Michael Dixon

Should new Memphis Tiger Michael Dixon be allowed to play next season?

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Dez Wells was expelled from Xavier in August of last year, right before the start of what would have been his sophomore year, because he was accused of sexual assault by a fellow student. He was never charged with a crime.

Michael Dixon was initially suspended and then kicked off the Missouri team in November of last year after he was accused of sexual assault. He wasn’t allowed to take online coursework through the school last semester. He was never charged with a crime.

The NCAA’s clearly spells out the penalties in a situation like this in Rule “A student who transfers to any NCAA institution from a collegiate institution while the student is disqualified or suspended from the previous institution for disciplinary reasons (as opposed to academic reasons) must complete one calendar year of residence at the certifying institution.”

Wells, however, was given a waiver by the NCAA to play immediately at Maryland. He didn’t have to do a year in residence. He didn’t have to redshirt a season. He was given the waiver on November 7th and suited up with the Terrapins on November 9th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, playing Kentucky on college hoops’ opening night.

So it only makes sense that Dixon gets the same waiver, which would clear him to play immediately at Memphis, as well, right?

He was never charged. He was never even questioned by the police. He’s already say out an entire season. And he doesn’t have another option. The NCAA has a rule that a player must use their four seasons of eligibility in five years, and Dixon played three seasons at Missouri before sitting out last year. His college career, his senior season, would be taken away because of something that he was accused of but never charged with.

And this is why, at the time, so many discussed the dangerous precedent that was being set by this ruling.

It’s allowing the NCAA to play judge and jury.

Because there are two very important differences in these two cases.

For starters, there wasn’t one allegation against Dixon. There were two. The first was all the way back in January of 2010, and the accuser decided against pressing charges in that case. The second came right before his suspension was announced at the end of last summer. Prosecutors determined that there was a lack of sufficient evidence to pursue that case.

Being accused of sexual assault twice doesn’t necessarily mean that Dixon committed sexual assault in either instance, but it is concerning. How many people do you know that have been falsely accused of sexual assault once, let alone twice?

The other issue is that Wells had just about everyone come to his defense publicly and rip Xavier for taking unnecessary action. In fact, the prosecutor in Wells’ case went on the radio and shredded Xavier for the way they handled the situation, calling it “fundamentally unfair” and “seriously flawed”. Xavier had been dealing with issues regarding their handling of sexual assault cases on campus, and it’s not difficult to make the assumption that the school made an example out of Wells.

At least, that’s how the NCAA viewed it.

Now consider this, from Jason King’s piece on Dixon’s commitment to Missouri:

Dixon hasn’t received that type of verbal backing from anyone in Missouri. In fact, a source close to Dixon said the university wouldn’t even allow him to take online coursework during the spring semester. And numerous head coaches told ESPN.com that Missouri athletic director Mike Alden was usually critical of Dixon when prospective schools called seeking permission to talk to the 6-foot-1 guard.

“[Alden] shredded him to my AD — just absolutely shredded him,” one Division I head coach told ESPN.com last month.

The issue with punishing sexual assault accusations is that the only people that truly know the circumstances are the people that were in the room. The accuser and the accused. Wells and Dixon may both be guilty of sexual assault, or they both may be victims of jealous ex-girlfriends or scorned one-night stands. We will never truly know.

And that’s the problem for the NCAA here.

They determined Wells to be innocent enough that they allowed him to play immediately without a year in residency.

What will the outcome be now that the NCAA is putting Mike Dixon on trial?

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

New challenges for Tennessee’s Barnes after years in Texas

Rick Barnes
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee coach Rick Barnes’ new surroundings have the veteran coach adopting a slightly different approach in preseason practices.

Barnes has needed to do more teaching so far as he goes over the different drills that had become second nature to his players at Texas, where he had coached for the last 17 seasons. Tennessee started practice last week as the Volunteers adjust to their third coach in as many seasons.

“We’d been 17 years where we had certain core basic drills that we knew, the players knew (and) we just called them out,” Barnes said Tuesday. “Now we’re teaching them everything that we want to implement and put in. It’s fun.”

Tennessee wants Barnes to provide the stability that’s been missing from its program with all the coaching turnover. Barnes replaced Donnie Tyndall, who went 16-16 in his lone season at Tennessee before being fired in March as the NCAA investigated his two-year tenure at Southern Mississippi.

Senior guard Kevin Punter acknowledged the coaching change was rough and that he thought about leaving, but Barnes’ arrival made him stay put.

“I’ve been watching Coach when he was coaching KD (Kevin Durant) and all those pros he got,” Punter said. “For him to be here, I already knew his background, and all I probably needed was just to talk to him and that pretty much sealed the deal. I already knew what he does for a lot of his players.”

Barnes went 402-180 at Texas and reached the NCAA Tournament in 16 of his 17 years before getting fired in March. His teams have earned NCAA bids 19 of the last 20 seasons overall.

“We’re not going to shy away from saying what we want,” Barnes said. “We want to be part of that tournament and have a chance like anybody else to play for the whole thing.”

Barnes could have a tough time getting back to the tournament this year.

Tennessee must replace all-SEC guard Josh Richardson, who led the Vols in points, assists and steals as a senior last season. Freshman Lamonte Turner has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA for the 2015-16 season, leaving Tennessee without any pure point guards as it gets ready for its Nov. 13 opener with UNC Asheville.

Barnes said Punter and senior Armani Moore would get the initial opportunities to play point guard. Punter’s a natural shooting guard. Moore is listed as a forward but can play a variety of positions.

Another challenge for Barnes involves getting accustomed to his new players and figuring out how to get the best from each of them.

“What’s their starter button?” Barnes asked. “You can’t coach them all the same. You can demand the same from all of them, but you can’t coach them all the same. Some guys can take whatever. Some other guys are a little more sensitive. It’s important for our coaching staff that we do know how to handle each one of them.”

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.