Report: 22% of athletic departments have oversight of sex crime investigations at schools

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NCAA President Mark Emmert was one of the witnesses for what turned out to be an informative and constructive Senate committee hearing regarding the mix of collegiate athletics and academics. Emmert at times was on the receiving end of some valid criticisms of the NCAA, many of which Emmert confirmed are in the process of being addressed by the NCAA membership in the coming months, but he survived the afternoon hearing in one piece. There was most certainly a healthy of dose of politicians getting on their soapbox during their time slots in the schedule, which was to be expected.

One of the more striking revelations during the Senate committee hearing on Wednesday was when Missouri senator Claire McCaskill drilled into Emmert, asking why his position even exists and whether or not he is a leader or a minion of university presidents. The Senator was armed with data from a brand new report, conveniently published today by McCaskill’s office, which claimed 22 percent of the athletic departments in the country allow athletic departments to have oversight of investigations relating to sexual crimes allegedly committed by student-athletes. Only 34 percent of schools surveyed have an office on campus designed to assist victims of sexual abuse.

According to the details of the comprehensive study, 30 percent of public universities allow athletic departments to have oversight of any investigations tied to sexual crimes involving student-athletes. That is eight percent higher than the national sample (22 percent). McCaskill discussed the report’s findings while addressing concern over recent investigations around college football, singling out the Jameis Winston case at Florida State.

“We will never know if he was guilty or not because of who he is,” McCaskill said referring to Winston, addressing her concern over star players being able to escape justice. Winston was never charged with a crime by state authorities, and Florida State University’s own investigation failed to find a reason to punish the star quarterback. Of course, state authorities did not charge Winston with any crime either, which McCaskill neglected to mention.

The percentage of athletic departments with oversight on sex-related investigations is higher for medium-sized schools with an enrollment between 1,000 and 9,999 students, where 37 percent of the athletic departments having oversight authority. Division two schools, many falling within that previous range, have the highest percentage, with 48 percent of the schools having oversight privileges for athletic departments. Part of the reason for the higher numbers for medium-sized schools and D2 schools may be due to the available staff for schools of that size. With smaller schools to manage, the need for expanded staffing may not be as necessary, but eery institution is different.

So is this an alarming problem? That may be up for debate, and that debate may just be getting underway. You can read the full report and evaluate all of the data and come to your own conclusions. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Arkansas State stadium expansion includes pair of waterfalls

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The college athletics’ arms race of the past few decades has produced a number of unique designs when it comes to various stadiums and other football-centric facilities. Just about everybody is trying to hang their hat on something new and different to set themselves apart from the crowd and that ethos is seemingly creeping into just about every design element in any new building across the country.

Arkansas State appears to be the latest program to go in this direction and, based on new renderings of a north end zone project for Centennial Bank Stadium that were released on Thursday, the school is perfectly content to ignore TLC’s advice and start chasing actual waterfalls.

“This project will allow us to attract the top students in the country and provide first-class services to develop our students on and off the playing surfaces,” athletic director Terry Mohajir said in a statement on the school’s website for the project. “Additionally, we’ve created a unique feature to pay homage to the great state of Arkansas, the Natural State.”

This is far from the only water feature to be incorporated into a stadium in recent years (Jacksonville’s EverBank Field — home to the annual Florida-Georgia game — has a pool after all) but is a little bit outside the box for a smaller FBS school’s stadium. The two waterfalls are set to be placed on either side of the north end zone grandstand and include a new outdoor premium seating area as well. Also included in the project are a new weight room, a training/rehabilitation area, new football locker room, position meeting rooms, a players’ lounge, academic rooms and team-theater meeting area.

No cost breakdown or timeline were given but safe to say the former will involve millions of dollars and the latter will result in several years passing before the water is flowing in Jonesboro.

Virginia stays in-house to fill coaching void

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Bronco Mendenhall didn’t have to look far to find someone to fill the hole on his Virginia coaching staff.

The football program announced in a press release that Mendenhall has promoted Vic So’oto (pictured, No. 37) to defensive line coach.  Last season, his first with the Cavaliers, So’oto, who played his college football for Mendenhall at BYU from 2005-10, served as a graduate assistant.

So’oto replaces Ruffin McNeill, who left Charlottesville earlier this month for a spot on Lincoln Riley‘s staff at Oklahoma.

“Vic was Ruffin’s understudy for the last year-and-a-half,” Mendenhall said in a statement. “He was my very first commitment at BYU when I became the head coach. He was a very good player for us and someone who has experience playing in the NFL.

“He’s very passionate. He is very knowledgeable about defensive football and our system. He knows the defensive line play in our system, inside and out. He’s a great teacher and fits perfectly and seamlessly into this position because he was taught and mentored by Ruff this past year. Our defensive front won’t miss a beat.”

Kerry Coombs adds assistant DC to Ohio State coaching responsibilities

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Heading into the 2017 season, Kerry Coombs will have an additional title on his coaching résumé.

Ohio State announced Thursday that Coombs has been promoted to assistant coordinator, defense, by Urban Meyer.  Coombs will retain his titles of special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach as well.

Greg Schiano will remain in his role as defensive coordinator.

“Kerry Coombs is absolutely deserving of this promotion to assistant coordinator, defense,” the head coach said in a statement. “He is an outstanding coach, instructor and mentor to the young men in this program. He is one of the best recruiters in the nation. He is incredibly loyal, and we at Ohio State are very fortunate that he loves this school and loves being a Buckeye.”

Coombs will be entering his sixth season with the Buckeyes, one of two assistants, the other being wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who have been with Meyer all five of his seasons in Columbus.

The past two years, three of Coombs’ corners — Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley in 2017, Eli Apple in 2016 — have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Another, Bradley Roby, was taken in the first round of the 2014 draft.

Frank Kush, winningest coach in Arizona State history, dies at age 88

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The most famous head coach in the history of Arizona State athletics has passed.

The university confirmed Thursday that the legendary Frank Kush died earlier in the day of unknown causes.  He was 88 years old.

After finishing his collegiate playing career at Michigan State and a stint in the Army, Kush’s first job in coaching was as the line coach for the Sun Devils in 1955.  When Dan Devine left to become the head coach at Missouri in December of 1957, Kush was promoted to head coach.

Kush spent the next 21½ years as the head coach at ASU, leading the Sun Devils to a 176-54-1 mark that included seven Western Athletic Conference championships.  The wins are the most in the football program’s history; in fact, he’s the only coach in the school’s history who has accumulated more than 60 wins during his time in Tempe.

From 1969-73, Kush’s ASU squads won five straight WAC titles.  They lost just six games total in that span against 51 wins.  In 1975, they went a 12-0, capping off the second perfect season under Kush with a win over Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl.

In part because of Kush’s on-field success with the Sun Devils, ASU began play in the then-Pac-12 conference in 1978.

Kush’s tenure at the school ended in controversy, however, as he was fired in the middle of the 1979 season after a player accused the coach of mental and physical abuse in a September lawsuit.  The coach was ultimately fired because the university accused him of hindering the investigation into the allegations.