UCF AD stepping down amid NCAA allegations

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We interrupt your normally scheduled Penn State news to update you on a SNAFU/resignation at the University of Central Florida.

The Orlando Sentinel is one of many media outlets reporting that UCF athletic director Keith Tribble will resign in the wake of the NCAA’s investigation into the school’s football and men’s basketball recruiting practices. The Sentinel was also able to confirm that UCF receivers coach David Kelly will resign as well.

While the NCAA’s interest revolves around UCF senior point guard A.J. Rompza and his Chicago-based mentor, Ken Caldwell, but there is also interest in the school’s recruitment of quarterback DaMarcus Smith. Allegations have surfaced that Caldwell and his associate Brandon Bender steered Smith to UCF from Louisville on signing day in February of this year.

Smith had a somewhat highly-publicized flip-flop between UCF and Louisville before settling on sticking with the Knights.

The school received a Notice of Inquiry from the NCAA in August over possible recruiting violations in football and men’s basketball, and received a 16-page Notice of Allegations. The notice states:

“It is alleged between March 2009 and July 2011, Ken Caldwell, a recruiter for a professional sports agency, and Brandon Bender, an associate of Caldwell’s, assisted the institution in recruitment of six men’s basketball and five football prospective student-athletes by promoting the institution’s athletics programs. … Certain institutional staff members were aware of Caldwell’s and Bender’s activities while others involved Caldwell and Bender in the recruitment of specific prospective student athletes.”

Addtionally, Tribble is said to have “violated principles of ethical conduct when he knowingly (a) attempted to provide an improper inducement to the mother of a prospective student-athlete and (b)provided false and misleading information to the institution and enforcement staff.”

Retired Admiral Al Harms has been named interim AD and a full search will begin to find a replacement for Tribble. Basketball coach Donnie Jones has been suspended for three games, but has not been fired. Football coach George O’Leary also won’t be fired and won’t face any suspension. O’Leary wasn’t cited in the NCAA’s report.

School president John Hitt said that the school’s internal investigation will consider self-imposed penalties and appear before the Committee on Infractions in April. The NCAA’s investigation is not believed to impact the school’s standing with potentially joining the Big East conference in all sports.

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.