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)

Western Kentucky hoops star to give Hilltoppers football a try

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Coming off a season in which he was the best player on Western Kentucky’s men’s basketball team, Justin Johnson is going to try his hand at another sport.

According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Johnson will practice with the Hilltoppers football team for the remainder of spring practice. The 6-7 forward will, not surprisingly, spend his time at tight end.

At the end of practices this spring, a WKU official told CFT, both sides will determine what if any future Johnson has in the sport.

Johnson admitted in one interview earlier this basketball season that he grew up wanting to play linebacker for Ohio State, and he did play two years of football at his Kentucky high school. Despite the fact that both Kentucky and Louisville had interest in him as a tight end, he ended up signing with WKU’s hoops team in 2014.

That decision has worked out well for both parties as Johnson has led the team in scoring and rebounding each of the past two seasons. He led Conference USA in the latter category as well as double-doubles, and was named second-team all-conference after his junior season.

Victim of alleged WKU football attack plans to file charges

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A former Western Kentucky fraternity member says he was attacked by a group of Hilltoppers football players and plans to file charges.

Jerald Armfield, an alum of WKU’s Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, told WBKO-TV he was caught in an ongoing feud between the fraternity and the football team:

“I went to the house in the best interest of the fraternity and Western as a whole to prevent any type of violence from occurring. We got up there and realized they were all hiding behind garbage cans, trees, and buildings.”

“I never in my wildest dreams thought they would attack me in the manner that they did. They all started surrounding me. One of them threw a rock at me. It was within a few seconds that one of them punched me in the face.”

“I fell down. I was kicked several times. The whole time they were beating me, I was begging them to stop, telling them I wasn’t here the night before, I had nothing to to do with it, like please stop, please stop, and they didn’t.”

Armfield said between nine and 10 people ultimately attacked him; it isn’t known for sure how many of that group are on the football team, though the program’s involvement in the incident is being investigated.

“We are aware of the allegations involving a few members of our football team,” the program said in the statement when word of the altercation broke three weeks ago. “We are cooperating fully with the authorities. However, at this time, we have not received a police report and cannot provide further comment.”

While the status of the investigation is currently unknown, Armfield told WBKO he would like it to end with multiple charges. “I made it very clear that night when the police arrived on the scene that I wanted charges pressed,” he said. “As far as I know a detective from Bowling Green Police Department has it. As it stands right now, I still want charges pressed. They need to be held accountable for what they did not only as citizens but as students at Western.”

Baylor moves to dismiss lawsuit claiming 52 rapes over 3-year period

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Baylor has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit claiming 31 football players committed 52 rapes over a 3-year period from 2011-14. The school is citing the expiration of the statute of limitations and that the allegations do not meet the level of “deliberate indifference,” according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.

The suit was initially filed in late January who anonymously claimed she was raped by then-Bears football players Tre'Von Armstead and Shaymichael Chatman in 2013. Armstead and Chatman have both been indicted for that incident. Armstead was arrested earlier this month in Las Vegas in charges of resisting arrest in addition to the 2013 case.

Baylor also challenged the suit’s claim of a widespread culture of sexual violence, including claims the Baylor Bruins hostess program was encouraged to sleep with recruits in order to entice them to Baylor.

“Baylor does not agree with or concede the accuracy of plaintiff’s 146-paragraph complaint and its immaterial and inflammatory assertions,” the motion states.

Former offensive coordinator Kendal Briles told a recruit, according to the suit, “Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players.”

 

Mark Dantonio breaks silence to reveal additional player suspensions

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Mark Dantonio broke his silence Tuesday to talk about all the things he couldn’t talk about.

Speaking publicly for the first time since National Signing Day, Dantonio said more players have been suspended in addition to the three players and one staff member already suspended in connection with an ongoing sexual assault investigation. There are actually three investigations ongoing — a criminal probe, a Title IX investigation and an outside evaluation of the football program.

How many additional  players were suspended in conjunction with the investigations? Dantonio couldn’t say.

When were they suspended? Dantonio couldn’t say.

When were the original three players suspended? Dantonio couldn’t say.

How, one may wonder, has Michigan State managed to keep the suspended players’ identities secret despite spring practice now being a full month old? Easy: the Spartans have essentially shielded a black cloak around the entire program. The media hasn’t been allowed to watch practice. No depth charts or rosters have been released. No photos or videos have been produced. The content on @MSU_Football has vaguely referred to the ongoing spring practices by referencing the April 1 spring game, but all other tweets have centered around Michigan State’s involvement in the NFL Draft or the basketball Spartans’ NCAA Tournament berth. The program didn’t even comment on two players’ announced transfers throughout the offseason.

Dantonio even deemed it “trivial” to discuss Michigan State’s quarterback derby. The one piece of actual Spartans football news Dantonio revealed? Linebacker Drake Martinez, he of the one tackle in two appearances last season, has transferred.