• With the college lacrosse tournament upon us, there's a debate raging within the lax community about whether it's fair that members of the Duke team were granted a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA to make up for their canceled 2006 season. (See this New York Times article). The Dean's List doesn't buy the complaints. The kids were robbed of a year of eligibility when Duke caved to public pressure and canceled their season based on allegations that turned out to be false. (Sidenote: It's refreshing to see the NCAA not just follow protocol when passing judgment.) The fact is that this wouldn't be an issue if the Duke lacrosse team weren't so ridiculously good. Therefore, it isn't an issue at all, just a bunch of teams unhappy to be competing for second place.
• Jason Williams, Ben Roethlisberger, Dennis Rodman, Lavar Arrington, Kellen Winslow Jr. The list of athletes who have suffered motorcycle accidents is long and chalk full of notable names. But Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain obviously believed past precedent didn't apply to him. (Note to reader: Precedent always applies.) McClain bought a motorcycle last Thursday morning in his hometown of Decatur, Ala., and, on that very same evening, lost control of the bike and slid under a SUV. Fortunately for McClain, he was wearing a helmet and sustained only cuts and abrasions. The Dean's List was going to give the sophomore linebacker detention for jeopardizing his playing career by buying a motorcycle, but we were so glad he wore a helmet that we decided to go with the pat on the back instead of the slap on the wrist.
• Here's to the University of Iowa, the latest university to institute a social networking policy that'll force those devious student-athletes to clean up their public networking sites. Last August, a few upstanding members of the Hawkeyes football team created Facebook pages that contained photos featuring wads of cash and alcohol and writing that was not very, um, politically correct. Well, that was a big no-no in Iowa City and so the Iowa's Presidential Committee on Athletics approved a policy that will force athletes to adhere to department guidelines. Among the images not allowed - nudity, sexual misconduct, underage alcohol consumption, illegal drugs, hazing and obscene gestures. Seems a little vague. What, no farm animals?
• Way to make a statement, Tubby. Players often leave school early and never return to get their degree, but not Minnesota's basketball coach Tubby Smith. For the first time since he left Lexington for the cozier expectations of Minneapolis, Tubby returned to Rupp Arena where he received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree for his work within the Lexington community. The Tubby Smith Foundation donated more than $2.3 million to programs for underprivileged children. The crowd at the ceremony even cheered for their old coach. Doctor Tubby Smith, that's got a nice ring to it.
• Chances are that if the NCAA is going to make a rule about recruiting, Nick Saban is going to find a way around it. Last spring, the Alabama football coach was accused of improperly contacting recruits and so the NCAA created a new regulation -- known as the "Saban Rule" -- that prohibits coaches from visiting high school campuses during the spring evaluation period. No problem for the ever-resourceful Saban. Along with a handful of other college football coaches that include LSU's Les Miles and Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer, Saban has started using video conferences to meet with recruits. For now, webcams are permitted by the NCAA. But, rest assured, if they weren't, ol' Saban would still find a way to court the talent and the Dean's List respects that kind of persistence and tenacity (even if Auburn fans don't).
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• I'm sure that by now every sports fan in America has heard about West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins' face-plant at an airport in Charlotte. But I'm not sure that everyone knows the details, which are worth repeating. Huggins had just deplaned and was checking his cell phone messages on the tarmac when he tripped over a plastic cone and hit his head on the ground. He must've really hit the ground hard because he had to be taken to a hospital for observation. (Huggins was later released in good spirits.) The whole incident raises a few questions. Who could leave a message on Huggins' voicemail that was so titillating and engaging that he could not see the bright orange cone right in front of his feet? And, on a more conspiratorial front, was the airport worker who placed the guilty cone in Huggins' path a bitter Kansas State or Cincinnati fan?
• What? Did you think O.J. Mayo was going to USC to get an education? Did you think he would stay in Los Angeles longer than the mandated year? No, you didn't. So you shouldn't be surprised to learn that Mayo has been accused of receiving thousands of dollars in benefits while at USC. In fact, he was receiving payments before he even attended college. According to a former friend, over the last four years, Mayo received over $30,000 in cash, flat-screen TVs, hotel rooms, clothes and airplane tickets from an L.A. promoter who was working on behalf of Bill Duffy Associates (BDA) sports agency. The promoter even helped Mayo purchase an Infiniti SUV. (Always a tip-off when they're pimpin' a sweet new ride.) Now that Mayo has declared for the NBA draft, he's decided to hire an agent. Shockingly, he's chosen Calvin Andrews of BDA sports agency. Reggie Bush would be proud of you, O.J.
• Tough week for colleges in the state of Florida. Former Gator Jamar Hornsby turned himself in to police this week for using a dead girl's gas card, which he allegedly snatched while helping the deceased girl's parents remove belongings from her apartment after she died. Florida International was hit with four years of probation by the NCAA for basically ignoring enrollment and eligibility rules, financial aid regulations and transfer requirements. Florida State left tackle Daron Rose, who started 11 games last season, was declared academically ineligible for the 2008 season. And finally, the University of Central Florida was forced to fire its baseball coach of almost 26 years, Jay Bergman, after an equipment manager accused him of using a bat to simulate rape while his players watched.
• With more and more sports-generated revenue flowing into university coffers, certain schools are taking their recruiting efforts to the next level. Last week, the University of Kentucky Athletics Association Board of Directors voted to fund a private plane for use in recruiting. (Billy Gillispie has got to be happy. Imagine the impact a private plane will make on an eighth-grade recruit!) Wildcat supporters noted that this move was necessary to keep up with other SEC schools that already own a private jet. The $4,000 per hour cost of the plane will be offset by what Kentucky would've paid for in hotel rooms, commercial flight and other miscellaneous travel expenses. And, just in case you thought this recruiting perk would be available to all teams - Kentucky is limiting it's use to football, men's basketball, and, if they behave themselves, women's basketball. Softball, don't even think about.
• Washington D.C. -- the nation's capital and, at one time, a bastion of college hoops prowess. But it's been a tough run recently for the DC area. Coming off a disappointing season, Maryland coach Gary Williams continues to face criticism over his recruitment of Tyree Evans, a JUCO star with a rap sheet that includes convictions (only misdemeanors) for assault and drugs, and the firestorm is liable to heat up even more after the Terrapins finished last among the ACC in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate. George Washington, another program coming off a poor season, kicked two players off the men's team for not living up to coach Karl Hobbs' modest expectations. And Jeremiah Rivers, a defensive specialist and Doc Rivers' son, just announced that he'll be transferring from Georgetown. He's the fifth player to leave the team from the first two recruiting classes of Coach John Thompson III and the second that's hightailed it out of Georgetown this month. In case the Nats .395 winning percentage didn't tip you off, all is not well inside the beltway.
Jacob E. Osterhout can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.