The Jason Capel-Devonte Graham Controversy is Officially a Mess

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 30th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

The biggest source of frustration with the NCAA’s outdated guidelines is its amateurism philosophy, which holds that student-athletes cannot accept money above the amount provided with a room and board scholarship. Not far behind is the swath of restrictive policies the organization has in place, primarily those concerning transfers. In a world where coaches are allowed to switch jobs on a whim, collecting fat paychecks in the transfer while players are forced not only to seek a permission to contact and clear a desired destination with their head coach but also sit out one season before regaining eligibility, is royally screwed up. Few rational people deny this. Another source of mass antipathy? The national letter of intent (NLI), which basically forces players to give up every form of leverage they have before ever enrolling at their university of choice. By signing the NLI, players are: 1) prohibited from being recruited by other schools; 2) forced to enroll at their selected school, lest give up 25 percent of their athletic eligibility; 3) forced to abide by standard transfer rules (permission to contact, maniacally restrictive coaches declaring a raft of schools and conferences off limits, the customary one-year holdover penalty, etc.). This does not sound like a fair agreement, and it isn’t! Which leads one to wonder why a player like Devonte Graham, a point guard from Raleigh who committed to Appalachian State in September 2012 and used the early November signing period to ink his NLI, would ever sign it in the first place.

Not releasing Graham from his NLI makes Graham come off as cruel and unforgiving, but we may not know the full story (AP).

After signing to play for Appalachian State and head coach Jason Capel, Graham’s stock soared as he impressed coaches during his senior season at Broughton High School. Other schools – schools most young point guards from Raleigh would choose over Appalachian State at a moment’s notice (no offense, App) – predictably took notice. Graham had soon drawn interest from a host of high D-I programs, including Pittsburgh, Providence, Creighton, Wichita State, UConn and Rhode Island. By mid-February, Graham had asked for a release from his NLI to pursue a more high-profile college hoops experience. Far from being cooperative, Capel failed to oblige his request. Now spending a post-graduate year at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, essentially stuck in eligibility limbo, Graham faces the likelihood of having to burn one year of eligibility if he decides to transfer to another school. Unless, of course, Capel sets him free. Based on a statement released from the school Saturday, it only appears the school, and Capel, are digging their heels in even further.

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Morning Five: 09.30.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 30th, 2013

morning5

  1. It didn’t take long for Appalachian State to turn the tables after the media began to attack the school for not releasing Devontae Graham from his National Letter of Intent. Graham, who recently shot up the recruiting rankings, was a lightly regarded recruit when he signed with Appalachian State and now is at Brewster Academy. Now that Graham is more highly regarded he is looking to be released from the Letter of Intent to look at more high-profile schools. After receiving a great deal of media criticism for not complying with Gardner’s wishes the school issued a release accusing North Carolina State of tampering. On the surface we might question the accusation, but when you consider that Graham played with Mark Gottfried’s son the accusation becomes a little more interesting. Oh, and the two schools play each other on November 8. That should be a fun post-game handshake.
  2. It seems like we are writing more about “pay-For-play” than any other topic these days, but it seems like that is the major topic that everybody seems to be focused in on. Two of the better takes on the issue over the weekend came from Michael Rosenberg, who says “Pay-for-play is not the issue”, and Gary Walters (Princeton AD and former member of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee), who says the debate over stipends obscures the bigger issues within sports. Most of the analysis that we have linked to and provided has focused on the pure economics of the issue, but if you want to read nuanced takes on the philosophical dilemmas surrounding the NCAA these are a great place to start.
  3. As we mentioned last week, Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Glockner was making his way through the top 20 current college programs. On Friday, Glockner concluded with his top five programs. The five programs (in order)–Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, and Michigan State–should not come as any surprise and we don’t have any issue with the order either although we can understand how some people may have issues with Kentucky and North Carolina given their inconsistency lately. It was an issue that we dealt with back in 2009 when we complied our Team of the 2000s rankings and was the primary source of debate at the time. Looking back on our rankings and what Glockner came out with it is interesting to see how much some programs moved up (Kentucky didn’t even make honorable mention–hello, Billy Gillispie) while others have fallen off considerably (particularly Maryland), but for the most part the order has remained relatively constant.
  4. One of the things we love about rankings is the methodology used to create them. We already discussed Andy Glockner’s college basketball program rankings and as we said we don’t particularly have any major issues with his rankings, but we do with the National College Scouting Association “Power Rankings”. The NCSA, which as far as we can tell is a recruiting agency, put together a ranking list of the top college programs by averaging their US News & World Report ranking, Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup ranking, and graduation rate. Their selection of Duke is not particularly notable (although it led one assistant coach at Duke to proudly announce it)but the methodology seems deeply flawed. Aside from our issues with the US News & World Report rankings, which mirror most of what you have read about those rankings over the past decade, the use of graduation rates, which can be played with, and comparing Division I programs to Division III programs in terms of athletic performance seems debatable at best. The equal weighting of the different rankings creates some interesting outcomes particularly when Florida comes in at 240th in graduation rates bringing them down the 82nd overall despite coming in 2nd in the Directors’ Cup rankings. And then there is Colorado School of Mines coming in 39th overall despite a fairly unimpressive US News & World Report ranking and a mediocre graduation rate thanks to a 10th place showing in the Division II Directors’ Cup.
  5. Over the past few years we have witnessed many cases of devastating diseases taking away many coaches and their family members. Still the news that Mark Fisher, the son of San Diego State coach Steve Fisher, had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a debilitating progressive neurodegenerative disease more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. According to reports, those within the program have known about Fisher’s condition for over two years, but possibly with the progression he has had his role reassigned from being assistant coach to assistant to the head coach while several other members of the staff shift up a spot to fill his void. Neither the school nor other members of the team provided much more detail on Fisher’s condition or what prompted the announcement/change so as always in these situations we will simply wish Fisher and his family the best as they deal with this condition.
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With Little Pomp or Fanfare, Practice is Underway: Is Earlier Better?

Posted by BHayes on September 27th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler.

Aaand we’re back. Sort of. Today marks the official return of practice for college basketball players across the country, but unlike in years past, there will be no festive Midnight Madness celebration to announce that we are underway – at least not yet. A new NCAA initiative to allow programs more practice time before their opening games was passed this offseason, and teams are now able to use their 30 days of preseason practice over the span of six weeks, instead of the four weeks it had been in preseasons past. Great, you say — perhaps we will have a cleaner, more efficient brand of basketball ready for opening tip? That has to be the hope, as the extra time should allow for a smoother transition into the year, at least on paper. But in a sport where tradition and ceremony often delivers much of the impact, will the extra weeks of practice improve the play on the floor enough to offset a potential depreciation to the meaning of Midnight Madness?

Will Midnight Madness Suffer As A Result Of The New Early Opening To Practice?

Will Midnight Madness Suffer As A Result Of The New Early Opening To Practice?

It’s hard to know how direct a response this rule change is to the game scores that are getting lower and lower and the accompanying grumblings that are getting louder and louder, but it feels like an effort by the NCAA to raise early-season quality of play. While the actual practice time (30 days) remains the same, stretching it out over the course of six weeks should help keep players from feeling overwhelmed, and also offer them the chance to recover and work on individual skills on off days. Nobody is claiming these two weeks will advance basketball 10 years worth of quality, but there’s no way the extra time can’t help improve the product of November and December basketball.

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Why the NCAA Could be Taking a Huge Risk in the Ed O’Bannon Suit

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 27th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

It wasn’t so long ago that we discussed the possibility of former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon and his group of plaintiffs being granted class certification by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in their lawsuit against the NCAA, Electronic Arts and the Collegiate Licensing Company. Thursday’s news forced a revision of that statement. The lawsuit now counts one defendant: that four letter institution we love to hate, the NCAA. Hours after EA announced it would no longer manufacture its popular college football video game, the video game company and CLC announced a settlement of a wide swath of cases brought against them by former players. The settlements, according to reports, will result in between 200,000 and 300,000 players receiving compensation for the previous use of their likenesses. Current players could also be in line to receive compensation, though it is unclear whether accepting money would compromise their eligibility. It is believed EA’s decision to cancel its production of NCAA Football – and thus dissociate itself from its sticky and laughably contrived argument that player likenesses were not modeled after real-life human characteristics (even after SB Nation discovered the use of former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow’s name in virtual playbooks designed by EA for its NCAA Football ’10 game) – was a preemptive move to eliminate the possibility of “damages” against current student-athletes, whose likenesses would have been used in the game.

The settlements reached by EA and CLC makes the O'Bannon case a one-on-one legal battle with the NCAA (AP Photo).

The settlements reached by EA and CLC makes the O’Bannon case a one-on-one legal battle with the NCAA (AP Photo).

That leaves the NCAA – who according to a USA Today report Thursday, is beefing up its legal team with the intention of fighting its case all the way to the Supreme Court – as the lone defendant. If the NCAA is truly bent on embarking on a long, drawn-out, high-profile legal battle, it risks not only having to pay billions of dollars to current and former players. It won’t have any say in when it must make those payments. O’Bannon and his plaintiffs, in other words, could be entitled to massive sums over a compressed time period after the trial. That’s a risk the NCAA appears willing to take, given its reported hiring of powerful attorneys. But is that a wise strategy? Or should the NCAA take EA and CLC’s lead and try to negotiate a settlement? We probably won’t find out until Wilken decides whether to certify O’Bannon’s class – which, according to legal experts, is likely to be the case. What’s interesting about EA and CLC’s decision to settle is the implicit message it sends – that the class is likely to be certified, and that cutting their losses now and reaching a deal before making themselves liable to much, much larger payments in a class action suit was the most prudent move available. It almost seems as if EA and CLC saw the writing on the wall. Another interesting part of this settlement comes from Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann, who suggests O’Bannon and his plaintiffs are “likely demanding information that would help them advance legal claims against the NCAA. A settlement with EA and CLC, in other words, makes one with the NCAA more likely.”

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Morning Five: 09.27.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 27th, 2013

morning5

  1. When the NCAA announced that it was reducing its penalties against Penn State our first thought was that it was the right move as it rectified (to a degree) the NCAA greatly overstepping its mandate. Our next thought was that it would open the floodgates for other schools looking to reduce their NCAA-sanctioned penalties. Yesterday, we had our first school–USC–announce that it was in talks with the NCAA to have its previously determined penalties reduced. USC might be the first school to pursue this route, but they certainly will not be the last. For all of our qualms about the NCAA we have to say we have a hard time equating any other NCAA ruling to its decision on Penn State as the latter was so far outside of the NCAA’s jurisdiction that not even the NCAA’s staunchest supporters could defend. As such we would be very surprised to see the NCAA follow-up with any similar reductions.
  2. As we mentioned on Tuesday package deals (two recruits not a coach with a recruit) seem to be quite popular this recruiting season. The most significant of these package deals with the one involving Cliff Alexander and Tyus Jones, who are both ranked top-5 overall in the class of 2014. So when Jones announced that he was cancelling his visit to Kentucky it is a pretty big blow to the Wildcats recruiting effort even if they already have a commitment from Tyler Ulis and Jones was considered a long shot for the Wildcats coming in. However, with Alexander also the line it is still a blow to the Wildcats, who will probably still end up with the #1 overall class. Based on what we have heard the leaders for this pair remain Kansas and Duke with Alexander favoring Kansas and Jones favoring Duke.
  3. Eddie Jordan’s efforts at rebuilding Rutgers in the wake of the Mike Rice follow-out appear to have been much more successful than we ever imagined. Thanks to a spate of hardship waivers Rutgers appears to be on the verge of being competitive in the American Athletic Conference. First there was the much-debated waiver granted to Kerwin Okoro and yesterday J.J. Moore was granted a hardship waiver too. Moore, who averaged 8 points and 3 rebounds per game last season as a junior at Pittsburgh, transferred to be closer to closer to his ill grandfather. His presence should only bolster a Scarlet Knight team that should be much better than anybody expected back in April.
  4. College sports might be big business, but try telling that to college students, who are staying out of college stadiums for all, but the biggest games. As The Wall Street Journal noted even in the football-crazed SEC large portions of the student section go unfilled for all, but the biggest games. As you might expect this issue is not isolated to college football as even college basketball programs as prominent as Michigan are having trouble filling their student section. As a result, Michigan is using the opportunity to potentially sell student tickets to the general public. While we understand the appeal of being able to stay at home and watch multiple games at home with quick access to (cheaper) food and beverages, it seems like many of these students are missing out on one of the most significant parts of college basketball: the in-game experience.
  5. Yesterday was a big day for EA Sports. Not only did they announce that they were not going to produce NCAA Football 2014. They (along with College Licensing Company) also reached an agreement with the plaintiffs in the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit. The actual terms of the agreement are confidential, but what this announcement boils down to is that the players will be compensated. The amount of money that each player will receive will vary (no idea how they will determine that) and the overall pot might never be known. The big takeaway from this though is that the O’Bannon vs NCAA portion of the case is still open. As you would expect, the details and effects of a confidential lawsuit can be challenging to tease apart so if you want a more detailed explanation, Michael McCann’s column explaining the ruling and the ramifications is a good place to start.
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2013-14 RTC Class Schedule: Arizona Wildcats

Posted by BHayes on September 26th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler. Periodically throughout the preseason, RTC will take an in-depth look at the schedules of some of the more prominent teams in college basketball.

Sean Miller’s fifth season in Tuscon could easily turn out to be his best. Despite the graduation of key seniors Solomon Hill (a first round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft), Mark Lyons, and Kevin Parrom – in addition to the surprising departure of freshman Grant Jerrett to the professional ranks, Miller has assembled the most talented roster that Arizona has seen in quite some time. A solid Pac-12 conference and challenging non-conference schedule will challenge the Cats’, but a nice blend of returnees and newcomers should give the man at the helm ample leeway to steer this storied program deep into March.

Nick Johnson will be asked to do more -- both on and off the court -- for this young but talented Wildcat team

Nick Johnson will be asked to do more — both on and off the court — for this young but talented Wildcat team

  • Team Outlook: This will be a new-look Arizona team, as last year’s squad was built around departed seniors Lyons and Hill. Some familiar faces will be back and poised to fill leadership roles this time around, with junior Nick Johnson (11.5 PPG, 3.2 APG, 1.9 SPG) most prominent among them. The athletic two-guard shot the ball better from three-point range as a sophomore (39% after 32% as a freshman), and should also serve as the Cats’ best perimeter defender in 2013-14. Sophomores Kaleb Tarczewski (6.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 22.2 MPG) and Brandon Ashley (7.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 20.5 MPG) return to anchor the frontcourt, with each likely seeing a slight minutes increase, despite the arrival of a duo of freshman studs in the same frontcourt. Both Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were McDonald’s All-Americans last spring, and immense immediate contributions from both freshmen would surprise no one. Gordon especially shapes up as a good candidate for a jump to the NBA after a season of stardom in Tuscon, as he is currently projected as a Top-20 pick in the 2014 draft on NBADraft.net. Gordon’s production will be one of the keys to this Wildcat season, but he may not be Sean Miller’s most important player. Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell (11.4 PPG, 5.5 APG, 2.8 SPG in 2011-12) will be filling Lyons’ shoes and running the show in Tucson this season. McConnell was an efficient lead guard in the Atlantic-10 and should quickly acclimate to the Pac-12, but the absence of proven ball-handlers elsewhere on the roster means his transition has to be a smooth one for Arizona to be successful. He will be a welcomed change-of-pace for teammates used to the shoot-first Lyons dominating the ball, and his steal % of 4.7 (12th best in the nation in 2012) is ample indication of a dedication to both ends. The talented youngsters around him will keep expectations low for McConnell individually, but don’t be shocked if he emerges as the leader of this club. Read the rest of this entry »
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Morning Five: 09.26.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 26th, 2013

morning5

  1. A random late September day was an odd time for the tried-and-true “baseball model” argument to once again rear its ugly head, but Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney did his part in making a discussion of one-and-done headline-worthy on Wednesday. His stated premise is one that we’ve heard hundreds of times before: that the NBA (and interestingly, he also mentions the NFL, which is usually immune from this argument) and colleges should work together to allow elite basketball and football players to enter the “pro ranks” — whether through the minor leagues, IMG training, or whatever else — immediately out of high school. As he puts it, “if an athlete wants to professionalize themselves, professionalize themselves.” Forgetting the dripping irony implicit in comments from someone who has done more to “professionalize” his conference than any other administrator, he relies on the value of collegiate “brands that have been built over 100 years” to suggest that college athletics will be just fine without the star power of Nerlens Noel, Anthony Bennett, Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III, and the rest. Here’s the thing: they won’t be. While it’s true that Michigan fans will continue to watch Michigan football in the same way that Kentucky fans will watch Kentucky basketball regardless of the talent wearing those uniforms, the rest of the country will not. Casual fans of both sports want to see stars, the “next big thing,” and as we already know from the awful preps-to-pros era of college basketball (roughly 1997-2005), the game suffered as a result of the loss of its best players before they ever made it to campus.
  2. Now, this isn’t to say at all that league rules forcing basketball players to spend a “gap year” between high school and the pros in college, overseas, or in the D-League is fair to them either — the above argument relates more to what’s best for the sport of college basketball rather than the elite players themselves. As such, Dana O’Neil gives the flip side of the debate, which is to ask what true positive effect does that single year between the ages of 18 and 19 have on NBA Draftable players like Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Jabari Parker? She figures that Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel lost approximately $2 million as a result of his knee injury last season, but she doesn’t address the money that #1 pick Anthony Bennett made for himself because of his one successful year at UNLV (the same dichotomy might be shown in a comparison between the stock drop of UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad versus the rise of Kansas’ Ben McLemore). Still, her point about the NBA protecting itself from draft mistakes is a salient one — teams hope to avoid the next Kwame Brown by evaluating men playing against other men — but her underlying question as to “the point” of the one year in college seems forced. The point is that the one-and-done rule is actually better for nearly all parties involved except for the tiny percentage of highly-evaluated high schoolers whose stock ends up dropping during that one season — it’s better for the NBA, its teams, college basketball, its teams, and even some of the players themselves (the ones, like Anthony Bennett and Kyrie Irving, whom it helps). Two years would be even better.
  3. We mentioned yesterday that SI.com‘s Andy Glockner is unveiling his top 20 current college basketball programs this week, using a methodology that includes historical and contemporary success, sustainability, budget, facilities, league affiliation, fan base, and recruiting pipeline. The biggest surprise in our view in the #16-20 grouping was the inclusion of Illinois at #19, but his latest group has a couple more interesting placements. At #15 was Memphis, which no doubt has a great fan base and facilities, but my goodness, it’s tough to swallow a program that has underachieved relative to its talent in each of its head coach’s four seasons on campus. The other peculiar placement is certainly UCLA at #12, behind a football-first school of Florida at #11 and back-to-back Sweet Sixteens Indiana (somewhere in the top 10). With a brand new Pauley Pavilion, this is probably based on some hesitation about Steve Alford as the new head man in Westwood, but if he can prove to have even an average recruiting touch in Southern California, it would be hard to buy this program falling outside the top 10. We’re looking forward to his rankings on Thursday — how will he handle North Carolina and Syracuse — do they fall into the second five behind Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisville and Michigan State?
  4. Arkansas‘ Bud Walton Arena suffered a good bit of water damage due to torrential rains in the area last Friday, and as a result the men’s and women’s basketball teams have been forced to hold preseason practice sessions at the school’s PE/Rec building. While flooding of a school’s home arena isn’t a typical occurrence, the outsourcing of the team’s workouts to the intramural courts highlights the school’s need for a permanent basketball practice facility. Arkansas remains the only of the 14 SEC programs without one, and the Razorbacks’ 15-year long dalliance with mediocrity is partially to blame, especially from a recruiting standpoint. The damage to the arena isn’t expected to be long-term, certainly good news for the Fayette-nam Rim Rockers and all the other intramural stalwarts tired of ceding their best courts to the SEC’s most middling program.
  5. One of the best health stories of the past few years in our sport has been that of BYU’s Dave Rose. He was one of the very small percentage of survivors of pancreatic cancer, having a large tumor removed from the organ back in 2009. He recently spent another few days in the hospital after a six-month scan revealed a few more cancerous spots on his pancreas, and the Salt Lake Tribune filled us in on how he is feeling heading into a new season. Rose has proven to be someone with an eminently positive attitude, and it shines through in the piece. Still, a relapse from his remission with such an aggressive disease is cause for concern. We will certainly send equally positive thoughts his way, and hope for the best as his team heads into what should be a quite promising season on the hardwood.
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Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun – Are Package Deals With Top Recruits Just The Flavor Of The Day Or Are They Here To Stay?

Posted by BHayes on September 25th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler.

With the recent news of a potential Cliff Alexander-Jaquan Lyle package deal, can we officially label the recruiting season of 2013 as the summer of bromance? An Alexander-Lyle pairing would mark the second duo of top-25 recruits in the class of 2014 to make the college decision a joint one, as Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones (both top-five recruits according to a number of outlets) have long marketed themselves as a package deal for college recruiters. We may not be witnessing Bigfoot here – package deals like this have certainly gone down in the past – but are these examples proof of an emerging trend? The most frequent iteration of the phenomenon in years past had to be the brother package – see Harrison, Andrew and Aaron (Kentucky) or Barton, Will and Antonio (Memphis) – or if we were stretching, close friends who either grew up together or played their high school ball with one another. But now we are beginning to push the definition of proximity even further, as high school basketball players from completely different parts of the country are forming relationships strong enough to consummate these package recruitment deals. It’s a testament to the growing reach of the AAU circuit, the increased facility of long-distance communication in today’s world, and last, but not least, an eerie imitation of the current dynamics within NBA free agency – the professional equivalent of the recruitment process.

Kentucky Has A More Common Version Of The Package Deal Arriving On Campus This Fall In the Harrison Brothers --Emphasis On Brothers

Kentucky Has A More Common Version Of The Package Deal Arriving On Campus This Fall In the Harrison Brothers –Emphasis On Brothers

The modern high-major college recruit simply isn’t afforded the same summer vacation  he used to have. Even a decade ago, there simply were not as many mandatory (in the sense that every other high-level recruit will be there) camps, AAU tournaments, and international competitions as there are today. We could spend a lot of time discussing the many negatives of this current grassroots setup, but one positive to grow out of the arrangement is that recruits have the chance to spend more time with their peers from across the country. Especially for kids not playing their high school ball at the hoop factories (Findlay, Oak Hill, Huntington, etc.), I would imagine finding peers in your native surroundings can be a challenge, so having the chance to spend time with those facing the exact same circumstances as you has to be a welcomed opportunity for these star recruits.

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Morning Five: 09.25.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 25th, 2013

morning5

  1. Yesterday we mentioned that SI.com‘s Andy Glockner was brewing up a firestorm with his series of articles ranking the top 20 current programs in college basketball. Such an endeavor has two verifiable truths: first, everyone loves lists; second, everyone loves to rip lists. With that in mind (and he’s well aware of those truths), his honorable mentions came out Monday, followed by his rankings of programs from #16 to #20 on Tuesday. In order, let’s welcome Gonzaga, Illinois, Michigan, Georgetown and Texas to the top 20. Of this group, we’re having the most trouble with the Illinois pick at #19. The Illini had a renaissance season under the tutelage of new head coach John Groce last year, but spent most of the previous five years struggling to regain its national relevance of the early-to-mid 2000s. We realize of course that Glockner is using historical and other qualitative metrics to make these determinations, but we probably would have had Pittsburgh, Marquette, Xavier and several others ahead of the Illini. Still, that’s nitpicky. What will really make or break this list will be how Glockner handles the top five (and the fans of the four runners-up will let him know it!). We’re excited to see the next group released later today.
  2. As more and more people marry themselves to the idea that college football and basketball players are being exploited by their schools and the NCAA, we’ll continue to see analyses like one from Business Insider published on Tuesday. Their methodology for determining the fair market value of players at the top 25 revenue-producing football schools is quite simple, probably overly simple — just multiply football revenue by 47 percent (per the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement with its players), then divide by the number of scholarships (85). What BI found mimics the numbers we’ve seen elsewhere — at the richest athletic schools such as Texas, Alabama and Michigan, college football players are worth roughly a half-million dollars each annually in value. The same analysis is also easy enough to do for college basketball players. Louisville‘s hoops revenue of $42.4 million in 2012 is divided in half given the NBA’s rough 50/50 split with the players, leaving $21.2 million to be split 13 ways. The result: a Cardinals’ basketball player is worth $1.63 million to the university (if you buy into this methodology). This is the mistake that many of these gridiron-centric analyses don’t realize — while it’s definitely true that football provides more aggregate revenue to the schools, the players in college basketball are individually much more valuable. If you want to make the point most strongly, which is the better headline? Texas football players are worth a half-million each; or Louisville basketball players are worth three times that much?
  3. While on the subject of football powers, the NCAA announced yesterday that Penn State would regain some of the football scholarships it lost as a result of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. In announcing the removal of those sanctions, the NCAA recognized that the school had made great efforts to change its culture of abuse but NCAA president Mark Emmert made it clear that other schools shouldn’t expect a reduction in their own penalties. That’s too bad, writes The Dagger‘s Jeff Eisenberg, who outlines four major recent (and fixable) misfires by the NCAA, two of which were focused on men’s basketball. The most well-known example, of course, was the NCAA’s “strict liability” punishment on Memphis for playing Derrick Rose in the 2007-08 season, even though the NCAA Clearinghouse had deemed him eligible to play before that season. The other is far less recognizable, involving the NCAA’s decision to rule that Old Dominion’s Donte Hill was ineligible for his senior season because he played eight minutes in a closed-door preseason scrimmage against Clemson back in 2010. We’re quite sure that we could probably come up with a dozen more of these if we spent the time on it, but Eisenberg’s list is a good place to start. It wouldn’t hurt the NCAA to consider more reductions (or commutation) of sentences based on additional facts, precedents and behaviors.
  4. What’s a Final Four appearance worth to an MVC school like Wichita State? We’ll have to wait for the Business Insider analysis on that one, but it’s at least worth around $600,000 to its head coach, Gregg Marshall. The university announced his new salary on Tuesday, with a base of $1.6 million that kicks in this November and another raise to $1.75 million that begins next April. The long-underrated head coach will move into the top 25 or so highest-paid college basketball coaches as a result of this raise, which is a substantial financial commitment for a school living outside the Power Six or Seven hoops leagues. But Final Four appearances at schools like Wichita State tend to result in ironclad job security.
  5. Believe it or not, but with the new practice rules in effect this season, schools will actually begin suiting up for real, live, full-on practices this Friday. As in 48 hours from now. One of the players who will definitely be there to play post-practice games of HORSE with his teammates is Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson. As reported by Gary Parrish at CBSSports.com, Andy Kennedy expects the all-SEC shooting guard to be on the floor Friday. The controversial shooting guard reportedly failed multiple drug tests and spent much of the offseason “suspended” from the team, whatever that means, but let’s be honest with ourselves here. There aren’t all that many name-brand players who pass through Oxford, Mississippi — especially in roundball — so there was not much of a question as to whether Henderson would suit up this year.
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Morning Five: 09.24.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 24th, 2013

morning5

  1. With the college basketball season getting closer by the day now is good time to start getting familiar with the new faces coming in. RTC’s own Chris Johnson with the help of Evan Daniels of Scout.com has a solid take on the ten biggest impact freshman this season. Most of these rankings have a tendency to regurgitate the recruiting rankings and while there is usually some truth to that the better ones (like what Chris produced) feature some players who did not necessarily at the very top of the recruiting rankings, but could play key roles on their teams and influence the college basketball season because of the situations that they are placed in.
  2. Few things inspire as much outrage as ranking programs and most of those rankings tend to be poorly thought out, but given Andy Glockner’s track record we are going to give him the benefit of the doubt. Over this week, he will unveil his top 20 programs (presumably in order since he isn’t Jeff Goodman), but yesterday he began with the honorable mentions. Most of the teams in the honorable mention seem like they would be worthy candidates of inclusion in the top 20 (particularly Marquette, Pittsburgh, and Xavier) although if you look at all of his criteria, which are not necessarily 100% based on on-court success, you can understand why those programs might fall out of his top 20. We will be interested to see how Glockner’s top 20 compares to one that we would be put together (as long as he doesn’t ruin this by doing a dumb slideshow).
  3. It appears that Connecticut and Tyler Olander have dodged a bullet  as prosecutors in Connecticut dropped a DUI charge against him after he pleaded guilty to driving without a license. Olander, who was charged with a DUI on September 7, failed field sobriety tests, but passed two breath tests after he was taken into custody. As The Courant notes, Olander claims that he was merely serving as a designated driver (presumably for someone more drunk than he was), but this was his second arrest in six month (the other was trespassing during Spring Break in Panama City, Florida). This second arrest led Kevin Ollie to suspending him indefinitely. It remains to be seen whether Ollie will let him back on the team, but given the lack of interior talent the Huskies have on the inside and the reduced charges we suspect that Olander will be back before the season starts.
  4. Mark Emmert’s statements yesterday that he expects “a lot of change” in NCAA governance structure during the upcoming year led to quite a bit of debate about what those changes will be. Having read plenty of articles like this over the years you will have to excuse us if we are waiting for something more substantial before we start singing the praises of the NCAA. And if you expect this “change” to be about the overall structure of college sports and how revenue is generated Emmert’s comments from last week (see our Morning Five reaction the following morning) should make clear that is not on the NCAA’s agenda at this time. Still we would support any more towards transparency by the NCAA. We are just waiting to finally see it.
  5. We are guessing that Mike Krzyzewski will not be a fan of the Missouri Valley Conference’s unique solution for Deontae Hawkins and his transfer dilemma. Hawkins initally signed with Wichita State, but failed to qualify academically so he went to prep school for a year before signing with Illinois State. This would be fine except the MVC has a rule prohibiting intra-conference transfers within two years of attending college classes. In the end, the MVC agreed to let Hawkins, who never actually went to classes at Wichita State, play for Illinois State in the 2014-15 season except when they play Wichita State. While we can appreciate the attempt to make Hawkins eligible to play earlier, the uneven application of the rules is part of what drives administrators, coaches, and fans crazy.
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APU Adds Another Layer to Movement for NCAA Reform

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 23rd, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

The tide of public opinion turned against the NCAA long ago. Most people – fans, coaches, news media, etc. – seem to agree the organization needs a modern update, if not wholesale change. There are detractors, to be sure, and different factions have different opinions about how the organization should govern college athletics, but the fundamental desire for change seems to be something close to a consensus. The sentiment has struck a sympathetic note with a larger portion of the public in recent years, as the inherent hypocrisy of a “nonprofit” governing body generating billions of dollars off the backs of unpaid amateurs has been rammed home time and again, with everybody from noted civil rights journalists to college basketball analysts piling on. Lost amidst the controversy is the opinion of the (revenue-producing) student-athletes’ themselves – the young men electing to forfeit basic economic rights and health care services and participate in leagues and tournaments administered by the NCAA. A score of former college athletes – including Ed O’Bannon, whose name you should probably be familiar with by now — have voiced their discontent, but active players have, with sporadic evidence to the contrary, looked on from the sidelines as the philosophical debate and subsequent lawsuit that will no doubt define the early 21st century of college sports swirls around them.

The desire for NCAA change has an emergent group of inside-the-lines supporters (Getty Images).

The desire for NCAA change has an emergent group of inside-the-lines supporters (Getty Images).

You began to wonder when student-athletes, an ironclad part of the purportedly broken enterprise of major college sports, would make a concerted and visual effort to protest the denial of rights so many outsiders believe the NCAA has wrongly maintained for so long. On Saturday, several college football players from different teams (including Georgia Tech starting quarterback Vad Lee and Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter) wore wristbands bearing the letters APU, denoting “All Players United,” a movement coordinated by the National College Players Association. At its core, APU is a protest lobbying for change within the NCAA, and features a list of goals (available on the NCPA’s website) it hopes to achieve, including better health care coverage for college athletes, using a share of the NCAA’s television revenue to secure “basic protections” and demonstrating support for the active athletes who joined the O’Bannon lawsuit as plaintiffs. The idea of players coming together to support NCAA reform is encouraging. For all the heat the NCAA has come under in recent months from various columnists and politicians, none of what we have seen to date comes close to the potential impact of actual players standing up against the organization. The platform does come off as sort of vague – demonstrating “unity” is important, and is sure to draw attention from the organization and outsiders alike, but focusing on one, specific goal (a cost-of-attendance stipend, perhaps) would seem a more reasonable agenda – but the fact athletes have not only come to terms with the fact the current system needs change, but articulated concrete measures they wish to implement is a big step toward a stronger and far more impactful form of revolt: refusal to participate.

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Morning Five: 09.23.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 23rd, 2013

morning5

  1. We usually do not pay attention to the announcements of recruits moving teams off their list, but Cliff Alexander‘s announcement that he was taking Kentucky off his list caught our eye. Alexander, the #2 overall recruit in ESPN’s rankings, claims that he took Kentucky off his list because they were no longer expressing interest in him. While it is possible that Kentucky might not be interested in the #2 overall recruit we have to wonder if Alexander’s expressed interest in being a package deal with Jaquan Lyle, the #22 recruit on ESPN’s list, may have been the driving force in Kentucky’s decision to stop pursuing Alexander. We wouldn’t feel too bad for Alexander as the list of schools–Kansas, Arizona, Memphis, and Connecticut–currently pursuing him and that are still high on his and Lyle’s list is pretty impressive, but the package deal may eventually turn a few others off.
  2. Indiana fans can rest a little easier after Robert Johnson committed to Indiana on Friday. Johnson, a 6’3″ guard from Richmond, choose Indiana over North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida State. The addition of a 4-star recruit might not seem like a big deal for a program the caliber of Indiana’s, but given the rough recruiting week the Hoosiers had just experienced (losing out on Isaiah Whitehead and having Ahmed Hill and Stephen Hurt take them off the list) the announcement was a big deal for the program especially when combined with some earlier decommitments by even more highly regarded prospects. The Hoosiers will still need to do some more work to make this year’s recruiting haul a success, but Johnson’s commitment should at least calm down the Indiana fan base.
  3. Even Travis Ford knows that Oklahoma State caught a break when Marcus Smart decided to return for his sophomore year instead of being a likely top-5 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, but even he cannot hope for a repeat occurrence next spring. So the announcement that Jeff Newberry would be committing to Oklahoma State is a big one for the program as he appears to be the successor to Smart at the position. Newberry, one of the most highly sought-after point guards in junior college, plans on entering Oklahoma State in time for the 2014-15 season after picking the program over Connecticut and Texas Tech. He originally committed to Ole Miss where he redshirted his freshman season before bouncing around junior colleges.
  4. The news that the medical staff at Wichita State had denied D.J. Bowles medical clearance should not be considered much of a surprise given the fact that he had an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator inserted on September 12 after collapsing during a team workout on September 3. To their credit, the school has already stated that they will be honoring his scholarship, which not every school would do. What is unknown is whether Bowles will attempt to go to another school and get clearance as Emmanuel Negedu did when he moved from Tennessee to New Mexico.
  5. Many members of the media latched onto Mike Krzyzewski’s statements to Dana O’Neil and focused on his statements against transfer waivers as an outright statement against student-athletes being able to transfer. What was largely ignored and what Gary Parrish decided to focus on was the second part of Krzyzewski’s statement that he would be ok with transfers being eligible immediately as long as everybody is treated equally. As Parrish points out letting the student-athletes transfer freely wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. We seem to let every other college student transfer freely without any penalty regardless of their scholarship situation (yes, schools do hand out academic scholarships too). Obviously there will be concerns about the system being abused, but it already is and the ones who are being punished are almost always the students. Would it really be that bad if a school got the short end of the stick once?
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