Monday, August 30, 2010

North Carolina Player Expected to Miss Game with LSU

The NCAA investigation into dealings between agents and players at North Carolina has wound down. As of today, one player will not be eligible for the game on Saturday in Atlanta against LSU. Marvin Austin will not be playing in that game, but the full extent of his punishment has not yet been finalized. It was reported on this blog that sources close to the program expected the penalty to be a single game, but that is now in question.

As was expressed by the university last Thursday, there are suspicions that some members of the football team have been given inappropriate assistance with their class work. The school has been working diligently to, at minimum, clear the players that are completely without blame so that they can play this weekend.

Similar sources have passed along that the only players whom have not been cleared at this time are Charles Brown and Kendric Burney. The status of each will likely be determined very near to game time on Saturday.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

South Carolina Situation Looking Grim

By Joseph Person of The State

COLUMBIA - Some South Carolina football players owed the Whitney Hotel several thousand dollars after receiving reduced room rates during extended stays that have come under NCAA scrutiny, a source close to the situation told The (Columbia) State on Wednesday.

Multiple sources said some players had been living at the Whitney since the spring while paying a rate of $450 per month. Officials determined players should have been paying about $1,200 a month, and players were told by school officials to pay the difference to the hotel.

For at least two players who had not made any payments, the resolution meant they owed the hotel close to $5,000, according to one of the sources.

Coach Steve Spurrier would not comment when asked about players owing thousands to the hotel. Jamie Blevins, general manager of the Whitney, has referred all questions to the NCAA.

Last week, Spurrier said he had encouraged players to pay their bills and move out of the Whitney.

Most complied with Spurrier's request, although tight end Weslye Saunders had a room at the Whitney as of Wednesday night, The State confirmed. Saunders is one of at least 10 players who lived at the Whitney during the summer, sources said.

Six projected starters are among the players linked to the Whitney.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Investigation at Tennessee Still in Progress

Former Tennessee Volunteers running back Bryce Brown recently enrolled at Kansas State and on Thursday spent about two hours answering questions on a teleconference with the NCAA about the recruiting practices of former Vols coach Lane Kiffin and his staff, according to Brown's father.

The Vols' football program is expecting a letter of inquiry from the NCAA to come soon. The NCAA also has been planning to interview Kiffin and other former Tennessee assistants.

In August 2009, before he played a game for Tennessee, the NCAA cleared Bryce Brown - one of the top recruits in the nation - after examining his eligibilty.

Among the things the NCAA looked into then was whether money was improperly raised for Brown to visit colleges and collegiate football camps during his sophomore year of high school.

Brown has appealed for a reversal of Tennessee coach Derek Dooley's decision not to release him from his scholarship. Arthur Brown hopes to hear from Tennessee later Friday but says he may not hear until Monday.

Either way, Bryce already has gone through an orientation in Manhattan, Kan., and plans to be reunited with his brother, Arthur, a former Miami linebacker who transferred to Kansas State and will be eligible in 2011.

If Dooley does not release Bryce from his Tennessee scholarship, the Brown family will have to pay Bryce's tuition for this year at Kansas State.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Positive Outlook at Kenan Football Center

A source is telling the National College Football Report information that further reinforces our blog post from Wednesday, August 11th.

Coach Blake is absolutely involved in what is happening but nothing he has done is an NCAA violation.

In the last three days the chatter around the football center has been VERY positive about the situation. More positive than at any other point during this investigation.

The source personally heard Greg Little say, "I'm clean and that's what I've been told."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

North Carolina is Weighing Options in NCAA Report reported on Wednesday that information in the NCAA report regarding the North Carolina football program would be known on Friday, the 13th of August.

The National College Football Report posted findings on this site as to the content of the report on Wednesday, the 11th of August. Since that posting, none of the information has changed, but the strategy of the UNC athletic department has.

It has been widely reported that UNC hired a lawyer with a background in NCAA rules compliance to advise the school while the NCAA investigates. This report seems to imply that the lawyer was hired as recently as Wednesday, the day of UNC receiving the report. This is false. Rick Evrard was hired at the begining of the investigation to consult with UNC on all matters surrounding the probe.

Be that as it may, UNC and the NCAA were prepared to release the information in the report on Friday. It was the opinion of Evrard that the appeal of the suspension for Austin should be crafted prior to public comsumption of the information. As the NCAA is quite happy to handle these types of things outside the pervue of the media, they agreed wholeheartedly.

While this may cause fans on all sides more angst, it has been deemed the best possible way to proceed. The public release of information will happen sometime in the next week.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Michigan's Rodriguez Sleepless in Seattle

By LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez concedes he is nervous about this weekend’s hearing with the NCAA.

He’s not alone.

On Saturday, Rodriguez will join university president Mary Sue Coleman and athletic director Dave Brandon in Seattle for the meeting with NCAA officials.

The NCAA has accused Michigan of five major rules violations related to practices and workouts. School officials plan to challenge the allegation that Rodriguez failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance but accept responsibility for the other four allegations.

“We’re all anxious,” Rodriguez said Thursday night. “Everybody involved in the process — the school administration, the coaches, the players — we’re all looking forward to having this next process, which is this weekend, completed. Then when the committee finishes with their conclusion, ending that whole thing.”

Rodriguez led the Wolverines in a practice Friday, trying to keep the focus on the field as college football’s winningest program prepares for the season opener at home against Connecticut on Sept. 4.

Michigan captain Steve Schilling said the team won’t be distracted by Rodriguez’s departure for the NCAA hearing.

“He’s not going to have to miss any practice time, so that won’t affect us,” Schilling said. “Most of the guys by now have forgotten about that or put it on the back burner. It’s been going on for so long, and it’s coming to an end.”

The problems started nearly a year ago when the Detroit Free Press reported that the Rodriguez-led program was exceeding NCAA limits on practice and training time, leading to school and NCAA investigations.

The school admitted in May it was guilty of four violations. It reprimanded Rodriguez and six other people and announced self-imposed sanctions, including two years of probation. Michigan also said it would cut back practice and training time by 130 hours over two years, double the amount of time it exceeded NCAA rules.

It also trimmed the number of assistants — the so-called quality-control staff — from five to three and banned them from practices, games or coaching meetings for the rest of 2010.

Michigan hopes the NCAA agrees the school punished itself enough and agrees with its defense of its embattled coach, who is 8-16 in two disappointing seasons.

The school had a mock hearing to get prepared for the private session at a Seattle hotel with the NCAA infractions committee. It expects to spend much of the hearing defending the allegation against the coach.

After the hearing, Michigan will likely have to wait six to eight weeks to have the case closed — barring an appeal.

Rodriguez had his team practice in pads for the first time this season Friday morning, gave players Saturday off, and scheduled two workouts for Sunday.

Alabama's Saban Bans Agents from Practice

Following the lead of Urban Meyer, Alabama coach Nick Saban has banned agents from football practice.

Sporting News Article

While not allowing agents to watch the few hours of practice will not eliminate or reduce the agent contact with players, it does send a signal. Since the NCAA began allowing agent contact with still-eligible players, it has been very high on the list of concerns for coaches. All major programs spend time educating their teams about what is allowed. The problems arise because of the actions of the agents who face few penalties for ignoring the rules.

If multiple high level coaches get on this train, the NCAA is likely to modify this rule. Keep the agents away until the player has declared or used up his eligibility.

South Carolina Issues on Player Housing

Joe Person of The State (SC) is reporting that the investigation into the University of South Caroina's football program centers around players' living arrangements.

Players do get a stipend if they choose to stay off campus. While it is yet to be determined if the players are getting a 'special rate' [read: illegal benefit], so far the whole thing seems quite minor. The amount of money involved makes it highly likely that the players paid the difference over the stipend themselves.

As long as the players answer truthfully, we are talking about a slap on the wrist and some sort of repayment at worst.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

NCAA Finds no Major Violations at North Carolina

The NCAA report into the investigation at the University of North Carolina has been completed. Sources who have seen the report have passed along the information it contains:

No issues with institutional control were found.
No issues were found with coaches or football staff in their dealings with agents as regarding the teams current or former players.
Two current players' and one former player's actions were the focus of the investigation: Marvin Austin, Greg Little, and Cam Thomas.

Greg Little did not have any issues. All travel and expenses were properly accounted for. No further action will occur.

Marvin Austin and Cam Thomas were both recipients of travel and expenses from their former teammate Kentwan Balmer for a trip to Los Angeles in the summer of 2009. Austin also had a meeting with an agent during that time which is an issue as he had not reached the age where this contact was allowed. The NCAA found no irregularities in money for Marvin Austin's trips to Miami in May of 2010.

Per NCAA precedent, both players will be allowed to donate a comparable amount to charity in exchange for the expenses paid by Balmer.

Marvin Austin will serve a 1 game suspension because of the agent contact.

This story has been affirmed by Chuck Oliver at 680 AM in Atlanta, GA and Fox in Charlote, NC

NCAA Decision on North Carolina Coming this Week is reporting that the NCAA will release its findings into the investigation at North Carolina by the end of this week:

Read the Article

This clearly means that some of the 'new' revalations by Yahoo! Sports and the News and Observer of Raleigh, NC of the past few days were not, in fact, new.

Sources say that the outcome will not damage the program as a whole. Rather repayment of any benefits and or minimal suspensions are likely. The NCAA questioning of John Blake was limited to questions about the activities of players and not his own recruiting.

No matter the decision made, those outlets will need to find some other stories to hype soon. Perhaps there is a girls volleyball team getting free ice cream somewhere.

South Carolina Gets Ready for Round Two

After North Carolina got a second look from the NCAA last week, this week it is South Carolina's turn:

NCAA Back For More

Perhaps the NCAA can help out the US economy by hiring the staff they will need in the next few months. There are 64 BCS schools and they have only hit about 8 so far.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Did Yahoo Sports Break Another Story?

Yahoo! Sports is getting quite a bit of credit for breaking the Reggie Bush and USC story. While almost any blogger seems to be quotable by "traditional" news outlets, Yahoo! has garnered repect as an unimpeachable source.

This is described as a Yahoo! Sports Exclusive.

Headline Article on Yahoo Sports Page

So, John Blake may have been an employee some 12 years ago when he was between coaching gigs. Blake has been a coach for some 25 years and only a handfull of the hundreds of players he has been around have signed with this agent. Even if it were more, it is not against the rules for a coach to recommend agents. This is standard practice. There is no mention of any payments from the agent [who is not Blake's agent] for referrals.

While well written, it barely even reports anything that might have legs. If Balmer paid for Austin to train, then Austin would need to pay that back to retain eligibily. The NCAA has allowed this in the past.

It is a compilation of information that was available in multiple places weeks ago when the NCAA investigation first became common knowlege. Yahoo! wants you to believe they have found out something new, but in the end, it is just retelling the story that was already out.

Meyer Gets Tough at Practice

Urban Meyer has been looking and listening to all the stuff swirling around college football.

He decided to close practice down to outsiders

Most programs have some open and some closed practices. This is most likely just a symbolic gesture, but it does get the point across. It is time for the kids to focus on the season. The rest of the stuff can wait for later.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ivan Maisel on ESPN Radio

Has reported that Marvin Austin is in the clear regarding the current NCAA investigation into his possible improper contact with agents.

He also claims that Marcell Dareus from Alabama is only going to get a "slap on the wrist" from his involvement.

Looks like the smoke is begining to clear. These boys might just get to play football this year afterall.

Edited to add quote from Ivan:

"I surely believe we’ll hear about the players who have been called out by the NCAA. We’ll hear it before the season begins.

I expect good news for North Carolina on Marvin Austin – the defensive lineman… the really good defensive lineman.

I expect Marcel Dareus at Alabama will get a wrist slap. I don’t know about Wesley Saunders at South Carolina. And the rest of them, we’re just going to wait and see how deeply the NCAA can dig into this, and see who else they come up with."

You can hear him say it here