Jay Bilas and Mark Emmert: How About a Meeting of the Minds?

Posted by Chris Johnson on December 12th, 2013

The reputation Jay Bilas has developed over the years as one of the most vocal critics of the National Collegiate Athletic Association is well-earned. He frequently hammers away – via Twitter and otherwise – at president Mark Emmert and the controversial institution he presides over. Just last summer, Bilas highlighted the NCAA’s fundamental hypocrisy regarding its stance on player likenesses with his ShopNCAASports search bar revelation. Months before, in an extensive interview with Andy Glockner, Bilas opened fire on the NCAA in general, and Emmert in particular, calling the latter an “absentee president.” Those are just two examples. Scroll through Bilas’ tweets and you’ll find an endless supply of reasoned NCAA criticism (with plenty of rap lyrics sprinkled throughout; Young Jeezy even dropped Bilas’ name in a song). Most sports fans also know Bilas for his college basketball analysis, which – much like his frequent disparagement of the NCAA – is almost always, whether written or televised, very much on-point. If, in the preseason, you read Bilas’ “College Hoops Opus,” for instance, you’d feel so prepared for the upcoming campaign, you probably wouldn’t have spent any money on preview magazines.

Jay Bilas and Mark Emmert Traded Barbs Yesterday

Jay Bilas and Mark Emmert Traded Barbs Yesterday

As you no doubt already know, Bilas is a pretty smart guy, and he knows it, too. Which is why his latest squabble with Emmert was so predictable. Emmert was in New York Wednesday for the IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, where he fielded questions from reporters about various NCAA-related issues. Responding to a question about Bilas, Emmert said, “I appreciate how passionate he is about college sports. I don’t like the ad hominem [personal] attacks.” Emmert followed up. “I dare say I know more about running complex organizations than him and he knows more about basketball.” Naturally, Bilas retorted: Read the rest of this entry »

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NCAA Closes the Book on Miami Scandal as Frank Haith Skates

Posted by Matt Patton on October 23rd, 2013

Yesterday, over two years after Nevin Shapiro contacted the NCAA with allegations of wrongdoing throughout the athletic department, Miami finally got closure from the Committee on Infractions in a scathing 102-page report that confirmed nearly all of the substantive allegations from Charles Robinson’s initial report. More specifically, the NCAA found that Miami “lacked institutional control” in both overlooking Shapiro’s violations and actively covering them up after the fact.

Mark Emmert and the NCAA seemed bigger than life before handing down Miami's judgement. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Mark Emmert and the NCAA seemed bigger than life before handing down Miami’s judgement. (AP/LM Otero)

The most serious punishments were reserved for some of the coaches implicated – Frank Haith (“former head men’s basketball coach”), Jorge Fernandez (“former assistant men’s basketball coach B”), and two former assistant football coaches — each of whom received punishments ranging from  a five-game suspension for Haith (now at Missouri) to a two-year show-cause for Fernandez. The football team will lose three scholarships per year over the next three years, and the basketball team will lose one scholarship per year over the same time. All of this comes on top of the university’s self-imposed punishments, which were significant. But the penalties are a far cry from two years ago when Mark Emmert threw around the phrase “death penalty” with various major media outlets.

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Billy Donovan and Tom Izzo bring pay-for-play discussion to the forefront

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 18th, 2013

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

Never before has the topic of amateurism in college sports coursed so pervasively throughout the sports-watching community. It’s not just writers and intellectuals weighing in, but also fans and players, all of whom seem to believe the system is somehow unfair, or headed for change, or at the very least won’t survive the impending Ed O’Bannon lawsuit without some type of meaningful update. Coaches are sharing their thoughts too, and in the past week, two of college basketball’s most prominent head men have spoken up about the changing athletic climate revenue-producing Division I athletes inhabit today. Florida coach Billy Donovan understands the apparent paradox baked into amateurism’s core philosophy. When athletic departments are guzzling at the fire hose of football and television-related revenue, and student-athletes receive nothing more than the thousands covering their room, board and tuition, a disconnect is not only obvious for outsiders. It’s difficult to reconcile even for the student-athletes, who for years accepted college sports’ wage-fixing mechanism as an ironclad part of the collegiate athletic experience.

When coaches like Izzo and Donovan speak about macro issues like player compensation, everyone involved with college sports is more likely to take notice (AP Photo).

When coaches like Izzo and Donovan speak about macro issues like player compensation, everyone involved with college sports is more likely to take notice (AP Photo).

“There is a feel by a lot of families that here you have these huge athletic departments, you have arenas, stadiums filled up and these kids are told, you can’t go out and you can’t take a free meal, you can’t take anything,” Donovan said. “A lot of times for those kids, I think it’s very difficult to swallow that.”

That quote comes from The Gainesville Sun, who recorded Donovan’s words while he spoke at the Capital City Area Gator Club last week.

At a different public speaking event in Birmingham on Monday – note to high-profile college basketball coaches who have agreed to speak in a public forum, it’s best to assume every word coming our of your mouth will not only be recorded and transcribed, but disseminated across the Internet and published in tomorrow’s paper – Michigan State’s Tom Izzo gave his opinion on a more specific issue related to player compensation in college sports: the $2,000 stipend NCAA president Mark Emmert proposed, but failed to garner the amount of votes required for passage. “I think something should be done, but I think it should be done for the right reasons,” Izzo said. “I like the theory of some type of stipend and if they graduate it, they get it. I don’t want it to be where some of the local stores, like Best Buy, gives a kid more money.”

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Morning Five: 07.24.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 24th, 2013


  1. Tuesday was the day for the Louisville Cardinals to visit the White House to celebrate their 2013 national championship, and perhaps the very best part of the entire proceeding was the extremely lukewarm applause at the top that Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) received when introduced by the POTUS. Obama gave his standard spiel of light-hearted remarks during the 10-minute event, referencing how Rick Pitino’s motivational technique of promising to get a tattoo “busted” his bracket and avoiding mention of the “other” school where the head coach won his first of two national titles. Pitino, to his credit, exalted the president while hitting on the themes of loyalty and perseverance that have come to define his teams at Louisville — giving Obama a Louisville Slugger engraved with his name to handle any future disruptive press conferences. For a much more detailed description of the Cards’ visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, check out Eric Crawford’s report from WDRB.com; and The Dagger has some great pictures that the players and entourage took while there. The entire press conference is at the bottom of this post.
  2. While Barack Obama has certainly taken his share of sniping in accordance with his lofty geopolitical position, the NCAA’s Mark Emmert may have taken even more concentrated vitriol from a unilateral perspective  (at least the Democrats support Obama; few seem to like Emmert). “One misstep after another,” as one administrator in this ESPN.com piece from Mike Fish and Dana O’Neil describes his three-year tenure as president of the organization. The accusations against the NCAA boss are lengthy, including not only mishandling of both the Penn State and Miami (FL) investigations, but also a general misunderstanding of the desires of his membership and a combative, at best, relationship with the media. It’s a really interesting read about the travails of the organization under his direction, and points again to a burgeoning restlessness among everyone that the NCAA’s days as a serious player on the American sports scene are effectively numbered.
  3. One school that certainly has no love lost for Emmert is Connecticut, given that the NCAA banned the Huskies from last year’s postseason as a result of its low APR scores. But, as Adam Zagoria at Zagsblog writes, Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier are back in Storrs and ready to make up for a lost season with a major postseason run in 2013-14. Louisville has to be considered the favorite in the spanking-new AAC, but the Huskies are a very interesting second banana. Kevin Ollie returns most of his key pieces from a 20-10 (10-8 Big East) squad that will no doubt enter next season with a major chip on its shoulder. If the chips fall into place for Boatright and Napier next season, there may not be a better backcourt in America. Only time will tell.
  4. What’s good for Duke is good for Team USA? That seems to be the correlation, as SI.com‘s Ben Golliver relates that Mike Krzyzewski‘s original decision to retire as USA Basketball’s head coach was more about reaching another four-year milestone at Duke than it was about international hoops. Basically, Coach K asked himself at the end of the 2012 Olympics whether he felt that he’d still be coaching at Duke in 2016, and at the time, he wasn’t sure of the answer. Since he believes that Team USA’s head coach should be actively involved in the sport — as he put it, “on the firing line” — he thought it would be best to give up the gig. USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo may have sensed Krzyzewski’s eventual 180, as he kept the job in waiting until Coach K decided last spring to return (stating that he is “sure he’s going to coach for a while.”). Given K’s 62-1 record and uncanny ability to get multi-millionaires to play team basketball for the USA jersey, this is a great, great thing.
  5. In our sport, summer is the time for testing out new things and the statistical wizardry over at KenPom is no exception. Yesterday the vaunted statistician announced a new metric to his suite of team data points yesterday: average possession length (APL).  As always with KenPom, the beauty of this new metric lies in the detail. Tempo is a measure that tracks efficiency, but APL simply tracks how long you are either holding the basketball each possession, or defending the basketball each possession. The 2013 listing is here (subscription required), but as Pomeroy notes, the correlation is already clear in viewing the last four years of data. Great defenses tend to correlate well with high defensive APLs — it’s harder for an offense to find a good shot — which begs the question whether faster-paced offensive coaches may be incentivized to slow things down to make their teams better overall. An interesting intellectual exercise, no doubt.

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If You’re Into Cheating, the NCAA Will Have Trouble Stopping You

Posted by Chris Johnson on June 17th, 2013

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

Most present-day criticisms of the NCAA nitpick its ethical and moral standards. They excoriate a system where athletes hand over the rights to their likenesses and athletic talents, yet are deprived of a slice of revenue those talents generate. They berate a byzantine rulebook filled with inane bylaws and regulations. They attack “amateurism” from every rhetorical angle. The verbal takedowns have hit a fever pitch in recent years as the NCAA’s handling of various high-profile impermissible benefits has provided convenient ammunition for fire-breathing columnists and national commentators. As long as amateurism is upheld as the foundational pillar of NCAA enforcement, and athletes remain removed from any monetary benefits on top of what’s offered in one-year renewable grant-in aid scholarships, the organization will be forced to tolerate a bombardment of scrutiny with no recourse to shift the public discourse away from its doggedly indignant mindset.

Losing a high-ranking enforcement official like Newman Baker is a continuation of a scary trend within the NCAA's enforcement wing (Getty).

Losing a high-ranking enforcement official like Newman Baker is a continuation of a scary trend within the NCAA’s enforcement wing (Getty).

Lamenting the NCAA, the institution, has and will continue to be a prominent feature of American sports media. Now there’s a new dimension to attack, and it goes deeper than flawed ideals or morally corrupt philosophies or anything about the NCAA’s actual legislative structure. These days, the NCAA has far bigger concerns than angry middle-aged sportswriters railing on amateurism, because before long, it may not have enough staff members to maintain amateurism’s grip on college athletics in the first place. Yahoo!’s Pat Forde delved into the deteriorating culture inside the organization a couple weeks ago – how over the past 18 months, the NCAA has seen some of its top investigators pack up and leave for compliance positions at various universities. The end result, as Forde writes, is an environment where athletes, coaches, boosters, agents and whoever else might be inclined to step outside amateurism’s restrictive boundaries are encouraged to go right ahead and do their worst. They can, in other words, break rules without bearing a passing concern for the consequences on the other end. The coast is clear. The people that prop up amateurism, and wield the power to cripple athletic programs with scholarship reductions and postseason bans, are quickly leaving the premises. Moving on. Fleeing the scene before the bottom drops out.

This is a problem.

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Could the NCAA Be On the Verge of Creating a Fourth Subdivision?

Posted by Chris Johnson on June 3rd, 2013

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

Imagine trying to lump wildly financially disparate athletic programs with different issues and different monetary imperatives under one legislative agenda. Imagine trying to hold that infrastructure together with vague terminology and philosophical principles and vexingly byzantine legalese. Imagine that organization asking an enforcement staff that can’t even police itself to make sure everything runs smoothly – no questions asked, no willingness to adjust. Imagine a near-universally loathed ruling figurehead, whose tenure has been besieged by near-constant turmoil on college campuses, wielding unseen legislative power, refusing to cooperate with influential school athletic directors, eroding public trust every step of the way, and doing it all while publicly casting himself as some enduringly unimpeachable monarch – untouchable, unimpressionable and, most recently, resentfully bitter to any and all external questioning or proposals for change.

A fourth subdivision could help eliminate some of the NCAA's more intractable financial inefficiencies (US Presswire).

Promoting discussion for a move towards a fourth subdivision allows schools with bigger budgets the possibility to change the NCAA’s separation of powers (US Presswire).

The public approval rating of NCAA president Mark Emmert, were there such a measure for the organization’s embattled leader, would not inspire confidence for election day. The rightful scorn and growingly pervasive critiques can’t be (or shouldn’t be) shoved on Emmert’s doorstep; his actions are merely a particularly irksome embodiment of the entire NCAA’s morally and ethically dubious ruling construct. Either way, his spot isn’t up for contestation, so Emmert doesn’t have to worry – even as swaths of media call for his resignation and athletic directors lose confidence in his ability to navigate the NCAA’s hazardous future. Emmert isn’t completely blind to the boiling discontent within his membership, and at the Big 12 meetings in Irving, Texas, last week, he made an important concession that shows he’s open to the concept of realigning the power structure to accommodate more-monied (and thus more powerful) programs.

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Inconsistent Implementation of Multiyear Scholarships Provides More Ammunition for NCAA Hardliners

Posted by Chris Johnson on April 22nd, 2013

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

The chorus of vitriol aimed at the NCAA will grow louder and louder over the next few months as college sports prepares for the landmark court case that could completely uproot its economic model. Well-reasoned critiques of the organization’s various hot debate points — the amateurism model, NCAA executives’ inflated salaries, the growing broad-scale realization that student-athletes aren’t entitled to the smallest slice of the massive TV revenue pie generated by broadcasts of their athletic competitions across as many television sets as humanly possible, president Mark Emmert – have become synonymous with any discussion of the NCAA, period. Enunciate the four-letter acronym, and be prepared for a deluge of denunciatory comments and generalized screeds about “exploitation” or “uncompensated labor” or, in its most extreme form, “slavery.” I have heard them all, and at this point, I’m ready to table the amateurism discussion for a while. If you’re looking for the next big date on the NCAA calendar, that’s June 20 – when the Ed O’Bannon group will file for class certification and potentially place the NCAA in extremely hot waters, with the very real possibility of inducing a settlement that could lead to direct concessions on the amateurism model everyone loves to hate.

Multi-year scholarships have been applied languidly  across Division I athletics (AP Photo).

Multi-year scholarships have been applied languidly across Division I athletics (AP Photo).

In the interim, there’s another NCAA-related topic that deserves your attention. When the NCAA passed a motion last year to allow Division I institutions the option of offering multiyear scholarships, one of the most frequently cited items on Emmert’s personally touted reform agenda, approval came and went without anyone paying much mind to one important fact: more than half of the 300 + Division I institutions voting on the matter flatly turned it down. According to the NCAA, who received ballots from 90 percent of Division I schools, the 62.12 percent voting against the measure fell just short of the required 65 percent disapproval rate. If the message wasn’t clear then, it certainly is now: most programs were never in favor of offering multiyear grants-in-aid, and the latest accounting on the matter reaffirms that premise in excellent detail. Thanks to some excellent reporting from Brad Wolverton and Joshua Newman of the Chronicle, the statistical realities of multiyear scholarship offerings have been laid bare for all NCAA-critics to supplement their typical dose of amateurism-related harangues with a new topic entirely. To the surprise of almost no one, the results plainly confirm the mixed opinions at the voting table last year.

Nearly two-thirds of the 56 most powerful Division I public universities now offer multiyear awards, according to a Chronicle review of public records. Yet few of those institutions do so for more than a handful of athletes.

It’s important to recognize one hugely important stipulation right off the bat: Emmert and his board of directors pushed this legislation through without any sort of sanction-backed enforcement clause. Schools are merely encouraged, not legislatively mandated, to offer multiyear grants-in-aid. As Wolverton and Newman note, there are select schools beginning to adopt the idea across select sports, and a few – such as Fresno State, which “handed out 425 multiyear awards this year”, one for every scholarship athlete – that have embraced the concept across all categories of Division I student athlete involvement: female, male, revenue-producing, and non-revenue producing. What you might be surprised to learn is the motivation behind using these recently-approved packages is far more nefarious than originally intended.

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Morning Five: 04.05.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 5th, 2013


  1. If you need a timeline for how the whole Mike Rice fiasco went down Don Van Natta Jr. has a excellent story on it and honestly every side of it seems dirty. In addition to the allegation that Eric Murdoch demanded nearly $1 million–nearly 14 times his annual salary–for his termination after missing a camp hosted by Rice the article also points out that Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti was likely working out the details on Rutgers move to the Big Ten when the video evidence came across his desk, which probably played a role in his light punishment of Rice at the time. We are sure that more heads will roll as this story unfolds with the most recent one being assistant coach Jimmy Martelli–son of St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli, who had his own off-court issues with a former player (see the Todd O’Brien saga)–who resigned for what has been described as similar behavior. Finally, as if you needed any more reason to shake your head at how Rutgers handled this situation Rice will receive a $100,000 parting gift/bonus for having completed the 2012-13 season, which he would not have received if he had been fired when the Pernetti first saw the now infamous tape.
  2. We are not quite sure what to make of Mark Emmert‘s bizarre press conference yesterday ["full" edited transcript here] other that perhaps he was trying to show everybody that incompetence and egoism is not just limited to the administrations of the member institutions, but is also present within their governing body. At this point we do not understand the motivation for the NCAA to keep someone who has presided over repeated failures to even finish what should have been easy cases and managed to act so rashly that many people feel that they were too hard on a school that covered up years of ongoing pedophilia. Replacing Emmert will not fix all of the NCAA’s problems, but it would be a nice place to start.
  3. It took the Pac-12 a little longer than Rutgers to come to its senses after being publicly outed, but Pac-12 Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officiating Ed Rush resigned yesterday in response to reports that he offered gifts to officials if they would give Arizona coach Sean Miller a technical foul in a game that they did call a questionable technical foul (Miller’s only one of the season) that may have changed the outcome of the game. As we pointed out earlier in the week there was no way that Rush could keep his job and his resignation is nothing more than the conference offering him a way to save face. The problem for the conference is that this will remain an issue as fans, coaches, and players will continue to believe that some officials have a personal vendetta against them and now they have some evidence that it does happen.
  4. This weekend when the announcers try to sell you on some heartwarming story about a family having to pay their way to watch their son play in the Final Four you can soak it up, but remember that it might not be true. Since 1999 the NCAA has had a Division I Student Assistance Fund that allows schools to “assist student-athletes with special financial needs” that are supposed to be academic, but can also be used for clothing and last year Ohio State and Kentucky used it to help bring the families of players to the Final Four. During the 2010-11 academic/athletic year, the NCAA reports that it paid out $66.1 million. As the article points out these funds have been used for a variety of sometimes strange things, but perhaps the more surprising thing is that many families do not know about it and many schools do not use it to help out the families and players (ok, maybe the last part is not that surprising).
  5. Even if you are not a fan of advanced metrics you should be able to appreciate Shane Ryan’s in-depth piece analyzing how many key stats were created and the story behind the individuals who helped create them. Before we read this piece we had no idea how the fragmented recording statistics had been as recently as the Wooden era and should raise questions about any stats that you hear about that predate “The World’s Greatest Stats Crew”. We also wonder if there was nearly as much opposition to the way that they recorded statistics as we see from today’s old guard towards new advanced metrics.
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Morning Five: Halloween Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 31st, 2012

  1. Today is the last day of the 10th month of the year, so that means it’s time to dust off your Mike Krzyzewski wig, grab your Jim Boeheim spectacles, and throw on your Bob Huggins track suit to head out into the sinister world of All Hallows’ Eve for tricks and treats. It also means, quite obviously, that tomorrow — the , not nearly as fun All Saint’s Day — is the first day of November, and that month is when we finally stop messing around and get down to the business of for-real college basketball again. Exhibition games and secret scrimmages are coming fast and furious right now, with Opening Night (live from Germany?) only nine days away now.
  2. Here’s a treat for your Halloween morn. For anyone who considers himself a student of the game-behind-the-game world of advanced metrics, Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday released his preseason rankings of all 347 Division I basketball teams. Much like Dan Hanner’s efficiency-driven rankings that we discussed in this space yesterday, Pomeroy throws some combination of returning talent plus incoming talent into the sausage maker to determine what comes out the other end (he explains his methodology here). He quite clearly states that he recognizes the weaknesses in his system at this point of the year, so he also wrote an article explaining the various outliers — teams that might appear too high (Kentucky, Ohio State, Wisconsin, etc.) or too low (NC State, Maryland, etc.) — in his initial rankings. Perhaps the biggest outlier left unexplained in the piece is Lousville — #8 in Pomeroy but #1 or #2 in most other human polls — it’s clear that his model isn’t ready to entrust the Cardinal offense with such rarefied status just yet (he ranks it #34 nationally in offensive efficiency).
  3. While on the subject of the Cards, how about some news about college basketball’s ultimate coaching trickster, Rick Pitino? The Louisville head coach has hinted at retirement for a number of years before backing off of that sentiment recently, but news Tuesday revealed that Pitino has agreed to a five-year contract extension that will ostensibly keep him on the sidelines of the school through the 2021-22 season. Can you imagine that the wandering-eye coach whom none other than Sports Illustrated once called ‘itinerant’ because of his frequent career moves is not only entering his 11th full season in the River City, but could potentially stay there for another nine years after that? In our mind’s eye, we’ll always associate Pitino as the Boy Wonder who resurrected Kentucky from the depths of probation, but he was only in Lexington for eight seasons before alighting to the riches of the NBA. It says here that Pitino will not rest until he gets another national title so that he can permanently disassociate from his rivals down the road in Lexington — this extension gives him at least 10 more shots at it.
  4. Here’s a treat to fans everywhere tired of the seemingly endless cat-and-mouse game between coaches performing illicit activities and the NCAA’s attempts to catch them. On Tuesday, despite hell or high water, one of Mark Emmert’s key initiatives was unanimously passed by the NCAA Board of Directors — the sweeping changes to the NCAA’s enforcement and punishment structure that will go into effect on August 1, 2013, are designed to hit programs and coaches directly where it hurts — by hurting their prestige and their bank accounts. Details are too numerous to list here, but the essential premise to the changes mimics a captain-of-the-ship liability theory. A head coach will be presumed to know (or should know) what’s going on in his program, and simply sticking his head in the sand and only popping up for practices and media appearances will not be enough to protect his skin or that of his program if illicit activity (boosters, impermissible benefits, academic fraud, etc.) is happening. On paper, this sounds great — but coaches will find the gray areas and the loopholes in short order, so strong enforcement techniques are absolutely essential to this initiative’s long-term success.
  5. Finally, let’s end the month with everyone’s favorite college basketball bogeyman. We mentioned a while back that Duke has implemented iPads into its practice and training protocols by loading up playbooks, scouting report information, video footage, and a number of other relevant items on each player’s device. The school on Tuesday announced that it had taken the next step in its data automation by contracting with a company that will provide each player with his individual PER (player efficiency rating) score immediately after each practice and game. Why does this matter? Well, one of the basic tenets of active learning is to provide immediate and direct feedback in real-time — while coaches can see a lot of things, they’re going to still miss quite a bit as 10 active bodies fly around the court. This mechanism, if it works as anticipated, will allow players to know precisely the areas where they did or did not excel immediately after leaving the court. Over time, the argument goes, their efficiency should improve, which begs the question for Pomeroy and Hanner, is there a bias for schools trying to teach for the so-called test? Good grief, Charlie Brown. Happy Halloween, everyone.
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Surprisingly Low Graduation Rate Mars SEC Basketball Powerhouse

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 26th, 2012

Men’s basketball graduation rates for Division I athletes are on the rise, according to the most recent report from the NCAA. Nearly three-quarters of men’s basketball players in the last reported age cohort obtained a college degree, an increase of six percent from last year. However, not all men’s basketball programs are making the grade. Of late, the SEC’s very own national championship Kentucky program has been criticized for its lack of (apparent) commitment to the academic side of the student-athlete, but it was another SEC basketball powerhouse that limped in on the NCAA’s 2011-12 report with a staggering graduation rate of 17 percent.

The Florida Gators achieved an abysmal graduation rate in the latest report by the NCAA.

Florida coach Billy Donovan discussed a variety of topics during yesterday’s SEC Media days, but success in the classroom was not 0ne of them. Maybe it should have been. Donovan was critical of the Kentucky All-Access show aired by ESPN beginning last week, claiming that he “wouldn’t want the disruption” for his student-athletes.  “I want our guys to focus on being normal college students,” the Gator coach stated. “But at the same point, maybe it’s good exposure for those guys. Maybe it’s exposure that will help them later in life. But I would be sensitive to that.”

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SEC M5: 10.24.12 Edition

Posted by DPerry on October 24th, 2012

  1. CBSSports.com released their Top 50 Big Men rankings on Tuesday, and the SEC is well-represented. Starting with Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel at #3 and ending with a guy who will spot for him in the post (Kyle Wiltjer at #44), the conference boasts 10 of the 50 honorees. There are a lot of question marks around the league’s representatives (youth, health), but with quality frontcourt competition representing on a game-by-game basis, the SEC should be well prepared for physical postseason basketball next March.
  2. One of those quality frontcourts resides in Knoxville, where Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon are the stars at Tennessee. However, the options coming off Cuonzo Martin’s bench are impressive as well. One player primed for a breakout, according to Blue Ribbon editor and Nooga.com’s Chris Dortch, is Yemi Makanjuola. “My goal is to take charges, rebound, block shots, and the team wins, I will do that every day,” says the Lagos, Nigeria native. “Until I can’t walk anymore.” He isn’t the most important Volunteer this season, but that type of attitude is exactly what any team wants to see in a role player.
  3. How does Mark Emmert feel about the one-and-done culture of college basketball? On Monday, the NCAA president wasn’t in the mood to mince words. “I dislike it enormously,” Emmert told an audience at Wright State’s basketball tip-off luncheon. The statement wasn’t specifically about Kentucky, but it’s not a stretch to think that coach John Calipari’s program is what Emmert had in mind. With fallout from the Penn State football sanctions and the New Jersey sports gambling lawsuit going strong, the NCAA has a full plate at the moment. Will more programs commit fully to the one-and-done model before the NCAA has a chance to initiate some reform?
  4. Mississippi State takes on #1 Alabama in a match-up of unbeaten teams this Saturday night, but the gridiron contest isn’t the only show in town. Crimson Tide basketball is hoping to take advantage of the raucous football crowd by hosting an open scrimmage at Coleman Coliseum at 3 PM that afternoon. Will many Alabama fans be willing to skip out on their prime tailgating hours for a peek at star freshman Devonta Pollard? Even with the prospect of unlimited player autographs, we can’t see it happening.
  5. What do Roy Hibbert, My Little Pony, and Georgia basketball all have in common? They’ve all hopped on the “Gangnam Style” parody bandwagon. The Bulldogs and Lady Dawgs joined the school mascots (one of which looks like he belongs here) to try their hand at re-creating the Korean viral sensation. Judging by his energetic performance, we think it’s safe to assume that freshman guard Kenny Gaines is in for a big year.
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Morning Five: 10.23.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 23rd, 2012

  1. The SEC media on Monday released its preseason selections for the upcoming season and with the exception of some carpetbagging school called “Missouri” on this year’s list, it looks an awful lot like last year’s list. Kentucky came in as the choice for first place in the 2012-13 version of the SEC race with 17 first-place ballots, with Florida (five), Missouri (one) and Tennessee (one) following up the Wildcats. It appears that not much is expected from South Carolina (#11) or Mississippi State (#12) this season, which gives Frank Martin and Rick Ray an opportunity to immediately exceed expectations if they can put together some conference wins. Missouri’s Phil Pressey was chosen as the preseason SEC POY, another interesting choice given that he was a third-team selection in the Big 12 last year — clearly many pundits are predicting big things for the dynamic waterbug guard this season. Pressey was joined on the first team by Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, Arkansas’ BJ Young, Florida’s Kenny Boynton, and Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes.
  2. While on the subject of making preseason lists of elite players, CBSSports‘ Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman released their combined ballot for their top 50 Wooden Award candidates (which by rule cannot include transfers or freshmen). Forty-two players showed up on both of their lists, but the devil is always in the details, and where the pair differ is far more interesting and open for debate. Which writer left Ohio’s DJ Cooper off his list? Or Allen Crabbe? Or Elias Harris? The one thing missing here is the why/why not — we wish that the pair had taken the time to explain their differences, even if was only with a sentence or two at the end.
  3. NCAA president Mark Emmert gave a talk at Wright State University on Monday, and The Sporting News‘ Mike DeCourcy was there to report on the proceedings. In response to a question about the highly controversial NBA one-and-done rule, Emmert stuck to his previous position on the matter by stating that he “dislikes it enormously” and finds it “anathema to the collegiate model of academics.” When pressed for additional information afterward, Emmert appears to have once again punted to the NBA, stating only that he’s had “conversations” with the league and its players’ union about changing the rule. While we certainly recognize that Emmert has no authority over the NBA whatsoever, we’d like to see him take a more forceful stance on the issue that would satisfy fans and coaches alike. If the NBA refuses to cooperate in pursuit of its own self-interest, then Emmert should begin saber-rattling likewise — he has more leverage here than he’d like to admit if he’d only recognize it.
  4. With all the bad news coming out of the UCLA program recently — the ongoing sagas involving the eligibility of star recruits Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson and recent injuries to David Wear and Tyler Lamb — it was somewhat shocking to read this sunnier-than-SoCal headline from the LA Times on Monday:  UCLA basketball seems to be entering a bright new era. Mmmkay. Granted, the piece by Bill Dwyre focuses more on the long-term prospects of the Bruins program with a renovated Pauley Pavilion and a gleaming new statue of the Wizard of Westwood outside, but other than a brief mention of the NCAA’s investigation into the two freshmen, it more or less glosses over the fact that the program from the outside appears to be tottering. Maybe when Dwyre is walking around the tree-lined campus it’s easier to get lost in the Wooden mystique, but several things — not of all which are completely under Ben Howland’s control — need to come together for this program to get back on its blue-blooded track this season. It remains to be seen whether the planets and stars will indeed align.
  5. Finally, Luke Winn gets historical with us in his latest column where he enters the wayback machine and finds a slim but sturdy Shaquille O’Neal facing off in an “epic” battle between LSU and the running and gunning Loyola Marymount Paul Westheads some 22 years ago. The theme of his piece is that last season’s scoring across all of college basketball was the lowest it has ever been in the shot clock era (including when it a 45-second clock was in effect in the late ’80s and early ’90s). What was defined as uptempo two decades ago would look like a different game today — even then, nobody ran the ball like LMU, but teams regularly hit 80 possessions per game, whereas nowadays most teams never see the north side of 70 per game. There are a number of reasons for this trend, of course, but we’ll save that for the book that we’ll write someday — for now, just get over there and check out the data and a superb highlight clip of a young Shaq destroying everything in his path on the way to a 148-141 victory (you read that correctly).
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