Mike Aresco

Report: Big East schools may vote to dissolve league


With all of the football schools joining into ever-larger lumps of meat, it always seemed like a time would com when at least one hoops-only league would flat-out disappear. I thought it would be a mid-major, like the CAA or Horizon, but it’s one of the BCS leagues, gutted by realignment, that may go down first.

According to the Providence Journal, the Big East may be at a tipping point for dissolution after Rutgers left to join the Big Ten.

Representatives of some of those [remaining] seven schools said this week that the tipping point would be reached if either Connecticut or Louisville heads to another league. Such a loss would be infinitely more important to the basketball schools than Rutgers leaving, because it would further erode an already badly damaged basketball core.

Losing a UConn or Louisville would also give the basketball schools the opportunity to engineer an unprecedented power play and vote to dissolve the league. According to the Big East’s bylaws, the conference can be dissolved by a two-thirds vote of all members. The seven basketball schools, which include Providence College, would own that voting advantage over three all-sports members (Cincinnati, South Florida and either UConn or Louisville). That voting edge would disappear in July, when new members Central Florida, Houston, Memphis and SMU come onboard.

Why commit suicide instead of being killed? Because the basketball schools that remain would actually have some power in such a scenario. They could be the driving force in the growing “nationwide hoops league” movement. The Big East basketball schools could take the lead, and to some measure, dictate terms of such an arrangement if they are free of any conference affiliation.

We’ll keep an eye on this situation, and update you throughout the holiday week.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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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 cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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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?