Jan 29, 2015
Athletic Departments Feeling the Heat

By Patrick Bohn

With the mercury rising in thermometers across the country, several prominent athletic departments have found themselves in hot water. Here’s a rundown of the most recent events.
Evans Out at Georgia
In one of the most bizarre incidents of the year, University of Georgia athletic director Damon Evans resigned after an embarrassing incident on June 30. That night, Evans was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and failure to maintain a lane. A young woman in the car with him at the time was charged with disorderly conduct.

According to the police report, Evans, who had the woman’s underwear between his legs, tried to persuade the arresting officer to be lenient with him, asking first if anything could be done without an arrest and then asking to be taken to a motel and let off with a warning.

Not surprisingly, Evans brought a lot of negative publicity to the university, and he resigned on Sunday, July 6. He will be paid three months’ severance–his annual salary increased to $550,000 the same day as his arrest–and receive a $100,000 longevity bonus. He had been at the school since July 2004.

Trojans in Trouble
By now, you’ve likely heard of the severe penalties handed down to USC’s women’s tennis, men’s basketball and football programs on June 10th. While the penalties imposed by both the university and the NCAA are numerous, for Trojan athletic director Mike Garrett, the most damming part may be the NCAA’s use of the phrase “Lack of institutional control” to describe the overall environment in USC’s athletic department.

Although the school self-imposed penalties on the men’s basketball and women’s tennis team, they chose not to punish the football team. The NCAA wasn’t as lenient, handing out six sanctions to the football team. USC is appealing some of the penalties, asking that a two-year bowl ban be reduced to one year and that yearly football scholarship reductions from 2011-2013 be cut from ten to five. The NCAA Infractions committee doesn’t meet again until September.

Not long after that hammer fell on Troy, Garrett found himself in the news again. In June, USC accused several schools of tampering with football player Dillon Baxter by contacting him without USC’s permission. After the allegations turned out to be false, Garrett issued letters of apology to the athletic directors at Florida, Alabama, Washington, Oregon and Fresno State.

Now, it seems Garrett and the Trojans are attempting to be more proactive in order to stay off the NCAA radar. The university is requiring all football players to meet with compliance officials before July 23 and to bring current copies of their housing lease, car-related data and summer and academic year employment information to the meetings.

Facebook Misuse Results in Violations

Social networking is all the rage on college campuses, but as a pair of SEC schools have learned, you have to be careful where you post.

Florida assistants were found to have posted on a recruit’s Facebook wall three times, twice on August 5, 2009 and once on August 7 of that year. The incident on the 7th was self-reported. And earlier this year, Mississippi assistant coach Chris Vaughn commented on a pair of photos on a recruit’s Facebook wall. The photos resembled recruiting letters, but were in promotional poster format. Both schools faced sanctions from the NCAA in July as a result of the infractions.

Because Facebook walls are considered open forums by the NCAA, coaches are not allowed to post or comment on them. Sending direct, private messages to a recruit through Facebook is allowed, as that is considered similar to e-mail.

Oregon’s Paper Mess
There’s some unrest brewing in Eugene and for the University of Oregon, it’s suddenly gotten a lot more visible. The school is constructing a brand-new $200 million basketball arena, but there’s been immense public outcry over the way the university has made the project’s records available. And now, the displeasure is being shown in a highly visible way.

For the second time in months, a large billboard http://www.kval.com/sports/local/98284514.html. The most recent one, located on Franklin Boulevard near the uncompleted arena, reads: “got transparency?”, a take on the popular “Got Milk?” advertisements.

Darin Dehle, director of capital construction at Oregon, contends that the university has released all the records, although not always in a timely manner.

This is not the first time Oregon has been criticized for not doing its due diligence on paperwork. In March, it was revealed the school did not have written terms of employment for former athletic director Mike Bellotti, who now works at ESPN. After that came to light, Oregon promised to tighten its business practices and had Dana Altman, the school’s new men’s basketball coach, sign a term sheet at his introductory press conference. However, as of today Altman has still not signed a formal contract.

Arkansas State Under Investigation
Arkansas State has received a letter of inquiry from the NCAA about violations regarding ineligible athletes and academic fraud. In February 2009, the school penalized itself $43,500 after discovering academic advisors were improperly calculating the number of credit hours athletes had received towards degree completion and their number of transfer credit hours. The advisors were rounding percentages up rather than down, as is required by the NCAA. That’s apparently not going to be enough for the NCAA.

The NCAA had hoped to have the investigation completed last week, although they said they will provide the university with updates of its status. The next status report is scheduled for December 30.

Nebraska’s New Website Ups the Ante in Texas Rivalry
It won’t incur the wrath of the NCAA, but the University of Nebraska has released a university-produced football video as part of a new promotional website, reduutaroundtheworld.com-and raised a few eyebrows.

The video is just over a minute long and for the most part, seems to be a standard promotional video. But it concludes by showing the date of the Cornhuskers’ game against the Texas Longhorns, followed by the words, “Wear Red. Be Loud. Beat Texas.” Although Nebraska contends that the new site is not a “beat Texas’ site, ESPN’s Pat Forde wrote that by putting out the video, Nebraska avoided “the pretend politeness that dominates intercollegiate interaction in favor of sharp shots at a league rival.”

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