Day One of NCAA Presidential Retreat in the books

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Today began NCAA President Mark Emmert‘s two day university president/chancellor retreat in Indianapolis to discuss some of the pressing issues facing college athletics.

And given our most recent summer of slime, the issues are abundant. However, Emmert hopes to begin implementing changes and solutions that more adequately fit the needs in today’s game within a matter of months, not years.

I think there was a real common sense that we need to do some big things,” Oregon State president Edward Ray told the Associated Press. “There can’t just be a thousand incremental changes. We need to think about what are the three or four major changes that we need to make. We need to have a group put a package together, think it through and present it to the Division I board, and then have the board vote it up or down.’

“Don’t come back with a lot of recommendations that will go into the legislative process for another two years. Give us some meat to chew on and work it over thoughtfully and let’s decide over the next several months what we are going to do differently.”

Some items on the bill:

  • Full cost of attendance. Clearly, this has been one of the most intriguing problems facing revenue-producing athletics, from presidents down to student-athletes. The idea is sexy enough, but it’s a legal and financial nightmare to accomplish. As of the last fiscal year, only 22 Division 1-A programs were self-sustaining, and no program is about to start increasing student fees just to pay athletes more than the average college kid. How universities will crunch the numbers will be interesting to figure out. SEC commissioner Mike Slive and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany have noted that the idea isn’t for everybody.
  • It is interesting to note, however, that the “full cost of attendance” model could be tied to academic performance. Multi-year scholarships could be rewarded on a similar basis.
  • Going a bit further, you can eliminate the pay-for-play notion. Emmert shot that down about as quickly as he could. Revenue producing college sports are evolving, but the NCAA will never willingly move away from the idea of de-amateurizing them — even though there are plenty of reasons to suspect sports like college football are already beyond an amateur sport.
  • As mentioned above, the idea of multi-year scholarships has been gaining some momentum since Slive made them part of his four-pronged agenda for change during SEC Media Days. For one, it limits a coach’s ability to perform, ahem, “roster management” each year to his liking. Secondly, good performance in the classroom could help an athlete keep his scholarship beyond the current one-year contract model.

All these suggestions are designed to try and balance modernization with classical ideals of higher education. It’s a tough compromise to reach, but the idea right now is to come up with a handful of feasible options to legitimately pursue rather than 100 ideas that will become so tangled nothing gets done.

The retreat ends tomorrow, and we’ll have a Day Two wrap-up for you as well.

Report: North Texas adds FCS running back transfer

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North Texas is adding running back Loren Easly to the roster, according to a message posted to his Twitter account Saturday.

Easly spent the past two seasons at Stephen F. Austin, a member of the FCS Southland Conference. A Houston native, he appeared in 20 games over two seasons as a Lumberjack, carrying 213 times for 1,256 yards with 11 touchdowns while adding 17 catches for 139 yards.

Denton Record-Chronicle reporter Brett Vito confirmed the transfer on his Twitter account.

As an interdivisional transfer, Easly will be able to play immediately with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

He would join a backfield led by rising senior Jeffrey Wilson, who paced the Mean Green with 936 yards and 14 touchdowns on 169 carries in 2016.

Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger signs extension, vows to fix football

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Kansas athletics director Sheahon Zenger has signed an extension to remain on the job through the 2020-21 academic year, the school announced Sunday.

Zenger has been on the job since 2011, meaning the new deal will take him past the decade mark in Lawrence.

“Since Sheahon’s arrival in Jan. 2011, Kansas Athletics has enjoyed success on and off the field,” Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement. “I am confident that under Sheahon’s leadership Athletics will experience even more success in the coming years.”

Zenger did not hire Bill Self, but he did hire Charlie Weis, which cost KU more than $5.6 million in buyout money after he was fired for going 6-22 leading the Jayhawks from 2012-14.

David Beaty was since hired to run the program, who has infused an outlook brighter than his 2-22 record would suggest.

Zenger said the new contract will allow him to fix football. Via the Kansas City Star:

Under Zenger’s watch, KU has most notably added numerous construction projects, including Rock Chalk Park and the DeBruce Center, which houses the original rules of basketball. He has spoken previously about completing those ventures to “clear the deck” financially so focus could be placed on football and Memorial Stadium renovations — two things he now says are “really the top priorities for me in the next four years.”

“We want it to be a place that people just love to come to,” Zenger said of Memorial Stadium. “We have such history there. I think it’s the greatest setting in the nation for college football. We just need to get it to the point where it’s a place that’s just revered.”

The extension includes a raise from a base salary of $619,000 to $700,000.

Alleged victim of Tennessee WR Josh Smith threatens $3 million civil suit

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Earlier this month, Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith was charged with domestic assault following an incident at an off-campus house with his roommate. Now, the roommate is seeking damages of $875,000. If that sum is not paid, then the alleged victim may bring a $3 million civil suit to the court.

According to Jimmy Hyams of WNML, Kennedy Foster suffered a broken nose, broken teeth and damage to his eyes and right ear in the incident earlier this month that led to the charges filed against Smith. Foster sent a settlement demand letter to the attorney representing Smith.

“I’m not accusing him (Foster) of extortion, but that’s what it looks like,’’ Smith’s attorney, Keith Stewart said according to Hyams. “Given my understanding that Mr. Foster’s attempts to press charges against Malcolm Stokes were unsuccessful, it seems his motives are clear.’’

“I think when the truth comes out, Josh will be exonerated,” Stewart said of his client.

The deadline for paying the settlement demand is set for May 30 (tomorrow) by 5:00 p.m. and is to be delivered in the form of a cashier’s check along with a letter of apology for the incident. If the Smith family does not pay the requested sum, the legal team for Foster will move forward with a $1.5 million lawsuit seeking compensatory damages and a $1.5 million lawsuit for punitive damages. How either will hold up in court remains to be seen.

How some college football teams are recognizing Memorial Day on Twitter

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It’s not Memorial Day until the social media teams at college football programs start pumping out branded Memorial Day messages on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. As expected, teams and conferences are busy at pumping out the social media content for their followers today. Here is a sampling of what has been seen so far.

If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to read John’s annual Memorial Day post.