Welcome to this week's special installment of The Dean's List, coming at you live from Mexico City, where a national debate rages over the top spot in college football (President Calderon has his money on Georgia, while Subcomandante Marcos is pulling for Florida).
• Finally, some good news for the University of Maryland basketball program. Coach Gary Williams has had a tough offseason, losing star recruits Gus Gilchrist and Tyree Evans, who were both potential starters on a team that lost a lot of talent from last season's underachieving squad. But now Coach Williams has reason to smile. Prospect Sean Mosely has qualified academically to play for the Terps. The NCAA Clearinghouse approved the sweet-shooting guard after he retook a high school English class and scored high enough on his SATs and ACTs, which means the Terps finally have 10 scholarship players for next season and a fighting chance at posting a respectable record in the ACC.
• Last season, as the Tennessee men's basketball team briefly climbed to No. 1 in the nation for the first time in school history, Bruce Pearl became a full-blown celebrity in Knoxville. But even as his stock rose, questions swirled about Pearl's future. Tennessee was in the tough situation of having to balance Pearl's salary with football coach Phillip Fulmer and women's basketball coach Pat Summitt. Could a coach who has never made it past the Sweet 16 make more than the best women's basketball coach ever and a football coach who has been an institution in Knoxville for almost two decades? In the end, speculation of an impending salary battle was nothing but talk. Last week, Tennessee gave both Pearl and Fulmer seven-year deals, with Fulmer averaging $2.99 million and Pearl raking in a cool $2.3 million. A new contract for Summitt, who made $1.225 million last year before postseason bonuses, is still in the works, but she's as likely to leave Tennessee as she is to slow dance with Geno Auriemma.
• Going to see Oral Roberts play at the Mabee Center in Tulsa is a trip. All students are required to sign an honor code that states that they won't drink, smoke, gamble, curse, grow facial hair or wear earrings. And yet, without ingesting anything other than caffeine, the student section - better known as the Mabee Maniacs -- goes nuts for the Golden Eagles. (Side note: I was once almost kicked out for crowd surfing in the student section.) Such aggressive fan support might have had something to do with the basketball team winning three consecutive Summit League titles. But the program has recently taken a blow. Three players have left the team including Marchello Vealy, a former Oklahoma high school player of the year who was the Golden Eagles' sixth man last season, averaging 4.6 ppg and 4.8 rpg. For a small program like Oral Roberts, the loss of three players will be tough to handle, but with a little help from up above and some serious positive encouragement from the Maniacs, maybe the Golden Eagles will have another go at the NCAA Tournament.
• It's not often that you hear of an athletic director donating money to his school, and it's even less often that you hear of an athletic director donating money to his school for academic purposes. But that's just what Oklahoma State AD Mike Holder and his wife did. In response to a $57.2 million donation to both academics and athletics at OSU, Holder decided to donate a million bucks of his own money, but to earmark his gift for academics. Very honorable, Mr. Holder. We're left not only with a warm fuzzy feeling but a lingering question: Where does an athletic director get a million dollars to throw around?
• Honorable folks don't kick puppies, they don't trip the elderly and they don't shoot people in the back. (That's why we have labels like "back stabber".) But in these crazy times it seems that honor is as rare as Triple Crown winners. Early Saturday morning, Louisville wide receiver and kick-returner extraordinaire Trent Guy was shot in the back outside a downtown nightclub after arguing with a man that touched his fiancé. Fortunately, the bullet missed Guy's vital organs and he is expected to make a full recovery, although his playing status is still up in the air. But we're left to wonder what kind of world we live in when a young man gets a bullet in the back just for defending his girlfriend. Whatever happened to eye contact?
• Who says Kentucky basketball fans are the most passionate in the country? (Actually, I think it was Dick Vitale, which should tell you something.) Only nine years after opening its doors to die-hard UK hoops fans, the University of Kentucky Basketball Museum in Lexington is closing due to financial difficulties. Originally, consultants believed that 110,000 Wildcat faithful would attend the museum annually, but that figure turned out to be a bit optimistic. In the end, the museum, which is separate from both the university and its athletic association and had trouble soliciting donations, only averaged 18,000 yearly visitors and is currently $3 million in debt. I guess that's what happens when the winningest college basketball program in history fails to make the Final Four for ten straight seasons. But don't worry, Coach Gillispie is now recruiting eighth graders who will proudly carry on the Kentucky tradition of excellence just as soon as their voices drop.
• The Dean's List is convinced that there isn't a more absurd organization than the NCAA. Granted, it's not really its fault. It's faced with the impossible task of maintaining the amateur status of college sports in an age when some of these sports make universities lucrative sums of money. (See Notre Dame's recent deal with NBC.) For an example of the ridiculous lengths the NCAA will go to protect the "integrity" of college sports, all we have to do is look at the University of South Carolina's recent report to the NCAA, which brought to light nine secondary violations. Among the violations that took place in Columbia: "senior participation awards exceeded maximum value" for the women's basketball team; a baseball player practiced with the team for more than 14 days without being added to the roster; men's track team members ate training table meals without buying a meal plan; and, my favorite, someone in the athletic department bet dinner on a game that did not involve the Gamecocks and possibly didn't even involve college sports. As you can see, these are all very serious violations and deserve to be dealt with immediately. We recommend a firm scolding and no candy for a week.
• Campus Clicks already covered this story, but The Dean's List is a Dartmouth alum and would be remiss not to throw in a shout-out to our alma mater's latest celebrity. Dartmouth College hockey player Adam Estoclet got arrested last month in Minnesota for tying one on and breaking into a home while trying to evade the police. Estoclet went out drinking and, as a good Dartmouth boy, got really, really drunk -- we're talking .162 blood-alcohol-level. That's fraternity-basement drunk. Then he decided to stand in the middle of a road and not let a police car pass. When the cops summoned the hockey player, Estoclet took off running, shedding a cast he had on his leg and then breaking into a house and using the occupant's cell phone to call his mom, who promptly turned him in to the police. (We're convinced if he'd been on skates, he would've escaped.) Forget for a second that Estoclet's mom snitched on him, which is hilarious -- the kid ripped off a leg cast to run from the cops. What an animal! The "College on the Hill" taught him well. When confronted by The Man and his many minions, never back down and always call your mom.
E-mail Jacob E. Osterhout at Jacob.Osterhout@gmail.com.