The Morning Mix

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– Myron Medcalf provides a fantastic analysis on the new era of collegiate big men, especially the ones on display in the Sweet-16

– Critically-acclaimed journalist Bob Ryan put together a fantastic (and lengthy) article on this year in New England college basketball

– If Florida beats Marquette, and Louisville beats Michigan State, the West region finals would pit former-Providence star Billy Donovan against his former-Providence coach Rick Pitino. Jeff Eisenberg wrote a compelling article on the subject matter

– Andy Glockner breaks down which Sweet-16 coaches are under the greatest amount of pressure

– Here’s a rather interesting opinion from the Washington Post on late game refereeing. Should refs adjust the implementation of the rules during the final few minutes of the game? Sally Jenkins has some suggestions.

– A lengthy tournament stay can provide a lot of financial support to a mid-major program, but it still pays to be in a BCS-conference

– With everybody paying attention to the status of Kendall Marshall’s right wrist, this would be the perfect time for Harrison Barnes to steal the spotlight

– Jeff Goodman provides an excellent-read on Ohio State head coach Thad Matta and the debilitating disease that he doesn’t let hinder his coaching performance

– The best individual match-up of the Sweet-16 might just be the battle on the block between Yancy Gates and Jared Sullinger

– Eamonn Brennan tries to determine what the ideal Final Four team would look like

– An-awesome read from the Florida Times-Union on the tremendous leadership skills of freshman guard Bradley Beal

A position-by-position breakdown of the Indiana-Kentucky rematch. Will the Georgia Dome play a factor in the postseason rematch?

Iowa State star Royce White has decided to enter the NBA draft. His stock is at an all-time high, and has the talent and physical tools to become a great NBA player. The one issue that could arise is his anxiety disorder and his rather larger fear of flying, which is, as you know, the only way NBA teams travel

– It looks like Texas freshman Myck Kabongo is going to enter the NBA draft, becoming yet another Longhorn to exit Austin early in his career. Since 2003, nine underclassmen have left Texas for the NBA draft. Of those nine, seven have been guards

Rutgers big-man Gilvydas Biruta has decided to transfer.The Lithuanian-born sophomore was plagued by consistent foul trouble throughout the season. While no potential landing spots have been announced, Rhode Island seems to be a logical fit, as Biruta played for new Rams head coach Dan Hurley in high school.

– As we mentioned yesterday, three players, including leading scorer T.J. McConnell, are transferring from Duquesne. What does McConnell’s loss mean for the Dukes? We know for a fact that McConnell will not be heading to Pittsburgh or Robert Morris. McConnell, who is one of the most unheralded guards in the country, wants to play for a bigger school

UConn junior forward Alex Oriakhi has decided to transfer. The big-man had a difficult year due to the arrival of Andre Drummond. Because of the APR sanctions against UConn, Oriakhi would be able to play at his new school right away. This factor will make him a hot commodity on the transfer market

– Maryland got some good news yesterday. All-conference guard Terrell Stoglin announced his intentions to return to College Park for his junior season

– Michigan’s standout freshman guard Trey Burke is going to inquire about his NBA draft status. This comes just a day after it was announced that three Wolverines had decided to transfer

– Trey Zeigler’s face value is going to get him to a bigger school than he might be worthy of. The former-four star recruit decided to attend Central Michigan in order to play for his father Ernie. But when the school fired his dad last week, the shooting guard decided to transfer

– Bobby Hurley, the older brother of new Rhode Island head coach Danny Hurley, has decided to bypass the Wagner opening to follow his brother to Kingston. But, as Adam Zagoria explains, Hurley still longs to be a head coach eventually

– VCU head coach Shaka Smart has turned down Illinois’ $2.5-million offer to become the Illini’s next head coach

– Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall has no interest in the vacancy at Nebraska. As of now, Nebraska has yet to make any formal offers

– Shaka Smart and Frank Martin will serve as guest in-studio analysts for CBS’ coverage of the NCAA tournament this weekend

– What does Missouri need to focus on in the off-season? Rock M Nation provides a detailed report

– Butler lost to Pittsburgh last night in the College Basketball Invitational. Brad Stevens hopes his team can make it back to the Big dance next year, because sitting out has been excruciatingly difficult

– A pretty-awesome story about a guy who found a basketball signed by the entire 1962 Cincinnati team that won the National Championship. Where did he find the autographed basketball? At a storage auction, of course!

– The Washington Post has selected their Elite Eight in the “Most Hate College Teams” bracket

– The TD Banknorth GArden will be the only regional site to have a unique hardwood floor. The home of the Celtics will have the NCAA tournament layout, but with its signature parquet pattern. But the various Boston championship banners belonging to the Celtics and the Bruins will not be hanging in the rafters

Yet another reason why Marquette head coach Buzz Williams is the most interesting and entertaining coach in the country

Bob Knight finally said the word “Kentucky”, which undoubtedly made The Big Lead very happy

– Speaking of Bobby Knight and his refusal to say the word “Kentucky”, KSR broke down how coach Knight might interact in society without using the word

– This is the greatest and most hilarious basketball flop you will ever see

NCAA steering farther and farther away from harsh penalties

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The days of postseason bans and crippling scholarship reductions to punish schools for breaking NCAA rules appear to be winding down.

Memphis was placed on three years of probation earlier this week with a public reprimand and fined for NCAA violations related to the recruitment and short college career of James Wiseman, who is about to start his third season with the Golden State Warriors. The NCAA also wrapped up an investigation of Air Force football for breaking the COVID-19 recruiting quiet period.

No postseason bans or scholarship reductions in either case. The Independent Accountability Review Panel, the NCAA’s outside arm of enforcement, said in its decision in the Memphis case that it did not want to punish current athletes.

That sentiment is widespread in college athletics these days, even with millions of dollars suddenly flowing to athletes from various sources for their celebrity endorsements amid concerns over improper inducements. In fact, it is on the way to being codified: Last month, the Division I Board of Directors adopted three proposals to change the infractions process.

The board also committed to “identifying appropriate types of penalties and modifying current penalty ranges, including identifying potential alternative penalties to postseason bans.”

Trying to predict what those alternatives will be is difficult, but if the goal is to avoid harming athletes and others who were not involved in the violations the options are limited.

“I emphatically believe it’s the wrong direction to go,” said Nebraska law professor Jo Potuto, who spent nine years on the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“If you’re going to deter, the punishment has to fit the offense, right?” Potuto added. “You’re not going to deter serious violations with penalties that are not perceived to be really serious.”

Since January 2020, there have been at least 45 major infractions cases decided by the NCAA. Of those, at least 15 involved Level I allegations, the most serious and those carrying the most severe penalties; six cases resulted in some kind of postseason ban, with four of them self-imposed.

The Memphis case went through the IARP, which was created in response to the FBI’s investigation of college basketball corruption but is now being discontinued. Sunsetting the IARP was among several recommendations put forth by the NCAA’s Division I Transformation Committee earlier this year and recently adopted by the board.

As college sports moves toward less centralized governance by the NCAA and deregulation in general, the hope is to create a more streamlined enforcement process.

If justice is swift, the thinking goes, it is more likely to be applied fairly.

“The reality is the current system is broken,” said Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Jim Phillips, a member of the transformation committee. “I think everyone in the association, in the enterprise, understands it. When (an investigation) takes the amount of time that it does now and you start to penalize young men and women that were high school, if not middle school-age (when the violation occurred), it’s not an effective process.”

The IARP is still handling cases stemming from the FBI probe involving Louisville, Arizona, Kansas and LSU. Those have been in the NCAA enforcement pipeline for years. A related case against Oklahoma State did not go through IARP and the Cowboys did end up with a postseason ban.

David Ridpath, a professor at Ohio University and former compliance director for several schools, said even though the IARP failed, NCAA enforcement would be best handled by an independent organization.

“No system is perfect, but if you’re going to have an enforcement system at the end of the day you need to provide basic due-process protections and then you have to be able to consistently punish people,” he said.

In the Memphis case, Wiseman received $11,500 from Hardaway in 2017 while Hardaway was coach at a local high school. Hardaway was hired as Memphis’ coach in March 2018, and Wiseman committed to the Tigers in November 2018.

The NCAA accused Memphis of four Level I and two Level II violations, including lack of institutional control, head coach responsibility and failure to monitor. In the past, those types of allegations could strike fear into athletic directors but probation and fines seem much more likely to be the outcome now instead of the sweeping scholarship sanctions, vacated victories and postseason ban that Southern California received in 2010 for the Reggie Bush improper benefits case. Those penalties set USC football back years.

In the end, the IARP essentially reduced the charges against Memphis and cleared Hardaway of wrongdoing.

While the NCAA is losing sway in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court ruling, with more power being shifted to its member conferences, it also remains clear the schools still want the association to handle enforcement.

But what exactly is being enforced?

Athletes can now be paid for endorsement and sponsorship deals and college sports is still waiting on and hoping for help from federal lawmakers to regulate name, image and likeness compensation.

Plus, as revenue skyrockets for schools at the top of major college sports, the NCAA is trending toward fewer restrictions on what financial benefits can be provided to athletes.

“Until we have clarity and certainty on what schools and boosters and athletes can and can’t do, I think many recognize that it’s dangerous to hand down significant punishments when it’s not clear what you can and can’t do,” said Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane. “And I think unless you have clear rules, it’s hard to harsh punishment.”

Still, punishments directed at schools (fines) and coaches (suspensions) could become steeper and longer, Feldman said.

Potuto said with so much money flowing into the top of college athletics, it is doubtful fines could be large enough to be a true deterrent. While she understands the desire to not have current athletes pay for the sins of previous regimes, loosened transfer rules could mitigate the potential harm.

“I will make one prediction: If there is a move to impose penalties much less frequently in five years there is going to be a move to put them back in,” Potuto said.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.