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UNC admits athletics fraud, NCAA clears OSU

Following an FBI investigation, the University of North Carolina admitted that during an 18-year period it falsified academic records to keep more than 1,000 football and basketball players eligible for NCAA competition.  “I am deeply disappointed in the duration and scope of the wrongdoing, missing vital checks and balances that could have corrected this much sooner and saved so much anguish and embarrassment,”said North Carolina chancellor Carol Folt, who said nine university employees were disciplined or terminated as a result of the FBI report.

Meanwhile, the NCAA exonerated Oklahoma State for misconduct in its football program alleged by Sports Illustrated.  The magazine interviewed more than 60 former players and reported rules infractions under former coach Les Miles and current coach Mike Gundy.  Accusations included cash payments and recruiting “hostesses” providing sexual services to prospects from 2001 to 2010.  The NCAA said these charges were “fundamentally unfounded.”


Lane Kiffen’s mom says stay out of the line of fire

Robin Kiffen, mother of Alabama’s offensive coordinator Lane Kiffen, said she was “scared to death for his safety” as Saturday’s Alabama’s game against Tennessee approached.  Volunteers fans remain bitter at Kiffen for leaving his head coaching job at Knoxville four years ago, with five years remaining on his contract, to become head coach of the USC Trojans.  “Some people were visiting us last weekend from Tennessee . . . said they’d better not let him on the sideline.  They should put him in the press box.” Kiffen stayed on the sideline as he has for every other Crimson Tide game this season.  Coach Nick Saban, always one to have his priorities in order, said, “We’re going to do what we need to do to give our players the best chance to be successful. . . . I don’t understand why it would be any different in this game.  . . . I think the most important thing for us is we need to focus on the game.”  They focused well enough to win 34-20.  When Kiffen left the field, he gave his hat to a young Tennessee fan, who then had to struggle with a couple of ‘Bama fans to keep it.


Olajuwon tabs Howard, now healthy, for MVP

Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, mentor (when he’s not home in Jordan) for Dwight Howard, says the Houston Rockets center at 28 “is ready” to be the NBA’s Most Valuable Player now that he has recovered from back problems.  “He’s healthy, he’s strong, he’s ready.  Now it’s about having the attitude to go out every game and dominate.”  Speaking to Fran Blinebury of, Olajuwon said:  “He’s older, more mature, and you can tell he is feeling better physically.  . . . He is a very hard worker.  You can see that he has used some of the things we talked about last season and is making them part of his game. . . .  Last year Dwight was still trying to recover from the back surgery and to feel like himself again.”


Shonn Greene arrested for parking incident

Tennessee Titans running back Shonn Greene had to post $2,000 bond after being arrested for “failure to halt” relating to what would have been a mere parking ticket.  Greene was approached by a policeman in Franklin, Tenn., for being in a handicapped parking slot without displaying the required placard.  Witnesses said Greene sped away in his BMW, and according to the police report, he almost struck the officer.  “Greene showed no regard for the parking enforcement officer’s safety or the safety of others,” the report said.  The Titans issued a statement:  “This is not the type of behavior we expect from any member of our organization.”


Ray Rice likely to return to NFL in 2015

Supported by NFL Players Association director DeMaurice Smith, disgraced running back Ray Rice is likely to play in the league next season, when he will be just 28 years old.  The union filed a grievance saying Rice is a victim of “double jeopardy” because the league originally assessed just a 2-game suspension for knocking out his future wife.  Upon release of video showing the assault in a hotel elevator, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell extended the suspension to “indefinite” and the Baltimore Ravens cut Rice from the team.  But a grievance hearing is scheduled for Nov. 5-6,with Goodell expected to testify.  Some legal analysts expect Rice to be reinstated, though doubts remain that any team will sign him this year.

Prediction: Look for time to heal the wounds by 2015.  And far too many Halloween costumes mocking Ray and Janay.


Arizona approves first transgender high school athlete

The Arizona Interscholastic Association approved the first transgender student-athlete to play in a winter sport.  The name of the athlete was not released in order to protect the person’s privacy, but the board voted unanimously to allow he/she to play.  There have been several cases in the past of Arizona high school transgender athletes petitioning to play, but they were rejected. 

Between the Lines:  Arizona is not the state we expected to see breaking ground on transgender rights.

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