Holden Thorp, Dick Baddour, Butch Davis

Updated: UNC gets postseason ban, scholarship reduction from NCAA


After nearly two years of dealing with the NCAA in regards to multiple allegations of violations, including impermissible benefits and academic fraud during the Butch Davis era, North Carolina knows its NCAA fate.

And the results, as you can imagine, aren’t good for the Tar Heels.

The NCAA concludes that “over the course of three seasons, six football student-athletes competed while ineligible as a result of these violations, and multiple student-athletes received impermissible benefits totaling more than $31,000.”

The impermissible benefits among athletes between 2009-10 ranged from $99 to over $13,000.

Consequently, UNC will receive a one-year postseason ban in 2012, reduction of 15 total football scholarships over the next three years, vacate all wins from the 2008-09 season (self-imposed), pay $50,000 in fines (self-imposed) and will serve three years probation for “multiple violations, including academic fraud, impermissible agent benefits, ineligible participation and a failure to monitor its football program.”

Additionally, “a former assistant coach” (John Blake) faces a three-year show-cause penalty restricting any recruiting activity. Blake was connected to former sports agent Gary Wichard and received over $31,000 in athletically-related outside income between 2007-09, which Blake did not report as required by NCAA legislation.

Former tutor Jennifer Wiley, who committed academic fraud violations and provided athletes with over $4,000 in benefits, has been disassociated from the program, another self-imposed ruling by UNC.

According to the NCAA, Blake and Wiley committed unethical conduct and failed to cooperate in the investigation. They were also the main targets of the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations.

“This case should serve as a cautionary tale to all institutions to vigilantly monitor the activities of those student-athletes who possess the potential to be top professional prospects,” the committee stated in its report, which you can read HERE. “It should also serve to warn student-athletes that if they choose to accept benefits from agents or their associates, they risk losing their eligibility for collegiate competition.”

Below are statements from UNC’s administration, which has stated it will not appeal the NCAA’s decision:

Chancellor Holden Thorp
“It’s been almost two years since this investigation began, so getting the NCAA ruling is a big step in moving forward. We approached this investigation the way that you would expect of Carolina – thoughtfully, thoroughly and with full cooperation – and that was the right thing to do.

“We self-imposed a number of penalties in the fall that we thought were appropriate based on the facts in our case. The NCAA has given us additional penalties, and the sanctions are more severe than we expected. The ruling is disappointing for our new coaching staff and our student-athletes.

“We considered an appeal. But given the timing and the record that other schools have had with appeals, as well as the fact that penalties are suspended during an appeal, we’ve decided it’s best to accept our sanctions and move forward.”

AD Bubba Cunningham
“North Carolina has always represented so much that is good about college athletics. The last year and a half has been difficult for everyone who loves UNC from both an academic and athletic perspective. It’s time for us to move Carolina Athletics forward to help restore that reputation of integrity and respect for which the University has been known.

We can’t guarantee people won’t make mistakes in the future, but we can give our collective best effort to prevent a repeat of what brought us to this day. College athletics evolves daily and the high profile nature of intercollegiate athletics demands that we remain vigilant and accountable for the coaches, student-athletes and staff who represent our great university.

It is our aspiration that Carolina will be better in the future as aresult of what we have gone through and everyone associated with our program will strive each day to make our students, faculty, alumni, fans and staff proud to be Tar Heels.”

Nebraska WR Jordan Westerkamp set to return after two-game absence

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 10: Wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp #1 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers grabs a touchdown pass against linebacker D.J. May #7 of the Wyoming Cowboys at Memorial Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Wyoming 52-14. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
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When undefeated and seventh-ranked Nebraska takes the field for its biggest game of the 2016 season thus far, it’ll do so with one of the most experienced and productive pieces of its passing game back in action.

Jordan Westerkamp sustained an injury to his back during the Week 5 win over Illinois, and was briefly hospitalized after being hit by an Illini defender. The wide receiver missed the Week 7 win over Indiana and the Purdue win the following Saturday because of the injury.

This week, however, Westerkamp practiced without any type of restrictions ahead of the Week 9 game against No. 11 Wisconsin in Madison. Westerkamp, who stated his injuries included tiny fractures on the transverse process in his spine as well as what was described as a deep muscle bruise, confirmed the obvious, that he will suit up for the Cornhuskers and play against the Badgers in the huge Big Ten West matchup.

“It’s been good,” Westerkamp said, by way of the Omaha World-Herald, of his return to practice. “My confidence is at an all-time high and we’re ready to go get back with the team and kick butt this Saturday.”

At the time of the injury, Westerkamp led the Cornhuskers in receiving touchdowns (four) and tied for the team lead in receptions (13). His 228 receiving yards were second behind Alonzo Moore‘s 310.
Last season, Westerkamp led the ‘Huskers in all three of those categories.

‘Due to some choices and decisions he’s made,’ Florida RB Mark Thompson won’t play vs. UGA

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Mark Thompson #24 of the Florida Gators in action during the second half of the game against the North Texas Mean Green at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Sounding very similar to a disappointed parent, Florida has announced that one of their kids will be in timeout instead of on the field this weekend.

Ahead of Saturday’s annual rivalry game with Georgia, Florida announced via Twitter that running back Mark Thompson not only won’t play this Saturday but won’t even make the trip to Jacksonville for The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.  Why? “[D]ue to some choices and decisions he’s made.”

The school, obviously, will not go into any further details as to the issue or issues that will sideline the player.

Thompson, a 6-2, 237-pound redshirt junior, is currently third on the Gators in rushing yards (262) and second in rushing touchdowns (two). This is the back’s first season in Gainesville after transferring in from the junior college ranks earlier this year.

Big 12 eschews two-division setup; instead, top two teams to play in league title game

WVU vs Marshall
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The Big 12 earlier this month eschewed expansion.  A short time later, they’ve done the same for splitting up the conference.

The league announced late Friday morning that, when the conference championship game returns for the 2017 season, there will be no split into two five-team divisions.  Instead, the teams with the best and second-best record in conference play will square off in the conference championship game.

Each conference member will continue to play nine league games every season, one against each other member.

“There are a number of advantages to matching our top two teams,” said commissioner Bob Bowlsby in a statement. “Given our round-robin, nine-game scheduling model, it is expected the Big 12 champion will be uniquely positioned for College Football Playoff consideration. I would argue there will be no path more difficult than our champion’s, where it will have played every team in the Conference, faced at least one Autonomy Conference non-conference opponent, and then plays in our championship game.

“The guaranteed No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup will be a great game for our fans, and it’s hard to imagine a stronger position for a conference champion.”

The release gave no indication as to how three-way ties would be handled, although CFP rankings would likely come into play.  The decision to not split into two divisions likely won’t sit well with the league’s coaches, however, even as it’s arguably the wisest decision the conference has made in years.

The conference also revealed that the site of the 2017 conference championship game “will be announced in the coming weeks.” AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, is widely believed to be the front-runner for at least the first renewal, and is viewed as the far and away favorite if the league opts to “anchor” the game at one site for a period of years.

USC cruised to win over a ‘tired, beat-up’ Cal team as Sonny Dykes chastises scheduling ‘travesty’

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27:  Running back Ronald Jones II #25 of the USC Trojans scores a touchdown to take a 14-0 lead over the California Golden Bears during the first quarter at Los Angeles Coliseum on October 27, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Pac-12 schedule makers started the final nail in Cal’s Week 9 coffin. USC’s offense proceeded to drive it all the home.

Behind a career night for both Ronald Jones and Sam Darnold, the Trojans jumped out to a 28-10 halftime and ultimately cruised to a 45-24 win. Both Jones and Darnold set career highs on the night, the former with 223 yards rushing and the latter five touchdown passes.

Those two players were part of an offense that rolled up a season-high 629 yards of offense.  It was the schedule, though, that saw a significant amount of the focus on the game, especially in the days leading up to it and the immediate aftermath.

Cal’s last game was Friday, Oct. 21.  USC’s last game?  Oct. 15, meaning the Bears, on five days rest, were facing a team coming off a bye, and facing them on the road no less.

“It’s one of those deals where you go, ‘How in the world could this ever happen? How could somebody let this happen?'” head coach Sonny Dykes said in the middle of the week. “It has been a disaster, it’s been a mess. … It’s incredibly hard on our kids.”


“We looked like a tired, beat-up football team. I think it’s a travesty whoever scheduled this game. I hope the Pac-12 doesn’t do that again to any other school. It’s not right for the kids.

“Everybody talks about student-athlete welfare, but they need to put their money where their mouth is.”

Leave it to the esteemed Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News to sum up what most non-USC fans are thinking about the situation the Bears were placed in.

Hopefully this player safety issue — and that is, ultimately, what this is all about — is rectified by the Pac-12 and, as Dykes alluded, never repeated. For a conference that’s been (rightly) praised for their initiatives in the past, they certainly dropped the scheduling ball on this one.