The Ohio Valley just got tougher.
Murray State and Austin Peay are the conference’s longtime powers. And Morehead State established itself as a NCAA tournament danger when it upset Louisville last March.
And now Belmont’s joining the fun? Good luck trying to win consecutive titles in that league.
The Bruins have been to the big Dance four of the last five years and won at least 20 games in five of the last six. Last season was the best yet as they went 30-5 overall and breezed to the Atlantic Sun crown.
Expect one last A-Sun title – coach Rick Byrd has nearly every key player back – before they make the move to the OVC. The move will be official with the 2012-13 academic year.
So why leave? Money. Travel costs were killing the Nashville, Tenn., school. Now they’ll be able to bus to nearly every conference game. From the AP:
Dr. Robert C. Fisher, Belmont’s president, said the university will pay a $200,000 fee to leave the A-Sun, “but you don’t have to get on a plane to go anywhere … and the students won’t have to miss as many classes.”
The school won’t play OVC football, but basketball’s enough. The new league is excited, and so is Byrd. (Hey, hoops fans should be too.)
“They have a long history of great teams,” he said. “This is a great move.”
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.
On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.
One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.
As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).
And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.
While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.
And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.
St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.
Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.
St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.
The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?