Former Southern Miss head coach vows to fight NCAA sanctions

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Friday afternoon the NCAA Committee on Infractions announced its decision regarding its investigation into the Southern Miss men’s basketball program, which at the time of the rules violations was being led by Donnie Tyndall. The violations, which included improper benefits being given to athletes and academic fraud, resulted in a two-year postseason ban (already served, as the school self-imposed this) and show cause penalties for Tyndall and three other coaches.

Tyndall’s show cause was the most severe, as he received a ten-year penalty only matched by former Baylor head coach Dave Bliss in its severity. And this isn’t a “standard” show cause either, as Tyndall would be suspended for the duration of the penalty in addition to six months tacked on to the end of it. That’s a lot for a school to absorb should they look to hire Tyndall (not to mention the violations, which for many schools would rule Tyndall out immediately), so it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see him coaching an NCAA program any time soon.

Monday Tyndall appeared on SiriusXM “College Sports Nation” with Chris Childers to discuss the penalties handed down by the NCAA, and as one would expect he found them to be excessive. Tyndall also mentioned the testimony of Adam Howard, who worked for him at both Southern Miss and Tennessee, questioning the NCAA’s use of Howard’s testimony as part of the investigation.

“Absolutely shocked. Made me absolutely sick to my stomach,” Tyndall said on the show. “The reality of it is before the investigation started I was alleged to have paid for two Prop-48 kids sit out year. After the investigation ran its course it was proven that I did not give either kid one penny. So that’s a big part of the investigation and I feel like a 10 year show cause for some junior college guys that some schoolwork was done unbeknownst to me – I understand my responsibility as the head coach, I’ve said that from day one – this should have been a coach control penalty just like Coach Boeheim and Coach Brown got. And for whatever reason they decided to believe one person (Howard) who had said two different stories, the same story in two separate interviews and we had to fire him from Tennessee, then he changed his story in March for full immunity, and was looking himself at a 10-1 charge which is unethical conduct.And when he changed his story for full immunity said that I was the one that knew about the academic stuff, I was the one that directed it.”

“Forty other people, 50 different interviews in this case and not one person said that that was true. In fact, many many people said the exact opposite of what this guy said,” Tyndall continued. “So for them to believe one guy who had already said a different story on two different occasions, over 40 other people and 4000 pages of documentation – now think about that – 4000 pages and not one word of one sentence on one page linked me to any of that academic stuff. Again, I’m the head coach, it happened and I’m responsible for that but to be charged with knowing about it or having your hands on it, it’s wrong, it’s dead wrong. And I’ll fight it and do everything I can to protect my name forever, until I go in the dirt. Trust me, I’m fighting it to the very end.”

What comes of Tyndall’s fight against the NCAA remains to be seen, but it should come as no surprise that he (or anyone in a similar spot) would vow to not go down without looking to defend themselves by all available means. With the length of the penalty being what it is, Tyndall really doesn’t have much of a choice if he wants to return to an NCAA program.

The violations themselves would make that tough to begin with, but not coaching an NCAA program for ten-plus years before making a return? At this point Tyndall has nothing to lose by looking to fight the NCAA’s ruling.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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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.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.