The exodus from the NCAA continues as their director of enforcement has left for a position at Auburn.
Dave Didion’s last day was Friday, after which he accepted a job as the associate athletic director for compliance. Didion will start the job officially on April 22. This according to USA Today.
The move wasn’t a jumping-ship move, to be fair, at least, it doesn’t fully appear to be. He has previously worked on at Auburn from 1995-1999 and has 25 years of experience in enforcement and compliance.
“It’s personal,” Didion said of his decision to leave the NCAA, “but I just wanted to go back to campus, and Auburn is one of the few places that I could go to…I really enjoyed the people, and I enjoyed members of the coaching staff. It’s a great community. It’s a beautiful university. No reason not to go back.”
He is the fifth individual in the enforcement area of the NCAA to leave or be fired in President Mark Emmert’s two-and-a-half year tenure in Indianapolis.
Investigator Ameen Najjar was fired last year before it was revealed he approved paying the lawyer for former Miami (Fla.) booster Nevin Shapiro. The NCAA’s admission that it had paid Maria Elena Perez, Shapiro’s attorney, to use bankruptcy proceedings to obtain information from witnesses that otherwise wouldn’t cooperate led the association to throw out part of its case against the school. Shapiro is serving a 20-year prison sentence for running a $930 million Ponzi scheme.
As a result of its investigation, the NCAA fired Julie Roe Lach, whom Emmert had named vice president of enforcement when he was hired.
Within the past year, the NCAA enforcement staff has seen veteran investigator Rich Johanningmeier retire as well. Investigator Abigail Grantstein was fired in December after it was revealed a man who said he was her boyfriend was overheard on a flight bragging that UCLA freshman Shabbaz Muhammed would not be cleared before key facts had been gathered.
Emmert’s staff at the NCAA has shown a pattern of ineptitude that has been unparalleled in recent months with the Shabazz Muhammad and Nevin Shapiro cases, so it might be the best thing for those in that enforcement department that they find other employment.
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The Big South is moving its 2016 men’s basketball tournament out of Coastal Carolina and a new site will be figured out by November. According to a release from the conference the Big South is using a league bylaw that stipulates that members leaving with less than two years of notice are not eligible to host championships. Coastal Carolina announced this summer that it would be leaving for the Sun Belt as of July 2016, so the Big South wants to find a new location that benefits teams staying in the league.
The Big South men’s and women’s conference tournaments are now also going to be split into two unique events, with the men’s championships being held Thursday-Sunday, March 3-6. The women’s event comes the next week from March 10-13. Bids for both events will come into the league and a new location will be selected in the next few months.
It will be interesting to see if the site of the conference tournament is moved to a campus site or placed at a neutral venue. That type of thing could alter how the NCAA tournament autobid gets played out. With Coastal Carolina coming off of back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, this obviously changes their approach to the postseason now that they have to leave their city.
Virginia Tech is trying to decide what to do with injury sophomore guard Ahmed Hill, who had surgery this summer to deal with a tear in his patella tendon in his left knee.
The 6-foot-5 Hill has still not been released to work out with the team, but he is about a week to 10 days ahead of schedule in his rehab. But the injury is still nagging enough that Hill might not be healthy enough to really contritbute this season. Head coach Buzz Williams is deciding soon whether he wants to redshirt Hill or not.
Hill started a team-high 30 games for the Hokies last season, averaging 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
“I don’t have a decision on (Hill),” Williams said to reporters on Monday. “I will make the final decision. I’ll let (him) and his mom be a part of it, but I want to make a decision using the wisdom of doing this for a long period of time. If you let a kid make the decision, they always want to play.
“Right now, I don’t feel comfortable that I would want to play him. It’s just too early to be able to have much more of an answer than that.”
It’s still a rebuilding year for Virginia Tech, but they do get Maryland transfer Seth Allen, who is a talented guard who can score. The Hokies were hoping to have Hill and Allen as complimentary perimeter scorers, but now the plans might have to be altered. Williams went on to say that he would like to make a decision on Hill’s status by Halloween.