University of Houston Athletics

Houston releases a statement on Michael Young’s lawsuit

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Over the weekend, Joseph Young’s father, Michael, went public with a lawsuit that he filed against the University of Houston regarding his employment and his son’s status as a member of the basketball team.

Long story short, Michael was the Director of Basketball Operations and was reassigned into a program without any association with the basketball team around the same time that his son decided to transfer out of the program. Joseph has since committed to Oregon, and will need a waiver from the NCAA to use his final two seasons of eligibility. Michael is claiming in the lawsuit that the job he received was a no-show job where he would still get paid as long as his son played for the school, and he’s looking to get the contract voided so as to avoid having it be an NCAA violation.

On Wednesday, the school sent out a release responding to the accusations made by the Youngs.

“The University offered the new contract to Young containing the community relations duties, and he signed the contract on May 30, 2013,” the release said. “The University has continued its obligations under this new contract and has tried to assign him duties, only to be rebuffed by Young’s attorney. However, because Young, through his attorney, refused to perform any duties under the new contract, the University was compelled to provide notice to Young on June 17, 2013, that it was exercising its right under the contract to terminate the contract on 30 days’ notice. The University will continue its contractual obligations to pay Young through July 17, 2013.”

“At no time was Young informed that he should or could sit at home, not perform work and accept a paycheck from the University, nor was Young ever told his employment was contingent on his son playing basketball for the University. Young’s arrangement in his new community relations role was reviewed by the Athletic Department’s compliance office, as well as the Office of the General Counsel, to ensure it was in compliance with applicable laws and NCAA bylaws.  The University has been transparent, and its actions have been appropriate. We are disheartened and saddened to hear these allegations we believe are baseless and untrue.  We do not intend to comment further except to state we look forward to defending our actions in court.”

As John Infante of the Bylaw Blog notes, the elder Young was, essentially, fired on June 17th, meaning that his son’s path to a waiver with Oregon should be clear; the outcome of this lawsuit probably won’t affect whether or not the NCAA allows him to play next season.

Now the question becomes whether or not Houston actually committed an NCAA violation when they reassigned Young. As Infante explains here, Bylaw 11.4.2 says that within two years, either before or after a player enrolls at a school, that school cannot sign a contract with anyone associated with the athlete unless that person takes a spot as one of the school’s three assistant coaches. The intent was to eliminate package deals where the coach or parent of a player would get a job on the coaching staff — i.e. assistant strength and conditioning director — in exchange for the player signing with the school.

Young was reassigned and signed a new contract that , which, by the letter of the law, violates a rule. Houston makes it clear that the job they hired Young for was not a no-show job, but, as Infante says, “real jobs as just as prohibited by Bylaw 11.4.2 as fake jobs“:

A reassignment is different than a promotion, raise, extension, or renegotiation of a contract. Everyone agrees that this is a “new contract”. And the grandfather clause says “contracts signed” before Bylaw 11.4.2 was proposed can be honored, not “employment started” before that date.

But I might not be disagreeing with Houston, I might be disagreeing with the NCAA. Houston possibly, maybe even likely, got an interpretation from the NCAA, Conference USA, or both. In which case it doesn’t matter how I read the bylaw, I’m wrong and they are correct.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I get the feeling that it will be all but forgotten if Joseph Young gets his waiver from the NCAA.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Minnesota center to miss a month

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 7: Reggie Lynch #22 of the Illinois State Redbirds and Fred VanVleet #23 of the Wichita State Shockers fight for control of a loose ball during the MVC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at the Scottrade Center on March 7, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Minnesota’s projected starting center is sidelined, but is expected to be ready for the season opener.

Reggie Lynch, the Illinois State transfer, had surgery on his left knee, the program announced on Friday night. According to Marcus R. Fuller of the Star-Tribune, the Golden Gophers are anticipating that Lynch is available for the season opener on Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The 6-foot-10 Lynch has been in the news this offseason prior to his impending debut with Minnesota. In May, he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. On August 1, the Hennepin County attorney’s office was announced he would not face charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Lynch spent two seasons at Illinois State, averaging 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Redbirds as a sophomore. He sat out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Minnesota is coming off a second-to-last place finish in the Big Ten with an 8-23 (2-16 Big Ten) record.

Women’s hoops coaches boycotting recruiting events

DENVER, CO - MARCH 31:  Head coach Muffet McGraw of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish directs her team during practice prior to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four at Pepsi Center on March 31, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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For some high-major women’s basketball programs, the final evaluation period of 2016 is being used as a vacation from the recruiting trail.

According to a report from Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated, are not attending events during this weekend’s recruiting period for a host of reasons.

First, many are fed up with the price of tournament packets, booklets of rosters that college coaches receive upon paying their entry fee. Packets are supposed to be chock-full of contact information for the prospects, but sometimes aren’t accurate or up-to-date. (This has become a well-documented issue on the men’s side of college hoops. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish wrote on it this summer.) Furthermore, there are so many events now that college coaches are often forced to pay obscene amounts of money to watch just one player at a single event, and play recruiting hopscotch around the country, criss-crossing the nation to see so many events and spend thousands of dollars. One Power Five coach said her staff crunched the numbers, and found that in just two years, they’ve spent more than $4,000 more than they did in 2014 on packets alone. Another coach told a story of sending an assistant across the country for one day, to one event, to watch one team. When the assistant arrived, the team had left early for its next event. No refund was available for the college that had paid what turned out to be a useless entry fee. The head coach called it “exasperating.”

Jeff Borzello of ESPN, who spoke to Notre Dame head coach and eventual Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw for his report, estimated that the cost for one of the coaches packets — the ones that include player contact information, rosters, etc. — can cost each school an average of $600 per event.

This era of grassroots basketball has taken off in recent years with Nike, Under Armour and adidas all creating their own sponsored leagues. All three run exceptional events from the staff to the facilities, all the way to the three, free meals a day for coaches. Organizers of these events will argue that there’s a cost to running such high-end events. These packets, some of which are so in-depth they include players’ GPAs, help fund these tournaments (events, paying a staff, etc.).

Coaches, mostly mid to low-major coaches, will argue that these packets aren’t worth the cost, considering that every coach (head and assistant) must purchase them in order to gain entrance. And you will find packets where the information inside is either inaccurate, or missing or both. For elite programs, this isn’t an issue. You show up, you’re seen, you leave, you go to the next event, repeat. For mid to low-major coaches, this really puts a dent in their budget, especially when they have to travel to multiple events (buying packets at each one) because you have to land that “steal,” you have to find that player who is overlooked.

This protest, or boycott (or whatever you want to call it) will hurt those these events are intended to help the most: the players. If coaches continue to avoid these tournaments, that late-bloomer may miss out on a scholarship, or that player with mid-major offers won’t get the chance to play in front of high-major coaches.

According to Schnell, there is a proposal, voted on in April, to eliminate a live recruiting period in April and September. But many coaches in women’s basketball have made it clear this weekend how they feel about the issue.

USC lands commitment from three-star center

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USC added to its 2017 recruiting class with a commitment from a 7-foot big man.

Andy Enfield and the Trojans beat out Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee for the services of Calvary Christian Academy (Florida) center Victor Uyaelunmo. He announced his college decision on Friday afternoon.

“It was the best fit for me academically and athletically,” Uyaelunmo said according to David Furones of the Sun Sentinel. “The basketball coaches really wanted me to come, and I thought it was the best place for me.

“They told me how they were going to use me, and they have a couple of guys leaving this year, so I just fit in right.”

Uyaelunmo is regarded as a three-star prospect by Rivals, however, ESPN rates him a four-star recruit. He joins a two-man class which includes four-star forward Jordan Usher.

The departure of Nikola Jovanovic, the Trojans’ leading rebounder during the 2015-16, was a surprising one, and one that left USC with a hole in the middle. While Uyaelunmo still has one more year before arriving on the Los Angeles campus, the Trojans have a promising piece in the paint for the future; a long, athletic big man who has the potential, in time, to become one of the nation’s top shot blockers.

Uyaelunmo played for Nike South Beach in the EYBL this spring and summer. In 12 appearances, he averaged 5.0 points. 5.9 rebounds and 1.0 block in 17.6 minutes per game.

VIDEO: Rupp Arena’s new video board arrives

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Rupp Arena is getting a makeover. Take a peak as the new video board arrives and is put together:

Five-star freshman ruled ineligible to play for Villanova this season

Jay Wright
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Omari Spellman will not be eligible to play for Villanova this season, the school announced on Friday morning.

“We are extremely disappointed for Omari,” stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “While we don’t agree with the NCAA’s decision, we are members of the association and respect it. We understand why the NCAA felt it had to rule this way.”

“We will make a positive out of this for Omari. He will concentrate on his academics and individual development this season. In the long run Omari will be a better student and player for this experience.”

Spellman is a top 20 recruit that played for St. Thomas More this past season. At 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, Spellman was going to be counted on to play a major role in replacing Daniel Ochefu, the 6-foot-11 center that graduated this past spring. Without Spellman, Villanova will have to rely on inconsistent senior Darryl Reynolds to man their front line.

It is worth noting, however, that Reynolds did average 9.0 points and 10.6 boards in three games Ochefu missed last year. That was the first time in his career that he was given consistent minutes.

Spellman will be allowed to continue to practice with Villanova as he takes an academic redshirt.