November 18th, 2011
05:41 PM ET

Syracuse assistant coach: Molestation claims 'patently false'

A Syracuse University assistant men's basketball coach who was placed on leave over allegations that he inappropriately touched two boys years ago said Friday the accusations "are patently false in every aspect."

Syracuse put associate Bernie Fine on leave Thursday after Syracuse city police said they were re-opening an investigation of the allegations made six years ago by former Syracuse ball boy Bobby Davis, 39.

That news came after both Davis and his stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, who also was a Syracuse ball boy, told ESPN on Thursday that Fine had molested them when they were children. Lang's new allegations helped kick-start the new police investigation.

"Simply put, these allegations are patently false in every aspect," Fine said Friday in a statement released by lawyers representing him. "The fact is these allegations have been thoroughly investigated multiple times.

"When evaluating the veracity of these accusations, please keep in mind that credible media outlets were approached in the past to publicize these false allegations and declined to do so. I fully cooperated with all past inquires."

Davis told university officials six years ago that he informed Syracuse city police that he had been "subjected to inappropriate contact by an associate men's basketball coach" during the 1980s and 1990s, Syracuse Senior Vice President Kevin C. Quinn said Thursday.

The university launched its own investigation in 2005, and found that no one, even people who Davis said would support his accusations, knew of wrongdoing by Fine, who denied the accusations. Police in 2005 said they wouldn't pursue the case because the statute of limitations had expired, Quinn said.

Had the school found evidence or corroboration of the allegations, it would have terminated the associate coach and reported the case to the police, Quinn said. Syracuse placed Fine on leave "in light of the new allegations and the Syracuse city police investigation," Quinn said.

Fine said in the statement: "Sadly, we live in an allegation-based society and an Internet age where in a matter of minutes one's lifelong reputation can be severely damaged. I am confident that, as in the past, a review of these allegations will be discredited and restore my reputation. I hope the latest review of these allegations will be conducted expeditiously."

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2 Oklahoma State coaches, former state senator killed in plane crash
Oklahoma State University women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were killed in Thursday's crash.
November 18th, 2011
11:52 AM ET

2 Oklahoma State coaches, former state senator killed in plane crash

[Updated at 11:52 a.m. ET] Former Oklahoma state Sen. Olin Branstetter and his wife, Paula, were among the four killed in Thursday night's fatal plane crash in Arkansas, Oklahoma State University spokesman Gary Schutt told reporters Friday.

The other two victims were earlier identified as Oklahoma State University women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant women's basketball coach Miranda Serna.

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[Updated at 10:17 a.m. ET] Oklahoma State University women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant women's basketball coach Miranda Serna were killed Thursday night in a plane crash in Arkansas, the university confirmed Friday.

Two others - including the pilot - also were killed in the crash in Perry County, Arkansas. Those victims were not affiliated with the university, and there were no survivors. The university did not provide any information on the cause of the crash.

Budke and Serna were on a recruiting trip, the university said in a statement.

“The Oklahoma State family is devastated by this tragedy,” OSU President Burns Hargis said in the statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of Kurt Budke, Miranda Serna and the other victims."

“Kurt was an exemplary leader and a man of character who had a profound impact on his student-athletes,” Hargis said. “He was an outstanding coach and a wonderful person. We send our deepest sympathies to his wife, Shelley, and their children, Sara, Alex and Brett."

Serna "was an up-and-coming coach and an outstanding role model for our young ladies,” Hargis said.

KOCO: Oklahoma State devastated by tragedy, university president says

The school said associate head coach Jim Littell would become interim head coach. The team will not play games scheduled Saturday and Sunday, the school said.

Budke, in his seventh season as OSU coach, had a record of 112-83 and five postseason appearances at the school. Last season, the team earned its first-ever top-10 national ranking and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The crash comes nearly 11 years after a plane crash killed people affiliated with OSU's men's basketball team. Two OSU men's basketball players, six others affiliated with the team and a pilot and copilot were killed when a small plane crashed in a farm field 30 miles east of Denver in January 2001. That aircraft was one of three carrying the men's basketball team and others from the school back to Stillwater, Oklahoma, after a game against the University of Colorado.

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College hoops set to tip off on carrier
The North Carolina Tar Heels practice on the USS Carl Vinson on Thursday.
November 11th, 2011
06:30 AM ET

College hoops set to tip off on carrier

No water from the sky means there will be college basketball on the water Friday evening in San Diego.

Well, technically not on the water but several stories above it on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

Organizers said Thursday that rain moving toward the San Diego area would not come until Saturday, meaning the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic, pitting the North Carolina Tar Heels against the Michigan State Spartans, could be played on a court constructed on the carrier's flight deck.

"Right now, everything is all go for up here on the flight deck," Bob Mazza, an organizer of the event, said in a report on CNN-affliate KFMB-TV.

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Dementia not slowing me down, Summitt says as season begins
Pat Summitt is about to coach her first game since revealing she has early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
November 1st, 2011
04:02 PM ET

Dementia not slowing me down, Summitt says as season begins

Pat Summitt says she has a game plan for how she’ll deal with dementia while continuing as University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach.

For the first time since she revealed her diagnosis more than two months ago, that strategy has taken her to an actual Tennessee game day.

Summitt, 59, will kick off her 38th season at the team’s helm on Tuesday night when Tennessee - ranked No. 3 in an Associated Press preseason poll - faces Carson-Newman in an exhibition match in Knoxville.

“What I want everybody to know is that I’m doing great,” Summitt, whose  1,071 wins are the most in major-college basketball history, said Thursday at a Southeastern Conference preseason media event. "Overall, I don’t really feel like I have dementia, but I have dementia.

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NCAA's stricter academic rules: What does it mean for your team?
UConn;s Kemba Walker sports a No. 1 shirt after winning the NCAA championship, but under new rules his team wouldn't have made it to the dance.
August 17th, 2011
09:04 AM ET

NCAA's stricter academic rules: What does it mean for your team?

The NCAA is raising its academic requirements for postseason competition, including bowl games and March Madness, the organization announced Thursday in a news release.

Had the new rules been in effect during the 2010-11 academic year, the University of Connecticut would not have been able to compete in (and win) the NCAA basketball tournament. Syracuse and Florida State would have also been barred from the Big Dance, and the University of Southern California wouldn't have qualified for the "First Four" play-in game it lost to Virginia Commonwealth.

The NCAA calculates an academic progress rate that measures retention and graduation rates for every Division I team, reflecting the previous four academic years. The score comes out to a number as high as 1,000. Since its introduction in 2005, teams with APRs below 925 would face penalties, such as losing scholarships. Postseason bans would be issued only after three consecutive years of APRs below 900.

When the new rule is in full effect, only teams that have APRs of at least 930 will be able to compete in the postseason, according to a NCAA news release. The new rule will be gradually implemented over the next five years.  An APR of 930 comes out to a 50% graduation rate, according to the news release.

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Monday's live video events
May 16th, 2011
07:32 AM ET

Monday's live video events

A space shuttle looks to head into orbit one last time.  Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of space shuttle Endeavour.

Today's programming highlights...

8:30 am ET - Casey Anthony jury selection - Jury selection continues in the case of Casey Anthony, the Florida woman accused of killing her young daughter.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Basketball • Casey Anthony • College basketball • Crime • District of Columbia • Florida • On CNN.com today • Politics • Shuttle • Space • Sports • Tennessee • U.S. • Uncategorized
Did Jimmer become too popular for class?
April 14th, 2011
03:49 AM ET

Did Jimmer become too popular for class?

College basketball standout and BYU senior Jimmer Fredette certainly has star power, collecting player-of-the-year awards after leading the nation in scoring this past season. And if his father is to be believed, he became too popular on his own campus to attend class.

Al Fredette, Jimmer's father, told the Glens Falls (New York) Post-Star that Jimmer (pictured) resorted to doing all his Brigham Young University schoolwork online because requests for autographs and photographs were getting out of hand.

"It was getting too disruptive," Al Fredette said, according to the Post-Star. "He can't go anywhere in Provo (Utah) without being recognized."

As the report notes, missing class wouldn't be unusual for a NBA-bound player after the college season ends, and working outside of class isn't odd for any well-traveled collegiate athlete. But the elder Fredette said the school asked Jimmer to stop appearing in class, according to the paper.

That's not the case, BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins told CNN Wednesday.

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SI.com: Kemba Factor, Spurs snap winless streak, Earnhardt Jr. doesn't
Kemba Walker celebrates Saturday after the UConn Huskies beat the Kentucky Wildcats for a shot at the title.
April 4th, 2011
12:45 PM ET

SI.com: Kemba Factor, Spurs snap winless streak, Earnhardt Jr. doesn't

After weeks of hard-fought battles, stunning upsets and unbelievable Cinderella stories, it all comes down to tonight’s NCAA Tournament championship.

Pitting Brad Stevens-led Butler against UConn, the title matchup rounds out a remarkable tournament that saw the impossible become possible. The Butler Bulldogs will be making their second consecutive title game appearance, after missing a shot in the last seconds against Duke in 2010.

The UConn Huskies will be returning for a shot at the title for the first time since their 2004 national championship. As SI.com’s Luke Winn points out, no matter the outcome, both of these teams have clawed their way to amazing tournament runs.

But despite the incredible skill and determination both teams showed, who is this year’s underdog?

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SI.com: Jeter's decline, MLB Opening Day, birdies to aid Japan
After some off-season re-signing drama, the New York Yankees' Derek Jeter promises to be a recurring story line this season.
March 31st, 2011
12:32 PM ET

SI.com: Jeter's decline, MLB Opening Day, birdies to aid Japan

With Major League Baseball season ready to get into full swing, SI.com’s Tom Verducci breaks down the season’s top story lines that any baseball fan should be well aware of. Topping the list: How will Derek Jeter’s standing with the Yankees progress throughout the season, and is the Phillies’ time in the sun drawing to a close faster than people think?

The preseason was marked with the Jeter will-he-or-won’t-he contract drama, but ultimately the Yankees captain and shortstop chose to stay in pinstripes, signing a three-year, $51 million contract in December. More intriguing than Jeter’s contract negotiations was the worst offensive season performance of his career. The shortstop’s .270 batting average, .340 on-base percentage and .370 slugging percentage left some wondering if the Yankees legend had reached his peak.

In 2011, as Verducci points out, Jeter will be chasing the 3,000-hit mark, a milestone that will make him only the 28th player – and first Yankee – to reach it. But if his struggles from last season carry over into this year, the road to 3,000 could be an arduous one.

“Every hitless streak, however brief, launches questions about whether Jeter should be dropped in the lineup, rested more or moved to another position,” Verducci writes.
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Si.com: Cinderella vs. Cinderella, women's Elite Eight, marathon baseball
Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart celebrates after his team knocked off the No. 1-seeded Kansas Jayhawks.
March 28th, 2011
12:52 PM ET

Si.com: Cinderella vs. Cinderella, women's Elite Eight, marathon baseball

With every No. 1 and No. 2 seed knocked out of this year’s NCAA college basketball tournament, it’ll be Cinderella battling Cinderella next weekend in the Final Four.

It’s safe to say that few, if any, saw this coming. This year’s season was marked by the fact that there was not the traditional powerhouse that all other teams were chasing. This year’s tournament was arguably one of the more wide open in recent memory.

But this wide open?

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On the Radar: Lottery winners, Cuba visit, NCAA brackets
One winning ticket was sold for the $319 million jackpot.
March 28th, 2011
06:39 AM ET

On the Radar: Lottery winners, Cuba visit, NCAA brackets

$319 million lottery ticket: We may find out the identities of the nation's newest millionaires on Monday.

One winning ticket for Friday's $319 million MegaMillions jackpot was sold by Coulson's News Central in Albany, New York, but as of Sunday night the holder or holders of the winning ticket had not come forth.

According to Emanuel Biondi, public employees federation council leader for New York's Housing and Community Renewal Agency, the winning ticket was shared by seven IT workers there, but a New York Lottery spokesperson was unable to confirm that.

If the winners chose the cash option when buying the ticket, they will receive a one-time, lump-sum payment of $202.9 million. That amount reflects all the cash in the Mega Millions pool and is the sixth-largest jackpot in its history, according to Hapeman.

It's also the single largest sole jackpot-winning ticket ever for Mega Millions sold in New York, she said.

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SI.com: Richmond lovin' Sweet 16, Griffin goes bonkers, Ochocinco's soccer tryout
The Richmond Spiders celebrate their Sweet 16 berth last week. They are the lowest-seeded team remaining.
March 24th, 2011
11:37 AM ET

SI.com: Richmond lovin' Sweet 16, Griffin goes bonkers, Ochocinco's soccer tryout

VCU and Richmond have made their Virginia hometown proud. The teams are preparing to do battle in Sweet 16 matches against Florida State and Kansas, respectively. Mayor Dwight Jones said, "It's kind of like Christmas here." No matter how the games shake out, one thing is certain, as SI.com’s Ann Killion points out: This tournament season couldn’t have been better for the city of Richmond.

Killion elaborates, "The city of about 200,000 has as many basketball teams left playing as the vaunted Big East. VCU's athletics website spiked from 800,000 hits a day to 2.5 million over the weekend, causing concern it might crash. (Coach) Shaka Smart and VCU were national trending topics on Twitter. Traffic is up 48 percent on the admissions page of the Richmond website. Players are getting standing ovations in class. Coaches can't order lunch without the other patrons gushing over them.”

There is no doubt that the universities have their differences, but their ability to the overcome low seeds and even lower expectations with two of the most talked-about young coaches in the game has made them teams to contend with.

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SI.com: Madness!, Tressel's request, Bulls streak, Goodell reaches out
Delmonte Harper is mobbed by his teammates after hitting the game-winning shot to beat Louisville.
March 18th, 2011
11:49 AM ET

SI.com: Madness!, Tressel's request, Bulls streak, Goodell reaches out

The NCAA Tournament lived up to its “March Madness” moniker Thursday, particularly in the Mile High City.

Three double-digit seeds pulled off stunning upsets in Denver alone, highlighted by No. 13 Morehead State’s shocking 62-61 victory over Louisville, the biggest victory in the program’s history. Twelfth-seeded Richmond held off No. 5 Vanderbilt in the closing seconds and Gonzaga, a No. 11 seed, rocked sixth-seeded St. John’s.

As if that weren’t enough action, both Temple and Butler pulled off buzzer-beating victories to snag vintage March Madness wins on Day 1 of the tournament. No. 4 Kentucky avoided maybe the biggest upset of the day with a late pressure-packed bucket of its own to slip past Princeton.

Madness, I tell you.

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Monday's intriguing people
Coach Tad Boyle reacts during a game against the Kansas Jayhawks in the Big 12 Tournament on Friday.
March 14th, 2011
10:42 AM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Tad Boyle

The head coach of the University of Colorado Buffaloes basketball team is trying to comprehend why his team did not make the field of 68 in the NCAA tournament while trying to motivate his guys to begin play in the post-season National Invitation Tournament. Boyle was hosting a watch party at his house that was featured on the CBS broadcast that announced the brackets, and the nation saw stunned and disappointed faces as Colorado's players and coaches realized they would not be playing in the tournament.  "I had no words to console them," Boyle said afterward. "I thought we were in." He wasn't the only one.
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SI.com: At least we have the draft
Cam Newton isn't the quarterback that SI.com's Don Banks thinks will be taken first in next month's NFL draft.
March 9th, 2011
03:30 PM ET

SI.com: At least we have the draft

While the NFL and its players union are still at lengthy odds - most recently, over the transparency of financial information - next month's draft will still go on as scheduled and promises to improve several teams whether there is a season or not.

College pro days are being scouted and critiqued across the country while Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith and other NFL types are huddled in conference rooms trying to hash out a collective bargaining agreement so there can, in fact, be football this fall.

With the NFL Scouting Combine in our rear-view mirror as well as a host of workouts this past week, SI.com’s Don Banks delivers the third installment of his 2011 NFL Mock Draft. In it, Banks projects two quarterbacks are going in the top three, and has a QB going No. 1 overall that isn’t named Cam Newton, college football’s reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Banks also has a prized prospect slipping down in the draft after a mediocre showing earlier this week.

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Rutgers wins while assistant coach’s son fights for his life
Rutgers battles against Seton Hall in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.
March 9th, 2011
12:40 PM ET

Rutgers wins while assistant coach’s son fights for his life

On paper, it looks like another NCAA conference tournament game, and not a very important one at that.

Rutgers, the 13th-ranked team in the Big East, beat 12th-ranked  Seton Hall in a first-round game in the conference tournament Tuesday in New York.

But with more than a hundred games still to be played during March Madness, it’s quite possible that no win will be more inspiring that the Scarlet Knights' 76-70 overtime victory.

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BYU basketball faithful still love Davies
Brandon Davies, right, takes a shot against UNLV in January. He was suspended last week for the remainder of the season.
March 7th, 2011
01:01 PM ET

BYU basketball faithful still love Davies

Brandon Davies, who was suspended from the Brigham Young Cougars basketball team last week for an honor code violation, sat with his team for the last regular season game against Wyoming this weekend.

And the crowd went wild.

Davies was allowed to sit on the bench Saturday with his teammates, and about 5,000 students chanted “We love Brandon!” and “We love Davies” before the game and during timeouts, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

After the game, during which No. 3 BYU clinched a conference title, the street-clothes-clad sophomore forward climbed up the ladder to help cut down the net. “Davies! Davies!” the crowd roared.
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No. 3 BYU loses after dismissing player for honor code violation
Brigham Young University center Brandon Davies has been suspended for the rest of the season.
March 3rd, 2011
11:11 AM ET

No. 3 BYU loses after dismissing player for honor code violation

Sticking to principles appears to carry a steep cost for the nation's third-ranked college basketball team.

A day after Brigham Young University dismissed center Brandon Davies from the team for violating the school's strict honor code, the No. 3-ranked Cougars were throttled Wednesday by unranked New Mexico.

"The honor code really reflects who we are as a university. It defines us and it does make us different," BYU spokeswoman Carrie Jenkins told CNN affiliate KSTU-TV.

Davies, a 6-9 sophomore from Provo, was the team's top rebounder and third-leading scorer. He received the Cougars' Academic Excellence award last season, according to an online profile.

BYU had been gunning for a high seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, but the team's fortunes took a tumble with Wednesday night's 82-64 loss to New Mexico.

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SI.com: Report links college football, crime
Few football programs had more run-ins in the 2010 season than the University of Pittsburgh, the report found.
March 2nd, 2011
06:36 PM ET

SI.com: Report links college football, crime

It’s no surprise to hear college football has a problem. Many of the sport’s vices are well-documented, from its shady recruiting to its controversial BCS playoff system. But most fans, school officials and coaches have no idea about the extent of college football’s biggest problem these days: crime.

In a six-month investigation spearheaded by Sports Illustrated and CBS News, a background check was run on every college football player on every team in SI’s preseason Top 25. Of the 2,837 players examined, shockingly, 204 had criminal records – or one in every 14 players on a Top 25 team.

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SI.com: Pujols' uncertain future with Cardinals
The 2011 season may be Albert Pujols' last one in a Cardinals' uniform.
February 16th, 2011
01:42 PM ET

SI.com: Pujols' uncertain future with Cardinals

Albert Pujols will be a St. Louis Cardinal in 2011. After that is anybody’s guess.

Yet another deadline passed Wednesday when Pujols and the Cardinals failed to reach a contract extension before their mutually agreed-upon noon Eastern deadline. The two sides had extended negotiations, hoping to reach a last-minute deal, but failed to settle on terms.

Now, contract talks between the three-time MVP and the Cards will be broken off until the fall as the slugger has repeatedly said he does not want his deal to be a distraction during the season.

Discussions between St. Louis and Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, had been heating up in recent weeks. SI.com’s Jon Heyman reported Tuesday that the Cards offered Pujols an eight-year deal in excess of $200 million.

According to Heyman’s sources, Pujols, 31, is seeking a greater deal than Alex Rodriguez’s record 10-year, $275 million contract signed in 2008. It’s not clear whether the length of the deal or the money is holding up the Pujols deal.

Pujols has a no-trade clause and is unlikely to go anywhere during the upcoming season but could presumptively go anywhere once it's over. The consensus best player in baseball will be a free agent and probably will have every team in baseball expressing some degree of interest in landing his talents.

Despite not reaching a deal, the nine-time All-Star will still report to Jupiter, Florida, on Thursday and join his teammates for the first day of spring training. The Cardinals are hoping to be a contender with Pujols in 2011, but without a deal, a cloud of uncertainty could disrupt their season.

Here’s what to watch tonight (all times Eastern):

Denver Nuggets at Milwaukee Bucks (9 p.m., ESPN): Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets, who have dropped four of five, play their final game before the All-Star break when they take on the Bucks. Denver has until February 24 to deal 'Melo or stick with him the rest of the year.

No. 10 Wisconsin at No. 11 Purdue  (6:30 p.m., Big Ten Network): After knocking off No. 1 Ohio State, the Badgers face the Boilermakers in West Lafayette, Indiana, where they have won only twice in 40 years.

By the numbers

31: Points scored during the first half by Dwyane Wade in the Miami Heat’s 110-103 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, tying a franchise record. Wade finished with 41.

39: Age of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who retired from professional cycling for the second time Wednesday.

$23 million: Colts quarterback Peyton Manning’s potential 2011 salary after Indianapolis placed the franchise tag on the four-time MVP. The Colts placed the franchise tag on Manning in 2004 before reaching a record seven-year, $98 million deal.

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