The past week has been remarkable in a lot of ways for college athletics. College basketball is in the meat of its conference schedule, and those who contended there was no dominant team this year have been proven correct as the underdog has taken almost as many games as the favored team (The Good). In the midst of a great college basketball season the NCAA finds itself in trouble (again) this week with a scandal emerging around its investigation of the University of Miami (The Bad). And finally the Manti Te’o story continues to be the gift that just keeps on giving as new details have emerged this week (The Really, Really Weird). All these topics deserve some attention so I’ll start with The Good.
Any time two #1 ranked teams go down in the same week its great week for college basketball (unless of course you’re a Louisville or Duke fan, then it was a horrible week). On Saturday Syracuse beat then #1 Louisville 70-68 behind a great shooting night from senior Brandon Triche (23 points on 9-13 from the floor including 5-7 from three). Then last night newly ranked #1 Duke was destroyed by #25 Miami 90-63. Miami had a week to prepare for their meeting with Duke, and it showed as they used a 25-1 first half run to take a 42-19 lead into the half and never looked back. Last night also featured #9 Butler being upset by La Salle 54-53,(although many didn’t consider it an upset) Butler had pulled off its own upset earlier in the week upsetting then #8 Gonzaga with a last second buzzer beater on Saturday. #12 ranked Minnesota was upset by Northwestern 55-48, this was the second win for the wildcats over a ranked opponent in the last week as they upset then 23rd ranked Illinois 68-54 last Thursday. Finally in action last night #17 Creighton dropped its second conference game in a row, getting upset by Drake 74-69 this followed a loss to #20 Wichita St. 67-64 last Saturday. Finally in a week of upsets then #15 San Diego St. was defeated 58-45 by an embattled Wyoming team in a game in which San Diego St. managed only 9 points in the first half, and #5 Louisville continued its downward slide losing to Villanova 73-64 on Tuesday. All these upsets foreshadow a great March for college basketball fans, and for secretaries who will undoubtedly be winning the office pool.
And now on to The Bad. Earlier this week it was announced that current Missouri men’s basketball coach Frank Haith seemed to be tied to the Nevin Shapiro scandal dating back to his days as coach at the University of Miami. The NCAA was expected to announce allegations of “unethical conduct and failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance” relating to claims that payments made to assistants that Haith said were for basketball camps ended up going to Shapiro (source). However, yesterday news was released that the NCAA was now investigating its own actions regarding the University of Miami case. It appears the NCAA enforcement staff putt one of Shapiro’s attorney’s on the payroll and used her as a way to unethically and potentially illegally gain information (source). This is the second time in recent months the NCAA has been forced to admit improper actions by its investigation committee, the first being the Shabazz Muhammad case in which the investigator shared information with her boyfriend who then shared the info with follow passengers on an airplane before the situation caught up with them. Many feel at this point that the NCAA needs to drop the Miami case entirely and instead work on how to improve themselves, and their views on how to preserve amateurism going forward. To anyone interested in looking into additional improper actions by the NCAA, or for anyone who just really dislikes the NCAA in general, I recommend you follow ESPN analyst Jay Bilas on Twitter. Bilas frequently tweets about the hypocrisy in the association, and this morning shared this gem with his followers on NCAA enforcement committee hiring process:
And finally, The Really, Really Weird, the ‘jelly of the month club’ story that just keeps on giving. When the Manti Te’o story first emerged just over a week ago, it was the kind of story you had to hear two or three times before you could understand what had happened. Only with this story it seems like just when you might be figuring things out, even more details emerge that make you pause and say “wait, what?” This week Te’o admitted to Katie Couric that he lied about Lennay Kekua to the media, but only in the weeks leading up to the BCS title game, Te’o says he was not aware of the hoax prior to that time (source). (For those interested the interview with Couric is schedule to air today on her syndicated television show). It was previously believed that this hoax was carried out by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo (the mastermind) and one or two other people, one of those people being a female who would speak to Te’o on the phone. However, today details have emerged that the person on the phone is apparently actually Tuiasosopo posing as a female (hear voice mails left on Te’os phone supposedly from Tuiasosopo here). The New York Daily News released a statement from Tuiasosopo’s lawyer, Milton Grimes, in the statement Grimes said his client wasn’t trying to hurt Te’o and further told the paper, “This wasn’t a prank to make fun, it was establishing a communication with someone. … It was a person with a troubled existence trying to reach out and communicate and have a relationship.” This statement will certainly stand out for those following the story who have taken the view that Te’o may be homosexual, and that the fake girlfriend was a rouse to hide that fact. While there doesn’t appear to be much evidence to support that claim at this point, (even though anything is possible with this story) having Tuiasosopo come out as gay could help his defense. As the son of a pastor, Tuiasosopo could use being forced to remain in the closet by his religious family as the motivation behind his relationship with Te’o. The only that that’s really clear about the Te’o case is that many of the details remain unclear, such as why did Te’o not question things more, or ever go to visit, and why did his father help to perpetuate the lie. It’s possible the Couric interview will clear up some of the details, but it seems more likely that the interview will just be more vague details and claims of ignorance and innocence on the part of Te’o. This story will certainly go down as one of the craziest in sports history, and to celebrate I’d like to leave you with my favorite response in the aftermath of the scandal breaking:
So that’s it for The Good, The Bad, and The Really Really Weird, I’ll be back sometime this weekend (I think) feel free to share your thoughts with me until then.