Seton Hall placed on 3 years’ probation by NCAA

The NCAA has placed the men’s basketball program at Seton Hall on probation for three years, taken away a scholarship for the 2020-21 academic year and limited recruiting in each of the next two seasons as part of a negotiated resolution of a transfer tampering case started in 2016. Under terms of the agreement announced Friday, Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard was given a two-game suspension he has already served, and his former assistant and current St. Peter’s University head coach Shaheen Halloway received a four-game suspension that has two games remaining. Seton Hall, which is currently ranked No. 12 and dropped a 76-73 decision to No. 3 Michigan State on Thursday night, remains eligible for the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA also announced Friday Seton Hall has been fined $5,000 plus 1% of the men’s basketball budget and had its scholarships reduced to a maximum of 12 in 2020-21. Willard will have to attend an NCAA rules seminar in 2020 and the program will have a two-week ban on recruiting communication this academic year and next. Holloway, who was Willard’s assistant at Seton Hall in 2016, is prohibited from all recruiting communication for six weeks during the 2019-20 academic year. He also is required to attend a rules seminar in each of the next two years. The case centers around current Seton Hall forward Taurean Thompson, who transferred from Syracuse to Seton Hall in August 2017. During the investigation, the NCAA learned Holloway had approximately 243 impermissible contacts with the prospect's mother from Nov. 16, 2016 through Aug. 28, 2017 while the prospect was enrolled at his initial institution. The NCAA said Holloway and the prospect’s mother had 154 phone calls without written permission from the prospect’s athletics director. After he informed his original university of his intent to transfer and requested permission to contact Seton Hall, the university denied the request. After the request was denied, Holloway still had 87 impermissible calls with the prospect’s mother. Willard, who has taken Seton Hall to the last four NCAA Tournaments, was penalized for failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance within his program. He admitted to not taking adequate steps to report or stop the calls when he found out about them. According to the agreement, Holloway did not report the calls with the prospect’s mother because they involved a personal relationship outside of the prospect and basketball, and he believed the communications were permissible. “Seton Hall University, in conjunction with the NCAA, recently concluded a review of an infraction within our men’s basketball program,” Seton Hall said in a statement Friday afternoon. “Our department was proactive in our review and fully cooperated with the NCAA enforcement staff. While the violation was inadvertent, it was nonetheless against NCAA bylaws, and for that we take full responsibility.” The case was processed through the new negotiated resolution process. The process was used instead of a formal hearing or summary disposition because the university, the head coach, the former associate head coach and the enforcement staff agreed on the violations and the penalties. The Division I Committee on Infractions reviewed the case to determine whether the resolution was in the best interests of the NCAA and whether the agreed-upon penalties were reasonable. Holloway is in his second season at St. Peter’s. He will miss games against Providence on Saturday and Wagner on Wednesday. His first game will be against St. Francis, New York, on Nov. 30.
November 15, 2019

Utah State womens basketball coach taking leave of absence

Utah State head women's basketball coach Jerry Finkbeiner is taking a medical leave of absence for a non-life-threating health condition. In his absence, associate head coach Ben Finkbeiner will oversee the program.
November 6, 2019

NCAA board approves athlete compensation for image, likeness

The NCAA took a major step Tuesday toward allowing college athletes to cash in on their fame, voting to permit them to "benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness." The nation's largest governing body for college sports and its member schools now must figure out how to allow athletes to profit - something they have fought against doing for years - while still maintaining rules regarding amateurism. The NCAA Board of Governors, meeting at Emory University in Atlanta, directed each of the NCAA's three divisions to create the necessary new rules immediately and have them in place no later than January 2021. Board chair Michael Drake, the president of Ohio State University, said the NCAA must embrace change and modernize "to provide the best possible experience for college athletes." But such changes will come with limitations, he said. "The board is emphasizing that change must be consistent with the values of college sports and higher education and not turn student-athletes into employees of institutions," Drake told The Associated Press. A group of NCAA administrators has been exploring since May the ways in which athletes could be allowed to receive compensation for the use of their names, images and likenesses. The working group, led by Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman, presented a status report Tuesday to the university presidents who make up the Board of Governors. Smith and Ackerman's group laid out principles and guidelines, endorsed by the board, to be followed as NCAA members go about crafting new rules and tweaking existing ones, including: Some college sports leaders fear allowing athletes to earn outside income could open the door to corruption. "One of the most distinctive things about college sports is this whole recruitment process," NCAA President Mark Emmert told the AP. "The whole notion of trying to maintain as fair a playing field as you can is really central to all this. And using sponsorship arrangements, in one way or another, as recruiting inducements is something everybody is deeply concerned about." Ackerman and Smith said the challenges lie in determining what regulations need to be set in place; what markets athletes should be allowed to access; what entities and individuals they should be permitted to work with; and whether the schools themselves could provide funds to athletes through licensing deals. The NCAA's move came a month after California passed a law that would make it illegal for NCAA schools to prohibit college athletes from making money on endorsements, autograph signings and social media advertising, among other activities. "California has made it clear that we won't accept any arbitrary limitations on college athletes' right to their name, image, and likeness," state Sen. Nancy Skinner, who co-sponsored the bill, posted in Twitter. The California law goes into effect in 2023. More than a dozen states have followed with similar legislation, some of which could be on the books as soon as next year. "This is another attempt by the NCAA at stalling on this issue," said Ramogi Huma, executive director of the National College Players Association, an advocacy group. It's hard to say exactly how much athletes could fetch on an open market for their names. It could range from a few hundred dollars for creating personalized video and audio greetings for fans through companies such as Cameo, to thousands of dollars for doing television advertisements for local businesses. NCAA rules allow for an athletic scholarship that covers tuition, room and board, books and a cost-of-attendance stipend. The cost of attendance is determined by the institution using federal guidelines and generally ranges from $2,000-$5,000 per semester. Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane University sports law program, said the NCAA has taken an important step by recognizing its rules are antiquated. "But the ultimate question is how are the rules modified to both allow college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness while also being consistent with the collegiate model," Feldman said. The NCAA has said California's law is unconstitutional, and any states that pass similar legislation could see their athletes and schools being declared ineligible to compete. But the board also said it hopes to reach a resolution with states without going to court. In addition to pending state laws, North Carolina Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Walker has proposed a national bill that would prohibit the NCAA and its member schools from restricting athletes from selling the rights to their names, images and likenesses to third-party buyers on the open market. "We're going to continue to communicate with legislators at the state and federal level," Emmert said. "That's one of the things that the board is asking of me and my staff and the membership in general, and hopefully we can avoid anything that's a direct conflict with our state legislators."
October 29, 2019

Hall 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

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