Memphis faces uphill battle in appeals process

August, 25, 2009
Memphis will not be able to retry its case with the Committee on Infractions as it attempts to win an appeal on the penalty of vacating the NCAA-record 38 wins and 2008 runner-up appearance because of the use of an ineligible player.

Colonial Athletic Association commissioner Tom Yeager, a member of the COI from 1997-2006 and chair of the committee from 2001-04, said Memphis will have to prove the COI erred in its decision.

"They are not going to start over," Yeager said. "The appeals process is a very narrow process. They have to focus on a few items and show inconsistencies."

Yeager said when he was first on the COI, the appeals went to the NCAA council -- and since they weren't experts on the rules, the council rarely overturned the COI's decision. But recently a separate appeals committee was created. Yeager said that two members of the COI, who didn't participate in the hearing but were observers, would be involved in the appeal process. He said each entity would get a chance to give their side: the COI and the institution in the case (Memphis). And then the appeals committee will render a decision.

Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky, who is a member of the COI, had to recuse himself from the Memphis case since the school is a C-USA member. He also cannot represent the COI to the appeals committee on this case.

Yeager said the COI has a vested interest in these appeals. He said the COI will be just as anxious about the decision as the school that is appealing. Its work is on the line, too. Yeager said to keep an eye on how the appeal process handles the Florida State case, which is set for a Nov. 15 hearing in front of the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee. FSU is seeking to overturn a decision that the school had to vacate wins in football after there was an academic-fraud scandal involving 61 student-athletes.

Yeager defended current COI chair Paul Dee in what appeared to be indifference as to why Derrick Rose took his challenged standardized test in Detroit instead of his native Chicago. Yeager said, without knowing the specifics of that aspect of the case, he anticipates that someone on the COI was privy to information on the matter. He said when he was on the committee they had a similar question with a standardized test when a New England prep school player took a test out of state. He said the player did so because the team was playing a game out of the region and decided to have the player take the test there since they were near a testing site.

• St. John's sports information director Mark Fratto has been a proponent of Twitter since the social-networking site began. In an effort to reach a new medium, Fratto is doing something his colleagues in similar positions in professional sports leagues have not -- embrace Twitter.

St. John's was scheduled to announce Tuesday that it is credentialing Peter Robert Casey for all of its men's basketball games. According to the school, Casey is believed to be the first primarily Twitter-based blogger anywhere in the country to earn a spot on press row.

Casey has more than 50,000 followers on Twitter, and Fratto has deemed that enough of a "circulation" of readers to credential him for all games. In terms of basketball-specific Tweeters, the Brooklyn-based blogger is among the top 10 in followers, behind only prolific posters such as Shaquille O'Neal, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Charlie Villanueva and Kentucky coach John Calipari.

In its press release, St. John's included a quote from athletic director Chris Monasch promoting the addition of Casey to press row, saying "social media platforms like Twitter are what's hot right now, and very few people are connecting better with the online basketball community than Peter."

St. John's, which has moved the majority of its home games away from Madison Square Garden and to its Queens campus, is hoping to reach more fans through the new medium.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer


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