Richard Khamir Hurd

Former Baylor walk-on Richard Hurd sentenced to 18 months in Robert Griffin III extortion case

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One day before Robert Griffin III took the field on Thanksgiving Day, the case of a former Baylor basketball player found guilty of attempting to extort the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner was resolved.

Richard Hurd, who was a walk-on at Baylor from 2005 to 2008, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine for threatening to release damaging information about the quarterback in June.

Hurd could have been sentenced for up to three years in prison on charges of threatening to injure the reputation of another person and receiving the proceeds of extortion, and after being sentenced made a brief statement to the court.

“I messed up, and I’d like to apologize to my family,” Hurd said during a brief hearing before U.S. District Judge Walter Smith. “I’ve embarrassed myself and them as well.”

According to prosecutors Hurd contacted Griffin III’s agent and demanded $1 million, threatening to release damaging information on the quarterback to the media if his demand wasn’t met.

After informing the FBI of the extortion attempt, Griffin III’s agent was able to get Hurd to drop his asking price to $120,000 in exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement. Authorities arrested Hurd at a Waco law office on the day he picked up the check and signed the agreement.

During a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Griffin referred to Hurd as his fiancee’s ex-boyfriend, noting that anyone who gains fame and money can be vulnerable.

“People do things like that when they’re angry at you or for whatever reason,” Griffin said. “For me, it’s extremely unfortunate, and you’ve just got to move on from it. It’s not anything I’m afraid of. It’s just sad.”

Hurd’s legal guardian and coach at Heritage Christian Academy in Cleveland, Texas was Jerome Tang, who joined the coaching staff at Baylor in 2003, and brother Lamar played four seasons at Oregon State.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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?