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New House tax bill “will pull apart our system” says one athletic director


Politics and college sports have collided many times over the years but few could impact schools quite like the oncoming train that might be headed out of Washington, D.C. in the coming weeks and months.

The Republican-controlled House on Thursday passed a new tax bill that is cutting a reported $1.5 trillion on various things from corporate tax rates, the individual tax code to estate taxes. Tucked into the massive bill is one particularly interesting section which is directly aimed at college athletics, eliminating deductions on what were previously classified as charitable contributions for tickets to games.

ESPN caught up with several athletic directors this week and not surprisingly they were a little on edge at the potential changes and seem to think it’s a direct assault on the business model that currently exists.

“If that deduction goes away, what you will see is a dramatic sea change in the college sports landscape,” Duke athletic director Kevin White told the site. “We need to put speed bumps up now to slow this thing down, because I don’t think the politicians have any idea how much this will pull apart our system.”

“While we certainly do not know the exact repercussions, we expect that it would have a damaging effect,” Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne added. “The philanthropic support of donors is instrumental, and although the amount of contributions from institution to institution varies, it is of equal importance across the board when you look at financial structures. Very few college athletics programs actually make a profit. Take that funding away, and it will be difficult to operate without making dramatic changes.”

College sports, and football in particular, is already facing numerous concerns related to attendance at games and the fact that individuals could lose thousands of dollars in tax write-offs if the House bill is signed could be a huge issue going forward for everybody from Arkansas to Toledo to Wake Forest.

We’re still weeks, if not months, from everything coming to conclusion however, as a similar Senate bill (which ESPN says does not contain the same section on contributions) is expected to face some high hurdles to pass in a much tighter political situation — to say nothing of a potential conference committee on the resolutions. Still, college athletic directors formed a political action committee last year to lobby congress and it sounds like that group is going to be very busy with a fight that might be even bigger than a run to the national title for some programs.

Duke extends David Cutcliffe’s contract into 2021

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The Duke Blue Devils are all in on David Cutcliffe despite coming off a losing regular season for the first time since 2011. The Blue Devils announced a contract extension that will carry through the 2010 season. The contract is set to expire on June 30, 2021.

Terms of the contract other than the length have not been disclosed. Cutcliffe was paid $2.3 million by Duke last year, according to the USA Today contract database.

“Simply put, Duke University is terribly honored and very proud to have one of the truly pinnacle football coaches in the country leading the Blue Devil program into the next decade,” Duke Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White said in a released statement. “To be sure, what Coach Cutcliffe has accomplished over nine seasons at Duke is nothing short of extraordinary! With David’s innovation, vision, passion, not to mention well-seasoned expertise, our student-athletes will continue to enjoy, both academically and athletically, the very best – actually the ‘gold standard’ – experience within the broader enterprise that is college football.”

Cutcliffe took over as Duke’s head coach in 2008. Prior to Cutcliffe’s hiring, Duke had played in just two bowl games since 1961, one of which was coached by Steve Spurrier. While there are more bowl games today than ever before, that should not take away from Cutcliffe managing to get the Blue Devils to four straight bowl games from 2012 through 2015 before having a struggle in 2016 with just four wins. Cutcliffe has also coached Duke to the ACC Championship Game (2013). Despite the step back in the win total for the third straight year, nobody doubts Cutcliffe is the right man for the job in Durham.

Broken leg sidelines WVU’s second-leading receiver for rest of season

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West Virginia’s offense has taken a rather significant late-season hit.

Dana Holgorsen revealed that Ka’Raun White has a broken bone in his lower leg and will undergo surgery shortly to repair the damage.  The expected recovery time is 6-8 weeks, meaning the wide receiver will miss the remainder of the season.

The injury will sideline White for the regular-season finale against Baylor this weekend as well as WVU’s bowl game.

Holgorsen believes that White, the younger brother of former WVU and current Chicago Bears wide receiver Kevin White, will be fully recovered for the start of spring practice next year.

A junior, White’s 48 receptions and five receiving touchdowns are second on the Mountaineers.  His 583 yards are third on the team.