John White

UNLV banned from 2014 postseason after appeal is shot down

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The worst fears of the UNLV football, rising a mini-wave of momentum from 2013, have been realized.

Late last month it was reported that, because of low scores on the NCAA’s Academic Progress Report (APR), UNLV was facing the loss of scholarships or even a bowl ban.  While the school stated at the time that it was “engaged in the APR process ahead of the June release,” that proved to be a fruitless endeavor as UNLV announced Thursday that its appeal to the NCAA on its bowl ban has been denied.

As a result, and because it failed to reach the minimum APR score, the Rebels football program will be banned from participating in the 2014 postseason. That ban would include the Mountain West Conference championship game should the Rebels qualify.

Last season was the first time the Rebels had participated in a bowl game since 2000.

“I am disappointed for the vast majority of our football players who understand the importance of academics and who embrace and meet their responsibilities,” athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said in a statement. “In fact, 96 percent of the football players on our current roster have never cost UNLV an APR point – so clearly, the overwhelming majority of our student-athletes understand that their first priority must be academics.”

“I am also extremely encouraged and optimistic due to the response I have seen since I started here from our student-athletes, our coaches, our athletic department personnel and our University leadership. In particular, I want to thank our President, Don Snyder, and our Provost, John White, for all of their support in addressing this problem. Everyone associated with UNLV Football recognizes what the expectations are in terms of academic performance and everyone involved has shown a genuine commitment to getting these numbers where they need to be. We are taking a number of significant steps to improve the level of academic support.”

While scholarship losses were not a part of the punishment, further punitive measures will include “[r]eplacing four hours of weekly practice time with four additional hours of academic activities” as well as “[f]ive days of football-related activities per week instead of six.”

In the NCAA system for measuring academic progress, a school’s sports programs must each maintain at least a .930 APR (out of a possible 1.000) over a four-year period in order to maintain eligibility for postseason play in their respective sports.  A two-year score of .940 or above would also allow a program to be eligible for postseason competition.

According to a report from the Las Vegas Sun last month, UNLV’s four-year football APR was .932 last June, just above the threshold that could trigger a bowl ban or scholarship losses.  The football program has already dealt with the latter as the Rebels were docked a total of four scholarships in 2006 and 2007 because of low APR marks.

The APR, the NCAA’s handbook states, is designed to track student-athletes who receive athletics financial aid, with the report based on two factors: eligibility/progress toward graduation and retention. For those wondering how the system works and scores are accumulated, please allow The Association to explain:

During each regular academic term (a semester) of full-time enrollment, a student-athlete can earn a two points towards his/her team’s APR score. Each of the two factors (eligibility and retention) is worth 1 point. A student-athlete will receive 1 point if, at the end of the semester, he/she is academically eligible to compete in the following regular academic term or has graduated. Additionally, a student-athlete can earn 1 point if he/she returns to the institution (retained) as a full-time student in the next regular academic term or graduates. The same point system is applied every semester thereafter. So potentially, in one academic year (fall semester and spring semester) a student-athlete can receive 4 total points.

At the end of each academic year, the score of each student-athlete is added with the scores of his/her teammates. That number is divided by the total number of points that team could have earned. That number is then multiplied by 1,000, giving an individual sport its APR score.

The UNLV football team is still being hurt, the Sun points out, by an .891 APR for the 2011-12 academic year.

Thursday afternoon one-liners

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Meandering our way through the offseason, a single one-liner at a time…

— Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith supports the idea of playing the Big Ten championship game in Detroit when the contract with Indianapolis runs out in three years.

Newark Star Ledger: New athletic director Julie Hermann needs to prove she can be a visionary for Rutgers.

— While an agreement in principle has been reached to renew the Memphis-Tennessee hoops rivalry, a continuation of the football series remains up in the air.

— Michigan State’s Spartan Stadium North end zone project involves Homeland Security issue.

— Former Penn State quarterback Steven Bench tells the Tampa Bay Times his visit to USF left him impressed.

— At least for now, former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain is looking forward to bringing his Colorado State team to Bryant-Denny Stadium this fall.

— Having an East Coast recruiting presence is being embraced by Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi.

— Four Utes looking to replace the production in the running game lost with the departure of John White.

— Safety Ebo Makinde posted the fasted 40-yard dash time (4.24) at Boise State’s spring testing day.

— Speaking of Boise State, Bronco Stadium will be getting a new 60-foot-by-33-foot video board to replace the one installed in 2001.

— Class of 2014 Kentucky football recruits banding together on Twitter.

Sunday morning one-liners

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Meandering our way through the offseason, a single one-liner at a time…

— With Auburn set to commence spring practice, al.com takes a peek into the Tigers’ returning backfield.

— Michigan is wasting no time in addressing an offensive line hit hard by departures.

Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald has a solid profile of linebacker Ramik Wilson looking to fill some very big and productive shoes at Georgia.

— Redshirt freshman Tyler O’Connor could be a dark-horse candidate in Michigan State’s quarterback competition.

— New coordinator Glenn Spencer says it’s “naturally going to be a different defense” at Oklahoma State.

— Kelvin York may have first dibs in replacing single-season rushing leader John White, but just who will be Utah’s main back remains a mystery.

— Will Utah State be satisfied with an 11-win 2012 season and a BCS bowl? “Even though we had a good season last year, next season can be even better,” said quarterback Chuckie Keeton.

Dabo Swinney says Clemson needs “more competition, more accountability and more quality depth” in the secondary.

— Wide receiver Kyle Boehm might get another shot at quarterback for Cal.

— With Washington heading into a two-and-half-week break from spring practice, head coach Steve Sarkisian will use the off-time to “assess the first six practices and look at individuals, one, and how guys either progresses or regressed.”

— Tennessee conducted the first scrimmage of the Butch Jones era Saturday, which ended on a controversial final play.

— Several Penn State players are performing an annual rite of spring as they switch positions from the ones they played a year ago.

— The West Lafayette Journal & Courier breaks down Purdue’s roster ahead of the start of spring practice.

— The third verbal commitment for Arizona’s 2014 recruiting class is four-star California running back Nick Wilson.

The Fifth Quarter: Week 13 Rewind

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As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

BCS A MESS NO MORE
Thanks to some expected results, the muddled mess that had been the BcS and the chase for the crystal football the past couple of glorious weekends cleared itself up immensely in Week 13:

— No. 1 Notre Dame’s win over unranked USC
— No. 2 Alabama’s humiliation of in-state rival Auburn in the Iron Bowl
— No. 3 Georgia’s cruise over non-conference rival Georgia Tech.

With the confluence of those three events, the following is now known: the Fighting Irish have claimed one of the two spots in the BcS championship game, maintaining their position as the only eligible unbeaten left and putting themselves in line for the football program’s first national title since 1988.

And the Golden Domers’ opponent?

That’s crystal clear as well.  Well, more than likely it is.  The Tide will square off against the Bulldogs in the SEC championship game next Saturday.  As UA and UGA are ranked 2-3, respectively, in the latest BcS ratings, and barring an unexpected development of epic proportions, the winner of the SEC title game will face Notre Dame for the right hoist the title trophy.

If the early BcS projections come to fruition, there’s a chance that Florida, not Georgia, would sit at No. 3 in the set of rankings released Sunday night, behind both Notre Dame and Alabama.  However, even if that’s actually the case, a Georgia win over Alabama would very likely erase any type of deficit the Bulldogs may have between themselves and the Gators at the moment.

In other words, we’re right back to where we started: Notre Dame vs. Alabama/Georgia for all the crystal footballs.  Probably.

(more…)

Utah’s John White breaks record, arm in win

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Maybe it’s a good thing Utah (likely) didn’t reach bowl eligibility this season after all.

During the course of the Utes’ 42-35 win over Colorado Friday, John White topped the 1,000-yard plateau for the second consecutive season.  The running back, who set the school record last season (1,519 yards)  is the first player in the Utes’ history to go over that mark in back-to-back seasons; Eddie Johnson also did it twice, although in non-consecutive season (1984, 1986).

The win and the record, though, came at a cost.

In the fourth quarter of the win, White suffered a broken arm at the end of a 14-yard run that gave him 168 for the game and 1,041 for the season.  It was also likely the final play of the senior’s collegiate career as, even if the Utes were to stumble into a bowl bid — 5-7 teams would be considered if there aren’t 70 bowl-eligible teams — he would be out for a period of four-to-six weeks.

As for his school record, White shoved the credit across the table to his teammates.

“It means a lot to me but it means more to my team. They got me there,” White said. “Without the O-line, tight ends, wide receivers and quarterbacks and all the guys that help out blocking I couldn’t get there.”