Bobby Petrino and the Hilltoppers are moving on up.
Following up on reports from this weekend, Conference USA has announced that Western Kentucky will become the league’s 14th member beginning in 2014.
“We welcome Western Kentucky to Conference USA,” commissioner Britton Banowsky said in a release. “The tradition of the University and its athletics success is truly remarkable. The men’s basketball program has made seven NCAA appearances since 2000, the women’s basketball program has advanced to three NCAA Final Fours and football went to a bowl game last season in just its fourth year in the FBS.”
WKU will replace Tulsa, which is reportedly on its way to the soon-to-be-renamed Big East. The Hilltoppers also follow Sun Belt members FAU, FIU, North Texas and Middle Tennessee to C-USA. Other members of C-USA will ultimately include former WAC schools Louisiana Tech and UT-San Antonio; new members Old Dominion and Charlotte; and current members Marshall, Rice, Southern Mississippi, UAB and Texas-El Paso.
“Today’s announcement that Western Kentucky University has accepted an invitation to join Conference USA is not a surprise given the communication that I have had with university officials and the rampant speculation over the past several months,” Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson said in an official release. “I remain confident that we have numerous options and that there are universities that have a strong desire to be members of the Sun Belt Conference.”
While not official, reports have indicated the Sun Belt will look to Liberty or James Madison as a replacement for WKU.
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.
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 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 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.