Updated: UNC gets postseason ban, scholarship reduction from NCAA

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After nearly two years of dealing with the NCAA in regards to multiple allegations of violations, including impermissible benefits and academic fraud during the Butch Davis era, North Carolina knows its NCAA fate.

And the results, as you can imagine, aren’t good for the Tar Heels.

The NCAA concludes that “over the course of three seasons, six football student-athletes competed while ineligible as a result of these violations, and multiple student-athletes received impermissible benefits totaling more than $31,000.”

The impermissible benefits among athletes between 2009-10 ranged from $99 to over $13,000.

Consequently, UNC will receive a one-year postseason ban in 2012, reduction of 15 total football scholarships over the next three years, vacate all wins from the 2008-09 season (self-imposed), pay $50,000 in fines (self-imposed) and will serve three years probation for “multiple violations, including academic fraud, impermissible agent benefits, ineligible participation and a failure to monitor its football program.”

Additionally, “a former assistant coach” (John Blake) faces a three-year show-cause penalty restricting any recruiting activity. Blake was connected to former sports agent Gary Wichard and received over $31,000 in athletically-related outside income between 2007-09, which Blake did not report as required by NCAA legislation.

Former tutor Jennifer Wiley, who committed academic fraud violations and provided athletes with over $4,000 in benefits, has been disassociated from the program, another self-imposed ruling by UNC.

According to the NCAA, Blake and Wiley committed unethical conduct and failed to cooperate in the investigation. They were also the main targets of the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations.

“This case should serve as a cautionary tale to all institutions to vigilantly monitor the activities of those student-athletes who possess the potential to be top professional prospects,” the committee stated in its report, which you can read HERE. “It should also serve to warn student-athletes that if they choose to accept benefits from agents or their associates, they risk losing their eligibility for collegiate competition.”

Below are statements from UNC’s administration, which has stated it will not appeal the NCAA’s decision:

Chancellor Holden Thorp
“It’s been almost two years since this investigation began, so getting the NCAA ruling is a big step in moving forward. We approached this investigation the way that you would expect of Carolina – thoughtfully, thoroughly and with full cooperation – and that was the right thing to do.

“We self-imposed a number of penalties in the fall that we thought were appropriate based on the facts in our case. The NCAA has given us additional penalties, and the sanctions are more severe than we expected. The ruling is disappointing for our new coaching staff and our student-athletes.

“We considered an appeal. But given the timing and the record that other schools have had with appeals, as well as the fact that penalties are suspended during an appeal, we’ve decided it’s best to accept our sanctions and move forward.”

AD Bubba Cunningham
“North Carolina has always represented so much that is good about college athletics. The last year and a half has been difficult for everyone who loves UNC from both an academic and athletic perspective. It’s time for us to move Carolina Athletics forward to help restore that reputation of integrity and respect for which the University has been known.

We can’t guarantee people won’t make mistakes in the future, but we can give our collective best effort to prevent a repeat of what brought us to this day. College athletics evolves daily and the high profile nature of intercollegiate athletics demands that we remain vigilant and accountable for the coaches, student-athletes and staff who represent our great university.

It is our aspiration that Carolina will be better in the future as aresult of what we have gone through and everyone associated with our program will strive each day to make our students, faculty, alumni, fans and staff proud to be Tar Heels.”

Running back Deshawn McClease is latest player to leave Hokies

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It has been quite a busy couple of days for Virginia Tech transfer news. Within hours of Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente releasing a statement about the program’s dedication to strengthening the culture of the Virginia Tech football program after a handful of players had decided to leave the program, running back Deshawn McClease added his name to the list of transferring Hokies.

“After discussing with my family, we believe that it is best for me to transfer to another university following graduation this spring,” McClease said in a statement shared on his Twitter account Wednesday evening. “I am very eager to continue my football journey and further my education.”

McClease did not say where he is heading next. His departure is another blow to Virginia Tech’s offensive outlook for the 2019 season on a day that also saw starting quarterback Josh Jackson decide to transfer out of Virginia Tech a day after a couple of other transfer headlines surfaced around the program. As McClease mentioned in his statement, he is scheduled to graduate from Virginia Tech this spring. That will mean he will be eligible to play right away next fall for whatever team he ends up joining. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

McClease was Virginia Tech’s second-leading rusher in 2018 and likely would have been the starting running back in Blacksburg for the 2019 season had he decided to stick around. McClease rushed for 433 yards and two touchdowns last fall behind senior starter Steven Peoples.

Oklahoma State QB Keondre Wudtee leaving Stillwater via transfer

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The quarterback competition at Oklahoma State this spring has been reduced by one. Keondre Wudtee is one his way out of Stillwater after entering his name into the NCAA’s transfer portal, it was reported on Wednesday.

As noted by Pistols Firing, redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders appears to be the most likely candidate to land the starting job at quarterback for the Cowboys in 2019 following the graduation of Taylor Cornelius. Wudtee was the only other quarterback to record any passing stats for Oklahoma State in 2018 in his backup role, completing two of five attempts for 26 yards and a touchdown. A pair of wide receivers, Tylan Wallace and Dillon Stoner, were the only other players to attempt a pass for Oklahoma State in 2018.

Oklahoma State’s quarterback depth chart will still be padded even with the departure of Wudtee. Dru Brown, who transferred to Oklahoma State from Hawaii, is still around and the Cowboys added an early enrollee in three-star Class of 2019 quarterback Brendan Costello. Being enrolled early will allow Costello to get started with spring practices this semester in Stillwater and could potentially have him prepared to step in if needed in the fall.

As for Wudtee, we’ll see where he heads next. He will have to sit out the 2019 season due to NCAA transfer rules, of course.

After dustup with Uga, Texas president says Bevo is not leaving the sidelines

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Finally, a story NOT about the transfer portal.

Prior to the Sugar Bowl between Texas and Georgia, somebody decided it would be fun to do a photo with the live animal mascots of the Longhorns and Bulldogs. As Uga made his way over to see Texas mascot Bevo, the longhorn burst out of his caged area and made it known he was not about being a part of a fun photo opp. Fortunately, there were no injuries to report for any people or animals in the incident, but concerns about the handling of Bevo were certainly raised.

And despite pressure from PETA to stop including live animal mascots as part of the gameday experience and any others who may have voiced concerns about the worst-case scenarios involving a live steer, Texas president Gregory Fenves says Bevo will not be retired and forced to watch Longhorns football games from the ranch.

“We take the safety very seriously, but we’re going to continue to have Bevo as our mascot,” Fenves said in a recent interview with the American-Statesman. “He’s an incredible animal and a great symbol for the university. Seriously, we’re always looking at the protocols for Bevo at public events. I don’t think they need to be revised.”

So there you have it. Bevo stays. Sorry, not sorry, PETA. Unless Bevo does decide to enter the transfer portal…

Wisconsin TE Kyle Penniston enters transfer portal

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I have never seen it myself, but the transfer portal must be the place to be. Wisconsin tight end Kyle Penniston is just one of the many players putting his name in the transfer portal, as reported Wednesday, as he begins to look for a new place to finish up his college football career.

First reported by 247 Sports, Penniston will have one year of eligibility left to use for the 2019 season. He will be eligible to play right away this fall as a graduate transfer. Penniston enrolled at Wisconsin in 2015 after accepting an offer from Wisconsin over offers from Oklahoma and a handful of other top programs in the Class of 2015.

Penniston appeared in 13 games for the Badgers in 2018 with three receptions for 18 yards and a touchdown. The instant rise of Jake Ferguson at the tight end position on his way to becoming the second-leading receiver for Wisconsin meant Penniston likely wasn’t going to play a pivotal role in the offensive gameplan in 2019. Wisconsin should still be in decent shape at the tight end position this fall, not that losing an upper classmen at the position is ever a good situation for a program. It’s worth noting Penniston was recruited under former head coach Gary Andersen, who adopted a different type of offensive scheme that would have potentially been a better fit for Penniston.

Where Penniston goes next remains to be seen.