SEC to tweak way violations are reported to NCAA

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If you recall, prior (no pun intended) to the fiasco that’s already forced the resignation of Ohio State’s esteemed head coach and is threatening to envelope the entire football program, there was the Cam Newton imbroglio that threatened to derail Auburn’s run to a national title.

Briefly, for background purposes, Mississippi State was made aware, through an intermediary, that Newton’s signature on a Letter of Intent was available in exchange for $180,000, payable to Newton’s father Cecil.  MSU coaches/alumni were informed of this “offer” in November of 2009, and MSU officials informed the SEC of the pay-for-play scheme in January of the following year — interestingly, only after Newton opted for the Tigers over the Bulldogs.  Shortly after alerting the SEC of a potential issue, the conference requested additional information on the situation from MSU.  Because of what the school described as a heavy workload in the compliance department on non-football matters, the information requested by the SEC was not handed over for another six months, at some point during the month of July.

That delay led to the perception that the SEC and/or Auburn and/or the NCAA were dragging their collective feet due to the historic season Newton was in the midst of.  The SEC in particular was roundly criticized, a fact that apparently stuck in the craw of commissioner Mike Slive.  And, as it turns out, has led to some minor changes in how potential violations are handled.

Speaking to the media in the midst of the SEC’s spring meetings Tuesday, Slive said that the conference has met with the NCAA regarding the “timing issue” and, while not getting into any specifics, allowed that the way they do business will be tweaked in the future.

“We’ve reached an accommodation as to the kinds of issues they (the NCAA) have had in mind, and what they want to know, when they want to know,” Slive said according to the Birmingham News. “Those are relatively simple things for us to accommodate. There may be certain issues that they want to know about earlier than others. We have no problem reaching that accommodation.”

Slive also acknowledged discussions with MSU in regards to the way the entire Newton episode played out in the first half of 2010.

Slive said the SEC has since had appropriate dialogue with Mississippi State “and we’re at a comfortable place with them now.” Mississippi State Athletics Director Scott Stricklin said the school was not penalized by the SEC.

“I think what happened last year is an opportunity for us to reassess and make sure that we’re where we all need to be as far as working within the league guidelines,” Stricklin said. “I’ve said all along, we had integrity in the way we managed the recruitment of the young man.”

Said Slive: “Everybody in our league knows exactly what we expect of them. We’re very comfortable with that. We’re very comfortable with our relationship with the NCAA. We’ve always been that way.”

Incidentally, and for those who were curious, there are still open and ongoing investigations involving Newton’s recruitment as well as Auburn’s recruiting practices.  And an NCAA look into Tiger Prowl.  And allegations made by four former players on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

Indiana freshman DB Bryant Fitzgerald ruled a non-qualifier after compliance error

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A key member of Indiana’s recruiting class won’t be able to play for the Hoosiers this season as a result of a serious compliance gaff at the school.

Freshman defensive back Bryant Fitzgerald was ruled by the NCAA to be a non-qualifier according to a statement released by the program and, as a result, will now be unable to play or practice for the team. A waiver was requested but both it and the appeal were denied.

At the heart of the matter seems to be the IU compliance office incorrectly advising Fitzgerald what classes to take in order to be eligible right away at the school in the eyes of the NCAA. As the above statement and a later one from athletic director Fred Glass make clear, this was a mistake on the school’s part that will cost the defensive back a full season and not about anything he did or didn’t do.

Fitzgerald was a three-star recruit coming out of high school in nearby Avon, Ind. but was expected to make a serious run at playing time given past comments by head coach Tom Allen. It certainly seems like a bummer all around for player, school and coach but the situation is what it is at this point.

Lane Kiffin lands yet another talented transfer in WVU wideout Jovon Durante

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We can joke about Lane Kiffin turning FAU into the real ‘Last Chance U’ in 2017 but… it’s kind of happening for real.

In addition to adding several alums from the Netflix show, the Owls have been stocking the roster left and right with FBS transfers this offseason and added yet another just before the season starts in West Virginia wide receiver Jovan Durante.

Durante has started 17 games in his first two seasons in Morgantown, racking up 331 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore in 2016. He was expected to assume a starting role once again this year but didn’t report to the Mountaineers preseason camp for what WVU coach Dana Holgorsen described as personal issues.

The South Florida native will have to sit out the 2017 season but will have two seasons of eligibility for the Owls after he redshirts this year.

BYU linebacker looking to transfer to Utah after being forced to redshirt

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When BYU announced this week that linebacker Francis Bernard was going to redshirt this season, only a few people seemed to think anything was really amiss. That does not seem to be the case anymore just a week before the Cougars start their season.

The Salt Lake Tribune talked with Bernard’s brother, James, about the matter and it appears the family is not too happy over the situation and is now looking to transfer. While that wouldn’t normally be much to write home about, the fact that the younger Bernard wants to move up the road to Holy War rival Utah is bound to raise some eyebrows.

“Just to be clear: My brother wants to transfer, regardless,” James Bernard told the paper. “We talk almost every day. He just doesn’t want to stay there any more.”

He went on to say that the reason that first prompted the redshirt announcement was not related to academics or playing time but a potential Honor Code issue with the school. What exactly that violation was however, is not exactly being made clear by the program to the family.

Bernard was suspended from the team’s bowl game last year for an unspecified violation of team rules but was given every indication that he would be back in the good graces of the team prior to preseason camp. That is obviously not the question and it appears a brewing transfer battle to move from Provo to Salt Lake City will soon be taking place between two bitter rivals over the junior linebacker.

Ohio State starting RB still dealing with hamstring injury but expects to play in opener

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Ohio State’s newish looking offense is expected to lean on the ground game early in 2017 but a key cog in that machinery might not be 100 percent healthy heading into the Buckeyes’ opener against Indiana.

Starting tailback Mike Weber has dealt with a lingering hamstring injury he suffered over the summer and hasn’t participated at all in the team’s preseason camp. Despite that bit of concerning news, it seems both the running back and the coaching staff is expecting him to be good to go in less than two weeks when the team kicks off the 2017 campaign.

“I’m getting close,” Weber said Friday, according to Cleveland.com. “They’ve been holding me back all camp to make sure I don’t have problems with it during the season. … I talk to the trainer a lot and it’s looking pretty good. I’m not at full speed yet, but I’m going to get there and I should be ready for the first game.”

Weber rushed for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns last year as a redshirt freshman and will see an increased load carrying the ball with Curtis Samuel off to the NFL. True freshman J.K. Dobbins has apparently slid into the backup role but running backs coach Tony Alford told reporters that the starting job is Weber’s when it comes time to go against the Hoosiers.

We’ll see if that eventually holds up given how finicky hamstring injuries are for tailbacks but at least the prognosis is good enough that Buckeyes fans can breathe a little easier as camp winds down in Columbus.