NCAA board of governors approves anti-discrimination process for event bids

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The NCAA board of governors adopted a new rule that all sites hosting or bidding on NCAA events that will require them to “demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination, plus safeguards the dignity of everyone involved in the event,” it was announced Wednesday.

The decision “follows the recent actions of legislatures in several states, which have passed laws allowing residents to refuse or provide services to some people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” the NCAA’s release reads.

The new criteria is expected to be fully implemented during the current bidding process, the NCAA said.

North Carolina and Mississippi recently passed laws that have rolled back protections of the LBGT community. NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently threatened to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte if the law does not change in North Carolina.

The NCAA had already barred sites that display the Confederate flag and from members hosting championship events that use “abusive and offensive” Native American imagery or nicknames.

“The higher education community is a diverse mix of people from different racial, ethnic, religious and sexual orientation backgrounds,” said Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State University and chair of the Board of Governors, said in a statement. “So it is important that we assure that community – including our student-athletes and fans – will always enjoy the experience of competing and watching at NCAA championships without concerns of discrimination.”

The NCAA “considers the promotion of inclusiveness in race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity as a vital element to protecting the well-being of student-athletes, promoting diversity in hiring practices and creating a culture of fairness.”

Report: St. John’s freshman LoVett could be eligible this season

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When the NCAA declared St. John’s freshman Marcus LoVett Jr. a partial qualifier last month, head coach Chris Mullin lost his lone true point guard for the 2015-16 season. However, according to a report the freshman may be able to take the floor this season for the Red Storm.

Wednesday it was reported by the New York Post that there’s a chance that LoVett could be cleared for competition at the end of the current semester. The school, LoVett and the NCAA Eligibility Center have maintained dialogue on the situation, which included the school advising LoVett and his family to consult with “appropriate legal counsel” when the initial ruling was made.

Per the report, should LoVett put together a good fall semester in the classroom he’d be able to join his teammates in game action beginning with the Red Storm’s game against Incarnate Word December 18.

Without LoVett the Red Storm have relied on fellow freshman Federico Mussini to run the point. Mussini, who’s playing more than 34 minutes per game, leads the team in scoring (14.4 ppg) and is second in assists (2.9 apg) but has tallied more assists (23) than turnovers (26) through the first eight games. Senior guard Felix Balamou currently leads the team with an average of 3.6 assists per game, with freshman Malik Ellison (2.5 apg) currently out with a foot injury.

Could new graduate student-athlete rules be on the horizon?

Associated Press
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With student-athletes who have completed their undergraduate degree with eligibility remaining being allowed to transfer without having to sit out a season, graduate students have become popular transfer candidates in recent years. But with that rise in transfers has come some skepticism, with some coaches complaining of other programs reaching out to players before they’re officially able to transfer and others wondering just how much progress is being made towards a masters degree.

Friday the NCAA’s Division I Committee on Academics released its recommendations on how to address the issues surrounding graduate student-athletes, with an eye towards making sure that these athletes are making true progress towards a postgraduate degree.

Among the recommendations are requiring graduate student-athletes to declare a specific graduate degree program, and requiring that they complete at least six credit hours per semester. At present time grad student-athletes aren’t required to declare which degree they’re seeking or a major, and they only have to be enrolled in six credit hours as opposed to completing said hours.

According to the release only 35 percent of men’s basketball players making use of the program have completed their postgraduate degree, slightly lower than the 38 percent of football players who do so.

One suggestion made by some coaches in the past is that graduate students be made to sit out the year in residency required of undergraduate transfers, and that may very well occur in the future. But based upon the NCAA’s announcement the course of action at this point is to make sure those who do transfer as grad students are doing so without pushing the academic portion of the process to the back burner.

Will these recommendations, if approved, change anything? I’m not sure, but it may lead to more of those athletes simply deciding to move on with their bachelor’s degree in hand as opposed to sticking around.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.

SMU basketball hears from NCAA on Tuesday

SMU coach Larry Brown questions a call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against California in the quarterfinals of the NIT, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Sharon Ellman)
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SMU basketball will hear from the NCAA on Tuesday about possible sanctions, has learned. The issue with men’s basketball stems from former SMU assistant coach Ulric Maligi and a basketball administrator helping guard Keith Frazier with course work. A sophomore last season, Frazier was ruled academically ineligible in January and sat out the rest of the 2014-15 season.

Frazier is academically eligible and back with the team and the Mustangs and head coach Larry Brown will know their fate on Tuesday.

SMU officials met with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in June and responded to a list of allegations. The concern is if Brown knew about Maligi and the secretary helping Frazier. When a decision is made, SMU can appeal or accept the findings. If the NCAA finds a lack of control on Brown, then the head coach could be given a game penalty.

The NCAA investigation looming over SMU has certainly hurt them in recruiting already as LaGerald Vick decommitted and ended up at Kansas for this season. It’s also led to only one commitment in the Class of 2016 for SMU so far.

Big 12 commish discusses possibility of player boycott

Bob Bowlsby
Associated Press
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With college athletics undergoing a period of change, from ongoing litigation regarding the use of athletes’ names, images and likenesses to the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC being granted autonomy, it’s a good time to address the current climate and how schools are preparing for the future.

Monday afternoon Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby spoke at a National Press Club event (“The Current Environment of College Athletics”), and he made some noteworthy statements. One of those statements according to USA Today focused on the possibility of athletes one day deciding to boycott a game in protest of the system.

“I’m glad the unionization process has cooled for right now,” Bowlsby said. “But the fact is — and it probably will be in the sport of men’s basketball — there will be a day in the future when the popcorn is popped, the TV cameras are there, the fans are in the stands and the team decides they’re not going to play. Mark my words. We will see that in the years ahead. We saw some of it for other reasons in the ’70s, but I really believe that we aren’t finished with the compensation issue or with the employee-vs.-student issue.”

Bowlsby later said he doesn’t think such an action is close to happening, “but the tension in the system isn’t going to go away anytime soon.”

While this hasn’t happened in college sports when it comes to the relationship between student-athletes, their schools and the value of scholarships, Bowlsby did note that in the 1970s that there were instances of athletes sitting out games for reasons unrelated to this topic. And there’s also the question of the 1991 Final Four, with their being multiple stories floating around that a team considered sitting out the championship game in protest of the NCAA.

In a Wall Street Journal story written in 2013, the question of whether or not a UNLV team that entered the tournament undefeated had plans of boycotting the national title game (or delaying the start of it) had they managed to beat Duke was addressed. No answer to this question has even been provided, and Duke beating the Runnin’ Rebels in the semifinals eliminated any possibility of this occurring, but it is a situation worth discussing in regards to the future of college sports.

As television contracts skyrocketed and schools moved from one league to another in search of increased revenue, there were more discussions about the net worth of student-athletes and whether or not their scholarships hit that mark. Thanks in large part to ongoing lawsuits this is something the NCAA and its membership has to address with an eye towards the future.