NCAA hits Boise with scholarship losses, cuts in practice time

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Three months after appearing in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to answer allegations of violations committed by, among other sports, its flagship football program, Boise State has heard the NCAA’s final ruling on the case.

And, suffice to say, The Association didn’t feel the self-imposed sanctions the Broncos slapped on themselves back in May were sufficiently stiff.

In its 73-page report released Tuesday, the NCAA found “that the scope and nature of the violations in five sports over a lengthy period of time, five years, in combination with a continuous pattern of violations in the men’s and women’s tennis programs demonstrate a lack of institutional control.”

The secondary violations involving the football program, which were initially found by BSU’s compliance staff and self-reported to the NCAA, stem from 63 incoming players receiving impermissible benefits that totaled just over $4,900.  The benefits involved, the school stated in its official response to the NCAA inquiry this past May, “impermissible housing, transportation or meals, where an incoming student-athlete was provided a place to sleep (often on a couch or floor), a car ride or was provided free food by an existing student-athlete.”

The “services” rendered ranged from $2.34 to $417.55.  All $4,934 has been reimbursed by the five dozen or so players involved.  The violations occurred between 2005 and 2009.

As a result of those violations, BSU will see a reduction in scholarships from 85 to 82 in 2011, 2012 and 2013.  The program had previously announced its decision to strip itself of three scholarships for this season; obviously, there have been an additional six scholarship losses tacked on by the NCAA.

Boise also self-imposed a sanction that reduced the number of preseason practices the football program was allowed to have this year and next from 29 to 26.  In addition to that, the NCAA docked the Broncos three contact practices during the spring sessions in 2012, 2013 and 2014, dropping the maximum allowed from 12 to nine.

Perhaps the only good news for the football team is that, unlike the other sports involved in the investigation, they were not hit with any recruiting restrictions.  The program will be on three years of probation from Sept. 13, 2011, through Sept. 12, 2014.”

The school has released statements addressing the NCAA’s decision.

“We defended the athletic program to the best of our abilities at the hearing and had hoped our self-imposed sanctions and corrective measures would be sufficient,” said Boise State President Bob Kustra.

“A number of decisions have been made since the beginning of the investigation that have demonstrated our commitment to the NCAA process,” Kustra said.  “Boise State will have a diligent and meticulous approach to compliance, with a new level of leadership and accountability. The infractions and subsequent penalties have left us no margin for error going forward, and have changed the nature of oversight required.”

“Like Dr. Kustra, I was surprised by the findings. I am also disappointed,” said Boise State head football coach Chris Petersen.  “However, it will not have an impact on our on-field efforts.  At this time we are completely focused on winning Friday’s game at Toledo.

After stops at TCU, Arkansas State, Cameron Echols-Luper to give WKU a try

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Maybe the third time will be a charm for Cameron Echols-Luper?

On his personal Instagram account Wednesday, Echols-Luper revealed that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at Western Kentucky.  According to the Bowling Green Daily News, the decision was made following a visit to the school earlier this week.

As a graduate transfer, the wide receiver will be eligible to play immediately in 2017 for the Hilltoppers. However, he has to finish up some schoolwork at his former school, Arkansas State, before officially moving on to WKU.

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Echols-Luper began his collegiate career at TCU in 2013, transferring to ASU in 2015. After sitting out that season, he was third on the Red Wolves in receptions (26) and receiving yards (407). His 15.7 yards per reception was second on the team.

Ex-USC DL Noah Jefferson won’t be transferring to Arizona after all

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In early March, Noah Jefferson announced on Twitter that he would be transferring from USC to Arizona.  Nearly five months later?

Never mind.

Wednesday, UA head coach Rich Rodriguez announced that Jefferson will not, as previously expected, be playing for the Wildcats this season.  No reason for the abrupt and unexpected about-face was given.

The coach did, though, intimate that a future pairing between the player and the program isn’t out of the question.

Jefferson wouldn’t have been eligible to play in 2017 for the Wildcats even if his move to the desert had come to fruition. He would’ve, though, had two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018 at his disposal.

A four-star member of USC’s 2015 recruiting class, Jefferson played in 14 games, starting one of those, as a true freshman. After starting the season-opening loss to Alabama last season, Jefferson never played another down for USC.

Hugh Freeze makes first public comments since exiting Ole Miss in disgrace

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For the first time since his unceremonious exit from Ole Miss, Hugh Freeze has spoken publicly.  Somewhat.

In what was described as a brief interview with USA Today Sports Wednesday, the former Ole Miss head coach said his family and church have helped him get through the storm of the last few days. When asked if his family was standing by him, Freeze responded, “Oh, gosh, yeah.”

“God is good, even in difficult times,’’ Freeze told the website. “Wonderful wife and family, and that’s my priority.”

“I got some good friends,” the former head coach added.

The stunning news dropped last Thursday night that Freeze’s tenure as the head coach at Ole Miss had come to an end because of at least one call from his university-issued cell phone to a known escort service.  While Freeze blamed the call on a misdial, the administration found a “pattern of misconduct” during a deep dive into his phone records, leading the school to confront the coach about the situation.

After meetings with Freeze Wednesday night and then again Thursday morning, it became apparent that, if he didn’t resign, the school was going to fire him.

Because of a moral turpitude clause in his contract, there was neither a buyout nor a settlement.

Five-star 2017 Auburn signee undergoes ‘minor procedure,’ should be a go for start of summer camp

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It appears Auburn has dodged what could’ve been a significant injury bullet.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, Brandon Marcello of the Auburn arm of 247Sports.com is reporting that Calvin Ashley underwent a procedure on one of his eyes recently.  SECCountry.com described it as “a minor procedure”; both websites stated that the touted offensive tackle will be ready for the start of summer camp on July 31, this coming Monday.

The reports come a few days after Ashley posted a picture on social media of what appeared to be him in a hospital room.

The football program has not yet, at least publicly, addressed what if any type of health issue with which Ashley is dealing.

A five-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class, Ashley was rated as the No. 6 tackle in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in Washington D.C.; and the No. 27 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Ashley was the highest-rated player in AU’s class this year, the only five-star recruit pulled in by Gus Malzahn and company this cycle.

The 6-6, 310-pound Ashley is expected to compete immediately for the starting job at left tackle.