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Assigned Reading: Michael Hausfeld, the man taking on the NCAA

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On Thursday, Steve Fainaru and Tom Farrey of ESPN co-wrote a lengthy piece about the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA. But the story didn’t focus on the former collegiate star. It centered around the lead attorney, Michael Hausfeld. Despite knowing next to nothing about sports, it hasn’t stopped him from challenging the NCAA’s model.

Hausfeld wasn’t kidding. He had no clue who Manziel and Clowney were. Just as he had no clue who O’Bannon — the Final Four Most Outstanding Player in UCLA’s 1995 title run — was before O’Bannon agreed to place his name on the lawsuit five years ago. No clue who Oscar Robertson was before he was added as co-plaintiff. No clue about anything, really, related to sports, at least as it’s played between the lines.

But Hausfeld does have one big idea — that the people who run our games ought to play by the rules that govern society and industry — and that has made him one of the most powerful people in sports. He has gone after the NCAA for allegedly operating as an illegal cartel. He has pursued the NFL and pushed the league to address the treatment of players in the areas of concussions and licensing rights. He’s even brought heat on the National Federation of State High School Associations in an attempt to hold some entity accountable for the fact that prep football players are nearly twice as likely as college players to suffer a brain injury.

The detailed story explains how Hausfeld and O’Bannon came in contact. It was through Sonny Vaccaro.

The trial officially began on June 9.

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?