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SEC Headlines 11/15/2013

headlines-friSEC Football

1. Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy a game-time decision; Gators likely to start redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg.

2. Before the season, the line on the Florida-South Carolina game was 3 1/2 points.  It’s now double-digits.

3. South Carolina running back Mike Davis once thought he was going to a Florida Gator.  The bitterness persists. With 1,508 yards, he’s the SEC’s leading rusher.

4. Texas A&M receiver Malcome Kennedy channels his inner Bob Dole in support of Johnny Manziel’s Heisman campaign: “He knows it, we know it and people who watch sports know it.”

5. Archie Manning on Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron: “All he does is win.”

6. Gary Danielson on differences between Alabama and Auburn: “Alabama really strives for balance…But Auburn’s definition of balance is different.”

7. “So what, exactly, happened at Auburn last year?..As it turns out, the core issue wasn’t talent.”

8. Auburn has to play Georgia every year as their permanent cross-division opponent but you don’t hear them complain about it.

9. A comparison of current Auburn QB Nick Marshall to former Auburn QB Cam Newton.

10. Plenty of Georgia natives on the Auburn roster.

11. Here’s a headline you don’t see everyday: “Why I relish UK-Vandy Football”

12. Mississippi State’s offense has struggled at times this year scoring points in the fourth quarter.

13. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace is on a roll - nearly 72% completion rate the last four games.

14. Vanderbilt’s sophomore class is beginning to emerge.

15. If Missouri doesn’t win out, Cotton Bowl is a possibility with a rematch against a former Big 12 rival.

16. With eight SEC teams already bowl eligible, the jockeying for position has begun.

SEC/NCAA News

17. NCAA president Mark Emmert says the organization continues to oppose payments beyond scholarship value to student athletes: “There is virtually no interest among university presidents and athletic directors in turning student-athletes into paid, unionized professionals.”

SEC Basketball

18. Georgia coach Mark Fox wanted Auburn QB Nick Marshall to play basketball for the Bulldogs.

19. Is the series between Georgia and Georgia Tech headed for extinction?

20. Why South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell is a freshman worth watching.

21. Sports Illustrated has Louisville No. 1, Kentucky No. 2. Florida comes in at No. 9.

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Report: New Themes Emerge During NCAA, Athletic Directors Meeting

three-men-talkingYesterday we told you that NCAA president Mark Emmert was promising big changes to the way his organization governs Division I athletics.  Last night, Dan Wolken of USA Today broke down some of the major themes that — according to D-I athletic directors — came up during this week’s conversations between the NCAA, faculty athletics representatives, and ADs.

According to Wolken, his sources claim those themes are:

 

1.  “There is zero momentum to the long-theorized notion of leaving the NCAA and forming a new organization.”  If you read this site, that won’t surprise you.  We’ve been pooh-poohing secession talk since launching MrSEC.com in 2008.  That said, according to Wolken’s sources, we’re not likely to see a completely new super-division at the top of the D-I tree, either.  “Rather a new subset within Division I would be mostly about flexibility and voting power to enact policies without pushback from schools that don’t have FBS football programs.”  In other words, there would be no separation between the haves and have-nots on the playing field.  There would, however, be a separation when it comes to voting on such things as full-cost-of-tuition scholarships.  The new super-division that we have prophesied would be more of a backroom split than a front porch division.

2.  The idea of each sport having “some autonomy to deal with its unique issues” is being kicked around, a la the US Olympic Committee.  Swimmers and basketballers aren’t held to the exact same rules and Wolken says “there’s some consensus that governing football and men’s basketball by the same set of rules as, say, tennis no longer makes much sense.”

3.  Everyone is still hung up on how exactly to provide more financial aid to student-athletes.  “Though there’s virtual unanimity that athletes should, and ultimately will, receive some sort of stipend above the value of their scholarship, there’s still disagreement about how to implement it.”  A stipend?  A full-cost-of-tuition scholarship?  Something else?  There appears to be no consensus on how to get from A to B even though everyone realizes that B is the ultimate destination.

4.  No one is sure what — if any — changes could be in the offing for the NCAA’s rules on agent-player relationships.

 

The big takeaway appears to be that there will be no big breakaway from the NCAA.  Also, a new super-division of the richest schools could be more of a behind-the-scenes power bloc than a front-and-center split between the mega-conferences (SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12) and the rest of the FBS leagues.

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NCAA Prez Emmert Promises “A Lot Of Change” Over The Next Year

Penn State Abuse EmmertAs scandals break left and right (we say it’s because there’s more media digging around), with players uniting in the hopes of getting paid (we say no amount of cash will hush that chorus), and with the media calling for the outright toppling of the NCAA (we ask what the replacement would be), president Mark Emmert is promising a lot of change to the way his organization does business. 

And Emmert — speaking to more than 100 Division I faculty athletics representatives yesterday — says that change is coming soon, too:

 

“I’ve said publicly on a number of occasions that only thing everybody agrees on with Division I governance is that it doesn’t work.  I think the board anticipates a lot of change.  They’re going into their October and January meetings expecting to look at a whole different governance model for Division I.  So it will be significantly different.”

 

There was no word on whether Emmert stood and belted out this Sam Cooke classic post-speech.

While some still speculate that a number of big schools will completely break away from the NCAA in order to form their own “more perfect union,” we at MrSEC.com believe a new super-division of those schools with the biggest athletic budgets remains the most likely outcome from all the recent shaking and quaking.  On more than one occasion we have tried to point out that the biggest schools are the NCAA and that they will first try to fix their ship before abandoning it.  Also, try to imagine the difficulty involved in creating an all new rule book, governance plan, and hierarchy that can be agreed upon by all the big conferences and the big and “small” schools in each.  Breaking away would require too much work, in our view, and for that reason it won’t be the final solution to this problem.

Emmert said yesterday: “To think that the president of the NCAA has ever been anything like the commissioner of baseball is ludicrous, but yet that would be the most popular perception I suspect that people have of what my job is.”  Yes, Emmert was trying to defend the job he’s done, but that doesn’t mean his statement is incorrect.  In fact, we would suggest that the NCAA as a whole — sometimes viewed by fans as a corrupt sheriff who’s ridden in and taken over a Wild West town — is less than all-powerful, too.  The schools and their representatives make up the NCAA.  The NCAA isn’t a dominating alien.  It is literally the schools themselves.  So if the schools have created the mess that is the NCAA, what faith should anyone have in a few of those bigger schools cooking up a better breakaway plan in the future?

At the risk of sounding like the Devil’s advocate, we at MrSEC.com are even skeptical of a line published in the packet handed out to attendees at yesterday’s meeting: “The simpler the governance structure, the better.”  That sounds good, but it means one of two things.  Either the NCAA will now allow some amount of cheating to take place… or it will continue to add rules to its “simple” governance structure to close the loopholes that will no doubt open up with the launch of a newer, simpler system.  Meaning the new simpler plan won’t be simple for long.

As stated we believe a new super-division is coming in which the biggest schools can hand their players full-cost-of-tuition scholarships which will include some amount of spending cash.  But that cash will be deemed too small by players and media members alike.  “They’re making billions for the schools but all they get is an extra grand a semester?”   In addition, the governance plan for the new division will come under fire the very first time a scandal breaks (which will likely be about five minutes after the new plan is unveiled).

Emmert says a change is coming to Division I governance.  But we suspect today’s problems will simply be moved beneath a different shell.  There is no cleaning up college athletics and there is certainly no way to keep everyone happy.  So whatever changes are made — in today’s society — they won’t stand a chance of satisfying the populus.  That doesn’t mean an effort to improve things shouldn’t be made.  It just means any new plan will be sliced and diced same as the old plan.

In other words…

 

Charlie Wilson's war Zen Master and the little boy

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NCAA Prez Under Fire For Losing Unwinnable Game

Penn State Abuse EmmertTalk about your thankless jobs.

With so many people worried about the heat members of the new college football playoff selection committee will take, there’s already an important figure in collegiate sports who’s got it far worse than any playoff panelist — NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Emmert took the reigns of the NCAA more than two years ago.  Today he’s been riddled with more bullets (verbal in nature) than Sonny Corleone at a tollbooth.  Coaches don’t like the NCAA because its rulebook is too thick.  Fans don’t like the NCAA because the organization is basically the police force of college sports and if their favorite school is cheating in some way, well, they don’t want them to get caught.  Media members attack the NCAA because that’s just what we do.  We look at big organizations and attempt to critique them, often in unfair ways.

And if happen to be the poor sap who’s agreed to sit atop the NCAA’s org chart — as Emmert has — then you’re the guy that coaches, fans and media members will target most often.

This week, Sports Illustrated is running a lengthy story on the overall failure of Emmert to reform the NCAA during his tenure.  (Of course, when he’s attempted to actually reform the rulebook, the changes have all been ixnayed after the fact by coaches and athletic directors who were not consulted).  Among the many negative reviews of Emmert and his team from SI.com:

 

“In many interviews with NCAA officials about enforcement, the topic quickly shifted back to the leadership of Emmert, who is known internally at the NCAA as the ‘King of the Press Conference.’  That’s not a compliment.”

“A portrait emerged of a (enforcement) department battered by turnover, afraid of lawsuits and overwhelmed by scandal.  One ex-enforcement official told SI, ‘The time is ripe to cheat.  There’s no policing going on.’”

“When talking to a dozen college officials to get a pulse on Emmert, many struggled to answer the question, ‘What has he actually accomplished so far in his tenure?’  Even the harsh sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal ($60 million fine, four-year bowl ban and the loss of 40 scholarships over four years) has painted Emmert in a bad light after he went on a television tour, which some perceived as a victory lap, to talk about the unprecedented action by the NCAA.”

“The NCAA failed to pass most of the initiatives Emmert has trumpeted.  Many agreed with the ideals behind Emmert’s ambitious agenda, including trying to give scholarship athletes a small amount of money to cover the full cost of school, and paring down the rulebook.  But the lack of results have highlighted the growing schism between have and have-nots in Division I and further polarized the athletic directors who feel largely ignored and highlighted how out-of-touch Emmert is with his constituents.”

 

Yikes.  It goes on from there and it gets no prettier.

Not to be outdone, The Sporting News put in some calls of its own to further pile on the easy-target NCAA president:

 

“Why does embattled president Mark Emmert still have a job?  The reason could be this simple: Firing Emmert could do more harm than good.  ‘If you force him out, you’re essentially telling everyone he has failed,’ one NCAA (university) president told Sporting News.  ‘When you’re dealing with (litigation), it’s not prudent to admit failure at the highest office.’”

*  “‘He is incapable of looking in the mirror and figuring out that he could be the problem,’ one administrator of a BCS school told Sporting News.  ‘A leader with a personality like that, it affects everyone he manages and it affects the way the organization is run.’”

 

The real problem might just be that reforming the NCAA is a goal that cannot be accomplished, a game that can’t be won.  Sci-fi heads, think “Kobayashi Maru,” the ultimate no-win scenario.

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SEC Headlines 5/1/2013

headlines-wedSEC Football

1. Baton Rouge police report: “Cell phone video shows LSU running back Jeremy Hill punching a man from behind and then celebrating with high fives when a second unidentified man knocked the victim out with another punch.”

2. Former Florida State quarterback Clint Trickett picks West Virginia.  Had considered transferring to Auburn.

3. Because his style of play is what the NFL craves, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel “must strike now,” according to Matt Hayes of The Sporting News.

4. Manziel and the Aggies offense will be the focus of many SEC coaches over the summer.

5. Meet DJ Double R, the man providing the soundtrack for Texas A&M football.

6. Georgia coach Mark Richt on offensive line play: I’d rather have five guys that are in sync…. than three of them that are superstars and two guys that can’t play.”

7. How Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen’s 2009 recruiting class fared – compared to Ole Miss.

8. What the NFL draft says about the Arkansas program.

9. Auburn defense end Dee Ford led the team in sacks in 2012 and defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson likes what he saw this spring: ”He is our best and, at this point, our only pass rusher that is giving us the kind of pass rush we’ve got to get to be successful.”

10. Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron will be the honorary pace car driver at the Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday.

11. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and former player Sterling Sharpe the best SEC golfers at the Chik-fil-A Bowl challenge.

SEC Basketball

12. Former Rutgers guard Eli Carter is transferring to Florida.  Averaged 14.9 points per game last year before breaking his leg. Seeking a waiver to allow him to be on the 2013-2014 roster.

13. One incoming -one outgoing for the Gators.   Guard Braxton Ogbueze is leaving.

14. Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson – preseason All-American candidate?

15. Georgia and Georgia Tech scheduled to play on November 15th. In a series that dates back to 1905, the two teams have never met that early in the season.

SEC/College News

16. Expect the committee organized to review Auburn athletics to file a report “in a few weeks.”

17. An attorney vs. attorney dispute that’s generating attention from the NCAA and the NFL.

18. Which conference won realignment?  I doubt you’ll be surprised by the answer.

Extras

19. 15 candidates to be on the stage at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall for next year’s NFL draft.

20. A Tennessee State football player collapsed on the practice field and later died. Now his parents are suing the university for wrongful death.

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A Super Division Is Coming, But Athletic Directors Need To Be Part Of The Process

mark-emmert-ncaa-prezWith the NCAA facing numerous issues this offseason, there appears to be a growing rift between the academic side of college sports and the athletic side.  A group created by one (the academic side) in order to help run the other (the athletic side), the current NCAA is caught in what’s looking increasingly like a tug-of-war between the jocks and the pointy-heads.

According to Andy Staples of SI.com, “that might be the NCAA’s biggest problem” moving forward:

 

“Under president Mark Emmert, the NCAA has aggressively embraced a model that puts all the power in the hands of university presidents and chancellors.  That would be fine, some high-profile athletic directors said, if the presidents sought the advice of the people who work in athletics on a daily basis.  Instead, Emmert and his hand-picked group of CEOs have rammed through rules and policies with only minimal consultation of the people who must actually implement those rules and policies.  Why will much of the recently passed football recruiting deregulation probably get tabled?  Because no one bothered to ask the people working in athletics.  If they had, they might have realized a relaxation on the rules that govern how often coaches can contact recruits would be find with most ADs and coaches.  They also would have realized a relaxation on the rules that govern exactly who may contact recruits could result in a hiring spree by the wealthiest schools that would leave everyone else going further into debt while trying to keep up.  Why did the plan to offer athletes up to a $2,000 annual stipend to cover the full cost of attendance get scuttled after its passage at a 2011 presidential retreat?  Because no one bothered to check with less wealthy schools to see how they felt about it.  If they had, they’d have known it stood no chance of passing an override vote.”

 

Staples’ article is well worth your time, though it reveals just one new aspect of an issue we’ve discussed on this site on numerous occasions — What is the NCAA’s role in college athletics now that college athletics have become such large sources of revenue for schools?

Initially, the NCAA was charged with keeping the amateur model intact, with making sure everyone competed on a level playing field, and protecting the safety of student-athletes.  But today the amateur model is the center of its own controversy and numerous schools are pushing toward a system where all schools are not created equal when it comes to revenue, staff sizes, spending, and even extra stipends or larger scholarships for athletes.

Though talk of a breakaway from the NCAA by a number of big schools is back in the news, at MrSEC.com we continue to feel that such a grand change is unlikely.  Think of all that would be involved in creating a new and improved “NCAA lite.”  Who would make the new rule book?  Who would enforce it?  How would money be distributed?  More importantly, who in the hell could get the largest of the big-money schools all on the same page long enough to even begin answering those questions?  You better believe that Big Ten schools and SEC schools would view things like partial-qualifiers, oversigning, and admissions standards differently.  Even within the SEC, Vanderbilt would likely view those topics through a different monocle than Auburn or Ole Miss or cross-state rival Tennessee, for example.

Aside from infrastructure concerns, just imagine all the potential lawsuits that could result from one group of schools totally breaking away from another.

No, it’s much more likely that a new “super division” of the biggest big-dollar schools will be created as a fifth tier of the NCAA pyramid (atop Division III, Division II, the FCS, and the FBS… though those last two might somehow be merged).  We’ve written on this topic repeatedly — here, here, here, and here.

The richest NCAA schools already appear to be on the path to a new super division model.  Staples’ article reveals that the decision about this new structure will not only require university presidents and chancellors to work together, but it will also require the input of athletic directors, a group that’s been moved to the kiddie table under Emmert’s regime.

And if ADs aren’t asked for their thoughts?  Well, you can expect any new super division to be just as controversial and unpopular as the current four-tiered NCAA set-up… meaning very.

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As Opposition To Stipends Increases, So Too Do The Chances Of A New Subdivision In College Sports

chasmIf you read this site often you know that we believe the top 70-80 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision will eventually create their own “super division” of college athletics.  The biggest schools in the biggest conferences are already pushing for the right to provide full-cost-of-tuition scholarships to their athletes.  The commissioners of the biggest, wealthiest conferences are behind the idea.  Embattled NCAA president Mark Emmert is as well.

But according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the divide between those who want to increase student stipends and those who don’t — or those who can’t afford to — is widening:

 

“In some ways, the issue has become a referendum on Mr. Emmert, whose attempts to get things done quickly have alienated certain factions.

‘There are some people who will oppose anything he supports, and that’s unfair,’ says Sidney A. McPhee, president of Middle Tennessee State University.  As head of the NCAA Student-Athlete Well-Being Working Group, Mr. McPhee has become chief arbiter of the stipend debate.

The issue has driven a wedge through an already divided Division I.  Some institutions, including those that don’t compete in football at the highest levels, say they simply don’t have the revenue to offset the added costs.  Others worry that making additional payments to players—no matter how small, and for whatever reason—threatens the amateur model.

Such opposition is one reason some of the wealthier programs are pushing for a further subdivision of the NCAA’s top level.  If they can’t get their way on issues like this one, some observers say, they’ll just take their ball and go play somewhere else.

The climate has frustrated Mr. McPhee, who believes that even the less-wealthy programs have an obligation to make a priority of players and their unmet financial needs.  ‘If you want to compete [in Division I],’ he says, ‘you’ve got to step up.’

It’s also a matter of fairness, he says. Institutions increase aid packages for other students all the time, so why shouldn’t they do it for athletes too?”

 

There are only three questions remaining, in our view.  First, when will the new “super division” be created?  Second, will athletes from all sports be paid (if not, expect litigation).  Third, if all sports are included, are we looking at a split inside the FBS or an overall split among Division I schools in every sport?

While the 70-80 largest, richest football schools would obviously be ready to start their own new branch of the NCAA, would their be some big basketball schools — St. John’s, Georgetown, Marquette, for example — that are prepared to pay athletes as well?  One would imagine so.

Rest assured, a split is coming and a new “super division” will be formed.  It’s just a matter now of when it will be formed and who will be a part of it.

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LSU’s Miles Has No Problem With Early Departures

les-miles-hands-up-questionNo school had ever lost 11 underclassmen to the NFL draft.  Not until this past winter when 11 LSU Tigers told head coach Les Miles they would be making the jump to the professional ranks, that is.

Quite naturally, the coach has tried to turn that negative into a positive… on the recruiting trail:

 

“The situation is a reality in our program.  We did a great job developing our guys, and investing in them.  And what’s happening is that three-and-outs are reality.  We’re going to have to enjoy the success that those guys can have in three and out.

I still believe that there are opportunities (for players to return) to raise their draft status.  The two pieces to whether you stay is whether you raise your draft status and the opportunity to make it and stay in the NFL.  To me, when you’re ideally placed to be drafted high and to be in a position where you have to find your worth and your abilities but you will make a team — those guys are really welcome to leave (school) and, in many instances, will.”

 

Cut through the standard Miles doubletalk and you’ll easily grasp the coach’s message to prospects — “Hey, kid, we can get you ready for the NFL lickety-split.”

Michael Carvell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that “some are wondering if the coach works for a university… or an NFL farm system.”  In reality, the answer is both.

Miles is aware of the current college sports landscape and he’s adapting to it, not unlike John Calipari at Kentucky.  No rules are being broken.  Heck, those who abhor the NCAA might even say Miles and LSU are helping young men break free from the bonds of Mark Emmert faster, allowing them to make money sooner.

Still, if Miles were to be honest, one would guess he’s not thrilled about having to replace so many players ahead of schedule.  Faced with that issue, however, he has to put a proper spin on it.  And he has.  So anyone upset with Miles’ comments regarding three-and-outs should first ask themselves this question: “What was Miles supposed to say?”

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Will The Rich Get Richer? Or Will The NCAA Backtrack On Recruiting Deregulation?

gfx - honest opinionDay after day, week after week, more coaches, more athletic directors, and more conferences are speaking out against the NCAA’s decision to deregulate recruiting.  After years of complaining about the NCAA’s rulebook being too thick, the complaint now is that college sports’ governing body is ripping out way too many pages.

Somewhere NCAA prez Mark Emmert sits in a dark room mumbling to himself, “I can’t win.”

This summer, dead periods will become a thing of the past.  Coaches can contact prospects whenever and however they like.  They can mail anything they like, too.  Take it from South Carolina recruiting coordinator and receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr.:

 

“I think there’s going to be some more stuff this summer that the SEC is deciding on (about the rule changes). But you can mail out anything. I’ll start mailing out Fatheads (wall stickers) of our best players. I’m going to mail them to everybody. It’s perfectly legal. You can mail out whatever you want. Because we’ve got to think about what Alabama’s doing, and they will absolutely press the envelope, regardless of calls. You can send out whatever you want. Last year, you couldn’t mail out media guides. You can send out anything now.”

 

Ah, yes.  Alabama.

In addition to the anything-goes policies now on the way, colleges will also be allowed to hire as many people to help with on-campus recruiting as they like.  Alabama has already employed former Baylor head coach Kevin Steele as its director of player personnel, a czar of sorts to oversee the 28-man Bama bunch that can text, call, and mail recruits as often as it likes.

Other schools with cash aplenty will surely follow Alabama’s lead.  So those schools trying to build programs or climb past football’s reigning juggernauts, well, good luck.  The bullies on the block will be able to call in reinforcements.  Good ones.  Lots of them.

But that’s if the NCAA’s planned rulebook burning begins on July 1st as scheduled.  The chorus of figures against the plan is growing by the hour.

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Mizzou A.D. Alden Talks NCAA Investigation Into Miami, Haith

gfx - they said itMissouri athletic director Mike Alden was out of the country last week when the NCAA announced that it had bungled parts of its investigation into the Miami athletic department.  One of the ex-Miami coaches who was reportedly on the verge of being charged with unethical conduct is current Tiger basketball coach Frank Haith.

Yesterday, for the first time, Alden addressed the NCAA’s botched investigation:

 

“I’d look at this nationally first.  I’ve never seen anything like that before in my tenure in college athletics.  So, I think it certainly raises lots of questions.  I appreciate the fact that the NCAA has come up and they’re addressing it.  We’ll kind of have to see how that plays out…

Based upon the conversations I heard that were taking place yesterday (during a conference attended by NCAA president Mark Emmert and a number of athletic directors)… there’s a significant amount of concern nationally relative to the integrity of the process and the transparency.  How that impacts other institutions, whether it’s us or whatever, time will tell.  We’re just going to have to continue to monitor it.”

 

Alden said he has no insight on when the NCAA might wrap up its sleuth work.

Whether the governing body drops the hammer on Miami, its ex-coaches and Haith remains to be seen, but you can bet there will be some serious appeals if they do.  Further, the screw-ups in the investigation could also open the door to actual court battles — can you say Jerry Tarkanian? — if things go poorly for those currently under the NCAA’s microscope.

 

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