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ESPN files complaint against Ohio State over access to emails

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Not only does Ohio State have NCAA issues with which to deal, the school now has a “minor” legal issue to contend with as well.

In a complaint filed Monday with the Ohio Supreme Court, ESPN is asking the court to compel Ohio State to release emails sent/received by OSU officials relating to the scandal that has plagued the football program over the past few months.  Specifically, ESPN is requesting the following in the complaint:

…a Writ of Mandamus ordering Ohio State to make available copies of all emails, letters and memos to and from Jim Tressel, Gordon Gee, Doug Archie, and/or Gene Smith with key word Sarniak since March 15, 2007, all documents and emails, letters and memos related to NCAA investigations prepared for and/or forwarded to the NCAA since 1/1/2010 related to an investigation of Jim Tressel, any and all emails or documents listing people officially barred from student-athlete pass lists (game tickets) since January 1, 2007, any report, email or other correspondence between the NCAA and Doug Archie or any other Ohio State athletic department official related to any violation (including secondary violation) of NCAA rules involving the football program, since January 1, 2005 …

The “Sarniak” the complaint refers to is Ted Sarniak, a businessman from former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s hometown of Jeanette, Pa.  Archie, the OSU compliance director, had previously described Sarniak as ” someone who Terrelle had reached out to for advice and guidance throughout his high-school and collegiate career.”

Sarniak was also previously identified as being the lone individual to receive emails from Tressel regarding potential NCAA violations committed by a handful of his players, including Pryor.  Those emails were not forwarded to anyone in a position of authority at the university and ultimately led to self-imposed sanctions for major violations as well as Tressel ultimately being compelled to step down as head coach.

In the complaint, ESPN contends that individuals employed by the company “made several written public records requests to Ohio State” regarding the the emails but were either denied based on Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) concerns on the part of the school; the pending NCAA investigation, for which they provided no explanation for the legal authority the denial was based upon as required by law; or “summarily denied ESPN’s requests as overbroad, without citing legal authority for that denial, or providing ESPN with the opportunity to revise the request.”

ESPN is seeking “a judgment awarding attorney’s fees and court costs associated with bringing this action.”

ESPN concluded their “Memorandum in Support of Complaint for Writ of Mandamus” by writing that “[t]he events surrounding the Ohio State football program in this past year should sadden not only football fans, but anyone concerned with collegiate sports, academic integrity and accountability. But that sadness does not mean that the events should be secret. This court should join with courts from around the country in sending an unmistakable message to collegiate athletic departments – do not attempt to cover up your misdeeds behind FERPA and honor your obligations under the PRA. And it should do so by granting ESPN’s petition for a Writ of Mandamus.”

Ohio State has yet to respond to the complaint filed by ESPN.

ECU transfer Kurt Benkert wins Virginia’s starting QB job

In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 East Carolina quarterback Kurt Benkert rolls out to pass during NCAA college football practice in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Four months ago, Kurt Benkert was one the losing end of a quarterback competition at East Carolina.  Fastforward to today, and he’s now the trigger man in a Power Five offense.

First-year Hoos head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced Wednesday that Benkert will start the season opener against Richmond.  Benkert had been involved in a competition that included returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.

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Benkert came to the Cavaliers as a graduate transfer, but is not a one-year stop-gap as he has two years of eligibility remaining.

Named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, Benkert sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season.  Blake Kemp took over and kept a stranglehold on the starting job through spring practice this year, triggering Benkert’s decision to move on.

Benkert has attempted 10 passes in his collegiate career, all in 2014.

In starting all 12 games for the Cavaliers last season, Johns’ 2,810 passing yards were third in school history while his 20 touchdowns were tied for fourth.  His 17 interceptions, though, were the most of any FBS quarterback in 2015.

Cassius Peat granted release by Mich. St., appears headed to JUCO

COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 15:  A Michigan State Spartans helmet on the bench during a college football game against the Maryland Terrapins at Byrd Stadium on November 15, 2014 in College Park, Maryland.  The Spartans won 37-15.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Earlier this month, Mark Dantonio stated that Michigan State was giving Cassius Peat “an opportunity to work on his academics and get himself in order” as his status with the program was “in flux.”

A week or so later?  He gone.

MSU confirmed Wednesday that Peat has been granted a release from his scholarship and will transfer from the Spartans.  And, in fact, the defensive lineman may have already found a new home, one at the junior college level.

Peat, initially a UCLA commit, was a three-star 2015 recruit who was rated as the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Arizona.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman, and had been listed as the No. tackle heading into summer camp.

However, according to mlive.com, Peat did not report for camp amidst his academic issues.

Ex-Oregon St. DB goes home to LaTech as grad transfer

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Running back Justin Davis #22 of the USC Trojans is defended by safety Cyril Noland-Lewis #17 of the Oregon State Beavers in the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. USC defeated Oregon State 35-10.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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A week after transferring from Oregon State, Cyril Noland-Lewis has found a new home that happens to also double as his hometown.

The Ruston News Star, among others, has reported that Noland-Lewis is transferring into the Louisiana Tech football program.  As he is coming to Tech as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Bulldogs in 2016, his final season of eligibility.

The defensive back, who went to high school in Ruston, was at the Bulldogs’ practice Tuesday as Tech continues preparations for the season opener Sept. 3 against Arkansas.

Noland-Lewis started 10 games for the Beavers last season.  Six of those starts came as a safety, the others as the nickel corner.  OSU moved Noland-Lewis to cornerback this offseason, where he ultimately found himself buried on the depth chart in summer camp.

The 6-0, 198-pound fifth-year senior, who began his OSU career as a linebacker, played in a total of 37 games during his time in Corvallis.

Tyler Rodgers, NMSU’s starting QB, arrested on battery charge

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Tyler Rogers #18 of the New Mexico State Aggies drops back to pass against the LSU Tigers during the first quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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It’s not been a good day for a couple of starting quarterbacks at Group of Five programs.

The Las Cruces Sun-News has reported that New Mexico State’s Tyler Rogers turned himself in last Friday on a warrant that had been issued for him Aug. 14.  The junior was booked on one count of misdemeanor charge of battery against a household member.

The alleged victim is Rogers’ girlfriend. A verbal altercation at a party allegedly turned physical in a vehicle later on. When police arrived, the woman, who was initially crying, “downplayed the incident and said that it wasn’t really anything and that the altercation did not get physical and didn’t consider Mr. Rogers grabbing her arm as being a physical altercation.”

The woman decided against completing a domestic violence supplement report, and, according to the Sun-News, it’s unclear if the woman is cooperating with police.

“I was very disappointed in hearing the news but we are in the information gathering stage,” NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia said in a statement. “These are allegations that we take very seriously and we look forward to getting as much detail as possible so the university can be informed and the athletic department can make an informed decision moving forward.”

Because “it is a misdemeanor, there isn’t a suspension coming forth right now,” head coach Doug Martin said.

Rogers has started 15 games the past two seasons for the Aggies.