Stanford women banding together for Brittney, Baylor


Stanford women banding together for Brittney, Baylor

FRESNO -- In keeping with the Nerd City theme of Stanford womens basketball season, the Cardinals secret weapon for the Final Four is going to be a 6-foot-8 alto saxophone player named Andrew Klein, who majors in math and computational science.

A year ago, Stanford thought it might face Baylor and its game-changing center Brittney Griner in the Final Four. So coach Tara VanDerveer asked Andrew to come practice with the team and took to affectionately calling him Brittney.

But, last year Baylor got bounced by Texas A&M and Andrews contributions went unused.

RELATED: Stanford trounces Duke to reach Final Four box score

Now its time to get the alto sax player back on the floor because Stanford will face Griner for the first time ever, in the NCAA semifinal next Sunday in Denver.

Im really looking forward to the matchup, said senior Nneka Ogwumike, who will have played in the Final Four in every year of her Stanford career.

Stanfords streak started a year before Nneka arrived on campus. When youve been to five straight Final Fours its hard to imagine that you can be considered an underdog.

But thats exactly what Stanford will be in Denver.

Nobody is giving Stanford a chance against Brawlin Baylor and Big Game Brittney, who was ejected from Mondays victory over Tennessee for coming off the bench when a fight broke out. Griner wont be suspended -- she came out to play peacemaker, rather than get involved in the fight. Besides, the NCAA would be nuts to eject the biggest draw in the womens game.

Everyone wants to see Griner. And everyone expects Stanford to suffer the same fate as all of Baylors other opponents this season: a loss.. Baylor is undefeated this season, 38-0

VanDerveer doesnt mind being discounted.

We dont get a chance often to be an underdog or be totally overlooked, she said.

But she was inducted into the Hall of Fame last summer for a reason. When asked how she would contend with Griner, VanDerveer said,

Ill think of something. We will have a game plan.

It will be a new game plan because Stanford has never faced Griner. Thought the other top teams -- No. 1 seeds UConn and Notre Dame -- have already had to contend with Griners game changing presence, Stanford has avoided her for three seasons.

Im excited, said Ogwumike, who was the Most Outstanding Player of the Fresno Regional, scoring 39 points on Saturday and adding 29 points in Mondays 81-69 victory over Duke. I feel like everyone but us have played against her.

Ogwumike faced Griner once -- in high school in Texas.

Thats when I learned to shoot the three, she said.

Time to start shooting over the alto sax player.

Ann Killion is a regular contributor to and Chronicle Live.

The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof


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...'


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."