With a vote on autonomy coming up, conferences that could benefit from the extra benefits have been making it a point to plan ahead and prepare for wat will be done with those extra powers once they become available. The Big Ten, a conference with some of the deepest pockets in the country, is ready to take full advantage and is getting a jump-start on the situation by endorsing the use of four-year scholarships as well as other benefits for student-athletes.
The Big Ten’s presidents and chancellors (including the leaders at Rutgers and Maryland) released a statement Tuesday addressing the Ed O’Bannon vs. NCAA antitrust trial, which saw commissioner Jim Delany take the witness stand on Friday. In the statement the leaders of the Big Ten’s membership outlined ways the conference intends to work with the NCAA to provide greater benefits to student-athletes. The highlight was the support for four-year scholarships, which the Pac-12’s USC announced would be made available starting July 1.
This, from the Big Ten statement;
- We must guarantee the four-year scholarships that we offer. If a student-athlete is no longer able to compete, for whatever reason, there should be zero impact on our commitment as universities to deliver an undergraduate education. We want our students to graduate.
- If a student-athlete leaves for a pro career before graduating, the guarantee of a scholarship remains firm. Whether a professional career materializes, and regardless of its length, we will honor a student’s scholarship when his or her playing days are over. Again, we want students to graduate.
- We must review our rules and provide improved, consistent medical insurance for student-athletes. We have an obligation to protect their health and well-being in return for the physical demands placed upon them.
- We must do whatever it takes to ensure that student-athlete scholarships cover the full cost of a college education, as defined by the federal government. That definition is intended to cover what it actually costs to attend college.
Few conferences have the resources the Big Ten has, even among the power conferences. The Big Ten has been splitting some of the top revenues among conferences since adding the Big Ten Network, and with the additions of Maryland and Rutgers the network revenue could be projected to increase in the coming years as well.
The Big Ten is not the first conference to come out and support full cost scholarships, but the Big Ten is one of the few that should be able to make it a reality for all sooner rather than later.
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.
Thanks to how they finished the 2016 season, USC is getting substantial preseason love heading into the 2017 season. Not surprisingly, that affection continued Wednesday.
At the Pac-12 Media Days Wednesday, 28 of the 52 media members covering the conference picked USC to win the league’s title this season. Another 22 picked reigning champion Washington to defend its title, while there was one vote each for Oregon and Utah.
Both USC and UW received 49 first-place votes when it comes to winning the South and North divisions, respectively. Oregon, Stanford and Washington State received one first-place vote each to win the North Division, while Colorado, UCLA and Utah received the same for the South crown.
Also of note from the opening of media days:
- The Pac-12 Championship Game will remain at Levi’s Stadium through the 2019 season, with an option for 2020 as well. The home of the San Francisco 49ers has been the venue for the conference’s last two title games. New NFL stadiums in Inglewood and Las Vegas will be options beyond that.
- Halftime of games broadcasted on Pac-12 Networks will be reduced from 20 minutes to 15. In an attempt to further shorten the length of games, commercial breaks during those games will be reduced as well. “We are trying to be progressive and experiment with ways to manage the game presentation through a reduction of TV timeouts and some of the 30-second commercial spots,” commissioner Larry Scott said as the league targets three hours as the ideal game time.
- The conference has centralized its replay reviews for all 12 teams this season after experimenting with centralization for two teams in 2016.
What was rumored a few months ago has been confirmed.
In early February, USC announced that an unspecified code of conduct issue had led the football program to indefinitely suspend Matt Boermeester. At the time, reports had an incident involving the placekicker’s ex-girlfriend as the trigger for the suspension, although no details surrounding that situation were released.
Fast-forward to late July, and the school officially confirmed that Boermeester is no longer a Trojan.
“Boermeester… won’t return because of a student code of conduct issue,” the football program wrote in its preseason notes package.
In his first season as USC’s starting kicker last year, Boermeester connected on 75 percent of his 25 field goal attempts and all but one of his 54 point afters. His 46-yard field goal with no time left on the clock pushed USC past Penn State in an epic comeback win in the Rose Bowl.
The 18 field goals on which Boermeester connected in 2016 were one shy of tying the school’s single-season record.
Michael Brown is the only other kicker currently listed on USC’s online roster. Brown has yet to attempt a kick at the collegiate level.