Thomas Robinson, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, and Diamond Dixon, U.S. Olympic gold-medal winner in the 4x400 relay last month in London, claimed Kansas University men’s and women’s 2011-12 athletes of the year during Sunday’s Rock Chalk Choice Awards at Lied Center.
“I am excited. I was excited when I found out about this. Tyshawn (Taylor) told me we were nominated. I was in town, and it’s another good reason to be here,” said the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Sacramento Kings rookie.
“I am still overwhelmed by it and everything that happened with it, how far we went,” Robinson added of his junior year in which he earned first-team All-America honors after helping KU advance all the way to the NCAA title game. “My teammates are amazing. I miss those guys every day. I’m happy with last year and how it went and glad to be back (for several days).”
Robinson, who defeated Taylor and track sprinter Michael Stigler, was joined at the hourlong show — which had an Academy Awards-type format to it — by basketball teammates Christian Garrett, Elijah Johnson, Jordan Juenemann, Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey and assistant coach Kurtis Townsend. They all accepted the “Rock Chalk Moment of the Year” award. KU’s home overtime victory over Missouri beat out baseball’s home victory over Kansas State, women’s basketball’s win over Delaware to reach the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 and tracksters Dixon and Andrea Geubelle winning NCAA Indoor track titles.
Robinson has been working out the last several days in Lawrence in preparation for the start of Kings training camp.
“Ground zero again,” he said of how he’s approaching being a rookie. “I’m starting back from ground zero, and we’ll see where we’re at the end of the year.”
Goodrich’s Jayhawker Award was presented in honor of the pioneers who held true to their values through devastation and hardship while founding the state of Kansas. Goodrich, a senior from Talequah, Okla., demonstrated mental toughness in the face of adversity and competition while fighting past a pair of knee injuries in her time at KU. She lead the nation in assists per game last season, was a Lieberman Award finalist and help the Jayhawks reach the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.
KUAD: Rock Chalk Choice Awards results
Kansas 2012-13 Schedule
Big 12/College News
Fox also is becoming involved with Big 12 schools' third-tier rights. Oklahoma has announced Sooner Sports TV, with programming delivered on existing Fox Sports channels.
The network has said it is negotiating with other Big 12 schools for third-tier rights, which include broadcasting a nonconference football game, some nonconference men's basketball games and many Olympic sports.
The Big 12 is unique nationally in allowing its schools to own and monetize those rights. In other conferences such as the Big Ten, the conference owns the rights. Texas receives $15 million annually from ESPN, which operates The Longhorn Network.
Kansas' third-tier rights, which include the radio network, corporate sponsorship and signage in stadiums and arenas, are held by IMG College and worth about $6 million annually to the Jayhawks.
Those rights at Kansas State, K-State Sports Properties, were worth about $3.4 million to the Wildcats last year.
Both Kansas and Kansas State football games last weekend were broadcast on the schools' third-tier package, the Jayhawk TV network for KU and K-StateHD.tv for the Wildcats.
The new Big 12 deal, announced on the 33rd anniversary of ESPN's launching, will increase that network's coverage of men's basketball by 10 games for national distribution. It also locks up a Big Monday slot for the next 13 years, and allows schools to retain a minimum of four games for their third-tier rights.
"Basketball was a very important component for us," said Burke Magnus, ESPN senior vice president for sports programming.
A starter on Duke's 2010 national championship team purchased nearly $100,000 in custom jewelry that season from a New York firm that caters to professional athletes and is now suing him for failing to pay the balance of what he owes.
Lance Thomas purchased five pieces of diamond jewelry at a cost of $97,800 on Dec. 21, 2009, in the middle of his senior season, according the lawsuit. Documents included with the suit indicate he made a $30,000 down payment and received $67,800 in credit from the firm, the balance that remains unpaid.
Let's forget the $30,000 down payment for a second.
I've already established that's ... weird.
The other problem here is that the NCAA will want to know -- or at least the NCAA should want to know -- how Thomas received nearly $70,000 in credit from a jewelry firm when he was merely a student-athlete because NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes from receiving benefits not available to all students. In other words, could a normal Duke senior with no job get a New York firm to provide a nearly $70,000 line of credit? If not, Thomas received an improper benefit.
Which could make him retroactively ineligible.
Which could mean Duke played an ineligible player.
Which could mean Duke will be stripped of its national title.
But how in the world was Duke supposed to know about this, Parrish?
In fairness, that's a reasonable question. But it's also beside the point because the NCAA set a precedent of "strict liability" when it stripped Memphis of its trip to the 2008 Final Four. The NCAA concluded after Derrick Rose's college career was complete that somebody took the SAT for him, that his qualifying score wasn't his qualifying score. So the NCAA ruled the subsequent NBA Most Valuable Player ineligible and stripped Memphis of its Final Four even though the NCAA never charged Memphis with any wrongdoing or suggested Memphis knew about Rose's fraudulent SAT or even should've known about Rose's fraudulent SAT.
The NCAA said it didn't matter.
Memphis played an ineligible player so Memphis paid the price.
That's the term the NCAA used.
I wrote about it back in August 2009.
So it'll be interesting to see what happens next -- whether Thomas has a plausible explanation for where he got $30,000 for a down payment on jewelry and how he got a nearly $70,000 line of credit from a jewelry store. And, if he doesn't have a plausible explanation, it'll be fascinating to see whether the NCAA plays its "strict liability" card again and strips Duke of its 2010 national title like it stripped Memphis of its 2008 Final Four.
Nothing here is decided. The adage of "Where there's smoke, there's usually fire" doesn't always hold true when it comes to NCAA justice. Thomas hasn't been charged with an NCAA infraction, nor has Duke. We are miles from any of that happening, if it happens at all.
But let's also be clear up front about this: There is plenty in this lawsuit that the NCAA needs to -- and will -- investigate.
Kansas coach Bill Self chose to remain silent about the controversy surrounding friend and former assistant Billy Gillispie at Texas Tech.
Self contacted me after reading an ESPN.com article published Saturday afternoon in which a handful of Gillispie's former players came to his defense. Included among Gillispie's supporters were NBA All-Star Deron Williams, Texas A&M All-American Acie Law and former Texas Tech forward Robert Lewandowski, who played for Gillispie last season.
…Here is what Self had to say about the situation:
…"Here's something to think about: How many young kids -- freshmen, newcomers or junior college transfers who come into a college program -- have an easy time during their first few months with their new coach? How many are ecstatic about the way things are going? Hardly any. They're being told to do things that they've never been told to do, things they don't want to do. Most times they're being told to do those things to better prepare themselves for the future and to give themselves the best chance to compete at a high level. You've got to buy in. It's not easy. It shouldn't be easy. If it was easy, everyone could do it.
"So many things have been said about his long practice times. That very well may have happened. But when did it happen? Did it happen over Thanksgiving break? Or did it happen when class was in session? If it happened over a break, then there's absolutely no issue, because it's totally legal.
"I do know that my players here think we practice a lot longer than we actually do. All players do. It's just the way it is. It's the way it's always been. You could have a practice plan out there that says '96 minutes' and the players think, 'Oh God, we're going two-and-a-half hours today.' Sometimes you stay on schedule, sometimes you don't. But in their minds, everyone practices too long.
"As far as making guys practice and play when they're hurt, it's unfathomable to me that the guy that I know would put anyone out there in harm's way intentionally. I have a hard time believing he would do that. Robert Archibald, one of my favorite players at Illinois, got so mad after one game that he went into the locker room, punched the door and broke his hand. He didn't miss a practice. I made him tape it and play left-handed. They just made sure to tape it in a way where he wouldn't hurt it worse. I said, 'Your teammates aren't going to be punished because of what you did in frustration.' I didn't do it out of meanness. But I wasn't going to bail him out and hold him out of practice. If anything, I wanted to make him feel bad about it so he would never do something like that again. He went on and became an NBA player.
"The bottom line is this: It takes some energy and a strong commitment to go into a league that is as competitive as the Big 12 and try to build a program. When I was at Oral Roberts and trying to get that program started, some of the things that took place there ... wow. The first year we started with 15 scholarship players and finished with seven. The second year we started with 15 scholarship players and ended with eight. We had 15 scholarship players quit in two years, and it wasn't because I was running them off…"
…"I'll tell you one thing. Billy can upset you. He can piss you off. He's pissed me off. But who that is competitive hasn't done that? Who can't understand that? I got mad at him sometimes when we worked together and he got mad at me. Coaching against him, some of our postgame handshakes have been the quickest handshakes of all time. It didn't have one thing to do with what I thought of him as a person. It was just a heat-of-the-moment deal.
"Still, you hear all these things and wonder, 'Is this stuff really [true]?' Then today you go read this stuff from players who played for him and loved him -- even guys who were with him last year -- and it's like, 'Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! How could it be so different from one team to the next? How could it be so different?'
"It's gotten to the point where it has to be investigated. I love Billy, but it has to be investigated. It has to be looked into. What I hope happens is that, after looking into it, the situations that have occurred -- if they've indeed occurred -- are situations that are correctable. I'm not going to sit here and say the blame is all on one side, because I don't know. My guess is that the blame is probably somewhere in the middle, where both parties could probably improve on some things…"
As allegations swirl around Texas Tech basketball coach Billy Gillispie, supporters have come forward to speak on his behalf.
Jerry Nash, the father of former Texas Tech forward Jaron Nash, said he believes Gillispie has been painted in an unfair light as reports that he allegedly mistreated players and exceeded NCAA limits on practice time have surfaced over the last two weeks.
“Billy Gillispie is a friend of mine,” Jerry Nash told the Avalanche-Journal in a telephone interview. “I consider him a great coach, a great person and a great man.”
Jaron Nash transferred to North Dakota after one season with the Red Raiders, during which he averaged 2.5 points in 8.5 minutes per game. He played in 27 games.
Nash’s father said his son’s decision to leave Tech had nothing to do with Gillispie.
Jerry Nash has multiple sclerosis, and after being able to see only two of Jaron’s games in the last two seasons — once when Jaron was a freshman at Tyler Junior College, the other when Tech played at Iowa State last season — he was desperate for his son to play closer to home.
“A big part of fighting MS is not getting depressed, trying to stay positive,” Jerry Nash said. “Being able to see Jaron play, that’s everything to me.”
Jaron Nash heeded his father’s wishes and asked for his scholarship release following last season. Jerry Nash said he appreciates the way Gillispie handled the situation, and it didn’t stop at allowing his son’s release, he said.
Shortly after Nash was granted that release, Gillispie helped enter the Tech team into an awareness walk for multiple sclerosis around Jones AT&T Stadium as a tribute to Jerry Nash, who was diagnosed with the disease in 1999, he said.
“When Ron-Ron showed me video of that,” Jerry Nash said, “it brought tears to my eyes.”
Gillispie continued to reach out to Jaron Nash even after he left Tech, his father said.
“He was frustrated at first (when he went to North Dakota),” Jerry Nash said. “Coach Gillispie called him a couple of times and told him to keep his head up.”
Jaron Nash was quoted in a CBSSports.com article on Aug. 31 as saying Tech routinely went over practice limits, working out for as long as eight hours on one occasion.
Jerry Nash said those comments don’t fully reflect the way his son feels about the coach he played for last season.
“Jaron got caught off guard,” Jerry Nash said. “When I’m seeing this stuff, I’m saying, ‘Hold up, this isn’t coach Gillispie.”
…Andy Ellis, a former Red Raider forward who traveled with the team last season as a member of the radio broadcasting staff, believes the allegations don’t provide the whole story.
In an interview with the Avalanche-Journal, Ellis addressed a number of the allegations Gillispie is facing, including claims he often practiced players for too long, made players practice while injured and demeaned members of his support staff by forcing them to run if they missed shots in a layup line with players the night before games.
“That was just something he did for fun,” Ellis said of the latter topic. “It wasn’t anything that anybody took real seriously.”
Ellis also spoke to an allegation that freshman Jordan Tolbert, immediately after suffering a four-inch gash on his hand as a result of contact with the rim, had the hand taped and was then told to dunk the ball every time he caught it.
“From the beginning of the season, Coach Gillispie was telling Tolbert he needed to dunk it every time he got it,” said Ellis, who played under former Tech coaches James Dickey and Bob Knight. “I’ve had that same injury he had, where you cut your hand on the rim. After you tape your fingers together, you just go back out and play, and it doesn’t hurt anymore.”
Ellis, currently an assistant athletic director and assistant basketball coach at Trinity Christian, also addressed allegations of practices running too long. He said players can sometimes perceive practices to be longer than they actually are, particularly when their team is struggling like Tech did last season, when it finished 8-23.
“I’ve been on a bad team before,” Ellis said. “My junior year we were bad. When you’re struggling like that, it can feel like a practice never ends. There were plenty of times that year when I would be at the arena at eight in the morning and wouldn’t leave until nine at night. Does that mean we’re practicing that whole time? No.”
ESPN: Former players defend Billy Gillispie
When Brown agreed in April to become SMU's coach, questions immediately arose about how long it'd be before he retired or bolted for another opportunity, leaving Jankovich to run the program.
Jankovich, who has a five-year contract to coach the Mustangs after Brown leaves, is hardly expecting a short stay from Brown. He said he doesn't even think about his "coach-in-waiting" tag.
"Right now, that's completely irrelevant," Jankovich said. "I mean, obviously, it was a huge part of my decision. But right now my job is to be the best assistant coach that I can. Whether I had a tag of coach-in-waiting or not, my daily job is the same either way. That has nothing to do with anything.
"Coach Brown is the head coach right now and I think it'll be that way for a long while. A lot of guys would be hoping he'd hurry up and go, but I've told him from day one that I hope he coaches for a long, long time."
For Jankovich, the opportunity to work under and learn from Brown is the cherry on top of a great situation. Jankovich said he always admired Brown during his early years as an assistant coach. He studied tapes of Brown's NBA teams and molded some of his philosophies based on what he saw.
Jankovich already has worked under two of the game's best coaches in Eddie Sutton at Oklahoma State and Bill Self at Illinois and Kansas. Adding Brown to his list of mentors, Jankovich said, will only enhance his knowledge before he becomes a head coach again -- this time in the Big East.
"I've always put him on that pedestal as one of the best coaches of my lifetime," Jankovich said.
Brown has long known Jankovich was a good coach, and it helped when Self offered a strong recommendation.
"If I got the job, [SMU] wanted me to bring someone who'd be ready to take over for me," Brown said. "I've always admired Tim. He came with me to a clinic when he was 26 or 27 and it was obvious he had something special. When Bill brought this up to me, I thought, 'This is a no-brainer.' "
ESPN: Tim Jankovick adjusts to new role
Last year’s national championship isn’t the only reason for Kentucky’s men’s basketball team’s opponents to be jealous. And all the recent NBA draft picks aren't the only edge the SEC dynamo has in recruiting.
The elite program, which has perennially drawn the nation’s top prospects since head coach John Calipari took over the program in 2009, also has digs for its players that the majority of college students can only dream of, Calipari revealed in a video on his website.
Calipari gave viewers an inside look at the school’s freshly renovated Wildcat Coal Lodge, home to the basketball team starting this year.
The $7 million dorm is located next to Kentucky’s practice facility and athletic tutoring center. It includes a private chef, extravagant lounges and large dorm rooms intended for 7-footers.
There are flat-screen televisions scattered through the building displaying the players’ different schedules for practices, weightlifting and conditioning sessions and, yes, even classes. The lounges offer a dozen leather recliners around a large flat screen television and blue-felt pool tables matching the Kentucky championship banners and basketball murals.
All the dorm rooms are singles – no roommates – and set to fit rather large basketball players. The hallways feature a list of Kentucky players taken in the NBA Draft and former players currently in the league.
Though NCAA rules prohibit strictly athletic dorms, it is allowed because Kentucky houses non student-athletes here too. Rules state at least 50 percent of every dormitory floor has to be non-athletes.
Those regular students sure struck it rich.
Iowa State basketball player Bubu Palo has been released from jail after being charged with sexually abusing a woman he drove home earlier this year.
The 21-year-old reserve point guard and another man, Spencer Cruise, are charged with second-degree sexual abuse. A judge granted Palo pre-trial release and issued a no-contact order with the alleged victim during a court appearance.
You're looking at two photos of Texas A&M's Kyle Field, both via Rant Sports. The top was taken last season, the bottom snapped just this week. Pretend this is one of those "spot the differences" bar games, and see if you can tell what's new. Yep, the Aggies' history managed to get a lot more storied over the offseason.
Two "new" national titles, in 1919 and 1927. Two new Big 12 championships, in 1997 and 2010.
The reason is because the NCAA has never had an official D 1-A/FBS national champion. Even in the modern era, the winner is merely the "BCS Champion." (The NCAA does name a national champion, but it's the FCS winner, where there's actually a playoff in place. Yes, your defending college football national champions are the North Dakota State Bison.)
Competitive sport hates a void. So, over the years, there have been numerous attempt to decide a champion, relying on either pure math, or a poll of educated voters. Especially in the early days of college football, these systems were developed with regularity, and were eradicated just as quickly, and were often in direct competition with each other. At times in the 1920s, there were more than 10 competing systems. It wasn't weird for five or six different schools in any given year to have a claim to a title. Texas A&M isn't strictly inventing championships, but it's citing more obscure ones, that even in their time weren't taken that seriously.
ESPN Tip-Off Marathon schedule
2012-13 Early Season Events List
9/9/12 8:52 PM
Pretty crazy to think that coach Self was sitting in my house today! #HardWorkPaysOff
Just got off the phone with Coach Bill Self of Kansas in regards to @iAM_UNGUARDABLE (Chris Jones) becoming a Jayhawk. So proud of the young fella! Focus
@EvanDanielsFox – Who is your favorite high school player?
Great question, Evan. I usually like exciting guards, and the class of 2013 is no different. I find myself choosing to watch guys like Conner Frankamp and Duane Wilson if I can, and Aquille Carr is the most exciting player in the class.
9/9/12 8:40 PM
Kansas & Louisville offered Joel Embiid. Rick Pitino watched him on Sunday. Self scheduled for this week.
Eighteen months ago, Joel Embiid had never played basketball.
He was in his native Cameroon, and despite standing over 7-feet tall, Embiid and basketball were never a match.
Fast-forward to this summer, and Embiid (No. 34 in the video above) has emerged as one of the most talked-about big men on the recruiting landscape.
"He's got untapped potential, when he figures it all out," one Division I assistant coach said. "In two years, he's going to be really good for somebody."
He's 7-1, knows how to run the floor and is already effective on the defensive end. Embiid's offensive game isn't there yet, but his ceiling is what has colleges intrigued.
…In November, Embiid came over from Africa to Montverde, where he played under legendary high school coach Kevin Boyle for five months.
"We didn't cover a lot of things, but he helped me a lot," Embiid said of Boyle. "Coach Kevin Boyle loves me, he helps me."
Because he was playing behind Clemson signee Landry Nnoko -- another Cameroon native -- at Montverde, Embiid played sparingly during the regular season. People who attended practices immediately noticed his aggressiveness and rapid improvement; Embiid simply needed more playing time. He did show flashes at the National High School Invitational in March, but it was his performance on the AAU circuit that truly opened some eyes.
At the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis in July, there were nonstop whispers about the big man for Florida Elite -- no, not Chris Walker -- and why very few people had seen him play or even heard of him.
Semi Ojeleye, a 6-foot-6 senior forward from Ottawa High, orally committed to play basketball at Duke during Sunday’s in-home visit with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Ojeleye, who is ranked No. 30 in the Class of 2013 by Rivals.com, also had Indiana, Stanford and Oregon on his list. Kansas University did not have Ojeleye on its recruiting list.
KU coach Bill Self had a pair of in-home visits scheduled Sunday. He visited with 6-foot Wichita North commit Conner Frankamp in the morning and was slated to visit with Chris Jones, a 5-11 point guard from Northwest Florida State College, in the evening.
Allerik Freeman has had a very fluid recruitment during the past several months. He originally cut his list to Villanova and Kansas back in March, but then added Ohio State, UCLA and Duke as the weeks passed.
Once Freeman transferred from Olympic (N.C.) to Findlay Prep (Nev.), the Bruins began to make serious headway in his recruitment.
On his official visit to Westwood on Saturday, Freeman made it clear the hard work paid off: he committed to UCLA.
“I'm officially a UCLA Bruin,” Freeman tweeted. “Thank you too [sic] all the people who supported me and especially my family! All love. Long way to go though.”
Freeman, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard, was once ranked as a five-star recruit in the class of 2013. Although he dropped to No. 60 in the most-recent rankings, it's still an important commitment for the Bruins.