Updated: NCAA says Miami ‘grasping at straws’ to get case dismissed, ‘offended’ by remarks

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Earlier this month, a portion of the NCAA’s response to Miami’s motion to dismiss its infractions case was passed along via CBSSports.com. Now, more blurbs from that response to the Committee on Infractions have been revealed through CBSSports and the Associated Press.

The NCAA’s enforcement staff claims, among other things, that Miami is “grasping at straws” to discredit members of the enforcement team, and that it is “offended” (LULZ!!!1!1!!) by remarks in the motion.

(Updated: You can read the entire 42-page document HERE)

“In the enforcement staff’s view, the motions to dismiss are largely based on assumptions, false accusations, misleading statements and meritless claims about the enforcement staff and its investigation. For the reasons set forth below, the enforcement staff requests that the Committee on Infractions deny the motions,” Interim Vice President of Enforcement Jonathan Duncan wrote.

Specifically, the enforcement staff fires back at UM’s assertion that it was “wronged” by the fact that former athletic director Paul Dee, now deceased, was never interviewed.

“Though the enforcement staff did not interview Dee prior to his untimely passing, it was not due to oversight or inattention,” the response reads. “In this case, the enforcement staff planned to and did conduct interviews relating to institutional control issues in June 2012, approximately three weeks after Dee’s passing. Because Dee’s death was unexpected, the enforcement staff could not have predicted that he would not be available for an interview in June 2012. Had the institution or enforcement staff known of Dee’s condition or impending death, the enforcement staff would have exhausted all reasonable efforts to preserve Dee’s testimony.”

The response also comes to the defense of members of the enforcement team, including investigators Brynna Barnhart and Stephanie Hannah. 

“… Overall, the enforcement staff believes that the institution is again grasping at straws in an attempt to disqualify members of the enforcement team with the most knowledge about the case. Not only are these personal attacks based on no evidence that would support the removal of Barnhart and Hannah from the case, they are also not a basis for dismissal of the case in its entirety.”

However, the Miami Herald reported last month that, according to the law firm that conducted the NCAA’s external review of the investigation, Hannah didn’t know her work with Nevin Shapiro‘s attorney, started by her predecessor, Ameen Najjar, was previously given the no-go from the NCAA’s legal team.

“Ms. Hannah assumed there was nothing amiss about the arrangement [with Maria Elena Perez] and that it had been completely blessed prior to her involvement in the case,” Ken Wainstein of the Cadwalader law firm previously told the Herald in an email.

There’s more, but the point is clear: the NCAA made its apology and is now back on its moral high horse. And, in all likelihood, the case will move toward a June hearing with the COI.

But the only thing offensive about this case is the NCAA’s use of the word “offensive”, showing once again how little self-awareness college athletics’ governing body has.

Report: North Texas adds FCS running back transfer

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North Texas is adding running back Loren Easly to the roster, according to a message posted to his Twitter account Saturday.

Easly spent the past two seasons at Stephen F. Austin, a member of the FCS Southland Conference. A Houston native, he appeared in 20 games over two seasons as a Lumberjack, carrying 213 times for 1,256 yards with 11 touchdowns while adding 17 catches for 139 yards.

Denton Record-Chronicle reporter Brett Vito confirmed the transfer on his Twitter account.

As an interdivisional transfer, Easly will be able to play immediately with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

He would join a backfield led by rising senior Jeffrey Wilson, who paced the Mean Green with 936 yards and 14 touchdowns on 169 carries in 2016.

Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger signs extension, vows to fix football

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Kansas athletics director Sheahon Zenger has signed an extension to remain on the job through the 2020-21 academic year, the school announced Sunday.

Zenger has been on the job since 2011, meaning the new deal will take him past the decade mark in Lawrence.

“Since Sheahon’s arrival in Jan. 2011, Kansas Athletics has enjoyed success on and off the field,” Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement. “I am confident that under Sheahon’s leadership Athletics will experience even more success in the coming years.”

Zenger did not hire Bill Self, but he did hire Charlie Weis, which cost KU more than $5.6 million in buyout money after he was fired for going 6-22 leading the Jayhawks from 2012-14.

David Beaty was since hired to run the program, who has infused an outlook brighter than his 2-22 record would suggest.

Zenger said the new contract will allow him to fix football. Via the Kansas City Star:

Under Zenger’s watch, KU has most notably added numerous construction projects, including Rock Chalk Park and the DeBruce Center, which houses the original rules of basketball. He has spoken previously about completing those ventures to “clear the deck” financially so focus could be placed on football and Memorial Stadium renovations — two things he now says are “really the top priorities for me in the next four years.”

“We want it to be a place that people just love to come to,” Zenger said of Memorial Stadium. “We have such history there. I think it’s the greatest setting in the nation for college football. We just need to get it to the point where it’s a place that’s just revered.”

The extension includes a raise from a base salary of $619,000 to $700,000.

Alleged victim of Tennessee WR Josh Smith threatens $3 million civil suit

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Earlier this month, Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith was charged with domestic assault following an incident at an off-campus house with his roommate. Now, the roommate is seeking damages of $875,000. If that sum is not paid, then the alleged victim may bring a $3 million civil suit to the court.

According to Jimmy Hyams of WNML, Kennedy Foster suffered a broken nose, broken teeth and damage to his eyes and right ear in the incident earlier this month that led to the charges filed against Smith. Foster sent a settlement demand letter to the attorney representing Smith.

“I’m not accusing him (Foster) of extortion, but that’s what it looks like,’’ Smith’s attorney, Keith Stewart said according to Hyams. “Given my understanding that Mr. Foster’s attempts to press charges against Malcolm Stokes were unsuccessful, it seems his motives are clear.’’

“I think when the truth comes out, Josh will be exonerated,” Stewart said of his client.

The deadline for paying the settlement demand is set for May 30 (tomorrow) by 5:00 p.m. and is to be delivered in the form of a cashier’s check along with a letter of apology for the incident. If the Smith family does not pay the requested sum, the legal team for Foster will move forward with a $1.5 million lawsuit seeking compensatory damages and a $1.5 million lawsuit for punitive damages. How either will hold up in court remains to be seen.

How some college football teams are recognizing Memorial Day on Twitter

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It’s not Memorial Day until the social media teams at college football programs start pumping out branded Memorial Day messages on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. As expected, teams and conferences are busy at pumping out the social media content for their followers today. Here is a sampling of what has been seen so far.

If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to read John’s annual Memorial Day post.