B1G backing for Pac-12 on autonomy push

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Since it’s one of those slow weekend days in the offseason, we figured we’d share a statement from the Big Ten.

In it, the (kinda) Midwest conference addresses the autonomy issue that SEC commissioner Mike Slive stumped for late this past week while also (again) dropping the “D-IV” thermonuclear option.  In said Sunday address, the Big Ten essentially locked arms with the Pac-12 and its letter last month urging the Power Five conferences — ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC — to make sweeping changes to the current NCAA athletic model, especially as it relates to football and men’s basketball.

While there was no direct secession talk in the Big Ten’s statement, there was certainly the hint that, as Slive stated Friday, all options would be considered if the NCAA steering committee and/or the Board of Directors vote thumbs down on the autonomy issue in August and fail send it to the full membership for a vote next January.

The statement comes at the conclusion of the June meeting of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C). That (very lengthy) statement appears below, in its entirety:

The Big Ten COP/C discussed a variety of important topics during its annual June meeting, while taking part in an open house and tour of the new conference office building in Rosemont, honoring outgoing presidents and welcoming new presidents. Key areas of discussion focused on NCAA restructuring, the need for autonomy for the 65 institutions comprising the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, and ensuring accountability for delivering reform. While the NCAA Board of Directors’ Steering Committee on Governance has made good progress in the area of autonomy, more work needs to be done as we seek to implement a 21st century governance structure that preserves the collegiate model while allowing each school to focus on improved student-athlete welfare.

As such, the COP/C discussed the recent letter shared by the Pac-12 presidents with their colleagues on May 14. The Big Ten has been engaged in substantive discussion over the last year on many of the principal objectives for reform referenced in the Pac-12 document, including concepts presented by Commissioner Delany to media last July in Chicago along with meetings and teleconferences in October, December and February. The majority of these objectives have long been supported by the Big Ten and its member institutions.

The Big Ten continues to strongly support full cost of attendance scholarships, reasonable on-going medical or insurance assistance to student-athletes, continued efforts to reduce the incidence of disabling injury, guaranteed scholarships to complete a bachelor’s degree, decreased time demands and enhanced time to fully engage in campus life, adjusted restrictions on preparing for careers based on advice and counsel of agents and a meaningful role in governance for student-athletes.

The COP/C also examined three other principal objectives for reform proposed by the Pac-12 presidents – strengthening the Academic Progress Rate (APR) requirements for post-season play, the “one and done” culture in men’s basketball and liberalizing current limits on transfer rules. While the concept of increasing APR requirements has not been discussed in the past, the Big Ten has long supported increased academic standards for all institutions. With respect to the issues of the “one and done” culture and transfer rules, the COP/C agrees that these are important issues that should be examined and addressed in cogent ways.

In addition to the substantive concepts raised in the Pac-12 letter, the conference continues to support certain procedural elements of governance restructuring including increased inclusion of faculty representatives, a voting process that does not set a bar so high that it prohibits change, and the ability to interpret and waive autonomous rules. The COP/C looks forward to further discourse on these topics with our colleagues in other conferences and Big Ten faculty, administrators, student-athletes and coaches, as we continue to discuss the best use of autonomy to give more than 9,500 conference student-athletes the support they deserve to best shape their future.

The COP/C also received an update on the traumatic brain injury (TBI) research collaboration between the conference, the Consortium on Intercollegiate Cooperation, and the Ivy League. The collaboration, begun in June 2012, continues to foster multi-institutional, cross-conference research efforts centered on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of TBI and sports concussion. The COP/C also reviewed the recently announced joint initiative for concussion research between the NCAA and Department of Defense, a $30 million initiative that will include research managed at three Big Ten institutions: Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Iowa LB Aaron Mends to miss extended time with injury

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Talk about a hard-luck story.

After never starting a game at Iowa, Aaron Mends (pictured, blocking punt) had earned a starting job at outside linebacker during practice this spring.  With football being the cruel mistress that it can be at times, the Hawkeyes announced Friday night that Mends “will miss an extended period of time due to injury.” The program offered no details as to the specific nature of the injury, although it’s believed to involve the knee.

According to the school’s release, the fifth-year senior suffered the injury during the final week of Iowa’s spring drills.

Mends was a three-star member of the Hawkeyes’ 2014 recruiting class.  He was the highest-rated linebacker in Iowa’s class that year.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Mends has played in 38 games the past three seasons.  A baker’s dozen of those appearances came during the 2017 season.

Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, James Franklin and Clay Helton among 15 CFB coaches attending NFL Draft

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We’re less than a week away from former college players officially finding out their new homes with the start of the 2018 NFL Draft and the excitement is palpable no matter if you’re a Cleveland Browns fan or somebody who dons the cardinal and gold of USC.

Naturally this is a big deal for the players’ former programs as well and their recent head coaches will be taking full advantage of the marketing opportunity to future recruits by stopping by the draft itself at AT&T Stadium for the festivities. The NFL released a list of 14 college football coaches and one recent one on Friday as being confirmed to attend the event and there are a few notable names beyond the big ones we’re used to seeing every year:

In addition, Stanford head coach David Shaw will serve as a draft analyst on NFL Network for a seventh year in a row and even ESPN’s College GameDay is getting involved with a pregame show outside the stadium they are quite familiar with from big games over the years.

Georgia DB Mark Webb tears meniscus in practice but expected back before fall camp

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Georgia’s injury luck this spring isn’t getting much better as the defending SEC champions move toward their annual G-Day spring game over the weekend.

Head coach Kirby Smart confirmed with reporters after Thursday’s practice that sophomore defensive back Mark Webb suffered a knee injury earlier in the week and tore his meniscus. He already had the knee scoped and is expected back before fall camp after the rather minor procedure.

Webb originally landed in Athens as a wideout but made the move to the secondary just as the season was getting going. He appeared in 13 games in 2017, mostly on special teams, but was expected to challenge for one of the starting spots at cornerback heading into the upcoming campaign.

The absence of Webb in the lineup for the final week of spring adds to a growing list of injuries for the team during practice as they do a little bit of roster building toward the future. Receiver Michael Chigbu’s career may be over due to lingering injuries and defensive back Divaad Wilson tore his ACL not long after enrolling this semester.

Safe to say that G-Day on Saturday might not be as physical as Smart and the coaching staff would otherwise like as a result of trying to keep the team healthy as they prepare to head into a big offseason.

Old Dominion announces remodel, expansion plans for S.B. Ballard Stadium

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Old Dominion is making sure the first word in the school’s name is not the first thing you think of when you are playing against the Monarchs, joining a long list of their FBS peers with some significant upgrades for their home venue over the coming years. In plans approved this week by the university, ODU released renderings and an updated timeline on a $65 million remodel of S.B. Ballard Stadium that is set to begin as soon as this summer.

“We are excited to begin Phase 1 reconstruction,” said Greg DuBois, the school’s vice president for administration and finance. “Fan comfort and high-quality amenities are the primary focus of this phase. The project will help us create the type of game-day experience fans want and will set us up for future expansions.”

The stadium, some 81-years-old, will undergo a nearly complete teardown over the next two years in order to transform the place most know as Foreman Field. Both the east and west stands will be demolished and rebuilt, complete with new seating and a new press box. There will naturally be more restrooms and concession stands as part of the plan that includes plenty more bells and whistles for the Conference USA program. Seating is expected to grow beyond 21,000 or so capacity the current venue seats.

While construction will get started in the coming months, the bulk of activity will take place after the 2018 campaign is wrapped up at home and before kickoff of the opener in 2019. The Virginian-Pilot reports that funding will not utilize state funds but that the school is requesting that the legislature approve an added $10 million to the cost structure as a result of rising prices beyond the original $55 million forecasted.

2018 will be just the 10th season for the Monarchs (and fifth in FBS) since the football program was reinstated and it goes without saying that the new digs will be some of the nicest in CUSA when all is said and done. Few programs have been able to successfully navigate the transition as well as ODU has and it seems an updated stadium in the near future is the reward for head coach Bobby Wilder and others in Norfolk.