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College Football Hall of Fame damaged amidst protests in Atlanta overnight

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In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, protests have erupted across the country.  Overnight, those protests hit the home for college football history.

A peaceful protest in Atlanta Friday turned violent later in the night as many numerous businesses in the city were vandalized and looted.  According to myriad media outlets, one of those that suffered damage was the College Football Hall of Fame.

Fortunately, one of the reports stated, “none of the artifacts or history memorabilia was damaged… just the glass in front of the store.” One report, though, described the hall as being “destroyed.”

“First and foremost, our hearts go out to the friends and family of George Floyd,” College Football Hall of Fame CEO Kimberly Beaudin said in a statement. “We support the peaceful protests that honor his memory but unfortunately they deteriorated into chaos and disorder. We are heartbroken to see the damage to our city and the Hall of Fame. As our Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said, we are better than this, better than this as a city, and better than this as a country.

“In the coming days and weeks, we’ll work to pick up the pieces, to build back the sacred walls that housed memories and honored those who played the game many of whom fought these same injustices throughout their storied careers.”

College coaches speak out following death of George Floyd

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The despicable, abhorrent, unconscionable murder of George Floyd has touched myriad aspects of our society.  College football is no different.

Monday night, 46-year-old George Floyd died after a Minneapolis Police Department officer took a knee on the man’s neck.  For several minutes.  Floyd was a black man.  The police officer is a white man.

“I can’t breathe, please, the knee in my neck. I can’t move … my neck … I’m through, I’m through.”

Four police officers connected to the death of Floyd were fired.  The white officer who murdered Floyd, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged in the black man’s death.  The 19-year veteran of the force is facing one count each of of third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Wednesday, the University of Minnesota significantly distanced itself from the Minneapolis Police Department.  The MPD assisted the university for large events, including Minnesota football games.

In the days since, college football coaches have decried the fatal brutality.  On the Rich Eisen Show Thursday, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh spoke about the “horrendous… outrageous” murder (my words, not the coach’s) of George Floyd.

On Twitter in the ensuing days, Harbaugh’s colleagues at the collegiate level — including one ex-coach who is now an athletic director — have used their platform to decry the senseless murder of George Floyd.

Some of them, including Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin (HERE), Florida State’s Mike Norvell (HERE), Tulsa’s Philip Montgomery (HERE), Troy’s Chip Lindsey (HERE) and UTSA’s Jeff Traylor (HERE), retweeted the powerful words of Tony Dungy.

Others sent out their own messages.

 

NCAA extends recruiting dead period through July 31; The Association will also allow strength coaches to ‘virtually observe voluntary physical workouts’

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Not surprisingly, the NCAA has reset its recruiting trail policies.  Again.

As the coronavirus pandemic effectively shuttered the sports world, the NCAA announced in mid-March that it was putting a halt to all in-person recruiting until at least April 15.  Last month, that dead period was extended through May 31.  This month, another extension took us to June 30.

As we close in on the month of June, another extension is official.  As expected, the NCAA announced Wednesday evening that the recruiting dead period has been extended through July 31.  That means all in-person recruiting activities — either on-campus or elsewhere — are prohibited.

The latest edict impacts all sports, not just football.

“The extension maintains consistent recruiting rules for all sports and allows coaches to focus on the student-athletes who may be returning to campus,” said Division I Council Coordination Committee chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “The committee is committed to reviewing the dead period again in late June or early July.”

One potential effect of all of these dead-period extension bans?  It could force The Association to, for one year, temporarily get rid of the December Early Signing Period.

The NCAA earlier this month also announced that football programs could begin bringing players back to campus for voluntary workouts starting June 1.  In the dead-period release, The Association also updated its tack on that front:

Additionally, the committee decided to allow strength and conditioning coaches to virtually observe voluntary physical workouts for health and safety purposes but only if requested by the student-athlete. The measure goes into effect June 1. The strength and conditioning coach will be allowed to observe the workouts and discuss items related to voluntary workouts but not direct or conduct the workout.

The decision was supported by the Committee on Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports Prevention and Performance Subcommittee. The subcommittee encouraged schools that decide to allow their strength and conditioning coaches to observe voluntary workouts to proactively consider the school’s overarching responsibility to protect the health of and provide a safe environment for each student-athlete. More specifically, the subcommittee stressed that schools should plan for how the strength and conditioning coach should respond if they observe an unsafe workout environment or in the event that a medical emergency occurs during a voluntary session.

The committee will continue to explore the opportunity for strength and conditioning coaches to conduct voluntary workouts virtually, as they do during in-person, on-campus voluntary workouts.

NCAA tables one-time transfer proposal to early next year

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Rightly so, the NCAA as castigated and publicly pilloried for some of its decisions.  This time, though, they got it right.  For now.

Many, us included, criticized the NCAA back in April when its Board of Directors and its Presidential Forum recommended to the Division I Council that the proposal on a one-time transfer waiver is “not appropriate at this time.” Wednesday, the Council did the expected and tabled the proposal until January of next year.

From the NCAA’s release:

The resolution was recommended by the Transfer Waiver Working Group, which earlier this year had proposed a change to waiver guidelines that would have accomplished the same goal but through the waiver process instead of through a legislative change. Last month, the Division I Board of Directors indicated it preferred a legislative change and lifted the moratorium it had placed on transfer eligibility proposals last fall.

“The transfer environment has long been an issue of much discussion in Division I. The Division I Council is committed to a uniform and equitable approach to transfer rules that considers student-athlete well- being and the opportunities available after transfer,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “We will not simply change the rule, but we will consider a comprehensive package designed to address the multiple complexities involved.”

The Council committed to work with conferences, schools, the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the Division I Committee on Academics and other committees to form a permanent legislative solution

Currently, Division I rules permit student-athletes in all sports except baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, football and men’s ice hockey to immediately compete after a first transfer. Reliance on the waiver process for student-athletes in those five sports has put enormous strain on a historically collaborative process built to handle extenuating circumstances.

The resolution called the waiver process “an unsustainable method to achieve lasting stability, consistency and transparency within the transfer environment” and declared it was “never designed to accommodate sustained requests for relief from a rule without actually changing the rule.

The comprehensive package will address issues that impact transfer, including academic requirements, roster management considerations, transfer notification dates, accountability measures for schools that accept transfer students, and additional education on the transfer rules and process. The Committee on Academics will provide its guidance to any academic aspects of the package.

Given the uncertainty the coronavirus pandemic has caused across all sports, pushing this legislation back a few months is a very prudent move.  Instantly granting thousands of football players — not to mention basketball players as well — a one-time free transfer pass at this time, while athletic departments are already stretched attempting to safely get their student-athletes back on the field, would’ve done exponentially more harm than good.

It’s expected that the legislation will be adopted at the NCAA convention in January, and will go into effect for the 2021-22 academic year.

NCAA to allow football programs to bring players back to campus starting June 1 for voluntary workouts

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With each passing day, it’s looking more and more likely there’ll be a college football season.  At least, there will be one in some form or fashion.

Wednesday, the NCAA confirmed that some sports will be permitted to resume voluntary on-campus activities beginning June 1.  Included in that limited group (for now) are college football players.  Men’s and women’s basketball are permitted a limited resumption as well.

The NCAA made sure to stress that the on-campus activities are voluntary.Voluntary on-campus athletics activity must be initiated by the student-athlete. Coaches may not be present unless a sport-specific safety exception allows it, and activity cannot be directed by a coach or reported back to a coach.

“We encourage each school to use its discretion to make the best decisions possible for football and basketball student-athletes within the appropriate resocialization framework,” said Division I Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “Allowing for voluntary athletics activity acknowledges that reopening our campuses will be an individual decision but should be based on advice from medical experts.”

With the NCAA’s announcement, it will be up to each individual conference — and each individual institution — to reopen the doors for college football players to return to campus.  In accordance with local and state guidelines, obviously.

It’s already been confirmed that the SEC will vote this Friday on whether to bring student-athletes, including college football players, back to campus June 1 or June 15.  Of the 14 athletic directors in the conference, just one, Tennessee’s Phillip Fulmer, is not in favor of the June 1 date for a return.  The Big Ten is also expected to allow players back to campus early this month, with schools such as Ohio State targeting June 8.

The Big 12, meanwhile, is eyeing a mid- to late-June return date for student-athletes.  The Pac-12 will make a determination next week.  The ACC is expected to do the same.

Exactly when these various conferences can start actual practices for the start of the 2020 college football remains to be seen.

In addition to the resumption of on-campus workouts, the NCAA also announced a handful of waivers have been granted.  Those related to the highest level of football includes:

  • Waiving the minimum football attendance requirement for Football Bowl Subdivision members for two years.
  • Financial aid minimums for FBS schools were waived to permit an institution to award at least 75% of the maximum FBS financial aid limit for three years. In addition, institutions will be permitted to award a minimum of 150 athletics grants-in-aid or expend a minimum of $3 million on grants-in-aid to student-athletes for a period of three years. Gender equity requirements and rules governing nonrenewal/cancellation of aid remain in effect.
  • FBS schools will not be required to play 60% of their games against FBS members or play five home games against FBS opponents.

The latter waiver is nearly as important as the resumption of on-campus workouts. The easing of those restrictions will allow athletic directors across the country the flexibility to get in a full slate of games — or as close to a full slate of games — as we continue to weave our way through the coronavirus pandemic.