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Western Michigan’s leading tackler decides against a transfer, returns to Broncos

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That whole thing about Western Michigan’s most productive player on the defensive side of the football leaving the program? Never mind.

In very late February, WMU announced that Robert Spillane (pictured) had asked for and been granted a release from his scholarship in order to transfer to another school.  It was thought at the time that the linebacker could be following his former head coach, P.J. Fleck, to Minnesota; the Gophers subsequently self-reported a minor violation to the NCAA regarding Fleck’s contact with one of his unnamed former players.

Wednesday, Spillane’s transfer plans were reversed as Fleck’s replacement, Tim Lester, confirmed that the junior has rejoined the Broncos football team.  His official return, it should be noted, had to be approved by the team’s leadership council, the team as a whole as well as the coaching staff — and it was unanimously given a thumbs-up by all involved.

“We’ve been texting throughout the whole process of when he was away,” the head coach said according to mlive.com. “I was hoping he was doing alright. He came in and I met with him and he told me he wanted to come back and join the guys and that he felt terrible about his time away.”

Last season, Spillane led the Broncos in tackles with 111 — next closest was Asantay Brown‘s 95 — while he was second in tackles for loss with 10.5 and tied for third in sacks with three. His three interceptions were tied for second as well. The last of those three picks came at the end of the MAC championship game that helped seal WMU’s win over Ohio.

The past three seasons, Spillane started 28 games for the Broncos. He started all 14 games last season.

Indiana won’t accept any player with history of sexual or domestic violence

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One Big Ten school is following in the SEC’s footsteps — and blazing its own path on top of it.

In April of 2015, the SEC voted to ban member institutions from accepting transfers who had been disciplined for serious misconduct at his previous school, with that defined as sexual assault, sexual violence and domestic violence.  In June of 2016, that same conference announced that it will be expanding its existing policy to include “dating violence, stalking or conduct of a nature that creates serious concern about the safety of others.”

According to the Indianapolis Star, Indiana has enacted a similar policy, with the Big Ten school barring a transfer from another institution from enrolling “who has been convicted of or pleaded guilty or no contest to a felony involving sexual violence.” Sexual violence is defined by the school as “dating violence, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or sexual violence as defined by the Indiana University policy on sexual misconduct.”

IU’s policy also significantly expands on what the SEC’s current policy is, as not only transfers but “incoming freshmen” are a part of the ban as well.

“I think it’s new ground,” athletic director Fred Glass told the Star. “My hope is that we’re leading in this area, and maybe others will follow with, maybe not the exact same policy, but one that fits their particular institutions.”

The university also ensured that any appeals would be handled “outside the athletic department.” From the paper’s report:

It includes an appellate process, Glass said, acknowledging that “there’s always a chance that there’s going to be some person that gets caught up in this that shouldn’t, when you consider all the circumstances.”

But Glass also emphasized that any such appeal would go before a committee comprised of [IU faculty athletics representative Kurt] Zorn, IU general counsel Jacqueline Simmons and IU chief student welfare and Title IX officer Emily Springston.

“The key to that,” Glass said, “is those decisions are being made outside the athletic department.”

The Big Ten has allowed each member institution to institute — or not — its own policy on this issue.  Indiana is the first; whether other conference members follow suit will be interesting to see play out.

VIDEO: P.J. Fleck turns Easter egg hunt into surprise scholarship

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P.J. Fleck, he of the elite spring game shoes, celebrated his first Easter at Minnesota by sending his players on a tandem egg hunt.

After the 1,000 eggs were found, a surprise was waiting for one Gopher. The team opened eggs together and found walk-on linebacker Blake Cashman had been awarded a scholarship.

Cashman’s scholarship turned profitable for everyone when Fleck announced the club would celebrate at Fogo de Chao.

P.J. Fleck’s hand-painted shoes for Minnesota’s spring game are ELITE

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This is a big weekend for spring games all across the country but one of the more intriguing ones might be in the Twin Cities as we get our first good look at Minnesota under new coach P.J. Fleck.

The former Western Michigan head coach is well known for his boundless enthusiasm and relentless branding that is punctuated by phrases like ‘Row the Boat’ and calling everything under the sun elite. Now it appears the Gophers coach is taking all that to help up his shoe game this Saturday.

Even if you’re no fan of Minnesota sports, you have to admit those are some pretty sweet shoes. While it’s hard to see Urban Meyer or Nick Saban sporting such kicks, it’s pretty clear that a few other coaches across the country are on notice to up their shoe game up going forward.

North Carolina hoops joins Clemson football to give ACC rare title sweep

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Something that doesn’t happen very often, at all, reared its rarefied head Monday night.

As deftly detailed by our friends at CollegeBasketballTalk.com, North Carolina beat Gonzaga to win the men’s basketball national championship.  UNC’s win comes just shy of three months after Clemson beat Alabama for the national championship of college football.  Speaking of which…

Interestingly, both the Tigers and Tar Heels were national runners-up last season.

The ACC has now won men’s basketball and football national championships in the same athletic season twice.  Such a double-double, including this year/season, has only happened a total of 10 times since the NCAA men’s tournament was first played at the end of the 1938-39 season.

Of those nearly dozen college sporting rarities, three each belong to two of the Power Five conferences (Big Ten, SEC) and two each from two others (ACC, Pac-12).  The Big 12, if you hadn’t picked up on it, is the lone P5 left out of these particular festivities.

Below are all of the conference double-doubles, which includes only football titles awarded by the Associated Press.  First, though, a couple of notes:

  • Indiana won the 1986-87 basketball title and Penn State was the 1986 football champs, but the latter wasn’t in the Big Ten at the time.
  • Duke and Miami would’ve hit the double-double in 1991-92, except The U didn’t join the ACC until 2005.
  • Miami won another title in 2001 while Maryland won one for the 2001-02 season, but the former was still four years away from ACC membership while the latter has since left that conference for the Big Ten.

And, one final bit of housekeeping: the football titlists are listed first, for those keeping score at home.

1940-41 — Big Ten, Minnesota and Wisconsin
1952-53 — Big Ten, Michigan State and Indiana
1957-58 — SEC, Auburn and Kentucky
1967-68 — Pac-12, USC and UCLA
1972-73 — Pac-12, USC and UCLA
1975-76 — Big Ten, Ohio State and Indiana
1981-82 — ACC, Clemson and North Carolina
2006-07 — SEC, Florida and Florida
2011-12 — SEC, Alabama and Kentucky
2016-17 — ACC, Clemson and North Carolina