Report: Sexual battery charges lead to Miami dismissing two players

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Miami is acting quickly in response to two players being charged for sexual battery. Linebackers JaWand Blue and Alexander Figueroa were arrested on sexual battery charges on Tuesday. The two were quickly reported to be dismissed from the football team by head coach Al Golden.

The Associated Press reported the two linebackers each face charges for sexual battery on a physically helpless victim. On top of that, Figueroa was charged with possession of a stolen or forged driver’s license. Details about the incident are still being confirmed at this time, so there could be much more to this story soon enough.

Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com reported via Twitter the two players were dismissed from the program on Tuesday. To be dismissed so quickly by a program may speak volumes about the legitimacy of the charges and the situation. Typically an indefinite suspension is the first move b a program, but Golden and the Hurricanes struck quickly with a full dismissal.

Both players played mostly a back-up role for the Hurricanes last season, although Figueroa started two games at outside linebacker earlier in the season.

UPDATE (1:54 p.m.): Miami athletics director Blake James has issued a statement about the dismissal of the two players. It reads as follows;

“Earlier today, I permanently dismissed Jawand Blue and Alexander Figueroa from the UM football team. The University has also suspended the students from school and barred them from all campus facilities while the University conducts an internal investigation and continues to cooperate with local law enforcement.

“Any allegation of a sexual assault is extremely serious, and the University will not tolerate conduct that threatens the sanctity and safety of our students and our campus. We hold all of our students — especially student athletes — to the highest standards of moral conduct. The University is committed to maintaining a safe campus environment for all.”

According to the Miami Herald, the alleged victim reported the crime to University of Miami police. Coral Gables police then handled the investigation and made the arrests. Figueroa and Blue admitted to police to buying the victim drinks, escorting the victim back to Figueroa’s dorm and then performing sexual acts without consent.

University of Miami president Donna Shalala issued a statement as well, confirming she has spoken to the victim and assured the victim this will be handled appropriately. Her statement reads as follows;

“The safety and welfare of our students is fundamental to our mission as a university. We have zero tolerance for sexual assault and gender-based violence,” Shalala said in her statement. “There is no confusion about our responsibility as a university: We will fully and compassionately support the victim of sexual assault. I have spoken to her myself and reassured her of our full support.

“We have suspended the men involved, and they have been barred from campus. Our athletic director has taken firm action ending their involvement in the football program. We have notified the individuals involved that the university is beginning an investigation immediately, which we expect to conclude quickly and fairly. We will also continue to cooperate with the police in their ongoing criminal investigation.” 

Foot injury could sideline Auburn’s Tashawn Manning for rest of spring

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After kicking cancer’s ass, this latest health issue hardly qualifies as a big deal.  Still, it’s a thing.

Tashawn Manning has been battling an unspecified foot injury of late, which has limited the defensive tackle’s availability for most of the first two-thirds of Auburn’s spring practice sessions.  With just five practices remaining, Manning could very well be sidelined for al of them.

“The problem is this is Day 9 and Saturday will be Day 11, so there’s a probability” that the player will not see the field for what remains of spring practice, Manning’s position coach, Rodney Garner, said according to al.com.

Around Thanksgiving of 2015, Manning, then an Auburn verbal commit, was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia.  In July of last year, he was finished with chemotherapy and declared cancer-free.

The defensive lineman didn’t play at all last season, instead taking online classes as he built up his strength as well as his weight after losing more than 60 pounds because of the chemo.  In January, he enrolled at AU and, two months later, was cleared to participate in the spring.

Suspended Mich. St. staffer receives one-MONTH contract extension

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A disturbing situation in East Lansing has added a head-scratching twist.

According to ESPN.com, and by way of a Freedom of Information request, Michigan State football staffer Curtis Blackwell was on the receiving end of a one-month contract extension earlier this month.  Blackwell, whose title with the football program is director of college advancement and performance, was set to see his contract expire at the end of this week.

What makes this development noteworthy is that Blackwell has been indefinitely suspended by the Spartans since early February.

Around that time, it was confirmed by the university that three still-unnamed MSU football players had been suspended after allegations of sexual assault were made against them last month.  An unnamed football staffer was suspended at the time as well; that staffer was subsequently identified as Blackwell.

A police investigation, as well as a Title IX probe, into the allegations continue.  Blackwell is not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault, but rather a non-sexual crime that’s connected to the investigation.

Mark Dantonio hadn’t spoken publicly about the allegations until earlier this week, and the head coach probably would’ve been better served to have kept it that way.

A&M, UCLA both add New Mexico to future schedules

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Texas A&M and UCLA announced Wednesday that their 2017 opener had been moved from Saturday to Sunday.  As it turns out, that wasn’t the only scheduling news connecting the two football programs.

As part of a release announcing seven games being added to its future schedules, New Mexico confirmed that two of those contests will include A&M and UCLA.  Both of those games, obviously, will be on the road, with the Lobos traveling to College Station Sept. 18, 2021, and to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl Sept. 13, 2025.

In its release, the school wrote that “[t]he game in College Station has a guarantee of $1,100,000 and 450 complementary tickets,” while “[t]he game in Pasadena has a guarantee of $1,200,000 plus 2,000 complementary tickets that UNM can sell for extra revenue.”

The last and only time New Mexico and UCLA squared off was in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl, a 27-13 win for the Bruins.  UNM and A&M actually completed a home-and-home series relatively recently, with the Aggies winning both games played in the 2008 (28-22) and 2009 (41-6) seasons.

In addition to the future Power Five games, a continuation of the long-running rivalry with UTEP will be extended.  UNM will play in El Paso in 2021, then host UTEP in 2022.  Those two games will mark the 79th and 80th contests in the regional rivalry.

Michigan State, Washington round out future schedules with Utah State

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Needing to fill a single spot in some future schedules, both Michigan State and Washington have come calling to the Mountain West for an opponent. Utah State was happy to oblige.

Michigan State will host Utah State on September 1, 2018. The Aggies will travel to Washington on September 19, 2020. For their travels, Utah State will collect $2.9 million between the two games, according to FBScheduels.com ($1.4 million from Michigan State, $1.5 million from Washington).

The Big Ten and Pac-12 each use nine-game conference schedules, leaving three spots open for non-conference games. The Big Ten requires all conference members schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent (the Pac-12 has no such requirement of its members at this time), although exceptions are made. Utah State, as a member of the Mountain West Conference, would not satisfy that requirement for the Big Ten, but the Spartans already have a road game against Arizona State (Pac-12) on the schedule in 2018. Michigan State and Arizona State will play again in 2019 in East Lansing. Michigan State also has future power conference matchups with Notre Dame (2017, 2026, 2027) and Miami (2020, 2021). Michigan State will also play BYU in 2020 in Provo.

Washington has future power conference matchups with Rutgers (2017), Auburn (2018, in Atlanta), and Michigan (2020, 2021). The Huskies will also face Mountain West Competition from Fresno State (2017), Hawaii (2019), and Nevada (2027).

Utah State will face power conference opponents on the road in 2017 (Wisconsin, Wake Forest), 2018 (Michigan State), 2019 (Wake Forest, LSU), 2020 (Washington), and 2021 (Washington State). Utah State will also host Washington State in 2020 as part of a home-and-home deal. Utah State also has an annual series against BYU running through 2020.