The Morning Mix

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– Zach Tomaselli, one of the Bernie Fine accusers, finally admitted to fabricating his entire story. Tomaselli is in the process of being booked for  sexual crimes and will serve a three years in jail. But despite all this, lawyers continue to pursue a defamation lawsuit against Jim Boeheim 

– Want to know how it’s officially the off-season? We get to read some preseason top-25 evaluations. As if releasing a preseason top-25 in April was too early, now we get to see what was wrong with it (Insiders Only)

– Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, and Drake will play in the inuagural Big-4 Classic next December. An in-state double-header like this should be mandatory for every state in the country

– Murray state head coach Steve Prohm is reportedly in talks with LSU right now about their head coaching vacancy. In his first year as head coach of the Racers, Prohm led them to a school best 24-game win streak and was the last team in the country to lose a game.

Memphis assistant coach Jack Murphy has been tabbed as the man responsible for rebuilding the Northern Arizona program. The Lumberjacks former head coach Mike Adras left the team in December after a dismal start, and the program is in need of a reboot

– Former-Washington head coach Tippy Dye, who led the Huskies to the school’s only Final Four appearance, passed away on Wednesday afternoon. He was 97 years old

UConn’s freshman phenom Andre Drummond has decided to enter the NBA draft. He had a decent-but-not-quite-phenominal season, yet is still expected to be a top-5 pick.  If you remember correctly, he assured the media back in January that he would return. Listen, if you aren’t sure, don’t say it. Keep quiet. We don’t care if you don’t say anything. But if you say something. Try to stick to you word.

– It’s becoming more and more common for a recruit to sign with a school, then unofficially help the school recruit another player. Even if it’s through text messages or twitter, it can be effective. Arizona recruit Gabe York helped to get Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett and Brandon Ashley to sign with the Wildcats

– All of Kentucky’s big-time recruits, Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin and Nerlens Noel are confident that the Wildcats can repeat as champions

Officials from Central Florida will be in Indianapolis on Friday for the school’s hearing to determine whether the school’s self-imposed penalties are sufficient after an investigation into major recruiting violations within its football and basketball programs.

– Pretty shocking news out of Madison, as highly-regarded redshirt freshman big-man Jarrod Uthoff has decided to transfer, and is disputing the restrictions on his scholarship release

– Another former hoopster has been signed by a NFL team to play tight end. Former-Cal State Fullerton forward Andre Hardy has been signed by the Oakland Raiders as a free agent. The best tight end of all-time (Tony Gonzalez), the last decade (Antonio Gates) and the future (Jimmy Graham) were all former college basketball players

Danny Manning has added three coaches to his staff at Tulsa, including a former-assistant from Kansas

– Former-LIU-Brooklyn coach Jim Ferry was officially introduced as the new head coach at Duquesne

– Utah was the worst BCS-conference team in the country last year. They should be begging recruits to come play for them. Instead they are forcing recruits out. I don’t see how this can possibly work

– Jabari Parker, the top recruit in the class of 2013, was named as the Gatorade National Player of the Year

– Former-Wolverine and Fab-Five member Jalen Rose is kinda pissed off that Michigan has no plans to raise the Final Four banner that was vacated due to NCAA violations

Rick Majerus is the latest coach to discuss, and subsequently turn down SMU’s head coaching opening

– It looks like Florida State freshman Antwan Space is transferring

– Louisville senior Jared Swopshire has one year of eligibility left, and has decided to transfer to Northwestern in order to use it. Many wondered if it was because of playing time issues, but sources confirm that is has to do with scholarship numbers

– Villanova’s Dominic Cheek is turning pro, and he say’s its because he wants to help support is aging grandmother

– Syracuse fans cope with having Nerlens Noel reject them by wondering if maybe not getting him was a good thing

A solid Q&A with first-year Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. He discusses his first season in Annapolis, if his team met his expectations, and what lies ahead

Could Texas-transfer Sterling Gibbs be headed to Seton Hall? The Pirates will need some backcourt players, he was initially recruited by the school and his brother Ashton played in the Big East for four seasons

– John Calipari got the key to the city of Pikeville while on a championship tour of the state. In typical Kentucky fashion, the commemorative plaque had several

– Fun fact of the day: Did you know that a player from a BCS-conference school hasn’t led the country in scoring since Purdue’s Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson did it in 1994? (An extra +1000 points if you can spot my Alma mater on this list)

– With the signing of Nerlens Noel, Kentucky Sports Radio did us the honor of ranking the top-5 best flat-tops of all time. Not having Kid n’ Play on here is a mistake. Serious, somebody needs to make sure Nerlens does this with Archie Goodwin at next season’s Big Blue Madness

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has refuted NCAA allegations against its men’s basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

Louisville filed a 104-page response last week to the Notice Of Allegations sent to the school in May. The document stated that college sports’ governing body seeks to ignore wire fraud convictions against several people involved in the scheme – including a former Adidas executive – by suggesting they were representing its athletic interests. Louisville’s contract with the apparel maker was a standard sponsorship agreement rather than a promotional deal, the response added.

“This argument is as novel as it is wrong,” the school wrote in its response. “Even if an institution has some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself.”

Louisville also seeks to have several second-tier violations reclassified even lower. The NCAA has until Nov. 15 to respond with the school responding 15 days after before a decision is made whether the case will proceed through the traditional Committee on Infractions or Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations states that Louisville committed a Level I violation, considered the most severe, with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits along with several lesser violations. Those lesser violations also include Pitino failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA notice completed a two-year investigation following a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Louisville also dismissed the NCAA’s contention that former Adidas executive James Gatto and amateur league director Merl Code represented the school while funneling illegal payments to recruits at several schools.

“The enforcement staff’s remaining allegations lack factual support and overread the relevant Bylaws,” the response stated, “and rest on the erroneous contention that the conspirators were representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

“For these reasons and others set forth, the panel should reject the enforcement staff’s dramatically overbroad theory, and classify this case as involving a Level II-Mitigated violation.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.