Terrence Payne

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Brad Underwood pokes fun at his version of ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’

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On Thursday afternoon, Brad Underwood, the new head coach of Illinois, was invited to Wrigley Field to throw out the first pitch and sing ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game’ during the seventh inning stretch.

While the ceremonial first pitch went well, his rendition of the ballpark classic did not go as smoothly.

Underwood was at least able to poke fun at his vocals following his performance.

“I’d rather coach naked than sing in front of 40,000,” Underwood said afterward. “There’s a reason my wife won’t let me sing in church.”

Underwood took over Illinois in mid-March following a one-year stint at Oklahoma State. He had previously led Stephen F. Austin to three NCAA Tournament appearances in as many seasons.

 

AAC plan men’s basketball tourney at new Texas arena in ’20

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The American Athletic Conference will hold its men’s basketball tournament in a new arena in North Texas in 2020.

AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco announced Wednesday that Dickies Arena in Fort Worth has been selected to host the tournament for three years, starting in March 2020. That is only four months after the facility is scheduled to open.

On the same day of a groundbreaking ceremony for the 14,000-seat arena last April, the NCAA announced that first- and second-round games of the 2022 NCAA men’s basketball tournament would be held there. The NCAA women’s gymnastics championships are scheduled there from 2020-22.

The closest AAC school to the new arena is SMU, with its campus in Dallas about 40 miles away.

Orlando will host the 2018 AAC tournament, which moves to Memphis in 2019.

After hearing, UNC now awaits NCAA ruling in academic case

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North Carolina has wrapped up a two-day hearing with an NCAA infractions committee panel that will decide whether the school faces penalties tied to its multi-year academic scandal.

Now the case goes into yet another holding pattern.

School officials spent much of Wednesday in a closed-door meeting with committee members in Nashville, Tennessee. They returned Thursday morning for a second session lasting about 4½ hours with the panel that will determine whether UNC faces penalties such as fines, probation or vacated wins and championships.

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn confirmed the hearing was complete but both sides were mum afterward.

Osburn didn’t comment further because the panel must deliberate before issuing a ruling, which typically comes weeks to months after a hearing. UNC athletics spokesman Steve Kirschner said the school wouldn’t have any comments about the hearing either.

Getting through the hearing process was a major step toward resolution in a delay-filled case tied to irregular courses, though there’s still the potential for the case to linger beyond a ruling if UNC decides to appeal or pursue legal action. The school faces five top-level charges, including lack of institutional control.

The focus is independent study-style courses in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) department. The courses were misidentified as lecture classes that didn’t meet and required a research paper or two for typically high grades.

In a 2014 investigation, former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein estimated more than 3,100 students were affected between 1993 and 2011, with athletes making up roughly half the enrollments.

The NCAA has said UNC used those courses to help keep athletes eligible.

The case grew as an offshoot of a 2010 probe of the football program that resulted in sanctions in March 2012. The NCAA reopened an investigation in summer 2014, filed charges in a May 2015, revised them in April 2016 and then again in December.

Most notably, the NCAA originally treated some of the academic issues as improper benefits by saying athletes received access to the courses and other assistance generally unavailable to non-athletes. The NCAA removed that charge in the second Notice of Allegations (NOA), then revamped and re-inserted it into the third NOA.

UNC has challenged the NCAA’s jurisdiction, saying its accreditation agency — which sanctioned the school with a year of probation — was the proper authority and that the NCAA was overreaching in what should be an academic matter .

The NCAA enforcement staff countered in a July filing: “The issues at the heart of this case are clearly the NCAA’s business.”

UNC has argued non-athletes had access to the courses and athletes didn’t receive special treatment. It has also challenged Wainstein’s estimate of athlete enrollments, saying Wainstein counted athletes who were no longer team members and putting the figure at less than 30 percent.

UNC chancellor Carol Folt, athletic director Bubba Cunningham, men’s basketball coach Roy Williams and women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell attended both hearing days. Football coach Larry Fedora, who wasn’t at UNC at the time in question, attended Wednesday’s session.

None of the coaches are charged with a violation. But football and men’s basketball are referenced in the broad-based improper benefits charge tied to athlete access to the irregular courses, while women’s basketball is tied to a charge focused on a former professor and academic counselor Jan Boxill providing improper assistance on assignments.

Boxill and Deborah Crowder, who is also charged individually in the case, attended Wednesday with their attorneys but didn’t return Thursday. Crowder is a former AFAM office administrator who enrolled students, distributed assignments and graded many of the papers in irregular courses.

The infractions panel is chaired by Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey and includes former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Second SEC team falls to Canadian powerhouse Carleton

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For the second time in a five-day span, an SEC program has fallen to the dominant Canadian powerhouse, Carleton University.

On Monday evening, the Ravens defeated Vanderbilt, 61-56, in the Paradise Jam Tournament held at the U.V.I. Sports & Fitness Center in St. Thomas.

Eddie Ekiyor, originally a Xavier forward, led the Ravens with 17 points to go along with his five rebounds. Matthew Fisher-Davis matched Ekiyor’s point total with 17 of his own to lead the Commodores.

The Ravens have won 13 of the last 15 national titles, including seven in a row.

Last week, Carleton took down Alabama, a team pegged in the top-25 for next season, 84-71, in the 2017 Can-Am Shootout. The victories over the two SEC teams mark the 29th and 30th victory Carleton has landed over NCAA Division I programs.

This is the second loss in as many days for Vanderbilt, falling to the U.S. Virgin Island national team, 81-78, in the first exhibition game of the team’s summer foreign tour.

The Commodores are back in action on Wednesday against Brock University (Canada). They take on Carleton again the following day.

Carleton has two more opportunities to upset NCAA Division I opponents, bookending the rematch with Vandy with exhibition contests against Northern Colorado and James Madison.

Nevada lands another transfer in Corey Henson

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Nevada added another transfer on Monday evening, continuing a trend during Eric Musselman’s tenure as head coach.

Corey Henson, who spent his first three seasons at Wagner, announced via Twitter that he had decided to use his final season of eligibility in Reno.

Henson tweeted: “After much deliberation over the course of the summer, I decided last week that I no longer wish to continue my education and basketball career at Wagner College. While my time at Wagner was great, I feel like I needed a change to take the next step as a player and as a student. This past weekend, I reached out to Coach Musselman and Nevada as the program had shown a lot of interest in me earlier this summer when I opened up my recruitment. Upon seeing that they were still interested in bringing me on board, I knew it was a decision that I could not make on my own. After discussing everything with my parents and seeing the type of program Coach Musselman is putting together, I decided that Nevada was building something special that I wanted to be part of. I can’t wait to be a member of the Wolf Pack family!”

“This past weekend, I reached out to Coach Musselman and Nevada as the program had shown a lot of interest in me earlier this summer when I opened up my recruitment. Upon seeing that they were still interested in bringing me on board, I knew it was a decision that I could not make on my own. After discussing everything with my parents and seeing the type of program Coach Musselman is putting together, I decided that Nevada was building something special that I wanted to be part of. I can’t wait to be a member of the Wolf Pack family!”

The 6-foot-3 guard had initially decided in April to transfer but reversed that, announcing he’d return to Wagner in mid-July. He will have to sit out next season in accordance with NCAA transfer regulations. He will have one season of eligibility remaining beginning in the fall of 2018.

Henson has averaged double figures over the past two years, posting 14.6 points per game for the Seahawks during the 2016-17 season.

Currently, Nevada has 10 transfers on its 2017-18 roster. He joins transfers Nisré Zouzoua (Bryant), Tre’Shawn Thurman (Omaha), Darien Williams (St. John’s), Marquez Letcher-Ellis (Rice), Jazz Johnson (Portland), and Kendall Stephens (Purdue) as new additions to the Wolf Pack this season.

Nevada is spending this month on a foreign tour of Costa Rica.

Did TCU play the cast from ‘The Office’?

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TCU, on a foreign tour of Australia, picked up a 107-81 victory over the Longhorns on Sunday afternoon at Eagle Stadium in Werribee, Victoria, Australia.

Desmond Bane had 21 points off the bench to lead the Horned Frogs, followed by 19 points and eight assists from Alex Robinson. Redshirt freshman forward Kouat Noi was one-rebound shy of a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds.

As for the Longhorns, they were led by 28 points, off 10-of-14 shooting, from Jim Halpert. Yes, that Jim Halpert, the prankster paper salesman from the legendary comedy, ‘The Office’.

According to Ben Baby of the Dallas Morning News, the Longhorns did have their names in the official scorer’s book. The statistician improvised, naming each player after a member of the fictional Dunder Mifflin Scranton Branch.

Meredith Palmer, the branch’s Supplier Relations Representative, contributed 17 points and six boards. Michael Scott proved his performance against the warehouse staff in 2005 was an off day and, in fact, he does “typically hit those.”

TCU, a fringe top-25 team entering the 2017-18 season, concludes its trip to Australia on Tuesday against the Knox Raiders at State Basketball Centre in Melbourne.