NCAA to learn findings of external review next week

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The NCAA admitted an embarrassing misstep, to put it lightly, last month when it uncovered an issue of improper conduct within its enforcement program while investigating the University of Miami and its athletics program.

Reported to be one of the problems was a payment of at least $20,000 approved by VP of enforcement Julie Roe Lach and made to the attorney of former UM booster Nevin Shapiro in exchange for information that could potentially help the Association in its investigation of the program.

The NCAA has not confirmed nor denied that report from CBSSports, but we may get an answer soon enough. In a statement, the NCAA announced it will received the findings of its external investigation of the misconduct late next week, and will then disclose the findings. From the NCAA’s website:

“NCAA President Mark Emmert announced on January 23, an external review of the NCAA enforcement staff’s actions related to the University of Miami investigation would be conducted by Kenneth L. Wainstein, a partner with the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP. Mr. Wainstein has completed the necessary interviews and review of information and is now in the process of preparing a final report, which the NCAA expects to receive by the end of next week. We will release the results of the review following the completion of the report.”

The NCAA has been investigating the Miami program for over two years based on claims and accusations that Shapiro provided impermissible benefits to football and basketball players. Shapiro claims those benefits totaled in the millions of dollars. Miami has since self-imposed a pair of postseason bans.

Report: Maryland AD signed off on DJ Durkin helping coaches, developing game plans during leave

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The cloud hanging over the University of Maryland in general and the football program specifically shows no signs of dissipating anytime soon.

Citing multiple sources, the Baltimore Sun‘s Jeff Barker is reporting that DJ Durkin told the task force investigating the culture of the football program in the aftermath of the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair that he “continued to communicate with assistant coaches and develop game plans for the team after being placed on administrative leave.” Most damning, at least for those still in place at the university, the then-head football coach alleged that athletic director Damon Evans approved the ongoing communication with his coaching staff.

Durkin further claimed that he had not been told by anyone at the university that he was to have no contact with his players or assistant coaches while on leave, a forced sabbatical that ultimately lasted nearly three months.

While the university declined to make Evans available for comment, a spokesperson did deny the allegations made by Durkin to the task force, of which the university system’s Board of Regents were also aware.  From the Sun‘s report:

But in a statement late Wednesday, a university spokeswoman said Durkin “was not to perform coaching duties while on administrative leave” and that neither Evans nor Loh had granted permission for him to do so.

“Matt Canada was performing all head coaching duties during this interim time and continues to lead the team,” spokeswoman Jessica Jennings said.

Durkin, two members of the training staff and then-head strength & conditioning coach Rick Court were placed on administrative leave in early August after a bombshell report alleged mishandling of the medical event that preceded McNair’s death as well as a toxic culture within the football program.  That report described the toxic culture under Durkin as one based on fear, intimidation, belittling, humiliation and embarrassment.  Players were, allegedly, routinely subjected to what was described as extreme verbal abuse that included, in part, obscenity-laced epithets meant to mock their masculinity.

On Oct. 30, it was confirmed that Durkin had been reinstated and would remain as the Terrapins head coach.  The next day, and amidst an avalanche of criticism from football playersstudent groups and high-ranking government officials, U of M, College Park president Wallace Loh announced that Durkin had been dismissed as the Terrapins head football coach.

Miami pays Arkansas State $400,000 settlement over canceled game

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A legal issue that arose between a Power Five school and one from the Group of Five has finally been resolved.

The Miami-Arkansas State game in Jonesboro last season was scuttled by Hurricane Irma, mainly because of The U’s concerns over traveling back to South Florida in the wake of the superstorm.  ASU sued Miami in February of this year, seeking financial damages as a result of a breach of contract; Miami had sued ASU two days earlier in an effort to void the contract because the effects of the hurricane were out of its control.

In mid-September, a judge set a Dec. 20 deadline for the two sides to resolve the dispute via third-party mediation.  Wednesday, ASU announced that a settlement has been reached, with each entity dismissing their lawsuits against the other as well as Miami paying the Sun Belt school $400,000.

ASU had been seeking $650,000 in damages.

“I am pleased that both lawsuits have been resolved and that this matter is now behind us,” Brad Phelps, general counsel for the Arkansas State University System, said in the statement. “I believe this is a fair resolution of these issues.”

As part of the settlement, the 2017 game, which was the back-end of a home-and-home series, will not be rescheduled.

Last year’s winner Ed Oliver one of eight semifinalists for Outland Trophy

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Another day (hour?), another award paring down its field of players eligible to win this year’s honor.

The latest to do as much is the Outland Trophy, with the award that is handed out annually to the nation’s top interior lineman on either side of the ball announcing the eight semifinalists for this year’s honor.  Headlining the most recent group is Houston’s Ed Oliver, who was the 2017 Outland winner.

Top-ranked Alabama (offensive tackle Jonah Williams, nose guard Quinnen Williams) and second-ranked Clemson (offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins) accounted for half of the eight semifinalists.  The other three semifinalists not already mentioned are North Carolina State center Garrett Bradbury, Wisconsin guard Michael Deiter and Oklahoma guard Ben Powers.

Next week, this group of eight semifinalists will be pared down to three finalists.  The winner of the 2018 Outland Trophy will be announced during the Home Depot College Football Awards show on ESPN in early December.

Ohio State LB Baron Browning ruled out for Maryland game

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For the second straight week, Ohio State will be down a man in its linebacking corps.

Earlier this week, Urban Meyer listed Baron Browning as probable for Saturday’s game against Maryland.  Wednesday night after practice, however, the head coach confirmed that the linebacker will not play against the Terrapins.

Browning is dealing with an unspecified injury that sidelined the sophomore linebacker for the win over Michigan State this past Saturday.

Through eight games in 2018, Browning has been credited with 22 tackles, 3½ tackles for loss and a sack.  As noted by ElevenWarriors.com, Browning has been rotating in with Tuf Borland at the middle linebacker spot throughout the season.

A five-star 2017 signee, Browning played in a dozen games as a true freshman last year.