Hugh Freeze/Ole Miss Athletics

Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; May 16

A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning...

As Ole Miss awaits its fate before the NCAA Committee on Infractions, rumors continue to swirl that the Rebels will be in for one of the worst probations in history. Ole Miss has offered self-imposed sanctions but will that be enough?

Monday I was asked if I think the Rebels could get whatever is just one step removed from the death penalty, which hasn’t been imposed since SMU in 1987. My answer was, “There is no telling what the NCAA will do since we’ve seen Miami and Florida State skate in recent years and North Carolina basketball is on the verge of getting away with a slap on the wrist for massive academic fraud.” I do think Ole Miss will get hit hard, but how hard? I think a lot of that depends on how well respected Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork is and the kind of influence school chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter has. If Ole Miss gets off lightly, then those guys have serious pull.

All this got me thinking about the history of SEC teams and the NCAA. As you can see below, Auburn, Georgia and Texas A&M have been hit up by the NCAA more than the rest of the league but not all probations are equal. Here is an overview:

Alabama (6): Alabama’s most recent run-in (spring 2016) with the NCAA involved defensive line coach Bo Davis, who was fired and given a two-year show cause for lying to NCAA investigators about impermissible recruiting contacts. Multiple sports including football and men’s basketball were hit with a public slap on the wrist for a textbook selling scheme in 2009. Seven football players were involved and the result was vacating football wins including five in Nick Saban’s first year on the job. Alabama got one of the more serious probations in the post-SMU death penalty era in 2002 when it lost 21 scholarships over a three-year period and received a two-year postseason ban for the recruitment of Albert Means of Memphis. The penalty was particularly harsh since the NCAA ruled Alabama as a repeat offender from a probation that was handed down in 1995 and resulted in the loss of 17 scholarships.

Other NCAA probations: 1964 (football), 1999 (football),

Arkansas (4): The last NCAA probation for Arkansas involved men’s indoor and outdoor track in 2007. There were a host of recruiting and academic violations but the NCAA accepted self-imposed penalties. Football and men’s basketball got probation in 2003 for extra benefits, impermissible some funky things with financial aid. Football lost two scholarships and basketball was told it had been very bad and shouldn’t do bad things anymore. Arkansas has never gotten anything more than a slap on the wrist. Some say it has everything to do with former AD Frank Broyles, whose power was said to extend to the highest levels of the NCAA.

Other NCAA probations: 1965 (football), 1997 (football and men’s basketball)

Auburn (7): There was a time when Auburn football almost had its own private, permanent cell in the NCAA jailhouse but there hasn’t been a major violation in any sport since 2004 when basketball was hit with the loss of one scholarship for two full years and the number of off and on campus recruiting opportunities was reduced. The last time football went on probation was 1993 when the Tigers were hit with a one-year television ban, two years postseason and a reduction in scholarships signed in 1994-96. Auburn was charged with lack of institutional control, unethical conduct and submitting an erroneous certification of compliance. All the football violations were committed when Pat Dye was the head ball coach. People are still shaking their heads that Auburn didn’t go on probation for the recruitment of Cameron Newton.

Other NCAA probations: 1956 (football), 1958 (football), 1979 (football and men’s basketball), 1980 (football), 1991 (football)

Florida (5): The only blemish on an otherwise perfect record of compliance with the NCAA on Jeremy Foley’s watch was committed by former UF wide receivers coach Joker Phillips, who was fired in 2014 for impermissible contacts with a recruit and then lying about it to investigators. Prior to that, the last time the Gators had been in the NCAA jailhouse was 1990 when both football and basketball were hit with violations that resulted in the firing of Galen Hall (football) and Norm Sloan (basketball). The primary football violation was the alleged payment by Hall of Jarvis Williams delinquent child support payment. Hall was also charged with impermissible salary benefits for paying some of his assistant coaches extra money out of his own pocket. Florida didn’t lose scholarships but received a postseason ban and the SEC made the Gators ineligible for the SEC football title. The violation by Sloan was paying for an airline ticket to go to a camp for Vernon Maxwell. Florida’s most notorious run-in with the NCAA was in 1984 when the Gators received a two-year television and postseason ban and serious loss of scholarships (75 maximum in 1986-87 when the NCAA limit was 95). Florida fired Charley Pell with the hope of limiting the NCAA damage.

Other NCAA probations: 1957 (football), 1962 (football)

Georgia (7): Georgia’s last probation involved its swimming coach, who was fined $5,000, suspended from coaching in competition for nine meets and restricted in recruiting off campus for an entire year. Georgia got a four-year probation for men’s basketball in 2004 but no postseason ban because the NCAA accepted the school’s self-imposed penalties, which also resulted in the firing of head ball coach Jim Harrick and a seven-year show cause for his son, who was an assistant. Georgia’s last football probation was 1997 and that was because someone on the football staff paid $7,000 for tuition, room, board and spending money for a walk-on. This resulted in a loss of five scholarships and prohibiting Georgia from recruiting in Palm Beach County for two years. Georgia lost three scholarships but got no postseason or television ban for illegal recruiting benefits. 

Other probations: 1978 (football and men’s basketball), 1985 (football), 1985 (men’s basketball)

Kentucky (6): Big surprise here. UK’s last NCAA violations were committed by football in 2002 when Hal Mumme was the coach. Football assistant Claude Bassett paid $7,000 to high school coaches in Memphis to help with recruiting. That led to an investigation in which academic fraud and recruiting improprieties were uncovered. UK got three years of probation, a one-year postseason ban and the loss of 19 scholarships over a three-year period. Basketball got the death penalty in 1953 while football and basketball were both hit with probation in 1976. Football got a one-year postseason and television ban while basketball lost three basketball scholarships. There was a harsh basketball probation in 1989 after an investigation alleged UK assistant coach Dwayne Casey sent an envelope containing $1,000 in cash to recruit Chris Mills. By the time this one was over, Eddie Sutton and his entire staff were fired and UK got a one-year television ban and two-years postseason ban. Three scholarships were also lost.

Other NCAA probations: 1964 (football), 1988 (men’s basketball)

LSU (3): LSU had a football violation in 2011 when assistant coach D.J. McCarthy broke the rules for transportation and lodging with juco recruit Akeem Hicks. McCarthy got a show cause. That probation also revealed more than 3,600 improper telephone calls to recruits but there was no further probation. In 1998 basketball lost two scholarships for two years and forfeiture of games in which Lester Earl played in for giving him thousands of dollars while recruiting him. In 2007, Earl wrote a letter of apology to LSU in which he admitted taking the money but claimed he was intimidated by NCAA investigators into implicating HBC Dale Brown.

Other NCAA probations: 1986 (football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball)

Mississippi State (6): Mississippi State has had multiple probations but the most recent was 2013 when assistant coach Angelo Mirando was found guilty of unethical conduct. Mirando was fired and given show cause. MSU lost a couple of scholarships in 2013 and again in 2014. Back in 2004, football was hit with a one-year postseason ban and a reduction to 81 on scholarship for both the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Mississippi State got a two-year ban on television and postseason in 1975 plus reduced scholarships. Somehow Mississippi State didn’t go on probation for the recruitment of Cameron Newton.

Other NCAA probations: 1967 (men’s basketball), 1986 (men’s basketball, softball, women’s basketball, women’s golf, women’s tennis), 1996 (football)

Missouri (5): Mizzou self-imposed penalties for basketball in 2016 that included a one-year postseason ban, scholarship reductions and a fine for impermissible benefits and inducements to recruits when Frank Haith was the coach. Slimy Frank somehow escaped without any penalties. There were two other basketball probations. Both football probations (1962 and 1979) both resulted in public reprimands and no other punishment.

Other NCAA probations: 1990 (men’s basketball), 1990 (men’s basketball)

Ole Miss (4): The Ole Miss saga continues into the summer. Until that is resolved the most recent violations came in 2016 when the school was hit with show cause and scholarship reductions to its women’s basketball, women’s indoor and outdoor track and women’s cross country programs. There was also a serious probation in 1994 that resulted in a one-year television and two-year postseason ban plus show cause and loss of 12 scholarships for all sorts of illegal recruiting inducements during the watch of HBC Billy Brewer.

Other NCAA probations: 1959 (football), 1986 (football)

South Carolina (5): South Carolina’s most recent NCAA problems were in 2012 when six sports including football and men’s basketball were shown to be allowing athletes to live in a Columbia hotel at a discounted rate. Football lost three scholarships. South Carolina’s worst NCAA run-in came in 1967 when both football and basketball were nailed for giving improper benefits such as recruiting entertainment, lodging and transportation as well as illegal tryouts and some funny business with financial aid. Football got a two-year postseason and television ban that cost HBC Marvin Bass (also the AD) his job. Basketball got a two-year postseason ban but didn’t lose any scholarships and Frank McGuire kept his job.

Other NCAA probations: 1987 (men’s basketball), 1991 (men’s basketball), 2005 (football)

Tennessee (4): Tennessee’s most recent appearance before the infractions committee involved some football violations in 2012 when self-imposed sanctions were accepted that resulted in no complementary football tickets were provided for recruits and a three-year show cause was given to assistant coach Willie Mack Garza. This probation was a holdover from the year Lake Kiffin spent at UF. The school’s most well publicized problems with the NCAA occurred when Bruce Pearl was fired in 2011 and hit with a three-year show cause penalty for a relatively minor NCAA violation that Pearl lied about and got his assistants to lie also. UT didn’t get probation for hiring Donnie Tyndall as its basketball coach. He was fired for multiple violations that took place at Murray State and Southern Miss before arriving in Knoxville and was given a 10-year show cause.

Other NCAA probations: 1986 (football), 1991(football)

Texas A&M (7): The last time the Aggies went on probation for any sport was 1994 when they received a one-year ban for both television and postseason for providing cash benefits to nine student athletes. Because the Aggies were deemed to be a repeat offender from violations in 1991 (recruiting violations, one year postseason ban), they got both a television and postseason ban in 1994.

Other NCAA probations: 1957 (football), 1966 (football), 1969 (football), 1977 (men’s basketball)

Vanderbilt (1): Vanderbilt’s lone major violation in any sport came in 1992 when women’s basketball lost one scholarship for unethical conduct by then coach Phil Lee. Two players gave false information to the NCAA and claimed they did so under pressure by Lee.  


The Gators (38-14, 19-8 SEC) can clinch at least a tie for the Southeastern Conference regular season championship this weekend with two wins in the three games at McKethan Stadium with Kentucky (36-16, 18-9 SEC). LSU (25-17, 18-9 SEC) could earn a tie for the SEC with three wins over Mississippi State if Florida should drop one of three to Kentucky. Kentucky could win the title outright with three wins over the Gators and just two by LSU.


The 5th-ranked Gators are the hottest team in the SEC with a 14-2 record in league play since dropping the first two games against Tennessee back in April. Since then the Gators have won five consecutive SEC series, three by sweeps. It’s not a coincidence that Florida’s hot streak has everything to do with JJ Schwarz breaking out of his slump. Schwarz is now hitting .280 with 9 homers and 45 RBI. In his last 17 games, Schwarz is hitting .377 with 6 homers and 20 RBI. Schwarz can carry a team on his back, but he’s getting plenty of help from Ryan Larson (.336), Nelson Maldonado (.329) and Christian Hicks (.293). Additionally, Dalton Guthrie and Deacon Liput are starting to show some life in their bats and since coming back from injury, Jonathan India is 9-24 (.375) with 3 homers and 6 RBI.


Florida’s loss to Ole Miss in the SEC Softball Tournament didn’t hurt the Gators in the least. UF (50-6) is the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year. The Gators will be hosting a regional (with FAMU, FIU and Oklahoma State) this weekend and with a win, they’ll host a Super Regional the next week against the winner of the Tuscaloosa Regional (Alabama, Albany, Louisiana Tech and Minnesota).


Former Gator Devin Robinson’s draft stock is likely on the rise after his showing at the NBA Combine in Chicago over the weekend. Robinson measured 6-7 barefooted, 6-8-1/4 in shoes. He measured 8-10 standing reach, 7-0-3/4 wingspan, a 41.5-inch vertical, which was second best of the players at the combine, and his body fat was 3.2%, lowest of any player. Additionally, Robinson showed range on his jump shot and good ball skills. The Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat have shown plenty of interest in Robinson, who seems to have worked his way into the second round.

Former Gator offensive coordinator Charlie Weis should take his lawyer out for dinner. Fired by Notre Dame in 2009, he continued to receive $2.05 million each year until the buyout total $18,967,960 was reached. When he was fired by Kansas, Weis also got a buyout, this for $5.6 million.

Jonathan Giles, who caught 69 passes for 1,158 yards and 13 TDs last year at Texas Tech, has transferred to LSU. He will sit next season and be eligible to play in 2018.

Nick Saban is very much in favor of a rule change proposal that would allow players to participate in as many as four games without losing their chance for a redshirt. Adding support to Saban were LSU coach Ed Orgeron, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Tennessee’s Butch Jones.


If the NCAA were to impose the death penalty on Ole Miss or North Carolina or any other program when massive cheating is proven, would it reduce cheating or just make the cheaters take a more clever approach?


Today’s music is for Dead Heads. While I was working out at the YMCA today, I listened to The Grateful Dead’s 1977 concert at Cornell University, which I found on Youtube. It’s worth sharing!

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