Rob Dauster

Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes (10) drives on Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Madison, Wis. Hayes had a team-high 21 points in Wisconsin's 79-68 win. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
(AP Photo/Andy Manis)

Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes to declare for the draft

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Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes will declare for the NBA Draft without signing with an agent. He will be eligible to return to school for his senior season should he remove his name from consideration by May 25th.

Hayes, a 6-foot-8 forward, averaged 15.7 points, 5.9 boards and 3.0 assists for the Badgers as a junior, seeing his production increase dramatically in a year where he was asked to fill the void left by Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker.

Hayes’ decision was first reported by The Vertical.

The knock on Hayes, however, was that the increased production came at the expense of his efficiency. He shot just 36 percent from the floor and 29 percent from three this season. In other Hayes, there is some reason to think that Hayes as potential as a pro, but he also has some things that he needs to work on to get there.

Which is why the new rule allowing players to declare and withdraw from the draft is perfect for him. He can get the feedback he needs and the information on the things that he has to improve and, if he doesn’t like where he’s likely to end up after this season, he can return to school, spend the summer trying to improve his flaws and try and play his way into next year’s draft.

Former Syracuse star Pearl Washington dead at age 52

FILE - In this March 10, 1984, file photo, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, right, and Syracuse player Dwayne Washington (31) watch as Georgetown University took control in overtime of the Big East Conference championship basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, current and former players, and others associated with the program continue to rally in support of former Orange star Dwayne Pearl Washington, who’s afflicted with brain cancer.  (AP Photo/Ray Stubblebine, File)
(AP Photo/Ray Stubblebine, File)

Dwayne ‘Pearl’ Washington is dead at 52, Syracuse University announced on Wednesday morning.

He had spent the last year battling a brain tumor, undergoing surgery last fall, but he was unable to defeat the illness.

Washington was a playground legend in his hometown of New York City, becoming one of the Big East’s first “Point Gods“. A 6-foot-3 human highlight reel, Washington’s flair for the spectacular made him one of the best, and most entertaining, players in the country. The Big East was four years old when he first enrolled at Syracuse, and he played a starring role for the teams that made the Orange relevant in the conference for the first time.

Pearl’s most famous shot came in January of 1984, when he hit a half-court buzzer-beater to win a game against Boston College and proceeded to run directly down the tunnel and into the locker room:

Throughout the season, Syracuse players wore warmup shirts emblazoned with ‘Pearl’ on the front and his No. 31 on the back.

“There was no better guy,” head coach Jim Boeheim said after a game against Georgia Tech this season, “and there’s nobody who has meant more to our basketball program than Dwayne Washington.”

Attorney: NCAA also deserves blame in UNC fraud scandal

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) An attorney representing two ex-North Carolina athletes says the school and NCAA are both responsible for UNC’s long-running academic fraud scandal that he says denied athletes a quality education.

Michael Hausfeld said Tuesday in a hearing in federal court that athletes who took even one of the irregular courses had been defrauded. Hausfeld is one of the attorneys representing ex-women’s basketball player Rashanda McCants and ex-football player Devon Ramsay, who filed a lawsuit alleging neither defendant did enough to ensure athletes received a quality education.

“The essence of this lawsuit is not about easy classes or friendly professors,” Hausfeld said. “It’s about academic fraud as opposed to academic integrity.”

The school and NCAA are seeking to have the case dismissed, while UNC is also seeking the dismissal of a related lawsuit filed by two other ex-athletes: football player Michael McAdoo and women’s basketball player Kenya McBee. District Court Judge Loretta C. Biggs heard arguments in both cases that seek class-action status during an all-day court session Tuesday, asked questions of the attorneys but didn’t immediately issue a ruling.

UNC’s academic case centers on independent study-style courses that required no class time and one or two research papers in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) department. Run largely by an office administrator – not a faculty member – the courses featured GPA-boosting grades and significant athlete enrollments across numerous sports, while poor oversight throughout the university allowed them to run unchecked for years.

Both lawsuits – as well as a third by two other ex-UNC athletes and dismissed in state court in February – were filed after a 2014 probe by former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein. That report estimated more than 3,100 students were affected between 1993 and 2011, with athletes making up roughly half the enrollments in problem courses.

In Tuesday’s arguments, attorneys for UNC and the NCAA argued that the lawsuits should be dismissed because a three-year statute of limitations had passed, while UNC also claimed sovereign immunity as a state institution. The athletes’ attorneys have made similar arguments that their clients were steered into the courses by academic counselors to minimize conflicts with sports practice schedules – sometimes handed a predetermined class schedule despite it conflicting with their desired major pursuits – and no indication that the courses were deficient by lacking faculty involvement.

While Hausfeld argued the NCAA had a duty to ensure the quality of education for “vulnerable adolescents” at member institutions, NCAA attorney Stephen D. Brody argued the organization doesn’t venture into the classroom to monitor the quality or rigor of courses.

“That is not a space that is occupied by the NCAA,” Brody told Biggs.

McCants and Ramsay combined to take three problem AFAM courses while majoring in other departments, according to their lawsuit. In Tuesday’s first hearing, attorneys for McAdoo and McBee said their clients had taken one or two of the irregular courses during each semester in school. McBee graduated with a double major, one coming in the AFAM department, while McAdoo withdrew from school to pursue a professional playing career after being ruled permanently ineligible for academic violations in 2010.

Geraldine Sumter, an attorney for McAdoo and McBee, compared the problem courses to “an empty shell.”

“This is not a case of educational malpractice,” she said. “This is a case of failing to educate.”

The academic case has led the NCAA to charge UNC with five violations – including a lack of institutional control – in a still-pending investigation. It also led to trouble for UNC with its accreditation agency, which put the school on a year of probation last June.

Antonio Blakeney to return to LSU

LSU's Antonio Blakeney (2) dunks as Tennessee's Armani Moore (4) looks on during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Southeastern Conference tournament in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, March 11, 2016. LSU won 84-75. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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LSU announced on Tuesday that Antonio Blakeney will be returning to for his sophomore season.

“After consulting with my coaches and with my family, I have decided to return to LSU for my sophomore season,” Blakeney said in a news release. “I believe I can further improve my skill set in different areas to become even more effective for my team in the future.

“Although I finished the year strong and posted a solid season, I think it is in my best interest to return and continue to improve as I strive and prepare to be the best I can be. This will also allow me to continue with my schoolwork and continue to move forward on my college degree.”

Blakeney is a 6-foot-3 guard that averaged 12.6 points last season, and while he’s a talented kid, he’s still got a way to improve to get to the NBA level. He’s undersized for a shooting guard — not to mention the fact that he’s an inconsistent shooter — and he’s not a point guard. This is the right decision, and he should be in line for a big season as a sophomore, when he’ll have the chance to be one of the focal points offensively for the Tigers.

“We’re excited about Antonio Blakeney’s decision to return for his sophomore season at LSU,” coach Johnny Jones said. “His return will automatically give us another prolific scorer and the experience factor that is needed as we continue moving forward for next season. We will work diligently to help him continue to improve this offseason as he strives to be the best.”

Former Iowa State star Nikki Moody sues coach

Iowa State's Nikki Moody (4) consults with head coach Bill Fennelly during the first half of a women's college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Lexington, Ky., Friday, March 20, 2015. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Former Iowa State basketball star Nikki Moody has sued coach Bill Fennelly, the university and the state for racial discrimination and retaliation, saying she was repeatedly called a “thug” and labeled a selfish player despite being the program’s career assists leader.

Fennelly, who has been Iowa State’s coach since 1995, constantly demeaned, berated, harassed and discriminated against Moody during her time with the Cyclones, according to the lawsuit filed in state district court that seeks unspecified damages. Moody, who is black, said the discrimination she suffered led to a “hostile education environment through racial harassment.”

Iowa State spokesman John McCarroll declined comment on behalf of the school and Fennelly.

Fennelly is 447-223 with Iowa State – which regularly ranks among the nation’s top teams in home attendance – and is signed through 2019 after agreeing to a 12-year, $10.6 million contract in 2007.

Moody, who graduated in 2015 as a four-year starter, said the abuse caused her severe emotional distress and that her complaints to assistant coaches and a senior athletics administrator brought not response.

Moody claims that Fennelly treated white players differently than African-American players and that Fennelly called her a “thug” multiple times throughout her career. Moody said Fennelly told Iowa State’s freshman players that her senior class, made up of Moody and two other African-American players, were “bad influences” and to stay away from them.

Fennelly allegedly told Moody she had “been trying to ruin my life, but I will get the last laugh. I can’t wait to tell coaches that call me all the negative things I know about you.”

According to Moody, Fennelly also repeatedly demeaned Chassidy Cole, at the time the only black player on the team who was not a freshman, saying she “will end up in prison, just like her mother” and was also a thug. Cole declined comment Monday, telling The Associated Press she “didn’t want to be involved.”

Moody led the Cyclones with 14.5 points and 6.8 assists per game in 2014-15. She was drafted 33rd overall by the San Antonio Stars in the 2015 WNBA draft in April, just weeks before filing a complaint against Fennelly with the Iowa State University Office of Equal Opportunity, according to her lawsuit. She was cut May 28 and Moody claims in her suit that Fennelly and Stars coach Dan Hughes are friends.

Iowa State struggled without Moody last season, going 13-17 and missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. Its struggles came largely after starting center Bryanna Fernstrom abruptly decided to transfer to Minnesota in January. Fernstrom tweeted Monday that “what happens in the dark, always comes to light!” A Gophers spokeswoman confirmed to the AP that it was Fernstrom’s account.

Former Iowa State star Lyndsey Fennelly, who is married to Fennelly’s son, a Cyclones assistant coach, tweeted: “Accountability, Responsibility, Respect, Character. Taught me that and so much more!” in reference to her former coach.

Iowa State is also being sued by another former basketball player, Bubu Palo, who claimed its response to rape allegations ruined his chances of playing professional basketball. Palo accused university officials of wrongly punishing him even after a criminal case against Palo was dropped.

Iowa State’s cross-state rival, Iowa, is facing legal issues of its own. A lawsuit filed last month accused Iowa athletic director Gary Barta of unfairly removing female coaches and the top women’s sports administrator during a decade-long tenure stained by gender bias.

Regents to discuss Menzies’ five-year contract with UNLV

New Mexico State head coach Marvin Menzies looks on during practice for the NCAA college basketball tournament in Spokane, Wash., Wednesday, March 19, 2014. New Mexico State plays against San Diego State in a second-round game on Thursday. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

LAS VEGAS (AP) UNLV is proposing a five-year contract that pays $3.7 million to its new men’s basketball coach, Marvin Menzies.

Documents filed with the Nevada Board of Regents on Monday show Menzies has agreed to the deal. The board is set to discuss the agreement during a meeting on Friday.

Under the contract, which runs through 2021, Menzies is guaranteed $700,000 during each of the first three seasons and $800,000 for the final two.

Menzies, who has spent the last nine seasons as head coach at New Mexico State, took the position with UNLV on Saturday. He filled in for Chris Beard, who left Friday to coach at Texas Tech just a week after accepting the UNLV job.

Beard’s five-year deal with UNLV had been for nearly $5.8 million.