In late September, it was announced that the NCAA had decided to ease the scholarship restrictions slapped on the Penn State football program as part of the historic sanctions meted out in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
That, though, may not be the last time the university sees some relief.
George Mitchell, who was hired by the NCAA as an independent “integrity monitor,” met with Penn State trustees Friday and while no further reductions are imminent, he could recommend that be the case upon the release of his next report next September if the university continues its “quality response” to the Plan for Continuous Improvement.
It was Mitchell who recommended the initial reduction of a portion of the penalties. As was the case in that first round of reduction, any relief would have to be signed off on by the NCAA and Big Ten.
While Mitchell declined to discuss specific penalties that could be in line for a reduction, the one that makes the most sense would be the bowl ban.
The Nittany Lions are in the second year of a four-year ban on postseason play. If Mitchell makes the recommendation next September, the program could potentially see at least a year sliced off that sanction, which would mean the Nittany Lions would be eligible for the postseason — including the Big Ten championship game — following the 2014 regular season rather than the 2015 season.
A Mitchell recommendation to take a year off the bowl ban would likely, in essence, be rubber-stamped by both the NCAA and the school’s conference. How the former would respond to a Mitchell recommendation of cutting the ban in half is unclear.
Maybe the third time will be a charm for Cameron Echols-Luper?
On his personal Instagram account Wednesday, Echols-Luper revealed that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at Western Kentucky. According to the Bowling Green Daily News, the decision was made following a visit to the school earlier this week.
As a graduate transfer, the wide receiver will be eligible to play immediately in 2017 for the Hilltoppers. However, he has to finish up some schoolwork at his former school, Arkansas State, before officially moving on to WKU.
Echols-Luper began his collegiate career at TCU in 2013, transferring to ASU in 2015. After sitting out that season, he was third on the Red Wolves in receptions (26) and receiving yards (407). His 15.7 yards per reception was second on the team.
In early March, Noah Jefferson announced on Twitter that he would be transferring from USC to Arizona. Nearly five months later?
Wednesday, UA head coach Rich Rodriguez announced that Jefferson will not, as previously expected, be playing for the Wildcats this season. No reason for the abrupt and unexpected about-face was given.
The coach did, though, intimate that a future pairing between the player and the program isn’t out of the question.
Jefferson wouldn’t have been eligible to play in 2017 for the Wildcats even if his move to the desert had come to fruition. He would’ve, though, had two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018 at his disposal.
A four-star member of USC’s 2015 recruiting class, Jefferson played in 14 games, starting one of those, as a true freshman. After starting the season-opening loss to Alabama last season, Jefferson never played another down for USC.
For the first time since his unceremonious exit from Ole Miss, Hugh Freeze has spoken publicly. Somewhat.
In what was described as a brief interview with USA Today Sports Wednesday, the former Ole Miss head coach said his family and church have helped him get through the storm of the last few days. When asked if his family was standing by him, Freeze responded, “Oh, gosh, yeah.”
“God is good, even in difficult times,’’ Freeze told the website. “Wonderful wife and family, and that’s my priority.”
“I got some good friends,” the former head coach added.
The stunning news dropped last Thursday night that Freeze’s tenure as the head coach at Ole Miss had come to an end because of at least one call from his university-issued cell phone to a known escort service. While Freeze blamed the call on a misdial, the administration found a “pattern of misconduct” during a deep dive into his phone records, leading the school to confront the coach about the situation.
After meetings with Freeze Wednesday night and then again Thursday morning, it became apparent that, if he didn’t resign, the school was going to fire him.
Because of a moral turpitude clause in his contract, there was neither a buyout nor a settlement.
It appears Auburn has dodged what could’ve been a significant injury bullet.
Citing a person familiar with the situation, Brandon Marcello of the Auburn arm of 247Sports.com is reporting that Calvin Ashley underwent a procedure on one of his eyes recently. SECCountry.com described it as “a minor procedure”; both websites stated that the touted offensive tackle will be ready for the start of summer camp on July 31, this coming Monday.
The reports come a few days after Ashley posted a picture on social media of what appeared to be him in a hospital room.
The football program has not yet, at least publicly, addressed what if any type of health issue with which Ashley is dealing.
A five-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class, Ashley was rated as the No. 6 tackle in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in Washington D.C.; and the No. 27 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. Ashley was the highest-rated player in AU’s class this year, the only five-star recruit pulled in by Gus Malzahn and company this cycle.
The 6-6, 310-pound Ashley is expected to compete immediately for the starting job at left tackle.