Tag:NCAA
Posted on: March 9, 2012 12:19 am
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Texas on the right side of the bubble?

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – This is what a 68-team bracket has forced us to care about …

Northwestern absolutely choking its way out of a tournament it would have no shot at unless there was a 68-team bracket.

Look, I get all the national love for the Wildcats. It’s a nice story that a school known more its catchy ledes than buzzer beaters is this close to getting in the tournament for the first time. But this is what they didn’t tell us when the bracket expanded a couple of years ago: The bubble was dumbed down.

Had the 64-team field remained, Northwestern’s overtime loss to Minnesota Thursday in the Big Ten tournament would have been an NIT footnote. But the expanded bubble being what it is, we must care – about bad basketball. Even now after destiny’s Debbie Downers in Evanston frittered another one away.

Northwestern isn’t the only one. Washington (1-7 against the top 50) won the Pac-12 regular-season title but is now a question mark after losing to Oregon State. Hold your nose but Arizona may have forced itself into the conversation, if  not the bracket. This was all for good for Texas, which played one of the more compelling games of the day in a Big 12 tournament quarterfinal against Iowa State.

Compelling because Texas continues to be a member of that dreaded bubble for the first time in a long time. They have been tournament regulars under Rick Barnes. Not this season in a tenuous transition season with six freshmen. Things were looking up late Thursday when the young Horns showed some finishing ability – please note, Northwestern – in a 71-65 win over the Cyclones.  

At halftime, with his team trailing, Horns coach Rick Barnes took to the dry erase board to state the obvious.

“I wrote it down ‘NIT or NCAA'. Which one would you put your name under right now?” Barnes said. “Whichever one you want, I assure you you’re going to have to earn it.”

So they did, with their best basketball of the season. After Iowa State opened the second half with a 7-0 run, the Horns responded with a 22-4 run of their own. Suddenly, Texas is hot. It has 20 wins, a benchmark of some sort among bubble teams, right? It was won three out of the last four going into Friday’s semifinal against Missouri.

It has what Northwestern and other bubble boys don’t. Bracket credibility, if only for day. Maybe the best thing you can say about Barnes’ team is that it looks less bad that some of the others. The Longhorns have now won 10 conference games while playing in one of the few high major conferences with a round-robin schedule (18 games).

The baby Horns grew up a little Thursday night. Freshman guard Myck Kapongo played 39 minutes, with no turnovers for the first time in his 32-game career.

“We’re not young no more,” he said.

If the Horns have an advantage in the NCAA basketball committee room this weekend, it is because of pedigree. Only Michigan State, Duke and Kansas have longer NCAA tournament streaks than Barnes does at Texas (13 consecutive years). This is not one of Barnes’ classic teams. The Longhorns struggle to score mightily. Three of those freshman start.

I’m not going to tell you that Texas doesn’t belong in the tournament. Not after what I saw and read on Thursday. What makes Texas any worse than Northwestern or Washington or Colorado State or Seton Hall or Miami or South Florida?

When you get to this level of desperation you count “good” losses. Texas has plenty of them -- six, against top 10 opponents. Eight of its 12 losses have come against the top 25.

At the beginning of the day, Jerry Palm had the Longhorns out. I’m not going to say he’s wrong. I’m going to refer him to a gutty second half comeback, those maturing freshmen and Rick Barnes.

“We fought back,” he said.

Beats the heck out of Northwestern. 

Posted on: February 28, 2012 6:32 pm
 

Oregon/NCAA appear headed for summary disposition

It appears Oregon and the NCAA could be heading toward summary disposition of the Will Lyles case. Two sources with extensive experience in NCAA investigations told CBSSports.com they believe that to be the case after reading documents released by Oregon last week in the Lyles case.

That would be somewhat positive news for a football program concerned about major sanctions surrounding the questionable $25,000 payment to Lyles for his recruiting expertise. Summary disposition essentially means that the NCAA and a school agree on a basic set of facts in a major infractions case.  The school proposes its own penalties. In such an occurrence, Oregon would avoid an appearance before NCAA infractions committee, which would have to agree to summary disposition.

Such a decision would also cut down significantly on the length of the case. Oregon has been under investigation since September.

The fact that Oregon has “agreed” to three of the seven violations released after a public records request last week – the other four are redacted – is a sign that summary disposition could be on the way. Neither the Oregon nor the NCAA would confirm that assertion.

“When I read that [Oregon documents] I said, ‘Hey, it looks like they’re beginning the process of going to summary,” said Michael Buckner, a South Florida-based attorney with 13 years experience assisting schools through NCAA investigations.

His research showed eight cases disposed of by summary disposition in 2011. That includes the notable West Virginia case decided in July. In both the Oregon and West Virginia cases, it was found that the number of football coaches exceeded the permissible limit in various activities.

If nothing else, summary disposition would signal a lack of contentiousness between the NCAA and Oregon.

“Basically what you’re doing, you don’t have to go to [an infractions committee] hearing,” Buckner said. “You’re not spending all the time and money for a hearing. Secondly, you’re trying to predict by putting down on paper and agreeing on sanctions.”

Summary disposition was a tool added a few years ago to streamline the investigative process. From the NCAA website: Summary disposition is a cooperative process between the school, involved individuals and the NCAA enforcement staff.  If these groups agree about the facts and the penalties presented in the report, an in-person hearing may be averted depending on the Committee of Infractions. The COI reviews the report in private and decides to either accept the findings and penalties or conduct an expedited hearing.  A school that would become a repeat-violator cannot use the summary disposition process and must go before the Committee on Infractions.

Oregon is not believed to be a repeat violator which would make the program eligible for enhanced  penalties. To be eligible, a school would have to have a major violation in its athletic department during the past five years.

Since that formal investigation began in September, Oregon has not so much as received a notice of allegations from the NCAA, which would signal the next step of the investigation. But the documents in question could be a draft version of that notice. In fact, the second of two four-page documents is labeled, “Revised Draft for discussion purposes.”

While Oregon could face major penalties from the case, the fact that it has “agreed” to wrongdoing in the documents is different from more combative language where the NCAA would have “alleged” wrongdoing.

“Once the school tells them, ‘Yes, we want to go summary disposition, they change it from, ‘it is alleged’ to , ‘that it is agreed,’ said another source familiar with the NCAA enforcement process. “That’s what the language [in the Oregon documents] would suggest.”

In the documents, Oregon agrees that …

 
--From 2008-2011 it paid for at least three recruiting subscription services.

--In 2008 and 2009 it paid $6,500 and $10,000 to Elite Scouting Services and received reports from Lyles and partner Charles Fishbein

--In 2009 paid $3,745 for service from New Level Athletics and its rep Baron Flenory.

--In 2010 paid $25,000 for a subscription to Complete Scouting Services and reports from Lyles. The service “did not disseminate” recruiting information at least four times per year in violation of NCAA rules.

--From 2009-2011 the program had one more coach out recruiting than allowed.

--There was a failure to monitor football’s use of recruiting services.

Here are those Oregon proposed findings of violations released last week after Freedom of Information Act requests from media outlets.

The Lyles story was broken almost a year ago by Yahoo! It centered on running back Lache Seastrunk who has since transferred to Baylor. Lyles later told Yahoo! that Oregon coach Chip Kelly “scrambled” urging Lyles to produce retroactive recruiting evaluations to justify the $25,000 expense.

You can find a further definition of summary disposition in the NCAA Manual here on page 401.

The NCAA has stepped its enforcement procedures regarding third-party influences in football recruiting. Last year it established a football investigation arm headed by a former Indianapolis deputy police chief.

Posted on: February 24, 2012 7:18 pm
 

Anti-doping official: Braun verdict "miscarriage"

The Ryan Braun decision was a “miscarriage of anti-doping justice,” an official from the nation’s leading independent drug testing organization told CBSSports.com on Friday.

Chris Guinty, a vice president for the National Center for Drug-Free Sport in Kansas City, Mo.,  aggressively defended the protocol in handling what had been labeled a positive test for the Milwaukee Brewers’ star. He told CBSSports.com that it was “standard industry practice” for Braun’s sample to be held overnight.

Drug-Free Sport handles testing for the NCAA, PGA, LPGA and the minor leagues.

A three-man arbitration board decided to grant Braun an appeal to his 50-game suspension for reportedly testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone. Braun is believed to be the first Major League player to win such an appeal. In a press conference on Friday, he maintained that his sample was invalid after it kept by the collector for two days instead of being immediately shipped to MLB’s testing lab in Montreal.

Braun went to say the process was “fatally flawed” and suggested the sample may have been tampered with.

“I stop short of condemning anybody,” Guinty said. “[But] I believe in the chain of custody. I don’t believe any standard industry protocol was violated here.”

In the anti-doping world, the reaction was the opposite. The World Anti-Doping Agency said the protocol breach that saved Braun would have been within its rules. The chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Travis Tygart, called the verdict in Braun’s favor "a real gut-kick to clean athletes." Major League Baseball released a statement defending the process.

“We have a very similar reaction to baseball,” Guinty said. “In our industry, it was standard industry practice to conduct the collection service like this collector did and take the sample home. The fact that nobody focused on the fact there is an unaccountable positive result … is a slap in the face to all the clean athletes who play the sport.”

Braun told reporters the test in question showed three times more testosterone than had been recorded in any other player. The reigning National League MVP went into detail Friday saying there was a 44-hour gap between the collection and the shipping. He went on to tell reporters that there was five FedEx locations open until 9 p.m. within five miles of Milwaukee’s Miller Field where he was tested Oct. 1. He said there was an additional FedEx store that was open 24 hours.

Guinty said that if the MLB collector had missed a FedEx shipping deadline, it is still better for that collector to hold the sample overnight.

“It is much more safer in the handler’s hands [in that situation] than at a FedEx where you don’t know what happened to the sample,” he said.

Sports medicine consultant Rod Walters also weighed in. Walters was head trainer at South Carolina for 17 years and has 28 years experience in the field.

“If it was overnight…is the specimen any weaker?” he said when contacted by CBSSports.com. ‘When you go longer than a year [the sample] may denigrate, it may lose some of its [strength].”

Drug-Free Sport has approximately 300 college clients, all but a fraction of those are NCAA schools. It claims more than 80 years of drug-testing experience on its staff. 

Posted on: February 14, 2012 5:38 pm
 

NCAA considers using private investigators

INDIANAPOLIS -- NCAA enforcement may be going private – at least private investigator.

As the NCAA’s most feared division reinvents itself, that little nugget emerged during my recent conversation with enforcement director Julie Roe Lach. She has been with the NCAA for 14 years. But it was the last 12 months or so that have been the most challenging, with seemingly a scandal a week.

“It was constant,” she said

As part of a new streamlined approach, the NCAA might indeed use private investigators on a contract basis to observe subjects.

“Literally, if they could mobilize someone in a matter of hours as opposed to us putting someone on a plane it’s a timeliness issue,” Roe Lach said. “That, to me, is where we need to stay ahead of the curve.”

Proactive is a term seldom attached to the enforcement division. Last year’s test of the association’s ability to police itself comes at the same time the NCAA is trying to downsize its 436-page manual.

The NCAA has become more open, more accessible, more understandable. Last year, Roe Lach’s department conducted an all-day Enforcement Experience exercise for media. The idea is to communicate that enforcement is going to be more efficient, more streamlined.

“Are people going to expect that more is going to be permissible? …,” said Roe Lach, 35. “Should we publish a list of all the schools we’re investigating? I don’t know if we’re going there.”

The NCAA last week released a set of proposed enhanced penalties that could be in effect later this year. CBSSports.com’s Bryan Fischer first published a version of those documents on Jan. 15.

As a part of that, Roe Lach said her division may begin contracting with private investigators for selected surveillance missions. Jim Rockford used to charge $200 a day plus expenses. Will the NCAA go there in hiring out investigative contractors?

“We could. Our bylaws don’t preclude it,” Roe Lach said. “We’d have to be very careful how we do it.”

As long as the NCAA gets it right. With only 55 persons in enforcement – 30-something on the street – enforcement can never catch all the outlaws. But told her department needed more vigilance in football, the NCAA hired former homicide Bill Benjamin to head a new football enforcement division

“If we get wind that a booster is employing student-athletes or an agent is too connected we’ll just go and watch foot traffic,” Roe Lach said. “It’s not like we’re out there stalking people.

“We’ve definitely conducted surveillance recently. Is it a better use of our resources to contract out surveillance?”

We’ll see.

 

Here’s a quick Q&A with Lach …
 

CBSSports.com: The NCAA seems to be more open under president Mark Emmert. To the point that Cam Newton’s father was called out, the media is engaged on subjects and enforcement is more of a transparent process.

Roe Lach: “Probably because I think that’s President Emmert’s philosophy. First, the challenge is to take an honest look at where can we have more transparency. We also recognize there are some times we can’t be transparent about either because federal law says so or there is a greater interest at stake.

“I don’t think the default is no longer, ‘We can’t say anything.’ “

 

CBSSports.com: Talking to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, he agreed whole-heartedly with the intent of the Penn State letter  to possibly investigate the school in light of the Sandusky matter. Where is your department on that right now?

Roe Lach: “Right now, and I can say this because it’s been stated publicly, the Penn State letter was framed very specifically as from the president’s office. It’s really at an inquiry or information gathering stage and if the NCAA should take some sort of action. If the answer is yes … the next question is how?

“Is this an enforcement action or is there some other action that doesn’t currently exist that needs to be examined?”

 
CBSSports.com: Was there a border crossed there? The Sandusky case is a legal matter.

Roe Lach: “Historically, legal matters are dealt with through the criminal system … There are times when criminal action also violates NCAA rules. There was a Division II case where a coach was providing a prescription drugs to student-athlete. I don’t know if that is legal.”

 

CBSSports.com: But even that is different from the Sandusky case.

Roe Lach: “You’re right. Typically, criminal issues are separate from NCAA issues but not always. Especially on the gambling front. That’s why we try to have relationships with  the FBI and other agencies.

“The larger issue at play … is what’s the culture here going on in the athletics department? Does that somehow tie into how the athletic department exercises institutional control? President Emmert’s letter opened the door for that discussion.”

 
CBSSports.com: Does that mean every similar case like that is going to end up on your desk?

Roe Lach: “I don’t think so. The larger issue is, do you have NCAA violations that may not be as clear? But you could make the argument that those are part of the culture that undermines institutional control. That the athletic department is not really being controlled by the school.”


CBSSports.com: Couldn’t you just wait for the courts to play out?

Roe Lach: “Sometimes that’s what we have to do … It’s not necessarily a wait-and-see approach either.”

 

CBSSports.com: There has been an addition of a director of enforcement for football, Bill Benjamin. What does that entail?

Roe Lach: “I was with the head football coaches (at the coaches’ convention) … We had heard from them, ‘Hey, here are our concerns [about enforcement].’ … That helped really to support the move to move staff to football.

“Part of their push to us has been we need to increase the penalties for secondary violations and suspend some coaches. They’ve also met with the Committee on Infractions and want to ramp up the penalties on football cases.

“To me that’s the first time a coaches’ association has stepped forward and said, ‘We want you to do more to us.’ “

 

CBSSports.com: Dr. Emmert told me in November in the middle of the investigation that Miami had been ‘extraordinarily cooperative.’ That’s the first time I’d heard anyone from the NCAA say anything like that in the middle of an NCAA investigation. Your reaction.

Roe Lach: “We don’t typically comment on cooperation but this goes back to the other discussion. That’s not a confidential issue. In the past we probably took a conservative approach. If a school is really stepping up and cooperating and taking some heat … sometimes it helps for them to be recognized by us.”

 

CBSSports.com: Does that make things uncomfortable if, in the end, Miami gets hammered?

Roe Lach: “I’ve been in hearing rooms where we’ve said, ‘This is an extremely serious case – if not the most – close to it [but] the school did everything within their control once they found out about these serious violations …

“The appeals committee message has been: You need to give some credit in the penalty phase … You need to factor that his. Where the committee has tried to land is, there is an obligation of cooperation. You shouldn’t get credit for doing what you’re supposed to do. There is a philosophical disagreement about that within the membership.”

 

CBSSports.com: How is the shrinking of the manual coming?

Roe Lach: “Sometimes you feel like it’s two steps forward, one step back. Right when you think you’ve got a ground-breaking idea … then 10 more unanswered questions pop up. It’s so hard for people to get their arms around less regulation and how does that affect coaches and schools.”

 

CBSSports.com: Can this year be better than 2012? Perhaps less work?

Roe Lach: “We’re just trying to continue our progress in terms of knowing what’s going on. If people are breaking the rules, we’re upholding integrity by enforcing them.”

Posted on: February 6, 2012 12:40 pm
 

Emmert contacts DI CEOs on scholarship issue

NCAA president Mark Emmert has reached out to Division I presidents urging them to support what is becoming the controversial implementation of four-year scholarships.

In a document obtained by CBSSports.com, Emmert asks the presidents to defeat the override proposal on legislation that is allowing four-year scholarships for athletes. Previously, scholarships had been renewed annually, sometimes at the whim of a coach. The four-year measure was approved in October, but 82 schools subsequently signed an override petition.  

“It [override] will take away the opportunity for multi-year support for thousands of student-athletes,” Emmert wrote in the letter. “As we are a presidentially led Association, it is important that you direct what the vote of your institution will be. I encourage you to defeat the override of this proposal.”

Presidents can vote online next week beginning Feb. 13 through 5 pm ET on Feb. 17.   

The petition required the NCAA board of directors to reconsider. It will take 222 schools out of 355 in Division I to override the measure. Last week various reports stated that the majority of Big Ten schools support the measure, which was encouraged by commissioner Jim Delany. According to those reports at least eight of the conference’s 12 schools awarded four-year scholarships on National Signing Day.

“You’re going to graduate,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said last week. “We have that obligation.”

The rest of the 120 schools in Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) are split at best on the issue based on an informal canvassing of the division’s 11 conferences.  SEC commissioner Mike Slive supported the measure as early as July as part of a national reform agenda. Auburn went on record last week as saying it awarded four-year scholarships to its latest recruiting class.

If FBS is split, that suggests that approximately 70 percent of the remaining 235 Division I schools (approximately 162) are going to vote for the override in order to defeat the measure.

If the proposal survives, four-year scholarships would still be optional only for each school. The one-year renewable scholarship has been in effect since 1973. Since then coaches have been able to “cut” athletes for sub-standard performance on the field. The existing proposal would still allow scholarships to be revoked year-to-year due to academic or off-field issues.

Even then, there could be subjective issues defining off-field conduct.

“I’d be surprised, frankly, if it’s overridden,” said Chad Hawley, the Big Ten’s associate commissioner for compliance. “The proposal come out of a working group on student-athlete welfare. Nationally there seems to be a commitment to keeping it in play. I’d be more surprised than not if it went away.”

Supporters are worried about the practice “running off” players who do not fit when a new coach takes over. Critics have said the measure pits large, well-funded athletic departments against smaller schools. The Associated Press reported that Boise State said in its override request that four-year scholarships would be a “recruiting disaster.”

"There is never a guarantee that the incoming student-athlete will be a good fit for the program and the institution," the school stated. "If it is a poor fit, the program is put in a difficult situation to continue to keep a student-athlete on scholarship."

Last month, the board delayed implementation of the annual $2,000 player stipend. It asked that the working group to come back with a modified proposal by April. Even if a new proposal gets through in April, it would have to survive a 60-day comment period. During that time there would be a second chance to override.

Both actions (stipend/scholarships) came out of an August presidential summit in Indianapolis. Critics attacked the stipend for being implemented too soon. Also, there was a concern about affordability, especially for some schools outside of BCS conferences.

The heading of Emmert’s letter states: “Subject: Student-Athlete Well Being” It goes on to state, “ … I need you to participate in the vote. I encourage you to defeat the override of the proposal that will allow student-athletes to receive multi-year scholarships.”

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 31, 2012 4:39 pm
 

Big 12 commissioner candidates

Now that the Big 12 has formed a search committee to find a permanent replacement for Dan Beebe, it’s time to line up a list of candidates.

These four have been most often mentioned in administrative circles and published reports: Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowksy, West Virginia AD Oliver Luck and NCAA interim vice president of championships and alliances, Greg Shaheen, Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick

 
--Banowksy, 51, is so highly thought of that his name was dropped by Neinas in September during his introductory teleconference. Banowksy is in his ninth year with Conference USA, which is currently in talks to combine and form a new conference with the Mountain West. There is already speculation that Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson would retain that title with the new conference, ostensibly leaving Banowsky free to take the Big 12. 

--Luck, a former NFL quarterback, has extensive administrative experience. In 1991, he made an unsuccessful run for Congress in West Virginia. Following that, he was general manager for two different teams overseas in the World League of American Football. Luck, 51, was the WLAF's president from 1996-2000 before the league rebranded as NFL Europe. From 2001-2008, Luck was CEO of the Houston Sports Authority and president of the Houston Dynamo of the Major League Soccer. Since June 2010 he has been West Virginia's AD. The school is in the process of moving from the Big East to the Big 12. Among his accomplishments at WVU is successfully implementing beer sales to increase revenue.

--Swarbrick reportedly finished as runner-up to Beebe the last time the Big 12 went searching for a commissioner in 2007. He was also a finalist for the NCAA president’s job in 2002. Swarbrick, 57, has a legal background having practiced law for 28 years before taking the Notre Dame job in 2008. He is credited with consulting on the NCAA’s move from Overland Park, Kan. to Indianapolis. Since he joined the Irish, football has continued its mediocrity. Swarbrick has had to fire Charlie Weis. Brian Kelly has yet to find traction in getting ND to the championship level. Heck of a question: Which job is considered better in the world of college athletics – Notre Dame or Big 12?

--Shaheen might be the most intriguing candidates. He is seen as one of the brightest minds in sports today. As NCAA vice president of basketball and business strategies, Shaheen was credited for the basketball-in-the-round concept that allowed the Final Four to be played in football stadiums. Also, during his watch the NCAA in general has become more open and media friendly. I reported in March 2009 that the Pac-10 twice took a run at him to be its commissioner before hiring Larry Scott. 

Here is a Sports Business Journal profile of Shaheen in 2010. He was mentioned on Jan. 23 in SBJ as a possible candidate for the Big 12 job. 

 

Posted on: January 26, 2012 3:10 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 3:11 pm
 

NCAA sickle cell testing debated

The American Society of Hematology issued a policy statement Thursday opposed to the current NCAA mandate that requires schools to test athletes for sickle cell trait.

The policy statement conflicts with that NCAA testing policy that is not yet two years old. For decades, the association had not tested for sickle cell trait but changed its stance as part of a settlement of a lawsuit over the death of a Rice athlete in 2006.

The NCAA requires that all athletes be tested for the condition unless they provide prior test results or sign a waiver. In a Thursday press release, the hematology society contended that “current scientific evidence does not justify screening.” It says that “universal preventive interventions” make testing unnecessary.  The society stated further that the Army uses such measures as heat acclimatization, hydration and work-rest cycles to deal with all situations regarding exertional issues.

Scott Anderson, Oklahoma head trainer and noted expert on sickle cell trait, countered: “Their [recommended] precautions are not working for individuals with sickle cell trait …”

Sickle cell trait is not a disease. It is a condition found in approximately eight percent of African-Americans and in a much smaller percentages of Caucasians.  Anyone with the condition can live a normal life. About two million Americans live with the trait. Problems occur when blood cells “sickle” due to overexertion.

Thursday’s policy statement seems to make public a large disagreement between organizations on how to treat the affliction. The hematology society said its position is supported by the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, American Public Health Association and Association of Public Health Laboratories.

That differs from the approach taken by the NCAA, NBA, NFL and the military academies aside from the Army.

Oklahoma has had major award winners play with the condition. But because of Anderson and his research, afflicted athletes are acclimated to heat and exertion over a period of days at the beginning of spring and fall practice. Testing becomes a further safeguard.

Several high-profile deaths caused by the condition have occurred in recent years at Missouri, Florida State, Central Florida and Rice.  
Anderson added that the NBA, NFL, Navy, Marines and Air Force do screen for sickle cell trait. In results published recently in Health Services Research Journal, it was estimated there would be one death in the NCAA if every athlete were tested over a four-year period. Without testing, the research concluded that seven players would die over a 10-year period.

Anderson said that 2011 was believed to be the most deadly year for athletes nationally regarding sickle cell trait since 2000. Not all of the deaths have been confirmed to be caused by sickle cell trait, Anderson added. It is known that sickle cell trait has been the leading cause of non-traumatic deaths among Division I college football players since 2000. The NCAA changed its policy in 2010 after lawsuit brought by the family of Rice football player Dale Lloyd. The association promised to require testing and increase awareness.

“When you look at kind of objectively, this was prompted by a lawsuit,” said Dr. Janis Abkowitz, president-elect of the hematology society. “We’re not against the NCAA … We hope that we could provide information to the NCAA in rethinking both the correctness of the initial policy, but also some of its downstream unintended policy.”

Dr. Abkowitz said the NCAA plans to extend its policy to Division II and Division III athletes, “every high school kid that is interested in sport would be tested and confused.” She want on to call it a “huge network of misunderstanding”. The society notified the NCAA before releasing its statement.

“We’re not out for a battle, we’re out to be helpful,” Dr. Abkowitz said.

In February 2010, Ole Miss player Bennie Abram died of complications resulting from sickle cell trait. The school, the NCAA and other entities are being sued by Abrams’ family. The death took place just as the NCAA was changing its policy.

 

 

 

 

Posted on: January 26, 2012 3:10 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 3:11 pm
 

NCAA sickle cell testing debated

The American Society of Hematology issued a policy statement Thursday opposed to the current NCAA mandate that requires schools to test athletes for sickle cell trait.

The policy statement conflicts with that NCAA testing policy that is not yet two years old. For decades, the association had not tested for sickle cell trait but changed its stance as part of a settlement of a lawsuit over the death of a Rice athlete in 2006.

The NCAA requires that all athletes be tested for the condition unless they provide prior test results or sign a waiver. In a Thursday press release, the hematology society contended that “current scientific evidence does not justify screening.” It says that “universal preventive interventions” make testing unnecessary.  The society stated further that the Army uses such measures as heat acclimatization, hydration and work-rest cycles to deal with all situations regarding exertional issues.

Scott Anderson, Oklahoma head trainer and noted expert on sickle cell trait, countered: “Their [recommended] precautions are not working for individuals with sickle cell trait …”

Sickle cell trait is not a disease. It is a condition found in approximately eight percent of African-Americans and in a much smaller percentages of Caucasians.  Anyone with the condition can live a normal life. About two million Americans live with the trait. Problems occur when blood cells “sickle” due to overexertion.

Thursday’s policy statement seems to make public a large disagreement between organizations on how to treat the affliction. The hematology society said its position is supported by the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, American Public Health Association and Association of Public Health Laboratories.

That differs from the approach taken by the NCAA, NBA, NFL and the military academies aside from the Army.

Oklahoma has had major award winners play with the condition. But because of Anderson and his research, afflicted athletes are acclimated to heat and exertion over a period of days at the beginning of spring and fall practice. Testing becomes a further safeguard.

Several high-profile deaths caused by the condition have occurred in recent years at Missouri, Florida State, Central Florida and Rice.  
Anderson added that the NBA, NFL, Navy, Marines and Air Force do screen for sickle cell trait. In results published recently in Health Services Research Journal, it was estimated there would be one death in the NCAA if every athlete were tested over a four-year period. Without testing, the research concluded that seven players would die over a 10-year period.

Anderson said that 2011 was believed to be the most deadly year for athletes nationally regarding sickle cell trait since 2000. Not all of the deaths have been confirmed to be caused by sickle cell trait, Anderson added. It is known that sickle cell trait has been the leading cause of non-traumatic deaths among Division I college football players since 2000. The NCAA changed its policy in 2010 after lawsuit brought by the family of Rice football player Dale Lloyd. The association promised to require testing and increase awareness.

“When you look at kind of objectively, this was prompted by a lawsuit,” said Dr. Janis Abkowitz, president-elect of the hematology society. “We’re not against the NCAA … We hope that we could provide information to the NCAA in rethinking both the correctness of the initial policy, but also some of its downstream unintended policy.”

Dr. Abkowitz said the NCAA plans to extend its policy to Division II and Division III athletes, “every high school kid that is interested in sport would be tested and confused.” She want on to call it a “huge network of misunderstanding”. The society notified the NCAA before releasing its statement.

“We’re not out for a battle, we’re out to be helpful,” Dr. Abkowitz said.

In February 2010, Ole Miss player Bennie Abram died of complications resulting from sickle cell trait. The school, the NCAA and other entities are being sued by Abrams’ family. The death took place just as the NCAA was changing its policy.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com