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Pat Summitt remembered for achievements on, off court

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Pat Summitt was remembered as a loving mother, a loyal friend and a tireless fighter as well as a champion coach Thursday in a public ceremony honoring the person who built the Tennessee women’s basketball dynasty.

“She was the epitome of what being great is all about,” said Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings, one of the dozens of former Lady Volunteers who paid respects to Summitt at a “Celebration of Life” ceremony at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Catchings later added that “this is not a goodbye, but until we meet again.”

The ceremony at Thompson-Boling Arena gave the public a chance to honor Summitt, who won eight national titles and a Division I record 1,098 games in her 38-year coaching tenure. A private funeral was held June 30, two days after Summitt died at the age of 64.

The list of speakers included recently retired quarterback Peyton Manning, a former Tennessee football star who called Summitt “someone who literally changed history.” Manning said the only pieces of sports memorabilia he keeps in his office are two basketballs Summitt signed for his children.

Manning discussed visiting Summitt late in her fight against Alzheimer’s disease, when she couldn’t remember Manning’s name. He talked about attending Summitt’s private funeral and hearing from former Lady Vols star Chamique Holdsclaw, who told him that even as Summitt’s memory faded, the coach still could point to the screen when one of Manning’s games or commercials aired on television and would say, “That’s my friend who comes to visit me. There goes my friend.”

“Pat Summitt didn’t just change the history of Tennessee basketball or made this arena known well beyond the borders of this state,” Manning said. “She changed the history of the sport she loved – and of sports in general. She almost singlehandedly made women’s sports relevant well beyond mothers, daughters, sisters and grandmothers.”

Thursday’s event attracted Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and a star-studded list of women’s basketball coaches that included Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma, who served as Summitt’s greatest rival. They were among several thousand spectators to honor Summitt at an arena where she orchestrated some of her greatest victories.

The stage for Thursday’s event included each of the Lady Vols’ eight national championship trophies plus a stool and whistle used by Summitt, who coached Tennessee from 1974-2012.

Fans withstood an afternoon downpour as they waited to enter the arena. The distance traveled by many of them underscored the way Summitt built Lady Vols basketball into a national brand.

Patti Stephen drove more than 700 miles from Teaneck, New Jersey, to pay her final respects. She packed a lunch in her car and arrived on campus more than seven hours before the start of the ceremony to make sure she got a seat in the arena.

“I’ve been a Lady Vol fan for a long time, and it felt like I just needed to be here,” said Stephen, who wore a T-shirt, hat and a set of bracelets bearing the message “We Back Pat.” `’It wouldn’t be the same on TV.”

Speakers included “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, current Tennessee coach Holly Warlick and former Lady Volunteers assistant Mickie DeMoss as well as Summitt’s son, Tyler Summitt.

“For or all of us that in some way have been influenced by Pat Summitt, she wouldn’t just want us to remember her example,” Tyler Summitt said. “She would want us to go out and follow it. So let’s not just celebrate her legacy. Let’s carry it on.”

The ceremony had plenty of somber moments. A videotape that aired during the event showed Warlick and former Lady Vols guard Michelle Brooke-Marciniak in tears as they described what Summitt had meant to them. The event opened with a bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

“Tyler told me that’s his mom’s favorite song,” Roberts said. “How appropriate. Two words that describe her (so well): Amazing. Grace.”

But it also included some laughter.

Shelley Sexton-Collier, who played on Tennessee’s 1987 national championship team, joked that she thought she was playing for Tennessee’s cross country team because Summitt made them run so often. Warlick talked about how Summitt loved to drive fast and talk her way out of speeding tickets.

Warlick also had the crowd break into a rendition of “Rocky Top” as the arena’s video screens showed a tape of Summitt singing that song while wearing a cheerleader uniform before a Tennessee men’s basketball game.

The list of women’s basketball coaches at the ceremony featured Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell, South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw, Baylor’s Kim Mulkey, Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer, former Georgia coach Andy Landers and former Texas coach Jody Conradt among others. Also in attendance were current SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, former SEC commissioners Mike Slive and Roy Kramer, Tennessee football coach Butch Jones, Duke football coach David Cutcliffe and former Tennessee football coaches Phillip Fulmer and Johnny Majors.

They came to honor everything Summitt achieved off the court as well as on it.

“The real accomplishment of Pat’s life is this – you won 1,098 games and eight national championships, and what people talk about in the end is it’s not about how much you win but how much you did for others,” said DeMoss, now an LSU assistant.

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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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

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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

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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

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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.