NCAA

Luck among players shaving head to support Pagano

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Luck among players shaving head to support Pagano

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Andrew Luck has joined the shaved squad, too.

Nearly three dozen players on the Indianapolis Colts have shaved their heads in a show of support for head coach Chuck Pagano, who is undergoing treatment for a form of leukemia.

Luck became a new member of the no-hair club Wednesday morning. Players and coaches were not available for comment because they were headed to Jacksonville, but a team spokesman confirmed that Luck will indeed look quite different when he takes off his helmet Thursday night.

``Buzzed heads and orange locks in honor of Chuck,'' team owner Jim Irsay tweeted. He also included a link to a photo showing many of the players who had gotten buzzed.

Indianapolis (5-3) has gone to great lengths to give their ailing coach encouragement.

Reggie Wayne wore orange gloves against Green Bay, the ribbon color used to raise awareness for leukemia. Nameplates above player's lockers at the team complex now include orange stickers with Pagano's initials in the middle of Indy's trademark horseshoe. They sent Pagano a game ball after their surprising win over the Packers on Oct. 4. Irsay has placed signs reading (hash)Chuckstrong in each end zone of Lucas Oil Stadium, and the team has been trying to raise money to support leukemia research.

The newest addition to the agenda came late Tuesday when the team said Wayne, Luck and interim coach Bruce Arians would participate in a fundraiser at Dunaway's, a local restaurant, on Nov. 16. They will sign autographs and take photos with fans to help benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

So when Pagano showed up in the Colts' locker room Sunday without his grayish hair or trademark goatee, player director of engagement David Thornton decided to bring in a barber following Tuesday's practice.

The idea was an immediate hit - and seems to be growing larger by the day.

About two dozen players, including kicker Adam Vinatieri, defensive end Cory Redding, Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea and punter Pat McAfee, left the team headquarters Tuesday night with no hair. It's a new look for McAfee, who had a ponytail until last fall when he cut it off and donated the hair to Locks of Love, a cancer charity.

``We haven't been together long... But we're in this together,'' McAfee wrote in a Twitter message.

On Wednesday morning, more players joined the contingent, including Luck, the No. 1 overall draft pick and this week's AFC offensive player of the week.

At this rate, all of the Colts could have a whole team without hair playing Thursday night at the Jaguars. Arians, one of Pagano's close friends and a prostate cancer survivor, doesn't have any hair, either, though he's donned that look all season.

Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia on Sept. 26 and remained hospitalized for treatment until Oct. 21. He watched the next two Colts games from his home before doctors allowed him to attend Sunday's victory over Miami. Pagano watched the 23-20 victory from the coaches' box and spoke with his team before and after the game.

``I've got circumstances. You guys understand it, I understand it,'' Pagano said in an emotional postgame speech. ``It's already beat. It's already beat. My vision that I'm living is to see two more daughters get married, dance at their weddings and then lift the Lombardi Trophy several times. I'm dancing at two more weddings and we're hoisting that trophy together, men. Congratulations, I love all of you.''

On Monday, Pagano's physician, Dr. Larry Cripe of the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center, said Pagano was in ``complete remission.'' Cripe said Pagano is still scheduled to have two more rounds of chemotherapy. The second round starts this week and will last four to six weeks, Cripe said.

Arians has said the Colts hope to have Pagano back on the sideline Dec. 30, Indy's regular season finale against Houston.

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Report: Former Terp Diamond Stone included in federal documents detailing NCAA violations

Report: Former Terp Diamond Stone included in federal documents detailing NCAA violations

A bombshell article published Friday morning by Pat Forde and Pete Thaamel of YAHOO Sports details potential NCAA violations involving more than 20 schools and 25 players.

Among some of the biggest names and programs in college basketball includes former Maryland Terrapin, Diamond Stone.

According to documents and bank records that are part of an FBI investigation, Stone received $14,303 while a freshman at Maryland, a clear violation of NCAA rules. 

Former NBA agent, Andy Miller and his former associate, Christian Dawkins of ASM Sports were dishing out the incentives. Included were cash advances, entertainment expenses and travel expenses for high school and college prospects.

Other player's included in the documents include Dennis Smith who played at North Carolina State, Isaiah Whitehead from Seton Hall, DeMatha star Markelle Fultz who played at Washington and Edrice Adebayo who went on to play at Kentucky. 

Player's and their families from Duke, Michigan State, USC, North Carolina, Texas and Alabama are also included.

Stone played for the Terps during the 2015-16 season before declaring for the NBA draft. He was selected 40th overall by the New Orleans Pelicans and traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Stone did end up signing with a different agency.

While this is still under investigation, large consequences for the NCAA can be expected.

The NCAA released this statement following the news. 

These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America. Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules. Following the Southern District of New York's indictments last year, the NCAA Board of Governors and I formed the independent Commission on College Basketball, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, to provide recommendations on how to clean up the sport. With these latest allegations, it's clear this work is more important now than ever. The Board and I are completely committed to making transformational changes to the game and ensuring all involved in college basketball do so with integrity. We also will continue to cooperate with the efforts of federal prosecutors to identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts.

RELATED: DIAMOND STONE ADMITS TO 'MISTAKES' DURING FRESHMAN YEAR AT MARYLAND

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!