NCAA accepts Mississippi State’s self-imposed sanctions

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Yesterday, Mississippi State confirmed a decision on its NCAA case, likely in connection to the recruitment of defensive back Will Redmond, was coming in short order.

Right on cue, the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions released its findings Friday morning.

The NCAA concludes that a university booster — not officially identified but believed to be Robert Denton Herring — provided impermissible benefits to a recruit (Redmond), including cash and use of a car.

“Additionally, the booster and his friend provided a car to the recruit for approximately $2,000 below the actual value of the car,” the release states. “Prior to taking an official visit to a different university, the booster told the recruit that if he did not take the visit, the recruit would be paid $6,000.”

Redmond, who did not play in 2012, will be suspended for the first five games of the 2013 season and is required to pay back the $2,660 in benefits he received.

The release also notes that a former assistant coach (Angelo Mirando) became aware of the violations, but did not report them to university officials. The NCAA also says the coach provided false information during two interviews by denying knowledge of the violations. Byron De’Vinner, a Nashville 7-on-7 coach, told Yahoo! Sports last year that he believed Mirando was the only MSU coach who knew of the violations.

Mirando, who stepped down for “personal issues” last August, has been cited with unethical conduct and given a one-year show-cause. Should Mirando be hired by another school within the next year, both he and the program must appear before the COI to determine if the new school should be subject to show-cause procedures. The NCAA states that because Mirando is not employed by a member school, he was not required to appear at the infractions hearing, but did anyway to take responsibility for his actions.

Mirando’s show-cause and a two-year probation period, effective immediately to June 6, 2015, were NCAA-imposed sanctions. The COI also accepted the following self-imposed sanctions from MSU:

  • A reduction of the number of official visits to 39 from the four-year average of 41 for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years.
  • A reduction of the number of recruiting days during the spring evaluation period by four, from 168 to 164, for the 2013-14 academic year.
  • A reduction in the number of total scholarships by two, from 85 to 83, for the 2012-13 academic year.
  • A reduction in the number of initial and total scholarships by two, from 25 to 23 and 85 to 83, respectively, for the 2013-14 academic year.
  • For the first two conference contests of the 2013 season, complimentary admissions to football recruits will be prohibited.
  • Disassociation of the booster by the university’s athletics program, which the university took care of last year.

The takeaway? It pays to cooperate with the NCAA — so to speak. The fact this case went before the COI results in a “major violations” label, though the sanctions are anything but major.

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.