The Morning Mix

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The last day of finals week is here. Not very much happened on the court last night. But that’s OK, because we have a lot to get to, you know, with the Big East imploding and everything.

What’s that? You don’t know what I’m talking about? Strap in and buckle up, because we have a lot to get it.

Lets hit the links.

Friday’s Top Games:  Only five games on the schedule tonight feature a match-up of D-I teams
7:00 p.m. – Central Florida @ Old Dominion
7:00 p.m. – Maine @ Army
7:00 p.m. – Charlotte @ Miami (FL)
8:00 p.m. – East Tennessee State @ Ole Miss
9:00 p.m. – LSU @ Boise State
 
 
Read(s) of the Day:
This is, unquestionably, the best article I’ve read regarding the implosion of the Big East. Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant has no sympathy for the Big East, and can we blame him? No we cannot. Please, I’m begging you. Read this. (Hartford Courant)

Read(s) of the Day:
Dana O’Neil’s strong profile piece on “The Game of Change” is something you need to read before tip between Mississippi State and Loyola (IL) on Saturday. Read it. (ESPN)

Read(s) of the Day:
Luke Winn’s Power Rankings. Need I say more? Read it every Friday. (Sports Illustrated)
 
 
Top Stories:
Why the Big East’s breakup isn’t all bad: For us East Coasters born on traditional Big East basketball, this is as good of an outcome as we could have gotten. Rob Dauster explains why.

VIDEO: John Feinstein talks about the departure of the Catholic 7: Via CSNWashington, John Feinstein takes a look at what today’s Big East news means for Georgetown and for college basketball as a whole.

Report: Butler and Xavier to join the Catholic 7: According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Butler and Xavier will be a part of the newly established conference made up of the seven catholic schools that disbanded from the Big East on Wednesday.

Exam week essay about the likelihood that a D-I player scores 100 points in a game: Jack Taylor, the Grinnell College sophomore, scored an NCAA-record 138 points in a game earlier this season. It was a result of the rapid and concentrated scoring style that Grinnell implements in every game. Do you believe that Division I will ever see another 100-point game in the modern era?

Holiday wish list for Arizona: The Wildcats are on the cusp of joining the group of elite teams in the country. In order to do so, they are asking for Mark Lyons to take care of the ball better, and for their young big man to continue to grow.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Rutgers head coach Mike Rice has been suspended three games and fined $50,000 for mistreatment of players, which includes throwing basketballs at their heads. (New Jersey Star-Ledger)

– Louisville center Gorgui Dieng had his cast removed from his hand and returned to practice. He should be able to return to action by December 22. (Card Chronicle)

– Kansas junior Justin Wesley suffered a broken pinkie in practice yesterday and will miss approximately the next three weeks (KUSports.com)

– Illinois State guard Geoffrey Allen suspended indefinitely following arrest. (Chicago Tribune)

– New Mexico State center Tshilidzi Nephawe underwent surgery to fix torn ligaments in his right hand. It is unsure if he will return or not this season. (Las Cruces Sun-Times)

– Former Washington State point guard Reggie Moore will transfer to Western Washington after being dismissed in September. (College Basketball Talk)

– Maryland freshman Jake Lyman was benched by coach Mark Turgeon during the first half against Monmouth because he failed to meet academic standards set by the head coach. (Washington Post)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Pete Thamel provides an excellent read on the in’s and out’s of the implosion of the Big East and the logistics behind the “Catholic-7” (Sports Illustrated)

– Jason McIntyre’s take on the collapse of the Big East is also worth your time (The Big Lead)

– A great profile on the Big East “Catholic” Conference’s additions based on NCAA history and attendance (Rumble in the Garden)

– Another great take from Dana O’Neil on the calculated risks being taken by the “Catholic-7” (ESPN)

– Brian Ewart wonders exactly how the “Catholic-7” will go about leaving the Big East (VU Hoops)

– Jeff Eisenberg on the winners and losers from the “Catholic-7” split (The Dagger)

– Now that the “Cahtolic-7” had split, and Butler and Xavier are expected to join, the A-10 is now on red alert for program poaching (Eye on College Basketball)

– With the Big East is a current free fall, what are the chances that Louisville and Notre Dame can join the ACC early than previously expected (Eye on College Basketball)

– Creighton officials declined comment on Thursday on whether or not the Bluejays would have any interest in joining a new basketball conference made up of the seven former members of the Big East (Omaha World-Herald)

– Gonzaga is one of the programs that is currently reaching out to the new Catholic conference about potential membership (Slipper Still Fits)

– The MAAC is set to vote on membership for three NEC schools. Quinnipiac is thought to be a lock, as is Monmouth, with Wagner having an outside shot (New York Daily News)

– Tennessee got a hard-fought victory over No.24 Wichita State last night, handing the Shockers their first loss of the season (Rocky Top Talk)

– Billy Donovan nearly left Florida a few years back to pursue the head coaching job with the Orlando Magic, but at the last-minute he decided to stay. But the long-time Gator head coach isn’t ruling out the possibility of coaching in the NBA some day (Gainesville Sun)

– Andy Glockner on the new challenges and environment that have Larry Eustachy in a “perfect fit” at Colorado State (Sports Illustrated)

– Tom Izzo wishes he could spend less time recruiting and more time with his family. I can’t imagine he’s the only coach who feels this way (MLive.com)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– Eamonn Brennan fills us in on an interesting situation regarding a radio show featuring Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik, and the show’s decision to censor the caller interaction. As you would imagine, this did not sit well with the fan base (ESPN)

– Jabari Parker is set to make his college decision on the 20th, but he still isn’t exactly sure what school he is going to decide on (SNY.tv)

– College of Charleston lost a stunner last night to D-II Anderson University 65-49 in an exhibition game. Here is what reactions to the score look like in .GIF form (King Kresse)
 
 
Video(s) of the Day:
An awesome trick-shot video put together by Oklahoma freshman James Fraschilla, the son of ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla. The video benefits the Hayden’s Hope Foundation. (ESPN)
 
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32UG_qHCpk0]
 
Video(s) of the Day:
Vin Parise and Erik Kuselias discuss the departure of the “Catholic-7” from the Big East. (NBC Sports Talk)
 

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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

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
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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

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
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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.