Darner out as men's hoops coach at Green Bay after 5 years

Linc Darner is out as the men's basketball coach at Green Bay after posting winning records in four of his five seasons on the job. Chancellor Michael Alexander confirmed the move Monday, saying in a statement that the university and coach "have decided to part ways." Stadium first reported Darner's exit. Darner owned a 92-80 record at Green Bay. The Phoenix went 17-16 this past season and lost to Northern Kentucky in the Horizon League Tournament semifinals. "We appreciate the leadership of Coach Darner and his focus on coaching and mentoring the outstanding student-athletes that have been part of this program during his tenure as head coach," Alexander said. "We are a Division I university and remain committed to continuing the legacy of our outstanding Division I athletics program in the future." Athletic director Charles Guthrie said in a statement that school officials thank Darner "for his service and strong commitment to our student-athletes here at UW-Green Bay and to the Green Bay community over the past five years. Guthrie added that "we wish him all the best in his future endeavors." Guthrie said a national search for Darner's successor will begin immediately. In Darner's debut season at Green Bay in 2015-2016, the Phoenix went 23-13 and earned the school's first NCAA Tournament bid in 20 years. The Phoenix lost to Texas A&M in the first round - Green Bay's only NCAA Tournament win came in 1994, under coach Dick Bennett over California. Darner's teams followed that up by going 18-14, 13-20, 21-17 and 17-16 over the next four seasons. His squads went 11-7 or better in Horizon League competition four of his five seasons. The 49-year-old Darner has an overall head coaching record of 384-197 that also includes 13 seasons at Division II programs - four at Saint Joseph's (Indiana) and nine at Florida Southern. He led Florida Southern to a Division II national championship in 2015. In a statement issued by the university, Darner thanked former Chancellor Gary Miller and former athletic director Mary Ellen Gillespie for hiring him. He also thanked his staff, recruits and current and former players while noting his program's high graduation rates and Academic Progress Rate scores. "I cannot wait to advance my career as a head basketball coach and am looking forward to new opportunities," Darner said.
May 18, 2020

Chicago State hires Sardin as women's basketball coach

Chicago State hired Tiffany Sardin as coach Friday, hoping the former Virginia star can transform a struggling program in her hometown. Chicago State has had nine straight losing seasons, failing to win more than six games a year in that span. Misty Opat resigned as coach last month after two seasons. Sardin was a captain for three seasons at Virginia and helped lead the Cavaliers to a 71-53 record from 2002 to 2006. She played professionally in Portugal and spent the past two years as an assistant at Longwood University after stops on staffs at UIC, Boston University and Clemson.
May 15, 2020

West Virginia salary, athletic cuts to save $3 million

West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons will take a 10% salary reduction for the next fiscal year in an effort to save the athletic department $3 million in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Lyons said Friday that football coach Neal Brown, men's basketball coach Bob Huggins, women's basketball coach Mike Carey and baseball coach Randy Mazey also will voluntarily take the 10% reduction starting on July 1. In addition, coaches and athletic staff earning more than $100,000 will take a 5% salary reduction, and staff making less than $100,000 will take a 2.5% reduction. Huggins and Brown have base salaries of $250,000. Huggins will enter the fourth year of a contract extension that also includes $3.8 million in supplemental compensation, while Brown is in the second year of a contract that has $2.85 million in supplemental compensation. Lyons also said 65 employees, or nearly one-third of the athletic department's workforce, will be furloughed for 60 days starting May 24. Some employees will not return to the department and current job openings will not be filled, he said. Lyons said the athletic department is facing a projected $5 million shortfall due to several factors, including the cancellation of the Big 12 and NCAA men's basketball championships; additional losses of upcoming conference and ticket revenue; and donations to the Mountaineer Athletic Club. "News like this is not easy," Lyons said in a statement. "I appreciate the understanding of our staff in these uncertain times. The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt us a financial situation that requires action, and our entire department will be affected as we work to minimize the effects and maintain a fiscally responsible operation." College athletic departments nationwide are under pressure to cut costs during the coronavirus pandemic. Some schools have taken the aggressive step of eliminating some sports entirely, while many schools have asked their highest-paid employees to take salary cuts.
May 8, 2020

NCAA supports plan for athletes to earn

For more than 60 years, NCAA leaders have insisted college athletes had to be amateurs and to be amateurs they could not be paid for being athletes - by anybody. That will no longer be the case. The NCAA announced Wednesday it is moving forward with a plan to allow college athletes to earn money for endorsements and a host of other activities involving personal appearances and social media content. It's a big deal - "unprecedented," Ohio State President and NCAA Board of Governors chairman Michael Drake called it. But there are important details to be sorted out before NCAA membership votes on legislation in January and there are plenty skeptical lawmakers and lawyers watching. "The challenge of evaluating this is we don't know where they have landed yet," said Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane University sports law program. While athletes will be able to cash in on their names, images and likenesses as never before, the money won't come from the NCAA, schools or conferences. The broad plan is to allow athletes to strike deals with third parties, but require them to disclose those agreements with their schools. The NCAA and schools want to regulate for improprieties so payments aren't actually recruiting inducements or pay-for-play schemes. Guardrails is the word college sports leaders are using to describe those regulations. The next phase is building those guardrails. There will be no cap on what the athletes can earn, said Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, who led the group that produced the recommendations approved by the Board of Governors. That's important because the NCAA is still fighting the appeal of an antitrust case in which the plaintiffs claimed the association and its member schools and conferences have been illegally capping compensation to athletes at the value of a scholarship. What the NCAA will attempt to do is monitor deals athletes make and require them to disclose details. Boosters, those who support schools with donations, likely won't be immediately disqualified from working with athletes. But the NCAA fears individuals and companies using business relationships with athletes as cover for paying prospects to attend a particular school. How to draw that line has yet to be resolved. The NCAA also has to figure out how to assess the fair-market value for an athlete appearing in a television commercial for a local business, signing autographs at a memorabilia shop or promoting a product or event on social media. "It is still a moving target," Smith said. "But again, we just have to be reasonable. If I do a deal with Panera Bread and I do two likes and they pay me $50,000 for that, I'm not so sure that is in the realm of what we're talking about." Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman, co-chair of the working group with Smith, said there has been discussion about creating a third party to make those assessments and manage disclosure. "This has been referred to alternatively to as a clearinghouse or a registry or an NIL center," Ackerman said. "And I don't know that there would be an approval mechanism, but the notion would be to create the sunshine and the transparency that would allow us to monitor valuations and booster involvement. And if there are some concerning patterns, we would be able to help screen those out or figure out how to address those." Athletes will not be allowed to use their schools' logos or brands in their personal deals. So if Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence appears in a TV ad, he won't be allowed to wear the school's familiar orange Tiger Paw. While NCAA leaders celebrated the move as another example of evolving to better serve college athletes, there are plenty of skeptics. The NCAA has been talking with members of Congress about federal legislation that would render moot various state laws and perhaps stave off future legal challenges. "This proposal is one step forward, one step back," tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who has been pushing for more economic rights for college athletes. "The NCAA wants to limit athlete endorsement deals in a way that could make them totally impractical. And the NCAA wants Congress to give it total power of athletes' compensation. That should be a non-starter." California lawmakers have already passed a bill that would make it illegal for NCAA schools to prohibit college athletes from making money on endorsements, social media advertising and other activities. The law goes into effect in 2023. Dozens of states have followed California's lead; a Florida bill awaiting the governor's signature would go into effect July 2021. "Recommendations today by the ??NCAA? are about protecting their pockets, not student athletes," tweeted Republican Chip LaMarca, a Florida state lawmaker. "Now they are shifting blame for their deliberate inaction to states that have passed meaningful legislation to protect students' right to earn a living." Jeffrey Kessler, the lead attorney in an antitrust cases against the NCAA that is still in appeals, said the NCAA's move toward NIL compensation for athletes "completely destroys every argument they've made in the past." "Because their defense has been if you allow to permit any type of compensation to the athletes beyond what they call cost of attendance, this will destroy the whole concept of amateurism and destroy fan interest in college sports," he said. Kessler said now there is no justification left for any of the NCAA's restrictions. NCAA President Mark Emmert had a different take. "It's a natural extension," he said, "of the steps that the NCAA member schools have taken over the past years to constantly improve the college athlete experience as an integral part of higher education."
April 29, 2020

K-State salary, athletic department cuts to save $3.5M

Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor, football coach Chris Klieman and basketball coach Bruce Weber have agreed to salary reductions along with every athletic department employee making more than $100,000 annually. Taylor said in a statement Wednesday that the cuts, made to help deal with a budget crunch brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, will begin with the new fiscal year starting July 1. Klieman and Weber agreed to 13% reductions, employees who make more than $150,000 will have 10% cuts and those making more than $100,000 will have 5% cuts. The salary reductions alone are expected to save Kansas State about $1.5 million. The athletic department as a whole will also cut expenses by 10% for an additional savings of $2 million for the upcoming year. Earlier this week, rival Kansas announced athletic director Jeff Long, football coach Les Miles and basketball coach Bill Self would take 10% salary reductions to save the Jayhawks' athletic department nearly $500,000.
April 29, 2020

Detroit Mercy hires Gilbert as women's basketball coach

Detroit Mercy hired AnnMarie Gilbert as women’s basketball coach. Gilbert went 135-18 at Virginia Union in five seasons, including a Division II national title game appearance in 2017. She replaces coach Bernard Scott, whose contract was not renewed last month. Scott coached for five seasons, finishing with a 42-109 record. “AnnMarie Gilbert was our first choice because of her depth of experience as a head coach at Division I, Division II and Division III and is an excellent recruiter,” athletic director Robert Vowels said. “She has done a terrific job as head coach at Virginia Union, Eastern Michigan and Oberlin and as an assistant coach at Michigan State." Gilbert has eight straight 20-win seasons, including her final three seasons at Eastern Michigan. She played at Ohio and Oberlin and later was the head coach at Oberlin.
April 24, 2020

NCAA confirms Georgia Tech eligible for 2021 postseason

Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury says the school met the requirements of its men's basketball postseason ban as part of punishments from the NCAA even though most of the postseason was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter to fans Thursday made available to the public, Stansbury said he was recently informed Georgia Tech completed its mandated ban by removing itself from the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament on March 2. Georgia Tech made that decision when it withdrew its appeal of the NCAA postseason ban. In the letter, Stansbury wrote the school "recently received official confirmation from the NCAA Committee on Infractions that we met the conditions of the penalty by not participating in this year's ACC Tournament." By accepting the ban this year, Georgia Tech will be eligible for all postseason tournaments in the 2020-2021 season. "I am very happy for our student-athletes that we no longer have that cloud hanging over us and I am very excited for the future of our men's basketball program," Stansbury wrote. Georgia Tech continues its appeal of limits on official visits connected with home games for two seasons and the reduction of one scholarship each of the next four years. The NCAA ruled in September that major recruiting violations were committed by one of coach Josh Pastner's former assistants, Darryl LaBarrie, as well as one-time friend, Ron Bell. Pastner was not directly named in the NCAA's findings and was largely cleared in the school's investigation.
April 9, 2020

Bey, Garza, Powell, Pritchard, Toppin win hoops awards

Saddiq Bey of Villanova, Luka Garza of Iowa, Myles Powell of Seton Hall, Peyton Pritchard of Oregon and Obi Toppin of Dayton have earned positional awards from the Basketball Hall of Fame. The winners were announced Tuesday on ESPN's "SportsCenter" broadcast. They are usually honored at the College Basketball Awards in Los Angeles, which were scheduled for Friday, but got canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Bey received the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year award. He averaged 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and shot 45% from 3-point range. Garza was named the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year. He averaged 23.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. Powell earned the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year. He averaged 21 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists. The Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year went to Pritchard, who averaged 20.5 points, 5.5 assists and shot 82% from the free-throw line. Toppin received the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year. He averaged 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and shot 63% from the field. Each award's namesake headed his own selection committee to evaluate candidates throughout the season. Fans also were able to vote.
April 7, 2020

Dayton's Toppin, Oregon's Ionescu win Naismith Trophy

Dayton forward Obi Toppin has been awarded the Naismith Trophy as college basketball's most outstanding player. Toppin was named the Naismith Trophy winner on Friday, adding to an award collection that includes national player of the year by The Associated Press. Toppin had a breakout sophomore season for the third-ranked Flyers, averaging 20 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting 63%. The 6-foot-9 sophomore is Dayton's first consensus All-American and he led the Flyers to a school-record 29 wins. The Flyers finished No. 3 in the final AP Top 25 after the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, matching the highest ranking in school history (1956). Dayton's Anthony Grant also swept Naismith and AP honors as the national coach of the year after the Flyers won their third Atlantic 10 championship in five years. Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu won the women's award.
April 3, 2020

Dayton's Obi Toppin leads AP All-American team

First team
Obi Toppin, Dayton
Luka Garza, Iowa
Markus Howard, Marquette
Myles Powell, Seton Hall
Payton Pritchard, Oregon

Second team
Devon Dotson, Kansas
Udoka Azubuike, Kansas
Malachi Flynn, San Diego State
Cassius Winston, Michigan State
Vernon Carey Jr., Duke

Third team
Filip Petrusev, Gonzaga
Jordan Nwora, Louisville
Jared Butler, Baylor
Tre Jones, Duke
Jalen Smith, Maryland

March 20, 2020