UConn football coach Edsall's message to NCAA: Pay the players

UConn football coach Edsall's message to NCAA: Pay the players

UConn football coach Randy Edsall wants to pay college athletes, and he thinks football coaches should be worried about the college basketball scandal hitting the gridiron.

Connecticut football coach Randy Edsall says paying the players could help solve NCAA's problem.

Connecticut football coach Randy Edsall says paying the players could help solve NCAA’s problem.

(JENNIFER PAGE/AP)

Edsall posted a pair of tweets Friday amid the latest revelations in the NCAA basketball investigation which dragged some of the biggest names in college hoops into the federal probe.

“I’m sure there are plenty of @NCAAFootball Head Coaches and assistants who are nervous based on what is happening with @NCAAMensBball,” Edsall posted in his original tweet.

Edsall later posted his endorsement to pay college athletes, a feeling not shared among many of his highly paid peers.

FBI docs show top NCAA hoops programs, players involved in probe

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said last year college athletes are entitled enough already and don’t need to be paid.

The argument is relevant because if student-athletes are paid, would pay-to-play scandals like the one tearing through NCAA hoops be avoided?

“With @NCAAFootball proposal 2017-99 adopted Colleges and Universities will employee more people in their scouting departments than the NFL and still not paying the players with all the money being brought into the Conferences,” Edsall wrote. “We’ve become a farm system. #PayThePlayers”

Edsall did not immediately return a call for comment.

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FBI docs reveal top NCAA programs, players involved in probe

FBI docs reveal top NCAA programs, players involved in probe

Piles of evidence in the NCAA basketball corruption investigation reveal some of the biggest players at the biggest programs may be involved in the sport-altering scandal.

Documents obtained as part of the FBI probe into the underbelly of college basketball reveal players at signature schools like Duke, North Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Michigan State, USC and Kansas may have received illegal payoffs and broken NCAA rules, according to a bombshell report Thursday from Yahoo! Sports.

Among the players named in the explosive report are Duke’s Wendell Carter, Michigan State’s Miles Bridges and Alabama’s Collin Sexton. Developing details will surely turn the upcoming March Madness tournament into a tainted event. Some have already speculated that the eventual champion this season could be forced to vacate their title because of all the dirt that’s about to come out.

Duke, UNC and Kentucky are among the top schools implicated in the federal investigation.

Duke, UNC and Kentucky are among the top schools implicated in the federal investigation.

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The first little bits are starting to emerge. According to the Yahoo! report, former NBA agent Andy Miller and his agency, ASM Sports, left a trail of payoffs to the families of some of the biggest current and former NCAA stars. An ASM balance sheet reportedly details huge payoffs like a more than $100,000 in “loans” to former UNC player Dennis Smith, more than $50,000 to Seton Hall’s Isaiah Whitehead, $10,000 to Markelle Fultz, who is currently with the 76ers, and dozens of others players.

“These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules.”

NCAA President Mark Emmert.

NCAA President Mark Emmert.

(Matt York/AP)

So far, former Louisville coach Rick Pitino is the biggest name to fall amid the still-developing case against NCAA hoops. Pitino was fired for his apparent role in an alleged pay-to-play scandal in which Adidas is accused of bribing players to play for Louisville, though Pitino and the school were never named in the investigation.

As more details come out, it seems more likely Pitino won’t be the last, either.

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Mike Francesa apologizes after watching Jason Kelce speech

Mike Francesa apologizes after watching Jason Kelce speech

Mike Francesa may not have a WFAN show anymore, but he’s still full of hot air.

The Sports Pope walked back some harsh comments he recently made about a speech at the Eagles’ Super Bowl parade, but unlike the Francesa we remember, he actually apologized for his rant against Jason Kelce. Francesa called him a “jerk” last week and ripped Kelce for using foul language.

Eagles center Jason Kelce speaks in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art after a Super Bowl victory parade.

Eagles center Jason Kelce speaks in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art after a Super Bowl victory parade.

(Alex Brandon/AP)

“You got kids who take off from school, you got people who this is a life experience for them to be at a parade for a Super Bowl for a city, and you go up there and go into a 15-minute, profanity-laced tirade? It’s ridiculous,” Francesa originally told WOR 710. “If I were the owner of the team, I’d cut him.”

Turns out, Francesa hadn’t even seen Kelce’s wild oration when he said that.

Jason Kelce caps parade with F-bomb to those who doubted Eagles

Thursday morning on WIP sports talk radio in Philadelphia, Francesa admitted as much after his comment and his criticism was not nearly as sharp when pressed by host Angelo Cataldi.

What a difference a week (and a Philly audience) makes: now Francesa thinks Kelce “did a great job.”

Known for their rowdy behavior, Philly fans didn't disappoint, with some climbing on top of a news van to celebrate the win during the Super Bowl parade on Feb. 8, 2018.

Philadelphia celebrates Eagles at Super Bowl parade

“Bottom line is, I went back last night and watched the thing in its entirety, and I have to say, it was not as bad as I thought it was,” Francesa said. “I watched it and got to see it, number one. So, I want to be fair to Kelce. Number two, I wish he didn’t use any profanity, because it would have been a classic. It was really well done. He did a great job. And I thought it was one that could last and be used for a long time, and I know it’s popular in Philly even with the profanity.

“But to me, those are such special moments, that I wish they would just raise their level. I’m someone who loves the idea of a passionate tirade,” he said. “I mean, I lived on them. And I like to see them do it so they can be, you know, used time and time again. Just take the profanity out of it, I know that even he said, something I saw, that he was worried about his profanity and maybe he had missed the mark on it.

Eagles’ Jason Kelce overcome with emotion after Super Bowl win

Mike Francesa

Mike Francesa

(Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

“And when I looked at it, number one, I overreacted and made one comment, which really that was only one comment. I didn’t talk about it for more than a minute. And it got picked up obviously in Philly where I understand the overreaction, because everything down there is so heightened right now. But let me say, I wouldn’t cut him. So, I take that back. I apologize to him for that. And number two, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. But I just wish, I just wish, Angelo, that he had just raised his vocabulary because that was a great speech. He did a great job.”

Francesa’s only been off the air two months, but there are still clearly times he has no idea what he’s talking about. The only difference is now, in retirement, it seems he has the ability to admit when he’s wrong.

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Dirk Nowitzki ‘disgusted’ by Mavericks sexual harassment scandal

Dirk Nowitzki ‘disgusted’ by Mavericks sexual harassment scandal

Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki said he was disgusted and shocked when he heard about allegations of the vile workplace culture that’s festered in the team’s offices.

Following an explosive Sports Illustrated investigation that exposed a “corrosive” atmosphere described as “a picture of a corporate culture rife with misogyny and predatory sexual behavior,” Nowitzki was floored by the terrible claims against his employers.

“It’s tough,” Nowitzki told reporters. “It’s very disappointing. It’s heartbreaking. I’m glad it’s all coming out. I was disgusted when I read the article, obviously, as everybody was. I was shocked about some of the stuff.”

Former president and CEO Terdema Ussery was accused of sexually harassing multiple employees and Earl Sneed, a former Mavs.com writer, was allegedly involved in multiple domestic assaults while on the job, including one against another team employee.

A MARCH 7, 2017, FILE PHOTO

Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki says he was shocked to read about what was happening within his organization.

(Tony Gutierrez/AP)

Owner Mark Cuban has also expressed shame about what unfolded under his watch and launched an investigation. He also took full ownership of the Snead debacle.

“What I missed – and it was truly a f–k up on my part because I was not there (at the Mavs’ office) — I looked at everything anecdotally,” Cuban told ESPN. “My real f–k up was I didn’t recognize the impact it would have on all the other employees … I thought I was doing the right thing at the time.

“What I missed, again, is I didn’t realize the impact that it would have on the workplace and on the women that worked here, and how it sent a message to them that, if it was OK for Earl to do that, who knows what else is OK in the workplace?” Cuban said. “I missed that completely. I missed it completely.”

Mark Cuban knows he screwed up in the way he handled abuse allegations against a Mavs staffer.

Mark Cuban knows he screwed up in the way he handled abuse allegations against a Mavs staffer.

(Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Nowitzki has been with the Mavericks since 1998. While winning the NBA title in 2011 was the team’s proudest moment, what’s coming out this week has got to be its worst.

“So really, really disappointed that our franchise, that my franchise, that stuff like that was going on,” Nowitzki said. “It’s very sad and disappointing … As a franchise, obviously, we feel bad for the victims and for what happened to some of these ladies. Like I said, it’s truly, truly disgusting. Our thoughts and prayers are definitely with some of these victims.”

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Emmanuel Mudiay, Knick with sky-high potential, has beaten odds

Emmanuel Mudiay, Knick with sky-high potential, has beaten odds

Emmanuel Mudiay can be Derek Harper.

Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, who knows a thing or two about great point guards, looks at Mudiay and sees Harper, the gritty floor general who helped to get the Knicks to Game 7 of the NBA Finals in 1994.

The Knicks traded for Mudiay last week in a move that crowded their backcourt, put pressure on 19-year-old rookie Frank Ntilikina, and gave Mudiay a chance to revive his career after two and a half underwhelming seasons in Denver. Brown remains close to the Mudiay family after first recruiting him to play at SMU, and he thinks the 21-year-old can finally reach the potential everyone’s been talking about for years here in New York.

Knicks guard Emmanuel Mudiay

Knicks guard Emmanuel Mudiay

(Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports)

And when he does, the Knicks could have Derek Harper 2.0 on their hands.

“The reason I point him out is because he had toughness, he could run a team, he had no ego, he just wanted to win,” Brown said of Harper, who famously fought Jo Jo English in the 1994 Conference Semifinals at the height of the legendary Knicks-Bulls rivalry.

When it comes to guards, there may not be a better authority than Brown, who has spent a basketball lifetime riding — and clashing — with the likes of Allen Iverson, Mark Jackson, Stephon Marbury, Rod Strickland, Haywoode Workman, Travis Best and Chauncey Billups, to name a few of the guys the Hall of Fame coach demanded play a certain way.

“All I wanted them to do was be the front line of my defense, be a coach on the floor, make everybody on their team better and be committed to playing the right way,” Brown said.

“I see that in Emmanuel.”

* * *

The rest of us are still trying to figure out what we see in Mudiay and what to make of this latest roster shakeup. Because while guys like Brown talk glowingly about the limitless potential Mudiay has, how he stood out with his passion, his strength and his athleticism, the rest of us see a kid whose career has yet to take off.

Right now, he’s a former lottery pick the Nuggets gave up on. Mudiay, who was selected three spots behind Kristaps Porzingis in the 2015 Draft, averaged more than 30 minutes per game as a rookie. By the end in Denver, he was averaging just 17.9 minutes this season.

Emmanuel Mudiay is greeted by NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected seventh overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Emmanuel Mudiay is greeted by NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected seventh overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 2015 NBA Draft.

(Kathy Willens/AP)

“He craves to be coached,” Brown said. “I just look at this staff and I look at Jeff (Hornacek), I think he’s in an ideal position. People that love the game appreciate what he does. I don’t think there’s any more knowledgeable fanbase than the Knicks or any more supportive fanbase than the Knicks. They just want to see a kid come out, play hard, make his teammates better and try to improve. I think he has all that and he’s way more mature than a 21-year-old kid.

“When somebody tells you basically you failed in a short period of time, kids with character grow from that,” Brown said. “I think he will grow from that experience.”

One thing Mudiay has going for him is that he has been surrounded by incredible character his entire life. He’s had to endure hardship and challenge every step of the way. So while Brown may be partial to the kid, he may have a point when it comes to the stuff Mudiay is made of.

It’s the kind of stuff — heart, hustle, smarts — that always play well in New York.

And how he got here may offer some insight into whether Mudiay has what it takes to stick.

* * *

Mudiay was born in the war-torn country of Zaire, which is now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Two wars raged there between 1996 and 2003, and Mudiay was a young child in a place where violence was omnipresent. Gunshots rang out all night and in the morning, there were dead bodies in the street.

“It was pretty bad,” Jean-Michel Mudiay, Emmanuel’s older brother, said. “It may have been at its worst right before we left. We saw a lot of things kids our age shouldn’t see.”

Stephane, Emmanuel and Jean-Michel Mudiay left war-torn Zaire and joined their mother in Texas.

Stephane, Emmanuel and Jean-Michel Mudiay left war-torn Zaire and joined their mother in Texas.

(Photo courtesy of Mudiay family)

Death eventually touched the Mudiay family. In 1998, when Emmanuel was only 2 years old, Mudiay’s father, Jean-Paul, died of a heart attack. His death forced oldest brother Stephane to grow up fast as the new patriarch, and Mudiay’s mother, Therese, was forced to do whatever she could to provide for her family. That duty, and a search for a better life, led her to save for a one-way flight to the United States. In 2000, she left the boys to set up a home in Texas near relatives. She would send for them as soon as she could afford to bring them over.

“It was tough,” Jean-Michel said. “All we knew was our mom, and we thought we’d never see her again.”

For 10 long months, the Mudiay boys, all younger than 11 years old, waited in Zambia for Therese to call for them while the bloodiest conflict since World War II raged in Africa. They were even more terrified when they watched the 9/11 attacks on TV and feared their mother was also killed. Emmanuel was 5 years old.

Not long after, the family was finally reunited, but their challenges did not end. Making a new life in this country is not easy, and the brothers watched their mother work long hours, often working the overnight shift as a nursing assistant in an assisted living facility.

“It hurt,” Jean-Michel said. “We saw our mom did everything for us. That’s why we all worked so hard, so we could give back to her. We thought if one of us could make it in sports, we could take care of our mom.”

Emmanuel dreamed of making it to the NBA from a young age. The Mudiay brothers excelled at sports and basketball was the fastest and easiest way for them to assimilate to American society. Emmanuel grew up to be a star high school player first at Grace Prep and then Prime Prep, a charter school founded by Deion Sanders. He got so good, Larry Brown and a long line of other big-time college coaches came knocking. He could have gone anywhere he wanted, but he chose SMU.

After he committed, Mudiay’s high school was shut down by the Texas Education Agency. Fearing the NCAA would penalize players who came out of the disgraced charter school, Mudiay opted to turn pro and went to play in China for a year on a $1.2 million contract.

In China, there was only more adversity. Injuries limited Mudiay to just 10 games, but he won over teammates first when he refused to go home, opting to stay in China to immerse himself in the game, and again in the playoffs when he outplayed Stephon Marbury, despite not being totally healthy.

Brown never wanted Mudiay to go to China and he said if he would have stayed and played for him at SMU, he could have molded Mudiay into a No. 1 or 2 pick. Instead, he went to the Nuggets at No. 7 with sky-high potential.

He never realized it there. So now here’s Mudiay, seeking what he calls “a new beginning.”

“It’s going to be great,” Jean-Michel, who also serves as Emmanuel’s manager, said. “For whatever reason, it didn’t work out in Denver. It’s a change of scenery. It’s where he wanted to be all along.”

Why?

“Because it’s the Mecca of Basketball,” he said.

Jean-Michel laughs when he’s told New York hasn’t felt like that in a while. He said his brother is excited to change that, to make it the center of the basketball universe again.

If that’s going to happen, then Mudiay is going to have to turn into the player the Knicks and people like Brown think he can be. Derek Harper 2.0 would be nice, but if you buy into the hype, Emmanuel Mudiay 1.0 might be better.

“Coming in at 19 you’ve got so much on you,” Mudiay said. “Coming out of high school I was kind of given everything, the easy route. So that was my first time kind of going through something. I think it formed me well. I didn’t hold my head down. I always tried to just control what I could control and work as hard as I could.”

Most of what Mudiay said is true. The parts about being young and working hard can all be verified. But the stuff in the middle about how easy he’s had it and how he never had to go through adversity?

Pure nonsense.

Mudiay’s entire life has been marked by adversity, and that’s why the Knicks might be smart to take a chance on him.

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