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Penn State to pay $59.7 million to 26 people over Jerry Sandusky

Penn State Abuse AP

Penn State will pay $59.7 million to 26 young men over claims of sexual abuse by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, the university announced Monday.

Of the 26 settlements, 23 are fully signed and three have been agreed upon in principle. The settlements include a release of all claims against Penn State and other parties.

The money for the settlement payouts is not coming from student tuition, taxpayers or donations, according to the university.

“The Board of Trustees has had as one of its primary objectives to reach settlements in a way that is fair and respects the privacy of the individuals involved,” Keith Masser, chair of the Penn State Board of Trustees, said in a statement. “This is another important milestone in accomplishing that goal. I would like to thank the board’s Legal and Compliance Committee, as well as its Legal Subcommittee for its leadership throughout this process.”

“We hope this is another step forward in the healing process for those hurt by Mr. Sandusky, and another step forward for Penn State,” university president Rodney Erickson said. “We cannot undo what has been done, but we can and must do everything possible to learn from this and ensure it never happens again at Penn State.”

“… We have made great strides, but a great deal of work remains,” Erickson said. “Our University is a better institution today as a result of the work and dedication of our trustees, administrators, faculty, staff and students.”

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Report: Big 12 and Pac-12 heading south of the border?

Todd Graham

College football could be taking a trip south of the border if the powers that be at ESPN, the Pac-12 and Big 12 have anything to say about it. ESPN president John Skipper alluded to the concept being discussed during the Football Bowl Association meeting, as reported by Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com.

“Keep your eye on it,” Skipper said, according to Dodd. Oh, we will keep an eye out for it of course.

The idea of playing college football in Mexico is not a new one. Earlier this year Texas Athletics Director Steve Patterson detailed plans and ideas to grow the Texas brand beyond the border by potentially moving a game to Mexico City. That would likely require finding a partner willing to move a home game because the odds Texas would move a home game are likely slim at best. But that could potentially change if a television partner with deep pockets is willing to make it financially incentive even for a school like Texas. Money has a way of talking, and if the price is right almost any school would seriously consider the possibility, even a school like Texas.

But Texas is only one option of course. No teams have specifically been mentioned or rumored at this time, and it is important to remember no game in Mexico has been announced yet either. But the pieces and partners willing to put heads together could be in place in the Big 12 and Pac-12. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is a bit of a visionary as well and has previously discussed the idea of reaching the Pac-12 brand across the Pacific Ocean into Asia. A trip south may be a good start for extending relationships on an international level.

Arizona State vs. Texas, with a side of salsa? Yes, please.

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Northwestern will get to appeal to NLRB over union ruling

Northwestern acted quickly in stating its intention to challenge the ruling made by a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. The university will get a chance to present its case to the NLRB, which decided Thursday it will listen to what the university has to say. The NLRB previously ruled in favor of Northwestern football players, stating they should be recognized by Northwestern as university employees.

Northwestern argues that scholarship players on the football team are not to be considered employees under the National Labor Relations act. If the university can sell its case, the NLRB could overrule the previous decision by the regional office in Chicago, which would then block the football players from establishing a formal union. The university had plans to challenge the ruling from the start of this whole process, so it is certainly no surprise.

Given the right to form a union, Northwestern football players are scheduled to vote on forming an official union on Friday. That vote will still be held, but the votes will be held and the results of the voting will be revealed after the NLRB hears the appeal from the university. The NLRB denies the appeal of the university, the union movement will continue at Northwestern if it receives enough votes.

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NCAA Board of Directors endorse restructuring for autonomy

The NCAA took one important step toward moving to a new power structure allowing for autonomy to yield more power to the most powerful conferences. The Division I Board of Directors endorsed a restructuring process that would be more equipped to handle the changing landscape of collegiate athletics and provide for a larger voice representing the student-athletes to be heard.

“The model we sent to the membership today is not a final product,” said Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch, chair of the board and the steering committee. “Some aspects of the model remain under discussion, and we hope the membership will provide us further input.”

The Board of Directors, comprised of university presidents, will now await feedback from all member schools before planning to adopt the new governance structure in August. There has been widespread support for a new system that would grant the power conferences — the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC — more power to operate under a slightly different set of rules the other divisions and conferences would be governed. This would, in theory, allow those conferences to hold separate votes regarding cost of attendance for scholarships, insurance, travel restrictions and more.

Per the NCAA;

Areas in which the membership generally agrees on autonomy for the five conferences include:

  • financial aid, including full cost of attendance and scholarship guarantees;

  • insurance, including policies that protect future earnings;

  • academic support, particularly for at-risk student-athletes; and

  • other support, such as travel for families, free tickets to athletics events, and expenses associated with practice and competition (such as parking).

The timing of this news should not go unnoticed. On Friday football players at Northwestern are scheduled to cast their votes on unionizing, a right previously granted by a ruling by a regional office of the National Labor Relations Committee. Will this latest development in the changing of the power structure at the NCAA have any last-second impact on the Northwestern vote? Probably not, but it should not be considered a coincidence the new structure at the NCAA looks to leave a seat open at the table for the student-athletes.

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Report: Cal’s Ted Agu died of heart failure

Cal defensive lineman Ted Agu collapsed during an offseason workout earlier this spring and died as a result of a heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The condition, according to a report by San Francisco Chronicle, is a relatively common cause of death among athletes.

Victims of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy have excessive thickening of heart muscle, which makes it more difficult for blood to pump through the heart. In most cases the problem is undiagnosed because there are few symptoms that can be picked up on even during a careful medical exam. The condition can lead to normal lives for most people, but athletes tend to see the most sever problems due to the increased physical activity requiring a more efficient blood flow.

Agu collapsed in February while working through a training run. The Cal medical team attempted CPR on Agu but he died while being transported to a nearby medical center. The school has since started up a memorial scholarship fund in Agu’s name and honor.

Agu’s death was the subject of arguments by Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema when discussing up-tempo offenses. Bielema’s comments were scolded by Cal AD Sandy Barbour and Bielema later apologized for his comments.

Helmet sticker to Dr. Saturday.

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Mississippi State player suspended following arrest for suspected burglary

Auburn v Mississippi State

Mississippi State defensive lineman Jordan Washington was arrested Wednesday afternoon for suspicion of residential burglary and robbery by threats. Mississippi State has already responded by placing an indefinite suspension on the sophomore. Former Mississippi State player Charles Siddoway was arrested and jailed on the same charge. The news was first reported by Starkville Daily News.

Washington did not play for Washington State in 2013 mostly due to injury concerns, and sat out his freshman year in 2012 with a redshirt season. Washington was a three-star recruit out of the powerful North Gwinnet High School program according to his Rivals profile.

Siddoway is hoping to be drafted in the upcoming NFL Draft, but an arrest so close to the big day could hurt whatever draft stock he had going in if the charges are upheld. Siddoway is regarded as one of the top 20 offensive tackles in the draft, depending on which draft scout or service you prefer. That would likely project to a late-round draft pick. If a charge of this magnitude holds up, Siddoway may have to hope he can sign on as an undrafted free agent once this legal issue is behind him.

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ACC Network would hypothetically clone SEC Network set-up

John Swofford

An ACC Network would likely mimic the set-up of the SEC Network according to ACC documents shared by the University of Maryland.

The ACC and Maryland are still in an ongoing legal dispute as the institution prepares to leave for the Big Ten later this season. As part of the legal battle Maryland has turned over documentation from the ACC to support its case. Part of that evidence submitted by Maryland included a market analysis report focusing on the ACC and comparing the conference to other top conferences around the country. The various categories in the analysis included academic standings, geographic footprints and population and football and basketball recruiting. The report also takes a look at television potential for the ACC.

The market analysis report notes there are more potential television households within the expanded ACC footprint with the additions of Louisville and Notre Dame than any other conference, including the Big Ten and SEC and the ACC owns more of the top 30 TV markets in the country than any other conference as well. Each of the major conferences has a similar national television deal, but the ACC is lacking in regional coverage compared to some of the other conferences, but the report suggests if there is interest and incentive to add an ACC Network, then ESPN would be prepared to work with the conference to make it a reality. Furthermore, any deal with ESPN to launch an ACC Network would follow a similar model currently used by the SEC for the SEC Network.

We know the benefits of a successful cable sports network that could be obtained. The Big Ten has seen a great financial benefit from the addition of the Big Ten Network and the future prospects of the SEC Network are expected to be rich. Could an ACC Network see similar results? The structure and support would be there if ESPN was a part of the foundation, but the ACC may be a bit top-heavy when it comes to football and the overall fanbases in the Big Ten and SEC are something the ACC may not be able to compete with from top to bottom.

Helmet sticker to The Washington Post.

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UCF QB ruled eligible for 2014 season following transfer

Nick Patti, Mark Nzeocha

The competition to replace Blake Bortles at UCF just got one more candidate for the job this fall. The NCAA has ruled Nick Patti will be eligible for the 2014 season after transferring from Boise State.

The Orlando Sentinel reported Patti was given a hardship waiver by the NCAA, which allows him to begin playing immediately instead of sitting out a season under typical NCAA transfer rules. He will jump right in the fray of the competition to replace Bortles, a projected first round draft pick in the upcoming NFL Draft who led the Golden Knights to a conference championship and Fiesta Bowl victory last season.

UCF head coach George O’Leary has not settle don a starting quarterback at this point and expects to let the competition play out over the summer leading up to the season opener against Penn State in Ireland.

Patti appeared in six games for Boise State last season and he completed eight of 11 pass attempts for 63 yards. Patti is originally from Orlando, so perhaps a return home could be just what he needs to take the leading role. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

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Utah fight song might get new lyrics

Stanford v Utah

Students at most universities likely know the words to the fight song more than they do the alma mater. Now the students at Utah may have to re-learn some of the words to the fight song.

Earlier this week student government organizations at Utah voted in favor of changing lyrics to the school fight song that some deemed offensive. The changes are not official yet, but now are likely to be approved. This should come as little surprise, as the lyrics were written in 1904 and declare those singing to be a Utah Man. The changes are minor and will not require a brand new composition and sheet music, but the proposed changes will help bring the fight song into a more politically correct state in the 21st century.

The line that sings “Our coeds are the finest” has been considered sexist and racist by some and the university is now prepared to modify that specific line to avoid any problems. One of the possible changes to the line could read “our students are the brightest,” according to The Desert News. Any reference to “Utah man” could easily be switched to “Utah fan” without disrupting the fight song’s theme or rhymes.

“I don’t want to get rid of tradition, I love tradition, I just want a more inclusive tradition,” said student body president Sam Ortiz, who sponsored the measure, as quoted by The Salt Lake Tribune. “I’m incredibly happy that our student leaders stepped up and made a difficult decision.”

What other fight songs could be in need of a 21st century jump in political correctness?

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Florida two-way player Hawkins will transfer

Will Muschamp AP

Florida is losing a player who can play on both sides of the football to a transfer. According to a report by The Gainesville Sun, redshirt freshman Marqui Hawkins is leaving the Gators and will transfer to another football program. Hawkins could play wide receiver and safety.

“I’m just looking for a better opportunity and somewhere I can play offense. I’d also like to be closer to home,” Hawkins said in a story by The Gainesville Sun. “I had a great time at Florida and learned a lot. Nothing against the school, I just needed a fresh start.”

According to the report, Hawkins says he has been granted a full release from his scholarship and Florida and has been given no restrictions on where he may play next. That would leave any suitable SEC program as an option if there is a program with a spot available for Hawkins.

Florida has plenty of wide receiver son the 204 roster, 15 to be exact, so the depth at the position is not taking too much of a hit based solely on numbers. The Gators list 14 players at defensive back, where Hawkins is officially listed, as well after the loss of Hawkins. The Gators are still on the prowl for players who can make plays on offense though. Florida’s offense has lacked game-breakers on offense the last few years. Hawkins was not going to be that solution in all likelihood though, so Will Muschamp‘s search continues for someone to step up on Florida’s offense in 2014.

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Iowa State D-lineman does a 180, rejoins team for final season

Oklahoma State v Iowa State Getty Images

Per ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, Iowa State nose guard Brandon Jensen has rejoined the Cyclones after leaving the team this winter.

Jensen started all 12 games for Iowa State last fall and notched 18 tackles, four TFLs and one sack, but considered leaving Ames soon after the season ended. The 6-foot-5, 301-pound native of Ankeny, Iowa, has played in 36 games over his career and has one year of eligibility remaining.

Jensen’s return should be welcome news for coach Paul Rhoads, who saw defensive lineman Nick Kron leave the program as well after the Cyclones went 3-9 in 2013.

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Vince Young has a job waiting for him at Texas

National Championship Rose Bowl: USC v Texas Getty Images

Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of Texas’ last college football title — you know, the one capped by this — and there’s a chance Vince Young could be working for his old school when that celebration begins.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the ex-Longhorns quarterback has a job waiting for him at Texas once he officially ends his playing career — which could be soon, given the former No. 3 overall pick remains a free agent. Young told the Chronicle his role would be an an ambassador for the Texas, but it certainly couldn’t hurt Charlie Strong’s program to have the Longhorns’ last championship-winning quarterback hanging around Austin.

Young said he’s received interest from a few unspecified NFL teams but won’t play in the CFL if that interest doesn’t amount to anything.

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Ridiculously early point spreads have ‘Bama by 24, FSU by 11.5 in openers

Nick Saban AP

With just over four months until the 2014 season begins, apparently it’s time for some early betting lines. And while Alabama hasn’t settled on a quarterback yet, no matter: Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide at 24-point favorites over West Virginia for the teams’ Aug. 30 curtain-lifter in Atlanta (via 5dimes.eu).

For the 36th straight game, Florida State is favored — this time by 11.5 over Oklahoma State at AT&T Stadium.

Just scanning this, a few lines jump out, like Tennessee only giving 5.5 points to Utah State at home (Utah State, remember, was actually a pretty good team last year and should get QB Chuckie Keeton back for the 2014 season). Ole Miss is 8.5-point favorites over Boise State, and South Carolina is favored by nine for its Thursday opener against Texas A&M.

Of course, it’s still April and these lines certainly will do some changing between now and Aug. 28/Aug. 30. Case in point: In the hour or so since we published these, the Tennessee line jumped from -5.5 to -6.5, and the Bama line went from -24 to -23.5.

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Kentucky’s receivng corps hit with injury, transfer

Tennessee v Kentucky Getty Images

The position of wide receiver at Kentucky suffered a one-two blow recently, although only one’s permanent.

First the “good” news as head coach Mark Stoops confirmed that Jeff Badet suffered a broken fibula during Monday’s practice.  What was a non-contact break, oddly enough, will sideline the sophomore for 2-3 months, although, as the receiver didn’t undergo surgery, he should be back in plenty of time for the start of summer camp.

Last season as a true freshman, Badet was third on the team in receptions (22) and receiving yards (285).

At the opposite end of the spectrum is A.J. Legree (pictured), who Stoops confirmed has decided to part ways with the football program. No reason was given for the departure.

“He’s gonna quit and go play somewhere else and we wish him the best of luck,” Stoops succinctly stated.

Legree, a three-star member of UK’s 2012 recruiting class, caught seven passes for 97 yards last season after catching 12 for 113 as a true freshman the year before.

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Transferring UConn receiver headed back to BC?

Louisville v Connecticut Getty Images

Prior to the start of the 2011 season, Shakim Phillips decided to transfer out of the Boston College football program and ultimately landed at UConn.  Nearly three years later, the wide receiver’s playing career may be coming full circle.

Earlier this afternoon, first-year UConn head coach Bob Diaco confirmed speculation that’s been percolating the past couple of days that Phillips has decided to leave the team. He may not be team-less for long, however, as the Boston Herald‘s Adam Kurkjian tweeted that the player was on the BC campus Tuesday.

As a graduate, Phillips would be eligible to play at any FBS school in 2014.  With transfer Tyler Murphy set at quarterback, BC Interruption writes that the addition of Phillips would be a boon to a depleted BC receiving corps.

Getting a year out of Shakim Phillips would be a huge boost for the Eagles, who already have lost Alex Amidon (graduation), Spiffy Evans (transfer) and Marcus Grant (transfer). The Eagles are very thin at the position and Phillips would most likely slot right in as a starter. A starting three WR set of Harrison Jackson, Bobby Swigert and Shakim Phillips gives Murphy a solid trio of receivers to work with. Then slot in a freshman as depth or if injuries pop up.

Despite nagging injuries the past two seasons, the 6-2, 209-pound Phillips still managed 60 catches for 806 yards in an offense that would’ve never been confused with an aerial circus. A four-star member of BC’s 2014 recruiting class, Phillips was rated as the No. 21 receiver in the country and the No. 1 player in the state of New Jersey at any position.

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Addazio: Tyler Murphy establishes himself as BC’s QB

Tyler Murphy AP

In a move that should come as a surprise to almost no one, what will be the brief Tyler Murphy era at Boston College is officially on.

Speaking to reporters on the ACC coaches teleconference Wednesday, BC head coach Steve Addazio confirmed that Murphy, as the Palm Beach Post‘s Matt Porter tweeted, has established himself as the Eagles’ starting quarterback. Experience, obviously, played a role in Murphy topping the likes of Darius Wade and James Walsh to claim the starting job.

“You’re talking about a guy who’s been in the heat of the battle. He’s a veteran, experienced guy who’s been a starter in the SEC,” Addazio said according to the Orlando Sentinel. “He’s got tremendous pocket presence. He throws the ball really well and is obviously really dynamic with his feet.”

After UF starter Jeff Driskel suffered a season-ending injury in the third game of the 2013 season, Murphy went on to start the next six games.  Murphy’s own injury issues forced him out of the last three games of the season.  That shoulder injury, however, did not impact Murphy this spring.

Murphy transferred from Florida to BC in January of this year, with his status as a graduate transfer earning him immediate eligibility.  Addazio was an assistant coach with the Gators in 2010, Murphy’s first year with the program. That familiarity gave the transfer a leg-up in the competition this spring.

“Obviously, my familiarity with him – I recruited him. I coached him. I knew him well,” Addazio said. “He’s pretty comfortable in terms of our program, our weight room, the way we practice, our terminology — it’s not a foreign animal to him.”

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