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Arkansas pushes SEC spring game attendance past 500,000

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The Arkansas Razorbacks were the last of the SEC teams to wrap up their spring football practice schedule this weekend. That meant the hogs had a chance to push the SEC’s nation-leading spring game attendance number past the 500,000 mark with a solid turnout for the spring game. Arkansas reported a spring attendance of 30,546 on Saturday, which took the SEC’s spring attendance figure to 508,994 to cap the spring.

Georgia led all SEC schools with a packed house of 93,000 for its spring game, which featured a concert by Ludacris for the fans (and recruits, definitely for the recruits). Georgia dethroned Alabama from the top spot, where the Crimson Tide had been the previous two years, but Alabama did record its highest spring attendance in that time frame with 76,212 fans coming out to see the defending national champions in action. Tennessee, a perennial strong spring draw, reported a crowd of 67,027.

Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, and South Carolina all saw an increase in spring game attendance this year (Kentucky and Texas A&M also recorded attendance figures after not holding spring games in 2015). These five schools combined for an increase of 96,569 fans this spring. That helped counter a downward attendance trend at Auburn and some other mild drops around the conference. Ole Miss did not hold a spring game due to stadium renovations.

The SEC’s total attendance number easily outpaced the number pulled in by the Big Ten, which finished in a firm second place in spring game attendance this season after edging the SEC last spring. The Big Ten’s total spring attendance of 376,049 was pushed by Ohio State’s record-setting 100,189 fans for the Buckeyes’ spring game, which was complimented by the usual respectable crowds at Nebraska and Penn State as well as a program record turnout for Michigan State. The Big Ten’s spring attendance eclipsed the 400,000-fan mark last spring but failed to hit that number this season. Part of that is because Michigan saw a drop-off in the second spring game under Jim Harbaugh by moving from a traditional Saturday afternoon to a Friday night (25,000 fewer fans than 2015) and four Big Ten schools (Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota and Northwestern) not reporting a spring attendance compared to three last year.

The SEC saw a reported 482,762 fans attend spring games in 2014, which was impressive enough considering Texas A&M was unable to hold a spring game due to ongoing renovations to Kyle Field. The SEC’s official attendance number dipped to 408, 566, which again was held back by Texas A&M being unable to hold a spring game due to the renovation project but also because Kentucky did not hold a spring game.

The ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 still have spring attendance numbers to confirm, but there is no chance any of the other three power conferences will come close to rivaling the SEC or the Big Ten. The ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 are all projected to fall under 200,000 fans this spring, although the ACC may come the closest depending on pending results from this past weekend that have yet to be confirmed.

You can see an updated database of spring game attendance on this Google doc, which is updated periodically.

Second ex-Baylor football player arrested for 2013 gang rape

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For the second time in as many days, a former Baylor football player has been arrested for his connection to an alleged gang rape in 2013., according to The Dallas Morning NewsMyke Chatman, a former Baylor running back, was arrested Thursday by U.S. Marshals for suspected gang rape of a female Baylor student one day after former Baylor teammate Tre'Von Armstead was arrested and charged for the same incident.

Chatman and Armstead had previously been suspected of rape in 2013 but no charges were dropped at the time after the alleged victim chose not to pursue legal action against the football players. The woman filed charges against Baylor University in January and has since reached a settlement with the university. However, information from the lawsuit led to more information being revealed and shared with the authorities to contribute to ongoing investigations since these issues have been brought back to life in recent years.

Armstead was arrested for the second time this month, with the most recent arrest related to this 2013 incident. Earlier in March, Armstead was arrested for domestic battery, resisting arrest and damaging a police vehicle.

Report: LSU DL Isaiah Washington ruled ineliegible for spring

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Sophomore defensive end Isaiah Washington has been ruled ineligible for the spring practice season at LSU, according to Ross Dellenger of The Advocate.

Washington was a four-star recruit in LSU’s Class of 2015. The New Orleans native appeared in six games for the Tigers as a freshman. Washington did not play in the 2016 season due to a knee injury suffered in the summer. He was slated to be a backup linebacker and defensive end in 2016 prior to the injury. It is expected to be a backup option for LSU’s defensive line with all four starters back this season.

Ex-Baylor player Sam Ukwuachu has sexual assault conviction overturned by appeals court

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Former Baylor and Boise State football player Sam Ukwuachu has had his conviction for sexual assault overturned, but he is far from free just yet. The 10th Couth of Appeals in Texas overturned a sexual assault conviction on Thursday and is sending the case back to district court for a brand new trial.

The Court of Appeals determined phone evidence used by the prosecution was improperly used and attained.

“In six issues, Ukwuachu complains that the trial court erred by allowing the State to reference the cell phone records of his roommate during its cross-examination of his roommate and his roommate’s friend, that the indictment was defective, that evidence of an extraneous offense was improperly admitted, that his due process rights were violated due to an abuse of the grand jury process by the State, and that text messages between the victim and a friend of hers the night of the alleged offense were improperly excluded,” an elaborate ruling from the Court of Appeals explained. “Because we find that the trial court erred by disallowing the admission of evidence … we reverse the judgment of conviction and remand this proceeding for a new trial.”

“While I respect the 10th Court of Appeals, I disagree with their decision and reasoning in this case,” McLennan County District Attorney Abelk Reyna said upon learning of the appeal decision. “I am extremely confident in the decisions made by our prosecutors and the rulings made by Judge Johnson in the trial of this case.”

Ukwuachu transferred from Boise State to Baylor after being dismissed by the Broncos program in 2013, reportedly following a case of depression in Boise. Boise State denied any knowledge of Ukwuachu’s violence toward women when he was with the program, which was prompted by comments from former Baylor head coach Art Briles. Former Boise State head coach Chris Petersen did claim to have informed Briles of Ukwuachu’s violent past.

Ukwuachu was found guilty and sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years probation for rape in August 2015.

The alleged victim of Ukwuachu has already settled a lawsuit with Baylor.

Arkansas state senate votes to revise concealed gun law to prevent guns in football stadiums

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One day after Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill to allow concealed guns to be carried into football stadiums, the state senate voted to make an exemption to block guns on game day.

The house bill that was signed into law by the governor this week would have allowed those with proper training to be allowed to bring a concealed handgun into an otherwise restricted area such as a football stadium. The bill overruled any stadium policies banning weapons as well, but that will no longer be the case.

According to the Associated Press, the Arkansas state senate voted 22-10 in favor of an exemption to the rule that would uphold a weapons ban in football stadiums throughout the state. The law will still allow those with the proper training to carry a concealed handgun on college campuses, in bars and government buildings, but football stadiums are off limits.

The amended bill still must pass through the House of Representatives in Arkansas.