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

1 Comment

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 14.5.1.2: “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.

Lonzo Ball says “I’m better than” Markelle Fultz

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
1 Comment

Usually, it’s LaVar Ball that makes news for what he says.

His eldest son is now getting in on the business of generating headlines with something other than his play.

The UCLA star, who said he’ll enter the draft after just one season with the Bruins, claimed he’s the better prospect than Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who many have pegged as the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

“Markelle’s a great player,” Ball said, according to ESPN, “but I feel I’m better than him,” “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Not exactly inflammatory stuff – like saying you could have beaten Michael Jordan, that you want a $1 billion apparel deal or a number of things his father has said – bu Ball is certainly projecting confidence. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s quite a bit of money – and pride – at stake with the draft, and Ball put up a season worthy of comparison to Fultz, who had great numbers but played for an abysmal Washington team. Ball, on the other had, had strong numbers while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16.

Both are going to go at the top of a draft that’s stocked full of promising point guards. Which player goes before the other remains to be seen, but it’s likely public pronouncements aren’t going to affect the draft order.

 

UMass hires McCall away from Chattanooga

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
Leave a comment

UMass has found, once more, the man to take over its basketball program.

The Minutemen have reached an agreement with Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, the school announce Wednesday

“The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” McCall said in a statement released by the school, “but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

In McCall’s two years at Chattanooga, the Mocs to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a 19-12 record this year that featured five-straight losses to end the season.

The move will take McCall out of the southeast for the first time in his career as he previously served as at Florida and Florida Atlantic before getting his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.

McCall wasn’t the Minutemen’s first choice to replace Derek Kellogg after three-straight lackluster seasons. Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had agreed to take the job before a last-minute about-face that saw him return to the Eagles program just before his introductory press conference was scheduled to begin.

“Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men.

“Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

Despite being the second choice, McCall’s reputation in the coaching industry makes him a strong hire, having worked under Mike Jarvis and Billy Donovan. He took over at Chattanooga for Will Wade, and brought the Mocs to a 29-6 record and a  12-seed in the NCAA tournament in 2016.

UMass went to just one NCAA tournament under Kellogg (in 2014) during his nine seasons leading the Minutemen.

VIDEO: Frank Martin’s sideline demeanor as a high school coach

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
Leave a comment

South Carolina coach Frank Martin has the reputation of being rather, shall we say, intense on the sidelines during games.

The coach has a stare that seemingly could bore a hole through his players when they do something that doesn’t reach his level of expectation. Martin’s demeanor, though, didn’t just come into form once he hit the college ranks.

He was plenty intense on high school sidelines as well.

Martin won three titles while at Miami Senior in the mid-1990s, coaching the likes of future pros Steve Blake and Udonis Haslem. Now having reached his first career Final Four, that sideline persona has put him on the precipice of winning yet another championship, this time at the collegiate level.

South Carolina fans raise money to send “Gamecock Jesus” to Final Four

1 Comment

South Carolina fans are sending one of their most recognizable compatriots to represent them this weekend.

Gamecock Jesus is heading to the Final Four.

South Carolina super fan Carlton Thompson is following the Gamecocks to Glendale as his fellow fans have raised over $7,500 to send the man known as “Gamecock Jesus” to Arizona for the team’s Final Four meeting with Gonzaga on Saturday night.

Thompson’s long hair, beard and presence at South Carolina games, even in lean times, earned him his nickname and apparently a following fervent enough to foot the bill for quite the trip.

“I’ve always dreamed it would be like this,” Thompson said last week about fan support at Gamecock games to the Post and Courier. “For years and years, it was so sparse with the crowds at the games. But once they started winning, the crowds started coming.”

Thompson is a 63-year-old VA hospital nurse, and has been attending South Carolina games for nearly 50 years.

Maryland’s Melo Trimble declares for the NBA Draft

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Melo Trimble’s career as a Maryland Terrapin is coming to an end. The junior guard is declaring for the NBA Draft and will sign with an agent.

“I am confident and excited to pursue an opportunity to play in the NBA,” Trimble said in a release. “I am proud of what my teammates and I were able to accomplish these past three seasons at Maryland. I developed many great relationships and friendships and together we able to create some very special moments for Maryland basketball. I want to thank Coach Turgeon for all of his support. He always believed in me. He challenged me and really helped in the development of my overall game. I am a more complete basketball player because of Coach Turgeon and the coaching staff. To stay at home and attend the University of Maryland is the best decision that I ever made and it was truly special to play in front of my family, friends and our amazing fans. Maryland will always be home.”

There was no better winner in college basketball the last three years than Melo. He changed the trajectory of Mark Turgeon’s program, winning 79 games in three years and ending his career 30-8 in games decided by six points or less. As a junior, Trimble and the Terps earned a No. 6 seed to the NCAA tournament, but they lost in the first round to Xavier. It was the only time in Trimble’s career that he didn’t reach the Sweet 16.

“Melo Trimble is a winner,” Mark Turgeon said on twitter. “Humble, hard-working, dedicated. Words can’t express what he’s done for our program. Always #StayMelo!”