NCAA formally adopts new penalty structure

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It’s been a long time in the making, but the NCAA has finally adopted the new penalty structure it’s been promising for the past year. Gone is the two-tier structure (major and secondary infractions) and in is a four-tier approach designed, according to the NCAA, to better categorize the nature of a violation with extra special focus on breaches “that seriously undermine or threaten the integrity of the NCAA Constitution.”

“We have sought all along to remove the ‘risk-reward’ analysis that has tempted people – often because of the financial pressures to win at all costs – to break the rules in the hopes that either they won’t be caught or that the consequences won’t be very harsh if they do get caught,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “The new system the Board adopted today is the result of a lot of hard work and membership input devoted to protecting the collegiate model.”

You can check out the entire release HERE, but here are some of the highlights:

  • The new structure, which you can see below, won’t take effect until Aug. 1, 2013. So as far as current cases are concerned (i.e. Miami, Oregon), those would likely be subject to current processes and potential penalties. After today (Oct. 30), penalties levied will depend on when the violations occurred and when the case was processed. However, if violations occur after Oct. 30, 2012 and are processed after Aug. 1, 2013, they will be subject to the new process and penalty structure.
  • Expect to see more accountability for head coaches since “presumption of knowledge” will be a dead term. Under the new structure, the head coach is presumed responsible, and depending on the violations, could see suspensions ranging from 10 percent of the season to the entire season.
  • The Committee on Infractions will more than double from 10 voting members to 24 voting members, and will split into smaller panels to review individual cases.
  • Hearings for cases will be scheduled more frequently. For example, Level 1 cases will be heard about 10 times per year, doubling the five annual meetings the Committee on Infractions schedules. Consistency among rulings is also supposed to be an adjustment given primary consideration.

The new enforcement hierarchy is as follows:

Level I: Severe breach of conduct
Violations that seriously undermine or threaten the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model as set forth in the Constitution and bylaws, including any violation that provides or is intended to provide a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage, or a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit.

Level II: Significant breach of conduct
Violations that provide or are intended to provide more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage; includes more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit; or involves conduct that may compromise the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model as set forth in the Constitution and bylaws.

Level III: Breach of conduct
Violations that are isolated or limited in nature; provide no more than a minimal recruiting, competitive or other advantage; and do not include more than a minimal impermissible benefit. Multiple Level IV violations may collectively be considered a breach of conduct.

Level IV: Incidental issues
Minor infractions that are inadvertent and isolated, technical in nature and result in a negligible, if any, competitive advantage. Level IV infractions generally will not affect eligibility for intercollegiate athletics. (This level may be revised or even eliminated pending outcomes from the Rules Working Group’s efforts to streamline the Division I Manual.)

Let’s go back to Emmert’s statement and the “risk-reward” term he addresses. One of the major complaints of the NCAA’s process — not just the two-tier structure that lumped things, often inappropriately, into one of two categories — was that as long as a program admitted it made a mistake, no matter how egregious, and cooperated in the NCAA’s investigative efforts, it could often get off lighter than it really deserved.

The release itself even states the NCAA’s working group “felt that the current structure didn’t offer enough of a deterrent for individuals who believe the anticipated benefits and advantages resulting from premeditated rules violations outweigh the severity of punishment.”

Supposedly, the whole pushing a glass of milk to the edge of the table is a thing of the past. Supposedly. It appears violators still have the opportunity to mitigate any punishment they receive. The question becomes will the risk outweigh the “anticipated benefits and advantages”? The NCAA says yes, but we’ll know for sure in a year or so.

Former LSU QB Brandon Harris announces commitment to UNC

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Former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris has found himself a new home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Harris announced via Facebook and Twitter he has chosen to commit to North Carolina.

“Obviously, it has been an important time for me, looking for a great situation and another opportunity to grow as a young man and as a student as well as a football player,” Harris said in his statement. “After my [official] visit this weekend to the University of North Carolina, I’m going to get that opportunity. With that being said, I’m fully committed to UNC this upcoming year and I look forward to the opportunity to play for coach [Larry Fedora] and UNC.”

Harris will be eligible to play for UNC immediately this fall after graduating from LSU this summer, and the timing may not be better for Harris. UNC is losing its starting quarterback (Mitch Trubisky) to the NFL and has a wide open spot to fill in the starting lineup as a result. But the job will not automatically go to Harris upon his arrival at UNC after missing out on spring practices at North Carolina.

Harris played in just four games last season, in which he passed for 139 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Since the season-opener against Wisconsin, Harris was reduced to backup duty and did not play in any of LSU’s seven final games of the 2016 season, including the bowl game against Louisville. Harris announced his decision to transfer in February, which was pretty much expected given how last season played out amid a coaching change.

Report: Foot injury puts Georgia WR Riley Ridley on sideline for spring

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Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley has not been practicing this spring, but it has nothing to do with his offseason misdemeanor from a couple of weeks ago. Instead, a foot injury appears to have sidelined Ridley for the spring.

According to a report from Gridiron Now, Ridley has been out due to the foot injury. When the foot injury occurred is not reported. Even if his foot was not injured, it remains unknown if Ridley would be participating int he spring, at least at this point. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has said Ridley will be internally disciplined for his misdemeanor pot possession from earlier this month.

“He’ll receive discipline,” Smart said. “We are very disappointed in his decision. We do not condone that behavior. I think Riley is going to learn a valuable lesson from this mistake.”

When Ridley may be available again remains unknown, as does what exactly the punishment to him will be from Smart. A one-game suspension is the expected result for Ridley according to the university’s student-athlete handbook.

USF DB Hassan Childs in stable condition after overnight shooting incident

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USF defensive back Hassan Childs was injured in a shooting incident overnight. Fortunately, Childs is currently said to be in stable condition, according to USF.

“We are deeply concerned that an incident occurred overnight in which one of our guys, Hassan Childs, was injured in a shooting,” a statement from USF head coach Charlie Strong said. “Thankfully, Hassan is in stable condition and being well cared for, and no one else was injured. There is an ongoing investigation of the incident and we are in the process of gathering further information.”

The shooting took place off campus, but details about the incident have not been reported.

Childs played in eight games for the Bulls last year. He recorded 16 tackles and returned two punts for three yards in a backup role.

Turner Field on schedule to be ready for Georgia State season opener

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The Atlanta Braves opened the doors to their brand new baseball stadium over the weekend to fans as the baseball team gets ready to open the 2017 season in their new digs. Meanwhile, at the old home of the Braves, Georgia State University is moving along according to schedule in downsizing and renovating Turner Field to serve as the permanent home of the football program. So far, so good, as the university fully anticipates the stadium will be ready to go for the season opener on August 31 against Tennessee State.

The job that’s being done is incredible,” Athletic Director Charlie Cobb told 11Alive. “Each and every time I walk in, I see something new being done.”

Renovation and construction at Turner Field got started in February. The entire project will be done in phases as the university plans to develop around thew football stadium for an expanding university. As far as the stadium goes, the seating capacity will be retrofitted to hold a capacity of 23,000 fans. That will be the first phase of the master plan, with a second phase to complete building the rest of the stadium and add additional seating for fans.

“We plan on doing some unique things capturing the history of the stadium, but also creating a football facility that speaks to Georgia State,” Cobb said. “One of the stories we want to tell is the fact that it went from being an Olympic venue, to the home of the Braves, and now to the home of Georgia State. I think we can write that third chapter.”

Georgia State previously played its home games in the Georgia Dome, the now former home of the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. The Falcons are also moving into a new football stadium this season. The Falcons’ new home at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will also welcome some college football action to the stadium this season with the annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff will move to the new stadium from the Georgia Dome. This year’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff features Alabama and Florida State on September 2 and Georgia Tech and Tennessee on September 4. The SEC Championship Game and the Peach Bowl will also be hosted in the new stadium and the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship Game will be played there on January 8, 2018.

Georgia State may have their new home, but perhaps one day they will get to play in the new stadium too.