Sypher Found Guilty Across The Board, Pitino Image Repair Begins

Posted by jstevrtc on August 5th, 2010

Earlier today, the jury in the Karen Sypher extortion case found her guilty on all six counts with which she was charged by the government.  From KSR:

  • Three counts of extortion,
  • Two counts of lying to the FBI, and
  • One count of retaliating against a witness.

By our tally, that can result in up to 26 years in the hoosegow and $1.5 million in fines.  The sentence will be handed down within the next two months.

A couple of quick thoughts, here. You may recall that Sypher’s defense team did not bother to call any witnesses as part of their case.  This can only mean that her attorneys felt confident enough in the failure of the prosecution to get over that “reasonable doubt” threshold they’re required to achieve.  After an across-the-board guilty verdict, though, you certainly have to wonder about the radar and the handicapping abilities of that defense team.  Not only will she not be taking them on any trips out to Churchill Downs any time soon, but it’s conceivable that she could accuse them of ineffective assistance of counsel, a form of legal malpractice, and appeal this verdict.  This tactic rarely works, however, because even if your defense calls no witnesses at a trial where you’re found guilty, proving your counsel was incompetent is a very hard thing to do.  You’d pretty much have to have an attorney like the lawyer who went nuts and stripped naked during the deposition in the movie Michael Clayton to make that stick.

She can appeal, citing counsel's "ineffectiveness," but it's a huge stretch.

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March Moment: Three Reminiscences

Posted by jstevrtc on March 23rd, 2010

Few college basketball fans are born with their love for the game. For most aficionados, at some point on the way from infancy to college hoops fan, there is a moment. A single play, shot, player, game, or event at which point they say to themselves, “I will always have this in my life.” Because it is the time of the season that carries the most gravitas, these things often happen in March. We asked some of our friends and correspondents: what was the thing that turned you into a lifelong college basketball fan? What was your…March Moment? We’ll be posting some of their answers for the rest of the month.

In this edition, we have submissions from three friends.  In the first, RTC utility man Tom Hager remembers a time he had to improvise a way to celebrate after two buzzer-beaters; the second has RTC correspondent Jason Prizoborowski barely escaping extended hoops deprivation; the third has Friend of the Program Mike Kiffney — he of the patented “Kiffney three” — showing his age by recalling how he met a legend from his high school, and making a prediction that will please fans of the Orange:

TH: My March moment came when I was 11 years old. It was Friday night of the first round of the NCAA tournament, and I was sleeping over at a friend’s house. He had no interest in basketball, but fortunately for me, he had fallen asleep by 9:00 that night. I spent the rest of the night watching some of the most exciting basketball I had ever seen in my life. I was sitting in the lower bunk trying to keep quiet as I watched Georgetown defeat Arkansas 63-61 on a buzzerbeater. I remember watching Nat Burton drive to the lane and sink a shot just before time expired. When head coach Craig Esherick was asked for his thoughts on the game winner, he actually looked a little upset. “The play was not designed to go to him…” was how Esherick began the interview, but stated that Burton was a senior, and had the experience to take the shot.

That same night, I watched what I still think might be the best upset in the history of college basketball, when a team I had never heard of (Hampton) with a bunch of players I had never heard of (yeah, Tarvis Williams) defeat highly touted Iowa State. After Williams sank a hook shot with a few seconds left, and Jamaal Tinsley missed his shot at the buzzer, I saw Hampton’s cheerleaders, players, and even coach Steve Merfeld jump in the air. I was doing the exact same. I ran outside my friend’s room and into his kitchen, where I could jump and scream (internally) over what had just happened without waking him up. By the time I was done celebrating, I had done more fist pumps than Tiger Woods and I was out of breath. I remember trying to go to bed that night but I was too excited to fall asleep right away, as that play ran over and over in my head. To this day, it is still my lasting image of the NCAA Tournament.

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NCAA D1 Athlademic Ratings

Posted by rtmsf on August 30th, 2007

We came across this table last week, but haven’t had time to properly analyze it until today.  An organization called the National Collegiate Scouting Assn. (NCSA) evaluated how schools are doing in their totality by ranking them in the classroom and on the fields of play, using the US News academic and Sears Cup athletic rankings as their evaluative criteria. 

If they’d just stopped there, we’d have no problem with their rankings.  However, they also felt a need to add a third criterion – the NCAA’s school graduation rates for student-athletes, which have been long derided as archaic, inconsistent and generally not useful as a tool for determining how well a school is serving and educating its student-athletes.  Use of these graduation rates as a performance measure ultimately results in a reductio ad absurdum situation where an elite academic and athletic instutition like Stanford is penalized because an obviously articulate and well-rounded athlete such as Tiger Woods did not formally graduate before turning pro.  


A Relevant Indicator?  Not Here

And not only that, the NCSA decided to weight graduation rates equally (each counting one-third) with the academic and athletic ratings.  We could probably live with its inclusion if its weight was substantially minimized, but not as it currently exists.  Nevertheless, here is the NCSA list.  See Table A below.

Table A.  NCSA Division I Power Ratings 

NCSA Ratings v.5

Ok, so we have no problem with many of the schools at the top – HYP, Duke, Stanford, Rice, the other usual suspects…  But look at some of the more dubious schools that piggyback a high graduation rate (and not much else) into the top 50 – UMass-Lowell??  Bentley??  Coastal Carolina??  The NCSA cannot be serious.


According to the NCSA, Bentley Does Better Than Cal & Texas as an Academic/Athletic School

Additionally, consider the schools who do not have athletes who would normally be inclined to leave school early for the pros, train for the Olympics or seek more playing time elsewhere (not even benchwarmers leave Harvard).  The NCAA penalizes schools with transfers under its current metric for determining graduation rates.  Therefore, the Ivies, W&M, Furman, Drury, etc., all fare well in Table A because of the disproportionate weight given by the NCSA to graduation rates.  The bigger state schools that have excellent academics and athletics, yet are more vulnerable to market forces and playing time considerations – Michigan, UNC, Virginia, UCLACal – are all penalized using the NCSA method. 

So let’s take a look at what the NCSA should look like, by eliminating the graduation rates and simply comparing academic success and athletic success.  See Table B below.

Table B.  Division I Ratings (US News + Sears Cup)

NCSA New Rankings

That’s more like it.  Stanford is in its rightful place at #1 (how could the #4 national university and 13-time defending Sears Cup winner not be?), and all the schools we’d expect to be near the top of such a list are there.  Look at some of the highest risers – Johns Hopkins went from 59th to 3d; Cal from 88th to 5th; Texas from 78th to 14th; Wisconsin from 45th to 10th. 

This list is instructive in the sense that it shows which schools are getting the most out of its academic and athletic programs, but the NCSA flubs it my weighing graduation rates on par with the other two much more informative criteria.  Maybe they’ll do better next year.     

Update:  a UCLA fan rightfully questioned us as to why the Bruins and crosstown rival USC were not originally included on our list.  After a few moments of thought, we realized that the NCSA list didn’t have either school in its top 100!!!  This can only mean that the LA schools’ respective graduation rates were so low that its weight carried both schools outside the NCSA top 100 D1 schools, essentially proving our point about the ridiculousness of its weighting system.  UCLA (#25 US News and #2 Sears Cup) would earn a rating of 13.5 in our system, which would place the Bruins #4 on our overall list.  USC (#27 US News and #5 Sears Cup) would earn a rating of 16.0, placing the Trojans #7 overall. 

Update #2:  After reviewing NCSA’s data, we decided a whole new post was warranted.  We revamp the entire list and also take a look at how the BCS conferences stack up in our Athlademic Ratings – Revised

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