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Big 12 confirms Baylor has implemented all recommendations, announces new $2 million fine

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At least in the eyes of its conference, Baylor has taken significant steps in the wake of the sexual assault scandal that rocked the university in general and the football program specifically.

In February of 2017, the Big 12 announced that it will withhold 25 percent of future revenue payments to BU, only releasing the monies “pending the outcome of third-party verification review of required changes to Baylor’s athletics procedures and to institutional governance of its intercollegiate athletics programs, among other matters.” Tuesday, the conference confirmed in a press release that the university “has in all material respects structurally completed and practically implemented the (105 Pepper Hamilton) Recommendations” as required by the league.

The conclusion of the independent verification process was unanimously approved and accepted by the Big 12’s Board of Directors.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I want to thank Baylor president Linda Livingstone, athletics director Mack Rhoades, and their staffs for their cooperation during this Verification Process,” said Big 12 Board of Directors chairman and West Virginia president Gordon Gee in a statement. “We are in full support of Baylor leadership and have confidence they are moving the university forward from this chapter.”

The league also laid out the financial ramifications for Baylor to date, including a previously-undisclosed $2 million fine for what was described as “reputational damage to the conference and its members.” Additionally, the university will not receive previously-withheld revenue for at least another 48 months — and even then, it will be minus legal fees and the seven-figure fine.

To date, the Big 12 Conference has withheld $14,255,000 from Baylor’s revenue distribution. From the amount currently withheld, Baylor will immediately reimburse the Conference for its legal costs associated with the Verification – currently $1,651,000. The approximately $12.6 million remaining will be invested for the next 48 months. Net earnings realized on the investments will be distributed in equal portions to the 10 members of the Conference on an annual basis and will be used in funding campus-wide and athletics prevention efforts focused on sexual and gender-based harassment and violence, intimate partner violence, and stalking, including, but not limited to, programming addressing healthy relationships, LGBTQ+ discrimination, and bystander awareness. At the end of the 48-month period the Board will determine the amount to be returned to Baylor minus a $2,000,000 fine for reputational damage to the Conference and its members.

Moving forward, however, Baylor will receive its full share of future conference revenue distributions.

In response to the development, BU president Kinda Livingstone issued the following statement:

Dear Baylor Family:

I am pleased to report that the Big 12 Conference has completed its Verification Review of Baylor University’s 105 recommendations in response to past reports of sexual assault and interpersonal violence within our campus community and has confirmed all recommendations as complete and implemented. Additionally, the Big 12 has affirmed Baylor’s compliance with all relevant conference bylaws and the University’s receipt of full league financial distributions moving forward.

This is now the second external verification of our completion of the 105 recommendations, which have already helped the University prevent and respond to reports of sexual assault and interpersonal violence on our campus. We know that this is a very important issue, not only for Baylor, but for each of our Big 12 member institutions and other colleges and universities nationwide.

The comprehensive report of the Big 12’s Oversight Committee is publicly available at Big 12 Board of Directors Conclude Baylor Verification Process, along with the resolution approved Monday by the conference’s presidents and chancellors.

Today’s announcement provides another testament to Baylor’s unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our students, faculty and staff through our training, education and response efforts within a caring community. It also underscores Baylor’s strength and resilience as we continue on our path to becoming the preeminent Christian research university and competing at the highest levels of intercollegiate athletics.

Despite the progress made with the conference, the university still has some potentially choppy NCAA waters to navigate. Earlier this month, it was confirmed that Baylor had received a Notice of Allegations in which it is being cited for lack of institutional control.

What type of penalties that could potentially arise from the investigation remain unclear.

In June of 2018, it was reported that “if people are expecting some sort of ‘Death Penalty,’ I think they are going to be disappointed.” Nearly two months later, the university bristled at reports that they had been encouraged to self-impose a bowl ban.

In that early-August report, it was reported that the NCAA’s investigation took a “left turn” at some point in the not-too-distant past that wasn’t favorable towards Bears football.  That left turn, coincidentally or not, came not long after several current and former BU officials, including ex-athletic director Ian McCaw, spoke to NCAA investigators.

In a late-June deposition in connection to a lawsuit filed by nearly a dozen women against Baylor, McCaw, now the athletic director at Liberty University, claimed that BU officials had engaged in “an elaborate plan that essentially scapegoated black football players and the football program for being responsible for what was a decades-long, university-wide sexual assault scandal.” The university subsequently fired back at McCaw’s portrayal.

The conclusion of the NCAA’s investigation and any subsequent penalties would serve as the bookend for what’s been a disturbing, years-long series of revelations connected to the tattered Waco institution and it’s beleaguered football program.

In late January of 2017, damning details in one of the handful of the lawsuits facing the university emerged, with that suit alleging that 31 Bears football players had committed 52 acts of rape over a period of four years beginning in 2011.

Not long after, a legal filing connected to the libel lawsuit filed by a former BU football staffer produced emails and text messages that paint a picture of the former head coach, Art Briles, and/or his assistants as unrestrained rogue elements concerned with nothing more than the image of the football program off the field and its performance on it. The details in a damning document dump included allegations that Briles attempted to circumvent BU’s “judicial affairs folks” when it came to one player’s arrest… and on Briles asking, in response to one of his players brandishing a gun on a female, “she reporting [it] to authorities?”… and asking “she a stripper?” when told one of his players expected a little something extra from a female masseuse… and stating in a text “we need to know who [the] supervisor is and get him to alert us first” in response to a player who was arrested on a drug charge because the apartment superintendent called the police.

In reference to a woman who alleged she was gang-raped by several Bears football players, Briles allegedly responded, “those are some bad dudes. Why was she around those guys?

Briles was fired Memorial Day weekend of 2016.  A coaching pariah in the United States ever since, the disgraced coach was hired by a CFL team in August of last year; a couple of hours later, after the hiring was denounced by fans and sponsors, the organization announced that Briles would no longer be joining the team.

In August of this year, Briles was named as the head coach of the Guelfi Firenze American Football team in Florence.  Florence, Italy.

Kyler Murray is third straight ex-Texas high schooler to go No. 1 overall in NFL draft

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The Lonestar State in general and the flagship school of the state directly to its north made some player selection history Thursday night in Nashville.

Following months worth of speculation and smokescreens, the Arizona Cardinals officially selected Kyler Murray as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.  The Oklahoma quarterback is the second straight signal-caller from the Sooners to be the top overall pick (Baker Mayfield to the Cleveland Browns in 2018), marking the first time since 1968-69 (USC’s Ron Yary, O.J. Simpson) that one school has locked down back-to-back No. 1 overall selections.

It also marks the first time two Heisman Trophy winners from the same school have been selected with the top pick in the draft in consecutive years.  On top of that, this is the first time that quarterbacks from the same school have been selected in the top spot of the draft in back-to-back years.

Both Murray, who is the first athlete ever drafted in the first rounds of both the NFL and MLB drafts, and Mayfield played their high school football in the state of Texas.  When you add Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett (Arlington Martin High School to No. 1 overall for the Browns in 2017) to the equation, the Lonestar State can now lay claim to being the only state to ever produce three straight No. 1 overalls.

(Sidebar: Mayfield and Garrett are NFL teammates with the Browns, and will face Murray’s Cardinals this season.  And Arizona’s head coach? Kliff Kingsbury, whose fractured relationship with Mayfield that included a scholarship brouhaha led to the future Heisman Trophy winner’s transfer from Texas Tech to Big 12 rival Oklahoma.  Now, back to our regularly-scheduled programming, already in progress…)

In the history of an NFL draft that dates back to 1939, high schools in the state of Texas have produced 14 No. 1 overalls, the most of any state.  With 11, California is the only other state in double-digits.

Perhaps the most astonishing finding in all of this research?  High schools in the state of Florida, easily one of the most fertile football recruiting grounds in the country, have produced exactly one No. 1 overall: Auburn running back Tucker Fredrickson in 1965.

That’s a bar bet waiting to happen.  And you’re welcome.

Oklahoma-Houston season opener moves to Sunday primetime slot on Labor Day weekend

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Oklahoma’s season opener is going under the lights on Labor Day weekend.

The Sooners announced on Thursday that their 2019 debut against Houston is shifting from its scheduled Saturday date during Week 1 to a primetime slot on ABC at 7:30 pm ET on Sept. 1st.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us,” AD Joe Castiglione said in a statement. “It gives us great visibility at the very outset of the 2019 season. It is equally appealing to me that we get to play the game in the best conditions for student-athletes and fans. By making this move, we ensured that this game would be played in the evening, thus avoiding the heat we’ve dealt with in each of the last two seasons.”

OU makes note that this is the first time the school will play a regular season game on Sunday and just the fourth time ever they’ll play on a day normally reserved for NFL games (all three of the previous times were in bowl games).

The 2019 game is the latest in a long line of high profile matchups to get moved to the Sunday before Labor Day in recent years, including last year’s LSU-Miami tilt at AT&T Stadium.

While nobody is saying that Sooners-Cougars would have gotten overlooked on the first college football Saturday of Week 1, the move a day later will provide the spotlight all on its own to catch one of the more interesting non-conference games around with Dana Holgorsen’s debut leading Houston and the likely first start of former Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts at OU.

Notre Dame grad transfer Micah Dew-Treadway granted another year of eligibility at Minnesota

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Minnesota received an unexpected bit of good news on Thursday.

The school confirmed several reports that surfaced regarding recent Notre Dame graduate transfer Micah Dew-Treadway, who joined the Gophers this offseason and will now have two seasons to play in the Twin Cities after being granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.

Dew-Treadway spent four years in South Bend but mostly in a reserve role, recording two tackles while playing in 21 total games with the Irish. At the heart of the hardship waiver he and Minnesota applied for was the 2016 campaign that saw him miss the entire season with a broken foot.

The additional year is big for Minnesota as the transfer appeared to leave a good impression and is in line to start this fall. The program is having to replace mainstay defensive lineman Gary Moore in 2019 and will certainly be counting on Dew-Treadway and JUCO addition Keonte Schad to provide push up the middle.

The Gophers open their season against South Dakota State on Aug. 29.

Clemson football brought up at college basketball federal corruption trial

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The national champs are back in the spotlight during the offseason for a reason Dabo Swinney wants nothing to do with.

In federal court on Thursday in New York City, prosecutors in the college basketball corruption scandal played an FBI video wiretap involving Clemson hoops assistant Steve Smith. While much of the conversation is centered on top prospects in basketball like Zion Williamson and what the Tigers could do to lure them to campus, somewhat surprisingly the topic of football came up.

Via CBSSports.com’s Matt Norlander: 

The Blazer in question above is Marty Blazer, a financial advisor from Pittsburgh who was on the stand. He’s the same witness who claimed a few days ago that he paid football players from Alabama, Notre Dame, Penn State and several other schools.

“We are aware of the developments in federal court today involving one of our men’s basketball assistant coaches,” Clemson said in a statement issued later on Thursday. “We take this matter seriously and will immediately conduct a review.”

While only a handful of folks can claim to be surprised that the federal hoops trial spilled over into football, it certainly raises further questions about the Tigers that they will have to deal with over the coming weeks. These are just the words of one witness and one assistant on a wiretap but something says the folks in Indianapolis are already wondering whether or not they need to expand a potential infractions probe that much wider in the wake of the testimony.