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  • Oklahoma State cleared of major violations following SI report

    Oklahoma State2

    Thirteen months ago, Sports Illustrated hit Oklahoma State with a highly-publicized, five-part series entitled “The Dirty Game.

    The report accused Oklahoma State of paying players, encouraging female hostesses to provide sexual favors to recruits, academic fraud and rampant drug use. Basically anything and everything that would be included in an Oliver Stone movie about a college football program.

    Oklahoma State was taken aback by the allegations at the time, and athletics director Mike Holder sounded understandably concerned in his initial statement before the report was released. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to read these stories, however many days that it takes, catch my breath and then we’ll start working through the process,” Holder said. “Everybody out there, it’s time to cowboy up.”

    Then, over the course of the next year, Holder’s tune changed. Oklahoma State commissioned an independent study done by The Compliance Group, an appropriately named consulting firm run by former NCAA enforcement staffer Chuck Smrt, while the NCAA conducted its own investigation, and the initial feedback was good for Oklahoma State. “I think what comes out will kind of speak for itself, good or bad. It’s been my position all along — if we are who we think we are, then this would ultimately be a good thing. The day of reckoning is coming. I don’t know when, but it’s coming,” Holder told the Tulsa World last month.

    On Tuesday, the group’s findings were released after conducting nearly 100 interviews and reviewing approximately 50,000 emails. Instead of a massive rule-breaking and cover-up operation, the Compliance Group found the same dirty laundry in the possession of nearly every Power Five program in America.

    – Oklahoma State failed to adequately adhere to the university’s drug policy on five failed tests over the course of six years (from 2007-13). OSU had 94 positive tests involving 60 athletes over that span.

    – Orange Pride, the support program accused of sexual misconduct, instead was guilty of being run through the football program instead of the university admissions office, and thus was not technically allowed to speak with recruits or their families about the university.

    The school was guilty of a failure to monitor in both of the above cases and the NCAA will issue a notice of allegations regarding the three possible Level II violations, but otherwise that’s it. The Miami Sharks were not reincarnated in Stillwater.

    Oklahoma State created a landing page to provide its joint statement with the NCAA – response.okstate.edu.

    “In the aftermath of the Sports Illustrated series, the right thing to do was examine the program. I have attempted to operate our program with integrity and have reinforced to our coaching staff the importance of compliance with NCAA rules,” Holder said in a statement. “If we had any shortfalls, I wanted to know. While I am pleased, but not surprised, that the claims in Sports Illustrated were fundamentally unfounded, we continue to work with the athletics administration to ensure a clear understanding and application of our policies. From the moment I was chosen to coach my alma mater, I have made decisions to create a NCAA compliant environment, while ensuring student-athlete welfare. I love my players and want them to succeed in life by making good decisions and respecting the rules.”

    Though this is undoubtedly a proud day for Oklahoma State to officially have this year-long saga behind them, head coach Mike Gundy summarized the entire saga best back in November: “I think it helped us in recruiting,” Gundy said at the time. “It benefited our program.”

     

  • A high school football coach has been fired for…smashing watermelons?

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    Academic Magnet HS (SC) has gotten off to a fast 6-2 start, marking the second best record the school has ever seen. Which is why many people were scratching their heads when news of Bud Walpole’s dismissal hit the news wire yesterday.

    According to The Post and Courier, Walpole’s dismissal stems from “inappropriate post game celebrations” that took place after wins.

    The official statement from the district does not specify what those “inappropriate post game celebrations” entailed, but The Post and Courier points out that it’s believed to have included the smashing of watermelons, which were then picked up and eaten as a celebratory post game snack.

    Really? Fired for smashing watermelons in a post game celebration? I can’t even say that without picturing Gallagher going HAM on some watermelon with a giant mallet.

    But seriously, there has to be more to the story than that to justify dismissing Walpole.

    Last week, school administrators met with players and interviewed them and by Monday a decision had been made to let coach Walpole go.

    A petition to reinstate coach Walpole hit Change.org yesterday, and already has more 1,000 signatures, with just under 950 left to hit the goal. Many of the comments could not be more supportive of Walpole, who has been the school’s head coach for a decade.

    Read more on the situation here.

  • Minnesota State-Mankato and Todd Hoffner are Division II’s No. 1 ranked team

    Todd Hoffner

    Normally we wouldn’t do a story about a new team moving into the top position of the Division II coaches’ poll in the middle of October. Nothing about the situation at Minnesota State-Mankato, however, is normal.

    If you’re reading this article then you’re more than likely aware of the situation. Minnesota State-Mankato head coach Todd Hoffner was removed from his job in August 2012 after being accused of child pornography, and but cleared of wrongdoing that November. Regardless, Hoffner was reassigned within the university following the charges, and fired several months later.

    He later accepted the head job at Minot State (N.D.), but in April an arbitrator ruled he was wrongfully terminated and ordered him to be reinstated as the Mavericks’ head coach.

    Now, half a year later, Minnesota State-Mankato is the No. 1 team in the country.

    The Mavericks, 7-0 this season after a 31-0 win over St. Cloud State (Minn.) and winning games by an average score of 47-10, ascended from No. 2 to the the top spot following defending national champion Northwest Missouri State’s loss to Pittsburg State (Kan.) on Saturday.

    To be clear, Hoffner’s homecoming wasn’t easy for the involved parties. The Mavericks were 34-13 under Hoffner from 2008-11, and went 24-2 under interim head coach Aaron Keen. On Hoffner’s first day back, players boycotted practice in a show of support of Keen. Keen was promoted to associate head coach, but has since joined the Eastern Michigan staff as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach.

    “We’re excited that we’re being recognized for the body of work that’s been done, even in my absence,” Hoffner told USA Today, “and this team is continuing the tradition and the legacy that have been build. You only get ranked No. 1 if your body of work displays excellence. … That gets us to where we are now.”

  • Here’s the video WVU was feasting their eyes on before upsetting Baylor

    Hours before the teargas and riots in the streets of Morgantown, West Virginia was getting their mind right to host #4 Baylor.

    Here’s the video that the team watched before heading onto the field and knocking off one of the top ranked teams in the country.

    The first three and a half minutes are filled with swag and highlights from their win over Texas Tech, and then the scene cuts to various sports shows that respect the home field advantage, but seem to have doubts on whether the Mountaineers can hang with the Bears.

    Then the video closes with these two motivational gems.

    “They may be the #4 team in the country. But when it comes to facing THIS TEAM, in THIS STADIUM…they aren’t ready.”

    “There are two kinds of people in this world; there’s hammers, and there’s nails. You decide which one you want to be.”

    (H/T @DougityDog)

  • Behind the scenes of NC State’s video department

    Working in the video department of football program may be one of the most thankless jobs in sports, yet no behind the scenes job is more important.

    Coaching and preparing for game day without the hours upon hours that the film guys (or for you Division II and Division III guys – your grad assistants) put in would be near impossible.

    Here, the NC State film coordinators (Hud Jordan and assistant Brett Davis) talk about their journey and then take you through their daily job duties and expectations, and demonstrate how they keep things running smoothly for Dave Doeren and his coaching staff.

    The best video guys are the ones that can happily maintain their position in the background because that means they aren’t making mistakes that coaches notice. It’s like being the center, the only time the average fan notices him is when there’s a bad snap, then all eyes are solely on him.

    These guys have a lot on their plate and help to keep thing running smoothly so that the coaching staff con concentrate on what they do best…coaching.