Mitch McGary

Michigan’s Mitch McGary enters 2014 NBA Draft under less than ideal circumstances


With Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III having already decided to enter the 2014 NBA Draft, the Michigan basketball program was still waiting to find out what sophomore forward Mitch McGary would do. Friday morning the school announced that McGary, who played in just eight games this past season due to a lower back injury, would forego his final two seasons of eligibility to enter the NBA Draft.

However, what is normally seen as a joyous occasion for an athlete may not exactly be the case for McGary. Why? Because in the announcement, McGary also disclosed that he was facing a year-long suspension after failing an NCAA-administered drug test during the NCAA tournament.

“My family and I want to thank everyone for giving us privacy and the time to make this decision,” McGary said in the release. “As you know, it was important for us to weigh all the factors that go into something like this. With that being said, I am ready to move on to the next stage in my life and enter the NBA Draft.

“Being a part of a program that values integrity, it is important to let everyone know of a poor decision I recently made. I tested positive for marijuana during the NCAA Tournament. We were notified of that result after the Final Four. I regret thoroughly disappointing my family, coaches and administration. Despite all of this they have been understanding and helpful over the last couple of weeks.

“I take full responsibility for this poor choice and want to apologize to everyone, especially those I have grown close to during my fabulous two years at the University of Michigan.”

Following every NCAA tournament game the governing body randomly selects a couple players to undergo a drug test, and the penalty for failing are quite severe. Failing an NCAA-administered drug test carries a one-year suspension, even for a drug such as marijuana.

As for drug tests administered by schools throughout the season, the consequences for a first-time positive are generally far less severe since they’re allowed to set their own policies. Michigan’s policy is that an athlete would spend a week away from the team miss 10% of the team’s games for a first-time positive.

The NCAA in mid-April announced that one of the changes being considered was the lessening of penalties for testing positive for marijuana, with the governing body ruling that it is not a performance-enhancing drug. However with that change not going into effect until August 1, that clearly wasn’t going to help McGary’s case. Under that new policy, a positive test would cost an athlete half their season as opposed to all of it.

But even with that being the case many will wonder how (or why) a player who wasn’t playing due to injury would be drawn for a random drug test. Unfortunately for Michigan, they’ll be without a key interior component as a result.

The Wolverines have now lost McGary, Jordan Morgan (graduation) and Jon Horford (transfer) from its front court, meaning that young players such as redshirt freshman Mark Donnal, redshirt junior Max Bielfeldt and newcomers Ricky Doyle and D.J. Wilson will have a lot on their collective shoulders in 2014-15.

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?