Mark Emmert

NCAA president Mark Emmert planning January summit with Division I schools

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While the focus of this website isn’t college football, there’s no denying the fact that the sport’s had a major impact on college basketball. Many of the conference realignment decisions in recent years have been made with football in mind, setting off a domino effect that’s impacted schools at the mid-and low-major levels as well.

With power conferences gearing up to begin their respective football seasons, the commissioners of the five leagues that came out of realignment in the “best” shape giving their thoughts on the current state of the NCAA.

Those presidents have all demanded that changes be made, and with that in mind it was reported by the Indianapolis Star on Thursday that NCAA president Mark Emmert has called for a summit involving Division I schools in January. The NCAA executive committee and Division I board will meet on August 8 to discuss possible models for how to govern the 348 schools that are currently Division I members.

And one thing that’s been noted for years is the fact that these schools don’t operate on similar planes. This impacts the way in which programs are governed, or at least it should be this way. But that hasn’t always been the case, hence the five commissioners’ respective decisions to use the media day platform to address the issue.

“There’s one thing that virtually everybody in Division I has in common right now, and that is they don’t like the governance model,” Emmert said. “Now, there’s not agreement on what the new model should be. But there’s very little support for continuing things in the governing process the way they are today.”

With the increased demands that the current model be augmented, there’s been some chatter that the power conferences could look to either split away from the NCAA or establish another division under the NCAA umbrella. But according to Emmert a split has not be discussed seriously, and member schools are willing to work together to find a solution of some sort.

In the letter, Emmert called the “first-time Division I Governance Dialogue” a “critical meeting” that will cover “virtually every aspect of how Division I operates.”

“There’s a need to recognize there are Division I schools with $5 million athletic budgets and $155 million athletic budgets, and trying to find a model that fits all of them is the enormous challenge right now,” Emmert said.

At this point it’s difficult to come to a definitive conclusion in regards to what changes will be made, but it isn’t difficult to realize that changes need to be made. Will this ultimately lead to the dissolution of Division I as we know it, or will it simply mean that the current membership makes the moves needed to keep everyone happy without leaving the NCAA umbrella?

Come January we may be closer to receiving an answer to that question.

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.