- Associated Press - Thursday, April 26, 2018

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Commission on College Basketball sharply directed the NCAA to take control of the sport, calling for sweeping reforms to separate pro and college tracks, permit players to return to school after going undrafted by the NBA and ban cheating coaches for life.

The independent commission, led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, released a detailed 60-page report Wednesday, seven months after the group was formed by the NCAA in response to a federal corruption investigation that rocked college basketball. Ten people, including some assistant coaches, have been charged in a bribery and kickback scheme, and high-profile programs such as Arizona, Louisville and Kansas have been tied to possible NCAA violations.

It’s not yet clear how the governing body would pay for some of the proposals, and some of the panel’s key recommendations would require cooperation from the NBA, its players union and USA Basketball.

The commission offered harsh assessments of toothless NCAA enforcement, as well as the shady summer basketball circuit that includes AAU leagues and brings together agents, apparel companies and coaches looking to profit on teenage prodigies. It called the environment surrounding college basketball “a toxic mix of perverse incentives to cheat,” and said responsibility for the current mess goes all the way up to university presidents.

The group recommended the NCAA have more involvement with players before they get to college and less involvement with enforcement. It also acknowledged the NCAA will need help to make some changes and defended its amateurism model, saying paying players a salary isn’t the answer.

MICHIGAN STATE ABUSE CLAIMS

CHICAGO (AP) - Several dozen colleges have kept ties to an influential volleyball coach long after he was publicly accused of sexually abusing and raping underage girls who trained with him in the 1980s.

The coach’s accusers, who have been pressing Michigan State University for months to sever all ties with Rick Butler, say all schools have a moral obligation to end their relationships with him.

The campaign against Butler comes as Michigan State deals with questions about whether it could have done more to thwart Dr. Larry Nassar from abusing scores of young gymnasts over 20 years. In addition, a former dean was recently charged with failing to protect patients from Nassar and sexually harassing female students.

Schools across the nation have engaged with Butler for years by attending his recruiting showcases or playing at his suburban Chicago facilities, which for decades have been a major pipeline for top volleyball recruits and coaches.

PRO BASKETBALL

ATLANTA (AP) - Mike Budenholzer wanted to coach elsewhere. The Atlanta Hawks finally agreed it’s a good idea.

The Hawks and Budenholzer mutually agreed to part ways Wednesday in a move announced by the team in a three-sentence statement.

The decision was not totally unexpected as Budenholzer was granted permission to interview with other teams even though he is under contract with the Hawks for two more seasons.

According to multiple reports, Budenholzer interviewed with the Phoenix Suns for their vacant coaching position last week before withdrawing his name from consideration. Budenholzer now may be a top candidate to coach the New York Knicks.

Budenholzer was 213-192 in the regular season and 17-22 in the playoffs in five seasons with Atlanta. The Hawks were an Eastern Conference-worst 24-58 this season.

CLEVELAND (AP) - The Indiana Pacers felt cheated - by LeBron James and the officials.

Moments before James beat them with a game-winning, step-back 3-pointer at the buzzer, the Pacers were poised to take the lead in Game 5 on Victor Oladipo’s driving layup. However, James came from behind and blocked Oladipo’s shot, which appeared to hit the backboard before Cleveland’s star touched it - a goaltending violation.

Instead, there was no call and James then dropped his 28-footer over Thaddeus Young to give Cleveland a 98-95 win and a 3-2 lead in this tight Eastern Conference first-round series.

The Pacers didn’t complain on the floor. But later in their locker room they were angry about the game-swinging play. Several of the Pacers shook their heads while watching replays.

If goaltending had been called, the Cavaliers would have had the ball on their own baseline and not in Indiana’s front court.

PRO FOOTBALL

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - The attorney for the ex-girlfriend of Reuben Foster said Wednesday that her client initially lied to authorities when she accused the San Francisco 49ers linebacker of hitting her leading to domestic violence charges.

Attorney Stephanie Rickard issued a statement on behalf of Elissa Ennis that said her client can prove the injuries in February that led to the charges were not caused by Foster.

“(Foster) did not strike her, injure her or threaten her,” Rickard said.

Rickard said Ennis’ injuries were the result of a fight with another woman, and that Foster tried to end his relationship with Ennis after he learned of the fight. A video of that fight with another woman has been made available.

“She was extremely upset and told him if he broke up with her she would ‘trash his career,’” Rickard said.

Richard said that Ennis went back to the district attorney after she realized what she had done and tried to recant what she had told deputies. Ennis apologized to anyone harmed in the case, especially Foster.

NEW YORK (AP) - The NFL has found no evidence that any of its teams asked LSU running back Derrius Guice inapproriate questions during interviews at the scouting combine.

Last month, Guice, projected as a first-round selection, told SiriusXM Satellite Radio that one team asked if he was gay and another club asked if his mother “sells herself.”

League spokesman Brian McCarthy says Wednesday that “the league conducted a thorough investigation which included a formal review and report from every club that interviewed Mr. Guice during the combine, as well as discussions with Mr. Guice, his agent and others. The investigation did not confirm that any club made the reported inquiries.”

McCarthy added that the league “used this opportunity to reaffirm our workplace standards and emphasize the importance of fully complying with all requirements of federal and state law. The NFL and each of its member clubs remain fully committed to fair and non-discriminatory employment practices.”

TENNIS

An independent review of corruption in tennis found that the sport “faces a serious integrity problem” at its lower levels - a “tsunami,” according to one person interviewed - but did not determine there are widespread problems at ATP, WTA and Grand Slam tournaments.

The report released Wednesday showed no cover-up by tennis’ governing bodies of improper betting or match-fixing, although there were “errors made and opportunities missed,” Adam Lewis, a member of the three-lawyer review panel, said at a news conference in London.

Recommendations included putting an end to the International Tennis Federation’s sale of official live scoring data to betting companies, which creates an environment that encourages corruption; increasing transparency by making public the tournament appearance fees paid to some players; and expanding the staffing and reach of the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), the anti-corruption group established in 2008 after a surge of suspicious betting activity.

“Fundamental reform is required,” Lewis said.


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