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.

Minnesota losing CB Ken Handy-Holly to transfer

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Heading into spring practice, Minnesota will find its defensive secondary a bit thinner than it was when the curtain fell on the 2017 season.

A school spokesperson confirmed to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Ken Handy-Holly has been granted a release from his scholarship. 247Sports.com had previously reported that the safety was looking to transfer to be closer to family in Jackson, Ala.

A three-star member of the Gophers’ 2017 recruiting class, Handy-Holly was rated as the No. 38 safety in the country and the No. 28 player at any position in the state of Alabama. Only one signee in Minnesota’s class that year, offensive tackle Blaise Andries, was rated higher than Handy-Holly.

Because of injuries, Handy-Holly was pressed into action as a true freshman. He made his collegiate debut in a Sept. 30 loss to Maryland, and went on to play eight games total this past season.

In that action, Handy-Holly was credited with 12 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Arkansas QB Cole Kelley pleads guilty to DWI

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An off-field situation for one playing member of the Arkansas football program that began during the 2017 regular season has taken yet another step toward winding its way to a conclusion.

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Cole Kelley pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving while intoxicated.  While the quarterback was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 89 of those days were suspended while he was given credit for time served for the other.  Additionally, the Democrat-Gazette wrote, the 20-year-old Kelley “was also ordered to complete an alcohol safety class and pay $720 in fines and court costs.”

Kelley was arrested for DWI and reckless driving in November of last year. A day after the arrest, Kelley was indefinitely suspended by the football program and missed UA’s Week 12 game; he was subsequently reinstated after serving what amounted to a one-game suspension.

Austin Allen started the first five games of the 2017 season before going down with a shoulder injury. Kelley replaced him and started the next four, with a healthy Allen returning to his starting role for the remainder of the year.

On the season, Kelley completed almost 58 percent of his 151 passes for 1,038 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions.  The rising redshirt sophomore is expected to compete for the starting job in 2018 under new head coach Chad Morris.

Report: Steve Spurrier Jr. leaving WKU for job at Wazzu

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With coaching holes throughout his Washington State staff to fill thanks to significant offseason poaching, Mike Leach has added a very famous college football surname.  Reportedly.

According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Steve Spurrier Jr. is leaving Western Kentucky to take a job under Leach at Wazzu.  The son of College Football Hall of Famer Steve Spurrier just completed his first season as the Hilltoppers’ quarterbacks coach.  He also held the title of assistant head coach under Mike Sanford.

It’s unclear what specific title Spurrier Jr. will hold at Wazzu.

Prior to his one season at WKU, and one season as an off-field staffer at Oklahoma, Spurrier Jr. had been an assistant on his father’s South Carolina staff for 11 seasons.  During his time with the Gamecocks, he served at various points as wide receivers coach (2005-15), passing-game coordinator (2009-11) and co-offensive coordinator (2012-15).

Spurrier Jr., who played wide receiver at Duke, has also spent time during his coaching career as receivers coach at Oklahoma (1999-2001) and with the Washington Redskins (2002-03).

Ex-Texas All-Big 12 defensive tackle takes DL coaching job at Baylor

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Baylor’s latest coaching addition is a very familiar name in the state of Texas.

BU confirmed Wednesday evening that Frank Okam has been added to Matt Rhule‘s coaching staff.  Okam, who was a Freshman All-American and two-time All-Big 12 defensive tackle at Texas from 2004-07, will coach the Bears’ defensive line.

“Frank is a living embodiment of everything the young men in our program should want to accomplish,” the head coach said in a statement. “He’s a college graduate, an All-American, a Big 12 champion, a national champion, a NFL draft pick and then he continued life after football earning his master’s degree from Rice and is now one of the top young football coaches in the country.

“We are excited to have Coach Okam on staff and for him to mentor our defensive line group and help take them to the next level.”

The 32-year-old Okam, who went to high school in Dallas, spent the past four seasons at Rice, the last two as the Owls’ line coach.  This will mark Okam’s first coaching job at a Power Five program.