Myriad conference expansion pressers on tap Friday

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While they don’t quite move the needle like expansionpalooza did back in 2010 and 2011, several athletic departments will officially announce Friday that their respective football programs will be embarking on a new conference path in the not-too-distant future.

All told, and as reminded by Brett McMurphy of CBSSports.com, seven schools will announce at individual press conferences their new league homes beginning in 2013: FIU and North Texas will confirm they are leaving the Sun Belt for Conference USA; Louisiana Tech, from the WAC to Conference USA; UT-San Antonio and Charlotte — newly-minted or soon-to-be newly-minted Div. 1-A (FBS) programs, with the former spending 2012 in the WAC — to Conference USA; and San Jose State and Utah State from the WAC to the Mountain West.

Texas State, which will spend its first year as a Div. 1-A program in the WAC, has previously announced it will join the Sun Belt in 2012.  Georgia State will also join the SBC the same year.

A spokesperson for Old Dominion, which has been rumored as another Conference USA possibility, told McMurphy that the university will continue to “assess the changing landscape of Division I athletics” before making a decision the future of its athletic programs, which currently reside in the Colonial Athletic Association.

So, once all of the dust clears from tomorrow’s press conferences, the Mountain West, Conference USA, Sun Belt and WAC will (for now) look as follows beginning in 2013:

MWC
Air Force
Colorado State
Fresno State
Hawaii
Nevada
New Mexico
San Jose State
UNLV
Utah State
Wyoming

(Note: Boise State and San Diego State are leaving for the Big East in 2013, TCU for the Big 12 in 2012)

C-USA
East Carolina
FIU
Louisiana Tech
Marshall
North Texas
Rice
Southern Miss
Tulane
Tulsa
UAB
UTEP
UT-San Antonio

(Notes: Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF are leaving for the Big East in 2013, while Charlotte, which will play as a Div. 1-AA (FCS) independent in 2013 and 2014, will join in football in 2015)

SUN BELT
Arkansas State
FAU
Georgia State
Louisiana-Lafayette
Louisiana-Monroe
Middle Tennessee State
South Alabama
Texas State
Troy
Western Kentucky

WAC
Idaho
New Mexico State

(Notes: UTSA, Texas State, Louisiana Tech, San Jose State and Utah State will compete in the WAC in 2012, while Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii will leave for the Mountain West July 1 of this year)

(Notes, the sequel: it’s highly, highly doubtful the WAC will exist as a conference after the 2012-2013 academic year)

Report: North Texas adds FCS running back transfer

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North Texas is adding running back Loren Easly to the roster, according to a message posted to his Twitter account Saturday.

Easly spent the past two seasons at Stephen F. Austin, a member of the FCS Southland Conference. A Houston native, he appeared in 20 games over two seasons as a Lumberjack, carrying 213 times for 1,256 yards with 11 touchdowns while adding 17 catches for 139 yards.

Denton Record-Chronicle reporter Brett Vito confirmed the transfer on his Twitter account.

As an interdivisional transfer, Easly will be able to play immediately with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

He would join a backfield led by rising senior Jeffrey Wilson, who paced the Mean Green with 936 yards and 14 touchdowns on 169 carries in 2016.

Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger signs extension, vows to fix football

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Kansas athletics director Sheahon Zenger has signed an extension to remain on the job through the 2020-21 academic year, the school announced Sunday.

Zenger has been on the job since 2011, meaning the new deal will take him past the decade mark in Lawrence.

“Since Sheahon’s arrival in Jan. 2011, Kansas Athletics has enjoyed success on and off the field,” Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement. “I am confident that under Sheahon’s leadership Athletics will experience even more success in the coming years.”

Zenger did not hire Bill Self, but he did hire Charlie Weis, which cost KU more than $5.6 million in buyout money after he was fired for going 6-22 leading the Jayhawks from 2012-14.

David Beaty was since hired to run the program, who has infused an outlook brighter than his 2-22 record would suggest.

Zenger said the new contract will allow him to fix football. Via the Kansas City Star:

Under Zenger’s watch, KU has most notably added numerous construction projects, including Rock Chalk Park and the DeBruce Center, which houses the original rules of basketball. He has spoken previously about completing those ventures to “clear the deck” financially so focus could be placed on football and Memorial Stadium renovations — two things he now says are “really the top priorities for me in the next four years.”

“We want it to be a place that people just love to come to,” Zenger said of Memorial Stadium. “We have such history there. I think it’s the greatest setting in the nation for college football. We just need to get it to the point where it’s a place that’s just revered.”

The extension includes a raise from a base salary of $619,000 to $700,000.

Alleged victim of Tennessee WR Josh Smith threatens $3 million civil suit

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Earlier this month, Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith was charged with domestic assault following an incident at an off-campus house with his roommate. Now, the roommate is seeking damages of $875,000. If that sum is not paid, then the alleged victim may bring a $3 million civil suit to the court.

According to Jimmy Hyams of WNML, Kennedy Foster suffered a broken nose, broken teeth and damage to his eyes and right ear in the incident earlier this month that led to the charges filed against Smith. Foster sent a settlement demand letter to the attorney representing Smith.

“I’m not accusing him (Foster) of extortion, but that’s what it looks like,’’ Smith’s attorney, Keith Stewart said according to Hyams. “Given my understanding that Mr. Foster’s attempts to press charges against Malcolm Stokes were unsuccessful, it seems his motives are clear.’’

“I think when the truth comes out, Josh will be exonerated,” Stewart said of his client.

The deadline for paying the settlement demand is set for May 30 (tomorrow) by 5:00 p.m. and is to be delivered in the form of a cashier’s check along with a letter of apology for the incident. If the Smith family does not pay the requested sum, the legal team for Foster will move forward with a $1.5 million lawsuit seeking compensatory damages and a $1.5 million lawsuit for punitive damages. How either will hold up in court remains to be seen.

How some college football teams are recognizing Memorial Day on Twitter

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It’s not Memorial Day until the social media teams at college football programs start pumping out branded Memorial Day messages on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. As expected, teams and conferences are busy at pumping out the social media content for their followers today. Here is a sampling of what has been seen so far.

If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to read John’s annual Memorial Day post.