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Jalen Hurd’s mom, stepdad address RB’s decision to transfer from Vols

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One of the more stunning personnel developments of the 2016 season unfolded Monday, with Tennessee ultimately confirming speculation that Jalen Hurd had decided to transfer from the Vols.  No reason was given for the unexpected and abrupt departure, although some had opined that the running back had been benched and that triggered his decision to abruptly leave with a month left in the regular season.

On social media Tuesday, Hurd’s stepfather, Arthur Smotherman, vehemently denied that the junior had been benched at any point in the season.  He also lashed out at the media, criticizing them for “[assuming] something is going on and they don’t know the truth so they begin a rumor.”

From The Tennessean:

The problem with the media is this, they assume something is going on and they don’t know the truth so they begin a rumor,” Arthur Smotherman said. “And the problem with fans are, they don’t get the truth, so they just take off with it. So, half of you on here have been saying, ‘Jalen needed to quit anyway because he got benched by the coaches, nobody wanted him there.’ That’s not true.”

At this moment, you guys need to know Jalen was never benched,” Arthur Smotherman said. “If you need to ask anybody on the inside resources, ask (Tennessee running backs) coach (Robert) Gillespie … him and coach Gillespie had a great relationship all the way til the day that Jalen decided he was leaving … coach Gillespie will tell you that Jalen was always a warrior and always gave his all on the field. So you can say what you want about him, that’s fine. But that rumor that he was benched and he’s just mad because (Alvin) Kamara and (John) Kelly had taken over, that’s not true.

In a Facebook post, Tara Smotherman, Hurd’s mother, indicated that she didn’t necessarily agree with her son’s decision to transfer but supported him regardless.

While it was not my choice for Jalen to leave Tennessee (and we were adamant about this), this is a decision that he put a lot of thought into and certainly did not take lightly. It is not my place to discuss his business and the reasons that he’s decided to transfer, but at the end of the day, he believed that it was best for everyone. People are mad, hurt and very upset, and I understand that. Yet, the reality is if you don’t know what he has been through or what he is going through now, then it is very easy to speculate & judge, make up lies & rumors, or heaven forbid, actually believe them.

Jalen has chosen a different path. We don’t always agree with our children’s decisions, but nevertheless, you love and support them through it all no matter what. Thank you to all of our family, friends and Vol supporters that were so kind to us today. We are so thankful and appreciative to the University of Tennessee, the coaching staff and the wonderful fans for all the love and support throughout the years. Many blessings and much success to you all.

Hurd currently leads the Vols in rushing with 451 yards.  He did not play in the Texas A&M game in Week 6 after what his stepfather claimed was a concussion sustained the week before against Georgia; the team had never mentioned such an injury publicly.  In what turned out to be his last game as a Vol, Hurd didn’t play in the second half of last week’s loss to South Carolina because of an unspecified injury.

At the time of his departure, Hurd was 445 yards away from breaking Travis Henry‘s school record for career rushing yards.  Instead, his 2,634 yards leaves him sixth place all-time.

NCAA considering changing transfer rules

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The NCAA’s Division I Council Transfer Working Group on Wednesday unleashed a set of suggestions that could either radically change or slightly tweak the way transfers are handled in college sports’ highest level.

Let’s start with the (possible) radical changes. The working group is considering a suggestion that would make all transfers immediately eligible, provided they hit certain academic benchmarks:

Establishing uniform transfer rules — which would require everyone to follow the same rules regardless of the sport they play — was a topic that the group agrees will likely take longer to resolve. While most members agreed the concept of uniformity would be positive, what the specific rules would be is less clear.

Members discussed two models: One model would require every transfer student to sit out a year to acclimate to a new school; the other would allow all transfers to play immediately provided they present academic credentials that predict graduation at the new institution.

Walking back from that, the working group did recommend changing the transfer process to where players seeking new destinations would no longer need their former school’s approval. Considering the NCAA formally argues its athletes are merely students, and there is no limit on normal students receiving financial aid upon transferring to a new institution, this change should pass without a word to the contrary. But, you know, the NCAA is the NCAA.

Group members believe financial aid should not be tied to whether a school grants permission to contact. They want to know if others in the membership feel the same way. The group also agreed that enhancements should be made to the formal process students use to notify a school of their desire to transfer. The group will seek input from the membership on appropriate enhancements.

To curb a possible spike in transfers, the working group suggested upping penalties for coaches caught tampering with scholarship athletes at other schools.

The group expressed interest in increasing the consequences for coaches who break recruiting rules to seek out undergraduate and potential graduate students. The working group will ask the Committee on Infractions and enforcement staff to review the concept and provide feedback.

Finally, the working group suggested adding academic accountability to the graduate transfer market by either making graduate transfers count against the 85-man scholarship limit for two years or tweaking the APR formula to up the impact graduate transfers’ academic progress has in the system.

One potential approach could be to require that the financial aid provided to graduate students count against a team’s scholarship limit for two years, regardless of whether the graduate student stays for two years or leaves when their eligibility is complete.

Another concept for increasing that accountability is through the Academic Progress Rate calculation, specifically the eligibility and retention points for which a student would be held accountable as they pursue a graduate degree. The Committee on Academics discussed the calculation and the working group plans to continue conversations on the topic.

“I am thrilled with the great progress made this week, and I’m confident we can move forward with some initial concepts for consideration in this year’s legislative cycle,” South Dakota State AD and working group chair Justin Sell said in a statement. “We are working toward academics-based, data-driven decisions that benefit student-athletes, teams and schools.”

Any changes proposed by the working group are merely suggestions. The earliest any proposals could be voted on would be April 2018.

Michigan WR Grant Perry pleads guilty to felony resisting of a police officer

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Michigan wide receiver Grant Perry on Wednesday pleaded guilty to resisting of a police officer in a Lansing, Mich., court, according to the Lansing State Journal. The charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

Perry also pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of assault and battery, but did so to avoid two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and one alcohol charge.

The case stemmed from an October incident in which Perry was accused of groping a female outside an East Lansing bar. (The Wolverines were off that weekend.) A Michigan State student said Perry “started licking his lips and smiling and pushing his chest up against her chest” before groping her.

Police were called to the scene, and Perry attempted to escape.

“When (police) arrived on scene, we tried to grab onto him, and we had to chase him,” East Lansing P.D. spokesman Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth said at the time. “In the midst of that fracas, one of our officers suffered a minor hand injury.”

Prosecutor Christina Johnson said Wednesday she has not ruled out sentencing Perry under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, which, pending Perry’s completion of certain requirements, would wipe Wednesday’s conviction from his record by his 24th birthday.

In the meantime, Perry has been suspended by Michigan but has since resumed practicing with the team. Jim Harbaugh has said Perry will not play for the Wolverines until his case is resolved, which it will be by the time Michigan opens the season against Florida on Sept. 2. Sentencing for the case is set for Aug. 2.

Eastern Michigan extends Chris Creighton through 2022

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Eastern Michigan has extended head coach Chris Creighton through 2022, the school has announced.

“I feel as though we have made progress all the way through,” Creighton said in a statement. “The vision of making the football program a real source of pride for the department, the university, the alumni, we are making progress, but that vision has not been realized yet.

“So I’m really excited about our program and the Championship Building Plan. There is a lot of momentum going on right now.”

Creighton is 10-27 in three seasons as the Eagles’ head coach, but that mark obscures the progress EMU made in his third season. After starting 3-21, Eastern Michigan rocketed to a 7-6 mark in 2016 with a Bahamas Bowl trip, the school’s first postseason appearance since 1987.

The new deal raises Creighton’s base salary by 2.5 percent, according to MLive. He made a total of $434,840 in 2016, according to the USA Today coaching salary database.

Beer sales approved for Marshall home football games

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Let the beer taps start flowing at the next home Marshall football game. The University announced today that beer sales at Joan C. Edwards Stadium have been approved by the Board of Governors starting this fall.

This is the latest decision in an evolving stance on alcohol sales at Marshall. Last year, the school began expanding the sale of alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine from the Big Green Room to chairback seating. Now, the majority of fans attending a football game in Huntington will be able to purchase alcohol. The expanded alcohol sales plan will help to build the infrastructure of Marshall’s facilities moving forward.

“This is a continuation of our goal to provide more amenities for our fan base that makes attending Marshall Football games a more enjoyable experience,” Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick said in a released statement. “We have played a lot of winning football in our stadium over the past five years and we have great opponents such as Pittsburgh, Boise State, North Carolina State, and Navy just to name a few over the next five years, and it is imperative that the investment in our fan experience matches our football brand.”

Marshall will keep some sections of the football stadium free of alcohol for those fans who wish not to be near the booze-loaded fans.

The announcement was coupled with some other stadium news regarding the future renovation plans for the football stadium. Construction on the west side of the stadium should be completed by August, in time for the start of the 2017 college football season. The southwest side of the stadium will have a new retail location for fans.