jim Calhoun brought the troubled-but-talented 6’7 wing player in from Toledo as a freshman, but he was expelled from UConn in early October for violating a restraining order based on an accusation that he assaulted a female student.   Sixteen minutes after the restraining order was issued, mind you.  He then re-surfaced at a JuCo in Idaho, where he dropped in 19 ppg this season.  So why is this all relevant now? 

A Yahoo Sports investigation led by Dan Wetzel and Adrian Wojnarowski issued a comprehensive report today outlining the sordid tale of how Miles was ‘delivered’ to UConn by a former team manager turned agent named Josh Nochimson, and how current and former UConn coaches (including Jim Calhoun) may have pulled a Kelvin Sampson and egregiously violated the recruiting contact provisions with Miles throughout 2006 and 2007.   From the report:

The University of Connecticut violated NCAA rules in the recruitment of former guard Nate Miles, a six-month investigation by Yahoo! Sports has found.  Miles was provided with lodging, transportation, restaurant meals and representation by Josh Nochimson – a professional sports agent and former UConn student manager – between 2006 and 2008, according to multiple sources. As a representative of UConn’s athletic interests, Nochimson was prohibited by NCAA rules from having contact with Miles and from providing him with anything of value.  The UConn basketball staff was in constant contact with Nochimson during a nearly two-year period up to and after Miles’ recruitment. Five different UConn coaches traded at least 1,565 phone and text communications with Nochimson, including 16 from head coach Jim Calhoun.  UConn may have committed major recruiting violations by exceeding NCAA limits on phone calls to Miles and those closest to him, records show. The NCAA allows a single phone call per month to a prospect or his family in a player’s junior year of high school. That limit was exceeded over several months from late 2006 into 2007.

This makes the Kelvin Sampson and Rob Senderoff thing at Indiana look tame by comparison. 

UConn released a statement that doesn’t really say much, but what they should be saying (at least privately) is THANK THE F#%&ING LORD!  Consider…  the Huskies may well be on their way to their third national title in the last eleven seasons.  At worst, they appear a strong contender for another F4 appearance.  If Miles was still on this team, suddenly the entire house of cards could have come crumbling down.  Even if UConn ultimately won the 2009 championship, there would be a strong likelihood that much of their season would be later vacated, Chris Webber-style

Ironically, Miles' Restraining Order May Have Saved UConn's Season

Ironically, Miles' Restraining Order May Have Saved UConn's Season (Unlike C-Webb's Michigan Teams)

Not now.  Now any punishment that UConn will take over this admittedly serious set of violations will be prospective, and it should not affect this year’s Husky team (unless the NCAA digs up some other violations impacting current players).  We don’t mean to be callous, but in a tradeoff, wouldn’t most UConn fans take that deal?  You can win the 2009 title, but you’ll have to face a 1-year postseason ban and scholarship reductions at some future point.  Yeah, thought so.   So congratulations, Connecticut fans, there is a silver lining in what was otherwise not your best day. 

Final thought here: it’s nice to see that Yahoo Sports took it upon itself to do the NCAA’s work here.  A simple FOIA request – that’s all it took?  You’d think that the NCAA’s army of investigators could figure out that one by themselves.  Easy, low-hanging fruit at these public universities.  Or, maybe not. 

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Rudy in Bloomington?

Posted by nvr1983 on February 26th, 2009

It seems like there is a lot of news coming out of Bloomington for a team is at the bottom of the Big Ten with a record of 1-14 in the conference. We figured that they would stay under the radar after the Kelvin Sampson fiasco, but in the past few months they have managed to get in the news with reports of rampant drug use and their continued inability to understand how to use phones.

Santa (#1) gets some PT
Santa (#1) gets some PT. http://www.insidethehall.com

This time the Hoosiers have managed to make news headlines for a positive story though as Tom Crean has announced that he has promoted team manager Mike Santa to a reserve guard. While this move does reek of desperation (and I’m sure Indiana’s Big 10 rivals will have fun taunting him particularly with his last name), we like the move as it might help boost morale on the team and on campus. I’m not sure if it the fact that the campuses are just 200 miles away or my lack of imagination, but this reminds me of the whole “Rudy” Ruettiger mixed with a bit of Ollie from “Hoosiers”.

200 miles between Notre Dame and Indiana
200 miles between Notre Dame and Indiana

We don’t know much about Santa’s high school basketball career (for all we know he could be a Jimmy Chitwood-style sharpshooter), but he did play against Northwestern even if ESPN hasn’t even bothered to give him a position, height, or weight. If anybody has some background info on Indiana’s Rudy, let us know by posting it in the comment section.

ollie

 

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IU Still Struggling With the Whole Illegal Phone Call Thing…

Posted by rtmsf on February 25th, 2009

Tom Crean should be proud of his Indiana team this year – despite basically playing with D2 talent, the Hoosiers have used grit and hustle to compete in nearly every Big Ten game, even winning one against Iowa a few weeks ago.  Furthermore, the stench of impropriety and illicit activity that enveloped Bloomington during the tenure of Kelvin Sanctions is finally, like a soupy fog lingering to mid-day, starting to lift.  As a result, the phone lines at the athletic department are free and clear; nobody is hiding under their desks trying to, um, get a signal (yeah, that’s you, Senderoff). 

What’s that? 

Please Pick Me Up and Call a Recruit

Please Pick Me Up and Call a Recruit

Oh, maybe the stink hasn’t quite dissipated after all.  Perhaps there’s something about the phones in that place that is so magnificent… so wonderful… so awe-inspiring, that coaches just can’t resist the siren-like urge to pick it up and call someone.  Someone like, oh we dunno, just thinking out loud here, maybe… a recruit!  From the Indy Star:

Indiana University reported a secondary NCAA violation involving what the school said was an inadvertent extra phone call by the men’s basketball staff to recruit Bawa Muniru in October.  IU punished itself by not making any recruiting phone calls for a week in December, according to the report, revealed through a public records request by The Indianapolis Star.

Rumors and Rants had an excellent set of suggestions for the Indiana coaching brass, seeing as how they have loads of trouble getting all these confounding phone rules right (i.e., two calls per week, fellas).  Here are their best two recommendations:

The smoke signal: This is one of the oldest forms of communication known to man, dating back to ancient China, and it’s particularly useful for long distances. The smoke signal will be most effective when courting in-state recruits in places like Indianapolis, Richmond and Terre Haute.

The heliograph: Here’s another one where knowing Morse Code will come in handy. A heliograph was standard issue in the British and Australian armies until the 1960s, and involves using a flashes of sunlight to convey Morse Code with, basically, a mirror. It works, according to Wikipedia, to 50 kilometers or more, which is perfect if you want to get in touch with a player while recruiting in Canada or Europe.

Agreed.  Nothing says Ironic Indiana U. basketball like using smoke signals to communicate with each other.  Right, Eric?

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01.29.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by nvr1983 on January 29th, 2009

Lot of good links today with many of them follow-ups of stories we have reported on in the past.

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12.04.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by nvr1983 on December 3rd, 2008

It’s been a while since we did this consistently, but now that we actually know which games will be played more than 24 hours in advance it’s time to get back into our routine of providing you with the best college basketball links we find each day. If you find something that you think would be of interest to other college basketball fans, leave a link in the comment section and we’ll include it in the next Fast Breaks. Some of these are a few days old, but we have some catching up to do. . .

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Set Your Tivos: Week 2

Posted by nvr1983 on November 16th, 2008

Our new and improved Set Your Tivos is in the format that we expect this feature to take for the rest of the season. It will feature our top games of the week and leave the daily TV schedules to After the Buzzer. Now the top 7 games (add 3 for a few of the late round games in some of the random tournaments to make a top 10 if you want) in reverse order. . .

Courtesy: www.jakeludington.com

7) Illinois at Vanderbilt–Thursday, 8 PM on Fox Sports South, ESPN Full Court, and ESPN360.com: Our only featured game involving two unranked teams. We’ll be watching to see if Bruce Weber has recovered from losing out on Eric Gordon, who would have left Illinois by now anyways even if Kelvin Sampson hadn’t stolen him before destroying Indiana’s basketball program. On the other side, Vanderbilt will be trying to recover from last year’s embarrassing first round loss to Siena in the NCAA tournament after a trip to the Sweet 16 the year before that ended with a close loss to Georgetown.

6) Southern Illinois vs. #5 Duke–Thursday, 7 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com:The Salukis look to recover from last year’s 18-15 season after six consecutive NCAA tournament bids against everyone’s favorite villain Duke. I’m sure most of you would like nothing more than seeing Duke lose in Madison Square Garden against a mid-major, but that’s not happening here. Watch it to see if Southern Illinois will be challenging for the MVC title this year and if Duke is going to try to develop an inside game this year.

5) #4 UCLA vs. Michigan–Thursday, 9 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: The more interesting of the Coaches vs. Cancer games will feature two of the most prestigious programs in the country with one (UCLA) coming into the season with high expectations following 3 straight Final 4 trips while the other (Michigan) has become a source of humor for visitors to this site. Both teams struggled in the early rounds, but the Bruins will be overwhelming favorites and should advance unless the freshman get caught up in the bright lights of MSG and/or start looking forward to playing Duke in the championship game.

4) Kentucky at #1 UNC–Tuesday, 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: This game, which was once billed as one of the premier early season games, has lost much of its luster with Kentucky’s opening loss to VMI and the absence of Tyler Hansbrough (and his fellow pool-jumping “Golden God” Bobby Frasor). This game will be more of a barometer for Kentucky than the injury-depleted Tar Heels. A Kentucky win would give Billy Gillispie a temporary reprieve from Wildcat fans who are undoubtedly livid after another embarrassing season-opening early-season loss. If the Wildcats want to do that, they will need to utilize Patrick Patterson much more than they did against VMI.

3) Massachusetts at #12 Memphis–Tuesday/Wednesday at midnight on ESPN and ESPN360.com: Our first look at this year’s Tigers will be a relatively challenging game against John Calipari’s old school. While Tyreke Evans might be one of the top players in this year’s freshman class, he will be a significant drop-off from Derrick Rose. The Tigers may be able to adjust to that, but they will be hard-pressed to replace the veteran leadership and all-around play of Chris Douglas-Roberts. We will be interested to see if the Tigers worked on that small issue of free throw shooting that reared its ugly head at the most inopportune time last year. 

2) Miami (OH) at #6 Pittsburgh–Monday, 7 PM on ESPN Full Court and ESPN360.com: While this might not seem like an interesting game to most of you, I think it will give us a good idea of how good/bad UCLA is given the fact they narrowly held off the Redhawks 64-59 and whether or not Doug Gottlieb is an idiot. Given that we think it’s definitely worth watching and should be a good lead-in to Monday Night Football.

1) 2K Sports Classic Championship Game (if it is #4 UCLA vs. #5 Duke)–Friday, 7 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: As noted this is only if we get our first top 5 (or top 25) match-up of the season. Both teams should be able to navigate their semifinals despite the fact that the Bruins struggled against Miami (OH) last week. Duke will probably win this game as they tend to dominate early season tournaments and the Bruins are still very green, but the Bruins young talent and Darren Collison will give Coach K and the Blue Devils a stiff challenge.

If I missed any good games and I’m sure I did, tell me about it in the comments and I’ll update the list.

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