NCAA rules eight Hurricanes must sit at least one game

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Al Golden said earlier this week that he was hoping to hear from the NCAA by Thursday regarding the eligibility of a number of his football players.  Golden indeed got his wish, although it’s likely not the answer he was hoping for.

The NCAA ruled Wednesday that eight Hurricane football players must sit at least one game this season.  The players had been declared ineligible by the school late last week.

The most recognizable name on the list of eight is quarterback Jacory Harris, who is one of five players who will be forced to sit out the opener.  The NCAA alleged that Harris received more than $140 in benefits from meals, entertainment, transportation and nightclub cover charges.

The stiffest sanctions were levied on defensive end Olivier Vernon, who will be forced to sit the first six games of the year.  The NCAA found that the lineman had received $1,200 in impermissible benefits during his recruitment from former UM booster and convicted felon Nevin Shapiro.  In their statement, the NCAA alleged that those recruitment benefits included meals, transportation, access to Shapiro’s game suite, drinks, as well as cover charges at two different nightclubs, among others.

Safety Ray-Ray Armstrong and tight end Dyron Dye were each suspended for the first four games for impermissible benefits they received during their recruitment.  Armstrong received approximately $788 in extra benefits from Shapiro and athletics personnel during his recruitment. Dye received approximately $738. These  benefits for both players included five nights of impermissible lodging from institutional staff during their unofficial visits, transportation, multiple meals, and entertainment at a gentleman’s club.

Defensive lineman Marcus Forston, linebacker Sean Spence, defensive lineman Adewale Ojomo and wide receiver Travis Benjamin were each suspended for one game apiece.  From the release:

Forston received more than $400 in extra benefits from Shapiro and athletic personnel, including athletic equipment, meals, nightclub cover charges and entertainment at a gentleman’s club. Spence received approximately $275 in benefits, including meals, transportation, as well as cover charges and entertainment at a gentleman’s club. Ojomo received $240 in extra benefits, including a meal and nightclub cover charges. Benjamin received more than $150 in extra benefits, including meals and entertainment.

All of the players must make restitution as a condition of their reinstatement.

Harris, Vernon, Armstrong, Forston, Spence, Ojomo and Benjamin were all listed as starters or co-starters on the Hurricanes’ most recent depth chart.  All seven will miss at least the opener Monday against Maryland.

“The NCAA has informed the University of Miami of their decisions regarding the reinstatement of eight student-athletes who were declared ineligible by the University last week,” Miami athletics director Shawn Eichorst said in a statement. “The student-athletes involved have acknowledged receiving improper benefits and will now be responsible for restitution and, in some cases, the student-athletes will also serve game suspensions. They understand that their actions demand consequences.

“This university has the highest standards in all of our academic and athletic endeavors.  We will remain steadfast in our commitment to continue to build winning programs with the utmost of integrity.  We will be more vigilant in our compliance and continue to work with the NCAA on the joint investigation to determine the facts.

“We appreciate the diligence and understanding of the NCAA staff and its handling of the student-athlete eligibility issues in an expeditious manner. I would also like to thank Coach [Al] Golden and his staff for their professionalism and leadership over the past few weeks.”

It should be noted that the NCAA’s decision on the player’s eligibility is separate from their broader investigation into the allegations levied against Miami’s football program and any sanctions that could be slapped on the school.

In the school’s release on the development, it was noted that Brandon McGee, JoJo Nicholas, Micanor Regis and Vaughn Telemaque “have been cleared by the NCAA to participate in all competition though each must make repayment in the amount of less than $100 for receiving impermissible benefits”, as well as Marcus Robinson being cleared of any NCAA violations and will not face any penalties.

 

Antonio Callaway among Gators reportedly set to face felony charges

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If one report is accurate, things are about to get very real for a couple of members of the Florida football team.

Citing unnamed sources, thereadoptional.com reported overnight that “Antonio Callaway, Jordan Smith, and one other player are likely to be arrested on charges of felony grand theft, with the possibility of further misdemeanor charges being tagged on, according to a lawyer representing one of the players.” That trio is part of the group of nine Gator football players who have been indefinitely suspended in connection to the misuse of scholarship money in general and, specifically, for making improper charges on their student debit cards at the school bookstore and then selling those items for cash.  The Read Optional has further added that the players then claimed that the debit cards had been stolen.

In addition to Callaway, a junior wide receiver, and Smith, a redshirt freshman defensive lineman, the other suspended players include junior defensive end Keivonnis Davis, sophomore defensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones, freshman linebacker James Houston, freshman linebacker Ventrell Miller, junior running back Jordan Scarlett, freshman offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort and redshirt freshman wide receiver Rick Wells.

Charges against the three players, one of whom is unnamed, are expected to be filed later on this week, next week at the latest.  It’s also expected that the other six players will be arrested as well.

Restitution for the debit card scheme has already been made, the website noted.

The off-field trouble for the football program doesn’t end there, however, as The Read Optional is also reporting that a separate investigation into players using stolen credit cards is underway.  From the website:

This morning, we reported that several players were also being investigated in a separate credit card fraud case being run in conjunction by the Gainesville Police Department and the University of Florida Police Department.

Both police departments uncovered the stolen credit card details from the same victim while operating its own individual investigations — the GPD into Jordan Smith paying his rent with stolen credit card details; and the UFPD into the student debit card scheme, an investigation that broadened over time.

The investigation into the stolen credit card information is ongoing, with other student-athletes to be interviewed on Wednesday.

All nine players remain indefinitely suspended from the football program and, based on this report, they will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Baker Mayfield, what derailed Sooners’ 2014 season? ‘I blame Katy Perry’

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Well, that explains it.

Oklahoma began the 2014 season a perfect 4-0 and was ranked fourth in the country before heading into Fort Worth for a showdown with No. 25 TCU. ESPN‘s College GameDay was in Oxford for the huge Alabama-Ole Miss matchup, with Katy Perry serving as that weekend’s epic guest picker.

At one point during the show, the pop singer famously — or infamously if you’re an OU fan — very seductively hit on Trevor Knight, telling the Sooners’ starting quarterback to “call her.”

Knight waited four months before publicly acknowledging the offer. Coincidentally or not, OU, including the 37-33 loss to TCU, went on to finish out the 2014 season on a 4-5 skid, including a 40-6 pasting at the hands of Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Knight missed three of those nine games because of injury, throwing nine interceptions in the six games he did play in after throwing three in his first four pre-Perry flirtation.

Monday, Baker Mayfield, the Sooners’ current starting quarterback who was a transfer from Texas Tech during that 2014 season, was asked what OU’s downfall that year was.

I blame Katy Perry,” the 2017 Heisman front-runner said.

Way to go Katy. Or Trevor, for not immediately following up with a call and triggering the jinx that killed OU’s season.

That said, I’m fairly certain neither the call for action or the inaction to the call for a call had anything to do with the Sooners’ collapse that season.  A defense that gave up more than 30 points in each of the losses, as well as once in one of the wins, though, is certainly a prime and more realistic suspect when it comes to laying blame for the collapse.

One final note: Katy Perry is easily Top 3 when it comes to all-time GameDay guest pickers.  And that’s not up for debate.

Nation’s No. 1 recruit in 2015 granted release from Auburn

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One of the top players in the Class of 2015 will reportedly ply his football wares elsewhere.

As reported by 247Sports.com‘s Brandon Marcello and subsequently confirmed by al.com, Byron Cowart requested a release from his Auburn scholarship at some point Monday.  Tuesday morning, the former reported, that release was granted.

There’s no word yet on what stipulations were attached to the release, or the reasons behind the original request.

Regardless of the why, there’s little doubt the defensive lineman’s on-field play failed to live up to his recruiting pedigree.

A consensus five-star signee, Cowart was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 1 player in the Class of 2014 while 247Sports.com had Florida product as the No. 3 player overall on its composite board.  In 26 career games, Cowart was credited with 15 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.  He was one of four Tigers arrested for marijuana possession in May of last year.

This past spring, Cowart was moved from end to tackle in an attempt to jumpstart his career.  In three games at his new position this season, he had three tackles and half a tackle for loss in three games.

‘Highly questionable’ Florida CB Duke Dawson plays vs. Kentucky

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Duke Dawson suffered a head injury in Florida’s wild win over Tennessee in Week 3.  On his personal Twitter account, the Gators’ most veteran cornerback indicated that he will play in Week 4 against Kentucky despite the injury.

Dawson’s head coach, though, tapped the brakes on that notion.

Jim McElwain has, at least for now, labeled the fifth-year senior as “highly questionable” for the matchup against the unbeaten Wildcats in Lexington. The door, though, is not completely closed.

We’ll see where that is as we go throughout the week,” the head coach said.

Dawson started seven of the 12 games in which he played last season. He returned an interception for a touchdown in the season-opening loss to Michigan, then had a key interception in the win over rival Florida.