Chris Petersen

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.

Former Illini rushing leader announces intent to transfer from Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 3: Ke'Shawn Vaughn #5 of the Illinois Fighting Illini runs the ball against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Champaign, Illinois.  Illinois defeated Nebraska 14-13. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images
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Illinois running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn is moving on from the Illini. The sophomore announced, via Twitter, he will transfer to a new school in 2017.

Vaughn rushed for a team-high 723 yards as a freshman in 2015 with a team-leading six rushing touchdowns. This past season saw Vaughn slip to third in rushing yards with 301 yards and three touchdowns behind Kendrick Foster and Reggie Corbin under new head coach Lovie Smith. Vaughn was slowed by some injury concerns in the 2016 season with a leg injury causing him to be taken out against Minnesota and limiting him to two rushing attempts for three yards in his final two games before not getting a rushing attempt against Iowa and not playing at all against Northwestern in the season finale.

With two years under his belt, Vaughn still has two years of eligibility to play and a redshirt season still available to use to preserve his eligibility. Should he transfer to another FBS program, NCAA transfer rules will prohibit him from playing this fall. He will be eligible to play immediately if he lands at a lower division school.

Pitt and UCF add home-and-home series for 2018 and 2019

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 19:  James Conner #24 of the Pittsburgh Panthers celebrates his third quarter touchdown with teammates against the Duke Blue Devils at Heinz Field on November 19, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. James Conner became the ACC's all-time leader for total touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images
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The Pitt Panthers have filled out their non-conference slate for the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the addition of a home-and-home series with UCF.

The scheduling deal, announced Thursday morning, confirm UCF will host Pitt on September 19, 2018. The Knights will make the trip to Pittsburgh the following season on September 21, 2019. The two schools have faced each other just once before, with the Panthers taking a blowout 52-7 victory in Orlando on October 13, 2006.

As a member of the ACC, Pitt is required to play one power conference opponent each season in its non-conference schedule. As much as the American Athletic Conference would like us to all believe the AAC is indeed a power conference, the addition of UCF does not satisfy Pitt’s ACC scheduling requirement. However, Pitt’s ACC scheduling requirement is met in 2018 with a home game against Penn State and a road game at Notre Dame (as part of the ACC’s rotating Notre Dame schedule) and with a road game at Penn State in 2019. The Panthers and Nittany Lions will play each other in 2017 as well in State College.

For UCF, the addition of Pitt to the future schedule continues to tack on power conference opponents in future seasons. UCF will play Georgia Tech and Maryland this coming season and will play at UNC in 2018 in addition to the newly added home game against Pitt. UCF also has Stanford and Texas on future schedules in addition to more games against UNC and Georgia Tech.

Mississippi lawmaker proposes bill to fine NCAA for extended investigation process

FILE - In this Oct. 19, 2013, file photo, Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze leads his team to the field prior to their NCAA college football game against LSU  in Oxford, Miss. Mississippi has aspirations of competing for SEC titles. No. 11 Ole Miss (4-0, 1-0) plays No. 3 Alabama (4-0, 1-0) on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014,  in its biggest home game in more than a decade.  (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
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Politicians will always look for ways to play to their constituents, and that sometimes means tugging at the heartstrings of local sports fans. There is no other reason why a lawmaker in Mississippi is proposing a bill that aims to fine the NCAA for taking too long to conduct any investigation of a school within the state of Mississippi.

Representative Trey Lamar is endorsing a bill that provides a one-year limit for NCAA investigations after notifying the school of a pending investigation. A notice of allegations must then be presented within six months from the initial notice of a pending investigation.

It is worth remembering that Ole Miss remains under NCAA investigation for potential violations of NCAA rules. The investigation has been going on since last January and has cast a bit of a cloud of uncertainty over the entire Ole Miss football program. No hearing in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions is currently scheduled for the program, leaving many following the Ole Miss program a tad frustrated.

The problem with NCAA investigations is there is no current structure for forming a definitive timeline of the investigation process, and each investigation is handled on a case-by-case basis with a different outcome and different allegations and charges in each. Because of that, investigations can drag on for extended period of times before the NCAA feels comfortable in its resolution.

How the state can actually fine the NCAA for taking longer than a year to complete an investigation is unknown, and perhaps not likely. But hey, Lamar will get the Ole Miss vote the next time he is on the ballot.

LSU dismisses nose guard Travonte Valentine

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 03: Travonte Valentine #55 of the LSU Tigers awaits the snap against the Wisconsin Badgers at Lambeau Field on September 3, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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LSU has dismissed nose guard Travonte Valentine. The dismissal for a violation of team rules was announced Thursday night with an emailed release with head coach Ed Orgeron sharing a brief statement.

“At this point in time, Travonte is no longer part of our football program,” Orgeron said. “We wish him the best.”

Valentine played in five games for LSU last season as a sophomore, but he did not play in the final seven games of the season. Valentine faced some academic troubles at LSU last year that put his eligibility in question over the summer, but he worked to meet the academic requirements to play for LSU prior to the start of the 2016 season. Valentine also had to work through NCAA issues regarding academic concerns that prevented him from playing his freshman season.

LSU did not announce or confirm the reason for Valentine’s dismissal from the program other than to say it was for a violation of team rules.