NCAA Talk

The number-cruncher behind the Alabama of college e-sports

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Student analyst Mykolas Saulis works on a spreadsheet for Robert Morris University’s “League of Legends” team. (Yifan Wu/MEDILL)

The number-cruncher behind the Alabama of college e-sports

Yifan Wu

Special Contributor to CSNChicago.com

In a season-opener against an unranked and little-known opponent, a college powerhouse fell behind by one point for less than two minutes. However, the head coach, who just came off a brief stint in the pros, buried his face in his hands and sighed in disbelief before rifling through the team analyst's notepads.

No, it was not Alabama football but rather Robert Morris' varsity team playing "League of Legends," a free-to-play computer game, against Missouri Baptist. Like the Crimson Tide, who list six analysts on its staff directory, RMU e-sports leads the collegiate scene in support staff, starting with Mykolas "MykieMause" Saulis, a full-time analyst.

Up to six hours a day, five days a week, Saulis hovers behind the varsity team's gaming chairs during practice, taking notes and making observations. Sometimes, the computer network major joins the post-game huddle to discuss his findings. Often, Saulis finds a working station at the arena's corner and records his notes into a Google Docs spreadsheet.

"As of right now, the notes are very broad," Saulis said. "The spreadsheet has specific points we want to see the team work on, like specific timing to be aggressive. We try to get some sort of quantified result, and then you can track their progress."

When Drake Porter came to RMU as the head coach last October, he suggested the addition of a student-analyst, citing his experience working at Frank Gang Gaming, a professional team.

"Most of the pro teams have someone breaking down gameplays for them, and now the college scene is catching up," Porter said. "They can put it in numbers and let us know how the opponents play under different circumstances."

Read the full story at Medill Reports Chicago.

CSN Chicago, in partnership with Northwestern University,  features journalism by students in the graduate program at Medill School of Journalism. The students are reporters for Medill News Service. Medill faculty members edit the student work. Click here for more information about Medill.

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

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USA TODAY

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

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USA TODAY

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.