Don’t expect serious reforms from NCAA anytime soon

Still another wink and a nod …

Finally the NCAA has begun the process of considering whether college athletes will be allowed to be compensated for their names, images and likenesses. Several decades late but welcome to the real world and the issues engulfing collegiate sports.

The stated purpose of a “blue ribbon committee” is to determine whether athletes should be paid for the use of their talents and persona — as in advertising for commercial ventures and/or video games. That could ultimately be limited to a select number of athletes, or possibly allow all athletes to receive limited compensation.

Either approach would take some heat off the NCAA for taking advantage of the athletes, buying some time for the organization and the public to get used to the idea of compensating college athletes.

However, according to a statement issued by the NCAA Board of Governors, “the group will not consider any concepts that could be construed as payment for participation in college sports. The NCAA’s mission to provide opportunity for students to compete against other students prohibits any contemplation of pay-for-play.”

Apparently the organization is not ready to seriously address the recruiting scandals in college basketball. Everybody knows it has been going on for years, some schools having perfected the cheating process and seemingly beyond the NCAA’s reach.

Men’s basketball programs at Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, Clemson, Creighton, Connecticut, Kansas, Louisville, LSU, Miami, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, South Carolina, TCU and USC have all been implicated in some way in current federal trials.

Equally interesting are some of the programs that have not been touched. Curious that the University of Kentucky, the leader in one-and-dones, rarely gets mentioned.  Duke, which somehow secured the services of Zion Williamson over alleged offers from other schools, is rarely mentioned.

Part of the dilemma is that the NCAA consists of and is overseen by member schools, many of which have participated in the hypocrisy for decades. Pretending that amateurism is the organization’s primary goal. Overlooking the obvious,  badly tarnishing the image of the organization and the schools.

Could the involvement of Congress be the answer to cleaning up the process? Don’t count on it. Getting non-partisan support for anything from the professional politicians these days is next to impossible.

Only when the universities themselves tire of the hypocrisy engulfing sports like basketball and football will they do anything to address the real problems. That’s not going to happen in the distant future.

Satterfield quietly maintaining focus on Louisville football

Scott Satterfield on the mound for the University of Louisville (Photo by Jared Anderson).

Some polite applause as Scott Satterfield took to the mound on Tuesday for the ceremonial first pitch prior to the University of Louisville-Vanderbilt baseball game. After a quick acknowledgment, throwing a perfect strike into Zeke Pinkham’s mitt.

Strictly business, watching a few innings before heading back to the Howard Schnellenberger football complex.

Scott Satterfield (Courier-Journal photo).

Pretty obvious from his first few months in town that Satterfield doesn’t bring a ton of charisma to his job as the new University of Louisville football coach. One could be standing behind him in line at the cash register and not make the connection.

Quiet and unassuming, not an individual who’s going to excite the masses with his presence. Never going to resort to hype to sell football tickets, never going to ride an elephant, or compare UofL fans to UK fans. He has more important things to do, faced with the enormous challenge of undoing the damage of his predecessor to the Louisville football program.

The program took an unprecedented nose dive just months after a new board of trustees was installed. Reports surfaced that Bobby Petrino would not be around very long. The former coach owed a lot to former President Jim Ramsey and former Athletic Director Tom Jurich after Petrino’s downfall after the Arkansas scandal.  In the end, a $14 million buyout seemed to be his only motivation.

Rarely has a college football program fallen so quickly and so far than UofL football did under Petrino.

One of Satterfield’s first discoveries was that there seemed to be little rhyme or reason to Petrino’s recruiting practices. More than a dozen wide receivers on hand but only just a handful of offensive linemen, for example. Outside of practice sessions, the players saw very little of Petrino, many of them not even knowing the location of the coach’s office in the football facility.

Petrino was so unlikeable in his profession that he had serious problems hiring and keeping good assistants. So much damage, shaking the very foundations of the program.

So please forgive Scott Satterfield if he seems a bit pre-occupied with all the issues that Petrino left in his wake. Don’t expect any optimistic predictions or quick turnarounds. Not going to be easy, more than likely a long drawn-out grind that’s going to require a lot of patience from fans. 

Scraping bottom at present but, with a coaching staff that actually cares, the program can only get better. Satterfield knows that and has little time for distractions.

Notre Dame is going to pack Cardinal Stadium Sept. 2, hype or no hype.

Momentum continues to build for UofL baseball

Tyler Fitzgerald has gotten consistently better since his freshman season when he batted only .208. As a junior, he has raised his average to a second best .342 on the team (Photos by Jared Anderson).

Just when one is about to chalk up the 2019 season as mediocre, the University of Louisville baseball team turns it on … and in a very big way.

Coach Dan McDonnell’s were relatively slow getting out of the gate this season, feeling the effects early of having lost seven players in last year’s Major League Draft. A month ago UofL had lost two out of three games in a weekend series with Clemson.

Looking like a long, slow grind, with the Cardinals 24-8 overall and 10-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Not bad but not all that great either.

Only a couple of players were hitting over .300 and  the pitching staff had more than a few issues. The prospects of a return trip for a fifth College World Series were looking dim.

My how things have changed in the intervening weeks. Since April 7, the Cardinals have won 15 of their last 16 games, including eight of nine ACC contests, and have improved their overall record to 39-9.  Louisville is ranked from fourth to seventh in the various national polls.

UofL  now has five players hitting over .300, led by Alex Binelas at .344, Tyler Fitzgerald at .342, Zach Britton at .315, Logan Wyatt at .307, and Danny Oriente at .305. Right behind them in upper 280’s are Drew Campbell and Trey Leonard with slugging percentages of .417 and .408 respectively.

The pitching staff is led by sophomore Reid Detmers with a 9-2 won-lost record, sophomore Bobby Miller at 4-0, and junior Nick Bennett at 6-2. Top relievers are sophomore Michael Kirian with a 1.16 earned run average and junior Michael McAvene at 1.64.

Louisville is on a roll, having won nine straight games, with only eight regular games remaining. They have a four-game lead on North Carolina State in the Coastal Division of the ACC. Two three-game series Virginia and Florida State remain in conference play.

 The Cardinals are suddenly soaring again. A national championship may still seem like a pipe dream, but the odds of getting back to Omaha have vastly improved.

Special craft beer in works for Louisville alumni, fans

Special craft beer may be on the way for Louisville alumni and fans.

Some people are thinking outside the ivory tower on Belknap Campus.

The University of Louisville is actively entertaining the notion of a special blend of craft beer to be marketed to university alumni and young professionals at retail locations across the country.

Cardinal Brew?  L1C4 Special?  Griffith Gold? Russ Smith Lite?

Just a few names that come to mind for a craft beer that would be specifically marketed for UofL partisans. Lord knows, they love their beer.

The University has issued an official Request For Proposal for a “logoed” craft beer partnership. The partnership will be geared toward providing a craft beer with one of the retro logos from the university archive library.

The RFP states that the partnership does not include UofL athletics. However, the successful bidder will have an opportunity to explore pouring rights and additional university sponsorship marketing outside of the partnership. 

The deadline for responses to the RFP is Thursday, May 2. Applicants making the “short list” will be announced the week of May 6th, with proposer presentations scheduled May 20th and a Letter of Intent the week of June 3rd. The RFP notes that all dates are subject to change.

In support of the school’s commitment to reducing waste and “extraneous” use of natural resources, applicants were requested to submit their proposals on two-sided recycled paper containing 30% post-consumer waste. 

The RFP notes that the University has 141,000 “addressable” alumni. Also included are maps showing the heaviest concentrations of UofL alumni across the nation and in Kentucky and Indiana. The heaviest concentrations outside the region are in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City and Atlanta.

Make that a Cardinal Brew for this observer.

UofL fans get UK stadium to themselves in 18-6 romp

Photos by Jared Anderson

The University of Louisville was well represented in Lexington for the second game of the season between UofL and the University of Kentucky, with an estimated 400 to 500 fans throughout the stadium record crowd of 4,919 people.

Late in the game,  UK fans were really difficult to find with the Cardinals rolling to an 18-6 demolishing of the Wildcats. The win sealed a two-game sweep for UofL for the 2019 season, and Louisville’s 11th win over UK in the past 13 games.

The seventh-ranked Cardinals finished with a season-high 18 runs and 23 hits, improving their season record to 29-8. Freshman Alex Binelis would wind up with five hits, four runs batted in and scored four runs. Lavey, Snider and Logan Wyatt all had three hits.

UK held an early 5-1 lead after two innings before the Cardinal bats started connecting. The Cardinals tied the game up in the fourth on a two-out, two-run double off the bat of Lucas Dunn and Snider pushed them in front with a run-scoring single one pitch later. 

A slow, painful defeat for the Wildcats in a game that would last four hours and 14 minutes. But a perfect night for baseball at UK’s new Kentucky Proud Stadium, especially for Louisville fans.