Remember we're taking all of your questions for Friday's mailbag, and we're also looking for your suggestions on possible punishments (non-violent, of course) for Al from Dadeville, the guy that poisoned the 130-year-old oak trees on Toomer's Corner in Auburn. Read about the idea here.
Vols to open the mail
Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl yells to his team during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)
News started trickling out Tuesday evening that the NCAA's official notification of infractions will be delivered to the University of Tennessee as soon as today.
The letter was posted this morning on UT's website. UT men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl and former UT football coach Lane Kiffin are the central figures in the letter for NCAA violations. The Vols have until May 21 to submit a response to this notice of allegations before the final punishments are delivered. Of note is that the baseball program, which was under NCAA investigation, was not mentioned. Here are the biggies:
The Notice contains the following allegations of violation of NCAA rules against the men's basketball program:
Impermissible contact with prospective student-athletes resulting from a cumulative total of 96 impermissible phone calls over a 24-month period (Aug. 1, 2007 through July 29, 2009).
By the head men's basketball coach: impermissible contact with prospective student-athletes during an unofficial visit, acting contrary to the principles of ethical conduct, failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance, and failure to monitor the activities regarding compliance of all assistant coaches within the men's basketball program.
By the head men's basketball coach and associate head coach: impermissible contact with a prospective student-athlete at his high school.
By the three members of the men's basketball assistant coaching staff: failure to furnish full and complete information relevant to the investigation.
The notice contains the following allegations of violation of NCAA rules against the football program:
By former members of the football coaching staff: impermissible telephone contact (16 total calls) with prospective student-athletes from Jan. 3-9, 2010.
By a former assistant football coach: allegations relating to impermissible contacts with prospective student-athletes.
By a former head football coach: failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program and failure to monitor the activities regarding compliance of several assistant coaches have also been made against a former head football coach, and permitting a football recruiting intern to make impermissible contact with high school staff during a recruiting visit.
The bulk of this matter stems from two primary instances:
— For Pearl and the hoops program, it comes from an improper recruiting shindig at his home. That's a secondary violation, and secondary violations by nature are considered minor and happen to every college program in almost every sport.
But Pearl lied to the NCAA about it, and the fallout since then has been understandably harsh. Pearl was suspended for the first eight conference games this year by the SEC, and UT reworked his contract and docked him $1.5 million for his actions.
Each of those were tougher than what the NCAA handed UConn's Jim Calhoun on Tuesday. The Huskies were docked a scholarship and had some recruiting restrictions for each of the next three years. Calhoun will miss the first three Big East games next season. Calhoun has said he will consult an attorney to explore his options. Here's an option Jimbo — don't flippin' cheat. How's that grab you?
On the surface, Pearl's preemptive punishments would seem to be enough. But the NCAA has a sore spot about being lied to, and in that regard Pearl's hijinks are viewed with an especially tough eye.
— For Kiffin's 13-month rein of mayhem on the UT football program, the number of secondary violations that piled up were starting to get noticeable. Then along came "HostessGate" — the incident in which members of Orange Pride, the UT student group that works with football recruits, took an improper road trip to South Carolina.
The NCAA findings against the football program will be tempered somewhat by the fact that almost all of the the previous regime has moved on and new coach Derek Dooley has a strong previous record in dealing with the NCAA.
If the NCAA frowns upon dishonesty most, then arrogant indifference is a close second. Pearl covered the lying; Kiffin and Co. covered the arrogance.
Huge Vols win
Call the 5-at-10 crazy, but with the news starting to circulate that the NCAA rulings were coming as soon as today, UT coach Bruce Pearl looked more relaxed last night at Vandy. Pearl looked as downright comfortable as he has at any point in 2011 and more like the coach that has enjoyed a record-setting start to his UT career.
In turn, the Vols rallied for a huge 60-51 win over No. 18-ranked Vanderbilt in Nashville. The Vols did it by holding the Commodores without a point for the final five minutes of the game.
"I was just telling the guys just to believe, man," UT's Melvin Goins told our UT beat ace Patrick Brown. "Believe in us, believe in yourself, believe in us as a team and believe that we can win this ballgame."
How about these stats: The Vols held Vanderbilt to 38.6 percent shooting overall and 18.8 percent from the 3-point range. UT outrebounded Vandy 37-31 and held a 13-3 edge on the offensive backboards.
That's toughness and hustle — two traits that have been too-often absent during Pearl's time in NCAA purgatory.
Whatever happens whenever the NCAA announcements come down, the Vols all-but punched their NCAA ticket with a gutsy win Tuesday.
College hoops update, Volume 5, Chapter 3
Louisville coach Rick Pitino instructs his team during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game against Connecticut in Louisville, Ky., Friday, Feb. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)
— Louisville is going to be a tough out in the NCAA tournament. Sadly, the Cardinals are among the ultimate bracket-busters, though. If you put your chips on them making a run to the Final Four, they can easily lose in round two. Have them taking a dive in that first weekend, and they'll find their way to the Elite Eight. This will be a recurring 5-at-10 topic starting next week.
— Side note: Did you know that Rick Pitino has been at Louisville for 10 years now? Crazy, huh?
— Ohio State and Texas dropped the hammer Tuesday; each rebounded from weekend losses with double-digit home wins.
— The Vols did their part to move off the bubble, as did two of the three big-time programs residing on the NCAA tournament cusp. Virginia Tech slapped Wake Forest, and Michigan State handled Minnesota. Illinois was not as fortunate against Ohio State.
Despite the Vandy loss, it was a great day for smart kids
Caltech, located in Pasadena, Calif., is a world-renowned private university known more for its accomplishments in academics than athletics. The school, which has roughly 2,200 students and 300 faculty members, has produced 31 Nobel Prize winners, according to the AP.
On Tuesday night, the Caltech Beavers basketball team delivered, too. The Beavers topped not-so-mighty Occidental 46-45 behind 23 points from Ryan Elmquist, who made a game-winning free throw with 3 seconds left. (Side note: Here's hoping Caltech's victims are known as the Occidental Tourists. UPDATE: Sadly, they're the Occidental Hygienists. Kidding, they're the Occidental Tigers. Alas.)
The 5-at-10 is certain you are wondering how a one-point game between two teams with a combined 17-33 record in the rough-and-tumble world of Division III pertains to five things you need to know in the world of sports.
Well, know this: If the good folks at the Noble Prize committee had an honorary award for sporting stick-to-it-ness, well, make room on the mantle Caltech. Tuesday's victory was the Beavers' first conference win in 26 years. Yes, 26 years. Caltech had been blanked in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference since Jan. 23, 1985 — a span of 310 games. Granted the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is way tougher than the Northern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, but that's still a long time without a conference win.
That never-say-uncle approach is nothing new for Caltech, though. The Beavers basketball program ended its NCAA-record 207-game losing streak in 2007.
New York piece of mind
FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2008, file photo, then-New York Yankees general partner Hank Steinbrenner sits in his office during an interview in Tampa, Fla.
New York Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner had his wrist slapped by MLB commissioner Bud Selig for talking about luxury taxes and revenue sharing.
Here's what Steinbrenner said earlier this week: "At some point if you don't want to worry about teams in minor markets, don't put teams in minor markets or don't leave teams in minor markets. Socialism, communism — whatever you want to call it — is never the answer."
So how do you really feel, Hank? Wow — but the man has a point, and for the commissioner's office to offer the "let's not speak out of turn," argument as it's only response is laughable.
Here's an idea, Bud, either get a salary cap across the board, or tell the Royals or the Pirates or the Marlins to quit cutting payroll to the point that they have no chance.
If those teams don't spend money, they have no chance to compete with the Yankees and the big-spending clubs; they have no chance to win championships; they have no chance to keep their star players; and they have no chance to lose money because the Yankees and the Red Sox and the rest of the teams that are writing nine-figure revenue-sharing checks are covering the operating expenses of the small-market clubs.
If you're going to have a luxury tax that teams are going to have to pay other teams for being "too competitive" or "wanting to win too much" then it's time for a spending basement. Every team has to spend, let's say, at least $70 million, to get the full revenue share.
Otherwise, the Pirates hypothetically can spend $30 million annually on their franchise, collect $35 million in revenue sharing and another $10 million in revenues from the season, bemoan the "unjust competitive imbalances," and shrug their shoulders as they deposit $15 million profit in the bank.
Yes, those numbers are supposition — there's no way the Pirates spend $30 million on that franchise. Have you seen that roster?
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...