Alan Borsuk: What can be done that would really raise overall academic achievement, especially in reading, for kids in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin?

Hartland Arrowhead High School Takes The State Standardized Tests

NCAA task force: No more standardized test requirements

An NCAA task force set up to assess standardized tests and their impact on athletic eligibility recommended Friday that eligibility no longer rely on a standardized test score.

That recommendation comes after six months of research and consult spurred on by the NCAA’s overarching plan to advance racial equity.

“This work reflects the NCAA’s commitment to continually reviewing our academic standards based on the best available data and other relevant information,” said Morgan State president and task force leader David Wilson.

“We are observing a national trend in NCAA member schools moving away from requiring standardized test scores for admissions purposes and this recommendation for athletics eligibility aligns directly with that movement.”

A change could come as early as this winter, when the Division I Committee on Academics and Division II Academic Requirements Committee meet, in February 2022.

The task force held dialogue with several disparate groups to come to its recommendation, including the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, several testing agencies and a survey of Division I & II membership.

–Field Level Media

Jul 22, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost speaks to the media during Big 10 media days at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Scott Frost under investigation for improper use of analysts

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost is under investigation by the NCAA for improper use of analysts and consultants, The Action Network reported Wednesday.

Frost and new athletics director Trev Alberts acknowledged an investigation Wednesday without going into specifics.

The allegations are that Frost used Jonathan Rutledge, senior special teams analyst, to conduct special teams drills during practices, despite Rutledge not being one of Nebraska’s 10 full-time on-field assistant coaches, per the report. Analysts and consultants may only communicate with Frost and the coaching staff, not players, per NCAA rules.

Nebraska has significant video evidence of Rutledge interacting with players during practice in front of Frost and other assistants, per the report.

“The University of Nebraska Athletic Department has been working collaboratively with the NCAA to review a matter concerning our football program,” Alberts said. “We appreciate the dialogue we have had with the NCAA and cannot comment further on specifics of this matter.”

Rutledge and Frost’s chief of staff Gerrod Lambrecht both left the program in the past eight months. Rutledge was fired Jan. 14, 2021, ostensibly for poor special teams play. Frost announced Lambrecht’s departure earlier this month, saying he was pursuing another opportunity.

The NCAA is also investigating Nebraska for holding unauthorized off-campus organized workouts under the supervision of the Cornhuskers’ strength and conditioning staff last year during the coronavirus pandemic, per the report. Lambrecht is linked to those activities, per the report.

The NCAA has interviewed Frost, assistant coaches, staff and players, and Frost has obtained legal counsel, per the report.

Frost, 46, could be suspended a certain number of games, among other punishment, pending the results of the NCAA’s probe.

A former star quarterback at Nebraska (1996-97), Frost is 12-20 at his alma mater entering his fourth season.

Alberts took over as athletic director last month and said he first learned of the probe after he started.

–Field Level Media

Dec 2, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III (3) rushes the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Griffin III joins ESPN as football analyst

Former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III joined ESPN as a college football and NFL analyst, signing a multi-year contract on Thursday.

In his new role, Griffin will call a college football game on ESPN or ABC every week of the season and “contribute to the network’s coverage of the College Football Playoff, Super Bowl and other major events.”

NFL Network reported that Griffin’s deal will include a clause that would allow him to pursue a return to the NFL should he have the opportunity. Most recently, Griffin served as Lamar Jackson’s backup with the Baltimore Ravens, starting one game apiece in 2019 and 2020.

“College football has always been an integral part of my life, first as a kid watching it, then as a young man playing it,” Griffin said in a statement. “Some of my greatest sports memories come from my collegiate days surrounded by the pageantry, the traditions and the passion of the fans. College football is life-changing for many and I will always look back on my time playing it with tremendous gratitude.”

Griffin won the Heisman in 2011 while starring for Baylor. He passed for 4,293 yards, 37 touchdowns and six interceptions while beating out Stanford’s Andrew Luck for the honor.

The No. 2 overall draft pick in 2012, Griffin played three seasons for Washington and one for the Cleveland Browns before finding his way to the Ravens. He won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 and led Washington to the playoffs before a knee injury set his career on a different trajectory.

In seven NFL seasons, Griffin played in 56 games, starting 42. He threw for 9,271 yards, 43 touchdowns and 30 interceptions with a 63.0 percent completion rate. Griffin also ran for 1,809 yards and 10 touchdowns.

For ESPN, Griffin’s hiring comes on the heels of the sports media giant reaching an agreement with Peyton and Eli Manning to take turns starring in an alternate broadcast of “Monday Night Football” for the next three seasons.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2020; Orlando, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Marshall Few (0) reacts after running the ball in for a two-point conversion during the second half against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the Cheez-It Bowl Game at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Business owner offers to pay each Hurricanes football player

The largest potential sponsorship in this new NCAA era of name, image and likeness revenue generation is now on the table.

An owner of a Florida-based chain of gyms — American Top Team — has offered each scholarship player on the Miami Hurricanes football team a sum of $500 a month to promote his business on social media.

Take 90 scholarships times $500 times 12 months for a whole year, and you end up with a tidy sum of $540,000, believed to be the current record-holder for the biggest NIL offer yet.

Dan Lambert, the owner of the gyms that specialize in mixed martial arts training, has made his intention about paying the players clear: He wants to “Bring Back The U,” which not so coincidentally is the name of the corporation he established to facilitate payments.

He expects that step will keep him from breaking Florida law, specifically about entities that have directly supported universities and athletic departments being prohibited from paying athletes. Lambert has contributed to the university before. This new company has not.

“There are improper ways of fans supporting their players, and now there is a legal way to do it,” Lambert told ESPN. “And if there is a legal way, and you can dot the I’s and cross the T’s, I’m going to do it.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2017; Pasadena, CA, USA; General overall view of the UCLA Bruins logo at midfield during a NCAA football game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the UCLA Bruinsat Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Terry Donahue, the winningest UCLA and Pac-12 coach, dies at 77

Terry Donahue, who made a tremendous impact on UCLA and Pac-12 football, coaching the Bruins from 1976 to 1995, passed away Sunday. He was 77.

He died at his home in Newport Beach, Calif., surrounded by family, following a two-year struggle with cancer.

Piling up 151 wins, good for best in UCLA history, and 98 conference wins — still a record in the Pac-12 — Donahue was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2000. He was also inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1997 and the press box at the Rose Bowl was named for him in 2013, following a career that included three Rose Bowl victories and five conference titles (won or shared).

He finished his career with a 151-74-8 mark at UCLA and a 98-51-5 record in Pac-12 play.

He also made a mark on the personnel side, serving as director of player personnel for the San Francisco 49ers from 1999-2000 before becoming general manager for an additional four years.

The late John Wooden offered the following perspective on Donahue’s impact before his own passing: “I believe that a head coach, particularly at UCLA, should be judged by his or her peers within the university community-at-large as to whether the student-athletes with whom the coach was entrusted become not only excellent athletes but also, and more importantly, better students and better all-around individuals … There is no doubt in my mind that Terry Donahue deserves the recognition of having achieved that very ethereal form of success.”

Donahue is survived by Andrea, his wife of 52 years, daughters Nicole, Michele and Jennifer, three sons-in-law and 10 grandchildren.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2020; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) in action during the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

NCAA formally adopts interim name, image and likeness policy

In a sea of change for the world of amateur athletics, the NCAA formally adopted an interim policy to allow college athletes to benefit from their names, images and likenesses, effective Thursday.

The rule change means college athletes will be allowed to leverage their names and images to earn money or gifts through business arrangements, including product endorsements or trademarks.

The NCAA Division I Council voted to support the policy Monday, and the Division I Board of Directors voted in favor of that recommendation on Wednesday.

The college sports governing body was pressured into action as states around the country began to adopt their own NIL laws. Twenty states have passed NIL legislation so far, with laws in seven states scheduled to go into effect Thursday.

“With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “The current environment — both legal and legislative — prevents us from providing a more permanent solution and the level of detail student-athletes deserve.”

Until recently, the NCAA fought against the idea of “student-athletes” earning monetary compensation in any way — whether paid directly for their work in their respective sports or through other modes of profit like selling autographs.

The NCAA continues to oppose “pay for play,” but has now outlined permissible ways for athletes to earn compensation under the new NIL rules. To avoid an unbalanced playing field between universities in states with NIL legislation and those in states without it, the NCAA’s policy allows students to profit off their names, images and likenesses regardless of which state they attend school.

College athletes are already putting business plans into motion. Wisconsin starting quarterback Graham Mertz revealed a personal trademark this week, which he plans to use for the sale of clothing.

–Field Level Media

Jun 11, 2021; Eugene, Oregon, USA; An NCAA logo flag at the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NCAA Council approves NIL profits for athletes, with final vote Wednesday

In a move that comes close to paving the way for college athletes to be paid from their name, image and likeness (NIL), the NCAA voted Monday to approve an interim policy allowing such profits as soon as July 1 without affecting eligibility.

The NCAA has been under pressure to reform after the Supreme Court’s groundbreaking ruling last week that universities had unfairly hurt college athletes by prohibiting schools from competing for recruits via stringent limits on compensation.

Monday’s vote, held by the Division I Council (largely consisting of athletics administrators), does not implement such change just yet. Instead the Division I Board of Directors, comprised of higher-level figures such as school presidents, will vote Wednesday on the recommendation that athletes could begin to earn NIL profits as early as Thursday.

If the interim policy receives final approval, athletes could begin earning money based on NIL later this week in all states that have not yet passed related laws. In states with laws already on the books, athletes could still make money so long as they follow those laws.

According to USA Today, 10 states will have laws allowing athletes to profit from NIL as of Thursday, and with legislation pending elsewhere, the count could be up to 15 by Sept. 1.

Ten days ago, NCAA president Mark Emmert issued a memo to over 1,100 institutions in an effort to convince them to pass legislation that will make it legal for players to earn money from their likenesses. In addition to aiming to avoid federal regulation, the NCAA is trying to maintain level playing fields until any future compensation guidelines are consistent through schools in every state.

–Field Level Media

Jun 11, 2021; Eugene, Oregon, USA; An NCAA logo flag at the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Emmert to schools: Resolve the NIL mess or the NCAA will

In a memo sent to more than 1,100 schools Friday, NCAA president Mark Emmert said he will act on impending name, image and likeness (NIL) changes in July but urged schools to pass legislation that will make it legal for players to earn money from their likenesses.

The urgency stems from multiple state NIL laws about to go into effect July 1, which allow for college athletes to make money off their images. The fear is that those laws will create an uneven playing field or an advantage for schools in those states.

Overall, 19 states have passed laws to this effect, with seven states set to enact those laws July 1: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas.

That leaves NCAA member schools scrambling to figure out a best path forward. The NCAA wants quick action.

As Emmert wrote in the memo, “By July, all our athletes should be provided NIL opportunities regardless of the state they happen to live in.”

Athletes have continued to push for free access to revenue streams, which the NCAA has resisted. The new states laws do not provide that, instead also favoring some limitations.

The federal government likewise supports athletes earning money with limitations, but the two major parties can’t come to a consensus on scope, and aren’t expected to do so in the next month.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2017; Tempe, AZ, USA; General view of an Arizona State Sun Devils helmet during the game against the USC Trojans at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Report: NCAA probing possible Arizona State recruiting violations

The NCAA is investigating the Arizona State football program for reportedly hosting high school prospects during the recent COVID-19 dead period.

The precise number of recruits and the exact dates that they may have visited the Tempe, Ariz., campus are not known, per the report Wednesday by The Athletic.

The publication said the school’s athletic compliance department is now interviewing staff members and that some employees in the football program “are concerned about losing their jobs.”

The school did confirm that there is an ongoing investigation.

“ASU can confirm the NCAA is conducting an investigation regarding allegations related to our football program,” vice president of media relations Katie Paquet said in a statement to The Athletic. “In accordance with NCAA bylaws, the university cannot provide further comment at this time.”

The report said Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards’ involvement in the investigation “is not clear.”

In March 2020, the NCAA halted in-person recruiting for 15 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact with prospects was limited to video calls and other electronic communication.

In April 2021, the NCAA announced that Division I programs can resume normal recruiting schedules on June 1.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2021; Glendale, AZ, USA; Detailed view of an Oregon Ducks logo on an official football on the field during the Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

NCAA Division I lowers limit on preseason contact practices

Preseason gridiron contact will be reduced after the Division I Football Oversight Committee enacted new limits Wednesday.

The number of contact practices was cut from 21 to 18, and only nine full-pad days will be permitted.

Teams won’t be allowed to hold full-contact practices on more than two days in a row. Each practice session is limited to only 75 minutes of full contact, while a limit of two preseason scrimmages was established.

The “acclimatization period,” previously five days, will increase to seven days.

In a rule change that will apply all year, not just in the preseason, the committee banned “drills that encourage or create straight-line contact.”

The NCAA Division I Council also announced Wednesday that it plans to plans to determine its course of action on players’ name, image and likeness as part of its June 22-23 meeting. The intent is to have a new policy in place before July 1, when various state laws on the subject will take effect.

The council also added new guidelines regarding transfer waivers for those student-athletes who weren’t permitted to use the current one-time transfer exception.

The new rules will start in January 2022, issuing waivers for student-athletes to be eligible for the 2022-23 season. Applicants making a second transfer would gain immediate eligibility if they can show they have an “education-impacting disability” or a “real and imminent health and safety” threat.

Jon Steinbrecher, commissioner of the Mid-American Conference and the chair of the NCAA Division I Council’s Working Group on Transfers, said in a statement, “These guidelines provide an opportunity for student-athletes with the greatest need to transfer and compete immediately. The delayed effective date is the fairest way to accommodate student-athletes who entered the Transfer Portal with the current waiver guidelines in place.”

–Field Level Media