NCAA requests that O’Bannon lawsuit be delayed 15 months

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This summer hasn’t been an especially kind one to the NCAA in the court of public opinion, especially when it comes to the way in which current (and former players) are used by the organization.

A look into the Johnny Manziel case resulted in the discovery that the NCAA’s official online store did link individual players to their jerseys via the site’s search option. This option would later be disabled, and NCAA president Mark Emmert announced during a teleconference that the site would no longer sell player jerseys. And there was also the decision in another court to allow the lawsuit

With more people voicing their displeasure with the current system, there have been questions as to what impact the lawsuit filed by former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller against the NCAA and EA Sports would have on the current climate.

In late July the defendants’ claim that their use of player likenesses was protected by the First Amendment was denied by a circuit court of appeals, allowing the case that’s essentially been consolidated into the O’Bannon suit to proceed.

With the hits they’ve taken in the courtroom, it’s understandable if the defendants in the O’Bannon lawsuit (the NCAA, EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Company) felt the need to essentially “lick their wounds” and take some time to regroup. On Monday the NCAA requested that the trial, which currently has a start date of June 9, 2014, be delayed until August 28, 2015. The other two defendants requested that the start of the trial be delayed five months.

The plaintiffs issued a written request to U.S. Distirct Judge Claudia Wilken that she not push the start date back, thus giving her another matter to consider while also needing to rule as to whether or not the case will receive class-action certification.

Steve Berkowitz of USA Today provided a summary of the other matters on Judge Wilken’s plate regarding the O’Bannon suit:

An amended version of the complaint that added current college athletes to the list of named plaintiffs.

Motions that each of the defendants filed in response to amended version of the complaint. The NCAA and EA want the opportunity to seek their dismissal from the case before Wilken rules on class certification – and the NCAA wants the opportunity to conduct an extensive round of evidence gathering in conjunction with its presumptive bid for dismissal. CLC wants all but one of the current-athlete plaintiffs removed from the case and it wants the scope of the plaintiffs’ case to be reduced.

The parties’ inability to agree on a case schedule, which Wilken had asked them on Aug. 8 to negotiate and then file with her on Monday. Instead of an agreed-upon schedule, she got a 16-page joint statement that said early on: “The parties have not been able to reach any agreements on any of the topics discussed.”

In recent weeks there have been more than a few hypotheses as to what would happen to collegiate athletics should  the plaintiffs win. However based on the many moving parts, it seems as if any changes to the current model won’t be happening for quite some time.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.