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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

College Basketball

Oregon coach Dana Altman denies allegation about paying players


Oregon Ducks head basketball coach Dana Altman has denied allegations about his program paying players.

During the federal trial looking into corruption in the college basketball world, Oregon was mentioned as a program that was in a bidding war for Brian Bowen, who ended up signing with Louisville.

“Oregon, a Nike school, offered [Bowen] an astronomical amount of money if he’d go to Oregon,” an attorney said in the case.

Oregon’s supposed involvement in the bidding for Bowen was allegedly what drove up the price on Bowen, who ended up agreeing to receive $100,000 from the Cardinals.

Altman denied the allegations.

“The claims that have been focused at our program are all false,” Altman said Friday, via The Oregonian. “We do not pay players. We never have. We never will.”

Altman is entering his ninth season as the Ducks’ head coach. He has helped the program become one of the best teams in the Pac-12 and country, with a Final Four and Elite Eight appearance in 2016 and 2017.

Rick Pitino says he’s done coaching: ‘I just don’t want the stress’

Rick Pitino

Rick Pitino was forced out at Louisville after the program found itself at the center of a federal investigation into corruption within college basketball, and there has been speculation that he could end up coaching elsewhere. If the Hall of Famer is telling the truth, there is no chance of that happening.

In an interview with Chris Sheridan of Get More Sports this week, Pitino was asked where he might coach next. While he said he still loves college basketball and misses it “terribly,” the 66-year-old insists he will never coach again.

“I am looking for another passion — I don’t know what that is, I don’t know where it will direct me … but it’s not in coaching,” he said. “I just don’t want the stress of what happened the last few years with the NCAA, with the FBI — I just don’t want it anymore.”

Pitino has been promoting his new book, entitled “Pitino: My Story.” He has been heavily criticized for blaming everyone but himself for his ouster at Louisville in the book, including when he talks about Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin being at odds with former Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich. Bevin fired back last month by calling Pitino a “bitter person” who can’t accept responsibility for his own actions.

Louisville was accused of making illegal payments to players while Pitino was at the helm, but the former coach has denied having any involvement. The Cardinals also had to vacate their 2013 national championship over a prositution scandal involving recruits.

Karl-Anthony Towns jokes with John Calipari after contract news

Karl Anthony Towns

Karl-Anthony Towns had some jokes for John Calipari after his big contract news was shared on Saturday.

News emerged that Towns had agreed to a five-year extension with the Minnesota Timberwolves that could be worth as much as $190 million. His college coach at Kentucky, Calipari, sent a tweet expressing congratulations for Towns. Towns wrote back with a joke about Calipari holding him back in college.

Though Towns was joking, there is a little something to the story.

In an interview with CBS Sports’ Reid Forgrave last year, Towns talked about just how hard Calipari was on him during his one season at Kentucky in 2014-15. He said that Calipari was even tougher on him than Tom Thibodeau is with the Timberwolves.

Q. Who’s tougher on you, Thibs or Cal?

A. Haha. Ahhhh … I’ma say Cal. Cal was very hard on me. Thibs is hard on me, but Cal was otherworldly hard on me. It was definitely something I enjoyed, funny enough. I was always able to take the criticism. I was always able to talk to him. They both have love for me.

To be clear: there is no beef between them. Towns talked glowingly about Calipari and how much the coach loves his players. But the point is that Calipari was hard on Towns, and maybe Towns is now seeing that it paid off.

There’s a good reason why Cal’s players are worth a combined billion dollars in the NBA!

Governor of Kentucky hammers Rick Pitino over book claims

Rick Pitino

Disgraced Louisville coach Rick Pitino is out with a new book that seems to blame everyone but himself for his ouster at Louisville — including the Governor of Kentucky.

In “Pitino: My Story,” which the ex-coach is promoting, Pitino claims that Gov. Matt Bevin was at odds with former Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich, claiming that Bevin did not see eye-to-eye with the AD over issues relating to both the arena and the school’s Adidas contract. Pitino argues that Bevin wanted Jurich out of his role — and Pitino as well by extension, as the coach was an ally of the athletic director.

Bevin responded Wednesday in no uncertain terms.

“Here’s a guy who also excelled at many levels, both at UK and at U of L — not so much, a little bit of a sad chapter there with the Celtics — but in general a guy who has been up and down and mostly up,” Bevin told NewsRadio 840 WHAS, via Jared Peck of the Lexington Herald-Leader. “And now, he just sounds like a desperate, angry, bitter person, who wants to lay blame everywhere but at his own feet, which is where, frankly, so much of it belongs.”

Pitino was brought down by allegations of illegal payments to players, which he has denied knowing about. In general, he has cast blame elsewhere for the scandal and fallout, even though the federal indictments in the case tell a very different story than what Pitino has sold.

Wake Forest basketball coach charged in death of tourist

Wake Forest

A Wake Forest Demon Deacons basketball assistant coach has been charged with assault in the death of a tourist in Queens.

According to a story from the New York Post, a Boca Raton man was in Long Island City for his stepsister’s wedding. The man, Sabor Szabo, allegedly was drunk and banging on cars outside the hotel where his brother was staying as he was looking for a ride he had called early Sunday morning.

The Post says a local resident came out to see what was going on and was punched in the face by Szabo. Jamill Jones, who is an assistant coach for the Wake Forest basketball team, allegedly punched Szabo in the head, causing him to hit his head on the ground. Szabo later died from his injuries.

The Post says that Jones turned himself in to authorities on Thursday.

Report: USA Basketball, NBA ‘blindsided’ by new NCAA agent rule

Adam Silver

The NCAA attracted a lot of attention Wednesday by announcing that they would permit a pool of “elite” high school and college talent to hire agents. It appears, however, that the new policy may be emptier than it initially looked.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NCAA’s announcement doesn’t appear to hold a lot of water. The announcement that USA Basketball would determine which players would be permitted to hire agents apparently “blindsided” both that organization, who are not viewed as prepared to handle such a responsibility. There is some dissatisfaction with the announcement both from USA Basketball and the NBA.

Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress further notes that high schoolers won’t even be permitted agents until the NBA changes its age limit, which looks to be at least three years away from happening.

The NCAA policy attracted a lot of attention on Twitter, but ultimately it appears to be questionably implemented and very unclear to certain parties involved.

Twitter reacts to NCAA allowing basketball players to have agents


The NCAA announced on Wednesday some significant policy changes that will alter the landscape of college basketball, and they should be a step in the right direction for the future of collegiate athletics.

The most notable change is that “elite” high school and college players will now be able to have agent representation. It’s not exactly clear what criteria will be used to determine if a player has “elite” status, but Jeff Goodman reports that the initial proposal was that USA Basketball would make the determination.

In addition to players now being permitted to hire agents, said players will also be allowed to declare for the NBA Draft and return to school if they are not selected. The NCAA has also expanded the number of visits high schoolers can take to college campuses and will allow agents to cover certain expenses. You can read more about the significant changes here, but Twitter has already been set ablaze with reactions:

Of course, everything the NCAA does is going to be met with a great deal of skepticism. It seems strange that the new rules regarding agents and draft status only apply to basketball, and that is likely something that is going to need to be addressed down the road. The FBI is still investigating widespread fraud involving payments to top college and high school basketball players, so this is likely an attempt to combat some of that.

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