Increased value of scholarship idea may be in jeopardy

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The NCAA moves at snail-like paces for just about everything, but when it comes to possibly rescinding legislation that would increase the value of an athletic scholarship to athletes, they’ll move at a blinding pace.

As you’ll recall from late October, the NCAA approved legislation that would allow conferences — and individual programs, really — to grant their athletes upward of $2,000 of extra money on top of the athletic scholarship they already received. There were provisions; head-count and equivalency sports were treated differently in terms of extra grant-in-aid that athletes would receive based on scholarship caps — or, in other words, the total amount of scholarship money for an equivalency sports like, say, baseball or volleyball — and other financial factors such as Pell Grants.

That legislation, however, could face an override during January’s NCAA convention, the Associated Press reports.

According to the NCAA’s Division I vice president of governance, David Berst, some 97 schools have signed an override measure because of four primary objections to the legislation:

  • NCAA’s philosophical change
  • Added expense required to compete with other schools
  • Title IX compliance
  • The immediate hit athletic department budgets would take.

In all, the NCAA would need 125 schools to sign the override measure by Dec. 26 in order for the legislation to be suspended. In any case, the NCAA has three options with legislation: rescind it and operate under previous NCAA rules, modify the rule or create a new proposal that would require another 60-day open comment period, or allow members to vote on the override.

But there’s a problem: there are different signing days for different sports. The NCAA estimates that about 1,000 players signed with schools in the month of November, with many under the agreement that their LOI would come with an increased amount of scholarship money because that individual institution could afford to provide it.

Berst said, though, that those who were promised extra money, would get extra money.

“We would honor the agreements that have taken place,” Berst said. “So even if you were to rescind the rule as of Dec. 26 and not operate under that rule in the future, we would honor those agreements. I think that causes the board to redouble its efforts at the January meeting.”

That makes sense. If a school was able to give an athlete that extra money before, how others vote on the matter is irrelevant.

Still, this was a matter that was signed and done. There was a 60-day comment period for the legislation that was eventually endorsed by the NCAA with the final say to be left to conferences and individual institutions.

An exta $2,000 annually is a compromise on the part of the NCAA for the athlete, plain and simple. It wasn’t as much as it could, but it was a start. Now, the one thing the NCAA’s done right in years has hit a snag.

Houston expects WR D’Eriq King to be available for Texas Tech game

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As Houston prepares for a game that could quickly become a shootout of sorts with Texas Tech, the Cougars could have one more wide receiver good to go this weekend. D’Eriq King is expected to make his season debut for the Cougars this week after missing the past two games coming off an offseason knee injury.

Houston head coach Major Applewhite announced on the radio he feels his young wide receiver option is finally ready to get back at it, and it could come at no better time.

As a freshman in 2016, King caught 20 passes in 10 games for 228 yards and a touchdown. King was expected to be a contributor to the offense this season. Having a healthy receiver is going to be key against a Texas Tech offense that will not shy away from the pass.

Derrius Guice ‘very questionable’ for LSU vs. Syracuse

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LSU could very well be without its most potent offensive weapon when it looks to bounce back from an embarrassing Week 3 loss.

Late in the third quarter of Saturday’s 37-7 loss to Mississippi State, Derrius Guice sustained an injury to his left knee.  The star running back hasn’t practiced at all this week, even as Ed Orgeron downplayed the severity of the injury.

On the SEC teleconference Wednesday, however, the head coach acknowledged that it could be much worse than he’d been letting on, so much so that the Guice could miss the Week 4 game against Syracuse.

“I don’t know if Derrius is going to play,” Orgeron said. “He didn’t dress out yesterday in pads. He’s very questionable right now.”

Through three games, Guice leads the Tigers with 300 yards rushing and is tied for tops on the team with four rushing touchdowns.  His rushing yards are currently fourth in the SEC; last season, his 1,387 yards were tops in the conference.

Should Guice be unable to go, Darrel Williams (28-159-4) would likely be next in line to shoulder the running-game load.

Baylor gets back 2016 leading rusher, two starting DBs for Oklahoma game

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They may be winless, but at least Baylor will be getting some much-needed reinforcements for their game against No. 3 Oklahoma this weekend.

According to head coach Matt Rhule, three projected starters — running back Terence Williams (pictured), safety Taion Sells and cornerback Grayland Arnold — are all expected to play in the Week 4 game against the Sooners. Neither Williams nor Arnold have played this season because of injury, while Sells completed a three-game suspension last week.

Williams led the Bears last season with 1,048 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. The junior underwent offseason shoulder surgery, leading to his absence for the first quarter of the year.

With Williams rehabbing the injured joint, John Lovett currently leads the 0-3 Bears in rushing with 182 yards and a pair of touchdowns. As a team, BU is averaging just 150 yards per game and slightly less than five yards per rush; last season, they were at 241.8 and 5.0.

“I think it takes a little bit of the pressure off the young guys,” the first-year head coach, by way of the Associated Press, said of Williams’ much-anticipated return. “I think Terence gives us the physicality and a presence running the football that you can clearly see on tape. … He brings us that ability to run you over and make you miss.”

Arnold started four games last season and was listed as the starter heading into summer camp before breaking his left arm in August. After starting four games in 2015, Sells sat out the 2016 season because of an injury. Prior to the suspension for unspecified violations of team rules, Sells too had been listed as a starter in camp.

Mother’s health — and playing time — triggered Byron Cowart’s Auburn departure

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Initially, there was no known reason for one of the top recruits in the Class of 2015 left his original college football home. Not long after, the window of insight was cracked a bit.

Tuesday, Byron Cowart was granted a release from his Auburn scholarship, one day after requesting it from the football program. In an interview with al.com, the defensive lineman revealed that his mother in Florida is going through an unspecified health situation and, as an only child, he wanted to be closer to her to help her through it.

Additionally, he acknowledged that, yes, his playing time, or lack thereof, played a role in his decision to leave The Plains.

“I’m happy with my decision and I know that this ain’t it for me,” Cowart told the website. “My main reason was my mother’s health is more important. Me being an only child, got to get back to home to her. Plus I already wasn’t playing enough and contributing to the team.”

In a separate interview with 247Sports.com, Cowart also acknowledged that he has twice previously considered leaving the Tigers, the last coming this past summer.

Cowart also indicated that, very soon, he will be starting up classes nearer his home in Seffner, Fla., presumably at a junior or community college. After that, he’ll decide where to continue his collegiate playing career at the FBS level.

“I’ll see what options I have and what the NCAA allows me to do,” the junior lineman told al.com. “This isn’t over for me and this definitely is not the end of my college career. … I can guarantee you football is not over for me. I still love the game, I love everything about football.”

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.