Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”

West Virginia’s Bob Huggins agrees to $1M pay cut, three-game suspension for homophobic slur

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Bob Huggins agreed to a three-game suspension, a $1 million salary reduction, and sensitivity training for using a homophobic slur during a radio interview, the university announced.

The agreement allows Huggins to keep his job as the school’s basketball coach, but the blunder will leave a lasting mark on his Hall of Fame career.

West Virginia University President Gordon Gee and athletic director Wren Baker said in a joint statement that the university has “made it explicitly clear to Coach Huggins that any incidents of similar derogatory and offensive language will result in immediate termination.”

Under the agreement, Huggins and all current and future athletics coaching staff will be required to undergo training that will be developed by the university’s LGBTQ+ Center to address all aspects of inequality, including homophobia, transphobia and sexism. Huggins also will be required to meet with LGBTQ+ leaders from across the state.

“We will never truly know the damage that has been done by the words said in those 90 seconds,” Gee and Baker said. “Words matter and they can leave scars that can never be seen. But words can also heal. And by taking this moment to learn more about another’s perspective, speak respectfully and lead with understanding, perhaps the words ‘do better’ will lead to meaningful change for all.”

Under the agreement, Huggins’ salary of $4.15 million will be reduced by $1 million. That reduction will be used to directly support WVU’s LGBTQ+ Center, as well as a mental health center at the university and other groups that support marginalized communities.

Huggins will be suspended for the first three games of the 2023-24 season. In addition, his contract will be amended from a multi-year agreement to a year-by-year agreement that will begin on May 10 of this year and end on April 30, 2024.

“Over the past 48 hours, I have reflected on the awful words that I shared on a radio program earlier this week,” Huggins said in a separate statement Wednesday. “I deeply regret my actions, the hurt they unfairly caused others and the negative attention my words have brought to West Virginia University.

“West Virginia and West Virginia University are my home. I love this University and know first-hand that the education and experiences students receive here make a difference. I am truly sorry for the damage I have done. And I am grateful for the chance to move forward in a way that positively represents this University and our state.”

Huggins used the slur to refer to Xavier fans on Monday while also denigrating Catholics during an appearance on Cincinnati radio station WLW. The West Virginia athletic department called the comments “offensive” and said it was reviewing the matter.

During the radio show, Huggins was asked about the transfer portal and whether he had a chance of landing a player at West Virginia from Xavier, a Jesuit school.

“Catholics don’t do that,” Huggins said. “I tell you what, any school that can throw rubber penises on the floor and then say they didn’t do it, by God they can get away with anything.

“It was the Crosstown Shootout. What it was, was all those (expletive), those Catholic (expletive), I think.”

In a speech on Wednesday, Xavier President Colleen Hanycz called Huggins’ comments “repulsive and offensive.”

“The deplorable mischaracterizations and homophobic slurs directed towards our LGBTQ+ and our Catholic communities were repulsive and offensive,” Hanycz said before a press event detailing plans for a new medical school. “To those in our Xavier family who were directly targeted and harmed by these hateful words, be assured that you are invaluable members of our Xavier family and you belong here,” Hanycz said. “Your presence makes us better.”

Under the agreement, Huggins also will make a “substantial” donation to Xavier to support its Center for Faith and Justice and Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

Remarks about Catholics have been an issue with Gee in the past. Gee was hired at West Virginia in 2013, a year after he announced his retirement as Ohio State’s president when he came under fire for jokingly referring to “those damn Catholics” at Notre Dame and poking fun at the academic quality of other schools.

Huggins entered the Basketball Hall of Fame last September. In 41 seasons, his teams have gone to 25 NCAA tournaments, finished ranked in the top 10 of The Associated Press poll seven times and had finished under .500 five times. The Mountaineers have 11 NCAA Tournament appearances under Huggins.

Huggins spent 16 seasons at Cincinnati before being fired in 2005 in a power struggle with the school’s president as well as the aftermath of a 2004 drunken driving arrest. After spending one season at Kansas State, Huggins took his dream job at West Virginia, his alma mater, in 2007.

Bob Huggins uses homophobic slur during radio show

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West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins apologized after using a homophobic slur to refer to Xavier fans while also denigrating Catholics during a radio interview.

West Virginia’s athletic department called Huggins’ comments “offensive” and said it was reviewing the matter.

During a call to Cincinnati radio station WLW, Huggins, a former longtime coach at Cincinnati, was asked about the transfer portal and whether he had a chance of landing a player from Xavier, a Jesuit school and the Bearcats’ crosstown rival.

“Catholics don’t do that,” Huggins said. “I tell you what, any school that can throw rubber penises on the floor and then say they didn’t do it, by God they can get away with anything.”

“It was the Crosstown Shootout. What it was, was all those (expletive), those Catholic (expletive), I think.”

Huggins issued a statement saying he “used a completely insensitive and abhorrent phrase that there is simply no excuse for – and I won’t try to make one here. I deeply apologize to the individuals I have offended, as well as to the Xavier University community, the University of Cincinnati and West Virginia University.

“As I have shared with my players over my 40 years of coaching, there are consequences for our words and actions, and I will fully accept any coming my way. I am ashamed and embarrassed and heartbroken for those I have hurt. I must do better, and I will.”

In a separate statement, West Virginia’s athletic department said Huggins’ remarks “were insensitive, offensive and do not represent our University values. Coach Huggins has since apologized. West Virginia University does not condone the use of such language and takes such actions very seriously. The situation is under review and will be addressed by the University and its athletics department.”

Huggins spent 16 seasons at Cincinnati before being fired in 2005 in a power struggle with the school’s president as well as the aftermath of a 2004 drunken driving arrest. After spending one season at Kansas State, Huggins took his dream job at West Virginia, his alma mater, in 2007.

Huggins was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame last year.

Iowa, Iowa State announce investigations into athlete gambling

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The University of Iowa announced that 26 athletes across five sports are suspected of wagering on sports in violation of NCAA rules, and more than 100 people have been linked to an investigation.

In addition, Iowa State acknowledged that some 15 of its athletes across three sports also are suspected of violating gambling rules.

The announcements came less than a week after Alabama fired its baseball coach, Brad Bohannon, following a report of suspicious bets made at an Ohio casino involving his team.

NCAA rules prohibit athletes, coaches and staff from betting on amateur, collegiate and professional sports in which the NCAA conducts a championship. For example, athletes cannot bet on NFL games even if state laws would legally allow them to do so if they weren’t competing under NCAA rules. It is illegal in Iowa for a person under 21 to wager on sports.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission confirmed to the Action Network, a media outlet focusing on sports wagering, that it had opened an investigation into Iowa Hawkeyes baseball players’ suspected involvement in wagering.

“The commission takes the integrity of gaming in the state seriously and is continuing to monitor the situation and will provide any additional information when able,” Brian Ohorilko, the director of gaming for the commission, told the outlet. Ohorilko did not respond to phone and email messages from The Associated Press.

Ohorilko also confirmed that there is no evidence of match fixing or suspicious wagering activity.

“There wasn’t anything giving us pause or leading us to believe that any of these markets were compromised,” he told the Action Network.

Iowa State issued a one-paragraph statement on the alleged gambling violations. It said the 15 Cyclones athletes suspected of involvement are from the football, wrestling and track teams.

Athletes caught gambling are subject to losing eligibility.

The University of Iowa said it is fully cooperating with the investigation, has alerted the NCAA of potential violations and hired outside counsel to assist.

Iowa said it has received information about 111 individuals – including 26 athletes from baseball, football, men’s basketball, men’s track and field and wrestling – as well as one full-time employee of the athletic department.

The school said the “vast majority” are students who are on staff, former athletes or those with no connection to the athletic department.

Iowa said university leadership was notified May 2 of potential criminal conduct related to sports wagering that also suggested possible NCAA violations. Law enforcement last Wednesday provided the university with a list of individuals alleged to have participated in sports wagering.

In response, the university notified several athletes they would not be participating in upcoming competitions and alerted the NCAA to potential violations.

The state Board of Regents said in a statement that the wagering was conducted online at Iowa and Iowa State.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and have confidence that University administrators at each institution will take all necessary steps to ensure ongoing compliance,” the regents said.

Five years ago, the Supreme Court cleared the way for states to legalize betting on sports. Sports betting is currently legal in 33 states, with billions wagered every year, and the ripple effects for college sports are many.

The Alabama case differs from Iowa and Iowa State in that suspicious wagering activity was detected in Alabama’s baseball game at LSU on April 28. Bohannon’s firing came three days after Ohio’s top gambling regulator barred licensed sportsbooks in the state from accepting bets on Alabama baseball games, and at least three other states followed suit.

Alabama scratched its starting pitcher shortly before the game, which LSU won 8-6. No details have been released about the nature of the suspicious bets.

ESPN reported surveillance video from the sportsbook located at the Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ballpark indicated the person who placed the bets was communicating with Bohannon at the time.

Iowa State rewards T.J. Otzelberger with extension through 2028-29

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AMES, Iowa — Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger received a two-year contract extension that keeps him with the Cyclones through the 2028-29 season.

Athletic director Jamie Pollard announced the extension, noting Otzelberger has led the team to the NCAA Tournament each of his first two seasons and signed the highest-rated recruiting class in program history.

“The complete transformation of our program in such a short time is a testament to Coach Otzelberger’s leadership and vision for Cyclone Basketball, and he is most deserving of this extension and a compensation increase,” Pollard said.

When Otzelberger was hired away from UNLV, he agreed to a lower salary to help the athletic department manage buyout costs of the previous staff.

Otzelberger’s annual salary will increase from $2 million to $2.5 million on July 1, $3 million in 2024 and $3.5 million in 2025. He will received $100,000 increases each of the following years.

Iowa State was 19-14 overall and finished fifth in the Big 12 Conference with a 9-9 record. The Cyclones had a nation-leading six wins over top-10 teams and were one of two teams to win eight against Top 25 opponents.

Otzelberger took over a team that won two games in 2020-21 and led it to 22 wins and an NCAA regional semifinal in his first year for the biggest turnaround ever by a Power Five program.

His latest recruiting class was ranked No. 8 by ESPN, ninth by 247Sports and 10th by Rivals and features McDonald’s All-American Omaha Biliew.

Texas’ Arterio Morris to transfer; still facing assault charge

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AUSTIN, Texas — Texas reserve guard Arterio Morris, who was allowed to play this season while awaiting trial on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, has entered the transfer portal, the school confirmed.

Morris was one of the top recruits in the country, but struggled for playing time in an experienced lineup for Texas, which advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2008. He averaged 4.7 points and 11.7 minutes and was expected to be a key component for the Longhorns under recently promoted coach Rodney Terry.

Texas fired former coach Chris Beard after his December arrest on a felony domestic violence charge, which was dismissed in February. Beard is now at Mississippi.

Morris was charged with a Class A misdemeanor after a June 2022 altercation with an ex-girlfriend in the Dallas area. Morris’ attorney, Justin Moore, has said Morris is innocent.

“Arterio is thankful for the opportunity he was provided to not only play basketball, but be a student at the University of Texas,” Moore said. “He is looking forward to continue his education and his progress as a student athlete in the hopes of continuing his playing career after college.”

Beard said before the season started that Morris would be allowed to play. Morris kept playing after Terry took over as interim coach.

Morris is the second Longhorn to transfer since Terry was announced as the full-time head coach. Freshman guard Rowan Brumbaugh, who red-shirted last season, announced on social media he’s headed to Georgetown.