NCAA May Be Getting Smarter

While much of the information contained herein relates specifically to an investigation into North Carolina and South Carolina football recruiting, the process could also be relevant to other inquiry in the commonwealth.

The NCAA may finally be getting up to speed when it comes to investigating questionable recruiting practices, according to the Bylaw Blog.

Fed up with being undermined by agents and lacking the resources to police them effectively, the thought is that the NCAA has begun cracking down hard on schools with violations involving agents to get schools to police themselves better.

That may be so, but more important is that the NCAA’s knowledge has changed. The Agents, Gambling, and Amateurism staff is much newer than the rest of the Enforcement Staff but has gained what appears to be a critical mass of knowledge. That knowledge allows the investigators to more effectively target schools, while at the same time cast a wider net, all without using excessive resources.

What appears to have happened in this case exemplifies the new approach:

  1. Pick a target population, in this case football student-athletes who were expected to be drafted who returned to school.
  2. Investigate the target population for evidence of violations, which turned out to be improper benefits received by agents.
  3. Use the associations and connections between involved parties as a jumping off point for related investigations, using Saunders’ association with UNC defensive end Marvin Austin.

Such an approach was not possible as recently as five years ago since the NCAA enforcement staff did not fully understand the patterns of this activity. It’s the difference between playing Whack-a-Mole and knowing how the game works and to predict which mole is coming up next.

This is probably an overlooked reason the Southern California investigation took so long. Not only did the NCAA struggle to build a factual case, but the enforcement staff faced a learning curve in understanding how the cast of characters in the investigation were connected. What the staff learns is not filed away to gather dust, rather it gets used in the next investigation.

Expect the Basketball Focus Group to follow the same pattern. The first major investigation will seem to take forever, but after that the floodgates may open. I wouldn’t count on waiting six years for results from the BFG though, since they have learned many of the lessons that the AGA staff had to discover via trial and error. Not to mention that the BFG spent over a year almost exclusively devoted to gathering information.

How About A Basketball-Driven Realignment

None of the recent changes in proposed or actual college conference realignments have had anything to do with basketball. Not even one. In fact, Kansas, one of the leading basketball programs, came perilously close to being relegated to the scrap heap.

Hard to fathom in parts of the country where the following for basketball closely resembles the most fanatical of cults, with an intensity among its frenetic followers that rivals that of some hardened fundamental and radical groups.

Brendan Prunty, of the Star-Ledger in New Jersey, envisions a realignment that would merge the Big East and Atlantic Coast conferences into what he convincingly argues would be the best basketball conference in the nation while also being a respectable football league, as follows:

Big Atlantic Conference

NORTH — Boston College, UConn, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Temple, Villanova, Notre Dame, Georgetown, St. John’s and Maryland.

SOUTH — Wake Forest, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, Louisville, Central Florida, South Florida, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Memphis.

Under this scenario, Villanova, Notre Dame, Georgetown and St. John’s would be basketball-only schools. Miami, Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech would have joined the SEC, and Syracuse, Rutgers and Pittsburgh would have gone to the Big Ten.

The Triangle Hoops Journal, a North Carolina-based blog, has endorsed the concept, noting:

The “Big Atlantic Conference” would be a respectable football conference and would provide sufficient opportunities for the member schools to compete at the highest level.  More importantly, it would remain true to the history and tradition of the basketball-centric ACC and Big East by creating perhaps the best college basketball conference imaginable …

State, Duke, UNC and Wake would get to play each other twice each regular season.  Traditional rivalries in each league would be respected and promoted …

Imagine a conference tournament arranged as follows:  The South division plays two rounds in Greensboro, the North in Madison Square Garden.  The four semi-finalists from each division would then play out the tournament in Greensboro or the Garden, alternating each season.

Gotta love the name, The Big Atlantic Conference. However, the South division of the tournament would have to be played in the new 22,000-seat state-of-the-art arena in Louisville. And Notre Dame would not be pressured into playing conference football, enjoying a great new home for its other sports.

This lineup is one that makes a lot of sense and would generate a highly profitable television network, assuring that basketball remains a major power player on the college athletic landscape.

One Football Czar’s Dream Conference

By Steve Springer

Summer is here, normally a dead period for the typical college sports fan.  A time to relax and refresh, quietly anticipate the coming football season.

Not this year, however. The next few days, heck, even the next few hours, could be some of the most  landscape-altering times in college sports history. Major changes could turn the college football world upside down.

What’s the Big Ten going to do? What does the PAC Ten have up its sleeve? Is Nebraska staying or going? What will happen to the Big East? Where will Louisville end up? Lots of questions. Few answers.

The average football fan feelx helpless, with no control over what happens. But not here at Card Game. There is hope. At least hypothetically, you are in charge of it all. You are in the driver’s seat. You get to design your ideal conference for the Cards. Charlie Strong’s future is in your hands. Tom Jurich is your play toy. You get to decide whose ankles Vic Anderson gets to break this season.

Your job is to pick and choose a conference that best suits U of L. There are a handful of rules, however:

  • No politics in your way.
  • Let’s keep it somewhat realistic, geographically speaking. No teams west of the Mississippi.
  • This conference is for hoops and pigskin for balanced scheduling.
  • As many teams as you like, from an eight-team league to a 16-team mega-conference.
  • No Wildcats allowed, not deserving of a spot at our table.

Here’s mine:

Big Dream Conference

North Division

  • Louisville
  • West Virginia (good rivalry brewing here)
  • Cincinnati (good rivalry, good hoops, growing football)
  • Ohio State (good hoops/football)
  • Pittsburgh (good hoops/football)
  • Penn State (good football, basketball cupcake)
  • Syracuse (good hoops/football might rise again)
  • Virginia Tech (good football/basketball gimme)

South Division

  • Florida (good hoops/football)
  • Florida State (decent hoops/good football)
  • Miami (good football/decent hoops)
  • Tennessee (good hoops/football)
  • North Carolina (good hoops/decent football)
  • Memphis (good rivalry, decent hoops/football)
  • Southern Miss (old rivalry, decent football/hoops gimme)

Just for fun, I would throw in Murray State, my alma mater, in the South Division. Decent hoops, patsy football. But best of all,  U of L, my favorite team, would be playing in my back yard.

Now it’s your turn!


Louisville Basketball Easily Most Profitable

The University of Louisville is once again No. 1 in terms of profitability among the nation’s college basketball programs, according to the latest compilation, this one by CNNMoney.com.

And it’s not even close.

U of L took in $25.4 million in revenue, compared to $19.8 million for the University of North Carolina in second place, and almost $10 million more than Ohio State in third place. More importantly, Louisville had $16.8 in profit, compared to UNC’s $12.3 million and Ohio State’s $11.4 million.

Other regional schools like Indiana and Kentucky were ranked seventh and 14th, respectively, IU reporting $8.2 million in profit and UK announcing $6.1 million.

Missing from the top 20 this year was Duke, which after years of reporting profits in the $4 million to $5 million range, reported a loss of more than $2 million. The school said that was due to a shift in revenue to the non-sport specific classification.

School Revenue Expenses Profit
Louisville

25,494,904

8,625,245

16,869,659

North Carolina

19,852,544

7,488,429

12,364,115

Ohio State

16,115,419

4,697,478

11,417,941

Arizona

17,524,360

6,132,352

11,392,008

Illinois

14,507,336

4,772,399

9,734,937

Syracuse

16,817,122

7,784,244

9,032,878

Indiana

15,173,264

6,946,942

8,226,322

Minnesota

12,956,390

5,113,345

7,843,045

Kansas

15,737,145

8,219,362

7,517,783

North Carolina State

10,914,295

3,747,426

7,166,869

Tennessee

12,576,715

5,464,911

7,111,804

Texas

14,770,278

7,891,661

6,878,617

Michigan State

15,592,500

9,031,373

6,561,127

Kentucky

14,773,034

8,615,726

6,157,308

Maryland

10,793,864

4,891,205

5,902,659

Dayton

9,091,521

3,401,333

5,690,188

Northwestern

9,328,062

3,720,715

5,607,347

Xavier

8,791,518

3,938,466

4,853,052

UCLA

11,775,932

6,996,960

4,778,972

UNLV

9,230,385

4,644,437

4,585,948

Source:  CNNMoney

Goodman With More ‘News’

Jeff Goodman, the same Fox Sports reporter who broke the “news” about Derrick Caracter leaving the U of L basketball team to pursue a pro career, has more “breaking news” for Card fans — that Clark is going to test the NBA waters.

Thank you, Mr. Obvious. This comes as no shock to Card fans who were advised by Rick Pitino before the season began that three players would consider pro careers, even though Pitino changed his mind several times during the year.

After hearing Pitino’s original pronouncement, the only surprise to fans was how ill-equipped Clark seemed most of the season to make such a move. Flashes of excellence, sure, but more than offset by awkward displays of lack of focus and clumsiness. That doesn’t seem to matter to NBA agents and scouts, attracted as they are by physical girth and perceived potential.

The best case scenario for U of L fans is that Clark only wants to know where he stands, that he will go to the camps, assess where he needs to improve and return to school next year. The worst is that he will sign with an agent and not be able to return.

Here’s another tip for Jeff Goodman: Ask Terrance Williams if he is planning to test the waters as well.