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Report: Big 5 conferences could get autonomy on Thursday

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The Power 5 conferences could get one step closer to being granted autonomy on Thursday as they are “expected to gain preliminary approval Thursday to break away from some of the strictures of the NCAA”, according to a report from the New York Times.

The rule changes that would happen if the proposal were to go through are that the Power 5 conferences would be able to pay their athletes a stipend of a couple thousand dollars, allowing more contact between athletes and agents, and allowing more contact between recruits and the schools pursuing them.

It’s not a secret that there is already a massive gap between the wealthiest athletic programs and the schools that are at the bottom of Division I, particularly on the basketball side of things. Duke and North Carolina-Central are both located in Durham, North Carolina, but comparing their facilities is, well, frankly not possible.

This is a move that has been speculated about for a long time, as the amount of money that gets generated by the athletes at the highest levels of football and basketball continues to grow while their “income” remains constant : a scholarship that too often doesn’t cover the full cost of attendance.

Here’s a bit more on the changes that may be coming, via the Times:

The N.C.A.A. currently restricts scholarships to the cost of “tuition and fees, room, board and required course-related books.” The new measure would allow athletes to receive the “full cost of attendance,” a sum that is generally a few thousand dollars higher. The Big 5 officials have also suggested they would use autonomy to uniformly give athletes better medical coverage and greater leeway to borrow against future earnings to purchase disability insurance.

Under the new model, the rule-making body would include a representative from each institution plus three athletes from each conference. The number of scholarships awarded per sport would remain the same for all Division I universities, and all Division I institutions could continue to participate in championships and revenue-sharing. Any other Division I conference or university (pending its conference’s approval) could opt into the Big 5’s rules. Notre Dame, which is independent in football but is in the A.C.C. and Hockey East in other sports, would be treated as a Big 5 institution.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this, but there’s a possibility that it could be the first step in the Power 5 schools breaking away from the rest of the NCAA.

Duke, Cincinnati lead Hall of Fame Tip-Off

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski gestures during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Florida State in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) Duke and Cincinnati, 2016 NCAA Tournament teams, highlight the eight-team field for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.

The participants for the Nov. 19-20 event were announced Wednesday.

Also in the field are Rhode Island, Penn State, Grand Canyon, Albany, Marist and Brown.

The teams, split into two four-team brackets, will play two doubleheaders at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Duke, Cincinnati, Penn State and Rhode Island will meet in the Naismith Bracket, while the others will play in the Springfield Bracket.

The teams will play two early round games at campus sites from Nov. 11 through Nov. 16.

Brandone Francis-Ramirez transferring out of Florida

Florida State center Jean Marc Christ Koumadje (21) fouls Florida guard Brandone Francis-Ramirez (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, in Gainesville, Fla. (Matt Stamey, The Gainesville Sun via AP)
(Matt Stamey, The Gainesville Sun via AP)
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Brandone Francis-Ramirez is transferring out of the Florida program, the school announced on Wednesday.

A former top 40 recruit, Francis-Ramirez had his two seasons in Gainesville ruined by an academic issues and a loss of confidence. He was academically ineligible in 2014-15, practicing with the team during the second semester. He was granted a redshirt for the year, but he struggled to find any kind of a rhythm this past season. There was a two-month stretch in the middle of the year where he shot 6-for-58 from the floor and 2-for-31 from three.

On the season, he shot 20.2 percent from the floor and 16.9 percent from three.

“I want it to work out for him,” Gators coach Mike White said in a release. “We really appreciate what Brandone did here and wish him the best.”

One of Villanova’s title game stars undergoes knee surgery

Phil Booth, Jack McVeigh
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The forgotten star of the national title game underwent an arthroscopic on his left knee on Wednesday.

Phil Booth, who scored a season-high 20 points in the 2016 National Title game, will be a junior next season and one of the guys called upon to help replace Ryan Arcidiacono, who graduated. He should be ready to go by the middle of the summer; according to a statement put out by the program, Booth will need 6-to-8 weeks to heal.

“Phil is as mentally tough a young man as we have had at Villanova,” head coach Jay Wright said in the release. “He continually impresses our coaching staff with his outstanding attitude. Phil will attack this recovery challenge with great determination, as he does everything in life.”

Booth averaged 7.0 points and 2.2 assists this past season.

Jennings becomes seventh player to transfer from Kentucky

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell watches his team during the team's regional semifinal in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament against Washington in Lexington, Ky., Friday, March 25, 2016. Washington won 85-72. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has announced that sophomore forward Alexis Jennings will transfer, the seventh Wildcat to leave the program since last fall.

Jennings’ departure comes a week after Mitchell publicly addressed the mass exodus of players and assistant coaches and stressed the need for building stability. Jennings figured to be part of that process and the coach said in a release Wednesday night that “it saddens us that Alexis did not see a path for her at Kentucky. … She felt it was in her best interest to finish her career elsewhere and we owe her that opportunity.”

The 6-foot-2 Jennings started 18 of 33 games last season and averaged 10 points and 7.1 rebounds.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.