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NCAA imposes postseason bans for Texas Southern

NCAA imposes postseason bans for Texas Southern

HOUSTON (AP) The NCAA banned the Texas Southern football and men's basketball teams from the postseason Tuesday, saying it came close to levying the so-called ``death penalty'' against the school for repeated rules violations and for lying about imposing sanctions on its own.

The Division I Infractions Committee said it found a lack of institutional control and outlined problems spanning 13 sports over a seven-year period, including booster-related recruiting violations, academic improprieties, the use of ineligible athletes and exceeding scholarship limits. The basketball team, currently coached by former Indiana coach Mike Davis, was banned from the 2012-13 postseason and the football team in both 2013 and 2014.

Other penalties include five years of probation, scholarship limitations in football and basketball, and the vacating of all team records from 2006-10 in all sports, as well as the 2010-11 records for football and women's soccer. In 2010, Texas Southern won its first Southwestern Athletic Conference football championship since 1968.

The school released a statement acknowledging the sanctions and saying it agreed with them.

``It has taken the NCAA process to learn the things that we were doing wrong,'' athletics director Charles McClelland said. ``If we had not gone through this process, we possibly could have made the same mistakes again. We concentrated on taking the breath out of these issues and now we're exhibiting excellence in the process.''

The NCAA said the university allowed a total of 129 student-athletes to compete and receive financial aid and travel expenses when they were ineligible. The majority of these student-athletes had not met progress toward degree or transfer requirements, the report said.

The committee also deemed Texas Southern a ``double repeat violator,'' because the athletics program has either been on probation or had violations occurring on campus, or both, for 16 of the past 20 years. The school had said in the past that it was self-imposing sanctions, but the committee found that it had not - a factor in the severity of the new sanctions.

``That's a unique circumstance,'' said Greg Sankey, a member of the infractions committee and the chief operating officer of the Southeastern Conference. ``That may be the most notable piece of the institution's past circumstances.''

The SWAC does not send its teams to the FCS football playoffs, but it does have a conference championship game and in the past teams that have been banned from postseason play by the NCAA were not allowed to compete in the league title game.

The NCAA levied heavy sanctions on Texas Southern's softball and tennis programs in 2008. The softball program was placed on four years of probation and was banned from postseason play in 2009. The men's and women's tennis programs were disbanded in the spring of 2007.

Texas Southern fired athletic director Alois Blackwell in February 2008 a year after the school received five academic performance warning letters from the NCAA. McClelland, the former AD at nearby Prairie View, took the Texas Southern job in April 2008, and he hired a compliance consultant to clean up the department.

Sankey said the school's recidivist status raised the possibility of a ``death penalty,'' which bans a school from competing in a particular sport. The NCAA has used it only once, against SMU's football program in the 1980s.

Sankey said the cooperation from McClelland and school President John Rudley helped persuade the committee not to consider the death penalty in this case.

``That was a factor in the committee's evaluation in the application of these penalties,'' Sankey said.

The school said in its statement that it has hired seven ``professionals committed to compliance and academics.'' The statement also said the school has addressed and improved its academics among student-athletes.

The school said that since the 2008-09 academic year, scores have gradually improved for all 16 sponsored sports. Overall the program has a combined score of 958 which is over a 120-point increase from the departments' score of 834 in 2008-09, the statement said.

``If you take a look at where we are now, it's a new era in TSU athletics,'' McClelland said. ``I can assure that these concerns have been addressed and corrected.''

The most prominent violations involved former football coach Johnnie Cole and former basketball coach Tony Harvey. Cole was fired in April 2011, and Harvey resigned after the 2011-12 season. The committee noted ``particularly serious violations'' occurred when Cole ``knowingly allowed a booster to recruit for the football program'' and Harvey ``provided false or misleading information during the investigation.''

Specifically, the report said that Cole and former assistants ``were all aware that a booster was contacting potential transfers and their parents.'' The booster also bought an airline ticket for a recruit's girlfriend. The committee said Cole and his staff encouraged the booster's efforts and failed to contact the NCAA about possible rules violations related to the booster's activities.

The men's basketball team, meanwhile, offered two scholarships that were unavailable after the program was penalized for poor academic performance. During the 2009-10 season, the team also did not adhere to restrictions on practice time, which were imposed after the team fell short on its academic progress report.

The committee also found that the university exceeded financial aid limits between 2008-11.

``Compounding the problems with oversight was that no squad lists were produced by the compliance office during the years the violations occurred,'' the report said.

The committee concluded that Texas Southern ``lacked institutional control'' due to its failure to design safeguards to prevent violations, monitor academic standards and keep track of scholarships. The school ``insufficiently investigated academic issues that involved 24 student-athletes and allowed 12 of the 24 student-athletes to receive unearned academic credit.''

Sankey praised Rudley and McClelland for their efforts to fix the athletic department.

``There has been a different level of attention and activity among the university's current leadership,'' he said.

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After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

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Associated Press

After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

The Redskins are very thin at running back right now. 

Today at practice the Redskins had three running backs on the field. Rob Kelley and Kapri Bibbs are fully healthy while Chris Thompson is limited as he recovers from a broken leg he suffered last November. 

Injuries have hit the depth at running back. The most recent casualty was Martez Carter, who was waived with an injury designation. 

The move was surprising since Carter had some good runs against the Jets during their preseason game on Thursday and he did not appear to be injured during the game. 

Coach Jay Gruden did not offer any more details as to what the injury to Carter was, only that he is no longer with the team. 

Also sidelined with lower leg injuries are Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall. According to media reports, Perine will be out one week and Marshall for two to four. Gruden would not confirm the timelines, saying only that they are undergoing treatment and the timetable for their returns in unknown. 

The Redskins will bring in some running backs to try out on Sunday. They will need at least one and probably two in order to get through the upcoming preseason game against the Broncos on Friday. 

In other personnel moves, the Redskins waived linebacker Jeff Knox and defensive end Jalen Wilkerson and signed offensive tackle Kendall Calhoun, defensive back Darius Hillary, and wide receiver Allenzae Staggers. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

 

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Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya Ovechkina welcome baby boy

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NBC Sports Washington/USATSI

Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya Ovechkina welcome baby boy

After lifting the Stanley Cup just over two months ago, something else very exciting has happened in Alex Ovechkin's life.

Saturday morning, Nastya and Alex Ovechkin welcomed their first child, a baby boy named Sergei, after Ovechkin's late brother. 

Ovi spent this week practicing at the Florida Panthers' facilities with other NHL players living in the surrounding area.

After the Cup's visit to Moscow, Nastya and Alex settled down at their apartment in Miami, staying put and preparing for the birth. 

The couple were married two years ago but didn't hold an official ceremony until July of last year. The celebration was as lavish as you'd expect.

She revealed her pregnancy shortly after the Cup victory, and has kept us up to date on life this summer via Instagram. A few weeks ago, the Ovechkins graced HELLO! Russia magazine, showing off Nastya's baby bump among their glamour shots.

💛 @aleksandrovechkinofficial #hello #hellorussia @hello__ru

A post shared by Nastasiya Ovechkina (@nastyashubskaya) on

Congratulations to Ovi and Nastya, and all our best wishes for health and happiness!

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