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Louisville appeal calls NCAA ruling ‘draconian’, ‘unjust’, ‘grossly disproportionate’

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In appeal paperwork filed with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions, Louisville called the sanctions handed down earlier this summer “draconian”, “unjust” and “grossly disproportionate”.

After an investigation that lasted more than a year, the NCAA ruled that, in addition to the self-imposed penalties from early 2016, which included a ban from the 2015-16 postseason, Rick Pitino was to be suspended for five games and the Cardinals would have to forfeit every game in which a retroactively ineligible player participated. This would mean that Louisville’s 2012 Final Four and 2013 National Title would be vacated.

According to the appeal, Louisville “fully agrees … that McGee committed egregious misconduct” and “does not dispute in the slightest that his actions warranted serious penalties” for both himself and the university. That, they say, is why they self-imposed sanctions, which, at the time, was a massive deal. In other words, Louisville’s argument is that they already gave themselves a significant punishment, and that the COI incorrectly did not factor that into their decision-making process when handing out a punishment.

The other argument that Louisville makes is that none of the three players that were ruled retroactively ineligible were “properly deemed ineligible,” saying that one player left the room before the dance had started, one received benefits below the NCAA’s restitution threshold and one was “shielded by the COI’s grant of limited immunity.”

“Not one student who later competed in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons engaged in a sex act,” the appeal read. “Even if these student-athletes were technically ineligible, they would unquestionably have been reinstated.”

To prove this point, Louisville argued that a player who was still playing in the fall of 2015, when the story first broke, had a petition for reinstatement for $205 of benefits filed, and granted. The player’s “eligibility restored without any loss of competition.”

Essentially, Louisville is saying that not only is vacating the wins from the 2011-12 and 2012-13 season too harsh of a punishment, but that the punishment would not have been given has they learned about what was happening in Billy Minardi Hall during those seasons.

Louisville has a valid argument, but it may fall on deaf ears.

The salacious details of this scandal — a staff member paying for hookers and strippers for underage recruits — carry more weight for the NCAA than does precedence or any argument Louisville can make about the value of a lap dance.

The COI has a month to respond to the appeal.

Police searching for former all-SEC guard on drug trafficking charges

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Former all-SEC guard Scooter McFagdon is one of ten people still at-large after the Memphis Police Department indicted 36 alleged drug dealers in a six-month investigation called ‘Operation Cocaine Cowboys’.

McFagdon is a Memphis native that began his career with the Tigers before transferring to Tennessee for his final two seasons. He made an all-SEC team while there and averaged more than 17 points as a junior for the Vols.

Back in 2014, McFagdon was arrested when police found one kilogram of cocaine and 193 pounds of weed in a car he was driving in Texas. According to police, the origin of the cocaine being sold in the bust this month was also Texas.

Police released McFagdon’s mugshot in an effort to locate him.

Former Brown assistant Dan Doyle sentenced to 15 years for embezzlement

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A former boxing promoter, ex-college basketball coach and founder of a Rhode Island-based sport institute who was convicted of embezzlement has been sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison, with seven years to serve and the remainder suspended with probation.

Dan Doyle of the Institute for International Sport was convicted in December after a nearly three month trial of seven counts of embezzlement, one count of obtaining money under false pretenses, five counts of forgery, and five counts of filing a false document.

Prosecutors say the 68-year-old West Hartford resident used the institute as a personal piggybank, taking out money to cover the cost of college tuition, plastic surgery, and wedding expenses for his children.

Doyle was an assistant coach at Brown before spending three seasons as the head coach at Trinity College (D-III) in Connecticut. He would go on to promote fights for legendary boxer Sugar Ray Leonard.

Investigators say Doyle embezzled approximately $1.14 million from the institute, a nonprofit he founded in 1986 with the mission to use sports and the arts to forge relationships on a global scale and to address societal issues.

Of the Institute’s programs, one of the best known was the World Scholar Athlete Games held at the University of Rhode Island.

Doyle had sought a new trial. A judge denied that motion earlier this year.

Doyle was also ordered to pay $550,000 in restitution to the Hassenfeld Foundation and was ordered to undergo an evaluation for counseling.

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said Thursday that Doyle “bilked honest and admirable individuals out of hundreds of thousands of dollars and destroyed the mission and purpose of the International Institute of Sport, which he founded, in order to sustain a lifestyle he felt he was entitled to.”

Mike Krzyzewski to under go knee surgery, Duke to cancel team trip to the Dominican Republic

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Duke announced on Thursday that Mike Krzyzewski will be undergoing surgery to get a total knee replacement on his right knee this weekend.

Due to the surgery, the team will be canceling their upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic.

“While it’s disappointing that we aren’t able to make the Dominican Republic trip, this is a positive development for both our team and myself because it will allow us to be at full strength for the start of practice this fall,” Krzyzewski said. “After three consecutive days of working with the team, it became clear that the condition of my knee wouldn’t be sustainable through next season. The best course of action is to correct the problem now rather than later, when our team would be more profoundly impacted.”

Coach K missed seven games last season after undergoing surgery on his back.

The knee replacement will be the sixth surgery that Coach K, who turned 70 in February, will have undergone in the last 16 months.

Duke is currently sitting at No. 5 in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

Will Cuonzo Martin have the personnel to take advantage of Michael and Jontay Porter at Missouri?

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Late on Wednesday night, Jontay Porter finally made it official, announcing to the world the worst kept secret in all of college basketball: He will be reclassifying and enrolling at Missouri this fall, joining his brother, Michael Jr., and father, Michael Sr., with the Tigers for the 2017-18 season.

Michael Jr. is a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and a guy that could end up being the best player in college basketball this season. Jontay is not quite on that level, but he is a terrific offensive weapon. At 6-foot-11 and left-handed, Porter can do just about everything offensively: He makes threes, he can beat defenders off the dribble, he can score in the post, he’s a willing and capable passer out of double-teams, he can score on rim-runs and ball-screen actions as a roller or a pop-man.

While there are going to be issues for both brothers adjusting to playing basketball at the high-major level, particularly on the defensive end of the floor, on paper, it’s hard to imagine a better combination of a four and a five to play “small-ball” at the college level, mostly because neither brother is small. Michael Jr. is the “little” one at 6-foot-10.

But beyond the issues that will inevitably pop up for the freshmen during their first year on campus, the biggest concern with this group is going to be whether or not Missouri head coach Cuonzo Martin will embrace the small-ball ideal.

Or if he even has the pieces to do so.

Let’s start with the former.

Michael Porter, Jr. (Photo by Jon Lopez)

Martin is a throwback. He likes playing two bigs. He likes throwing the ball into the post and letting the big uglies go to work. He’s a midwest guy that played his college ball at Purdue in the early 90s. Of course he’s going to think this way.

“I’d rather have a low-post big that can dominate in the post and score the basketball and not just a guy on the perimeter to make plays,” Martin told me this summer. To his credit, I’m not sure that Martin has ever had a chance to coach two players with the size and perimeter skills of the Porters. As good as Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb were with Cal, neither of them could shoot, and Tyrone Wallace, who was a star point guard on that team, shot 29.2 percent from three for his career. The question is going to be whether or not he’s willing to change the way he coaches and the way he wants his teams to play to take advantage of what he has at his disposal.

“But I think to have a big guy that’s just a space-eater nowadays is tough,” he continued, and it sounds like this old dog may actually be learning a new trick. “You can’t defend on the perimeter, you can’t make plays offensively. Then all of a sudden it becomes five-against-four in a lot of ways.”

“I think with most cases, like when I was young I watched the NBA, whatever games I could watch, you watch how the game is played because you want to be that. I think with a lot of not only young guys but their coaches, they teach those guys to play on the perimeter because that’s the game, go inside and outside. If you’ve got good spacing I think you have a chance to be very successful.”

The question now becomes whether or not Missouri has the personnel around the Porters to make this work, and that I’m not quite so sure of.

The only perimeter weapon on the roster that is at all proven is Terrence Phillips, a rising junior point guard that averaged 10.7 points and 4.4 assists while shooting 35.6 percent from three. There is Kassius Robertson, but he’s spent the last four seasons playing at Canisius. There will be an adjustment coming in moving up a level, but at the very least he is a guy that can shoot it from three. Kevin Puryear and Jordan Barnett are both back as well, but Puryear is a post that can make jumpers while Barnett is a three that shot just 30 percent from three last season. Neither are really ideal pace-and-space options, and neither is Jeremiah Tilmon, a top 35 recruit that is the kind of low-post presence Martin is more accustomed to. He’s athletic, he blocks shots, he rebounds and he’s, shall we say, a ‘work-in-progress’ offensively.

What do you do, as a coach, when putting your five best players on the floor makes it difficult to play the way that would be best-suited for your two potential first round picks?

That’s going to be the question that Cuonzo Martin tries to answer over the course of the next three months.

Jontay Porter (Jon Lopez/Nike)

NCAA to add awesome new wrinkle to tournament postgame celebrations

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The NCAA will be adding a new wrinkle to the postgame NCAA tournament celebrations this season by poaching an idea from The Basketball Tournament, the open invite, 64-team tournament played during the summer for a $2 million grand prize.

The idea is actually pretty simple: After a team advances in the NCAA tournament, they’ll pick one member of the roster to go to a giant replica of the bracket and have him move the team into the next round of the event.

This is what it looks like when it happened in the TBT event:

Coincidentally, this is also the tweet that set this idea in motion. It was Jeff Eisenberg, our buddy over at Yahoo Sports, who tweeted that he “wished the NCAA tournament would borrow this postgame tradition,” and the replies flowed in from other media members (myself, who is of the most importance, and Scott Van Pelt, clearly second in this conversation, included) as well as David Worlock, the Director of Media Coordination for the NCAA tournament. That all happened a month ago, and on Wednesday, Worlock more or less made the news official on twitter.

It won’t be exactly the same — TBT was played in one spot, where as there are obviously multiple locations for the NCAA tournament — but there are work-arounds that could make it even more fun. For example, if you make it through the first weekend, you get to bring with you the four-team section of the bracket to the next round of the event.

There are so many possibilities.

I love this idea so much.

Great photo ops. Fun moments for fans. Shareable, viral content for social media. A chance for the teams to celebrate specific players, coaches or members of the program.

There is no downside.