Another day, another diatribe aimed at Paul Dee

20 Comments

Rightly so, Paul Dee has been skewered by both the media and fans — and in one case a conference commissioner — in the days since Yahoo! blew the lid off alleged rampant corruption involving current and former members of the Miami football and basketball programs.

Dee was the athletic director during most of Nevin Shapiro’s eight-year run of booster benevolence that began in late 2001/early 2002 and could end with program-shaking sanctions.  Dee was also the chair of the NCAA Committee on Infractions that slapped severe sanctions on USC because of allegations so serious it forced Dee to chastise the university with his infamous “high-profile players demand high-profile compliance.”

As it turns out, USC wasn’t the only institution on the receiving end of one of Dee’s sanctimonious sermons served from his bully pulpit.

Long Beach State president F. King Alexander found himself, along with other university officials, in front of a Dee-led COI hearing in 2007 to answer allegations of irregularities in their basketball program.  The president recalled the hearing to the Long Beach Press-Telegram recently, saying that his group was the subject of, as the paper writes it, a “lecture… in a most condescending manner” from Dee.

“Dee told us, `You have to put in place the kind of institutional control we have at Miami‘,” Alexander said, a thought the Press-Telegram notes was relayed with irritation.

The Dee anecdote was just one of many from a diatribe by Alexander on the current state of the NCAA.  Hell, even Nebraska wasn’t safe from the president’s pointed words, all of which come back to just two: nauseating hypocrisy.

“And one of the other members of the NCAA Infractions Committee in that hearing was from Nebraska. On that same day, six Nebraska athletes were arrested for illegally selling sporting apparel,” Alexander continued.

“The hypocrisy of the NCAA makes me sick. To allow institutions like Miami and Nebraska to chair and oversee its infractions committee is like putting foxes in charge of the henhouse.”

Interestingly, Alexander also has somewhat of a connection to the current Miami mess.

“You must understand that in 2005 when I was president at Murray State, I fired our football coach, Joe Pannunzio, because of numerous incidents that occurred in our program under him that were quite bad,” Alexander said. “Well, Pannunzio immediately was hired by Miami, and he’s one of the coaches who’s been prominently mentioned by Shapiro in the current scandal. He’s now the head of football operations at Alabama.”

Pannunzio was named in the damning Yahoo! report as someone who, while an assistant coach at Miami, “had a close relationship with Shapiro and facilitated the booster having improper contact with recruits.”  Shapiro refused to speak on or off the record regarding the Pannunzio allegations uncovered by Yahoo!.

Another former Miami assistant, Jeff Stoutland, is also on Nick Saban‘s Alabama staff, serving as the Tide’s offensive line coach after being hired in January.

Saban addressed Thursday the two new members of the program allegedly involved in the South Beach scandal, and said the two were thoroughly vetted prior to their hirings.

“I know what goes on in this program and I know that we do things correctly,” Saban said. “We do have people in this organization, who worked there (at Miami). Before those people were ever hired here we do an NCAA check to make sure they pass all compliance criteria and that they don’t have any red flags relative to compliance history.

“We certainly did that in both of these cases. Now, if any of these people had any wrongdoing, I’m sure the NCAA will investigate it in due time and, if they did anything wrong, I’m sure they will get the appropriate punishment, which we would do if we had any internal problems in our organization. But we’re going to continue and control and manage what we do in our organization and do it correctly, and that’s basically all we can be concerned about.”

Getting back to the broader issue of NCAA hypocrisy when it comes to enforcement and the individuals involved with levying sanctions, the bigger question becomes how to clean up the rightly-held perception of that part of collegiate athletics.  What seems to be the only option also happens to be the best: the NCAA needs to hire independent arbitrators to replace the current members of the COI — who, like Dee, are employed by individual institutions as their full-time jobs — and allow them to independently conduct the hearings that determine sanctions.

Simply put, a Paul Dee-led NCAA COI slamming sanctions on an institution like USC simply cannot happen again, especially when one of the member’s own athletic house was allegedly in disarray at the time.  The NCAA is rolling in enough hypocrisy because of that case and the subsequent fallout at Miami to last a lifetime, and it needs to ensure that’s never again an issue.

(Tip O’ the Cap for the Alexander link to Jon Solomon)

Pair of Alabama defenders undergo surgery after Tide’s spring game

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Alabama’s spring game wrapped up on Saturday and with it, the last of the Crimson Tide’s spring practices. While that means the coaching staff is free to fly across the country to visit recruits during the evaluation period, it also results in several players going under the knife to correct injuries in order to be back by fall camp.

Two of those players are starting cornerback Anthony Averett and (likely starting) linebacker Christian Miller, both of whom underwent sports hernia surgery this week according to AL.com.

The report states that Averett played with the hernia most of last season while the Tide marched their way to the national title game. Miller was one of the stars of the show on Saturday during Alabama’s spring game, recording two sacks while dealing with the injury.

Both are expected to be fully healthy for camp in August as Nick Saban and company vie for yet another conference title and berth in the College Football Playoff.

SEC commissioner hints at review of rules regarding alcohol sales in football stadiums

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The prohibition of alcohol at football stadiums has undergone one interesting about-face in college athletics the past 15 years or so. While various suite levels at stadiums across the country have generally had access to a few adult beverages, there’s been some very large programs that have opened up the taps in the general seating areas the last few years.

From West Virginia to Texas to Ohio State, more and more programs are selling beer and/or liquor across the board and raking in hundreds of thousands (if not millions) in added revenue while doing so. One conference that isn’t jumping in on that trend however has been the SEC, which has numerous restrictions on where those types of beverages can be sold. That may be about to change in the near future however according to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.

“At some point, I’m relatively certain, there will be further review of the prohibition,” said Sankey on Monday, per The Tuscaloosa News. “That doesn’t predict any outcome.”

While you may think that the league is close to opening the floodgates on alcohol being served at stadiums across the conference, you probably shouldn’t jump to any conclusions on the matter as Sankey seemed to hold his ground and stand firm on keeping things as is right now.

“The conference has a policy that says that we’re not selling alcohol in the general seating area,” he added. “Now, you can agree or disagree with that policy, but that’s the policy. The basis for changing that or maintaining it is one that’s developed in the conversation.

“I think we were at like 98 percent ticket sales in football… So is that one-percent margin a trade that we’re going to make?”

It’s no secret that of-age fans can easily find a few beverages at SEC tailgates prior to games nowadays but it seems momentum is slowing building in the conference to allow fans to buy some during a game. It might not happen anytime in the very near future but the conversation is certainly going to keep popping up each year with many more schools across the country jumping in on this trend.

QB Malik Zaire reportedly sets timetable for transfer decision while adding Harvard to the mix

Getty Images
1 Comment

While we don’t yet know where former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire is transferring to, we might have an idea of when he plans on making a move this offseason.

Per Orangebloods.com’s Anwar Richardson, the signal-caller has zeroed in on the end of May for an announcement on his new school in a timetable that coincides with the Irish’s graduation ceremonies. Perhaps just as interesting is the fact that there may also be a new school in the mix and it’s known for being a powerhouse of a different kind away from the gridiron.

“In addition, I was told a new school is in the mix. Zaire is still considering Texas, Wisconsin and Florida, and the grad transfer quarterback has added Harvard to his short list. It remains unclear how serious Zaire is about playing Ivy League football. If he does go that route, Harvard would be his landing spot.”

The Ivy League power is an interesting new destination for Zaire and could be a pretty good backup option given what’s going on at his other finalists.

While Texas and Wisconsin are both on his shortlist, both the Longhorns and Badgers return their starting quarterbacks from last season in Shane Buechele and Alex Hornibrook. Richardson reports that Zaire wants to start in 2017 and not hold a clipboard but he is still keeping his options opens when it comes to the thin depth charts at the position in both Austin and Madison.

Complicating things is Florida, which should be a prime landing spot for Zaire were it not for an SEC rule passed last year that is preventing him from transferring him there this offseason. The league is set to talk about changes to that rule at their spring meetings in Destin, Fla. but it remains unclear if the QB will wait and see before making a decision (and it’s entirely possible the SEC keeps things as they are).

Either way, the former Irish starter does not appear to be lacking options when it comes to the graduate transfer market.

Tennessee hires College Football Playoff CFO for administrative role

1 Comment

Tennessee might not be a favorite to make the College Football Playoff in 2017 but the school is doing their best to bring a little bit of the sport’s postseason to Knoxville.

Athletic director John Currie announced on Tuesday that the Vols would be hiring the College Football Playoff’s Chief Financial Officer Reid Sigmon as Tennessee’s new Executive Associate Athletics Director and Chief Operating Officer. The hire isn’t too surprising considering the two worked together for several years at Kansas State in very similar roles.

“It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Reid Sigmon to the Tennessee Athletics family,” Currie said in a statement. “He has earned national credibility as part of a visionary leadership group creating the College Football Playoff organization for the last four years, and his tremendous integrity and understanding of college athletics make him a perfect addition to our Tennessee leadership team.”

Sigmon served in a variety of roles in college athletics as well as the NFL before eventually landing with the College Football Playoff. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that he starts at Tennessee on May 15 with a salary of $285,000 per year.