Inside the Cody Larson waiver

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Kathy Heylens remains uncertain if South Dakota State men’s basketball player Cody Larson will be granted a one-time transfer exception waiver by the NCAA. Still, the Jackrabbits associate athletic director for compliance is as plugged in to the process as anybody. Where are things at? Let’s dig in:

* The waiver application was filed online in late July. It included letters from Larson, Heylens, SDSU coach Scott Nagy and the staff at Florida – where Larson used to play – along with details pertinent to this specific transfer. Heylens said the decision is all-encompassing meaning the NCAA considers, among other things, the schools and conferences involved, academic standing and legal issues. It took Heylens - who aims to be judicious when deciding whether or not to apply for waivers in part because the NCAA keeps count – three weeks to compile the information, trying to ensure that it was as complete as possible. She also did advance legwork, seeking advice from the chair of a legislative committee that she’s a part of.

* Roughly 10 days ago, the NCAA got back to Heylens to ask for additional documentation from Larson. (She declined to go into specifics of what they want.) The Roosevelt grad is in the process of collecting that. Once he does, Heylens will submit the info online. A ruling should be made within a week of that.
There are two possible outcomes: 1) Larson is declared eligible for the 2013-14 and can play two season or 2) he has to sit out 2013-14 and can play only in 2014-15. 

* Heylens said that she usually has a gut feeling about waiver outcomes, and is right maybe 95 percent of the time. But, again, she’s uncertain about this case despite being comfortable with the way SDSU put it together.
On the flip side, she’s of the mind that the NCAA of late has been more lenient in allowing one-time transfer exceptions.
"It has to be an extenuating circumstance," she explained, "and it’s relative to the student-athlete’s well being."  

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Diamond notes

Some news and notes in advance of South Dakota State making its debut in the NCAA Division I baseball tournament tonight at Oregon. ESPN3 will have the game.
The Jacks last berth in a national tournament came at the Division II level in 1995:

Baseball isn’t the only game on tap this weekend in Eugene. On Friday and Saturday, Oregon hosts the Prefontaine Classic, part of the Diamond League pro circuit and one of the best events in America every year. You basically have to be top 50 in the world in your event to gain entry.
Sell-out crowds of 10,000-plus are expected both days at the track meet. 

Reliever Caleb Thielbar, an SDSU grad, isn’t the only Twins player keeping an eye on the Jacks. All-star catcher Joe Mauer has a cousin on the team - freshman utility man Zach Holt. Mauer said that his mom and Holt’s mom are sisters.
An Illinois prep product, Holt leads SDSU in batting average at .462 in limited action. 

Senior leadership has been instrumental in the Jacks earning 15 wins more than they had last year, the largest one-season jump in program history, according to coach Dave Schrage. Reserve catcher Steven Autenrieth is the most unsung of that group. Schrage called the former juco transfer a key “behind-the-scenes guy.”

Another key difference from 2012-13: the progression of J.D. Moore. As a freshman, the Canadian had an ERA of 7.27 with five saves. But his first five appearances took place when the team was trailing - and he was a starter in high school. Closing was a new role for him.
This spring, Moore has a 1.67 ERA with a school record 13 saves and 31 Ks in 27 innings, emerging as the successor to former All-American Trever Vermeulen. In fact, Vermeulen has been in contact with Moore even though the two were never teammates.
"He’s a good guy," Moore said. "It’s nice to break his record and do it in a season like this where it doesn’t go to waste." 

Four seems to be an important number tonight. Oregon is 36-2 when scoring 4 runs or more, while SDSU is 30-5 when hitting that mark.

The last No. 4 seeds to win a regional: Stony Brook last year and Fresno State in 2008. Both teams went on to reach the College World Series. The Bulldogs won that, too.

The latest NCAA RPIs of the four teams in the Eugene regional: No. 9 Oregon, No. 32 Rice, No. 50 San Francisco and No. 168 SDSU.
Meanwhile, the Jacks are among five tourney newcomers. The others: Bryant, Canisius, Central Arkansas and Savannah State. 

Although plenty far from home, SDSU does have some ties to the Pacific Northwest. Catcher Nick Andrews is from the Seattle area and pitcher Shane Kraemer and infielder Jordan Varga are from British Columbia. 

The No. 2 seed in the Eugene region, Rice, is a pretty compelling story, too. The Owls are making their 19th consecutive appearance in the NCAA tourney. Coach Wayne Graham is a member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame and has more than 1,400 career wins - and no losing seasons in 38 years - as a head coach at the college level, winning a D-I World Series and five junior college crowns. Oh, and he also played for Casey Stengel in the bigs. 

In case you were wondering if the Oregon baseball team had any sick gear via its Nike hookup …

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Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

NCAA revenue report

USA Today recently published its annual list of revenues and expenses for all of the public schools at the NCAA Division I level (some 228), the latest data coming from the 2011-12 school year. Over the weekend, I waded through a chunk of it and pulled out some information that’s (hopefully) either interesting or relevant.

Keep in mind that schools know how to play the book-keeping game, and that numbers don’t provide full context:

  • Only one school that ranks in the top 50 in terms of reported revenue is not a member of a power conference: No. 47 UNLV. The Runnin’ Rebels generated $58.8 million.
  • The top-ranking school in the Football Championship Subdivision: No. 66 Old Dominion at $35.2 million. (And, yes, I’m aware that ODU is joining the Football Bowl Subdivision this fall - but these numbers were from its FCS days). 
  • Tops in revenue among schools that shares a league with the South Dakota schools: No. 111 Southern Illinois (of the Missouri Valley Football Conference) at $20.6 million. In the Summit League, North Dakota State leads the way - and is No. 128 overall - at $16.8 million.
  • The rest of the Dakota schools: No. 116 North Dakota $20.1 million; No. 142 SDSU $14.1 million; and No. 192 USD $10.1 million.
  • Three Summit schools rank in the bottom 25: No. 203 Kansas City $9.3 million; No. 215 Fort Wayne $7.1 million; and No. 216 IUPUI $7.0 million. 
  • The Summit League is all over the place in terms of ticket revenue, some of that related to whether or not a school sponsors football. For example, SDSU reported a school-record $1.3 million in ticket revenue. That’s compared to a combined total of $760,853 by Oakland, USD, Western Illinois, Kansas City, Fort Wayne and IUPUI. However, NDSU more than doubled the Jacks at $2.9 million.
  • One of the points for USA Today doing this piece is to shed light on how much subsiding goes on in college athletics. In this case, that means student fees, school contributions, etc.
    The Bison led the Summit in terms of smallest subsidy, too, at 43.16 percent. SDSU was next at 55.84. Everybody else was at 65 percent or more. Kansas City (81.00) and IUPUI (87.77) used the most help.
  • Only seven D-I schools reported using no subsidies: Texas, Ohio State, LSU, Penn State, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Purdue. Meanwhile, Montana was at 38.98 percent despite its considerable football attendance and place of state importance. 

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Here’s a look at the South Dakota State practice session Wednesday at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich., in advance of an NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament game against Michigan.

New calling, texting rules start today

Starting today, the NCAA will allow Division I men’s basketball coaches to exchange unlimited calls and text messages with high school recruits who have finished their sophomore year. Currently, they can (in short … don’t make me bore you with all the details) make one call a month and can’t text at all.

The South Dakota State staff, for one, has its thumbs at the ready.

"The more they deregulate it, the more it will allow us to outwork people," coach Scott Nagy said.

Yes, now coaches can call, text, IM or email a kid as if they are BFFs. It should help cultivate relationships as well as preventing the NCAA from wasting its time trying to police secondary rules violations. But Nagy thinks there might be as much value in not hearing from a kid.

"It’s a way for kids to eliminate people," he said, "because it’s easier to say, ‘Hey, I’m not interested’ in a text rather than telling them on the phone. Or if they’re not answering the texts, that can send a message, too.
"It may help us. If we’re texting kids and they’re not responding, it may save us time."

It may also give them carpal tunnel. That is, I’ve practically grown skin over my iPhone, and I’m not (usually) doing anything as important as recruiting. Deregulation may come at a price – the loss of sanity for text-obsessed coaches and recruits. 

SMH.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Live chat 8/25

The weekly live chat made an emotional return Thursday. It was like the first day of school - a nerd (me) and his nerd friends (you) nerding it up about nerd stuff.

Sigh. Felt good.

Here’s the replay. Let’s do it again next week.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Tuesday Tidbits

Basketball heavy this week with the South Dakota State men landing their first 2012 verbal in Alaska big Connor Devine:

The Jacks were the first NCAA Division I program to offer the 6-foot-9 Devine, although he had been in discussions with others. That’s hardly unusual. For obvious reasons, Alaska isn’t heavily recruited.
Devine said that 4-5 players get D-I interest most years, but that usually comes from their summer exploits. He played for the Far North Basketball Academy and made stops in Texas, Washington and Las Vegas - that’s where SDSU watched him play and shortly thereafter made an offer.
He also attended the Jacks elite camp in Brookings, where he got to square off with some current SDSU players. It was his first time on campus, but he’s been visiting Watertown annually to visit his paternal grandmother. (His dad is from Watertown and played at Mount Marty.)
As for his game, Devine was named all-state in the largest class in Alaska as a junior. He fancies himself well rounded with the ability to post up and step out, while also blocking a lot of shots - almost six a game last season. All of those abilities show on his YouTube reel.
"The biggest thing I have to work on is getting in the weight room and getting stronger, gaining weight," the 190-pounder said, "and just improving my outside game and ball handling attacking the basket."

Former SDSU baseball coach Ritchie Price - now an assistant at Kansas - recently got married to former SDSU swimming standout Katie Budahl in her hometown of Mitchell. 

In other baseball news, the NCAA is going to tweak its RPI formula starting next year. It’ll weigh road wins as being worth 1.3 victories with home wins amounting to 0.7 victories. That’s thought to help Northern teams that are forced to live on the road.
This link shows that SDSU would have been helped greatly last year, jumping 31 spots to 130. 

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Tuesday Tidbits

The ‘bits look good on this new site, no?

Officially, the SDSU baseball job listing has closed, meaning things are moving into the interview phase. Associate AD and search committee chair Leon Costello said that a hire could be made within the next 7-10 days. Less officially, rumblings of potential finalists are getting out around. Nobody would confirm the names on the record, but it looks like the Jacks will land someone with considerable experience at a BCS program. Makes me wonder if there won’t be a significant pay raise involved as compared to what past SDSU baseball coaches were making.

The SDSU men’s basketball coaches have been busy on the recruiting trail. While they wait for an answer from their last hope for 2011, they’re focusing on 2012 kids. There are three scholarship slots available and coach Scott Nagy said that two of them will have to be bigs. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Also, the Jacks hope to have their schedule finalized this week. It would have been done sooner if not for the wheelings and dealiings of one of the clubs they were in line to play.

The NCAA Division I women’s basketball committee is looking at perhaps delaying the start of the tournament by one week. They also might push back the bid dates for regional hosting rights.
The second idea makes more sense to me than the first. Moving the tourney would mean nothing more than perhaps - perhaps - larger TV audiences for the natinonal semis. (The finals already do well.) It’s still largely going to overlap with the more popular men’s Dance. But changing the regional process would be helpful in that the site selection folks would have a better idea of what potential hosts also have potential tournament qualifiers.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.

Johnston attends mock selection

South Dakota State women’s basketball coach Aaron Johnston recently got a look behind the bracket, participating in a Division I tournament mock exercise at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.

First, the question you all want to know: How and where did these folks place the Jackrabbits as compared to where they actually wound up, a No. 15 seed facing No. 2 Xavier in Cincinnati? Johnston wouldn’t exactly divulge that.

"Having gone through the process and seeing how it works and comparing us to other teams, I think the last two years for sure we’ve been seeded very appropriately," he said. "I think if we had any complaint probably three years ago looking at the information we had that would probably be at least a valid question as a 7 seed. I think we could have been a little bit better that year, but that’s where the subjectivity and the objective have to balance out."

There’s a balance between objective and subjective - that’s one of the many insights that Johnston gained from the exercise. Another: That his program has been doing the right thing in putting together difficult, but not unreasonable non-conference schedules. That is, SDSU is best off trying to beat a top-50 program like Middle Tennessee State than a bottom-tier BCS school like Washington State or in getting clobbered by an elite program such as UConn.

Johnston was also surprised and impressed by the computer software that’s involved. It can be used in both determining the final at-large teams (easily comparing common opponents, strength of schedule, etc.) and setting the bracket (helping build pods around host schools and avoiding intra-conference matchups in early rounds).

In terms of the order of things, the committee picks the 33 at-large teams before seeding the teams 1-64 and then placing them in the bracket. Teams can be moved up or down by as many as two seeds, but that’s avoided if at all possible among the top 16 squads.

Bottom line, Johnston came away with a better understanding and respect for the process. He hopes the principles will be applied to his squad for a fourth year in a row come March.

"Ranking the teams was certainly a challenge in itself then getting everybody to fit into a tournament bracket was probably the biggest challenge," he said. "Putting teams in a bracket, it takes all 10 (committee members) working together. It’s unbelievable how difficult it is to get everybody in the bracket and not violate certain parameters."

(Here’s the NCAA story on the event replete with a video interview with Johnston.)

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.


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