Pac-12 using basketball as a means to gain exposure in China

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Schools and conferences are always looking for ways to gain additional exposure, but usually that exposure is relegated to just within the the United States. For the Pac-12 conference, however, they are seeking to take their brand to a global level with an initiative in China.

It’s no secret that China presents robust opportunities, which is why the Pac-12 believes that there is serious potential for an increase in research collaboration between schools in the conference and universities in China, boost Chinese enrollment at Pac-12 schools, and possibly garner Chinese investment in the conference.

As reported by Jon Wilner of College Hotline, the Pac-12 launched a globalization initiative two years ago with a focus on China. There are many ways to cultivate a relationship between the Pac-12 and China, but using athletics — specifically basketball and volleyball — as a means of strengthening the league’s relationship with Chinese universities and businesses is an integral aspect of the initiative. Basketball, along with volleyball, are two of China’s most popular sports.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said: “We use the term ‘front porch’  to describe the potential role athletics can play for the universities … how athletics can create opportunities for the universities more broadly.”

It isn’t uncommon for schools to take summer trips to Europe and other foreign countries, but it isn’t too often that regular season games take place overseas — remember last year Connecticut and Michigan State kicked their seasons off at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Just last summer, UCLA men’s basketball played exhibition games in China, and fortunately they fared better than the Georgetown team who threw haymakers and punches in a vicious brawl while in China.

According to Scott, there are not any plans to take Pac-12 football to China as there is little interest in American football there, but don’t rule out the possibility of a regular season game — maybe even a conference game — taking place in China. Of course there are logistical issues that must be taken into consideration, but it’s important to recognize that the higher-ups in the Pac-12 are on board with such an idea.

I’m not sure how thrilled some of the Pac-12 basketball coaches and teams would be of a game like this as a trip to China in the middle of the season can really wear on a team, but the exposure the Pac-12 would receive is undeniable. With more and more foreign players making their way into the college game every year, perhaps a Pac-12 school would land the next Yao Ming on their roster if annual games are played. That wouldn’t be a bad trade-off, would it?

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?