GaTech to vacate ’09 ACC title, placed on four years probation

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Earlier today, many an individual connected to the sport were caught off-guard when reports surfaced that the NCAA was set to announce its findings followed an investigation into the Georgia Tech football program.

First of all, there was nary a clue that Tech was even under investigation.  Secondly, there were no details provided as to what exactly the NCAA had looked into, other than rumors that football players may have been the recipients of some free clothes or something along those lines.

The NCAA, however, has spoken, and cleared up the mystery surrounding the Yellow Jackets.  Somewhat.

In its report released this afternoon, the NCAA concluded that an unnamed former Tech player received impermissible benefits from the “friend of an employee of a sports agency based in Atlanta, Georgia.”  “Student-athlete 1” as the now-former player is described in the report, received several items of clothing from the friend of the sports agency employee worth $312 according to the NCAA.

Additionally, the report reads, “in November 2009, the NCAA agent, gambling and amateurism activities (AGA) staff developed information that a former Georgia Tech football student-athlete (“agency employee”) was working for an Atlanta-based professional sports agency and that he had provided impermissible benefits to a current Georgia Tech football student-athlete (“student-athlete 2″).”  The NCAA found that, in the case of student-athlete 2 — who is a current player — Tech officials “prepped” the player prior to his questioning by the NCAA; “The committee did not make a finding that student-athlete 2 received clothing, as he consistently denied this, although his denials may have been the result of the institution failing to protect the integrity of the NCAA’s investigation.”

As a result of the impermissible benefits found to have been received by student-athlete 1, and the university’s actions pertaining to providing information to student-athlete 2 ahead of his sit-down with the NCAA, the Association found the football program guilty of three major violations (a fourth violation was attributed to the basketball program):

— Preferential treatment. [NCAA Bylaw 12.1.2.1.6]

In October 2009, a friend of an employee of a sports agency based in Atlanta, Georgia, provided a then football student-athlete (“student-athlete 1”) several items of clothing valued at approximately $312.

— Failure to cooperate. [NCAA Bylaws 19.01.3 and 32.1.4]

On November 16, 2009, the institution failed to protect the integrity of the investigation and violated the cooperative principle when, contrary to specific instructions from the NCAA enforcement staff, institution staff members spoke to student-athlete 2 and told him the issues and related matters that would be the subject of his upcoming November 18, 2009, interview with the NCAA.

— Failure to meet the conditions and obligations of membership. [NCAA Constitution 3.2.4.3 and Bylaw 14.11.1]

In late 2009, the institution failed to meet the conditions and obligations of membership in that the institution did not withhold student-athlete 1 from competition when the institution was made aware of information which raised serious questions about whether he was involved in violations of NCAA legislation and thus should have been declared ineligible.

Additionally, a secondary violation was uncovered during the course of the NCAA’s investigation:

— On June 13, 2010, a football student-athlete was provided admission to the Georgia Aquarium, a meal and a bag of nonperishable items by two representatives of the institution’s athletics interests ($74).

As a result of those major violations, the Tech football program received the following sanctions:

— Public reprimand and censure.

— Four years of probation from July 14, 2011 through July 13, 2015. The public report further details the conditions of this probation.

— A $100,000 financial penalty.

— Head coach Paul Johnson will be required to “attend an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar in 2012.”

— A vacation of all contests won by the football team during the 2009 season after November 24, which is when the university was alerted to the potential eligibility issues.

The latter penalty means that the Yellow Jackets will be forced to vacate their 2009 ACC title game win over Clemson.  If they had beaten Iowa in the Orange Bowl a month later, and if they hadn’t lost to Georgia the week prior to the ACC title game, those wins would’ve been vacated as well as the NCAA concluded they played two players whose eligibility would’ve been in doubt.

For the complete report, you can click HERE if you have a minute or sixty to kill.

The school is expected to address the NCAA’s report in a 4:30 ET press conference this afternoon.

Ken Sparks, fifth-winningest coach at any level in college football history, dies at age 73

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College football has lost a coaching legend of the sport that you may never have heard of.

Carson-Newman announced Wednesday morning that its legendary former head football coach, Ken Sparks, passed away earlier in the day at the age of 73.  Sparks had been battling prostate cancer since being diagnosed in 2012, but doctors stopped treating him in January of this year.

According to WBIR-TV, Sparks had been in hospice care for the last several weeks.

Sparks was the head coach at Carson-Newman from 1980 through November of 2016, when he stepped down because of health concerns. During his time at the Div. II program — the first baker’s dozen years they were an NAIA school — the Eagles went 338-99-2. Sparks laid claim to five NAIA national championships and qualified for the Div. II playoffs 15 times in 24 years, although they failed to win a title at that latter level.

The 338 wins for Sparks are the fifth-most at any level of college football, behind only John Gagliardi (489), Joe Paterno (409), Eddie Robinson (408) and Bobby Bowden (377).

Alabama won’t be rushing Bo Scarbrough back this spring

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Not surprisingly, Alabama is going to err on the side of caution when it comes to one the most productive horses in its backfield stable.

On a second-down carry late in the third quarter of the national championship game loss to Clemson, Bo Scarbrough went down with an injury that turned out to be a fractured bone in his lower right leg.  The rising sophomore running back has recovered enough to be a participant in the Crimson Tide’s spring practice during some drills, albeit in non-contact mode.

Following the fourth practice of the spring Tuesday, Nick Saban made it clear made it clear that, while Scarbrough is getting some work in, the football program won’t be pushing him.

“Bo is doing more and more every day,” the head coach said according to al.com. “He did quite a bit today in practice, non-contact stuff, but he’s sort of gaining confidence. Our goal for Bo is by the end of spring, he’s fully confident that he can do everything he needs to do. Whether he ever scrimmages or is really something that we’re not that concerned about.”

It’s expected Scarbrough, barring a setback between now and then, will be fully recovered well ahead of the start of summer camp in early August.

Scarbrough’s 812 yards rushing year was second amongst Tide backs, while his 11 rushing touchdowns were second on the team.  He ran for 180 of those yards and two of the touchdowns in the College Football Playoff semifinal win over Washington, then had 93 yards and two more touchdowns before going down with the injury in the title game.

Western Kentucky hoops star to give Hilltoppers football a try

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Coming off a season in which he was the best player on Western Kentucky’s men’s basketball team, Justin Johnson is going to try his hand at another sport.

According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Johnson will practice with the Hilltoppers football team for the remainder of spring practice. The 6-7 forward will, not surprisingly, spend his time at tight end.

At the end of practices this spring, a WKU official told CFT, both sides will determine what if any future Johnson has in the sport.

Johnson admitted in one interview earlier this basketball season that he grew up wanting to play linebacker for Ohio State, and he did play two years of football at his Kentucky high school. Despite the fact that both Kentucky and Louisville had interest in him as a tight end, he ended up signing with WKU’s hoops team in 2014.

That decision has worked out well for both parties as Johnson has led the team in scoring and rebounding each of the past two seasons. He led Conference USA in the latter category as well as double-doubles, and was named second-team all-conference after his junior season.

Victim of alleged WKU football attack plans to file charges

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A former Western Kentucky fraternity member says he was attacked by a group of Hilltoppers football players and plans to file charges.

Jerald Armfield, an alum of WKU’s Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, told WBKO-TV he was caught in an ongoing feud between the fraternity and the football team:

“I went to the house in the best interest of the fraternity and Western as a whole to prevent any type of violence from occurring. We got up there and realized they were all hiding behind garbage cans, trees, and buildings.”

“I never in my wildest dreams thought they would attack me in the manner that they did. They all started surrounding me. One of them threw a rock at me. It was within a few seconds that one of them punched me in the face.”

“I fell down. I was kicked several times. The whole time they were beating me, I was begging them to stop, telling them I wasn’t here the night before, I had nothing to to do with it, like please stop, please stop, and they didn’t.”

Armfield said between nine and 10 people ultimately attacked him; it isn’t known for sure how many of that group are on the football team, though the program’s involvement in the incident is being investigated.

“We are aware of the allegations involving a few members of our football team,” the program said in the statement when word of the altercation broke three weeks ago. “We are cooperating fully with the authorities. However, at this time, we have not received a police report and cannot provide further comment.”

While the status of the investigation is currently unknown, Armfield told WBKO he would like it to end with multiple charges. “I made it very clear that night when the police arrived on the scene that I wanted charges pressed,” he said. “As far as I know a detective from Bowling Green Police Department has it. As it stands right now, I still want charges pressed. They need to be held accountable for what they did not only as citizens but as students at Western.”