Mike Slive

SEC administrators discuss autonomy at league meetings in Florida

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One of the biggest issues in collegiate athletics these days is how the member schools will be governed. With the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC making the most money due in large part to their football-fueled television/bowl revenue streams, those conferences would like to have more control over how they do things such as meeting the full cost of attendance for their scholarship athletes.

That’s led to discussions about autonomy, with those five leagues hoping to make changes to the way in which they provide for their athletes (meeting the full cost of attendance, for example) while remaining under the NCAA umbrella. But in order for that to happen the conferences will need more leeway to pass measures that would allow them to do more for their student-athletes.

Those issues will be discussed in August by an NCAA steering committee, and at the SEC meetings in Destin, Fla. last week multiple administrators spoke of what could happen if they weren’t allowed to do more.

The current voting thresholds would require two-thirds of “Power Five” schools, 15 students and four of the five power conferences voting in favor of autonomy for that to occur. The SEC would like to see those thresholds lowered to 60 percent and three of five conferences to go along with the 15 students who would be a part of the voting process.

Based upon their arguments those numbers would make it easier for the proposed legislation to pass. And if the measures that would allow those programs to do more were to fall short of those marks? SEC commissioner Mike Slive said the following:

“I think if it doesn’t pass, I think the next move would be to go to the Division IV,” Slive said. “It’s not something we want to do.”

“But within that structure, we want the ability to have autonomy in areas that has a nexus to the well-being of student athletes. I am somewhat optimistic it will pass, but if it doesn’t our league would certainly want to move to a Division IV. My colleagues, I can’t speak for anybody else, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t feel the same way.”

Part of the desire for autonomy stems from the number of lawsuits that currently hover over collegiate athletics, including the Ed O’Bannon suit that’s scheduled to begin on June 9. Will the five conferences look to make a move should they not get the votes? That remains to be seen, but given how much money those leagues bring in that may not be a question the other conferences are willing to wait for an answer on.

“If we don’t get it, I think there will be a real — I don’t want to use the ‘C’ word (crisis) — but there will be some real difficult times ahead for the NCAA and for the five conferences,” Florida president Bernie Machen said according to the Gainesville Sun. “The thing that’s interesting about it is the NCAA needs this to work as much as we do because they’re on the point as well.

“But I’m not convinced (it will happen). This has to be approved. First, the steering committee has to submit their final proposal, the board has to vote on it in August, then the membership has to vote on it in January. So we have quite a long ways to go before this gets approved.”

Knee injury sidelines Illinois forward Leron Black

Josh Hart, Leron Black
Associated Press
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Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.

Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.

Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).

In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.

Coach Hamilton likes mix on Florida State basketball roster

ACC Basketball Tournament: Florida State v North Carolina
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State is the only team in the Atlantic Coast Conference that returns all five of its starters from last season.

For most teams that would be cause for celebration. For coach Leonard Hamilton it means he is hoping the struggles of the past two seasons have been valuable experience.

The Seminoles had their first practice on Wednesday as they are looking to bounce back from a season in which they went 17-16 and didn’t play in a postseason tournament for the first time in 10 years.

“We have five starters returning from a team that won 17 games. We have guys that have been around, who know their shortcomings and can pass on their wisdom to the younger players,” Hamilton said.

With an experienced roster and a highly regarded recruiting class, Hamilton is hoping to lead the Seminoles back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012, which is also the year they won the ACC Tournament.

Jarquez Smith, the leading returning scorer from last season, said the open gyms before the start of practice have been extremely competitive as the incoming recruiting class has tried to assert itself early.

“We’ve been going at each other’s neck and it has gotten very competitive,” Smith said. “Everyone is fighting for their position because the guys coming off the bench are just as athletic as who is on the court.”

The newcomers feature Dwayne Bacon (a McDonald’s All-American selection), Terance Mann (the Gatorade Player of the Year in New Hampshire) and Malik Beasley (the Georgia 1A Player of the Year). There’s also Chris Koumadje, who at 7-foot-4 will be the tallest player in school history, and Benji Bell, who helped lead Northwest Florida State to the JUCO National Title.

“This is a very confident and focused group of inexperienced players,” Hamilton said. “They want to make something special happen but aren’t taking anything for granted.”

Two things that Hamilton will look to work on during preseason practices is defense and figuring out his rotation. The Seminoles suffered from a lack of depth last season but this year he could have a roster that goes 10 deep and allows him to go to more of a full-court pressing style of defense.

Xavier Rahan-Mayes led the team in scoring last season, averaging 14.9 points en route to becoming the first freshman in ACC history to score 30 or more points three times. The one thing he said he noticed in preseason practices were that everyone played off each other’s strengths.

Florida State’s first exhibition game is Nov. 2 against Lynn University before opening the season on Nov. 15 against Nicholls State.

“I think we have a pretty good combination of experience and an influx of new players. Any time you have that type of scenario you appreciate it,” Hamilton said. “It looks like we have it moving in the right direction. We’ve had a good offseason and regrouped.”