Vanderbilt Commodores

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Former Vandy player Brandon Vandenburg convicted of rape in re-trial

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Vandenburg was convicted of a 2013 rape of a female Vanderbilt student in January 2015, but the conviction was thrown out after a juror failed to disclose he was a victim of statutory rape.

On Saturday night, he was convicted again.

Vandenburg (pictured left, with former teammate and fellow rape convict Corey Batey) was found guilty of five counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated sexual battery, and one count of unlawful photography. Those convictions should carry a sentence ranging from 15-to-25 years, but sentencing will not be decided until a later date.

Throughout the process Vandenburg’s process slid down a slope of denial and finger-pointing. First, he took care of the victim overnight after she had too much to drink. Then, she initiated consensual sex. Next, he watched as his teammates raped her.

“She got sexually assaulted right in front of me. And I didn’t do anything,” he said in an interview. “I should’ve called someone. They deserve to go to jail.”

Finally, the truth. Via The Tennessean:

Vandenburg carried her unconscious body into his room at Gillette Hall about 2:30 a.m. June 23, 2013, asking three teammates he ran into outside for help. They put her on the floor and at least two of them penetrated her with their fingers and one sat on her face, raising his middle finger for a photograph, according to trial testimony.

Vandenburg could not get an erection, so he watched pornography on his laptop.

He tried to wake up his roommate on the top bunk, saying “we have this b—- in here” and “we’re gonna f— her.”

Vandenburg sent videos to four friends and destroyed condoms.

The man she trusted giggled and goaded his teammate, “squeeze that s—,” referring to a bottle in her anus.

Batey was found guilty in April. Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie and Brandon Banks are still awaiting trial for the same assault.

SEC expands conduct policy for transfers, not incoming freshmen

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 13:  Greg Sankey the new commissioner of the SEC talks to the media before the quaterfinals of the SEC Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 13, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Jeffery Simmons caught what many considered an undeserved — and wholly unacceptable — break from Mississippi State Thursday.  A day later, the five-star 2016 signee caught a break from his conference for good measure.

In April of last year, 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.  As the SEC wrapped up its annual spring meetings Friday, and as had previously been expected, the conference announced that it will be expanding that policy to include “dating violence, stalking or conduct of a nature that creates serious concern about the safety of others.”

Additionally, the expanded policy will require schools to perform background checks on any transfer before they are permitted to practice or play with the team.  Those checks are expected to satisfy what’s described as the SEC’s “minimum due diligence expectations.”

However, the new policy still only applies to transfers; incoming freshmen are not subject to the policy.  That, though, could change, especially in light of the Simmons situation in Starkville.

“I can envision a continuing dialogue that looks at what we’ve done on serious misconduct relative to transfers, and the question will be asked is that sufficient?” commissioner Greg Sankey said. “Should we remain there? That doesn’t predict outcomes, but I envision that will be a conversation topic going forward. But I never anticipated that we were done.

“This conference has been wrestling with the issue, and it’s not easy. I hope people can appreciate that. It’s not as if this is done in a sterile environment, and I think that’s an important conversation. I said that last year, and I’ve said that this year. There’s a point at which the legislation concluded for this week, and we’ll see what the future might hold without prediction.”

Brad Nessler to replace Verne Lundquist as voice of SEC on CBS after 2016

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 30:  President of the United States Barack Obama (C) talks to CBS annoucers Clark Kellogg and Verne Lundquist during a college basketball game between Georgetown Hoyas and the Duke Blue Devils on January 30, 2010 at the Verizon Center in Washington DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Rumors have been swirling throughout the off-season, but CBS made the news official on Tuesday by announcing Verne Lundquist will step down as the lead voice of the network’s college football coverage — primarily the SEC, but also Army-Navy and the Sun Bowl — to be replaced by Brad Nessler after the upcoming season.

“Verne has set the standard for college football broadcasting,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said in a statement. “Together with Gary Danielson he has played a key role in making the SEC on CBS the highest-rated college football package in America. After an incredible 17 years, he will be handing the reigns off to Brad, who in his own right is highly acclaimed and respected as one of the premier play-by-play broadcasters in the business. I am very pleased that Verne will still have a prominent role in our college basketball and major championship golf coverage.  We are fortunate to have one more football season to appreciate Verne’s one-of-a-kind storytelling as we pave the way for a seamless and smooth transition to Brad.”

Lunquist will continue with the network covering college basketball and golf, but will cede the college football chair in what was certainly a contract bullet point to lure Nessler away from ESPN.

“Being a part of the SEC on CBS since 2000 has been the most significant assignment I’ve been given in my more than five decades in this business,” said Lundquist. “Now, it’s time to step back and take in the aroma of those tulips, those roses, and those daffodils that friends have been telling me about for years. In 2017, I’ll happily step aside from college football and welcome Brad to the booth. I’ve known Brad for more than 30 years and have always admired his work ethic and his on-air presence. He shares the same passion for college football that I do. The SEC on CBS is in great hands. Brad and Gary will form a great partnership in the years ahead.”

Nessler leaves a plum gig at ESPN, where he, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe called the ESPN Saturday primetime game and one of the two College Football Playoff semifinals each of the past two seasons.

“Verne has been a friend for over 30 years and someone I’ve always looked up to in this business,” said Nessler. “I’m not replacing him as it would be impossible to replace Verne. I am truly honored to carry on where he leaves off and work to maintain the standard of excellence he has set calling the SEC on CBS. I am excited to rejoin the CBS Sports team this season and look forward to working alongside Gary again in 2017.”

SEC joins ACC in utilizing ‘collaborative process’ for instant replay

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Earlier this month, the ACC became the first conference to adopt what was described as “collaborative instant replay.”  Less than a week later, the SEC has followed the ACC’s centralized lead.

The SEC announced in a Tuesday press release that it “will implement a collaborative process for instant replay in the sport of football beginning with the 2016 season, following a unanimous vote of the league’s athletics directors and approval by the SEC Executive Committee.”  The conference’s decision to utilize a command center for instant replay comes a month after it was tested during an unnamed member school’s spring game.

“Under this experiment, personnel operating from SEC Headquarters will assist the in-stadium Instant Replay Officials when replay decisions are made,” the release further added.  Additional details, including detailed plans and complete logistics for the new replay process, will be presented to coaches and administrators during the SEC Media Days in July.

Those details will then be released to the public at a media briefing during those meetings.

“Our goal is to continue to use the best-available resources to support correct outcomes when instant replay is used,” said SEC commissioner Greg Sankey in a statement. “We believe the collaborative effort, which will involve additional officiating experts during replay reviews, will enhance the Conference’s football officiating program. I believe this update to the instant replay review process will better support football officiating in the SEC through the use of technology.”

ESPN selections set for epic opening weekend

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 11:  Clemson Tigers fans cheer in the first quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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We already knew that the opening weekend of the 2016 was going to be epic.  Now we know on which channels (most of the) said epic-ness will take place.

Tuesday, ESPN announced its channel selections for the Week 1 slate of games, with the World Wide Leader kicking off its coverage with South Carolina-Vanderbilt on ESPN Sept. 1 — hold on, it gets better — and being bookended by Ole Miss-Florida State on Labor Day.

In between, it’s highly-anticipated opening Saturday matchups such as Oklahoma-Houston (noon ET, ABC), LSU-Wisconsin (3:30 ET, ABC, Lambeau Field), Georgia-North Carolina (5:30 ET, ESPN), USC-Alabama (8 ET, ABC) and Clemson-Auburn (9 ET, ESPN).  For those with an international lean, and are early risers, the Georgia Tech-Boston College will be broadcast live from Dublin, Ireland, beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2.

Oh, and lest we forget the clash of iconic programs: Notre Dame-Texas, kicking off at 7:30 ET Sunday night as the NFL season will be a week away from kicking off.

And all of that is without even mentioning games that have yet to have their broadcast destination announced, including UCLA-Texas A&M, Kansas State-Stanford, Missouri-West Virginia and Arizona-BYU, among others.

So, yes, it’ going to be one hell of an opening weekend.  Go ahead and prepare your goodbyes to family and friends now, informing them you’ll see them on the other side of Labor Day.