Rutgers

The latest on the disaster that is Rutgers’ athletic department

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Rutgers athletic department is a train wreck, and I’m not simply talking about the fact that every decision that they have made over the course of the last six month has been the wrong one.

It’s so ugly, yet I can’t look away. I keep waiting for the next bombshell.

If you need a refresher, buckle up:

In April, basketball coach Mike Rice was fired because a video surfaced of him abusing his players in practice by throwing balls at their head and by using gay slurs directed at them. A few weeks later, athletic director Tim Pernetti — who had done an unbelievable amount for the school’s sports programs, including getting them into the Big Ten — was fired in large part because he allowed Rice to work for five months after he saw the video. To replace Rice, Rutgers hired Eddie Jordan, who claimed to be a graduate of Rutgers but had never actually received a degree from the university.

The latest scandal involves the hiring of the new athletic director, Julie Hermann, who lost her job as the women’s volleyball head coach at Tennessee for doing basically the same thing that Rice was fired for: being a bully of a head coach.

Since that news leaked out over the weekend, it’s been one black eye after another: Hermann was involved in a sexual discrimination lawsuit at Louisville; she claims to not remember a letter that her team confronted her with at Tennessee; she claims to not remember being a bridesmaid in the wedding of a former assistant that accused her of mistreatment for getting pregnant.

The latest?

Rutgers paid $70,000 to run a background check on Hermann.

Seriously.

$70,000.

That means one of two things: Either Rutgers spent an unnecessary amount of money on a worthless background check despite the fact that two days before Hermann was hired, the Newark Star-Ledger tried to tip them off about her issues at Tennessee; or they knew about Hermann’s past and thought that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to hire her despite the fact that reason her coaching career ended is the exact same reason that Rutgers is in this mess in the first place.

So, Rutgers, you’re either ignorant or incompetent.

It gets better.

Last night, ESPN.com ran with a report detailing emails that they had obtained from the 26-member search committee. (Yup, Rutgers had a 26-member search advisory committee decide to hire Hermann.) My favorite was this one, which came from the two co-chairs of that committee:

“As members of the Search Advisory Team, you all had the opportunity to examine Julie’s credentials, to spend some time with her when she was on campus, and to provide us with your thoughts regarding her candidacy as Rutgers’ next Director of Intercollegiate Athletics,” they said. “As you know, there was strong support for Julie, and for what she could bring to Rutgers.”

Translation: Y’all had a chance to complain, but like us, you didn’t have a clue. If we go down, we’re bringing all of you with us.

What a disaster.

But I can’t stop watching.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.

VIDEO: New Mexico loses game on blown call by officials

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Nothing like a nice, controversial finish to get the blood flowing.

New Mexico was on the receiving end of a rule misinterpretation on Saturday afternoon, and that interpretation likely cost the Lobos a win over San Diego State and, arguably, a shot at the MWC regular season title.

Here’s the situation: New Mexico is up by three with 12 seconds left and the ball under their own basket. Their allowed to run the baseline, so Craig Neal calls a play where the inbounder throws the ball to a player running out of bounds.

Totally league as long as the player establishes out of bounds before touching the ball. The referee rules that he doesn’t.

Here’s the video:

The problem?

According to the rules, Xavier Adams — the player receiving the pass from Cullen Neal — only needed one foot on the floor out of bounds in order to establish himself as an inbounder that was able to catch that ball. He got one foot down (see the picture above), but the referees appeared to rule that he needed to have both feet down.

That was incorrect, according to the Mountain West office.

“While this was a very close judgment call made at full speed, it has been determined after careful review of slow-motion video replays the call was in fact incorrect,” the league said in a release. “The New Mexico player did get one foot down (two feet are not required) out-of-bounds before receiving the ball, thus establishing his location in accordance NCAA Basketball Playing Rules 4.23.1.a and 7.1.1.  By rule, the officials were not permitted to go to the monitor during the game to review this play.”

And here’s the kicker: When SDSU got the ball back, they hit a three to send the game into overtime, where the Aztecs won. But if New Mexico had won this game, they’d be sitting at 8-2 in MWC play, one game behind SDSU in the loss column with a return game against them in The Pit.

Instead, they’re now three games back with seven to play, meaning that the race is effectively over.

It’s tough to blame the referees here — it was a bang-bang call that is only clear in slow-motion replay — but man, that’s a big call to miss.