NCAA gives ultimatum to ex-Miami players to talk about Shapiro allegations

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Over the summer, the NCAA took unprecedented steps by giving president Mark Emmert the proverbial keys to Penn State’s fate in the aftermath of the Freeh Report on the university’s (in)action against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Now, and as it relates to the ongoing investigation of Miami’s athletic program, the Association is yet again going a more unconventional, although not unprecedented, route.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the NCAA has mailed letters to former Hurricane players who allegedly committed NCAA violations by accepting impermissible benefits from Shapiro with a clear ultimatum: either talk or non-response will be considered an admission of involvement. Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports was later able to confirm the letters had been sent. Former players must respond by this Friday, Nov. 23 and that’s Black Friday OMG double meaning!

Here’s one letter Jackson was able to obtain (sent to a player’s attorney):

“The purpose of this letter is to apprise you that the NCAA enforcement staff is requesting to schedule an interview with your clients regarding their knowledge of or involvement in possible NCAA violations concerning the University of Miami, Florida, football program.

“Interviewing your clients is important in order for the enforcement staff to conduct a thorough investigation, and both the staff and the institution request you and your clients’ cooperation in this matter. However, at this time, all attempts to schedule and execute interviews with [blank] have been unsuccessful. As a result, this letter serves as a formal and final request by the NCAA enforcement staff for interviews with [blank] to be completed by Nov. 23, 2012.

“If we do not hear back from you or your clients by that time, the staff will consider the non-response as your client’s admission of involvement in NCAA violations. You may contact me at [blank] in order to arrange this interview. Your assistance in this matter is appreciated.”

Sincerely,

Molly Richman,

Assistant Director of Enforcement

A few things here. The NCAA does not have jurisdiction over former athletes, meaning it can’t penalize them personally. The only football players the NCAA can punish are the ones who played for Miami at the time of the investigation. The NCAA’s statute of limitations goes back four years, but does not apply when dealing with what are determined to be “willful violators.”

Shapiro, a former UM booster who is now serving jail time for his role in a Ponzi scheme, alleges that he began providing benefits to players as far back as the early 2000’s. Charles Robinson‘s Yahoo! Sports report identified 72 current and players who received benefits. Eight UM players were ruled ineligible for at least one game last season for accepting gifts from Shapiro.

We’ve linked to NCAA expert John Infante of the Bylaw Blog before, and here’s his take on the situation. According to the NCAA’s Legislative Services Database, “The Committee on Infractions shall base its findings on information presented to it that it determines to be credible, persuasive and of a kind on which reasonably prudent persons rely in the conduct of serious affairs.”

The questions are what evidence does the NCAA have so far, and if the response from former players is silence, are the Shapiro allegations credible enough by themselves to be used against Miami?

Granted, it’s damn-near impossible to think the NCAA has less evidence than what Robinson reported last year. However, this investigation has been going on for a while and the letters indicate the NCAA is still having trouble corroborating all the parts of Shapiro’s story.  So, the NCAA’s enforcement staff is prepared to move forward with a case with the evidence available because, hey, #YOLO #amirite?

It’s amazing that silence from former players could end up costing Miami, but unless the NCAA is able to punish past individuals, these are the kind of steps that will be taken.

UCLA, Wisconsin reach agreement on future home-and-home

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Still a dozen years down the scheduling road, a future Big Ten-Pac-12 series has nonetheless been revealed.

UCLA and Wisconsin announced Tuesday that the two football programs have reached an agreement on a future home-and-home.  The two teams play at the Rose Bowl on Sept. 15, 2029, and at Camp Randall Stadium on Sept. 7, 2030.

“UCLA is one of the premier programs in college football,” UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “We had some memorable bowl games when I was on the sidelines but this is a great opportunity for us to play them at Camp Randall. Non-conference scheduling is always a challenge but the folks at UCLA have been great to deal with and we look forward to the series.”

The two teams have met 11 times previously, the most recent coming in the 2000 Sun Bowl.  The last regular season meeting between the programs came in 1982.

The Bruins own a 7-4 advantage in the all-time series, including a perfect 5-0 mark in Madison.  The Badgers, though, have won the last three meetings, all of which came in the postseason and the first two of which were Rose Bowl victories.

Philly to play host to four of next five Army-Navy games

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Earlier this year, it was reported that both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees were looking into hosting future Army-Navy football games.  In fact, the latter American League East team had submitted a formal bid for the 2018 edition of one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports.

Unfortunately for both organizations, 2023 is the absolute earliest either would potentially play host to a game.

The athletic directors at both Army and Navy, Boo Corrigan and Chet Gladchuk, respectively, jointly announced Tuesday that the 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022 games will be played at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.  The vast majority of the 117 games in the rivalry, 86 to be specific, have been played in Philadelphia.

That city will also host the 2017 game.

“The legacy of the City of Brotherly Love and the home of Army-Navy continues to be the benchmark for hosting America’s game,” said Gladchuk in a statement. “This tradition in Philly is so well received and embraced by the city and community that it remains a highlight of the season for the teams, alumni, and fans. Our appreciation to everyone, including USAA, who works so hard to make this week-long festival, culminating with our nation’s cherished match-up between Army and Navy, the fantastic experience it is.”

“Philadelphia is synonymous with the Army-Navy game, so it is fitting that we are playing at Lincoln Financial Field for four of the next five matchups,” Corrigan said in his. “I want to thank the Philadelphia Eagles and PHL Sports. We look forward to continuing the relationship with the City of Philadelphia and creating more memories for America’s Game. The interest level in the game and our future sites was extremely high with first-class bids coming from some of the nation’s best cities, which made for extensive discussions and a difficult decision for those involved.”

An official announcement on the 2021 game is expected later today, with MetLife Stadium in New Jersey the likely choice.  That season’s game will coincide with the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Baltimore (Baltimore Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium), Foxborough (New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium) and the District of Columbia (Washington Redskins) had also submitted bids to host games.

 

North Carolina State dismisses two freshmen, suspends three others

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North Carolina State is the latest to feel the wrath of off-field tumult just ahead of the start of the 2017 season.

The football program announced Tuesday afternoon that two freshmen, wide receiver Antoine Thompson and defensive end Kevince Brown, have been dismissed from Dave Doeren‘s football program.  Additionally, a trio of additional freshmen, linebacker Isaiah Moore, defensive lineman Erin Collins and defensive lineman Xavier Lyas, have been indefinitely suspended by Doeren.  It’s believed those three will miss at least one game apiece.

The disciplinary measures stem from what were described as “violations of the Student Athlete Code of Conduct.”

The discipline also comes a month or so after an investigation into allegations of three separate sexual assaults at one on-campus party was launched.  According to the school, however, the dismissals and suspensions “are not regarding allegations of sexual assault.”

From WNCN-TV in Raleigh:

The five freshman football players were at the on-campus party in a student’s room at Wolf Village where alcohol and marijuana were present, the school said.

Investigators executed search warrants where they looked at cell phones, the residence and reviewed video from campus security cameras.

“We had five freshmen, two of whom have been dismissed, who made poor decisions that don’t align with the values of our program and each has been handled accordingly,” Doeren said in a statement. “Although I’ve disciplined these players for violations of the Student Athlete Code of Conduct, I want to make it clear that I respect due process in the University and legal proceedings. Our players understand that I’m going be firm, but fair when it comes to discipline.”

“The football players who violated the Student Athlete Code of Conduct and Football Team Rules have been disciplined by Coach Doeren, with my full support,” athletic director Debbie Yow said in hers. “Coach Doeren continues to responsibly manage difficult circumstances in an appropriate and forthcoming manner, which is greatly appreciated. Two have been dismissed from the team and are no longer enrolled at NC State, and three others have received suspensions from competition, as well as other discipline. These actions are not regarding allegations of sexual assault. We reserve the right to impose additional sanctions if new violations are discovered.”

All five players were three-star members of NCSU’s 2017 recruiting class.  Only three members of that class were rated higher than Thompson.

Lane Kiffin informally utilizing Art Briles to help FAU offense

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Leave it to Lane Kiffin to leave no stone unturned, regardless of how controversial it may be.

Not long after he was hired as the head coach at Florida Atlantic, Kiffin came under fire after hiring Kendal Briles as his offensive coordinator, especially after a woman alleged in a lawsuit that the assistant coach had contributed to the “culture of sexual violence” at Baylor.  Kiffin subsequently stood by his hiring of Briles, saying that the coordinator was thoroughly vetted by the athletic department before joining the program.

Over the weekend and on into this week, Kiffin opened himself up to additional criticism when both he and Briles confirmed that each of them have turned to Art Briles, ousted as BU’s head football coach in the midst of the sexual assault scandal, for help and advice when it comes to the Owls’ offense.

From the Sun-Sentinel:

Obviously, he has ideas,” Kendal said. “He wants to know personnel and different guys and making sure we’re getting those guys in the right spots and getting them touches and all that stuff. He’s a football coach, that’s all he’s ever been. He’s definitely involved and we talk daily.”

Kendal said he’s sent film to Art before to help with the FAU offense. On Monday, Kiffin said he’s spoken with Art a couple times.

“Obviously, he’s done unbelievable things on offense,” Kiffin said. “It’s his system that he started years and years ago. Every once in a while, I’ll text or call him and bounce something off of him.

The newspaper made sure to note that, per the younger Briles, the elder Briles has not been on the FAU campus.  And, when such a note is necessary, publicly associating yourself with the disgraced head coach in any way, shape of form might not be the best idea.  Then again, for better or worse, Kiffin’s gonna Kiffin, regardless of what anyone else thinks.