NCAA

Griner and Ogwumike finally to square off

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Griner and Ogwumike finally to square off

This is how big Brittney Griner is and we dont just mean her 6-foot-8 height, 7-foot-4 wingspan and 9-foot-2 reach.

Shes so big that she dwarfs RGIII Robert Griffin III, the reigning Heisman trophy winner - making him only the second biggest athlete at Baylor.

That will change. In a few weeks, RGIII will be wealthier than Griner will probably ever be, when he becomes the second pick in the NFL Draft. If he succeeds in the NFL, hell be king.

But for now, hes Griners caddy. He texted Baylor coach Kim Mulkey and told her hes coming to Denver this weekend to cheer on Griner and her teammates in the Final Four against Stanford. RGIII will probably be hoping she can throw down another two handed jam in transition again.

Can Nneka Ogwumike counter with Andrew Luck?

RELATED: Stanford's Ogwumike sisters eager to face Griner

Ogwumike is a superstar in her own right a player who has helped Stanford get to the Final Four in every year that shes worn a Cardinal uniform. Shed be the shoo-in for the national player of the year if it wasnt for you-know-who.

But Nneka isnt the biggest thing on her campus: Luck is because hes s almost as unusual in his own right as Griner: a superstar Stanford football player has been almost as rare as a woman hoopster with 88-inches between her outstretched fingers. On the other hand, a player like Ogwumike is what we expect out of Tara VanDerveers program, which churns out player of the year candidates and Final Four berths like theyre undergrad requirements.

Griner and Ogwumike are the headliners of an intriguing womens Final Four: all four No. 1 seeds are in the finals for only the second time in history. And none are the defending champion: Texas A&M was knocked out along the way.

The other semifinal is as exciting as holding yet another Republican debate: this will be the eighth time in two seasons that Notre Dame and UConn have played each other. UConn holds a 4-3 lead, thanks to its win in the Big East final earlier this month.

Stanford and Baylor, in contrast, havent played each other since Griner has been in a Baylor uniform. Its an unfamiliar matchup, but an intriguing one, between the two best players in the country.

Griner has everyone talking: not just because she is so tall and skilled, or because she can dunk, but she brings an edge. She punched a girl in the face when she was a freshman. On Monday, she jumped off the bench when a fight broke out between her teammate and a Tennessee player and ended up being ejected from the game.

She brings some controversy, Van Derveer said. I think it brings a lot of good attention to the game. People are paying attention to whats going on in Denver.

RGIII will be. Andrew Luck should show up, to level the playing field.

NCAA adopts sexual violence policy: 'It's not banning violent athletes...'

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AP

NCAA adopts sexual violence policy: 'It's not banning violent athletes...'

NCAA member schools will be required to provide yearly sexual violence education for all college athletes, coaches and athletics administrators under a policy announced Thursday by the organization's board of governors.

Campus leaders such as athletic directors, school presidents and Title IX coordinators will be required to attest that athletes, coaches and administrators have been educated on sexual violence.

The policy was adopted from a recommendation made by the Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence, which was created by the board last year in response to several high-profile cases involving sexual assaults and athletic departments, including the scandal at Baylor.

The policy also requires campus leaders to declare that athletic departments are knowledgeable and compliant with school policies on sexual violence prevention, adjudication and resolution.

Brenda Tracy, a rape survivor and activist who speaks to college teams across the country about sexual violence , is a member of the commission. She has called for the NCAA to ban athletes with a history of sexual violence. While this policy falls far short of that, Tracy said she was encouraged.

"It's not banning violent athletes, but it's a positive policy that's going to have a big impact on our campuses," Tracy said in a phone interview from Amherst, Massachusetts, where she was spending the day speaking to the UMass football and basketball teams.

The announcement from the NCAA came just one day after Youngstown State decided a football player who served jail time for a rape committed while he was in high school will not be allowed to play in games this season. Ma'Lik Richmond , who served about 10 months in a juvenile lockup after being convicted with another Steubenville High School football player of raping a 16-year-old girl in 2012, walked on at Youngstown State earlier this year. He will be allowed to practice and participate in other team activities.

Tracy has promoted a petition urging Youngstown State to not allow Richmond to play.

"I think that playing sports and playing NCAA sports is a privilege. It is not a right," Tracy said. "If we're going to be placing student-athletes in that position of power and influence - to drive narrative, to drive conversation, to affect culture - then behavior matters. Right now, I feel like Youngstown is sending the message that violence against women, rape all of these things are OK. It doesn't affect your ability to play sports."

A move toward an NCAA policy on sexual violence was given momentum by numerous issues involving athletes and athletic departments in recent years. Perhaps the most high-profile example is Baylor, where an investigation found that allegations of sexual assault, some against football players, were mishandled by school leaders.

Two years ago, the Southeastern Conference barred schools from accepting transfers who had been dismissed from another school for serious misconduct, defined as sexual assault, domestic violence or other forms of sexual violence.

Indiana announced in April that it would no longer accept any prospective student-athlete who has been convicted of or pleaded guilty or no contest to a felony involving sexual violence. In July, the athletic director at the University of Illinois said the school was working on a similar policy.

Tracy said the NCAA has not ruled out implementing a policy like Indiana's.

"The fact that's still on the table, we're still having discussions about that, we're still going to keep working moving forward, gives me a lot of hope," she said.

In a statement, the NCAA said: "Any discussion of individual accountability beyond the criminal justice system must address the complexities and nuances of different federal and state laws so that it can be consistently applied across the NCAA."

The new NCAA policy defers to schools to set their own sexual violence education practices, though in 2014 the association set expectations for its members with a resolution and made recommendations in a handbook on sexual assault.

"Schools do different things," Tracy said. "The NCAA is now saying this isn't just an option. This is now a policy and a requirement. And not only that but you need to attest to us every year what it is that you're doing ... Some schools are doing a great job. Some schools are not doing a great job."

Pac-12 to experiment with ways to shorten football games

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AP

Pac-12 to experiment with ways to shorten football games

LOS ANGELES -- The Pac-12 will shorten halftime and reduce the number of commercial breaks during its non-conference schedule this season as part of a trial program to reduce the length of its football games.

Halftime will be 15 minutes long, cut down from the usual 20-minute break. The number of commercial breaks will be reduced and they will be shorter in length, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said Wednesday.

Scott announced the initiative as the Pac-12 kicked off its media days in Hollywood. The experiment is intended to shorten ballooning game times in an era of up-tempo offenses running more plays and the increased scoring that comes with it.

"Just because metrics show robust ratings and attendance doesn't mean we shouldn't be experimenting and piloting with formats that will keep the sport attractive," Scott said. "It's incumbent on us to look at the presentation of the sport and make sure the pace of play is moving as much as possible and without changing the fundamentals of the game."

Scott did not completely dismiss potential rule changes in the future to address the length of games, saying that the upcoming experiment was part of a larger, more comprehensive review.

Scott noted that Pac-12 games have averaged nearly 3 hours and 30 minutes, more than 30 minutes longer than NFL games. Some of that discrepancy can be attributed to stopping the clock after first downs in college football, a rule not used in the NFL.

The halftime reduction could be a significant incentive to keep television viewers tuned in. Scott said up to 30 percent of the audience is lost during that break.

The changes could also have a positive effect on stadium attendance since Pac-12 fans have complained about the increase in late starts under the conference's most recent television deal. Fans might be more likely to watch a game in-person on a Thursday or Saturday night if they have a chance to get home before midnight.

For Arizona and Arizona State, which hold their early-season home games after dark to avoid the desert heat, it could mean their fans spend less time in triple-digit temperatures.

Pac-12 coaches consulted about the change did not believe it would hinder their ability to make adjustments at halftime, Scott said.

"I was delighted to hear our coaches feel like 20 minutes is more than they need from a student-athlete health and rest and X's and O's perspective," Scott said.

Scott also announced the league's plans to operate a centralized replay center, joining other conferences in consolidating its video review facilities.

The Pac-12 title game will stay at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, through 2019, Scott said. The league also has the option to hold the 2020 game in Santa Clara.