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The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

Archive for the category “Scandal”

Pittsburgh Removes Football Players From Program

This weekend’s NFL draft featured the selection of exactly ZERO players from Pittsburgh.  This is odd because Pitt usually had among the best recruiting classes in the Big East.  They are able to keep a lot of that great Pennsylvania talent to stay at home… but it rarely translates into wins.  And now the team is going backwards—having to dismiss two players and indefinitely suspend two others.

Head coach Paul Chryst did a nice job to keep the team bowl-eligible in 2012, after yet another coaching change.  One ugly part of the coaching job is discipline issues.  And it has reared its head in Pittsburgh lately.  As noted above, Chryst had to remove two players from the team permanently and indefinitely suspend a third:

Tight end Drew Carswell and defensive back Eric Williams, both juniors, have been removed from the team. Carswell, Williams and defensive tackle Khaynin Mosley-Smith were all suspended last week after police made a drug raid on their house.

Yikes.  Not a good thing when a drug raid occurs at the house of players.

And then, in a separate incident, Chryst gave the indefinite suspension penalty to yet another player–QB Tra’von Chapman.  Chapman was arrested in Ohio over the weekend for assault and something called “unlawful restraint.”  Whatever it is, it isn’t good.  ESPN had Chapman as the 20th best QB coming out of high school.

Pitt has had better football weekends, that’s for sure.

 

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Scandal-Cuse

Syracuse joins the ACC in a few months.  Nevertheless, it has been one scandal after another since Syracuse and Pitt announced that they were joining the ACC.  Might as well just call the Orange ScandalCuse at this point.

First, the current scandal.  Giving credit to a fellow blogger, instead of the hit-driven, quasi-media type that broke the “story,” Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician” had this to say:

Syracuse University basketball has been under NCAA investigation for a period of “years,” a source with knowledge of the case told CBSSports.com.

That source said the school has received a letter of preliminary inquiry from the NCAA.

The specific nature of the alleged violations was not disclosed by the source but the transgressions were described as both major and wide-ranging in nature. The investigation also encompasses football but is believed to primarily involve basketball. Syracuse has been penalized only once by the NCAA in a major case according to the association’s legislative database. That was in 1992 in a case that focused on extra benefits in the basketball program.

Later blog entries on the site revealed a calmer analysis.  And Jim Boeheim went the calm route, as well, eschewing the opportunity to spew venom.  In any event, it is yet another negative news story regarding Syracuse.

Second, just look at the recent timeline of negative news stories here:

  • September 19, 2011: Syracuse and Pitt announce that they are leaving the Big East for the ACC.
  • November 17, 2012: The Bernie Fine scandal breaks.
  • January 21, 2012: Fab Melo suspended for unknown reasons.
  • March 13, 2012: Fab Melo suspended again, misses NCAA Tournament
  • January 15, 2013: James Southerland suspended
  • March 20, 2013: Today’s news.

Really, it is understandable if Syracuse fans feel a bit reluctant to reach for a newspaper link to a news story.  Lately, despite having uber-competitive teams and the Bernie Fine scandal being seriously overblown, the news has been mostly negative.  Especially in March, which also includes the March 15, 2010, injury to Arinze Onuaku.  Other schools have had similar injuries, suspensions, scandals, and bad news… but all of it in a three-year span?

So, yeah, let’s just call it ScandalCuse from now on.  And give a Syracuse fan a hug.  It is needed.

 

Miami Accused of Lack of Institutional Control

Hopefully our Miami correspondent will have much more on this later, but the NCAA finally got around to handing down its allegations to Miami–lack of institutional control.  Of course, the real issue for Miami fans is what kind of sanctions the Hurricanes are looking at.  But at least Miami has an idea of exactly what violations the NCAA is pursuing.

To its  credit, Miami has self-imposed significant sanctions already, including the voluntary loss of two bowls.  Of course, Penn State fans will probably make the argument that Miami’s crimes are worse NCAA violations than what happened in Happy Valley.

The Big 10 Universities: Integrity for Sale Long Before the Big Ten Network

Look, the Confidential understands conference realignment.  The Big East was a dumpster fire for several years after the defections of Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Miami.  If Maryland cannot balance its budget, imagine how Pitt, Syracuse, West Virginia, Utah, Rutgers, and TCU felt trying to do the same on 1/2 the revenue (or less).  The Confidential also understands that the TV revenue at issue is real and can fairly be a factor in the realignment decision.  As blogs like Frank the Tank pointed out, you cannot look at expansion without considering the impact on TV revenue.  This is the very concept that makes Rutgers and its athletic futility more valuable than UConn and its multiple national championships and BCS appearance.  The Big 10’s selection of Nebraska showed that on-field product still mattered.  But this latest expansion into Maryland and New Jersey is solely about money.  Unfortunately, this is nothing new–it is just more of the same money-obsession from large, public universities that thrive on research dollars.

In fact, if you look at Frank the Tank’s blog, you’ll see that research dollars are discussed with pride.  A university engaging in $300,000,000 a year in research is deemed “better” than a university that only takes in $100,000,000 a year.  There are rankings and everything, both for comparing current Big 10 teams and differentiating prospective ones.  Apparently, the only criteria for measuring research is the volume.  And the measurement of volume is dollars.  The more the better, regardless of where it comes from and whether it is useful research.  Well, this same approach now applies to the Big Ten and its television network.  It does not matter what is being shown on television, it only matters that it is being shown on television and generating revenue.  Much like research dollars, the only metric that matters is revenue.

The problem, of course, is that research pretends to be objective.  But, as Discover magazine noted several years ago, the trend in research is vastly different than it was approximately 50 years ago:

In 1965, the federal government financed more than 60 percent of all R&D in the United States. By 2006, the balance had flipped, with 65 percent of R&D in this country being funded by private interests.

The conflict of interest becomes obvious.  If research is “for sale,” the integrity of that research soon follows.  If State University takes the $10,000,000 research grant from Conglomerate X, can it conclude that Conglomerate X’s product is dangerous and still get a similar grant the following year?  When you hear that study indicating that using bleach kills 99% of harmful germs, you then hear that it was a study financed by a company that sells bleach.  When you hear that studies show pork to be a healthy alternative to chicken, we the hear that the study was financed by the pork industry.  And so on.

None of this is meant to condemn all research, much less any specific research.  We all hope that cures for diseases are around the corner.  Of course, there is a problem when there is a financial incentive to never find that cure.  If you get $10,000,000 a year for cancer research, curing cancer will mean a reduction in revenue.  This is a corporate conflict of interest problem.  It should not be trickling down to Universities beholden to corporate research.

Strictly speaking, there is no reason why Universities cannot be corporations and maximize revenue to the exclusion of any other particular moral obligations.  But there IS a problem with Universities doing so and pretending to be something other than for-profit industries.  The Confidential just noted the absurdity in not taxing Division I sports revenue.  Well, there needs to be taxation on Universities that are engaging in this level of research.  If you want to be a business, be a business.  If you want to be a tax-free educational institution, cut off the flow from corporate interests.

Although one has to move yet another step beyond sports for a moment, ask yourself where the United States stands in 2012 compared to 1965.  While there are many reasons for it, we no longer “trust” government.  Does anyone see “FDA Approval” and feel comfortable?  As Yale Scientific Magazine notes, the FDA admitted to wrongdoing in 2010 with respect to the approval of a medical device.  If you are not skeptical, go get yourself some Vioxx.  Can we even trust science any more?  Perhaps not if the science is being funded only by interested parties.

Like research, we hope that athletics is also objective.  While people watch figure skating and gymnastics with their subjective scoring in great numbers, many more fans prefer the objectivity of score-based sports.  The better team wins, and you can look at the scoreboard to see who wins.  But as money completely takes over sports, the corresponding loss of integrity and objectivity will suffer.  It is not a surprise that the Big 10 athletic conference cares more about the money it generates than anything else.  This is consistent with the research focus of such Universities.  One has to question when this will, like the FDA, spill over into a lack of integrity on the field.  If all that matters is money, wouldn’t it be prudent and expected for the Big 10 to ensure that 10-0 Ohio State beats 5-5 Maryland in 2018?  Maryland should willingly accept its loss because the following week’s Ohio State-Michigan game will generate more TV revenue, to the benefit of all.  Well, at least as it relates to the only criteria that matters to large, public universities–money.

Carry on, Big 10.  Carry on.

The NCAA: Screwing Student-Athletes Whenever Possible

With the denial of John Raymon’s transfer waiver request, the NCAA has proven that, once again, it is a completely out-of-touch organization looking out for everyone EXCEPT the student-athletes it purports to care about.  The Confidential does not know all the details of why Raymon sought a waiver and does not care.  The bottom line is that a kid of roughly 20-years-old was denied the right of changing his mind in a way that virtually no other segment of American society has to endure. If he was a 50-year-old coach, the move from Iowa to Syracuse would be swift and without penalty.

Look, the Confidential understands the transfer rule generally.  If there was no transfer penalty, then the recruitment process would be ongoing year-after-year for players already on rosters.  If that happened, every star player at Iowa State could be “recruited” to finish his final two seasons at Nebraska.  And so on.  That’s just not how American society chooses to operate.

Except… that is EXACTLY how American society chooses to operate.  If an accountant wants to leave his firm, he can give two weeks notice.  If a lawyer wants to start her own practice, she can give two weeks notice and do so.  If an engineering major wants to transfer from Iowa State to Nebraska, he or she can do so without having to defer pondering differential equations for one year.  If the President of Iowa State wants to become the President of Nebraska, he can do so without “sitting out a year.”

Of course, the response to that is that the NCAA is not a normal business.  No, it is not normal.  It is simply made up of institutions, dozens of whom now make $20,000,000 a year in television revenue.  It is made up of institutions who do not balk at asking alums for money to build stadiums.  It is made up of institutions that are willing to pay coaches $1,000,000+ to tell a bunch of young adults what to do on the athletic field.  The NCAA is not “normal business” anymore, it is big business now.  So, NCAA, spare the world your 19th century morals.  You gave those up long ago.

Indeed, the hypocrisy is astounding.  The NCAA does not punish a coach who chooses to take a job at a new institution.  But it DOES impose a transfer penalty on the players that were recruited to play for that very coach at that very school.  So there is freedom of movement for adult coaches, but not the young adult players who foolishly chose to play for a guy that abandons the program.  And that is just the head coach.  What about the assistants that are on the front lines of recruitment and in many cases closer to the players.  Assistant coaches are even more likely to switch universities–voluntarily or involuntarily.  Just ask the coordinators at Houston and Wisconsin that were fired before mid-September.

So… if a 50-year old coach decides to abandon his $1,400,000 a year job at College A to take a $2,200,000 a year job at College B, he can do so without penalty.  If an 19-year old kid second guesses his decision to attend College A, and wants to transfer to College B, he must sit out a year.  Sure, the kid can still transfer.  But he cannot play his sport for one year.  The coach of that same sport need not sit out a year.  The NCAA is holding kids to decisions made on or before reaching adulthood, but allowing adults to have greater freedom of movement.

By the way, the NCAA has only recently decided that multi-year scholarships might be, say, a fair idea.  In the absence of multi-year scholarships, College A has been able to recruit a kid and decide after his first year that his athletic scholarship is revoked.  But the kid cannot revoke his own scholarship and seek one elsewhere.  Again, anything to screw student-athletes.  Fortunately, the vote to allow multi-year scholarships barely passed.  So at least now the kids restrained from transferring have a chance to bind the schools that bind them.

Of course, now the NCAA might want to drop the term “student-athlete.”  The Confidential is not sure what term will be used to describe who the NCAA screws in the future, but the screwing will likely continue unabated.   That’s just what the NCAA does.

 

Al Pacino to Play JoePa In Movie? The Confidential Predicts the Rest of the Cast…

Word on the Interwebs is that Al Pacino is attached to play Joe Paterno in a movie based on Joe Posnanski’s biography Paterno.  Ok, so be it.  But the Confidential cannot help wonder who will play all the other major players in the Penn State scandal.  Here are the Confidential’s recommendations.

To make life easier, we’ll borrow from the SI.com article listing the key individuals involved with the scandal:

JERRY SANDUSKY:

Jerry Sandusky

THE CONFIDENTIAL RECOMMENDS:

It’s hard to argue with the great work that William Shatner has done with the Priceline.com commercials.

FORMER PENN STATE PRESIDENT, GRAHAM SPANIER:
Graham Spanier

THE CONFIDENTIAL RECOMMENDS:

How about Sir Ian McKellan… from Gandalf to Graham.  Just needs to lose the hat and perhaps darken the hair a bit.  Child’s play for Hollywood makeup artists.

Ian McKellen Picture

LOUIS FREEH, AUTHOR OF THE FREEH REPORT THAT LED TO NCAA SANCTIONS:

Louis Freeh

THE CONFIDENTIAL RECOMMENDS:

Sydney Pollack was made for this role.

Sydney Pollack Picture

But with his unfortunate passing, we’ll go with someone a little more Italian-American, Armand Assante.  He will probably have a nice watch, which is essential for the role.

 

TIM CURLEY, FORMER PENN STATE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR:

Tim Curley

THE CONFIDENTIAL RECOMMENDS:

Victor Garber, best known as Agent Jack Bristow on Alias.  Of course, he was also in Titanic–which had a more successful ending than Paterno’s career.   All he needs is some glasses.

Victor Garber Picture

GARY SCHULTZ, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

Gary Schultz

THE CONFIDENTIAL RECOMMENDS:

Jeffrey Jones, best known as Principal Rooney from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

We also might have considered John Banner, who played Sergeant Schultz on Hogan’s Heroes.  But he passed away 30 years ago.  Oh well.

MIKE MCQUEARY, ASSISTANT COACH/EYEWITNESS:

Mike McQueary

THE CONFIDENTIAL RECOMMENDS:

Crap, they don’t hire red-headed actors anymore.  Ron Howard ruined it for everyone.  By default, the Confidential will go with some guy named Damian Lewis that most of you have probably heard of.

 

SUE PATERNO, FIRST LADY OF PENN STATE FOOTBALL:

Sue Paterno

THE CONFIDENTIAL RECOMMENDS:

Talia Shire.  She was the wife in Rocky.  She was the sister in The Godfather.  I think she is required to be the wife in any movies regarding Italian-Americans.  She’s probably too young, but so is Al Pacino.  Whatever.  Not the Confidential’s problem.

NCAA PRESIDENT MARK EMMERT:

THE CONFIDENTIAL RECOMMENDS:

Jon Voight.  C’mon, he can pull it off.

 

What do you think?  Any better suggestions???

North Carolina Academic Issues: No Punishment Looming For Now

Previously, the Confidential observed that North Carolina’s academic “scandal” seemed highly overblown.  Then, the Confidential had some fun at North Carolina’s expense.  But now it looks like North Carolina has a good chance of being cleared of any wrongdoing.  Indeed, it issued a statement yesterday indicating that the university and the NCAA did not find any violations.  This means no punishment is currently looming for North Carolina.

The key parts of the statement are as follows:

The University first notified the NCAA that it had identified potential academic issues involving student-athletes in African and Afro-American Studies courses on August 24, 2011.  We asked the NCAA to join us in our investigation of these issues, and they agreed to do that. A member of the NCAA enforcement staff traveled to Chapel Hill several times in the fall of 2011 and participated throughout the investigation.

* * *

Based on the joint review, UNC and the NCAA staff concluded there were no violations of current NCAA rules or student-athlete eligibility issues related to courses in African and Afro-American Studies. As a result, the NCAA did not add any allegations or include this issue during the University’s appearance in October 2011 before the Committee on Infractions.

* * *

On Aug. 23, 2012, University Counsel Leslie Strohm and Senior Associate Dean Jonathan Hartlyn provided an update to the enforcement staff.  The NCAA staff reaffirmed to University officials that no NCAA rules appeared to have been broken.

The boldface was added by the Confidential.  The import is that the NCAA will not be punishing North Carolina.

Yet.  Indeed, the statement concludes that North Carolina will keep the NCAA informed as developments warrant.  So, if anything new develops, the Tar Heels may yet run into trouble.

But, for now, Tar Heels fans can rest easily.

North Carolina Academic Probe: Much Ado About Nothing?

When it comes to academics, it is hard to argue that the Atlantic Coast Conference is second to only the B1G in academic prestige.  On the football field, the ACC teams have had their fair share of NCAA trouble lately, with issues at Miami and North Carolina garnering the most attention.  An academic fraud situation at North Carolina is even more troubling.  Or is it?

The details of the North Carolina academic issue and its status was recently summarized by ESPN as follows:

But as an offshoot of the NCAA investigation, a UNC internal probe found that 54 AFAM [African-American Studies] classes were either “aberrant” or “irregularly” taught from summer 2007 to summer 2011. That included unauthorized grade changes, forged faculty signatures on grade rolls and limited or no class time.

* * *

A four-member UNC Board of Governors panel is reviewing UNC’s original investigation into the AFAM department. The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether any computer fraud, forgery or conspiracy to commit those crimes in the AFAM department took place. June’s faculty report called for an independent commission of outside experts in higher education to take a forward-looking review of athletics and academics at the university.

Meanwhile, the NCAA, fresh off imposing sanctions on the football team for non-academic reasons, is going to have an interest in the North Carolina self-study.

The Confidential does not want to defend North Carolina, but this issue seems very overblown.  About half of the students in these easy classes were athletes.  The idea of classes like “Rocks for Jocks”  was invented long before ESPN and billion-dollar TV deals.  Is one easy class REALLY the end of the world?

Frankly, even a non-athlete can obtain a college degree without ever truly challenging himself or herself.  That is part of the beauty of college–you have a lot of freedom to determine what you want to learn.  Some students become engineers or architects and devote massive effort into difficult undergraduate curricula.  Other students (ahem, the Confidential, ahem) choose to take a broader spectrum of classes (i.e. not challenging themselves sufficiently).  But there is always graduate school.  And part of college is the learning that takes place outside the academic corridors.  So taking one or more easy classes is actually quite normal.

The Confidential believes that the fraud issues are certainly worth looking into.  Athletes’ grades should not be changed.  Everyone has an obligation to be ethical.  But if this is just a matter of steering athletes towards easier classes, it needs to just go away.

 

 

 

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