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Florida Sen. Rubio introduces NIL bill to push NCAA changes

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio introduced a bill Thursday that would protect the NCAA from being challenged in court if the association changes its rules to allow athletes to earn money for endorsement deals and personal appearances.

Earlier this week, the NCAA was hit with a federal antitrust lawsuit seeking damages for current and former athletes that could cost the association millions. The lawsuit also seeks to prevent the NCAA from regulating the ways athletes can be compensated for use of their names, images and likenesses.

Rubio’s bill also comes six days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into a law a bill that would open up that market for college athletes in the state. That law goes into effect July 2021. California and Colorado have passed similar laws that go into effect in 2023. The NCAA is seeking help from Congress as more states push forward with their own NIL bills.

“We can’t have 50 separate laws. It will destroy college athletics,” Rubio, a Republican, said in a video posted to Twitter.

The bill gives the NCAA until June 2021 to have new rules in place that will supersede states laws. The NCAA is already working on those reforms, with a target date on January to have legislation its member schools can vote on.

In Rubio’s bill, if the NCAA cannot come up with its own rules the Federal Trade Commission will have the authority to do it for them.

“It protects the athletes. It allows them to be compensated. These kids deserve to make a little bit of money while they’re in college,” Rubio said. “At the same time it prevents the implosion of college athletics.”

Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) introduced a bill last year that would amend the tax code to prevent schools from allowing college athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses. That bill has stalled.

Rubio is part of a bipartisan working group led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) examining names, image and likeness compensation for college athletes, though Rubio’s bill was separate from that group.

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Oklahoma St. coach Gundy apologizes for wearing OAN T-shirt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — One day after Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard lashed out at coach Mike Gundy on social media for wearing a T-shirt promoting a far-right news channel, Gundy apologized.

Hubbard, who is black, suggested Monday he may boycott the program after Gundy was photographed wearing a T-shirt promoting the One America News Network, a cable channel and website that has been critical of the Black Lives Matter movement and praised by President Donald Trump.

On Monday evening, Hubbard and Gundy appeared in a video together, with Gundy saying he would make changes.

Gundy, who is white, took it a step further on Tuesday.

“Our players expressed their feelings as individuals and as team members. They helped me see, through their eyes, how the T-shirt affected their hearts,” Gundy said. “Once I learned how that network felt about Black Lives Matter, I was disgusted and knew it was completely unacceptable to me. I want to apologize to all members of our team, former players and their families for the pain and discomfort that has been caused over the last two days. Black lives matter to me. Our players matter to me.”

Gundy was seen in a photograph on Twitter wearing the shirt with the letters OAN. Hubbard responded and said: “I will not stand for this. This is completely insensitive to everything going on in society, and it’s unacceptable. I will not be doing anything with Oklahoma State until things CHANGE.”

Hubbard’s tweet drew support from past and present Oklahoma State players. The school’s president and athletic director issued statements supporting black athletes, condemning insensitive behavior and voicing concern about the responses to the tweet without directly calling out Gundy.

Hubbard has been more active on social media since George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes.

Gundy also apologized in April after a media session in which he called the coronavirus the “Chinese virus.”

Last season, Hubbard, who is from Canada, was a first-team All-American and the AP Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. He ran for 2,094 yards, the second-best single-season total in school history, and finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy balloting. He was NFL draft-eligible but chose to return to school.

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Bailey, Freeney debut on college Hall of Fame ballot

Georgia cornerback Champ Bailey, Syracuse defensive end Dwight Freeney and Kansas State running back Darren Sproles will appear on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot for the first time.

The National Football Foundation on Tuesday announced the 78 players and seven coaches from major college football who are up for selection to the Atlanta-based Hall of Fame. There also are 99 players and 33 coaches from outside the highest level of college football eligible for induction.

The College Hall of Fame class of 2021 will be announced early next year.

Bailey was the Nagurski Award winner as the nation’s best defensive player in 1998, while also playing receiver and returning kicks for the Bulldogs.

Freeney holds the NCAA record for career sacks per game at 1.61 and was co-Big East defensive player of the year in 2001 for Syracuse.

Sproles finished fifth in Heisman voting in 2003 for the Wildcats.

Among the other notable players on the ballot for the first time are kickers Sebastian Janikowski of Florida State and Luis Zendejas of Arizona State and quarterback Ken Dorsey from Miami. Former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is also up for induction for the first time.

Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer from Southern California and Rashaan Salaam from Colorado are among those returning to the ballot.

The ballot was sent to more than 12,000 National Football Foundation members. Votes will be tabulated and then the NFF honors court will select the class of 2021 from the top vote-getters.

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NCAA finalizing plan for extended college football preseason

After the pandemic wiped out spring practice for most major college football teams, an NCAA plan to extend the preseason by two weeks could help coaches and players make up for the lost time.

The NCAA’s football oversight committee expects to finalize a plan on Thursday to allow teams to conduct up to 12 unpadded, slow-speed practices, also know as walk-throughs, during the 14 days before the typical preseason begins in August.

Teams will be permitted up to 20 hours per week of what the NCAA calls countable athletically related activities during those extra two weeks, leading into a normal 29-day preseason practice schedule. The walk-throughs will be part of those 20 hours per week, along with weight training, conditioning, film study and meetings. Players will not be permitted to wear pads or helmets during walk-throughs, which cannot exceed one hour per day.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said the extra time on the field with a ball will be valuable for teaching schemes, but not necessarily for assessing player development.

“That going to be all the install that you didn’t get in in the spring is really going to take place during that period of time,” Kelly said Tuesday. “They won’t be an opportunity to see skills on display.”

The football oversight committee has been circulating its proposed schedule to NCAA members as a way to encourage feedback. West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons said he doesn’t expect much to change before it is taken to the Division I Council for approval next week. The council meets June 17.

“I think there’s been a lot of collaboration among the conferences,” Lyons said.

Schools have started this week bringing their football players back to campus for voluntary workouts — mostly weight training and conditioning — in team facilities. Players are being tested and screened for COVID-19 and will continue to be monitored for the coronavirus.

Under the oversight committee’s plan, this period of voluntary activities would run until about July 12, depending on the exact date of a team’s opening game.

That will be followed by two weeks of summer access, which usually happens earlier in the year. During that time, coaches can require up to eight hours per week of weight training, conditioning and film study. Lyons said if any tweaks are made to the plan before it goes to the council they would likely be made to this two-week period.

Around July 24, the meetings and walk-throughs can begin. Then 29 days before a team’s first game — Aug. 7 if the opener is Sept. 5 — the usual preseason practice period starts.

Lyons said teams will be required to complete at least the four weeks of standard preseason before playing a game.

There has been concern among NCAA officials and athletic administrators that some schools will not be able to start their preseason work soon enough to begin their seasons on time because of restrictions put in place by state and local authorities to fight the coronavirus.

Those fears seem to be easing now.

“It all gives us a little bit of relief knowing the campuses are starting to reopen and these student-athletes are back working out on campus,” Lyons said.

What will practice look like during a pandemic? The oversight committee won’t be in charge of those details. Those decisions will be made at the school level, guided by local health officials, but medical experts at the conference and NCAA level are also expected to provide guidance.

Todd Berry, executive director for the American Football Coaches Association, said he would expect some coaches to segment their teams, holding multiple practices per day.

Berry said when he was coaching he would use this approach to give players more repetitions and individual attention. Now it could be used to limit exposure just in case a player contracts the virus.

“The ones and threes practiced in the morning. Two and fours practiced in the afternoon,” he said.

Tulane team physician Greg Stewart, who is heading the American Athletic Conference’s COVID-19 advisory panel, said the hope is testing and screening of the players for the coronavirus will go well enough that players won’t need to use face coverings during practice.

“But the coaches and staffs would all wear N-95 masks,” Stewart said, referring to the highly protective masks often used by healthcare workers.

If facing coverings are needed for players, Stewart said neck gaiters — stretchy scarves made of lightweight, breathable material — could be the way teams go.

“If the group is spread out and socially distanced and they’re running and doing stuff like that, they don’t need to have that on,” Stewart said. “But they’d wear it around their neck. And when they come up as a group, then they pull it up and cover their mouth and nose up with it.”

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Ewing out of hospital after being treated for COVID-19

Georgetown basketball coach and former NBA great Patrick Ewing has been released from the hospital and is recovering from COVID-19 at home, his son said Monday.

The 57-year-old Hall of Famer who played for the Hoyas in college and the New York Knicks in the NBA announced Friday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was being treated at a hospital.

Patrick Ewing Jr. said three days later on Twitter that his father was doing fine after receiving treatment and thanked the doctors and nurses who looked after him during his hospital stay. He also thanked fans for their thoughts and prayers after his father’s announcement.

“My father is now home and getting better,” Ewing Jr. wrote. “We’ll continue to watch his symptoms and follow the CDC guidelines. I hope everyone continues to stay safe and protect yourselves and your loved ones.”

As a player, the 7-foot Patrick Ewing helped Georgetown win the 1984 NCAA men’s basketball championship and reach two other title games. During his four years playing, Georgetown went 121-23, a winning percentage of .840.

He was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1985 draft after the Knicks won the NBA’s first lottery. Ewing wound up leading New York to the 1994 NBA Finals, where they lost to Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets.

Ewing played 17 seasons in the NBA, 15 with the Knicks.

After retiring as a player, he spent 15 years as an assistant or associate coach with four teams in the pros. In April 2017, he returned to Georgetown for his first job as a head coach at any level.

In his first three seasons at his alma mater, Ewing’s teams went a combined 49-46, with zero trips to the NCAA Tournament.

In 2019-20, Georgetown finished the season with seven consecutive losses and a 15-17 record.

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NCAA weighs moratorium amid push to offer fall sports

The NCAA Division I Council debated Wednesday whether to let a moratorium on voluntary workouts on campus expire at the end of the month as a growing number of college leaders express confidence that fall sports will be played in some form.

NCAA spokeswoman Michelle Hosick said the topic was on the agenda for the council for Wednesday, though it was not clear a decision would be made. The moratorium on athletic activities for all sports currently runs through May 31.

From Notre Dame to LSU and more, a number of schools have announced plans to reopen their campuses for the fall semester and conferences have begun setting up plans for how to play football amid the coronavirus pandemic. The latest came this week with the Florida State system announcing plans for its 12 schools and more than 420,000 students.

Many questions remain, including specific safety protocols and whether fans would be allowed if games proceed.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said he believes the Buckeyes could safely play home games with 20,000 to 30,000 fans in its home stadium, which seats about 105,000.

“I think we can get there,” Smith said.

Smith said he hadn’t figured out yet how those 20,000 to 30,000 spectators would be chosen. He said masks and other precautions would be required to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

First there’s the matter of making sure players can safely practice.

Middle Tennessee athletic director Chris Massaro said his school plans to take the temperature of players daily and make sure they are wearing masks. Massaro has even discussed moving some equipment from the weight room to the Red Floyd Stadium concourse to make sure workouts allow social distancing.

“We’re a little bit kind of almost like guinea pigs,” Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said. “We’re the ones that are coming back first, football’s coming back first all across the country. So we’ve got to make sure we’re doing our part so there’s not a setback, and it’s going to take all of us buying in and doing whatever we can to keep everybody else healthy and safe.”

The presidents of Miami and Notre Dame said in separate interviews they expect the football season to be played.

Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins told MSNBC he expects to have clarity on how — or if — the football season can happen in the next few weeks.

“The team itself, I feel we can manage that one,” Jenkins said. “Then the question is people in the stands. We have an 85,000-person stadium. Can we get 85,000 people in there? That will be a big challenge to do that. But could we get a smaller number — 10,000, 15,000, 20,000? I don’t know.”

Miami President Julio Frenk told CNN he hopes the Hurricanes can play this fall and that safety would be the top priority.

“They will probably play in empty stadiums, like so many other sports,” Frenk said.

Scott Woodward, the athletic director at defending national champion LSU, said his school was preparing to welcome back its athletes after the Southeastern Conference’s closure of athletic facilities to students is slated to end May 31.

LSU will offer summer classes online and doesn’t have plans to reopen its campus to the general student population at least until the fall semester.

Most athletic departments need the revenue generated from football to fund their other sports. Hundreds of schools are reeling financially from the effects of the pandemic. Athletic departments, particularly at smaller schools and in Division II, have already cut a number of sports.

The NCAA this week lowered the minimum and maximum number of games Division II schools are required to play in all sports next year. The move includes a 33% reduction in the minimum number of games needed for sponsorship and championship qualification in most sports.

Under the plan, D-II schools must play at least five football games to maintain NCAA sponsorship and at least seven games to be eligible for playoff consideration. The maximum number of allowable games is 10.

The requirements would return to normal in 2021-22.

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NCAA board supports name, image and likeness compensation

The NCAA is moving forward with a plan to allow university athletes to earn money for sponsorships and a host of other activities that involve personal appearances and social media content.

The NCAA announced on Wednesday that its Board of Governors will support athletes profiting from their likeness, names, and images like never before and without the participation of association, schools or conferences.

Ohio President and Chairman Michael Drake called the move “unprecedented” on the part of the NCAA.

The next step is for members to draft a bill by October 30. Many details still need to be worked out, including how to ensure that these sponsorship agreements are not used as inappropriate incentives for recruits. Schools will have a formal vote at the next convention in January and the new rules will come into force no later than the 2021-2022 school year.

“The NCAA member schools have adopted a very real change,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.

The move comes months after a number of states, including California, passed legislation allowing students to receive compensation. In a statement released on Wednesday, Emmert said the NCAA will work with states and Congress to align their rules with local regulations.

“It’s clear we need Congress’ help in all of this,” Emmert said.

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Burrow to the rescue? Lowly Bengals look for next leader

CINCINNATI (AP) — In 2003, everything was in place for the Bengals to take a quarterback with the first overall draft pick.

Cincinnati was coming off a 2-14 season. Attendance was down. Jon Kitna was in his 30s. A new head coach — Marvin Lewis — wanted a franchise quarterback. A Heisman Trophy winner was available.

Carson Palmer from USC became the face of a forlorn franchise and made it relevant again, leading Cincinnati to the playoffs twice — both losses — before insisting he wanted out.

The Bengals hadn’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season, one of the worst stretches of futility in NFL history.

The streak is intact as the Bengals get ready to repeat history with the first overall pick.

They’re coming off a 2-14 season. Attendance is down. Andy Dalton is in his 30s. Second-year head coach Zac Taylor wants a franchise quarterback. A Heisman Trophy winner is available.

Hello, Joe Burrow.

It will be a shock if the Bengals trade the pick or take someone other than the LSU quarterback with Ohio roots. He’s a good fit for Taylor’s system and he’ll spark interest — at least initially — in a fan base that’s largely apathetic.

“We talk about the traits we look for in a quarterback: guys who elevate people around them, and guys who have a history of winning,” Taylor said.

Check, and check. Burrow fills every requirement.

What comes next will be far more interesting in the Bengals’ three days of drafting. Some questions in play as the rounds advance:

WHAT ABOUT ANDY?

Dalton has one year left on his contract. While there was a thought the Bengals could trade him for a draft pick — which is Dalton’s preference — that hasn’t happened. The Bengals are considering keeping Dalton to help groom a rookie quarterback in an unsettled offseason resulting from coronavirus precautions.

“That’s one of the options you keep on the table for those very reasons,” Taylor said.

WHO WILL CATCH THE BALL? The Bengals essentially bought themselves time by using the franchise tag on receiver A.J. Green, who wants a multi-year deal coming off two injury-shortened seasons. When Green was sidelined by toe and ankle injuries, the offense cratered. With many options available in the receiver class, the Bengals will consider taking one on the second day of the draft.

Even if he’s around only one more season, Cincinnati is counting on Green to ease the quarterback transition.

“Everything’s been positive for A.J.,” Taylor said. “He’s fully healthy and working hard.”

WHO WILL BLOCK? Work on overhauling a troublesome offensive line began in the offseason when left tackle Cordy Glenn and right guard John Miller were released. The Bengals signed guard Xavier Su’a-Filo, and Jonah Williams is expected to take over at left tackle after missing his rookie season with a shoulder injury, but there’s more work to be done.

LOOKING FOR LINEBACKERS? Linebackers were a glaring weak spot on a defense that’s also undergoing a renovation in the offseason. The Bengals signed linebacker Josh Byrnes but will be looking for a significant upgrade at that position in the draft.

WHAT’S THE INSIDE SCOOP? Taylor coached the Senior Bowl in January, allowing the Bengals to get to know some of the prospects better. With contact limited the past few weeks because of coronavirus precautions, it turned out to be a valuable head start in preparing for the draft.

“I felt we got an earlier start because of the Senior Bowl than we normally would, which has consequently helped us right now,” Taylor said.

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Commissioners tell VP no football before campuses open

The commissioners of the nation’s major college football conferences held a 30-minute conference call Wednesday with Vice President Mike Pence and stressed that college sports cannot return from the coronavirus shutdown until campuses have reopened.

The 10 commissioners, along with the athletic director of Notre Dame, comprise the College Football Playoff management committee.

“We were able to talk about the differences between us and professional sports,” American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco said. “We talked about how academics and college athletics were inseparable.”

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Pence asked good questions and was “hopeful and optimistic” about the fight against the coronavirus. The pandemic has shut down all major sporting events since mid-March and forced colleges to close campuses and move classes online.

The White House has said it is important to re-open the U.S. economy, though the details on how that will happen will be complicated and likely involve local, state and federal guidelines on safety. President Donald Trump has also been engaged with professional sports leagues with the multibillion-dollar sports industry on hold.

The college football season is scheduled to begin Labor Day weekend, but many questions remain to be answered for a sport that is the lifeblood for many athletic departments.

“(We) made the point we were concerned and wanted to get back to having kids attending college and opening up our colleges and universities,” Bowlsby said. “That until that happened we weren’t going to be having any sports.”

The commissioners would like major college football to start at the same time all over the country, which could be difficult depending on how the pandemic fades.

“We talked a little about whether there would be a national policy because, obviously, if governors have different policies you’re going to have some issues,” Aresco said. “If California isn’t allowing football and Ohio is that’s going to be issue for what is obviously a national enterprise.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United State’s top infectious disease expert, said in a Snapchat interview it is unlikely sporting events can happen this summer with large crowds in attendance.

Bowlsby said another call with the vice president was likely in about a month.

College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock, who was also on the call, said the Jan. 1 semifinals in New Orleans and Pasadena, California, and the Jan. 11 championship game in Miami are still on.

“I was glad to know that the vice president understands how important college football is,” Hancock said.

The size of the season is daunting, with more than 1,500 regular-season games for 130 schools in the Bowl Subdivision alone, the NCAA’s highest level of football. Each team plays 12 regular-season games and each conference plays a lucrative championship game.

Division I colleges, including about 120 that either play in football’s second-tier or not at all, have already taken a financial hit with the cancellation of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in March. Some $375 million will not be distributed to them this year.

Not playing a football season could be even more costly. That would put television contracts that pay out hundreds of millions to the so-called Power Five conferences at risk. The other five FBS conferences make far less from TV rights, but their schools still rely heavily on football revenue.

The College Football Playoff, including the major bowl games known as the New Year’s Six pay out about $674 million per season. Most of that gets paid to conferences and passed along to member schools.

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Arizona State player apologizes for obscene gesture

Arizona State forward, Torian Graham, apologized for exhibiting both middle fingers before a Sun Devils loss.

Graham made the gesture on Thursday before the Arizona State Sun Devils lost to the 16th ranked Arizona Wild Cats. According to Graham, he made the gesture in response to multiple racial slurs being directed at him from the Arizona student section. Graham would later delete the tweet in which he made that claim and apologize for ever making the gesture.

”I am truly sorry for my actions to everyone associated with the game last night and for losing focus after the early part of warmups,” read a statement released by Graham and Arizona State University on Friday. ”What I did should never happen and there is no excuse. I apologize for all of this and other concerns I had I will handle the right way internally with proper guidance.”

Arizona University would not confirm that there were any racial slurs directed at the Arizona State player.

”We continue to look into the accusation made by Arizona State’s Torian Graham,” said Arizona in a statement. ”At this time, we have not heard from anyone, including students, staff and security in proximity of the incident, who can confirm Graham’s claim. While we can’t say with certainty that it did not occur, we were told by people in that area that they did not hear words or language of that nature prior to, during and after the time of the incident as well as during the game.