Kansas gives Bill Self contract to keep him until retirement

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Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has agreed to a new contract that will keep him with the Jayhawks until he retires, even as the school awaits a decision from an independent panel investigating five Level I infractions charges alleged by the NCAA.

The school announced Friday that Self agreed to a five-year contract that adds one additional year after the conclusion of each season – in effect, making it a lifetime contract. The deal guarantees him $5.41 million per year with a base salary of $225,000, professional services contract of $2.75 million and an annual $2.435 million retention bonus.

Self was closing in on the end of a 10-year contract signed in September 2012 that guaranteed him $52.2 million along with a $7.2 million retention bonus. That bonus will be paid in $100,000 monthly installments over seven years.

“There is no place I would rather be,” Self said in a statement. “As we continue to work through the challenges facing our program, we look forward to moving ahead and focusing on our bright future.”

Some wondered whether the 58-year-old Self would depart before the Jayhawks are potentially dealt severe sanctions tied to the FBI’s investigation corruption into college basketball. The NCAA announced the five charges along with less serious transgressions involving the football program in September 2019. The school disputed the charges, setting off a back-and-forth chain of events that still have not been resolved.

The case is now in the hands of the NCAA’s new Independent Accountability Resolution Process. The IARP is made up of arbitrators who have broad investigative powers and whose judgement is considered final.

Self’s new contract includes a clause that says the school cannot terminate him for cause “due to any current infractions matter that involves conduct that occurred on or prior to” the signing of the new contract. Instead, he would forfeit half of his base salary and professional services pay while he served any suspension handed down by the Big 12 or NCAA.

It’s unclear when the IARP will announce a decision, though most expect it sometime this fall.

“For almost 20 years, Coach Self has embodied the spirit and tradition of the University of Kansas,” Chancellor Doug Girod said. “We believe in Coach Self and we believe in the future of our program under his leadership, and we are thrilled that he will continue to be a Jayhawk for the rest of his coaching career.”

The timing of Self’s new contract is also unique in that Kansas doesn’t currently have a full-time athletic director. Jeff Long resigned las month amid pressure from fans and donors following his botched hiring of football coach Les Miles, who likewise was forced to resign when allegations of sexual harassment surfaced from his days at LSU.

With the help of an advisory panel and an outside firm, Girod is currently conducting a search for a new AD while the football team begins spring practice under interim coach Emmett Jones. The new AD will lead the search for a new coach.

With so much uncertainty, perhaps it made sense that Kansas wanted to keep Self around for the foreseeable future.

“I have known Bill for many years, but working closely with him over the past few weeks in my current role has shown me even more so on a daily basis how deeply he cares about this program,” said Kurt Watson, a longtime athletic department official and the current interim athletic director.

“We are certainly proud that he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at KU in 1985,” Watson said, “and that this new contract will ensure he finishes his coaching career here as well.”

Self, who played at Oklahoma State, started as a graduate assistant to Larry Brown with the Jayhawks before returning to his alma mater and working under Leonard Hamilton and Eddie Sutton. Self got his first head job with Oral Roberts, then headed to Tulsa, where two NCAA Tournament trips and an Elite Eight appearance earned him the job at Illinois.

Self also led the Illini to the Elite Eight during three seasons in Champaign before the job opened at Kansas.

Since his arrival in Lawrence, the Jayhawks have won at least 21 games every season – including this past one, which was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ended with a loss to USC in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Jayhawks have won or shared 15 conference titles during his 18 seasons and never failed to make the NCAA tourney when it was played. Eight of those trips made it to the Elite Eight or beyond, including three appearances in the Final Four and two in the national title game. Kansas beat Memphis in overtime to win the 2008 championship.

“Every day I am reminded just how fortunate I am to lead this storied program and there truly is no place else I would rather be,” Self said.

Tennessee center Tamari Key out for season with blood clots

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee senior center Tamari Key will miss the rest of this season because of blood clots in her lungs, coach Kellie Harper said.

Doctors found the issue during testing. Key is expected to make a full recovery after treatment from University of Tennessee doctors, Harper said, adding that her sole concern is Key getting the medical care she needs to heal and return to full strength.

Key missed the first game of her career in a win Tuesday night over Chattanooga after playing her first 99.

“This is much bigger than basketball. We are so grateful that this medical condition was caught,” Harper said in a statement. “Our entire program will be right beside Tamari during this process and welcomes prayers and positive thoughts from Lady Vol Nation and beyond.”

The Lady Vols opened the season ranked fifth but currently are 5-5.

The 6-foot-6 Key from Cary, North Carolina, currently is Tennessee’s third-leading scorer averaging 8.4 points a game and averaged 4.2 rebounds per game. She started all 34 games as the Lady Vols reached their first Sweet 16 since 2016 last season and set the school record with 119 blocked shots.

Key had 18 blocks this season and 295 for her career, five away from becoming the eighth woman to reach that mark in Southeastern Conference history.

No. 7 Tennessee beats Eastern Kentucky, win streak hits 7

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tyreke Key scored 10 of the first 12 points of the second half and finished with 17, and No. 7 Tennessee overcame a sluggish first half and beat Eastern Kentucky 84-49 on Wednesday night.

“Tyreke is handling the ball now,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “That’s all new to him. He keeps getting better.”

The Volunteers (8-1) struggled in the first half but still built an 11-point lead over Eastern Kentucky (4-5) on the way to their seventh straight victory.

Key led Tennessee in scoring before leaving with a cramp in his right leg with 6:15 left in the game. Julian Phillips had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Zakai Zeigler and Uros Plavsic added 13 points apiece. Olivier Nkamhoua scored 10.

“I’m still settling in,” said Key, a transfer from Indiana State who didn’t play last year while recovering from an injury. “This is a new role. I’m taking steps every day and keep learning.”

Eastern Kentucky, which came into the game averaging 83.5 points, was held well below that total due to 17% (6 for 35) shooting from long range and 22% (15 for 68) overall. Leland Walker led the Colonels with 13 points.

It was the seventh time this season Tennessee has held its opponent to 50 or fewer points.

“(Tennessee) is the best defensive team in the country,” Eastern Kentucky coach A.W. Hamilton said. “I think they’re the best team in the country.”

At one point in the first half, Tennessee was shooting 20% and still leading by 10 points. The teams combined to shoot 4 of 32 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. The Vols, who shot 24% (8 of 34), led 32-21 at the break.

“If we can’t make shots, can you find a way to win the game?” Barnes said. “When the shot’s not going in, find a way to play. The first thing we talk about is our defense.”

Tennessee shot 41 free throws. Phillips, a true freshman, was 7 of 10.

“(Phillips) has learned the pace of the game,” Barnes said. “I’m not sure there’s been a more effective freshman in the country (this season).”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Since its early season slip against Colorado, Tennessee has had a steady ascent in the rankings. The Vols’ next two games – neutral site (Brooklyn) against No, 13 Maryland (Dec. 11) and at No. 10 Arizona (Dec. 17) – will go a long way toward justifying the No. 7 ranking.

BIG PICTURE

Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels’ run-and-gun style of offense had them averaging 83.5 points through their first eight games. They ran into a defensive buzz saw in Tennessee, which was yielding just over 51 points.

Tennessee: Santiago Vescovi sat out his second straight game with a shoulder problem. He is expected to be ready to play Sunday against Maryland. . The Vols have won seven in a row since their loss to Colorado.

UP NEXT

Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels host Boyce College on Saturday.

Tennessee: Take on No. 13 Maryland on Sunday at the Hall of Fame Invitational in New York.

Hoggard scores career-high 23, Michigan State snaps 2-game skid

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A.J. Hoggard scored a career-high 23 points, Joey Hauser had 12 points and 15 rebounds and Michigan State beat Penn State 67-58 on Wednesday night to snap a two-game losing streak.

Michigan State (6-4, 1-1 Big Ten) avoided going .500 or worse after 10 games for the first time in 18 seasons.

Hoggard blocked an open layup with less than a minute to play and Hauser grabbed the rebound before being fouled and making two free throws at the other end for a 66-58 lead.

Hoggard, Hauser and Tyson Walker combined for 31 of Michigan State’s 32 second-half points.

The Michigan State defense allowed only one made field goal in the final five minutes. Penn State was just 1 of 9 from 3-point range in the second half after 7 of 18 before halftime.

Walker scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half for Michigan State. Hoggard, who entered third in the conference in assists at 6.3, had six rebounds, two assists and one key block.

Hoggard gave Michigan State 35-33 lead – its first since 4-2 – after back-to-back three-point plays with 59.3 seconds left in the first half. It was tied at 35-all at the break.

Seth Lundy scored 16 points and Jalen Pickett had 13 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists for Penn State (6-3, 0-1)

Michigan State hosts Brown on Saturday. Penn State, which hadn’t played since a double-overtime loss to Clemson on Nov. 29, plays at No. 17 Illinois on Saturday.

No. 7 Virginia Tech posts 9th straight win, beats Boston College 73-58

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BOSTON — Reigning Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Elizabeth Kitley had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Cayla King scored 16 on Wednesday night to lead No. 7 Virginia Tech to a 73-58 victory over Boston College, the Hokies’ ninth straight win.

Taylor Soule, one of two BC transfers on the roster for Virginia Tech (9-0, 1-0 ACC), added nine points and five rebounds. Soule scored more than 1,500 points and grabbed almost 700 rebounds in four seasons at BC, earning All-ACC honors three times.

Andrea Daley scored 15 points and Maria Gakdeng scored 14 for BC (7-4, 0-1). They each grabbed six rebounds.

Virginia Tech scored 17 of the game’s first 21 points and led by as many as 19 in the third quarter before BC cut the deficit to 10 in the fourth. Leading 64-54 with under three minutes left and the shot clock expiring, Kayana Traylor hit a 3-pointer for the Hokies.

Gakdeng missed two free throws for BC, and then Kitley scored from inside to make it a 15-point game.

Clara Ford, who also played four years in Chestnut Hill, pitched in 2 points in 2 minutes against her former team.

BIG PICTURE

At No. 7, the Hokies have the highest ranking in the program’s history. With the victory over BC, a 10th straight win against North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday would leave Virginia Tech in position to move up even higher should a top five team falter.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: Hosts North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday.

Boston College: Hosts Albany on Saturday.

Michigan’s Jaelin Llewellyn out for season with knee injury

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan point guard Jaelin Llewellyn is out for the rest of the season with an injured left knee and is expected to have surgery next month.

Wolverines coach Juwan Howard made the announcement three days after Llewellyn was hurt in a loss to Kentucky in London.

Llewellyn transferred to Michigan from Princeton last spring and that seemed to lead to Frankie Collins transferring to Arizona State after a solid freshman season for the Wolverines.

Llewellyn averaged seven points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in eight games at Michigan. He was an All-Ivy League player last season and averaged nearly 16 points over three seasons at Princeton.