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Pa. congressman unhappy with NCAA fine guidelines

Pa. congressman unhappy with NCAA fine guidelines

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) A Pennsylvania congressman voiced displeasure Thursday with how the NCAA president responded to a request from the state's U.S. House delegation that all of the $60 million in Penn State fines in the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal be distributed to causes within the state.

Republican Rep. Charlie Dent said in a statement that Mark Emmert's response was ``unacceptable and unsatisfactory.''

The NCAA president said in a Dec. 12 letter to Dent that a task force charged with developing guidelines for an endowment and hiring a third-party administrator to distribute the funds is to allocate at least 25 percent of the fine money to programs in Pennsylvania.

``By outlining comprehensive plans to address child sexual abuse, of course, agencies within Pennsylvania have an opportunity to significantly increase the initial allocation to the Commonwealth,'' Emmert added.

An NCAA spokeswoman on Thursday said the organization stood by Emmert's correspondence.

The university met an NCAA deadline on Thursday by placing the first of five annual installments of $12 million into a money market account, while the task force works on recommendations due in early 2013. The transfer of the money to the endowment is expected to occur in the first half of next year.

The payment was made by Penn State's athletics department through an internal loan from university reserves and will be repaid with interest, the university said Thursday.

According to the university, in-state organizations also are slated to receive the first round of funding from the endowment. The university said it had heard from ``a number of organizations and survivors of sexual abuse'' with ideas of how funds could be used to benefit children in the state and across the country.

Emmert's reply didn't address the delegation's concerns, Dent said, but ``instead chose to hide behind the procedural mechanisms of the NCAA-created Task Force in order to deflect any sort of actual accountability for the disbursement of these funds.''

Of the 10 members on the task force, two are affiliated with Penn State: Nan Crouter, dean of the College of Health and Human Development; and Craig Hillemeier, vice dean for clinical affairs at the College of Medicine. The task force chairman is Timothy White, chancellor of the University of California-Riverside.

Dent said directing funds to entities outside Pennsylvania runs contrary to its taxpayers' interests.

``I am greatly disappointed by Dr. Emmert's response and will continue to press for greater accountability and oversight of the NCAA on this and other matters,'' he said.

Sandusky, a former assistant to longtime Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, was convicted this summer of sexually abusing 10 boys, some on campus. He is serving a sentence of 30 to 60 years in prison but maintains his innocence.

Three former university administrators also face trial on charges of perjury, obstruction and other offenses. They deny the allegations.

The abuse scandal led to the dismissal of Paterno, who died soon after, and elicited landmark NCAA sanctions including a four-year postseason ban and significant scholarship cuts.

Delegation members, in their Nov. 30 letter, noted that Sandusky's accusers were all Pennsylvania residents and all the ``substantiated reports of abuse took place within the Commonwealth.'' They urged that all fine money be dedicated to prevention and assistance programs within the state.

The NCAA, the governing body for college athletics, issued the fine as part of sanctions over the school's handling of the Sandusky matter.

University President Rodney Erickson agreed to the penalties in July. He said it was a difficult process but the university was left with little choice if it wanted to avoid a shutdown of its football program, known as the death penalty.

It's one of several tough decisions Erickson has made since replacing Graham Spanier, who left under pressure days after Sandusky's November 2011 arrest. Trustees chairwoman Karen Peetz cited Erickson's ``tremendous job'' leading the university through the last year when it was announced this week he has received a raise of $85,000 to $600,000, or a 16 percent bump.

Gov. Tom Corbett, a trustee by virtue of political office, said he was a ``little surprised'' about Erickson's raise and thought the timing was ``inappropriate.''

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Associated Press writer Marc Levy in Harrisburg contributed to this report.

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Jonas Siegenthaler earns first NHL point and plays like he belongs in win over Carolina

Jonas Siegenthaler earns first NHL point and plays like he belongs in win over Carolina

The Capitals released the unfortunate news on Friday that defenseman Christian Djoos is out indefinitely after undergoing a surgical procedure in his left thigh. It is rare that a team can lose one of its top-six defensemen and not miss a beat, but if Friday’s game is any indication, the Caps will be just fine with keeping Jonas Siegenthaler in the lineup.

“He’s got a pretty calm mentality and I think he’s found ways to ramp it up a bit to play in the NHL level,” Braden Holtby told reporters Friday. “It’s a good quality to have.”

Siegenthaler turned in another strong performance in Friday’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, just the sixth NHL game of his career. He also recorded his first career point, a primary assist on Alex Ovechkin’s first goal.

The rookie defenseman grabbed the puck at the blue line in the first period and skated in. Ovechkin turned his body to face Siegenthaler and held his stick up waiting for the one-timer. Siegenthaler fed him the puck which Ovechkin rocketed past goalie Scott Darling.

Ovechkin made sure to grab the puck as a keepsake for the rookie on his first point.

The assist was Siegenthaler’s only point of the night, but he was also instrumental in setting up Ovechkin’s second goal of the game.

Ovechkin held the puck near the blue line, closely guarded by defenseman Dougie Hamilton. Siegenthaler crossed in front of Ovechkin and knocked into Hamilton which opened up plenty of space for Ovechkin to make a play.

To be fair, the call could have easily been called for interference and Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour voiced his displeasure to the referees over the no-call on the bench. At best it was a pick play, but considering the erroneous holding penalty Ovechkin was called for earlier in the second which resulted in a goal for the Hurricanes, things certainly leveled out.

Siegenthaler’s play on Ovechkin’s second goal was notable because that is more of the type of impact you can expect to see from him. He is a physical presence on the ice and he’s not afraid to show it despite only being a rookie. Just as importantly, however, is that he also is not reckless with it.

Young, physical players can often make the mistake of being too timid when they enter the NHL, thus negating a strength of their game, or they can be reckless with throwing their body around leading to mistakes such as taking bad penalties or playing out of position to make a hit. Siegenthaler has done neither since getting recalled and his steady demeanor on the blue line certainly has caught the attention of his netminder.

“He doesn’t panic or anything and he’s making quicker plays now too,” Holtby said. “He’s got an NHL talent, that’s for sure. He’s still extremely young and the way he’s playing, he’s going to be a really good D-man. He’s already there. He’s filled in really well.”

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Wizards Trade Timeline: Sorting through details of scrapped Trevor Ariza trade

Wizards Trade Timeline: Sorting through details of scrapped Trevor Ariza trade

The Washington Wizards’ attempt at upgrading their defense by acquiring veteran forward Trevor Ariza in exchange for key reserves Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers fell through. Various reports on how the three-team trade with the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies fell apart includes contradicting details.

The subsequent noise and chaos created confusion over what transpired. As of Friday night all we knew for sure was the no trade was ever reported to the league for approval. Here’s what NBC Sports Washington has learned as of early Saturday morning from league sources.

Quick recap: The Wizards were in talks to add Ariza, who played two seasons with Washington (2012-2014), along with a pair of second-round picks coming from Memphis. Oubre would land with the Grizzlies while the Suns would receive Rivers, Memphis guard Wayne Selden and player with the last name Brooks.

Trade news popped moments after the Wizards’ 125-118 loss at Brooklyn. Washington fell to 11-18 after a fourth consecutive loss. Another lost moment soon followed.

Everything blew up because the Suns believed they were acquiring Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks, a second-year player, while the Grizzlies claim the trade involved journeyman MarShon Brooks. Deals are torpedoed at the last minute from time to time. That happened here except reports leaked publicly with the details, including the Brooks confusion, all of which led to a wild night on social media.

- The Wizards entered into discussions about Ariza over the last 2-3 days. By that point, the Suns and Grizzlies were deep into conversations about a potential move with Memphis concerning Dillon Brooks. The two sides talked at least a half-dozen times over 7-10 days including at least one directl chat with owners of both teams.

With Dillon Brooks currently sidelined by a knee injury, the Suns requested the guard’s physical from the Grizzlies. Enough information and dialogue were exchanged during the process between all three teams that there was clear understanding of the players involved, at least for the Suns and Wizards. It’s possible what all witnessed was a bad case of nerves by the Grizzlies at the buzzer.

Other reports offer similar details, but Memphis general manager Chris Wallace countered the notion of Dillon Brooks’ involvement from the start, according to ESPN.

- As for what comes next, its conceivable talks are revived. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowksi reported Saturday morning that the Wizards and Suns "were exploring whether a deal could be made between the two teams that included Ariza, Oubre and Rivers" with the Grizzlies perhaps still involved.

Players signed as free agents during the offseason, including Ariza, could not be traded until Saturday regardless. Ariza signed a one-year, $15 million contract with Phoenix in July.

- That the deal fell through opens the door for other teams interested in Ariza. The Los Angeles Lakers were thought to be among the teams in the mix before Phoenix agreed to the three-way trade. Even if Washington hopes to find a new path, other teams now know the price and could counter with their own offers. 

Wojnarowski reported that the Lakers and Rockets were among the teams now “pushing the Suns” for a trade involving Ariza, who reportedly desires a trade to his native Los Angeles.

- Washington’s interest in Ariza comes on multiple fronts. The 6-foot-8 forward, who would start alongside Otto Porter, is one of the better 3-and-D players in the league, though his shooting numbers were off with the Suns this season. In 26 games this season, Ariza shot a solid 36 percent on 3-pointers, but only 37.0 percent overall while averaging 9.9 points and 5.6 rebounds.

Don't panic over Ariza’s shooting numbers for now.  The 5-25 Suns are perhaps the lone team in the league without a true point guard. In Washington Ariza would once again play with Wall, a five-time All-Star and one of the league's top passers. Factor in the presence of Bradley Beal and Porter and Ariza would find himself open on the perimeter often.  

The Wizards rank 29th in points allowed this season with 117.2 points per game. Ariza, 33, proved formidable on the perimeter during the last four seasons with the Rockets. Houston, a Western Conference finalist in 2018 with Ariza, has fallen to 13-14 this season in part because of their defensive shortcomings.

- Washington would reduce its luxury tax payment for the second time in the last week. Salaries for Rivers, another expiring contract, and Oubre combined for approximately $860,000 less than Ariza’s $15 million deal. That works out to around $2.1 million savings. Washington previously saved around $4.7 million by trading Jason Smith. The Wizards would have remained $5 million over the luxury tax in this failed scenario.

The trade would not shed major long-term salary, however. The Wizards are currently over the projected 2019-20 salary cap with only five players under contract. The Ariza deal would help the team keep playoff hopes alive this season and save some money in the process.

- Lastly,  the Wizards are expected to practice Saturday. We’ll see what happens.

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