The UpperDeck has returned and we are talking all about college sports. The high stakes world of college athletics always provides some interesting stories. There are very few instances where the feds get involved in this craziness, usually we see the NCAA tripping over themselves. The governing body intercollegiate athletics also shows up this week to show how useless they can be sometimes too.
The world knew Rick Pitino was out at Louisville a couple of weeks ago when he was placed on “unpaid administrative leave”. On Monday the school made it an official firing as university’s athletic voted unanimously to fire Pitino with “just cause”. Now the “just cause” is important because that means that school doesn’t have to pay out any money that the coach maybe owed. This is what Louisville was probably waiting on and checking with the lawyers to ensure this would stick.
Rick couldn’t survive this one, after two other scandals while at the school this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. The question is now how many more shoes are going to drop in this case? There were multiple coaches implicated in this incident that actually led to some arrest. We got a major shoe company and financial advisors all mixed up in this. At Louisville the Athletic Director Tom Jurich was also suspended after these revelations. Also of note, Jurich’s daughter works for Adidas the shoe company in question as a Brand Manager. Will we really get to all the details of this crazy story.
The University of Mississippi will no longer have to worry about former coach Houston Nutt as they reached a settlement in their legal battle. The details of the settlement were not disclosed. Nutt filed a lawsuit against the school, its board of trustees and athletic foundation. The suit alleges that Athletic Director Ross Bjork, former coach Hugh Freeze and other officials in the athletic department violated a separation agreement by comments they made to reporters in what they thought were off the record conversations.
Basically, Nutt alleges that the university tried to blame the recent NCAA issues that they are having on him. They wanted to take the heat off then coach Hugh Freeze. The lawsuit got dismissed in federal court but was later refiled in Lafayette County(Mississippi). The story takes a twist when Steve Robertson a Mississippi State fan who happens to cover the Bulldogs for a recruiting site digs into the phone records of Hugh Freeze. Also, this is an example on how serious college football rivalries can be. Robertson then passed on those phone records to Thomas Mars one of Nutt’s attorneys. So, in trying to protect old Hugh they ended up causing the embarrassing incident of the discovery of Freeze’s phone records. You might remember the story of Coach Freeze calling the escort service and the school finding a “disturbing pattern of behavior” lead to his dismissal. Well at least the Houston Nutt lawsuit is over and now the school can just worry about those good old NCAA penalties.
So, the NCAA wasted everybody’s time and energy on the North Carolina academic fraud case. The governing body of college sports usually specializes in making sure that kids to get any money except for that scholarship. This time they stepped into the world of academics, something they don’t really seem to care about but they thought they could make themselves look good. Instead there was nothing really to see here.
The NCAA committee on infractions concluded that there was not enough evidence to support charging the school with violations over “paper courses”. Just to get you caught up if you are unaware at UNC in the African American Studies department there were some questionable classes that students took for an easy pass. The problem that the NCAA had is that it could not prove that these courses were created solely for athletes to take and pass as large percentage of the students who took these courses were not athletes at the school. Something that we all knew at the initial start of this so-called investigation. Well at least the cloud of what was going to happen to the school is over and they can get back to just playing ball and recruits can rest that they will get opportunities to play without punishment.
Keith B. Holt
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