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NCAA waves goodbye to hardship waivers; ‘Big Five’ leagues a step closer to autonomy

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The Division I Board of Directors is now one step closer to changing the power structure of the NCAA to grant more autonomy to the “Big Five” conferences, as the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC were referred to in the NCAA’s release.

It’s not a secret that the teams in the biggest conferences also have the biggest budgets, and the Board of Directors endorsed the idea of allowing the Big Five the chance to provide their student-athletes with the kind of benefits that have been pushed for in recent years:

  • Enough financial aid and scholarship money to cover the full cost of attendance
  • Insurance policies, including those that protect future earnings
  • More academic support, especially for at-risk athletes
  • Continuing education and medical care
  • Travel for families, free tickets to athletics events, and other expenses associated with practice and competition (such as parking)

Those will go to a final vote in August.

The other noteworthy aspect of today’s release from the NCAA is that hardship waivers granting immediate eligibility to transfers will now be a thing of the past. “Qualifying student-athletes who cannot transfer and play immediately without a waiver will be allowed a sixth year to complete their four years of eligibility,” the NCAA said in the release. In other words, the players will not be held to current NCAA standard that four years of eligibility must be used up in a five-year window.

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Rick Pitino: ‘We should be penalized … but not this team’

Rick Pitino
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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One of the biggest storylines of Saturday’s college basketball schedule had everything to do with a team that no longer matters in the championship picture.

Less than 24 hours after being informed that the school would be imposing a postseason ban that will leave the Cardinals out of the ACC and NCAA tournaments, No. 19 Louisville tipped off against Boston College, and they did so without leading scorer Damion Lee, who is battling a knee issue.

How would the team respond to the decision — the despicable, shameful decision — that the university’s president made?

Well, it seems.

The Cardinals jumped out to a 19-2 lead in the first eight minutes and cruised to a 79-47 win over an overmatched Boston College team in the Yum! Center.

And head coach Rick Pitino, after the quote, said exactly what everyone is thinking.

“We should be penalized, no question about it,” he said. “But not this team. But the NCAA didn’t make that decision. We made that decision.”

He’s totally right. The school sacrificed the season — and the only shot that a pair of fifth-year seniors would get to play in the NCAA tournament — to protect the school, the brand and the bottom-line moving forward. Like I said earlier, it’s despicable.

But credit the Cardinals for responding.

Because they still have something on the line. They’re just a game out of first place in the ACC, and while an ACC regular season title isn’t a shot to play in the ACC or NCAA tournament, it’s still a banner that would probably mean more to Damion Lee and Trey Lewis than any league title has meant to a Louisville player before.

Oklahoma State without Jawun Evans, questionable moving forward

Oklahoma State guard Jawun Evans (1) goes up for a shot between Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) and forward Perry Ellis (34) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. Oklahoma State won 86-67. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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Oklahoma State’s star point guard was not in the lineup on Saturday against No. 13 Iowa State.

Evans injured his shoulder in the Cowboys’ loss at Texas Tech on Wednesday and was ruled out of Saturday’s game.

According to the school, his official status moving forward is questionable. The Pokes are just 11-11 on the season and likely need to earn the Big 12’s at-large bid to get into the NCAA tournament. It makes sense to let him get healthy.

Evans was averaging 12.9 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 boards this season, but he had been arguably the best point guard in the Big 12 during league play, averaging 15.6 points and 5.6 assists.