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Morning Dish

by - Published October 28, 2003 in Conference Notes



The Morning Dish – Tuesday, October 28th

Melvin Crash: NC State senior forward Marcus Melvin can consider himself lucky, as he was not injured when his vehicle went down an embankment. Apparently Melvin pulled into traffic, hit a slick spot, and ended up jumping a curb, vaulting his SUV down a hill. Melvin was the Wolfpack’s second-leading scorer last season, averaging 13 points and 7 rebounds per game, and will not miss any practice.

Leaving the Green: North Texas officials have announced that JuCo transfer Mark Wilson has left the men’s basketball team for personal reasons, a few weeks shy of playing in his first game for the Mean Green. Wilson, a 6-3 guard who transferred from Highland Community College in Freeport, Illinois, had practiced for the past few weeks with Johnny Jones’ squad, and was expected to make an impact. Wilson was a NJCAA Second-Team All-American last season as a sophomore, averaging 22.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

Beenders Passes On: Long Island University lost a member of the school’s legacy over the weekend when Henry Beenders passed away. Beenders, 87, led the Blackbirds to the NIT championship in 1941, and was named captain of the squad the following year under head coach Clair Bee – a member of the Hall of Fame. Beenders, who came to the United States from the Netherlands at age eight, served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. After the war, Beenders played professionally in the Basketball Association of America (pre-NBA) for the Providence Steamrollers, the Philadelphia Warriors and the Boston Celtics clubs. The funeral is scheduled for today in Bridgewater, New Jersey.

Knight Missed Round Table: The Dallas Morning News ran an interesting piece on the NABC Coaching Summit. Responding to questions about speaking out on coaching ethics, Knight said, “I would have rather listened to Saddam Hussein speak on civil rights than some of the people that have spoken on ethics to this point. I spend enough time trying to do things and deal with problems. Probably nobody has worked more at it than I have. I finished that a long time ago.” Former Georgetown legend John Thompson said that Knight was one of the few coaches that didn’t need to attend the event, stating, “Just because he was not here does not mean that he will be inactive for the cause.”

Protestors Trial: Four North Carolina students are back in court facing disorderly conduct charges. Big deal, you say. Well, these were the four students that ran across the Tar Heels’ court in the Dean Dome carrying anti-war banners during a game, and were later arrested. The four students are claiming that expressing their dissenting opinion was more important than the possible negative effects of the interruption of play, and wanted to ensure that they got the attention of corporations and the media.

Morning Dish

by - Published October 27, 2003 in Conference Notes



The Morning Dish – Monday, October 27th

Big Ten in Hoosierland: No, it’s not an announcement that Notre Dame is joining the Big Ten. The Big Ten has announced that it has selected Indianapolis to host the 2006 Big Ten Tournament, which takes place three weeks before the NCAA Final Four uses invades the city. The Big Ten championship will be played in Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, while the Big Dance is across downtown at the RCA Dome. Conseco Fieldhouse hosted the Big Ten Tournament in 2002, and will also host it this upcoming March 2004. However, with so many NBA facilities in Big Ten territory, we here at Hoopville would like to think that the conference would spread it around a little. Where’s the love for Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee and Minneapolis? The Big Ten Tournament has taken place at either Conseco or the United Center in Chicago since its inception.

Wolfpack Hurting: North Carolina State guard Cameron Bennerman will miss the entire non-conference slate for the Wolfpack after breaking a bone in his right hand. Bennerman injured the hand in practice after jamming it into another player’s back going up for a rebound. Bennerman, a reserve who averaged 2.3 points and 1.3 rebounds in 28 games last season, averaging 10 minutes of playing time, is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

Cowboy Homicide: Former Wyoming reserve guard Brett Studdard yesterday shot his former girlfriend and then committed suicide, according to Georgia police. Studdard, who lived in Marietta, Georgia, shot Kelly Jo Kranze of Roswell, Georgia, twice, once in the back of the head, following an altercation in her front yard, and then took his own life. The murder-suicide occurred two days after a restraining order against Studdard was issued, forbidding him from contacting Kranze or owning a firearm. Studdard played for the Cowboys from 1991-93, and averaged 4.3 points and one rebound in 57 games.

Morning Dish

by - Published October 24, 2003 in Conference Notes



The Morning Dish – Friday, October 23rd

Montgomery Apologizes: Stanford coach Mike Montgomery apologized to Florida head coach Billy Donovan for making a statement that implied that Montgomery believed Donovan cheated at recruiting. In a Washington Post interview last week, Montgomery obliquely referred to a cheating coach that had gone to the Final Four a few years ago and then got a $1.7 million contract. Donovan’s Gators appeared in the 2000 Final Four and he received a $1.6 million contract shortly thereafter. Several vague recruiting violations have been alleged against Donovan, especially at the beginning of his Florida career, when he had great success bringing star prep players to his then fledgling program. However, no improprieties have been proven, and Florida AD Jeremy Foley summed it up to other coaches being jealous of Donovan’s work ethic and salary.

Magee Killed: Former UC-Irvine star Kevin Magee was killed in an auto accident early yesterday morning in Louisiana, on his way home from work on I-55. Magee averaged over 26 points and 12 rebounds per game in his two seasons at Irvine in 1980-81 and 81-82, and was a two-time All-American. His #44 jersey is the only retired number in the Bren Events Center, and is credited with putting UCI basketball on the map. He was drafted in the 1982 NBA draft by Phoenix, and played professionally in Europe for 12 seasons.

Eagle Hobbled: Marquette junior forward Marques Jackson has been hobbled by a sprained ankle for the past few weeks, but now the start of the season is in jeopardy for the JuCo transfer. Jackson, who scored 8 points and 9 boards per game at South Plains Junior College in Levelland, Texas, was held out of the team’s exhibition games in Costa Rica earlier this month, as well as practices since. Jackson was a NJCAA First-Team All-American last season. Senior forward Terry Sanders and sophomore Steve Novak will try to fill the gap if Jackson isn’t ready to go for the Golden Eagles’ November 13th opener against St. John’s in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

Bearcat Still Down: Cincinnati sophomore point guard Chadd Moore will likely have back surgery in the near future, as the herniated disk in his lower back is still keeping him from practicing consistently. Moore, who did not participate in Midnight Madness events or in subsequent practices, is scheduled to see a spine surgeon early next week, team doctors said. Moore averaged 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds per game last season, but has only been able to practice one day with his Bearcat teammates, and needed epidural shots to do that.

Morning Dish

by - Published October 23, 2003 in Conference Notes



The Morning Dish – Thursday, October 23rd

Two More Jump: In what’s becoming a weekly occurrence, two teams have jumped from the Sun Belt Conference to the recently-beleaguered WAC. New Mexico State and Utah State have announced that they will leave the Sun Belt in time for the 2005-06 season. Utah State is a member of the Big West in all sports but football, but was planning on being a full Sun Belt member by that time. The two schools partially replace the recently departed SMU, Tulsa and Rice, who announced that they were joining Conference USA late last week. The Sun Belt shouldn’t really be affected that much in basketball, as they would remain a ten team conference, but their future as a football conference is now in question, as they will only have seven members after Troy State joins the conference after next season. The WAC may not be done, but will wait for the Big East dominoes to fall, expected for early November. The WAC is also rumored to be looking at North Texas and Idaho as potential expansion targets.

Bengal Out: Another midnight madness mishap has the Idaho State without sophomore guard David Schroeder. Schroeder, who had won the slam dunk contest in the midnight madness event at Reed Gym early Saturday morning, was injured in the Bengal scrimmage later in the event, landing awkwardly while grabbing a rebound, and tearing the ACL in his right knee. Schroeder averaged almost 11 points per game last season in his first campaign, but will now miss the entire 2003-04 season.

Scholarships?: Colgate University has bucked the Patriot League trend and announced that it will offer a limited set of athletic scholarships. The policy will go into effect next fall, and will provide for 31 scholarships for men’s and women’s basketball, ice hockey, lacrosse, swimming and diving, and soccer. The Patriot League, which just four years ago agreed to allow athletic scholarships, prohibit scholarships for football. The decision to offer scholarships was reached after a year-long study, and will be re-addressed after four years.

New Gamecock: South Carolina has announced that recruit Renaldo Balkman has finally been accepted into the school, and will begin practicing immediately with Dave Odom’s squad. Balkman’s status had been in question since last May with the school, and it looked as though he would not be cleared by the NCAA initial eligibility clearinghouse. But an approval yesterday from the NCAA will get Balkman on the court to help the Gamecock’s depth, as they’re without center Rolando Howell, who is suspended for the first 12 games of the season.

Former Razorback Arrested: Reggie Garrett, a former star under Nolan Richardson for the Arkansas Razorbacks was arrested yesterday on burglary charges, being held on a $150,000 bond. Garrett, who was arrested by Rankin County (Mississippi) officers, was also presented by Jackson Police with a warrant for assault. The Rankin County Sheriff’s office told the Associated Press that Garrett has been arrested 11 times in the past seven years, including DUI and assault.

Izzo vs. NBA: The disturbing trend of college basketball players getting bad advice and jumping to the NBA, only to go undrafted, won’t be happening on Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo’s watch. Izzo, who agreed to help players such as his sophomore forward Paul Davis if they will make an NBA squad, also told the Associated Press that he would have a “fist fight at midcourt” to make sure that the player didn’t make a mistake. Izzo last April watched freshman Erazem Lorbek receive advice to enter the NBA draft, and now is toiling in the lower European leagues after not getting drafted. In 2002, sophomore guard Marcus Taylor opted to enter the draft, and was selected late in the second round, and was waived in camp. Taylor is now bouncing around the minor leagues.

Morning Dish

by - Published October 22, 2003 in Conference Notes



The Morning Dish – Wednesday, October 22nd

Countersuit: Miami filed a lawsuit yesterday against the Big East and the four football schools suing them, claiming that substantial monetary damages were suffered by Miami by remaining in the Big East for so long. Another suit was filed by Miami against UConn for defamation, stemming from “just a continuous sea of defamatory comments,” said Miami attorney Eric Isicoff, aimed mostly at Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who has claimed publicly on several occasions that Miami was part of an illegal conspiracy against the Big East. Blumenthal told the AP that “Any harm claimed by the University of Miami plainly is self-inflicted or non-existent, and pales in comparison to the damage it has done to its Big East partners.” Perhaps this will all be sorted out in our lifetimes.

WAC Goes Prospecting: Facing the death of the conference due to last week’s defections by Tulsa, Rice, and SMU to Conference USA, the WAC is looking to some Sun Belt teams to bolster its ranks – the same Sun Belt teams that are being courted by the Mountain West. New Mexico State, North Texas, Utah State and Idaho are the geographic matches that are being considered by the WAC, as well as Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, and even Middle Tennessee State. Sun Belt commish Wright Waters stated that he didn’t believe any of his member institutions would make the jump. With only seven teams, the WAC would not qualify for an automatic birth in the NCAA tournament.

Cardinal Out: Ball State head coach Tim Buckley has announced that sophomore center Kevin Cates will be out indefinitely with an undisclosed medical condition. The condition, which wasn’t disclosed due to federal privacy regulations, will knock out the Cardinals’ starting big man, who averaged 3.4 points and 5 rebounds per game last season. The backup center, Tom Howland, is also out of action until mid-November with a knee injury, leaving the squad with 6-8 forward Cameron Echols as the tallest player.

Cougar Out: Washington State has announced that Jeff Varem will be held out of practice until questions about his eligibility are answered. Varem, a 6-6 junior guard and native of Nigeria, played for two seasons at Vincennes University in Indiana before transferring to Pullman. Varem, along with two women’s golfers, Anastasia and Maria Kostina, both from Russia, are part of an investigation into eligibility and athletes that have played overseas. No timetable has been set for Varem’s reinstatement, but university officials have indicated that the investigation could take months, something we’re sure new head coach Dick Bennett is thrilled about.

Rebel Bell: The PIN code scam at UNLV has claimed a few more victims. In August several UNLV student athletes were fined and suspended for using an athletic department PIN number to make long-distance calls. Now two members of the basketball team have been implicated in making over $3,000 in calls. Two senior starters, center J.K. Edwards and forward James Peters, will be suspended for games this season (depending on how much their “benefit” was) and be required to pay restitution. The PIN number, owned originally by football assistant coach John Jackson, has been used by 65 student athletes over two years, in phone charges totaled over $65,000.

Calverley Passes On: Former Rhode Island star and coach Ernie Calverley passed away yesterday due to an illness at age 79. Calverly the player led the nation in scoring in 1943-44, averaging 26.7 points per game, and hit a half-court buzzer-beater in the 1946 NIT to propel the Rams over Bowling Green, eventually losing in the finals to Kentucky. As coach, Calverly led the Rams from 1958-68, compiling a 139-114 record and two NCAA Tournament appearances in 1961 and 1968, and was inducted into the URI and New England sports halls of fame.

Tigers Questioned: Memphis teammates of Clyde Wade have been questioned in Wade’s criminal case, even as Wade continues to participate in team practices. Wade was indicted last week on federal charges of identity theft and fraud, and is accused of selling department store gift cards at half price – gift cards that were obtained fraudulently by a ring of store clerks (including Wade’s mother and sister) and a prisoner at a Nashville correctional facility. Memphis head coach John Calipari has said that even though the walk-on reserve guard has been suspended from games and travel, he can participate in team practices.

Loose Bull: University of South Florida sophomore guard Danny Oglesby has received his release, enabling a transfer to another school. Oglesby, who averaged 3.8 points last season and was a starter in five games, quit the team last week due to unhappiness with new head coach Robert McCullum, the fourth player to quit the squad since McCullum’s hiring in April. Oglesby’s high school coach has stated that eight schools have already been in contact with him hoping to sign Oglesby.

Retiring Kidd: The University of California at Berkeley has announced that they will be retiring former Golden Bears and current New Jersey Nets player Jason Kidd’s uniform in a February ceremony. Kidd, who played two seasons at Cal, led the nation and steals en route to being named national freshman of the year, and was an All-American and Pac-10 player of the year his sophomore season, when he led the nation in assists. Kidd’s #5 becomes the third Golden Bear men’s player to receive the tribute, joining guard Kevin Johnson (#11) and forward Alfred Grigsby (#4).

Professor K?: Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski will join Duke’s Fuqua School of Business faculty as a professor, lecturer, and writer during the offseason. The Fuqua/Coach K Center of Leadership and Ethics, which was established with private funds, will hold conferences, lectures and support research on ethical leadership, and is a joint effort between th business school, athletics department and Duke’s Kenan Institute for Ethics.

Morning Dish

by - Published October 21, 2003 in Conference Notes



The Morning Dish – Tuesday, October 21st

Deacon Surgery: Wake Forest sophomore center Chris Ellis broke a bone in his foot Saturday, and will be out of action for the start of the season. Ellis, who broke the fifth metatarsal of his right foot in the first practice of the season during a rebounding drill, underwent surgery yesterday, and will miss at the minimum six weeks of action. Ellis averaged almost 3 points and 2.5 boards per game last season, in which he played every contest.

Meyer Honored: DePaul University will be renaming its basketball court to honor legendary DePaul head coach Ray Meyer, who coached the Blue Demons to the 1979 NCAA Final Four. The Ray and Marge Meyer Court will be dedicated in a ceremony at the December 14th game against Notre Dame, Meyer’s first coaching job and alma mater. The ceremony will take place just days before Meyer’s 90th birthday, and will honor Meyer’s 42-year coaching career at DePaul. Meyer retired in 1984 with a 724-354 overall record, winning an NIT title in 1945, and featuring two NCAA Final Four appearances – 1943 and 1979. Meyer led the Blue Demons to 37 winning seasons and 12 20-win seasons, and coached NBA Hall of Famer George Mikan and NBA players Mark Aguirre and Terry Cummings.

New Aztec: San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher has announced the new assistant coach on the Aztecs staff – former NBA player Gary Grant. Grant, who played under Fisher at Michigan in the late 80s when Fisher was an assistant to Bill Freider, replaces Marvin Menzies, who left for an assistant coaching position at USC in August. Grant, who was a first round pick of the Seattle Supersonics (15th overall) in the 1988 draft, was traded after the draft to the Clippers, where he started his 13-year NBA career. Grant also played for the Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and Portland Trailblazers. Grant’s brother Michael is the head coach of Southern University of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Mustang Extended: Cal Poly head coach Kevin Bromley will be staying in SLO a little longer. Bromley, who led the Mustangs to their first back-to-back winning seasons at the D-1 level, has signed a five-year contract extension that will keep him on the Cal Poly sidelines through the 2007-08 season. The deal includes a base salary of $110,000, and includes a bump from his previous contract of $10,000 more per season. Bromley has an overall record of 35-37 in three seasons as a head coach, all with Cal Poly.

Morning Dish

by - Published October 20, 2003 in Conference Notes



The Morning Dish – Monday, October 20th

Montgomery Honored: Stanford head coach Mike Montgomery was named the winner of the 2004 John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching award. The award is given annually for long-term contributions to the game, and success at one institution. Previous recipients include Coach K, Dean Smith, Denny Crum, Lute Olson and Roy Williams (the Kansas version). The award will be given in a ceremony in April along with the presentation of the Wooden award for player of the year.

Williams Extension: Even though he hasn’t won a game as coach of the Tar Heels, new North Carolina head coach Roy Williams received an eight-year contract that will keep him in Chapel Hill through the 2010-11 season. The deal includes a base salary of $260,000, plus $25,000 for expenses, and $350,000 for talk shows, and will get a $775,000 bump for year two and beyond, making it a cool $1.4 million for at least five years. The bump comes from the UNC buyout of Williams’ deferred Kansas contract.

Morning Dish

by - Published October 17, 2003 in Conference Notes



The Morning Dish – Friday, October 17th

The Summit: Over 300 head coaches attended the NABC meeting in Chicago Wednesday, and agreed to establish an ethics code. Coaches also agreed to provide the NCAA with recommendations on stiffer penalties for violations, including a new type of NCAA infraction – the “lack of coach control”, which could lead to additional penalties to a program under investigation. And don’t think that the NABC is stopping at the head coaching level. A multi-session professional development program for all assistants will be implemented during the 2004 Final Four weekend in San Antonio this coming spring. Read Hoopville Staff writer Nick Dettmann’s eyewitness account of the NABC Summit.

Wade Indicted: Memphis sophomore guard Clyde Wade was indicted yesterday with eight other people on federal charges for fraud and credit card theft. Wade, a walk-on last season that averaged just under 2 points per game in 25 contests, was arrested with his mother, sister, and six others in a department store credit-card scheme. An inmate data entry worker in Nashville collected personal information from driver’s licenses, contacted department stores to obtain credit information via a conference call with co-conspirators, and then created fraudulent accounts, which Wade’s family members helped process fraudulent transactions through their sales positions at department stores. Wade himself sold fraudulent gift cards at half price throughout Memphis. Wade was suspended by the University of Memphis on Wednesday pending resolution of the charges.

Vroman Suspended, Again: Iowa State senior forward Jackson Vroman was suspended from the team yesterday following a drunken driving arrest. Vroman, who averaged 12.5 points and 9.5 boards per game last season, was suspended from the team in May following an arrest for possession of marijuana. He was also charged with driving on the wrong side of the street and driving without a registration, failed a field sobriety test and refused a blood alcohol test, and spent the night at a county jail. Vroman’s status for the season is uncertain, and there’s a chance he may not return to the squad. The Cyclones’ other top returning player, starting point guard Tim Barnes, is academically ineligible this semester, and was arrested for both marijuana and DUI in June.

Cav Benched: Virginia head coach Pete Gillen has announced that junior forward Jason Clark will not be allowed to play or practice with the squad for the time being. Gillen did not indicate whether Clark would be returning for a portion of the season, and did not provide a reason for the action. Clark played in every game last season and started half of the Cavaliers’ games. He averaged just under 5 points and 3 rebounds per game.

A-Sun Gets One: Or more accurately, gets one back. The Atlantic Sun Conference, which this season lost two quality teams (Jacksonville State and Samford) to the Ohio Valley Conference, has now added a new team. East Tennessee State accepted an invitation from the A-Sun to join for the 2005-06 season. ETSU was to be booted from the Southern Conference, due to its lack of a football program, but was allowed to stay through the 2004-05 season, especially since they represented the conference in the NCAA Tournament last March. While the A-Sun also added former Independent Lipscomb this season, it’s anticipated that Central Florida will depart the conference, as they have received overtures from Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, and even the Big East.

Morning Dish

by - Published October 16, 2003 in Conference Notes



The Morning Dish – Thursday, October 16th

Conference Madness: You can now add Marshall to the conference fray. Thundering Herd Athletic Director Bob Marcum has announced that he has been contacted regarding a possible Conference USA expansion slot. A Tampa paper reported yesterday that Marshall, along with SMU, Rice, Tulsa (all WAC schools) as well as Central Florida, are being considered as expansion targets by Conference USA. Of course, this is an expected domino effect of losing Marquette, Louisville, DePaul and Cincinnati to the Big East. Marshall turned down a football-only C-USA invite two years ago. Both Marshall and Central Florida are in the Mid-American Conference, with UCF being a football-only member, but full membership was extended to the Golden Knights two weeks ago by MAC officials. Marshall has won 5 of the 6 MAC football championship games, and has a 48-8 conference record.

Michigan Payback: Michigan agreed yesterday to return prize money to the NIT for winning the 1997 NIT Championship with three ineligible players. Maurice Taylor, Robert Traylor, and Louis Bullock, all of whom have been said to have received money from Michigan booster Ed Martin, all were starters for that season’s Wolverines squad. Last year, Michigan returned over $450,000 to the NCAA for being the NCAA runner up in 1992 and 1993 with Chris Webber, now of the Sacramento Kings, who also received cash from Martin. Michigan officials would not disclose the amount of the money returned.

More Pettis: Fresno State player Terry Pettis is in more hot water. According to Fresno Police, Pettis was involved in multiple domestic disturbances less than a week after pleading no contest to misdemeanor assault and vandalism against his former girlfriend. The incidents are believed to have occurred on October 5th, 7th, and 8th, after a judge issued a restraining order against Pettis. Pettis was already suspended indefinitely from the Bulldog team from the first incident.

Back for Moore: Cincinnati sophomore point guard Chadd Moore says he’ll be ready for the season. However, his back may have something else in mind. Moore has been suffering recurring back spasms that have limited his conditioning and workout times, a condition that he experienced on occasion last season. Moore, who scored 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds per game last season, was expected to compete for the starting point guard spot, but might not even be able to participate in this weekend’s Midnight Madness.

Hog Heaven: Arkansas’ Walton Arena will have some new eye candy during Razorbacks games. The school is in the process of installing a new Daktronics scoreboard that will be capable of showing video replays, and of course, video montages of the Hogs’ 1994 NCAA championship ten years ago. The new scoreboard, which weighs almost 12 tons, is 22 feet by 23 feet on each side, and will be ready in time for Arkansas’ Midnight Madness this weekend. The school would not comment on the cost of the new scoreboard, which is the tenth in the SEC. Only Florida and Mississippi State do not have video replay scoreboards. The old scoreboard, original to the arena opening in 1993, will be placed into storage.

Doing the Conference Shuffle

by - Published October 15, 2003 in Columns


Doing the Conference Shuffle

by Andrew Flynn

This offseason has drawn to light the best and worst of what happens when folks look at a map and say, “We should have these guys in our conference.”

It seems that’s exactly what ACC commissioner John Swofford did with his quasi-successful power grab of Big East Schools. While the dust in Round One of that battle has only recently started to settle, future moves of Conference USA, Atlantic 10, and even the WAC to fill the void will only create a chain reaction of realignment that will eventually see the creation of new super-conferences and others going by the wayside.

For those of you that were backpacking across Europe since the NCAA finals, basically the ACC tried a surprise move to grab the best and brightest of the Big East football schools – Miami, Syracuse, and Boston College. Campuses were toured. Soapboxes were stepped upon. Lawsuits were filed. In the end Miami agreed to jump to the ACC, and Virginia Tech was the last-minute “un-vitee”, who was merely issued a chance at the behest of Virginia’s governor, using UVA as a mouthpiece. That Virginia Tech was a plaintiff against the ACC seemed beside the point. So next year the ACC football schedule will be meaty, and the 2004-05 basketball schedule will be a little watered-down. As always, it’s all about the Benjamins.

But the ACC-Big East story, and its future chapters, such as this weekend’s news that Boston College will fall on the ACC side of the fence, will be detailed in this space next year. For now, Hoopville will bring you up to speed on the conference affiliation changes taking affect this season, which profiles a few conference jumps, some team swapping, and three new Division-I schools entering the fray.

America East Conference
 
On April 22nd, Maryland-Baltimore County jumped from the Northeast Conference to America East, giving the conference its 10th member institution. Meanwhile, former D-1 newcomer Binghamton is now a fully-fledged member of the America East Conference.

UMBC was not a consistent program in recent years, so the effect of their entrance on the conference is likely a mixed bag at this point. Whether or not it is a good move ultimately remains to be seen; they enter from a conference in similar standing to America East. One thing that will be interesting for them is playing on the road, as the nearest school to them is more than a four-hour drive away.

Binghamton, on the other hand, has been very competitive against America East teams the past two seasons and figures to be a consistent contender before long. Additionally, the basketball team will soon play home games in a new 6,000-seat Events Center on their campus, and there is speculation that it might be a possibility for future conference tournaments. They will prove to be a good addition, though they figure to take a slight step back on the court this year as they lose three key starters and a good reserve from last year’s team.

Atlantic Sun Conference
 
The A-Sun loses both Jacksonville State and Samford to the Ohio Valley Conference, but gains a former D-1 Independent in Lipscomb. The conference map gets skewed a bit, as the A-Sun loses two of its three Alabama schools (Troy State remains), while adding another Tennessee school to join cross-town rival Belmont. Samford had been in the A-Sun (formerly TAAC) since the conferences inception in 1978, leaving Mercer as the only remaining original member. Jacksonville State had been in the conference since 1995.

JSU and Samford celebrated great seasons in the northern division of the A-Sun last season. The JSU Gamecocks finished the regular season with an overall record of 20-10, and 10-6 in the conference. JSU lost to UCF in the quarterfinals of the 2002 A-Sun tournament 68-51. The Samford Bulldogs finished 13-15 overall, with a 9-7 conference record. The Bulldogs lost in the quarterfinals 70-54 to eventual A-Sun champion Troy State. The loss of these two teams will undoubtedly relieve the pressure of competition for the remainder of the northern division.

The Lipscomb Bisons will begin their first full season of A-Sun play in 2003, but won’t be eligible for the A-Sun tournament. The Bisons finished 2002 with a 13-16 overall record, and were 3-3 against A-Sun opponents. The Nashville team made nice first impressions in the A-Sun, winning against Stetson and Campbell. The Bisons are 61-32 in three years behind head coach Scott Sanderson. They won’t help the conference’s RPI, as JSU (180) and Samford (204) were a bit ahead of Lipscomb (319).

Big South Conference
 
Though it did not get as much press as Miami and Virginia Tech’s move to the ACC, VMI and Elon changed conferences over the summer, with the Keydets moving to the Big South and the Phoenix moving into the vacancy left by VMI in the Southern Conference. Associate member Birmingham Southern completed their provisional status and is now a full member.

For the Big South, the availability of VMI leaving the SoCon opened a great opportunity to gain an all-important 6th football member (joining Elon, Liberty, Charleston Southern, associate member Gardner-Webb, and the future program at Coastal Carolina) and they quickly invited VMI to join them so they could have enough teams for an automatic playoff bid.

But the loss of Elon eliminated the immediate opportunity for the automatic football playoff bid. However, the football league still has some legitimacy with the VMI name being associated with it. As for the quality of Big South basketball; it should not change much. Elon and VMI have each hovered in the mid-200s in RPI the last couple of seasons, so any change in overall conference strength this season should be minimal. Also, in the short-term, the Big South should benefit slightly from the name recognition of VMI, both from their history, and from association with the departed Jason Conley. But the conference will not have the benefit of reaching a new market (Radford and Liberty are both in VMI’s region of Virginia).

In the long-term, it is difficult to see if Big South basketball will benefit or suffer from this ‘swap.’ VMI will always struggle with recruiting, yet they somehow managed to snag a talent like Conley (even though he did end up transferring to Missouri). Can the Keydets find other talented players like him? Until those questions are answered, it will be hard to figure out how Big South basketball will fare with this deal.

D-I Independents
 
Nowhere in college basketball is the yearly turmoil more evident than in the ranks of the Division I Independents. For this season, the confederation of unaffiliated teams loses four members and gains three. Here’s the breakdown. As mentioned in this article, three Independents now have shiny new conference affiliations – Centenary with the Mid-Continent, Lipscomb with the Atlantic Sun, and Birmingham Southern completed their move to the Big South.

Morris Brown’s situation was the most disheartening. A lack of financial constancy caused Morris Brown, the only Historically Black University founded by African-Americans in Georgia, to lose its accreditation in December. The school lost its appeal in April from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which denied the historically black college’s request to restore its accreditation. Morris Brown has suspended all of its sports programs; and all of the coaches and athletic department staff were laid off.

There are three newcomers to the Independent ranks this season, all of which have established programs at Division II or JuCo levels. The University of California-Davis brings their successful Aggie program to D-1, and already has an agreement to join the Big West when they complete their provisional status, joining UC System schools UC-Irvine, UC-Riverside, and UC-Santa Barbara in the conference. The school won the NACDA Directors cup for five of the previous six seasons for D-II, and was named the top D-II institution in the nation by Sports Illustrated. The UC-Davis campus, with 22,000 undergrads, will fit right into revenue models for D-1, will be able to offer intercollegiate competition for all 25 varsity sports offered by the school. UC-Davis’ football will be a I-AA independent this season. Suffering from their first losing season in a while (12-15) head coach Brian Fogel resigned in March, and was replaced by Gary Stewart.

The Northern Colorado Bears also joins D-1 for this season. The Greely, Colorado school has 12,000 undergraduate students, and has been playing hoops for over 100 years. The Bears went 11-15 last season, but return 10 players to a young team, and will get plenty of experience this season, as the school has scheduled games against Colorado, Colorado State, Texas State, Iowa State, Eastern Michigan and Loyola Marymount, along with home-and-homes with fellow D-1 newcomer Utah Valley State. Though not affiliated with a conference, the school has had informal talks with the Mid-Continent Conference, who would potentially look at the Bears and Utah Valley State as good travel partners, along with conference member Southern Utah, but nothing has been formalized.

Utah Valley State is the last new D-1 Independent for this season. The Orem, Utah, school used to be a Junior College, but has grown to a four-year institution. The Wolverines hired former Utah assistant Dick Hunsaker to lead the school to D-1. Hunsaker was a head coach at Ball State, and also was interim head coach at Utah when Rick Majerus took a leave of absence two seasons ago. Last season, the final one in the Scenic West Conference, the Wolverines went 26-7 against their JuCo brethren, However, this season might not be as successful, as the school has BYU, Boise State, Cleveland State and Robert Morris on the schedule for this season.

Lastly, Savannah State has been asked to repeat a year of their four-year probationary status by the NCAA, who found that the Tigers athletics program was coming up short in some of the D-1 requirements. The school did not sponsor the minimum number of sports in order to show progress towards D-1 compliance. Savannah State has since added cross-country, men’s and women’s track and field, men’s and women’s golf, and men’s tennis to get up to snuff.

Mid-Continent Conference
 
The Mid-Continent added D-1 Independent Centenary this offseason, bringing the conference to 9 teams, and spreading the conference map south to include Louisiana. Centenary, with the smallest enrollment of any D-1 school, rejoins a conference after four years of Independent status. The school was a founding member of the Trans American Athletic Conference (now the Atlantic Sun), with membership from 1978 to 1999.

On the court, the Gents haven’t had much success in the past few years, something that their Independent status hindered. Last season, a streaky Centenary went 14-14 overall, starting with three losses, followed by four wins, followed later by five losses in a row, then followed by five consecutive wins. Four of the 14 wins came against D-II opponents, but they kept it respectable against Arkansas and Missouri, and had a one-point loss on the road against Fresno State. Centenary fits into the middle of the pack in terms of RPI, nestled in with Missouri-Kansas City and Southern Utah in the 270’s, down quite a few notches from perennial powerhouses Valparaiso (96), and to a lesser extent, IUPUI (160) and Oral Roberts (170).

The move also helps set up the Mid-Continent to encourage basically any other team to join from any time zone, as several schools, including two of the new D-1 Independents, and other future D-1 schools, are lobbying for inclusion.

Northeast Conference
 
When Maryland-Baltimore County jumped to the America East conference, the NEC didn’t so much as say goodbye, at least publicly. The conference merely removed UMBC graphics and links from their official site, and moved on. Now with 11 teams, there is a bit more of a scheduling difficulty, but the conference tournament will hardly be affected, as only the top eight schools make the tournament anyway. And while UMBC is the farthest team from the conference’s geographic center, the conference loses a travel partner for Mount St. Mary’s, which is also in Maryland.

While the NEC is rated as the 28th-strongest conference, it actually loses its worst performing team, at least in terms of RPI. UMBC was rated 302nd of the 327 teams last season, and everyone else in the NEC was lower than 285, save for Sacred Heart at 295. UMBC also was at the bottom of the NEC standings, with only five conference wins (Mount St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart had six), and seven overall. So the addition by subtraction is complete, and the NEC may even pass the Mid-Continent Conference in RPI for this upcoming season.

Ohio Valley Conference
 
Both Jacksonville State and Samford jumped to the Ohio Valley Conference from the Atlantic Sun Conference. Jacksonville State moved to find a conference in which to consolidate their athletics teams into one conference since the Gamecocks moved to D-1 in 1992. Samford did the same, making the move to have all 17 of its athletics teams in the same conference for the first time ever. All but the Bulldogs’ football team had been in the Atlantic Sun (formerly Trans America Athletic Conference) since 1978, and the Bulldog football team has played as an NCAA 1-AA independent since 1988.

The Ohio Valley pads its conference lead over the Atlantic Sun in the RPI standings. The Ohio Valley was 19th last season, while the A-Sun was 20th. However, Jacksonville State (180) and Samford (204) were two of the power schools in the A-Sun last season. Jacksonville State should fit right into the OVC basketball mix, potentially challenging for the conference crown given the right scenario, while Samford projects into the middle of the pack.

Southern Conference
 
Even though they had been members of the SoCon for 78 of the 82-year existence of the league, VMI knew that its football team would never be able to compete with the Georgia Southern’s and Furman’s of the world, which forced them to look for a new home for their football team. However, the Southern Conference members were not looking kindly on a team that was not going to field a football team in their league, so the Keydets decided to leave gracefully instead of getting ‘kicked out.’

The Southern Conference needed a replacement for the Keydets, namely a football playing school in their geographic footprint. Elon fit that mold, and they accepted an invitation to the SoCon, further moving the school and its football program up the ‘prestige ladder’, from NAIA, to Division II, to the Big South, and now to the Southern Conference, all within the last 20 years. The move was primarily football driven, seeing as Elon had won two NAIA national championships and was a powerful Division II team. But it was also a chance for all of Elon’s teams, including basketball, to move to a slightly higher profile conference, with possibly more chances for exposure.

Moves for 2004-05
 
ACC: Adds Miami (Florida) and Virginia Tech from the Big East

Independents: Adds Longwood, North Dakota State, and South Dakota State

Sun Belt: Adds Troy State

Moves for 2005-06
 
ACC: Adds Boston College

Atlantic Sun: Adds East Tennessee State

Big West: Adds UC-Davis

Independents: Adds North Florida

Sun Belt: Adds Idaho, Utah State, Louisiana-Monroe


Hoopville writers Phil Kasiecki, Jeremy Dunlap, and Ashley Burns contributed to this report.

     

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