Sammy Watkins suspended two games for offseason arrest

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The preseason ACC Player of the Year won’t get a chance to make an immediate impact for Clemson this fall.

Specifically, he’ll have to wait two games.

In a release Friday evening, Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said wide receiver Sammy Watkins will serve a two-game suspension for his offseason arrest for drug related charges.

“I told Sammy this past May that there would be a high-end (number of games) and a low-end, and it would be up to him as to the length of his suspension,” Swinney said in a prepared statement. “He has done everything we have asked and then some, so the two-game suspension is the low-end. He just finished his responsibilities last week and I met with Bob Arial (Watkins’s lawyer) today to make sure everything had been completed properly.

“The game of football, or a game of football will never be more important to me than teaching young people important life lessons. I have learned that many times something that seems to be the worst thing that can happen to you can become the best thing. I know Sammy will learn from this and use this to make a difference in other people’s lives. I look forward to having number-two back on the field soon.”

In addition to his preseason ACC honors, Watkins has been named to several award watch lists and preseason All-America teams.

“I accept this suspension,” said Watkins. “I made a mistake and realized that when this first happened. One thing we learn in this program is that there are consequences for your actions. The entire summer has been a learning experience. I am ready to get past this and look forward to September 15 when I can return to game day in Death Valley.”

Clemson opens up the season in Atlanta against Auburn before hosting Ball State.

Clemson will not release finding from banned substance probe

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Dexter LawrenceBraden Galloway and Zach Giella did not take part in Clemson’s run through the College Football Playoff, because the three were found to have taken the NCAA-banned substance ostarine. Lawrence has since moved on to the NFL, but Galloway and Giella remain suspended for the entirety of the 2019 season.

That’s a big deal in and of itself, but it’s made even bigger by the fact that Clemson, at least publicly, has no idea how the trio came across ostarine, leaving open the possibility they could have mistakenly been given the substance by a Clemson employee. And if a Clemson staffer accidentally gave it to Lawrence, Galloway and Giella, well, can you imagine if those doses had actually gone to Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne instead of a backup tight end and a backup center?

The athletics department is conducting an internal investigation, but the school has announced it will not publicly reveal the findings, whatever they may be.

“That (NCAA) appeal was led by the student-athletes’ representative. Any investigation into the source of ostarine contamination is a part of that appeal and is, therefore, a student record subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act,” a Clemson spokesperson told the Charleston Post & Courier.

However, while the FERPA does prevent Clemson from releasing private medical information relating specifically to Lawrence, Galloway and Giella, there’s nothing stopping the department from releasing non-player-specific, team-wide findings.

Clemson says it has administered 329 PED tests since 2014 and only three have come back negative; but, without any way to independently verify those numbers, there’s no way to know if the school is telling the truth.

“It is true that FERPA protects the education records of students,” South Carolina Press Association attorney Taylor M. Smith IV told the paper. “But it is also true that the use of any exemption in the S.C. Freedom of Information Act is not mandatory. In this case, it seems the players involved (and perhaps other players not mentioned) would provide consent to the school to release those records, protected under FERPA, so the public can be made aware of how these tests were failed.”

Gary Pinkel undergoing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for a second time

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Former Missouri and Toledo head coach Gary Pinkel revealed in a TV interview on Sunday night that he is once again undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“I’m doing good. I had to get treatment again for the first time in four years. My cancer came out of remission, and so I had treatment last month. I’m doing fine,” Pinkel told KMIZ. “With my type of lymphoma, you’ll never be healed. But that’s kind of why I retired when I did – I just wanted to not go back and regret working 85 hours a week, 35 weeks out of the year when I could be doing other things with my family and my eight grandkids.”

Pinkel was originally diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May of 2015 and stepped down after that season. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer that begins in the lymph nodes and then spreads throughout the body.

“You keep battling it. I’m going to battle it, Pinkel said. “I’ve got a very positive approach to it, and I’m around a lot of good people that are helping me. There’s a lot of people out there with a lot worse cancers than Gary Pinkel has, and so prayers to all of them.”

Since retiring, Pinkel has used his time as a fundraiser for Missouri and also running the GP M.A.D.E. Foundation, which supports children with cancer and also provides mentoring for at-need kids.

Pinkel, 63, was 191-110-3 as a head coach at two schools over 25 seasons.

 

Former Bengals offensive coordinator reportedly joining Florida support staff

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Former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese is joining Florida’s staff as an analyst, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Benoit.

Zampese spent the 2016-17 seasons as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator after serving 13 seasons as Marvin Lewis‘s quarterbacks coach. Cincinnati went 13-18-1 in Zampese’s two seasons running the offense, which is why he spent 2018 as the Cleveland Browns’ quarterbacks coach and the first part of 2019 as the offensive coordinator for the AAF’s Atlanta Legends.

He is the son of former Chargers, Rams, Cowboys and Patriots offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese.

It is not immediately known what the younger Zampese’s role will be with the Gators, but his experience indicates he’ll work with Dan Mullen and coordinators John Hevesy and Billy Gonzales to develop Florida’s offensive plan and help Brian Johnson tutor the quarterbacks, or perhaps use his coordinator experience to self-scout Florida’s offense and scout Florida’s future opponents.

Arizona launched hostile workplace probe following sexual harassment claims against Wildcat football players

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Arizona launched a hostile workplace investigation into its football program following multiple claims of sexual assault and sexual harassment made by multiple female equipment managers against multiple former Wildcat football players, the program confirmed to the Tucson Daily Star.

Lawyers representing the university did not say when the probe took place, but did say it was sparked by two complaints made by female equipment mangers. From the paper:

In 2014, two UA students who worked as equipment managers separately reported incidents involving nonconsensual sex with football players. In August of that year, police were told that a 21-year-old woman working for the athletic department had sex at least twice with three UA football players while the she was heavily intoxicated. One of the players recorded at least one of the encounters and showed it to other students, the report said.

The woman told police that she lost her job after the recording was released, according to the report.

….

While investigating the woman’s claim, UA’s Title IX office approached former manager Jacquelyn Hinek, who had quit her job months before, citing pervasive sexual harassment. After speaking to UA investigators, Hinek told Tucson police that she had been sexually assaulted in April 2013 by several men associated with the football team while at an off-campus party. She said the incident was recorded on a cell phone and later shown to other students. 

“The Office of Institutional Equity conducted a thorough review of the football equipment manager program and there were no findings of sex discrimination as a result of that investigation,” UA spokesman Chris Sigurdson told the paper via email.

The probe was one of three major investigations into the football program.

Arizona is currently being sued for Title IX violations by an alleged victim of former Wildcats running back Orlando Bradford, whom the victim says hit, choked and imprisoned her over a 2-day period in September 2016. Bradford is currently serving a 5-year prison sentence, but the Title IX suit seeks to depose a number of key figures within the football program, including former head coach Rich Rodriguez, who himself was the subject of a hostile workplace investigation in 2017. Allegations of sexual harassment made by his former assistant led to his dismissal last January. Rodriguez has denied any sexual harassment claims, arguing instead they were an extortion attempt against him.

In total, Arizona said it investigated 27 athletes or athletic department employees for sexual harassment, sexual assault or domestic violence from 2012 through ’17 (the period coinciding with Rodriguez’s hiring and firing), eight of them involving the football program.