all of Fame coach Jim Calhoun accused of sex discrimination

Hall of Fame basketball coach Jim Calhoun has been accused of sexual discrimination by a former associate athletic director at the University of Saint Joseph, the Division III school where Calhoun now works. Jaclyn Piscitelli filed a lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court against the small Catholic school in West Hartford, which began admitting men in 2018. She alleges violations of Title IX, the federal law designed to ensure equal opportunities for women and girls in education, including athletics. Piscitelli's attorneys say she was fired in June after complaining about the conduct of men in the athletic department, including the 77-year-old Calhoun, whom she alleges helped turn the department into "a boys club" after he was hired to form and coach the school's men's basketball team. Diana Sousa, a school spokeswomen, said the university does not comment on pending litigation. "We have received and are reviewing the lawsuit," she said in an email. "The University of Saint Joseph takes compliance with all matters relating to Title IX very seriously." A message seeking comment was left for Calhoun, who is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The suit seeks Piscitelli's reinstatement, back pay and other unspecified monetary damages. Piscitelli alleges, among other things, that the former UConn coach once called her "hot" and forced her to perform menial tasks, including opening the door to Calhoun's office for him, even when he had the keys. "There was an instance in which Calhoun knocked a number of single-serve coffee `K-cups' onto the floor and stepped on them, creating a mess of coffee grounds and packaging on the floor and made plaintiff clean them up, stating that if he made such a mess at home, his wife would clean up after him," according to the lawsuit. Piscitelli also alleges that she was belittled by other male members of the athletic department who received preferential treatment and would "frequently leave work to play golf with Calhoun during the workday." Calhoun, who has a lifetime coaching record of 889-392, retired from UConn in 2012 with three national titles. He turned UConn into a feeder school for the NBA, sending more than two dozen players to the league, including Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton and Kemba Walker. He was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2005. Calhoun said he returned to coaching (despite battling stomach cancer) because he liked the idea of building a program from scratch. He recruited the Saint Joseph team (17 freshmen and three transfers), put together the schedule and led fundraising for a new gym. He guided the team to 16-12 record in its inaugural year and won a special ESPY award in July for his career as the nation's "Best Coach."
October 9, 2019

Kansas fires offensive coordinator Koenning after 6 games

Les Miles was fired by LSU in part because his offenses failed to score enough points. He doesn't want the same thing to happen at Kansas. So midway through an ugly first season with the Jayhawks, one marked by vast improvement on defense but more problems on offense, Miles announced Sunday that he had fired coordinator Les Koenning. Brent Dearmon was promoted from his role as offensive consultant to take his place. "This was a difficult decision, but it is in the best interest of our football program both now and in the future," Miles said. "There is still a lot of football left to play this season and I want to put our players in the best position to be successful, which is why I am making the change now." The Jayhawks, who fell to 2-4 and 0-3 in the Big 12 with a 45-20 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday, are averaging just over 22 points per game - last in their conference by a wide margin. They have next week off before visiting Texas on Oct. 19. The 60-year-old Koenning was hired by Miles after spending last season as the running backs coach at Southern Miss. He also had been offensive coordinator at Duke, Alabama, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and South Alabama, among his many travels, and even served a stint with the Miami Dolphins. But despite returning a bevy of experienced players, including quarterback Carter Stanley and All-Big 12 running back Pooka Williams, the Jayhawks have struggled to produce any kind of consistent offense. It will be up to Dearmon to change that. He served last season as the head coach of Bethel, an NAIA school based in Minnesota, where his team produced the highest-scoring offense at any level of college football. Dearmon led his alma mater to a 10-0 regular season, the best in school history, and averaged 540 yards and 55 points. Dearmon has also spent time at Arkansas Tech and two seasons on Gus Malzahn's staff at Auburn. "I am humbled and grateful to Coach Miles for giving me this opportunity," Dearmon said. "There are a lot of talented young men on this team and it's up to us as an offensive staff to have them prepared each and every week, and that will be our number one priority."
October 6, 2019

California to let college athletes sign endorsement deals

Defying the NCAA, California opened the way Monday for college athletes to hire agents and make money from endorsement deals with sneaker companies, soft drink makers, car dealerships and other sponsors, just like the pros. The first-in-the-nation law, signed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and set to take effect in 2023, could upend amateur sports in the U.S. and trigger a legal challenge. Newsom and others cast it as an attempt to bring more fairness to big-money college athletics and let players share in the wealth they create for their schools. Critics have long complained that universities are getting rich off the backs of athletes - often, black athletes struggling to get by financially. "Other college students with a talent, whether it be literature, music, or technological innovation, can monetize their skill and hard work," the governor said. "Student athletes, however, are prohibited from being compensated while their respective colleges and universities make millions, often at great risk to athletes' health, academics and professional careers." Newsom predicted other states will introduce similar legislation. The NCAA - which had called on him to veto the bill, arguing that it would destroy the distinction between amateurs and pros and give California an unfair recruiting advantage - said it is considering its next steps. It did not elaborate. In a statement, the NCAA said it is working to revise its rules on making money off a player's name and likeness. But it said any changes should be made at the national level through the NCAA, not through a patchwork of state laws. California's law applies to students at both public and private institutions - but not community colleges - in the nation's most populous state. While the measure covers all sports, the big money is in football and basketball. Student athletes won't get salaries. But under the law, they can't be stripped of their scholarships or kicked off the team if they sign endorsement deals. There are some limitations: Athletes can't enter into deals that conflict with their schools' existing contracts. For example, if your university has a contract with Nike, you can't sign with Under Armour. The law represents another instance of California jumping out in front of other states when it comes to social and political change. The movement to allow student athletes to profit from their labors on the court or the playing field has been simmering for years, portrayed as a matter of economic fairness and civil rights. "A majority of these athletes, it's no secret, are African American," said Sen. Steven Bradford, a co-author of the bill who is black. "It's an issue of fairness, and it's an issue that has been long overdue." Newsom tweeted a video showing him signing the law during a special episode of HBO's "The Shop: Uninterrupted" alongside NBA superstar LeBron James, one of many professional athletes who have endorsed the measure. James, whose 14-year-old son is a closely watched basketball prospect in Los Angeles and will be 18 when the law takes effect, exulted over its signing on Instagram, saying it will "change the lives for countless athletes who deserve it!" He added: "NCAA, you got the next move. We can solve this for everyone!" NBA rookie Jordan Poole of the Golden State Warriors also welcomed the new law. Six months ago, as a player at the University of Michigan, he hit a game-winning shot at the buzzer in the second round of the NCAA tournament as millions watched on TV. "I know for sure I would have been using my name after that Houston shot," he said. His teammate, three-time NBA champion Draymond Green, went further. "The NCAA is a dictatorship," the former Michigan State star told reporters Monday. "I'm tired of seeing people get ripped off, and I'm tired of seeing these college athletes being ripped off." Before the governor signed the law, the NCAA threatened to bar California universities from competition, meaning powerhouses such as the University of Southern California, UCLA, Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, could find themselves banned. If that were to happen, California schools could form a new governing body and get schools from like-minded states to join, in a threat to the NCAA's dominance. But the governor, a former college baseball player, said he doubts the NCAA would kick California schools out, arguing that the state's 40 million people and status as the world's fifth-largest economy make it too big to lose. The NCAA "can't afford to do that," he said. Democratic state Sen. Nancy Skinner, the bill's author, said it could especially help female athletes, who have limited opportunities for professional sports once they leave college. "College is the primary time when the spotlight is on" them, Skinner said. "For women, this might be the only time they could make any money." NCAA rules bar players from hiring agents. The NCAA has also steadfastly refused to pay players in most cases. But a committee is studying other ways players could make money. Its report is expected in October. The NCAA does let some athletes accept money in some instances. Tennis players can accept up to $10,000 in prize money per year, and Olympians can accept winnings from their competitions. Also, many schools pay players yearly cost-of-living stipends of $2,000 to $4,000. "We just kind of joked every kid is going to want to go to college out here in Cali now," Warriors forward Glenn Robinson III, who played college ball at Michigan, said of the new law. "I think it's time. A lot of people are waking up and starting to see how much money that these universities are making off of players," he added. "Where I went to school, a lot of players couldn't afford lunch.
October 1, 2019

Ex-Louisville players, NCAA settle suit over vacated title

A group of former Louisville men's basketball players have reached a confidential settlement of a lawsuit with the NCAA that did not restore the Cardinals' vacated 2013 national championship and 2012 Final Four but retains the players' statistics and honors "without an asterisk." The players sued the governing body in July 2018 seeking restoration of the school's NCAA title, wins, honors and awards vacated among sanctions for violations discovered during an escort scandal investigation. Cardinals captain Luke Hancock, the 2013 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, Gorgui Dieng and three other teammates alleged in the suit that the NCAA cast them in a false light and wrongfully vacated their achievements. Attorney John Morgan said Monday night in a statement that "we are thrilled" to have reached the agreement affirming his clients' eligibility from 2011-14 and validating their accomplishments. The statement added that settlement documents or further comment could not be provided because of confidentiality.
October 1, 2019

KU receives notice of allegations from NCAA in men's hoops

The University of Kansas received a notice of allegations from the NCAA on Monday that alleges significant violations within its storied men's basketball program, including a responsibility charge leveled against Hall of Fame coach Bill Self. The notice includes three Level 1 violations tied primarily to recruiting and cites a lack of institutional control. It also includes notice of a secondary violation in football tied to then-coach David Beaty that involved the use of an extra coach during practice. While the document does not go into detail about what the basketball program is accused of doing, Kansas was among the most prominent programs swept up in an NCAA probe into a pay-for-play scheme that began with an FBI investigation into apparel company Adidas. A former Adidas employee testified that he made payments to the family of one Kansas recruit and the guardian of a current player. Text messages presented in court revealed a close relationship between Self and the Adidas employee. The school said in a statement that it "strongly disagrees with the assertion that it `lacks institutional control.' In fact, the university believes the record will demonstrate just the opposite." "The University of Kansas has high standards of ethical conduct for all our employees, and we take seriously any conduct that is antithetical to our values and missions," Kansas chancellor Doug Girod said. "While we will accept responsibility for proven violations of NCAA bylaws, we will not shy from forcefully pushing back on allegations that the facts simply do not substantiate." Girod also said that the school would "stand firmly behind coach Self," who delivered its fifth national championship in 2008 and has a team that could contend for another title this season. The NCAA's Stacey Osburn declined to comment on "current, pending or ongoing investigations." "I have always taken pride in my commitment to rules compliance and led programs that operate with integrity," Self said, "and I am proud of the success that we have achieved at each program along the way. Every student-athlete who has ever played for me and their families know we follow the rules. "These allegations are serious and damaging to the university and to myself," he added, "and I hate that KU has to go through this process. With our staff's full cooperation, these allegations will be addressed within NCAA procedures with urgency and resolve." Kansas had been in the NCAA's crosshairs since early this summer, when Vice President Stan Wilcox said at least six schools were likely to receive notices of allegations for Level 1 infractions. North Carolina State was the first of them, getting a notice July 10 of two violations, including a failure-to-monitor charge leveled against former coach Mark Gottfried. Arizona, Auburn, Creighton, Louisville, LSU and USC have also been under the microscope. Level 1 infractions are considered the most severe by the NCAA, and often include postseason bans, the forfeiture of wins and championships and the loss of scholarships. But the notice itself is only the beginning of a process that can often take more than a year - the school typically sends a response to the NCAA enforcement committee, setting off an exchange of information. Ultimately, a hearing will be scheduled and Kansas will be allowed to present its case. The NCAA will then issue its ruling, often within several months, and the school retains the right to appeal. The former Adidas employee, T.J. Gassnola, testified in October that he made a a $90,000 payment to the family of then-Kansas recruit Billy Preston and $2,500 to the guardian of current forward Silvio De Sousa. Gassnola, who avoided prison time by cooperating with the investigation, said he also paid $20,000 to Fenny Falmagne, De Sousa's guardian, to pry the prospect loose from an agreement with Maryland. Self said last October that "when recruiting potential student-athletes, my staff and I have not and do not offer improper inducements to them, or their families, to influence their college decisions, nor are we aware of any third-party involvement to do so." Gassnola testified that Self was unaware of the payments, but text messages and phone records indicate a close relationship with the national championship-winning coach. And an attorney for former Adidas executive James Gatto told a jury that his client approved the payment to Falmagne only after Self and his longtime assistant, Kurtis Townsend, requested Gassnola to provide it. "The evidence, I submit, shows that Kansas' head coach knew of and asked for a payment to be made to Silvio De Sousa's handler," the attorney, Michael Schachter, said at the time. "More than that, coach Self requested just the kind of help that Mr. Gassnola arranged as a condition for coach Self to permit Adidas to continue their sponsorship agreement with the University of Kansas." In April, the school signed a 14-year, $196 million extension of its apparel and sponsorship deal with Adidas. The deal, which is worth $14 million annually, runs through the 2030-31 school year. Gatto, former Adidas consultant Merl Code and handler Chris Dawkins have been found guilty of felony charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the case. Gassnola was given probation as part of his cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors. While Gassnola appeared to try to shield Self from the FBI probe, their relationship came out in text messages presented by defense attorneys at his trial. In one exchange, Gassnola texted Self that "I talked to Fenny," and the coach replied, "We good?" Gassnola said, "Always. That's light work." Later, Gassnola texted about keeping Self and Kansas happy with lottery picks. Self responded: "That's how (it) works. At UNC and Duke." De Sousa was declared ineligible for two full seasons by the NCAA, and sat out last season before declaring for the draft. He withdrew from the draft when the NCAA approved his appeal to play this season. The Jayhawks had their run of 14 consecutive Big 12 championships end this past season, when Kansas State and Texas Tech tied for the crown. But with several returning stars and another elite recruiting class, the Jayhawks were expected to be a top-five team in the AP preseason poll. "We strongly disagree with the allegations regarding men's basketball," Kansas athletic director Jeff Long said. "We fully support coach Self and his staff, and we will vigorously defend the allegations against him and our university. "As for the football violations," Long said, "we fully met the requirements and our responsibility to the NCAA by self-reporting the violations when our compliance procedures uncovered the issues. I am confident in our process to respond to the allegations and look forward to resolving this matter."
September 23, 2019

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