- Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports16 hrs ago
Jay Smith has had enough of the vilification of Rashad McCants.
Smith, a North Carolina history professor who is co-authoring a book titled "Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports," emailed me Saturday. He was angry about comments he read in my Thursday column from Dean Smith-era Tar Heels who were critical of McCants in the wake of his allegations of academic fraud during his 2002-05 tenure as a basketball player at the school.
McCants produced a transcript for ESPN's "Outside the Lines" showing he had a 4.0 grade-point average during the semester when the Heels were winning the 2005 national title, allegedly despite doing no work. Players from the 1960s and '70s – Richard Vinroot, Bill Chamberlain and David Chadwick – all questioned the credibility of McCants to me.
- Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports2 days ago
Dean Smith is alive but absent, his remarkable mind ravaged by the effects of dementia. While that has caused deep mourning among those who know and love the legendary former North Carolina basketball coach, there is one small sliver of relief regarding his current condition.
He is unaware of the ongoing integrity crisis that has engulfed the program he built into a national model.
"I'm tired of it," said former Smith-era player Richard Vinroot. "I want it fixed. I want it to end."
The NCAA recently announced it has re-opened its investigation of an academic scandal at Carolina. That figures to follow the tracks of the school's ongoing (and latest) investigation of itself. Those investigations follow the drip-drip-drip of allegations of classroom shortcuts – and other embarrassing headlines – at a school that once proudly considered itself the ultimate intersection of competitive excellence and off-court class.
"It pains me greatly," Vinroot said. "I have such high regard for Coach Smith. I revere him."
- Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports12 days ago
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Atlantic Coast Conference staffers have been here for several days now, preparing for the college sports version of a New Year's Day celebration.
July 1 is when the calendar turns over in college athletics, and Louisville officially becomes the 15th member of the ACC Tuesday. There will be a downtown celebration – with a public viewing party for the U.S. World Cup soccer match against Belgium serving as the warmup act – and a lot of pleasantries exchanged between ACC Commissioner John Swofford and the Louisville administrative leadership.
The ceremony marks a new beginning for the league and its latest member, but it also serves as the culmination of a 10-year power play by a conference once considered both genteel and non-threatening to the national pecking order.
Neither of those things is true today. Swofford has Big East blood on his hands and a burgeoning powerhouse league at his disposal.
- Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports17 days ago
As the O'Bannon v. NCAA trial continues to seemingly tilt in favor of the plaintiffs, I got a text Tuesday night from a longtime college athletics insider.
It read: "The notion that not ONE student-athlete is going to go on the stand for the NCAA really says it all. Because there are plenty of them that would, they [NCAA higher-ups] just have little to no relationship with them."
That resonated. In a trial that boils down to what can legally be defined as fair treatment of athletes, the NCAA is producing zero athletes to help argue its side. The NCAA has called 12 witnesses to the stand so far, with a total of 20 listed. None is a Division I football or basketball player.
Turns out there is a good reason for that, according to the NCAA: the association was legally restricted from having current student-athletes testify. As a potential alternative, the NCAA says it proposed having members of its Student-Athlete Advisory Committee brought in to testify, but plaintiffs' lawyers filed to have them excluded.
Camp Bowman: Michael Phelps and world's elite swimmers sign up for unique blend of grueling training and pain with eyes on RioPat Forde at Yahoo Sports23 days ago
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Yannick Agnel is annoyed, and Michael Phelps finds it highly amusing.
The towering Frenchman has just finished a grueling set of 100-meter freestyle sprints with coach Bob Bowman's lavishly talented group of swimmers at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Agnel, the 6-foot-8 specimen who won three Olympic medals in London two years ago, is complaining that training partner Conor Dwyer (himself an Olympic medalist) was drafting off him during the set of 100s. He believes Dwyer was hugging the lane line that separated them, riding Agnel's wake instead of doing his own work.
"Let it go," Bowman counsels. "It's all right."
Two lanes over, Phelps is chuckling at the guy he calls "Frenchy."
"We did it to you in '08," the greatest swimmer ever yells to Agnel. "You did it to us in '12."
- Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports24 days ago
There is no hiding Mark Emmert now.
The president of the NCAA is scheduled to take the witness stand Thursday in the Ed O'Bannon vs. NCAA trial in Oakland, Calif. He will not be able to flank himself with university presidents to help deflect scrutiny, the way he did at the NCAA convention in January. He will not be able to defer to a dais full of other power brokers, the way he did at the Final Four.
It will just be him, speaking on behalf of an organization under unprecedented fire both financially and philosophically. At a time when the NCAA needs him to be at his best, we'll see how he handles it.
Emmert's previous PR stumbles as The Face of College Sports – from mishandling the Miami investigation blowback to a debacle of a press conference at the 2013 Final Four – led to a change in approach. The NCAA blended his face with others in an apparent attempt to deflect the bullets and/or mitigate rhetorical damage.
- Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports25 days ago
In the Southern Hemisphere the talk is all futbol. And, yes, a fair number of people are watching the proceedings here in the Northern Hemisphere as well.
But football season is approaching here in America. We're four weeks from the Southeastern Conference starting the media days party train, and teams will report to fall camp just a few weeks after that. Games begin in just 72 days.
So it's high time for the annual scrub of the college football schedule. Forty observations on what stands out in the 2014 slate:
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ELMONT, N.Y. – Steve Coburn set a new standard for sore losers Saturday, but his timing was impeccable.
Plenty of people hated the fact that the co-owner of California Chrome shot off his mouth like a Roman candle just minutes after his colt lost at the Belmont Stakes. But what better time to get the attention of the nation focused on how to fix a broken Triple Crown? It was a topic on CNN, NBC and plenty of other national platforms Sunday.
Considering the breadth of discussion in the aftermath of yet another Belmont buzzkill, I'd say Coburn did a great job reaching his audience.
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ELMONT, N.Y. – Steve Coburn's exit from Belmont Park was part class, part ass.
After watching his beloved horse, California Chrome, finish tied for fourth in the Belmont Stakes and extend horse racing's Triple Crown futility to 36 years and counting, Coburn made a spectacle of himself on the way out of the massive old track. He schmoozed with the public and he napalmed the winners in varying turns.
He shook every hand, posed for every picture – including one with LL Cool J – and thanked every fan who had something kind to say about California Chrome's glorious spring. At one point he stepped into a box on the railing of the clubhouse, took off his cowboy hat and shouted to the patrons below, "Hey, everybody! Thank you so much! Thank you for your support!"
That drew applause from a crowd that was otherwise deflated by the Belmont result. The populist Coburn is a fun guy.
But the pop-off Coburn is a guy whose act has worn thin after five weeks of shamelessly hamming it up in a spotlight he'd never known before. After thanking the fans, he went back to ripping the people behind winning horse Tonalist.
Thursday marked the 10-year anniversary of the most unsatisfying sporting event of the 21st century.
On June 5, 2004, Birdstone won the Belmont Stakes. He passed a tiring Smarty Jones in the final strides, crushing Triple Crown hopes and dreams underfoot as he crossed the wire ahead of the horse America loved. The tone of brilliant track announcer Tom Durkin's call of the stretch run said everything.
"And Smarty Jones enters the stretch to the roar of 120,000!" Durkin yelled, as said roar engulfed the old track. "But Birdstone is going to make him earn it today! The whip is out on Smarty Jones! It's been 26 years! It's just one furlong away! … They're coming down to the finish! Can Smarty Jones hold on? Here comes Birdstone! Birdstone surges past!"
And then Durkin's voice plummets to the inflection you might have when informing the children that the family pet just died.
"Birdstone wins the Belmont Stakes."
Now it's been 36 years. And it's 1½ long, merciless miles away.