Friday evening in Caroline County, Va. a hot-air balloon holding three passengers crashed into a power line, resulting in an explosion that according to multiple outlets has resulted in the death of the occupants. Saturday evening the University of Richmond confirmed that two of the occupants were women’s basketball staffers: associate head coach Ginny Doyle and director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis.
According to the school two of the three bodies have been recovered by the Virginia State Police, and the medical examiner’s office has yet to release the identities.
Doyle, who played at Richmond, has been a member of the coaching staff for the last sixteen years. Lewis, a 2011 Richmond alum who was a member of the swimming team while an undergraduate, has been a member of head coach Michael Shafer’s program since 2012. A hot-air balloon that held Shafer and his two daughters landed safely shortly before the crash of the hot-air balloon that Doyle and Lewis were in.
School president Edward L. Ayers and athletic director Keith Gill said the following in a statement released by the school:
“As alumnae, classmates, and colleagues – and as invaluable and devoted mentors for our student-athletes – Ginny and Natalie have been beloved members of ourcommunity,” said President Edward L. Ayers. “Their leadership and friendship will endure in the lives of so many.”
“Words cannot begin to express our sorrow,” said Keith Gill, director of athletics. “We are all stunned by the tragic news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their loved ones.”
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 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?