NCAA

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Large gaps in Black-White grad rates persist among college football bowl teams

Our own U of M remains among the worst
 
There are 34 NCAA-sanctioned college football bowls — a total of 70 schools, including Minnesota, who earlier this month accepted their second consecutive Texas Bowl invitation. All but two of the 34 bowls are corporately named, including five restaurants, two credit cards, two auto parts stores, two by the same U.S-based television brand, one hotel, one cruise line, one junk-food company, one insurance company, one mortgage company, one on-line tax-preparation software company and one athletic apparel company. Only a pear tree-bound partridge is missing. Meanwhile, what sports fanatics and their cosigning media lackeys don’t endlessly talk about is the poor academic records of most of the teams examined by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) in the University of Central

Florida’s annual academic progress report on the bowl-bound teams.

“The substantial gap between White and African-American football student-athletes remained large for the 70 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) eligible schools,” wrote TIDES Director Richard Lapchick in his December 9 “Keeping Score When It Counts” report. This includes our state’s only FBS school, the University of Minnesota, which is consistently among college football’s worst in graduating Black players. Continue Reading →

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One Black coach, a few Black players reach NCAA women’s volleyball playoffs

 

 

 

Each of the four teams that played in the NCAA first- and second-round volleyball matches hosted last weekend by the University of Minnesota had at least one player of color: Cheyanne James (Radford), Alexis Austin (Colorado), Victoria Hurtt and Erin Taylor (Iowa State), and two Puerto Rico-born players: Iowa State’s Neira Ortiz Ruiz and the Gophers’ Daly Santana. James was second on her squad in kills — one of a school-record five players receiving all-conference honors. Hurtt thrice led Iowa State with 20-plus kills. Colorado Coach Liz Kritza called the sophomore Austin “team-oriented.”

While seeing a low single-digit number of players of color at a volleyball match, even a post-season match, wasn’t that surprising, discovering that one of the schools was coached by a Black female was a surprise, especially since, unlike the other three schools, her photo was not included in her school’s pre-game notes. Marci Jenkins last weekend completed her sixth season at Radford (Va.) University, which won the Big South conference this year. Continue Reading →

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Lynx win again, but dynasty talk still premature

It again occurred literally seconds after the Minnesota Lynx last week won its second WNBA title in three years — the “d” word was vainly uttered. After reading a local newspaper’s Sunday Lynx dynasty story, the team’s longest tenured beat reporter looked up “sports dynasty,” which is subjectively too often overused by uneducated sportswriters. The term “sports dynasty” applies to a team that dominates its sport or league for multiple seasons. Examples are UCLA’s 10-straight national championships in 12 years; or eight straight for the Boston Celtics or the Houston Comets, winners of the first four WNBA titles in as many tries (1997-2000); or Concordia University’s six Division II volleyball titles. Or there’s the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team, two-times-straight national champions, who I watched last Friday win their 52nd straight game. Continue Reading →

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Concussions: a knock-out blow to football?

 

Head injuries or concussions — it’s been called “getting your bell rung” — have been around since Fred Flintstone strapped it up for old Bedrock U. Too bad that in recent years it took pending lawsuits against the NCAA and the NFL to finally get the issue the rightful attention it deserves, including any long-term and short-term effects from head injuries. Some even have suggested doing away with such sports as football among youngsters, which frankly is a knee-jerk reaction, since anyone is susceptible to concussions by simply falling down while walking. Instead, what’s probably needed is better teaching at the youth level. Mike Pettis, a longtime North Commons youth football coach, strongly disagrees with those critics who advocate the end of youth football, calling them members of “a scared society.”

“I’ve been coaching [youth] football for about 35 years,” continues Pettis. “The first time I’ve heard of a concussion with one of our kids was last year. Continue Reading →

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Big changes called for in women’s college hoops

 

 

 

It isn’t yet “broken,” but according to new Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman, she has learned through 100-plus interviews that “There is a desire for change” in women’s college basketball. “Now is the time for people to really come to grip with that,” believes the WNBA’s founding president and USA Basketball’s first female president, who last month released her “white paper” that specifically focused on five areas: vision, post-season, the game itself, the business side, and how the sport currently is governed and managed. “I spoke with a horde of people” including her former league, NBA, USA Basketball and marketing types, explains Anderson. “I [also] had my own thoughts and observations.”

The entire report is on the NCAA website, but several of Ackerman’s “specific recommendations” I wholeheartedly agree with include: changing the current Women’s Final Four format back to Friday-Sunday; holding it at the same site for multiple years; and adopting a more aggressive promotional strategy. She also strongly suggests that the sport must look at making some changes in the next six to 10 years, especially in finding successful ways to generate revenues as too many college programs are losing money. Continue Reading →

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Wiggins and Diggins: Tulsa’s new backcourt

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

The Tulsa Shock reconstituted its starting backcourt over the recent off-season. Like a musical duo, a guard tandem must develop a rhythm, an on-court synergy that the rest of the team can successfully follow. Over a course of a month or so, the Shock first acquired Candice Wiggins in a three-team trade in March, and then picked Skylar Diggins with the third overall pick in April’s draft. To date the two guards have started all but one game together this season. Each is averaging an identical 10.2 points and 1.4 steals per game, along with a combined seven assists per contest. Continue Reading →

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Being ‘the Only One’ can render one invisible

 

 

 

The little boy in the 1974 movie Claudine told James Earl Jones’ character that he wanted to be invisible. When asked why, the frustrated youngest son of Diahann Carroll’s character simply replied that since his older siblings regularly ignore him, he might just as well be invisible. This reporter can easily relate to that boy, because I too am invisible — but not because I want to be. When I became a reporter in the mid-1970s, I reluctantly accepted the experience of being snubbed as some so-called rite of passage, of paying my media dues. However, five decades-plus later, I am still getting cold shoulders too often from persons who aren’t half my age or experience and who couldn’t spell “journalist” without help from a computerized spell check. Continue Reading →

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Occupy March madness

 

 

“We are protesting because we believe that institutions of higher learning like FAU have the responsibility to stand up to the systemic racism, corruption and human rights violations that define the prison-for-profit system, and advocate instead for equality and human rights,” wrote a group at Florida Atlantic University. When students at Florida Atlantic University recently penned the letter containing the quote listed above in an effort to stand up to their administration and demand that the university reconsider naming their stadium after the private for-profit prison corporation GEO Group, it gave me an idea. Why not protest the NCAA and its rip off of so-called student athletes? I couldn’t help but see the similarity in the private prison industry and the NCAA. Failed sports stars often run afoul of the law and many of them wind up on prison plantations after having spent their time on another plantation — college sports. Continue Reading →

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Another View Extra — Coaching Gopher basketball a career killer

 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

 

Only two coaches in Minnesota men’s basketball history have ever led teams to a national championship: Clem Haskins won two NIT crowns in the 1990s, and Tubby Smith won the 1998 NCAA title at Kentucky. Both Black men have the most 20-win seasons: seven for Haskins and five for Smith. However, both men also have the dubious honor to have been fired at Minnesota. Despite a 511-226 career record in 22 seasons, Smith unfortunately is a victim of college sports’ “What have you done for me lately?” philosophy. “When you let a guy go with the character and the skill of Tubby Smith, you better have an idea of somebody who can turn things around, and I don’t know of any of the elite coaches [seeking the Gophers job],” says Washington, D.C. radio host Mark Gray.  “I don’t know what direction they are going, but you are trading a sense of value when you disrespect a guy who’s a Hall of Fame-caliber coach.”

Minnesota AD Norwood Teague thinks that the next coach will have an easier time than Smith did selling the idea to blue-chippers that playing in a “classic” Williams Arena, a place that only looks good when it’s full of people, is an urban hoopster’s dream. Continue Reading →

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Norwood Teague fires Tubby Smith!

Gophers fire a great coach rather than build a great team
 
 

I understand why Tubby Smith was fired after six seasons, 121 wins, 81 losses and three NCAA appearances. After playing the toughest schedule in the nation, he fired up the Minnesota fan base for Gopher hoops. After a 15-1 start and reaching number eight in the polls, expectations went through the roof and became unrealistic. Tubby said this was his best team, and he was right, with wins over nationally ranked Michigan State, Illinois, Memphis and Wisconsin, the incredible court-rushing experience of beating number one Indiana at Williams Arena. His Gophers even beat one of the top five NCAA programs of all-time, UCLA, 83-63, the Pac 12 Champions in the NCAA tournament; and they finished 21-13 after a second-round loss to No.3 Florida. Continue Reading →

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