Deconstructing the NCAA’s New Penalty Structure

Posted by rtmsf on August 3rd, 2012

Christopher Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

After meting out unprecedented sanctions just over a week ago against Penn State’s football program in response to the Jerry Sandusky child sexual molestation scandal and alleged cover-up of high ranking officials within the program, it appears the NCAA is leading a charge to ramp up the severity of future penalties in keeping with the precedent established in this watershed case. NCAA leaders reached a consensus Thursday on a new proposal endorsing a revised four-tier penalty structure that includes many of the same punitive measures handed down last week against the Nittany Lions, including hefty fines, up to four years’ postseason ban, and suspensions for head coaches. Far more significant is the radical shift in both the process used to interpret violations and the culpability of coaches in either concealing or enabling forbidden activity. Under the new punishment structure — which is expected to be voted into approval at the Board of Directors’ Meeting in October — coaches will be held accountable for any violations committed by members of their staffs, with suspensions awaiting any coach unable to prove innocence in any wrongdoing.

Mark Emmert Seems Serious About Punitive Sanctions, But Will They Stick?

The new guidelines also call for increasing the size of the infractions committee from 10 to 24 members, a modification designed to streamline the enforcement process, which has been widely denounced in recent years for its lumbering proceedings. In the wake of the most heinous and unconscionable scandal in the history of intercollegiate athletics, these changes provide a measure of legitimacy to the NCAA’s handling of the Penn State scandal and pushback for those who criticized the organization for their misplaced priorities throughout the enforcement process. Many chided NCAA president Mark Emmert for overstepping his bounds in bypassing the infractions committee and fast tracking the harsh punitive measures, fearing he was setting a dangerous precedent with the breadth and severity of the sanctions along with the hasty and unprecedented procedure used to deliver those penalties. By legislating a speedier decision in implementing a harsher punitive scale for violations, the new guidelines represent a step forward in support of Emmert’s recent actions. That NCAA leaders were overwhelmingly supportive of similar measures disputes the notion that Emmert operated without the consent and backing of organization members.

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Morning Five: 06.08.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 8th, 2012

  1. ESPN.com released its list of the top 10 coaching jobs in college basketball yesterday. This article was a capstone piece to a week’s worth of solid analysis evaluating the best-to-worst coaching jobs in each of the six power conferences, and the overall best/worst mid-major positions as well. Just over a year ago we did a similar analysis here at RTC, ranking the top 20 coaching jobs at the time, using the general criteria of attractiveness of the position to potential suitors. This is a bit of a flash point to many fans of top programs who generally go through life with the attitude of ‘what’s not to like?’ without considering that choosing among the elite schools is a bit like dating Miss America candidates. To paraphrase a line from Garrison Keillor, everyone is above average — the differences are really at the margins. With that said, we believe that ESPN is seriously underrating Duke in terms of its job attractiveness. We understand the point about Coach K as the heart and soul of the program, but that doesn’t make the job any less enticing. What K has built there over three decades is a brand synonymous with elite college basketball — this indisputable fact alone makes the job better than the sixth best in the country. At worst, Duke should be listed as third behind Kentucky and North Carolina; but behind Indiana? Now, that’s just silly.
  2. Earlier this week we learned that Mark Madsen is headed back to the college basketball world to join Johnny Dawkins’ staff as a new assistant coach at Stanford. Mad Dog led the Cardinal to its last Final Four in 1998, and won two NBA titles as a benchwarmer with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2001 and 2002. The Dagger‘s Jeff Eisenberg caught up with Madsen on Wednesday and published this entertaining interview that discusses such disparate topics as his world championship dance moves, recruiting, and the Zen Master, Phil Jackson.
  3. Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes was one of the best surprises of the 2011-12 conference season, quite literally walking from high school on to the Volunteers’ roster at midseason and immediately becoming the team’s best player in a matter of weeks. This week, he and 22 of his fellow 18-and-under friends are competing for 12 spots on the Team USA Under-18 national team, and his experience of playing in a major collegiate environment for half a season gives him a distinct advantage over the others (all of whom are either still in high school or just graduating). Mike DeCourcy writes that the powerful young player is clearly a “star in the making” for Tennessee, and the additional experience he gains this summer will no doubt give him even more of a leg up on the rest of his contemporaries who have never seen the speed of high D-I basketball.
  4. Luke Winn had better step away from the excel spreadsheets for a while to get ready for the London Olympics next month, because when he starts writing columns about the Herfindahl Index (HHI) to explain trends in college basketball, we know that he’s gone certifiable. It’s certainly not that it doesn’t make any sense — it certainly does — it’s just that we’re worried about the guy. Regardless of his mental health, the HHI is a business analytical tool that typically measures market share concentration, but Winn uses it in his latest column to study offensive balance among national championship teams over the last 16 seasons. Perhaps the most interesting finding from his analysis was that the two Kentucky champions covered in this period (1998 and 2012) also happened to be the most balanced teams of the era — a quirky truth separated by 14 years, a couple of coaches, and quite a bit of talent and experience. Interesting post.
  5. Is NCAA head honcho Mark Emmert on the way out? Sports by Brooks reported on Thursday that it had information on good authority that Emmert was in discussions with LSU (where he served as their chancellor a decade ago) to become a combined president/chancellor with considerable power and prestige under the new position. Emmert, through a spokesman, called the report “complete nonsense,” but it brings up an interesting thought that the pull to become a president of a major state university could be considered a step up from the presidency of the NCAA. We have to admit some ignorance on this point, but LSU isn’t Michigan, and we would think that as president of an organization with a billion dollar budget the likes of the NCAA would be a better gig than whatever Baton Rouge might offer, but maybe we’re just admittedly out of touch on this point. It’ll be interesting to see regardless of whether there’s any fire with this smoke.
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Morning Five: 04.24.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 24th, 2012

  1. The news of the day on Monday was without question the surprising firing of Virginia Tech’s Seth Greenberg. Our ACC Microsite covered the news yesterday, ultimately coming down on the side of this being a very dangerous move for the Hokie program, and we can’t say that we disagree. If this move were made a month ago, Virginia Tech may have been in a stronger position to make a run at a John Groce, Frank Martin, Trent Johnson, or even (gulp) Larry Brown. By pulling the trigger on Greenberg now, Athletic Director Jim Weaver has put himself in a position where a home run hire is just short of impossible — the objective now must be to not completely soil the bed with the next choice. Dana O’Neil writes that Weaver’s resolve broke when yet another Greenberg assistant, James Johnson, became the sixth to leave the staff in the last four years.
  2. One of the top unsigned players remaining in the Class of 2012, Tony Parker, a 6’9″ forward from Lithonia, Georgia, announced that he will join UCLA’s star-studded class in Westwood next season. Parker joins top five prospects Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson along with top 75 player Jordan Adams to form the nucleus of a group that will ultimately decide head coach Ben Howland’s fate as a Bruin. Recall that it was Howland’s top-rated Class of 2008 — full of transfers, headaches, and bad decision theater — that laid the groundwork for the disappointing string of seasons from 2009-12 after a run of three straight Final Four appearances. With a massive front line returning along with transfer Larry Drew and this incoming crew of elite prospects, expectations will be sky high in the a renovated Pauley Pavilion next season.
  3. Remember when Kentucky’s Terrence Jones went wide receiver on a long pass against Louisville in the Final Four, resulting in his plowing through a tiny Cardinal cheerleader in the end zone? After the UK victory, Jones went on record saying that he would find the girl later and bring her some flowers to apologize for the mishap. Showing his gentlemanly side, Jones on Monday kept to his word in bringing a bouquet of flowers to the young miss, Jerica Logue, and you can see their immediate interaction in this photograph taken by WHAS-11′s Maggie Ruper. We’ve noted this sort of strange bedfellows thing before on this site, but Kentucky and Louisville fans are sure making it hard to buy their bitterest rivalry meme when we keep seeing examples of class, mutual respect and decorum from both sides.
  4. It’s not every day you’ll read a college basketball column referencing the Stephen Sondheim Theater in New York City in addition to student-athletes and the 1-and-done rule, but Mike DeCourcy shows his range by doing just that in this piece examining NCAA president Mark Emmert‘s lack of clarity on the issue. Of course, we’ve grown long in the tooth arguing that Emmert and others who think eliminating 1-and-done is better for college basketball in the long run simply don’t see the big picture. It’s a bit disconcerting that, as DeCourcy points out, Emmert’s message has proven not only incapable of staying on point — what does he really believe? — but the hype and hysteria surrounding what amounts to a small handful of players leaving after one year each season shows that facts aren’t all that important to those decrying the rule. Everybody knows that 1-and-done is not an ideal situation for anyone involved — the players, coaches, programs, and the NBA — but if it’s the necessary rest stop on the way to a two-year rule that will satisfy both Emmert and the NBA Player’s Association (who is currently holding up the deal), we’ll take it.
  5. To close things out today, we’re a little less than a week from the official NBA Draft early entry deadline (April 29), so we won’t know the final list until then, but that didn’t stop Dick Vitale from dropping his latest Top 40 for the 2012-13 season. RTC will release its post-deadline Top 25 next Monday, but it says here that Louisville, Kentucky and NC State are overrated, while Michigan, Baylor and UCLA are underrated.
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Enough Confusion, NCAA Looks to Trim Down Rulebook

Posted by EJacoby on February 17th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. 

What is and what isn’t against the NCAA law these days? The line between a ‘good deed’ and a ‘violation’ has become so thin that not even the original lawmakers are able to easily distinguish the difference. And coaches in fierce competition for recruits? Forget about it. There are so many minor rules about extensive contact that it is impossible to police every one of them. That’s why the NCAA is finally working to create a slimmer and more efficient rulebook to make it easier for all parties to follow the rules. We certainly love the thought of trimming down the book, but it will not be an easy task.

The NCAA Rulebook is Far Too Complex to Consistently Enforce

“It’s very complicated to take a 400-plus-page rule book and shrink it down to something sensible, but we’re going to do it,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert last month. The most meaningful idea changes being discussed include making all transfers eligible to play immediately during the next semester rather than having to sit out a full year at their new school. The transfer rule has been noted as unfair for players, considering that coaches are allowed to bolt from school to school whenever they see more money or a better opportunity, but student-athletes need a waiver signed by the school and are required to sit out a full year before they can even join a new team. Another idea being discussed is to allow coaches to talk publicly about unsigned recruits since Twitter and other social media have made it so difficult to track everything being mentioned publicly. It’s unclear if public discussion would even have an influence on recruits’ decisions.

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Morning Five: 11.04.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 4th, 2011

  1. The biggest news of Thursday related to a player who is still a year away from actual collegiate game action. Mitch McGary, a 6’10″ power forward who has been desscribed as “Tyler Hansbrough on Red Bull,” committed to Michigan on Thursday. RSCI has him rated as the #3 overall prospect in the Class of 2012, and his range is between #2 and #5, so it’s not like there’s much disagreement on the ridiculous talent of this guy. An Indiana native, he’s certainly someone that not only his other two finalists — Duke and Florida — would have liked to have nailed down, but the fact that John Beilein’s Michigan program was capable of invading Hoosier territory to grab an elite talent like McGary is demonstrative. IU won’t be truly ‘back’ until prep players like McGary are theirs to lose, and at least one national writer is sold on UM as a program on the verge of greatness again.
  2. Tough news on Thursday from Virginia Tech, as hard-luck case JT Thompson reportedly tore his ACL for a second time in two seasons this week. Granted, last year it was his right ACL and this year it was his left, but the point remains the same: Instead of a comeback recovery season for Thompson as a fifth-year senior, he’s faced with another long year of rehabilitation and recovery as we head into the season. Thompson’s injury doesn’t necessarily put the Hokies into a precarious position with respect to the bubble, but as usual for the team from Blacksburg, it doesn’t help either. Then again, it wouldn’t be a Seth Greenberg team unless it was 18-12 and sitting on the bubble on Selection Sunday, so although we wish Thompson all the best on his recovery, we can’t say that we’re surprised.
  3. One week after announcing an optional initiative that will allow major conferences an opportunity to provide $2,000 per student-athlete to ‘fill the gap’ between the cost of a full scholarship and its incidentals, NCAA president Mark Emmert was quick to say on Thursday that such a stipend was not “pay for play.” No matter where you fall on this issue, we think that everyone can agree that opening up this Pandora’s box is equitable in name only — the power conferences are those who ultimately stand to benefit. Imagine if everyone in America were offered a fantastic deal of a brand new Maserati well below list price of only $50,000! Well… you see the point.
  4. Speaking of Emmert’s organization, it wouldn’t be the NCAA without preseason suspensions and Mississippi State is once again on the wrong end of a major delay in one of its key players actually suiting up. The good news for Rick Stansbury is that MSU appears to have Renardo Sidney and Arnett Moultrie ready to hit the floor this season, but they will do so without the backup support of Kristers Zeidaks, a Latvian forward whom he would have liked to have had on his bench. Zeidaks will essentially suffer the Deniz Kilicli rule in that he must sit out a substantial number of games before the NCAA will deem him eligible. In this case, Zeidaks will miss the entire upcoming season and the first 11 games of the 2012-13 season if he ever desires to play college basketball. The issue is that he competed against a professional club team in Europe and must apparently pay his penance with the NCAA for doing so.
  5. Truth. Spoken. Alexander Wolff’s article this week on the complete irrelevance of college basketball on decision-making among the taskmasters of collegiate sports is both sickening and enlightening at the same time. Nearly twenty years ago, Wolff followed up the greatest college basketball game ever played with perhaps the greatest college basketball article ever written, “The Shot Heard Round the World.” What the piece lacked in titular form — much like the game itself (most people do not realize that Duke was a HEAVY favorite over Rick Pitino’s Wildcats that evening in Philadelphia) — it made up for in tone and reverence. There is no such reverence in an era where regal programs such as Kansas, St. John’s and Georgetown are thrown to the wolves for the sake of football dollars. While Wolff clearly reminisces about a bygone era where Jayhawks, Johnnies and Hoyas mattered, he also recognizes that, in some ways, the college hoops overlords brought this on themselves. Read it for yourselves.
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College Athletes Petition the NCAA For a Piece of the Pie

Posted by mpatton on October 25th, 2011

On the heels of NCAA president Mark Emmert advocating up to a $2,000 stipend to cover some of the costs of living, the Associated Press reports that more than 300 college athletes at Georgia Tech, Arizona, UCLA, Kentucky and Purdue signed a petition to ask for a percentage of the television revenue from skyrocketing deals. They sent the petition in to the NCAA last week.  But this petition wasn’t just about padding student-athlete wallets — the signers want to see a portion of television revenues put into an “educational lock box” to help basketball and football players pay for future education once their eligibility is exhausted. That said, the petition also called for players to get the money “with no strings attached” upon graduating.  Yellow Jacket freshman defensive end Denzel McCoy summed up athletes’ discontent well: “The things we go through, the hours we put in, what our bodies go through, we deserve some sort of (results).”

NCAA President Mark Emmert Has A Player Petition On His Desk. (Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

I, for one, think this is a terrific idea. Clearly, the fine economic details will need to be worked out, but using money to promote graduation and further education might be a way to keep players in school. The NCAA’s mission is to educate athletes. Unfortunately for a select few basketball and football stars, there are only potential injuries awaiting an extra year or two of college eligibility. While the money wouldn’t be nearly enough to compete with professional salaries, the lock box would at least begin to balance the scales.

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

Posted by rtmsf on October 24th, 2011

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

Emmert Appears Willing to Open the Floodgates

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

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

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930 And You: The 2011 Tournament Under The New APR Rule

Posted by jstevrtc on August 17th, 2011

The new APR rule is a fact. 930 Or Bust is happening. So let’s talk about it.

On the ESPN blog last week, Diamond Leung, a gentleman we’re happy to file under Official Friend Of RTC, posted an article in which he listed the 12 teams that would not have been eligible to compete if the new APR standard had been applied to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. #1-seed Ohio State? Watching from home. Kawhi Leonard and San Diego State? Sorry, they’d have been studying for finals and not playing basketball. Leung also noted how eventual champion Connecticut would not be invited to the 2012 edition to defend its title since, according to the latest numbers, over the 2006-07 to 2009-10 academic periods the Huskies managed an APR of just 893. They could go undefeated throughout the entire 2011-12 season and it wouldn’t matter. In that scenario they’d win as many NCAA Tournament games as Centenary.

Bill Carmody and Northwestern (18-13) May Have Been Dancing Last Year, Had the New APR Rule Been In Play

Mr. Leung’s article got us thinking: if there would have been 12 fewer teams in the Dance last March, who would have replaced them? Among the unlucky 12, seven were automatic qualifiers through conference tournament titles and five were at-large entries. A quick examination of who would have replaced the disqualified teams shows how putting a binary, all-or-nothing, you’re-in-or-you’re out emphasis on a specific number would have affected the Tournament; as you’ll see, the reverberations go deeper than just the aforementioned 12 teams.

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Morning Five: 08.16.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 16th, 2011

  1. Texas A&M‘s rather public flirtation with the SEC continued on Monday with the news that school president R. Bowen Loftin had received authority from the school’s board of regents to take whatever action he deems necessary to act in the long-term best interests of the university.  Whether this ultimately means that the school will make a formal overture to join the SEC remains to be seen, but it’s notable that the Texas House committee that had scheduled a meeting today to discuss this matter has postponed it indefinitely.  Right now it seems as if things are in a state of flux, but you’d better believe that whatever backroom political deals that need to resolved before A&M can move forward are in the process of being resolved.
  2. We’ve been rather vocal in our opinion that the NCAA had better get out in front of these conference realignment issues driven by football dollars before they lose control of the whole enchilada.  To that point, we were encouraged to read that the NCAA president, Mark Emmert, has started making calls at the behest of some of the conference commissioners in an attempt to smooth over some rankled egos and facilitate any conference realignment in a collegial way.  Regardless of what happens with Texas A&M in coming days or weeks, this is an important move for Emmert.  He is still in his first year on the job, and even though his authority only reaches so far on issues such as these, his reputation as a fair-minded and collaborative leader could be established (or ruined) based on how he handles this situation.
  3. We hope to have more on this up later today, but along with the imminent end of summer comes Scout’s new post-camp player ratings for the Class of 2012.  Wing player Shabazz Mohammed remains the top overall player in the class, followed by beefy centers Andre Drummond and Mitch McGary.  In fact, nine of the top 12 players in this class are big men (PFs or Cs), an amazing development considering the vanishing of the American big man over the last two decades.  Only five of the top 25 players are currently committed, which as always will make for an exciting fall on the recruiting trail as players head into their senior seasons.
  4. There’s never been a formal announcement one way or another, but does anyone on the planet actually believe that Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun won’t be back stalking the sidelines again in Storrs next season?  Former Husky great Ray Allen doesn’t believe it either, as he told a throng of assembled media at his charity golf tournament in Cromwell, Connecticut, on Monday.  He didn’t go so far as to say he believes his former coach will be back, but he did say that he feels Calhoun is “rejuvenated” and has two players in Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb who have “experience” well beyond their years.  Unless Calhoun has plans to pull a Dean Smith and retire just before the start of the practice so that his longtime assistant, George Blaney, would get an opportunity to steer the ship, we expect that his relative silence this offseason only means that he’ll be back stronger than ever in the 2011-12 season.
  5. Basketball in August?  Our SEC correspondent, Gerald Smith, attended Monday night’s Kentucky Pros vs. John Calipari’s Dominican Republic team, featuring  John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Tayshaun Prince, et al, going up against a Gator-chomping Al Horford and former Louisville stars Francisco Garcia and Edgar Sosa, among others.  Here’s his brief report.  On Monday a seminar on economics was held inside Rupp Arena. An exhibition brought to life by Dominican Republic/Kentucky Coach John Calipari was a logistical scramble that yielded widespread success: Over 23,000 spent an August evening watching Calipari’s Dominicans defeat (mostly) Calipari’s Pros sponsored by Calipari’s corporate partners, 106-88. T-shirt vendors and other Lexington businesses can thank Calipari for a bonus game day full of sales.   Incredible ticket demand prompted a second Pros vs. DR game  which will be held in Louisville’s Yum! Center tonight.  Even minor setbacks in exhibition planning were rewarded with national press exposure for the Kentucky basketball program and the exhibition. Calipari’s incredible talent for synergy separates him from nearly every other NCAA coach. (It helps that Big Blue Nation will invest heavily into most any product associated with the coach.) Instead of an NBA team owner knocking down the coach’s door, perhaps Kentucky fans should be worried that none other than Ben Bernanke will steal Calipari away from the Bluegrass State.
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Attention NCAA: Heed the Chicken Littles, Hoopocalypse is a Real Threat

Posted by rtmsf on August 15th, 2011

Over the weekend, we were once again regaled and entertained by a conference realignment passion play, this one involving the forlorn and lost souls of Texas A&M, veritable auslanders in their own backyard, and the biggest, baddest bully on the football block, the Southeastern Conference (SEC).  The brass in College Station, you see, is legitimately chafed that the monolithic academic and athletic powerhouse located 100 miles west in Austin — the University of Texas — will soon be rolling out its very own Longhorn Sports Network, a cable and satellite channel that can be beamed coast to coast to tens of millions of interested eyeballs while TAMU is stuck with its online channel, 12thManTV.  Their anger is understandable — not only do the Horns regularly whip the Aggies on the gridiron (10 of the last 15 games) and the boardroom (Texas athletic department’s operating budget was $60M more than A&M’s in 2009-10), but they’re now positioned to permanently write their own ticket for the foreseeable future.  That gap is unlikely to narrow.

No Doubt It Feels Like This at A&M

As of Monday afternoon, a Texas A&M move to the SEC was still on hold.  A&M’s regents need to first formally agree to approach the SEC, and then the Texas state legislature would have to be involved in some capacity as well.  But whether it happens this week, next week, or even a couple more years down the road — this, and other moves like it, are inevitable.  The astronomical number of dollars available to schools through BCS bowl payouts and television contracts ensures further positioning; in some ways, the search for a bigger and better deal is capitalism at its finest.  But like any marketplace unfettered by regulation and common sense, individuals acting rationally for their own best interests can ultimately lead to irresponsible and undesirable outcomes.  Two pieces published this morning hit on such a distinct future possibility.

Gary Parrish at CBSSports.com and Eamonn Brennan at ESPN.com both write that if realignment continues moving in such a way where each school and conference continues to chase dollars at the trough of football exposure, we’re ultimately faced with an endgame of the 65 or so biggest schools doing an end-around on the NCAA by breaking off and starting its own governing organization.  We’ve discussed this rather apocalyptic possibility before here, and from a purely football (and financial) perspective it makes perfect sense, but Parrish and Brennan’s argument is a salient one.  Such a conclusion would effectively end the mythical David/Goliath beauty of the NCAA Tournament as we know it.  As Parrish states:

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Morning Five: 08.12.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 12th, 2011

  1. On July 23, Preston Anderson, a former BYU student and current basketball player for Hartnell College in Salinas, California, jumped on his motorcycle at five o’clock in the morning and drove away from his apartment, his roommates assuming he was headed off to a morning workout. Until three days ago, Anderson’s whereabouts have remained a total mystery. He left his cell phone behind and has contacted none of his family or friends. A credit card transaction at a hotel in Corozal, Belize from August 4 — about which his family learned on Tuesday — is the only way any of them know he’s still alive. Hotel staff confirmed that the guest/cardholder was a 6’9” American, same as Anderson. Preston’s father Corey assumes his son is en route to South America, given the current travel vector. We don’t cover a lot of community college basketball around here, but this has sort of a Chris McCandless vibe about it, only more tropical. We hope it ends better, with more of a Ewan McGregor/Charley Boorman-esque resolution.
  2. In the title to his article yesterday, Sporting News‘ Mike DeCourcy describes the changes the NCAA wants to make to college athletics as “a mixed bag of genius and idiocy.” Contained within is a fine summary of the new provisions the NCAA wants to implement, not to mention a tasty little UCLA dig. Have to say, here…we’ve been fans of the idea of tougher punishments for a long time; currently, the risks of cheating just don’t sufficiently outweigh the possible benefits, and while no set of rules can eradicate all the rascals, cranking up punishments could at long last have presumptive rule-breakers wondering if it’s really worth it. [Ed. Note: 3 of 5 days of M5 goodness for MD this week! Don't think any writer has ever had that many in a M-F cycle. And MD and Luke Winn continue to battle for the all-time lead.]
  3. Can you believe that Facebook and Twitter now comprise 50% of recruiting interactions between recruiters and prospects? It is without question the best way for coaches to make contact with players nowadays, especially since the latter group seems reluctant to even pick up or open a ringing cell phone. Before you write that off to an alleged aloofness among high school recruits, first consider (as Pete Thamel of the New York Times did in his article from Tuesday) the case of Nerlens Noel, a top prospect who attends a prep school in New Hampshire. He has one hour of free time a day. You think he’s going to spend it all on his phone talking to coaches giving him their sales pitches? He says of Facebook: “It’s a great way to contact me.” He’s not alone.
  4. We hope that Chris Webber, Ray Jackson, and Juwan Howard are somewhere laying low and playing it cool right now, since the fates are evidently cracking down on the once-Fab Five. And by the fates, we mean the cops. Jalen Rose is halfway through a 20-day stretch in the pokey after pleading guilty to DUI, and now Jimmy King has been arrested and housed in the same facility (actually, we assume he’s out on bail by now) for failure to pay over $17,000 in child support. As if that wasn’t bad enough, King was arrested on his 38th birthday at a church after authorities saw his name on a basketball camp the church was holding. Whew.
  5. SI.com’s Luke Winn is back with another crop of sophomores likely up for big seasons as predicted by his Breakout Sophomore Formula. In addition to his usual clever and well-evidenced insights, two things in particular that we like about this offering from Winn are 1) the formula is designed to avoid insulting your intelligence by making obvious picks like, say, Jared Sullinger or Jeremy Lamb, and 2) Winn takes the time to examine how last year’s prognostications did. In doing so here, he also got in one of the great phrases we’ve seen in any sports article in some time: “libidinous malcontents.” You should already want to do so, but if that doesn’t make you want to click on the above link and check the article out for yourself, nothing will.
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Morning Five: 08.11.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 11th, 2011

  1. Andre Drummond announced his “final five” list of considered colleges yesterday, putting to rest the question about his intentions to either go to college in the next couple of weeks or attend prep school for another year (our summary from yesterday). He will do the latter, which means while one round of speculation has ended, another has begun. Drummond has graduated from high school, so another year of prep school would put him a year out from his graduating class, meaning he could make himself eligible for the 2012 NBA Draft. If he decides ever to attend college, his five-school shortlist has a decidedly Big East flavor, save one. In ESPNU’s updated recruiting rankings for 2012, he now occupies the #2 spot, behind only Shabazz Muhammad.
  2. Any fan of college basketball should read Jeff Goodman’s examination of the big bad class of 2002 and how things are going for them now, but if you are a supposed big-shot high school baller and you are reading this, you definitely need to stop what you’re doing right now and check it out. Shows what can happen to you if you start believing all the hype. We’re glad that so many of them have found ways to be happy whether playing basketball or not, but it also sounds like there are a couple of fellows from that class still blaming everyone else except themselves for their lack of NBA success.
  3. Former Tennessee assistant Tony Jones has claimed that the school’s legal counsel instructed him and the rest of the UT staff, including head coach Bruce Pearl, not to be totally open with NCAA officials during the agency’s probe into the program last summer. It should be noted that this, in and of itself, isn’t as sinister as it sounds; clients are almost always told by their attorneys only to answer the questions asked of them and not to, er, volunteer any extra information. That’s how Jones describes the directive from UT’s counsel. In the linked article, he gives an example of a question he was asked during the investigation, along with his response, so we’ll let you decide if he did what he was told or if there’s anything wrong with his answer.
  4. NCAA prez Mark Emmert is a fan of restricting the post-season opportunities of teams that don’t perform up to par academically. He advocates a raising of the minimum team Academic Progress Rate score from 925 to 930, as well as possibly keeping teams caught under it out of the NCAA Tournament. It sounds interesting, but we’re wondering how such a provision would weigh on the minds of high school prospects when it came time to narrow down their school lists. Some schools, as we all know, are harder than others.
  5. It was a good news/bad news day for Wake Forest. The bad news came in the form of the arrest of sophomore forward Melvin Tabb (1.6 PPG, 2.0 RPG last season) on a trio of charges including felony breaking and entering from an incident that happened on the Wake campus back in June. Between suspensions and injuries, Tabb played in just 14 of the Deacs’ games last season, but he’ll play in none this year; head coach Jeff Bzdelik has booted Tabb from the team. What struck us as good news for Wake, though, was the hire of former WFU stud Randolph Childress as an assistant to the AD. That can only mean the little jewel below will be replayed and acted out during practices numerous times, and you couldn’t really blame them. It’s just too funny not to show on the occasion of Childress’ return to Wake, so here you go (sorry, Jeff McInnis fans):

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