Wichita State fires its athletic director Boatright

Sam Greene/Cincinnati Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK
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WICHITA, Kan. — Wichita State fired athletic director Darron Boatright on Wednesday amid growing criticism over the university’s inability to compete in the new market of name, image and likeness payments to athletes.

University President Rick Muma said in a news release that Boatright had achievements and successes during his tenure, but “there were significant, ongoing concerns that became acute in recent weeks, ones that I did not believe could be addressed.” Muma did not elaborate.

Sarah Adams, the school’s senior associate athletic director and senior women’s administrator, will become interim athletic director while a search is conducted for Boatright’s replacement.

Critics targeted Boatright in recent weeks because Wichita State had not raised funds after the Supreme Court lifted a ban on college athletes being compensate for their names, images and likenesses, The Wichita Eagle reported. They said it was Boatright’s responsibility to ensure the school’s donors were aware of the new rules and be prepared with incentives to retain current players and attract new ones.

The men’s basketball program had eight scholarship players enter the NCAA transfer portal this spring.

“Where we erred was focusing on educating our athletes about NIL and not just collecting cash and paying kids to come to Wichita State,” Boatright said in a previous interview. “We were told all along this was not pay-for-play, but now it appears the NCAA has no problems with that, so why not?”

Boatright, who was athletic director for six years, was given a two-year contract extension through June 2024 that gave him a 37.5% raise to $275,000 a year. Fans were critical because the extension was never publicly announced and came during the coronavirus pandemic, The Eagle reported.

Ohio State puts clamps on Loyola Chicago in 54-41 NCAA win

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH — No extended March stay for Loyola Chicago and Sister Jean this time.

Not with Ohio State taking away every inch of open space. Not with E.J. Liddell creating a bit of his own with each pull-up jumper. Not with the seventh-seeded Buckeyes showing that when healthy, they can make every trip down the floor for their opponent a frustrating mess.

E.J. Liddell scored 16 points, Big Ten Freshman of the Year Malaki Branham added 14 and Ohio State shut down the 10th-seeded Ramblers from start to finish, winning 54-41 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

The Buckeyes (20-11) advanced to play Villanova on Sunday in the South Region while preventing another March run by the Ramblers (25-8), who shot 27% (15 of 56) from the floor.

“We knew we were in for a rock fight, and that’s very much what it was,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said, calling it “the best defensive performance we’ve really had in a couple years.”

Certainly, it’s the best the Ramblers have faced in a while. Loyola’s 41 points were a season low and the program’s fewest since scoring 39 against Indiana State in 2020. After hearing repeatedly about the Ramblers’ smothering defense, the Buckeyes provided some of their own.

“We love that type of challenge, and we just have to respond,” said forward Kyle Young, who had nine points and seven rebounds in 34 minutes in his return from a concussion that cost him several games. “So it was just about who is going to play more physical and tougher with 50/50 balls and things like that.”

Braden Norris gave the Ramblers 14 points but star Lucas Williamson endured perhaps his worst game of the season. The winningest player in program history finished with four points on 1-of-10 shooting and committed three turnovers as Loyola fell in the first round after reaching the Sweet 16 last season and the Final Four in 2018.

“I mean, I’m disappointed in myself,” Williamson said. “I don’t feel like I played to the standard that I put myself at. But, yeah, I mean, like (coach) Drew (Valentine) said, kind of just at a loss for words. Kind of just stunned right now.”

Sister Jean, Loyola’s 102-year-old chaplain, led the Ramblers in a pregame prayer and took in the school’s third NCAA appearance in five years from the mezzanine but could only watch as Loyola – listed as a slight favorite by FanDuel Sportsbook, a nod to the program’s rise – fumbled away an opportunity to further cement its status as an emerging mid-major power.

Ohio State came in having lost four of five games, including a baffling setback to lowly Penn State in the Big Ten tournament last week. A year ago, Ohio State came in as a two seed only to get ambushed by 15th-seeded Oral Roberts in the opening round. Not this time.

Liddell endured a rocky first half while getting hounded by Williamson but collected himself after the break, hitting a series of mid-range jumpers. The 6-foot-7 bruiser’s go-to move was using one of his shoulders to nudge a Rambler out of the way before rising up into the void.

“We played with an edge tonight, played like the underdogs,” Liddell said. “We’ve got to keep playing like that because people have been counting us out big time. We’ve got to have that same mindset next game.”

The Ramblers were in fact a popular pick to knock off the Buckeyes, but Ohio State’s size and relentlessness were too much.

At one point, Valentine grew so animated his gum flew out of his mouth as he implored his team for more effort.

The Ramblers’ effort wasn’t the issue. Execution, however, was another matter as Loyola ended its stint in the Missouri Valley Conference – the Jesuit school located along Lake Michigan is heading to the Atlantic 10 next fall – with a thud. It shows how far the Ramblers have come that a first-round exit is considered a disappointment.

“I think the main thing that I want to focus on is the program’s in a lot better spot than it was when a lot of these guys got here five years ago,” Valentine said. “So I’m proud of our group, but obviously today we really struggled offensively, making shots, free throws. Thought we had too many turnovers. I thought defensively we were solid at times, but probably fought a little too much.”

UP NEXT

Ohio State seeks its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2013.

Loyola Chicago beats Drake, returns to NCAA Tournament

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 19 Drake at Loyola Chicago
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ST. LOUIS – Lucas Williamson had 18 points and 10 rebounds, Aher Uguak added 16 points and 10 boards and Loyola Chicago defeated Drake 64-58 on Sunday to win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season.

Ryan Schwieger added 13 points for the fourth-seeded Ramblers (25-7) who came through against the Bulldogs in a rugged championship game after losing twice in the regular season to Drake (24-10).

Loyola, headed to the Atlantic 10 next season, beat Drake in last year’s title game 75-65 but this season’s victory came under first-head head coach Drew Valentine.

Roman Penn scored 18 points and MVC freshman of the year Tucker DeVries had 15 points and a career-high five blocks for Drake. ShanQuan Hamphill had 10 boards to go with six points.

Neither team reach 40% shooting and both were 25% or less from the arc in a game in which both teams had a player foul out and two others with four fouls. Loyola made 17 of 24 from the line to 11 of 18 for Drake which made up partially for the Bulldogs’ 23-6 advantage on points off turnovers.

Trailing the entire half, Drake got within two twice in the final couple of minutes, the last time with 22 seconds remaining after two Penn free throws. But Drake was forced to foul and Schwieger and Braden Norris converted two free throws each.

Drake, which beat Missouri State 79-78 in overtime in Saturday’s semifinals, had a seven-game win streak snapped.

Drake opened the game outscoring Loyola 18-8 with DeVries capping the run with a 3-pointer, the last of his 10 first-half points, while the Ramblers started 2-of-13 shooting.

Then the game took a complete turn with Drake missing its next five shots, going 2 of 14 and committing four turnovers as five Ramblers combined for 19 answered points and a nine-point lead after a Norris 3-pointer.

The Bulldogs recovered in the final two minutes to score the final seven points to trail 27-25 at halftime.

Uguak had a three-point play and a layup during a four-minute stretch when the Ramblers edged out to a nine-point lead, their largest of the second half, with 4 1/2 minutes to go. Part of that scoring came while Drake was missing eight straight shots over six minutes.

It’s the first time since 1962-63 that the Ramblers have reached the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons.

No. 14 Houston edges Wichita State 76-74 in double OT

William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports
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WICHITA, Kan.- J’Wan Roberts’ dunk with 1.3 seconds remaining in double overtime gave No. 14 Houston a stirring 76-74 victory over Wichita State on Sunday.

It was Roberts’ only basked of the game and followed Wichita State’s Craig Porter hitting a tying 3-point shot with 5.4 seconds remaining in the second overtime.

The Cougars took the inbounds and raced up the floor hitting Roberts for the uncontested game-winner.

Josh Carlton scored 11 of his 23 points in the two overtimes, finishing 9 of 14 from the floor for Houston (22-4, 11-2 American).

Jamal Shead scored 13 points for the Cougars while Kyler Edwards, Fabian White and Ramon Walker each added 11.

Porter and Ricky Council each scored 17 for Wichita State (13-10, 4-7) while Tyson Etienne added 15.

Houston built a six-point lead in the first overtime behind Carlton, but Wichita State rallied and Porter’s free throw tied it with 18.1 seconds left. Walker’s 3-pointer at the buzzer fell short sending it to a second OT.

ON THE BOARDS

Houston leads the American in rebounding margin and offensive rebounding percentage (37.2 coming into the game).

But the Shockers outrebounded the Cougars 20-19 in the first half, allowing Houston only four offensive rebounds in 20 first-half opportunities. Wichita State was even better in the second half, outrebounding the Cougars 15-12. But in the first overtime, Houston grabbed four of the first five rebounds while quickly building a six-point lead And near the end of the second overtime, two Houston offensive rebounds led to Carlton’s three-point play with 13 seconds to play. Wichita State outrebound Houston 43-42 for the game.

BIG PICTURE

Houston: The Cougars remain in sole possession of first place in the conference and keep momentum heading toward March.

Wichita State: In position to get a home victory that eased some of the season’s disappointment, the Shockers could not finish off Houston.

UP NEXT

Houston: at Tulane on Wednesday

Wichita State: At Memphis on Saturday

Murray State leaving OVC for Missouri Valley on July 1

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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MURRAY, Ky. – Murray State will become the 11th member of the Missouri Valley Conference on July 1.

University officials announced Friday the Board of Regents accepted an invitation from the Missouri Valley Conference and will be leaving the Ohio Valley Conference.

The MVC does not include football or rifle, so Murray State is working to join the Missouri Valley Football Conference in that sport. Murray State’s rifle program, which is sixth in the nation, will continue competing in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Murray State is the second OVC program to announce plans to join the Missouri Valley Conference on July 1. Belmont announced Sept. 28 the Bruins had accepted their invitation to join the league.

Austin Peay announced Sept. 17 it was leaving the OVC on July 1 for the ASUN. Both Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State left the OVC for the ASUN earlier this year, and the OVC sued both schools in August contending each school didn’t pay a $1 million exit fee.

The Ohio Valley Conference has added the University of Little Rock starting July 1 and reached a football scheduling deal with the Southland Conference starting in 2022. OVC Commissioner Beth DeBauche said in a statement the league is talking with universities about joining the conference.

Franklin, Missouri St. women defeat No. 24 Virginia Tech

Andrew Jansen/News-Leader via Imagn Content Services, LLC
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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Jasmine Franklin scored 21 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and went 9 of 10 from the foul line in the fourth quarter to lead Missouri State to a 76-68 win over No. 24 Virginia Tech at the San Juan Shootout on Friday.

Missouri State (4-1) led 23-9 after one quarter, hitting three 3-pointers, going 7 of 14 overall and 6 for 6 from the line while the Hokies were 4 of 14 with one free throw.

The Hokies (5-1) never recovered as Missouri State was 15 of 16 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.

Abigayle Jackson scored a career-high 18 points, Sydney Wilson 16 and sixth-year senior and Missouri Valley Conference MVP Brice Calip 10 in picking up her 101st career win. Franklin earned her fourth double-double of the season. The Bears finished 27 of 30 from the free throw line to 8 of 15 for the Hokies.

Virginia Tech scored nine-straight in the second quarter to get within five but Missouri State surged ahead 36-26 at the half. The lead was double figures throughout the third quarter and never closer than eight in the fourth. The Bears were unflinching from the line, offsetting Virginia Tech finally finding the range and going 10 of 18 from the field – which only brought the Hokies 42% shooting.

Elizabeth Kitley scored 21 points and Kayana Traylor 12 for Virginia Tech, which plays Tennessee-Martin on Saturday.

Missouri State has beaten a Power 5 opponent in nine consecutive seasons and with wins over USC and Virginia Tech the Bears got their 15th win in that span. They play LSU on Saturday.