The WAC to Denver: Thanks for the, um, memories.
According to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com, Denver is set to join the Summit League in 2013. That coming after Denver left the Sun Belt Conference to join the WAC this season.
The move is a bad one for the WAC, who could possibly face dissolving as a conference with so many teams leaving. Texas State is also checking out of the conference for the Sun Belt after spending this season there.
Denver had been a marginal get for the conference, at best. The Pioneers had been somewhat of an outcast in the Sun Belt — with the closest opponent being North Texas, 838 miles away — and were a better geographical fit among the west-coast and Rocky-Mountain-centric WAC.
Only problem was, the current uncertain future with the conference led them to question the move, and apparently, they decided it was time to get out of Dodge.
The Summit League is also a solid fit for Denver, both geographically and historically. The Pioneers have one 20-win season since 2000 and not much postseason success. It fits with schools like South Dakota, IUPUI and South Dakota State in that category and will make for somewhat shorter travel to places like Brookings, S.D., Omaha and Kansas City, Mo., with the longest trips being the two to Indiana to play IUPUI and Fort Wayne.
Not necessarily a bad move or a relegation for Denver, but a disappointing move for the WAC in terms of men’s basketball. The school didn’t have a football team, but any defection doesn’t help a conference who is waning on it’s own existence at best.
David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.
Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.
The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.
“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.
“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.
“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”
Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.