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AP: NCAA president says association won’t push ACC on NC law

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NCAA President Mark Emmert says it’s up to the Atlantic Coast Conference and its members whether to follow the association’s lead and pull events out of North Carolina because of a state law that some say can lead to discrimination against LGBT people.

In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Emmert said the association expects to take a financial hit for moving seven championship events and tournament games out of the state on short notice, but how much is unknown.

New locations have yet to be identified, he said, but Emmert said his staff is working aggressively to find sites for some events scheduled for as soon as December. The biggest of the events that will be relocated is first-round men’s basketball tournament games scheduled for Greensboro in March.

     RELATED: Might this be the decision that changes the HB2 law?

The ACC is also on the clock to make its decision about its football championship game, set to be played in Charlotte on Dec. 3.

The ACC’s council of presidents was set to hold a previously scheduled meeting starting Tuesday night in Clemson, South Carolina, with the law expected to be discussed Wednesday.

The football championship game, held in Charlotte since 2010, is the last marquee college sporting event left in North Carolina during the 2016-17 season. While ACC Commissioner John Swofford it would be “premature” to make any decisions about holding events in North Carolina for now, he also issued a clear statement Monday night against the law.

“On a personal note, it’s time for this bill to be repealed as it’s counter to basic human rights,” said Swofford, whose league office is located in North Carolina.

Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson, whose school is a member of the ACC, is the newly elected chairman of the NCAA board of governors, which unanimously voted to relocate the association’s events out of North Carolina.

Emmert said the NCAA will stay out of conference decisions.

“That’s going to be completely up to the conferences,” Emmert said. “There’s, of course, Division II and III conferences that have a lot of events in North Carolina as well. They’ll have plenty of people involved in the debate that were also engaged with the NCAA. But those are going to be individual decisions, not national association’s. Nor should they be.”

In a news release Monday, the NCAA said the decision by its board of governors came “because of the cumulative actions taken by the state concerning civil rights protections.”

The law — known as HB2 — requires transgender people to use restrooms at schools and government buildings corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates. It also excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from local and statewide antidiscrimination protections.

HB2 was signed into law by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory earlier this year. A spokesman with McCrory’s office couldn’t be reached for comment Monday evening, but a spokeswoman with the state Republican party blasted the NCAA’s decision in a statement, saying it is “so absurd it’s almost comical.”

“I wish the NCAA was this concerned about the women who were raped at Baylor,” spokeswoman Kami Mueller said.

Emmert told the AP the two issues are not related.

“This is an issue in the midst of a political season that is clearly going to stir a lot of debate and discussion on both sides of the issue,” he said. “The decision, of course, occurred completely independent of what kind of year it was around politics. Obviously, this is in no way correlated to what is obviously a very serious issue around sexual assault and sexual misconduct on university campuses.”

The only championship events that can be hosted in North Carolina this academic year are ones determined when a team earns the right to play on its own campus.

     RELATED: ACC Commissioner calls for HB2 to be repealed

The NCAA said it will relocate the men’s basketball first- and second-round games that were scheduled for March 17 and 19 in Greensboro. The NCAA will also relocate:

  • the Division I women’s soccer championship scheduled for Dec. 2 and 4 in Cary, just outside the capital of Raleigh;
  • the Division III men’s and women’s soccer championships set for Dec. 2 and 3 in Greensboro;
  • the Division I women’s golf regional championships set for May 8-10 in Greenville;
  • the Division III men’s and women’s tennis championships set for May 22-27 in Cary;
  • the Division I women’s lacrosse championship set for May 26 and 28 in Cary;
  • and the Division II baseball championship from May 27 to June 3 in Cary.
  • In its announcement, the NCAA took special note of ways North Carolina’s law differs from other states.

     RELATED: Duke’s AD issues strongly worded statement in support

“At the end of the day, the board was looking at the core values of college sports in America,” Emmert told the AP. “That these are about sports that are conducted within the context of higher education and the values of fairness of inclusion are so central to what we all believe in, that the law HB2 that was passed as the most comprehensive of the laws that have been enacted around limiting LGBT rights, was just a bridge too far.

“It would have been impossible to conduct championship events in the state with that law in place that lived up to the values and expectations of the member universities and colleges.”

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AP Sports Writer Ralph D. Russo can be followed on Twitter @ralphDrussoAP. AP Sports Writer Aaron Beard in Raleigh, North Carolina, contributed to this report.

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

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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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

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

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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.