Penn State prez offers unconditional support to AD

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If you were curious as to where Penn State’s top administrator stood on his athletic director’s impending arrest, wonder no longer.

In a statement, PSU president Graham Spanier expressed unconditional support for AD Tim Curley as well as another top school official, who have both been charged with perjury and failure to report suspected sexual abuse of a minor.  Former Nittany Lions assistant Jerry Sandusky was indicted by a grand jury Friday on 40 counts involving alleged sexual activity with children; Curley and PSU vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz testified in front of the grand jury last January and, per the charges, perjured themselves as well as failed to report suspected sexual abuse to the authorities.

Despite the damning accusations contained in the grand jury’s indictment — which can be read in its entirety HERE if you feel like making yourself sick to your stomach — Spanier is unequivocal in his support of Curley and Schultz.

The allegations about a former coach are troubling, and it is appropriate that they be investigated thoroughly. Protecting children requires the utmost vigilance. 

With regard to the other presentments, I wish to say that Tim Curley and Gary Schultz have my unconditional support. I have known and worked daily with Tim and Gary for more than 16 years. I have complete confidence in how they have handled the allegations about a former University employee. 

Tim Curley and Gary Schultz operate at the highest levels of honesty, integrity and compassion. I am confident the record will show that these charges are groundless and that they conducted themselves professionally and appropriately.

Spanier’s name appears in the grand jury’s indictment of Sandusky, with it being determined that the president signed off on the course of action taken by Curley and Schultz in 2002 when they became aware of an alleged sexual encounter involving Sandusky and a minor male — in a shower of the school’s football building.  The course of action taken by the two administrators did not involve alerting authorities to the alleged sexual encounter that was witnessed by a football grad assistant.  Instead, Curley and Schultz told Sandusky that he was not to bring any more children from Second Mile — Sandusky’s charity — into the football building.

In other words, Curley, as well as Spanier to an extent, decided the best course of action was to sweep this incident under the rug instead of report it to authorities for a proper investigation.  Or, as Pennsylvania’s attorney general put it…

“The failure of top university officials to act on reports of Sandusky’s alleged sexual misconduct, even after it was reported to them in graphic detail by an eyewitness, allowed a predator to walk free for years – continuing to target new victims.”

Penn State, you should be embarrassed.  And not because one of your former assistant football coaches is allegedly a pedophile; rather, you should be ashamed that some of the top administrators of your institution of higher learning allegedly acted in such an unconscionable and reprehensible manner.  A housecleaning from top to bottom is in order, and should be demanded by any and every graduate of what is a university with a carefully-crafted and previously pristine image.

If the allegations involving PSU officials that are detailed in the grand jury’s indictment are proven true, both Curley and Spanier should step down immediately, as should anyone else in between them on the institutional food chain who played a role in what amounts to a coverup of the most heinous of alleged crimes.

There’s nothing more precious than a child — not even your university’s sterling reputation.

As for how all of this will affect Joe Paterno?  The coaching legend was lauded in the grand jury’s indictment, praised for learning of the 2002 incident and immediately reporting it to Curley.  We can’t help but wonder, however, if these deplorable incidents coming to the public light could be the impetus for JoePa to shuffle off into retirement.

If that turns out to be the case — and the chatter is already leaning in that direction — it will be a damn shame.  The man deserves to go out on his own terms and not under a cloud of controversy.

Thanks to the decisions made by his bosses as well as the alleged conduct of one his most trusted assistants, however, that may not be possible.

NCAA considering changing transfer rules

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The NCAA’s Division I Council Transfer Working Group on Wednesday unleashed a set of suggestions that could either radically change or slightly tweak the way transfers are handled in college sports’ highest level.

Let’s start with the (possible) radical changes. The working group is considering a suggestion that would make all transfers immediately eligible, provided they hit certain academic benchmarks:

Establishing uniform transfer rules — which would require everyone to follow the same rules regardless of the sport they play — was a topic that the group agrees will likely take longer to resolve. While most members agreed the concept of uniformity would be positive, what the specific rules would be is less clear.

Members discussed two models: One model would require every transfer student to sit out a year to acclimate to a new school; the other would allow all transfers to play immediately provided they present academic credentials that predict graduation at the new institution.

Walking back from that, the working group did recommend changing the transfer process to where players seeking new destinations would no longer need their former school’s approval. Considering the NCAA formally argues its athletes are merely students, and there is no limit on normal students receiving financial aid upon transferring to a new institution, this change should pass without a word to the contrary. But, you know, the NCAA is the NCAA.

Group members believe financial aid should not be tied to whether a school grants permission to contact. They want to know if others in the membership feel the same way. The group also agreed that enhancements should be made to the formal process students use to notify a school of their desire to transfer. The group will seek input from the membership on appropriate enhancements.

To curb a possible spike in transfers, the working group suggested upping penalties for coaches caught tampering with scholarship athletes at other schools.

The group expressed interest in increasing the consequences for coaches who break recruiting rules to seek out undergraduate and potential graduate students. The working group will ask the Committee on Infractions and enforcement staff to review the concept and provide feedback.

Finally, the working group suggested adding academic accountability to the graduate transfer market by either making graduate transfers count against the 85-man scholarship limit for two years or tweaking the APR formula to up the impact graduate transfers’ academic progress has in the system.

One potential approach could be to require that the financial aid provided to graduate students count against a team’s scholarship limit for two years, regardless of whether the graduate student stays for two years or leaves when their eligibility is complete.

Another concept for increasing that accountability is through the Academic Progress Rate calculation, specifically the eligibility and retention points for which a student would be held accountable as they pursue a graduate degree. The Committee on Academics discussed the calculation and the working group plans to continue conversations on the topic.

“I am thrilled with the great progress made this week, and I’m confident we can move forward with some initial concepts for consideration in this year’s legislative cycle,” South Dakota State AD and working group chair Justin Sell said in a statement. “We are working toward academics-based, data-driven decisions that benefit student-athletes, teams and schools.”

Any changes proposed by the working group are merely suggestions. The earliest any proposals could be voted on would be April 2018.

Michigan WR Grant Perry pleads guilty to felony resisting of a police officer

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Michigan wide receiver Grant Perry on Wednesday pleaded guilty to resisting of a police officer in a Lansing, Mich., court, according to the Lansing State Journal. The charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

Perry also pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of assault and battery, but did so to avoid two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and one alcohol charge.

The case stemmed from an October incident in which Perry was accused of groping a female outside an East Lansing bar. (The Wolverines were off that weekend.) A Michigan State student said Perry “started licking his lips and smiling and pushing his chest up against her chest” before groping her.

Police were called to the scene, and Perry attempted to escape.

“When (police) arrived on scene, we tried to grab onto him, and we had to chase him,” East Lansing P.D. spokesman Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth said at the time. “In the midst of that fracas, one of our officers suffered a minor hand injury.”

Prosecutor Christina Johnson said Wednesday she has not ruled out sentencing Perry under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, which, pending Perry’s completion of certain requirements, would wipe Wednesday’s conviction from his record by his 24th birthday.

In the meantime, Perry has been suspended by Michigan but has since resumed practicing with the team. Jim Harbaugh has said Perry will not play for the Wolverines until his case is resolved, which it will be by the time Michigan opens the season against Florida on Sept. 2. Sentencing for the case is set for Aug. 2.

Eastern Michigan extends Chris Creighton through 2022

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Eastern Michigan has extended head coach Chris Creighton through 2022, the school has announced.

“I feel as though we have made progress all the way through,” Creighton said in a statement. “The vision of making the football program a real source of pride for the department, the university, the alumni, we are making progress, but that vision has not been realized yet.

“So I’m really excited about our program and the Championship Building Plan. There is a lot of momentum going on right now.”

Creighton is 10-27 in three seasons as the Eagles’ head coach, but that mark obscures the progress EMU made in his third season. After starting 3-21, Eastern Michigan rocketed to a 7-6 mark in 2016 with a Bahamas Bowl trip, the school’s first postseason appearance since 1987.

The new deal raises Creighton’s base salary by 2.5 percent, according to MLive. He made a total of $434,840 in 2016, according to the USA Today coaching salary database.

Beer sales approved for Marshall home football games

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Let the beer taps start flowing at the next home Marshall football game. The University announced today that beer sales at Joan C. Edwards Stadium have been approved by the Board of Governors starting this fall.

This is the latest decision in an evolving stance on alcohol sales at Marshall. Last year, the school began expanding the sale of alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine from the Big Green Room to chairback seating. Now, the majority of fans attending a football game in Huntington will be able to purchase alcohol. The expanded alcohol sales plan will help to build the infrastructure of Marshall’s facilities moving forward.

“This is a continuation of our goal to provide more amenities for our fan base that makes attending Marshall Football games a more enjoyable experience,” Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick said in a released statement. “We have played a lot of winning football in our stadium over the past five years and we have great opponents such as Pittsburgh, Boise State, North Carolina State, and Navy just to name a few over the next five years, and it is imperative that the investment in our fan experience matches our football brand.”

Marshall will keep some sections of the football stadium free of alcohol for those fans who wish not to be near the booze-loaded fans.

The announcement was coupled with some other stadium news regarding the future renovation plans for the football stadium. Construction on the west side of the stadium should be completed by August, in time for the start of the 2017 college football season. The southwest side of the stadium will have a new retail location for fans.