News and Notes from a somewhat light week in college basketball

With the NCAA’s findings this past week that the University of North Carolina may have been cited for “lack of institutional control”, it begs one very obvious question…

Could their 2009 National Championship be taken away?

The charges include impermissable benefits and letting students off with taking extra independent study courses going back as far as 18 years.

The school has 90 days to come up with their appeal, and then the Committee on Infractions (yes, ladies and gentlemen–there is such a group in Indiana’s state capital) will then give their final outcomes to the NCAA.  Bottom line–don’t expect a decision until probably spring of 2016.

On to some happier news…

Utah may have lost to eventual champion Duke by six points at the Sweet 16 matchup in Houston.  But the Utes feel like they are making strides and they will once again lock horns–but this time at MSG in New York on December 19.  Albeit four stars (three from Duke) will be suiting up in the NBA this coming autumn, Utah will still bring back a huge bolster of quality talent for Larry Krystowiak led by big man Jakob Poeltl will return this fall, along with Jordan Loveridge and Brandon Taylor.

Meanwhile for the Dukies, they again will have another super freshman class with names like Luke Kennard, Chase Jeter, Derryck Thornton, and Brandon Ingram hoping to continue the Blue Devils tradition of solid offense and hard-nosed defense which is their calling card.  Plus, 2015 Final Four hero Grayson Allen is sticking around along with Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson.

Remember that one crying Villanova piccolo player during the NCAA Tournament?

Her face was all over TBS’ coverage when Villanova shockingly lost in the Round of 32 to Boston College this past March.

We finally knew on May 29 after 250 people sent a $15 donation to the  Kickstarter page of Roxanne Chalifoux.  Her sad likeness will appear in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as part of the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame Museum.

CBSSports.com gave a small recap on her 15 minutes of fame, which included a stop in New York to appear on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon:

http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/eye-on-college-basketball/25199670/villanova-piccolo-player-gets-her-own-bobblehead-in-national-museum

Really, how cool is that!

See how the power of social media can even make the most innocent of students a true part of history.  But I bet moments after I typed this, nobody outside of her close friends in Philadelphia and elsewhere will remember what she did during that game.

First longtime NCAA Director Walter Byers passes away at age 93

When the NCAA first gained traction, there weren’t many games on television–although they were making money during the early 1960’s (hard to believe, but times were simpler then).

Enter a man who never graduated from college and was a true stickler like most college professors who rarely give A’s, let alone perfect scores (even though you felt in your heart of hearts that you did the best job that you possibly could do under the circumstances).

The NCAA grew from a mom-and-pop organization when Walter Byers was one of their first eight full-time employees in 1951 at time when he was hired at the age of 29 (when 381 schools played full time athletic programs) and watched it grow to a prominent amateur organization by the time he retired in 1987 (nearly 1,000 schools participated across three Divisions).

Consider the key changes he helped create and make the NCAA as popular as it has been since the late 1970’s:

  • The control of football revenue was relaxed after a landmark 1984 decision was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The move would pave the way to having more games on cable.
  • He helped coin the term “student-athlete”.
  • All the while with the NCAA’s enforcement division being many school’s worst nightmares similar to Freddy Kreuger lurking down every dark alley every Halloween, he helped make the Final Four very profitable for the schools and the TV networks that televised the games.

In separate statements, current NCAA President Mark Emmert had this to say:

“Walter Byers had a lasting impact on college sports, from those who compete on the field to the educators who support them. As the NCAA’s first full-time executive director, he shepherded the growing Association by encouraging academic excellence as a central part of college sports.”

Current College Football Playoff Executive Director and former Final Four administrator Bill Hancock was very complimentary in his text messages remembering Byers as a, “Brilliant and progressive leader…Ahead of his time in many ways.”

Also, former NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt in an interview with the Associated Press remembered Byers by saying that, “He was remarkable. Brilliant. A very creative individual but very strong and demanding, but his employees all had the utmost respect for him because of his work ethic and leadership values.”

Byers also wrote a book in 1995 titled, Unsportsmanlike Conduct.  After that, we never really heard much from him since he spending the rest of his retirement years on a ranch somewhere in central Kansas and was a total recluse in refusing to give any interviews in print or on television.

Not even YouTube had a clip of any interview that would have been given by NBC prior to 1981 or CBS since the 1982 NCAA Tournament.

Like most organizations who had pillars of strength and integrity like J. Paul Getty, John D. Rockefeller, James “Buck” Duke, and Carnegie Mellon–you can add the name Walter Byers to the list of men who made impacts on people’s lives.  He will be missed.

The search continues at Iowa State to replace “The Mayor”

While Fred Hoiberg seems to be a great fit for the once great NBA World Champion Chicago Bulls, the Cyclones are taking their sweet time to find his replacement.

Problem is…if the school does not make up their mind before the July 4 Independence Day holiday weekend, it could mess up the second half of recruiting, let alone the observing of key players off-season workouts.

IMHO, it is one thing to do a nationwide search.  It is another thing entirely to dot those ‘I’s’ and cross those ‘T’s’ multiple times over while running through key background checks to make sure that they indeed will hire the right coach.

Just my two cents for those that might be reading in Ames, Iowa and other key fans of Iowa State basketball.

I will continue to monitor this story online and occasionally on ESPN when news breaks of the pending replacement of popular coach Fred Hoiberg.

Please have a great week everybody.

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