Will the rest of college athletics follow the Ivy League’s lead?

The Score

Four months ago, the Ivy League was ahead of the curve.

On March 10, it canceled its men's and women's basketball conference tournaments because of growing concern about the coronavirus. Two days later, after the Utah Jazz's Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and the NBA paused its season, the rest of college basketball – and the sports world – followed suit.

In the immediate aftermath of the Ivy League's decision, the conference caught flack for what some thought was a hasty decision.

It turned out to be prescient. And now, it begs the question: Is the Ivy League once again foreshadowing what's to come?

The eight-school league took another pioneering step amid the pandemic Wednesday, canceling its fall sports seasons and putting a moratorium on all sports until at least the end of the fall semester. It means no football season, at least in the traditional sense. It also means that if a college basketball season begins on schedule, Ivy League schools would likely miss at least the nonconference portion.

The Ivy League Council of Presidents made its stance clear in a statement: Safety matters most.

"With the information available to us today regarding the continued spread of the virus, we simply do not believe we can create and maintain an environment for intercollegiate athletic competition that meets our requirements for safety and acceptable levels of risk, consistent with the policies that each of our schools is adopting as part of its reopening plans this fall," the eight Ivy League presidents said in a joint statement.

"We are entrusted to create and maintain an educational environment that is guided by health and safety considerations. There can be no greater responsibility – and that is the basis for this difficult decision."

The Ivy League being the first to take this step makes sense. As an FCS conference that doesn't even participate in the football postseason, the Ivy League doesn't rely on football revenue the way many power-conference universities do. In the near future, it'll be interesting to see if the Ivy League's decision affects how other FCS conferences handle their fall sports. Already, the Patriot League announced it would return athletes to campus at the same time as other students and would not fly to games. Fordham, a Patriot League member in football, canceled its first three games Tuesday.

But while conferences like the SEC, the Big Ten, and the Big 12 have more to think about in terms of revenue, the Ivy League's decision is a reminder of what matters. While the Ivy League might not have a direct influence on college football's top-tier programs, its line of thinking should rub off.

Whether or not the Ivy League pursues a spring football season remains to be seen. In a news release, the conference said it would make a decision on the remaining calendar for winter and spring sports, as well as whether any fall sport would be feasible in the spring, at a later date.

#basketball, #collegebasketball

Cade Cunningham: Mike Boynton reason he stayed at OK State

The Oklahoman

Cade Cunningham first felt the wave of emotions and realized he needed to take a step back — at the very least for a day.

Those 24 hours were all the No. 1-ranked player in the country needed last month to reaffirm his college choice of Oklahoma State.

He just didn’t really tell anybody.

“I announced that I was gonna come back later, just because I let the media do their thing,” Cunningham said. “It didn’t really matter too much to me. So, I was just kinda chilling away from my phone.

“But I knew where I was going.”

OSU was dealt a tough blow June 5 with a one-year postseason ban and loss of three scholarships over three seasons from the NCAA after former associate coach Lamont Evans accepted bribes to influence student-athletes in 2016-17

#basketball, #collegebasketball

How two former Dayton players plan to make up for a lost NCAA tournament

ESPN

Moments after entering a room at a New York City hotel this past March, Anthony Grant turned around, walked out and tried to collect himself.

When the Dayton men's basketball head coach returned, his players knew Grant, who had guided them through an undefeated Atlantic 10 season to secure a projected No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, had bad news.

The Atlantic 10 tournament at Brooklyn's Barclays Center had been canceled, and the Flyers would soon lose their shot at the school's first national championship after the NCAA tournament also was canceled amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

"He walked in first and then he walked back out," said Trey Landers, a senior who averaged 10.5 points per game during the 2019-2020 season and will represent the Dayton community as a member of Red Scare in The Basketball Tournament (TBT). "You could tell he was kind of emotional. He stood me up in front of everybody and hugged me and he just started crying. It was an emotional time."

As Ryan Mikesell, who also will play for Red Scare, listened to Grant four months ago, he tried to process the sudden ending of a magical season.

"All these assistants were hugging me and stuff and I still didn't want to believe it," said Mikesell, another senior, who averaged 8.5 PPG last season. "[Assistant coach Ricardo Greer] was holding me. I just walked out of the room. I was just so emotional. I couldn't believe it."

Red Scare, a team led by former Dayton standouts, will face Big X, a squad anchored by former Big Ten standouts Nick Ward and Trevon Hughes, on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN.

#basketball, #collegebasketball

Michigan State basketball lands 5-star guard Max Christie for 2021 recruiting class

Detroit Free Press

Tom Izzo continued his recent recruiting run with another five-star commitment Tuesday.

Max Christie announced his pledge to play for Michigan State in 2021. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Rolling Meadows High in suburban Chicago is rated the No. 1 shooting guard in the country and 13th-best overall prospect in the class, according to 247Sports.com's composite rankings.

#basketball, #collegebasketball

Tom Izzo’s Recruiting Renaissance is Coming Fast and Furious

The Big Lead

Michigan State fans have long inured themselves to the inevitable pain of losing a recruiting battle at the Eleventh Hour. So much so that they've convinced themselves it doesn't matter. And there's some truth to that, as Tom Izzo has made a Hall of Fame career out of projects and misfit pieces. But even a casual glance at past NCAA champions makes it painfully obvious that a huge part of the process is assembling a war chest to take the floor six times in an 17-day stretch come spring. Denying that fact allows some sort of weird blue-collar Midwest zeal to flourish, but doesn't make it any less true.

The sound of Spartans changing their tune swiftly and forcefully on the whole issue of recruiting and its import is reverberating loudly as today the program secured its second five-star player in eight days. Max Christie, an All-Everything shooting guard from the Chicago area, committed to Izzo. Like Emoni Bates, it was a television event. Like Bates, the crown jewel rumored to be the best thing since LeBron James, the result fell in MSU's favor.

Christie even chose East Lansing over Durham. That is … not usually the way it's worked. It's a brave new world and if college basketball exists past the next calendar year, Michigan State is going to be in prime position to bring Izzo's much-desired and long-elusive national title home. 

#basketball, #collegebasketball

Louisville basketball suspends voluntary activities after two positive tests for COVID-19

Kentucky Sports

The ups and downs of attempting to restart collegiate athletics amid a pandemic found their way to Kentucky again this week.

The University of Louisville announced Tuesday it has temporarily suspended all men’s basketball voluntary activities for two weeks after two members of the program tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

“All proper procedures and protocols are being followed, including the quarantining of those impacted,” Louisville announced in a news release that did not identify the individuals involved nor specify whether they were players or staff members. “We look forward to a resumption of men’s basketball activities in the near future.”

Last week, Eastern Kentucky University announced that three athletes and three members of the athletics staff had tested positive and been isolated but workouts on the Richmond campus were scheduled to continue with a few adjustments.

#basketball, #collegebasketball

Iowa State’s Rasir Bolton accuses Penn State coach Chambers of racism

The Score

Iowa State guard Rasir Bolton leveled allegations of racism against his former coach, Penn State bench boss Patrick Chambers.

"A 'noose' around my neck is why I left Penn State," Bolton wrote in a tweet on Monday. "Head coach Patrick Chambers, the day after his one-game suspension in January 2019, in talking to me referenced a 'noose' around my neck. A noose; symbolic of lynching, defined as one of the most powerful symbols directed at African Americans invoking the history of lynching, slavery, and racial terrorism. Due to other interactions with coach, I knew this was no slip of the tongue."

Bolton said he reported the incident to his academic advisor, and both he and his parents spoke with the Penn State athletic director's office.

"During this time coach Chambers admitted to what he said," Bolton continued. "I was provided one meeting and a phone number to text with a psychologist. I was taught 'ways to deal with coach Chambers' personality type.' Coach Chambers never apologized, he said he was 'from the north and wasn't aware.'

#basketball, #collegebasketball

Noose comment by Penn State basketball coach points to larger NCAA problem

The Undefeated

It began as a normal conversation. Rasir Bolton, the freshman starting point guard for Penn State’s basketball team, was working out with the shooting machine on an off day. The gym was mostly empty. Head coach Pat Chambers called Bolton over to talk.

It was January 2019, and the team was in a troubled state. Four days earlier, during a loss at Michigan, Chambers became enraged during a timeout and shoved one of his players in the chest. The moment was caught on national television. Chambers apologized and was suspended for the next game, a 19-point home loss to Wisconsin. Bolton shot poorly against Wisconsin and finished with seven points, five assists and two turnovers.

The day after the Wisconsin game, Chambers told Bolton he knew the freshman was under a lot of pressure and wanted to help him. Bolton recalls Chambers, who was on the hot seat due to the suspension and a 7-8 record at that point in the season, saying, “I want to be a stress reliever for you. You can talk to me about anything. I need to get some of this pressure off you.

“I want to loosen the noose that’s around your neck.”

This happened what feels like a lifetime ago — before the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery ignited protests that shook America. Before the protests emboldened athletes at Clemson, Iowa, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Texas State to reveal troubling racial interactions with their coaches, and encouraged Texas football players to demand a more inclusive campus culture. Before NASCAR banned the Confederate flag and was immediately rocked by a noose impersonating a door pulldown in the garage of its only Black driver. Before four Black people were found hanging from trees across the country, supposedly all suicides, in less than a month.

#basketball, #collegebasketball

ESPN 100 center Alex Tchikou commits to Alabama

ESPN

ESPN 100 prospect Alex Tchikou committed to play for Alabama on Sunday.

Tchikou, ranked No. 56 in the 2020 ESPN 100, made the announcement in a statement posted to Twitter.

#basketball, #collegebasketball

Five-star recruit Makur Maker commits to Howard over UCLA

ESPN

Five-star senior Makur Maker announced his commitment to Howard on Friday morning, becoming the highest-ranked prospect to commit to a historically Black college or university since the ESPN recruiting database started in 2007.

Maker chose the Bison over UCLA, although Kentucky and Memphis were also on his final list of four.

"I was the 1st to announce my visit to Howard & other started to dream 'what if,'" Maker wrote on Twitter. "I need to make the HBCU movement real so that others will follow. I hope I inspire guys like Mikey Williams to join me on this journey. I am committing to Howard U & coach Kenny Blakeney."

Maker visited Howard last fall, the same month five-star guard Josh Christopher took an official visit to Howard. Christopher ultimately committed to Arizona State.

#basketball, #collegebasketball

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