Loyola locks up first tourney berth in 33 years by topping Illinois State

Loyola locks up first tourney berth in 33 years by topping Illinois State

Going into Sunday’s Missouri Valley Conference tournament final it was assured that one Illinois school was going to break a lengthy NCAA tournament drought.

Top-seed Loyola and Illinois State fought to become a Cinderella story, but it was the Ramblers that locked up the tournament spot. Loyola hasn’t been dancing since 1985, which included a Sweet Sixteen run and a loss to Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown.

The Ramblers beat the Redbirds 65-49 to lock up the MVC tournament after going 15-3 in the MVC regular season to win the conference title. Loyola led 39-31 at halftime and used a run early in the second half to extend the lead and put ISU away.

Illinois State, which hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 1998, has now been to three of the last four and six of the last 11 MVC tourney finals and come up short each time. Last year the Redbirds went 28-7 and 17-1 in the MVC, but lost to Wichita State in the final. The Shockers moved to the American Athletic Conference this season and are ranked in the top 15 teams in the country.

Loyola, which moved from the Horizon League to the MVC in the 2013-14 season, got on the national radar with a win at Florida in early December. The Ramblers, which both ESPN's Joe Lunardi and CBS' Jerry Palm have project to be a No. 12 seed in the NCAA tourney, have a 28-5 record and are riding a 10-game winning streak.

Loyola is the first Chicago school to make the tourney since DePaul and UIC both made it in 2004. The Ramblers will be the only school to represent the state of Illinois with down years from Northwestern and Illinois.

NCAA is taking steps to allow student-athletes to make money off their likeness


NCAA is taking steps to allow student-athletes to make money off their likeness

Bulls rookie guard Coby White has talent, an infectious smile and an afro that makes him stand out on the court. It’s a fair bet he could have made some money off his likeness while he played at North Carolina if the rules allowed it.

The NCAA is taking steps towards allowing its athletes to do so, but there’s still a long way to go in the process. The organization’s Board of Governors unanimously voted to start the process. That vote moves things to the NCAA’s three divisions “to consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies,” as it was worded in the NCAA's press release.

“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” said Michael V. Drake, the chair of the board and president of Ohio State. “Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education. This modernization for the future is a natural extension of the numerous steps NCAA members have taken in recent years to improve support for student-athletes, including full cost of attendance and guaranteed scholarships.”

The board asked each division (Division I, Division II, Division III) to make any new rules immediately and no later than January 2021.

It’s important to note that none of the changes are final, or even imminent. It’s still relevant that the NCAA is going through the process at all, after being so strongly in favor of amateurism across the board for its student-athletes.

The potential changes would not allow for compensation based on performance or participation in a sport. Of course, the natural grey area is that higher performing athletes will be more marketable so they would be compensated on performance indirectly.

This comes after California passed legislation to allow college athletes to receive endorsement/sponsorship money and other states are pursuing similar.

This is still far from being official or finalized, but it will continue to be a major story in college sports over the next couple years.

Dave Leitao suspended 3 games, DePaul put on 3-year probation


Dave Leitao suspended 3 games, DePaul put on 3-year probation

The DePaul men's basketball team has been placed on three-year probation and head coach Dave Leitao has been suspended three games for the 2019-20 season, the NCAA announced on Tuesday.

The program was found guilty of "failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance while Leitao did not "prevent violations from occurring in his program."

A Division I Committee on Infractions panel concluded that a "former DePaul associate head coach violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he knowingly directed the former assistant director of basketball operations to provide impermissible recruiting benefits to a recruit."

The NCAA found that three coaches knew about the situation but failed to report the infractions. DePaul will vacate all wins earned while the ineligible player competed and suffer recruiting restrictions. They were also fined $5,000 plus 1% of the men's basketball program budget.

In 2019, DePaul had their first winning season since 2007 by going 19-17.