Miami reportedly files motion to dismiss NCAA case

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Given the developments in the Miami situation over the past couple of months, this was anticipated.

Per CBSSportsDennis Dodd, Miami has in fact filed a motion to dismiss the NCAA’s case against its athletics program. The Miami Herald reported earlier this week that UM could file such a motion, with the Associated Press reporting similarly Friday afternoon.

It’s an interesting, and according to Dodd, unprecedented move considering the charges UM is facing. While Miami is a private institution and not required to release its Notice of Allegations — it’s not believed the school will reveal the details of its motion to dismiss either — it’s been reported that the program is facing a lack of institutional control charge.

The AP reported earlier today that the NCAA is alleging Miami officials looked the other way when presented with evidence that former booster Nevin Shapiro provided impermissible benefits to athletes.

From the AP story:

“The NCAA… has asked Miami to detail whether or not it hired a private investigator to look into Shapiro’s business dealings between 2002 and 2005, records of a meeting between at least one athletics department official and Shapiro in 2003, and the findings of a study the school conducted with regard to Shapiro in 2006.

Miami has also been asked to provide copies of certain email exchanges that were about Shapiro, including one from 2008 that was sent to at least one member of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s staff.

If there’s record that Miami turned a blind eye to Shapiro, the Hurricanes could be in serious trouble.

But Miami could have a compelling argument that there’s simply not enough usable evidence for the NCAA to have a legitimate case. The Herald‘s report on Wednesday claimed NCAA’s director of enforcement, Stephanie Hannah, continued to work with Shapiro’s attorney, Maria Elena Perez, to obtain information through depositions that would aid the UM investigation.

While that would be another blemish for the NCAA because it shows a continuation of unethical practices started by Hannah’s predecessor, Ameen Najjar, it’s not nearly as bad as the allegation that NCAA investigators lied to interview subjects in order to gain information.

Hannah’s working relationship with Perez reportedly did not result in any information the NCAA could use in its investigation and Perez’s previous depositions were ultimately thrown out of the NOA. However, if NCAA investigators lied to interview subjects, that information would have to be tossed as well.

Dodd writes that Miami “will include new information regarding the NCAA’s conduct” in the motion. Whether that new information corroborates the Herald‘s report or adds to it isn’t clear. Consequently, how much information, if any, the NCAA would have to scrap is unknown.

There could eventually be a discussion of whether the NCAA should proceed with the case at all, but in the meantime, expect it to go on as planned. As NCAA guru John Infante wrote this week: “Improperly obtained evidence should be removed and the rest of the case should go forward.”

Miami thinks, as it has all along, that it should not face any additional sanctions beyond the ones self-imposed over the past couple of years. But even if Miami could get its case dismissed, all signs indicate that might not happen until after the program files an official response to its NOA.

It’s been no secret Miami planned to fight the NCAA on its NOA. Add in the numerous missteps the NCAA has taken in investigating UM and the Hurricanes certainly have ammo. Just don’t expect that fight to be over tomorrow.

SEC leads NFL Draft for 11th straight year as Alabama and Michigan set school records

Brandon Wade/AP Images for NFLPA
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The 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone, and once again it is the SEC claiming another NFL Draft national championship. A grand total of 53 players from the SEC were drafted by NFL teams. It is the 11th straight year the SEC has had the most players drafted by NFL teams.

The ACC ended the draft with 42 players drafted, followed by the Pac-12 (36) and Big Ten (35). The Big 12 ended the draft with just 14 players drafted.

Helping to contribute to the SEC’s NFL Draft total was Alabama setting a school record with 10 players drafted.

Alabama’s nine players drafted in the first 80 picks was also a new Alabama record.

Michigan ended up having more players drafted than any other Big Ten team, slipping past Ohio State by the time the draft closed up shop this year. For the Wolverines, 11 players ended up being drafted. The previous school record for draft picks was 10, set in 1972 and tied in 1974. Head coach Jim Harbaugh will get plenty of the praise for developing that many players getting a chance to be drafted, but Brady Hoke should be recognized for recruiting those players as well (and blamed for not developing the talent he brought in).

 

Air Force changes rules for football players with NFL aspirations

AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Michael Ciaglo
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One of the top players from Air Force was ineligible to be drafted by the NFL this weekend, and it had nothing to do with NFL rules. It also had nothing to do with NFL teams backing away from a particular player due to off-field concerns. Instead, a policy at Air Force is what is to blame for wide receiver Jalen Robinette not moving on to the NFL at this time.

The U.S. Air Force will not approve requests from academy graduates to defer their two years of active duty in order to be allowed to play professional football. Just a year ago, the Department of Defense changed the policy to allow for the possibility, which made it possible for Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds to be allowed to play. Reynolds later joined the Baltimore Ravens. Reynolds had received a recommendation to be allowed to play by the U.S. Naval Academy.

“The Air Force notified academy leaders [Thursday] that the service would not approve requests to waiver active duty military commitments for cadet athletes,” a statement from Air Force read. “Cadets will be required to serve two years active duty prior to entering Ready Reserve, which would allow their participation in professional sports. The Air Force places tremendous value on our cadet athletes and their contributions to the nation as we continue to build leaders of character, engage in combat operations overseas and continue to ensure our highest military readiness at home.”

Because of the policy change and confirmation, Robinette was not able to be drafted. He may still have been a long shot to be drafted by an NFL Team, but the policy also means he is unable to be signed as an undrafted free agent as well.

Rawleigh Williams carted off at Arkansas scrimmage

AP Photo/Chris Brashers
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Any time a player that has previously undergone neck surgery goes down on the field and needs to be carted off is quite the scary moment. On Saturday, the Arkansas football program had that exact scare when Rawleigh Williams went down on the field in pain and ended up having to be carted off the practice field during the Arkansas scrimmage.

Williams was placed on a stretcher and taken out of the facility on a cart to receive medical attention. His legs and arms were moving on the ground, a slight sigh of relief given the hit and his injury history. In 2015, Williams was carted off and had to undergo surgery on his neck. Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said the injury concern on Saturday was apparently not related to the previous neck injury, which was expected to have a full recovery.

It is an unfortunate ending to the spring for Williams, because all indications seemed to be he was certainly improving running the football. Bielema said earlier in the week Williams was running with more patience, which is always a key for a running back.

Arkansas moved its final scrimmage of the spring indoors due to bad weather rolling through the area.

Justin Herbert shines in first Oregon spring game under Willie Taggart

Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images
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A glimpse of a brand new era of Oregon football took center stage in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday as the spring football season drew to a close. Willie Taggart showed fans a little bit of what to expect from Oregon in the fall as the program looks to bounce back from a down season under the coach who has shown a knack for improving programs. As is usually the case in a spring game, Oregon’s quarterback situation was under a microscope, and sophomore Justin Herbert took advantage of the opportunity.

Herbert completed 16 of 26 passes for 327 yards and established a connection with wide receiver Darren Carrington. The two connected for three touchdowns in the game. Sophomore Travis Jonson and early enrollee Braxton Burmeister also saw playing time in the game, but Carrington was confident in saying this is Herbert’s job to lose.

”Our chemistry has definitely improved this spring, and it’ll improve more by the time fall comes, but Herbert, I mean, that’s the guy right now to beat,” Carrington said after the spring game.

As for the team as a whole, Taggert knows there is much still to address as a new system and style are implemented and the roster adjusts physically to the demands of the new coach.

‘We’re still building. We’re nowhere where we need to be as a football team yet. We have some good players. We don’t have a lot of depth that we need to have, that’s going to be a work in progress,” Taggart said. ”The thing for us as coaches is just to make our guys better than they were before. If I guy wasn’t good enough we want to make him look better than he was before. If I guy was good we want to make him great.”

Og course, it wouldn’t be an Oregon spring game without having that typical Oregon uniform flair. Even with a new head coach and with the talk suggesting the Ducks will go for a more traditional approach to uniforms in the fall, the spring game was used for some sizzle on the unis.

Oregon’s spring game crowd of 36,821 assured the Ducks of having the highest spring game attendance among Pac-12 school for a third consecutive year.