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NCAA nearly suspended OU assistant over tweets

NCAA nearly suspended OU assistant over tweets

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Twitter messages sent to high school players in February violated NCAA rules and nearly resulted in a one-game suspension for Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Among the documents released to the AP this week under Oklahoma's Open Records Act were letters between university compliance staff and members of the NCAA's rules enforcement staff concerning the fallout from Norvell's use of Twitter.

The NCAA initially wanted to suspend Norvell for one game but the university successfully appealed. Oklahoma learned of the NCAA's decision not to suspend Norvell on Dec. 4, about a month before the Cotton Bowl game between the 12th-ranked Sooners and No. 10 Texas A&M.

Oklahoma has had a series of major NCAA violations in recent years and is still on probation for the latest case involving ex-men's basketball assistant coach Oronde Taliaferro. Previous cases involved the football team and ex-basketball coach Kelvin Sampson.

In this case, Norvell sent nine Twitter messages on Feb. 21 to six prospects who were high school juniors, according to a university letter sent May 14 to Chris Strobel, the NCAA's director of secondary enforcement.

``Norvell had intended the tweets to be direct messages; however, upon sending the messages, he instantly realized he had selected the incorrect messaging option and inadvertently posted the messages as public tweets,'' according to the letter from Jason Leonard, Oklahoma's executive director for athletics compliance, and Connie Dillon, the university's faculty athletics representative.

Six of the tweets contained what OU deemed to be ``written offers of financial aid to juniors, which was prior to the permissible date in which an institution can provide written offers of aid to prospects.''

Norvell immediately reported the violation and ``further indicated that he understood `written offer' to be offers made through traditional general correspondence'' pursuant to NCAA rules, the OU letter said. ``Norvell did not realize that something as impersonal as a direct message could or would be considered a written offer of financial aid pursuant to NCAA rule.''

OU also said Norvell sent a letter to the six prospects, telling them he had violated an NCAA rule and rescinding the offer, although he said in those letters that Oklahoma still would recruit them. The university required Norvell to attend a 2012 NCAA rules seminar and banned the football staff from sending general correspondence and electronic correspondence for two weeks to the six prospects.

The university said it also provided specific rules education to its entire football staff pertaining to written offers of financial aid, electronic correspondence and the use of social media during the recruiting process.

In a Sept. 25 letter, Renee Gomila, the NCAA's associate director of enforcement for secondary infractions, said while the NCAA agreed with the university that Norvell's violation should be classified as secondary - as opposed to major - Norvell should be suspended for one game and the university should reduce the remaining number of in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts with the prospects by two.

Gomila said that similar future violations ``may result in the head coach being suspended from all coaching-related activities'' for at least one game.

The university filed its appeal of Norvell's suspension on Oct. 23, citing similar cases at Iowa, Clemson, Mississippi, Memphis and Tennessee. The university called the suspension ``inappropriate, excessive and not supported by case precedent (institutions with like penalties).''

In a Dec. 5 response, Strobel said the NCAA enforcement staff had ``reevaluated'' the case and set aside Gomila's recommendation. The letter did not give a reason for the NCAA's change of heart.

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Amari Cooper is confident — like, supremely confident — in the Cowboys receivers this year

Amari Cooper is confident — like, supremely confident — in the Cowboys receivers this year

The Washington Football Team would love to see a wide receiver eclipse 1,000 yards in 2020, especially considering they haven't had a pass catcher achieve that milestone since 2016.

Amari Cooper, meanwhile, believes the Cowboys could finish the year with a trio of players above the four-digit mark.

In speaking with Dallas' website recently, Cooper called his new teammate, CeeDee Lamb, the "best player on the board" when the franchise drafted Lamb 17th overall this past April. And Cooper's already adamant that Lamb will fit in quite well with himself and Michael Gallup.

"I think the expectation is to have three 1,000-yard receivers this year," Cooper said.

In the history of the sport, only five offenses have been able to pull off such a feat. The 2008 Cardinals, with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston, were the last to do so. In 1989, Washington made it happen, thanks to contributions from Art Monk, Ricky Sanders and Gary Clark.

So, no pressure, dudes.

Perhaps Cooper forgot that Ezekiel Elliott is also on the roster, and he's someone that tends to be involved a decent amount on Sundays. Regardless, Cooper is clearly confident in the damage he and his fellow wideouts are capable of this season.

Hopefully he's wrong, though, because nobody likes it when anyone on the Cowboys is proven correct. 

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Kevin Durant gives his NBA Finals predictions

Kevin Durant gives his NBA Finals predictions

While a number of teams are fighting to be the favorite heading into the NBA Playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers picked up a key endorsement from Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant.

When asked who he thought will win it all this year, Durant chose the Clippers defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals and upsetting the No. 1 seed Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. 

"They're just so deep," Durant said of the Clippers on “Play For Keeps” podcast. "They haven't had their whole team together at once for a long period of time yet, and that talent is just undeniable. When you have [Paul George] and Kawhi [Leonard] at the wings, that's what you need to win is wings. You got those two at the wings, arguably top three, top four at the wing position on one team."

So far in Orlando, the Clippers have gone 1-2 after defeating the New Orleans Pelicans and falling to the Lakers and Phoenix Suns. As of now, they hold the two-seed in the Western Conference playoff picture and would face the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. However, they are currently just a half a game ahead of the Denver Nuggets with five seeding games remaining.

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The Lakers clinched the one-seed last week and are up six games in the standings over their cross-town rivals.

ESPN’s playoff odds gave the Clippers a 10% chance of winning it all. They ranked third behind the Bucks with a 49.7% chance and the Lakers at 18.7%. 

Durant chose Los Angeles over his own team, the Brooklyn Nets, who are also in a good position to make the playoffs as the current seven-seed in the East Conference. However, the Nets are playing in Orlando without eight players including a number of starters like Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie and Durant, who missed the entire regular season after tearing his Achilles during the 2019 NBA Finals.

If his team retains the seven-seed heading into the playoffs, they would likely face the Toronto Raptors, who Durant projected would fall to Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Finals.

But regardless of seeding, Durant acknowledged it’s still anyone’s game.

“I hate doing that s---,” he said about predicting a winner. “You never know what could happen – you seen that with us last year.”

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