NCAA

Saint Mary's no longer a Cinderella

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Saint Mary's no longer a Cinderella

Everything in Moraga right now has a tinge of the giddy about it, because the basketball program is now considered a standard-bearer for mid-major programs.

In other words, its time for a bit of a downer to keep everyone sharp and focused.

If Randy Bennett really owns Australia, how could he let Hugh Greenwood escape to New Mexico to go for 26 a game with the Mountain West champions? Or maybe Bennett isnt as thorough in Tasmania as he should be.

There. Thats the end of that. Now back to the era of good feeling before Fridays Midwest Regional opener with Purdue.

But among a huge number of mid-major at-large teams (Wichita State, UNLV, Xavier, St. Louis, Colorado State, Brigham Young, Iona, Gonzaga, Southern Mississippi, Temple, San Diego State), St. Marys is among the elite.

Oh, UNLV has history, but its long-ago history by most standards. Xavier and Temple are seeming perrenials, and so is Gonzaga, which by NCAA standards is St. Marys doppelganger.

But the Gaels have reached the point where they have as much throw-weight as any mid-major, to the point where they got what can be considered a favorable position in the bracket.

Well, at least as favorable as any seven-seed has any right to hope.

In facing Purdue, the Gaels get a team that has three strong three-point shooters in ultraveteran Robbie Hummel, Ryne Smith and D.J. Byrd, but is neither deep nor overly experienced. In other words, a well-selected 10-seed -- a live underdog, but an underdog nonetheless.

Then, if St. Marys can get by the Boilermakers, they get Kansas, a strong two-seed with a terrific starting five but not much depth. Historically, Kansas has been capable of extraordinary games as a high seed, and some brutal lows, most recently a second-round exit to Northern Iowa in 2010.

In short, St. Marys could have gotten crushed with matchups and wasnt. Kansas is an exceedingly difficult team to play, but not impossibly so. The Gaels got a fair shake, which is all a mid-major can ask.

And in fact is the proof that a mid-major has arrived. Sure, it may be a glass ceiling, maybe even a plexiglass ceiling (Kansas is really good, after all), but at least its glass and not concrete. And for most mid-majors, concrete is kind.

Often, strong mid-majors are pitted against each other to help thin out the herd, to hear the mid-majors tell it. Wichita State-Virginia Commonwealth is one of those, but it is the only one. The others were matched against BCS conference schools that either disappointed or were never all that inspiring to begin with.

So basically, St. Marys got what it merited and has no complaint to offer. Oh, maybe they could have gotten a six-seed so as to avoid Kansas, but it isnt like Georgetown or Florida State in round three is a palatable alternative. The Gaels got treated with as close to actual respect as mid-majors can hope to get, and that means they are taken seriously as more than just a Cinderella story.

Now, lets get back to Greenwood . . .
Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof

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USATSI

The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof

Your education dollars are always at work, so it is with pride and bewilderment that we report that the University of California’s incoming class (2021, for those few who can get out in four years) marched to Memorial Stadium and formed the world’s largest human letter.
 
It was . . . wait for it . . . a “C.” A 7,196-person-strong “C.”
 
But the school, as it occasionally does, missed a golden opportunity to seize a golden opportunity. All they needed to do was have a quick whip-round, get $55,586.44 from each and every one of the captives . . . er, students, and they could have wiped out their entire athletics deficit in one night.
 
You see, while forming gigantic letters is always fun (or as the kids used to say when double negatives didn’t mean voting, never not fun), Cal is staring at quite possibly the bleakest future a major athletic university ever has. The athletic department, whose chief officer, Mike Williams, has just announced his intention to quit, is over $400 million in debt between construction costs, ambition, shrinking allegiance and the absence of a Phil Knight-level sugar daddy to buy the pain away.
 
And before you blame Williams, he inherited this indigestible planetoid from his predecessor, Sandy Barbour, who grew it from her predecessor, Steve Gladstone, and hastened it from . . . well, you get the drift. 
 
Cal’s been blowing through money it hasn’t been taking in for years upon years, didn’t realize the deficit-cutting benefits of the Pac-12 Network (because they largely don’t exist), and the day of reckoning looms closer and closer, especially now that new chancellor Carol Christ (no apparent relation) described the deficit as “corrosive” and has insisted that the athletic department have a balanced budget by 2020.
 
In short, the school may only be able to afford a lower-case “C” before too long. Maybe in comic sans. 

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."