REPORT: Four secondary violations for Florida

During a due diligence records request, the Orlando Sentinel uncovered that the Florida Gators have been pinned with four secondary violations by the NCAA this past year.

1 » A “rival school” turned Florida in to the Southeastern Conference for improperly using Facebook to recruit two players on Aug. 5.

2 » The Gators self-reported a similar violation on Aug. 7.

3 » Florida self-reported a violation for “impermissible protective gear” on Sept. 11.

4 » The Gators had two assistants call a single recruit twice in the same week on Oct. 29.

The recruiting violations were punished with rule refreshers and separate two-week self-imposed communication bans by Florida, while the incorrect use of gear was handled with a conduct rules and education session.

According to the Sentinel, while schools may use electronic media to communicate with players, wall postings and other public messages are impermissible.


Florida commit Brad Beal dominates for USA U-17

Before he started his senior year of high school or prepared to join the Florida Gators in Gainesville, FL, as the team’s highest rated commitment since guard Nick Calathes, five-star 2011 recruit Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) decided to represent his country by accepting a nomination to USA Basketball’s U-17 Men’s National Team in order to compete in the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship for Men in Germany.

With his team taking home the Gold Medal on Sunday by easily defeating Poland 111-80, Beal completed a stellar stretch in which he was his country’s most consistent player. For that, he was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament with 18.3 points per game and 47.7 percent shooting from downtown (31-of-65). Here are his individual statistics from the event:

Friday, July 2 – 82-70 win vs. Argentina
Beal: 11 points, 4-11 FG, 2-5 3-PT, 4 REB, 3 AST, 4 BLK, 3 STL [35 minutes]
Saturday, July 3 – 102-66 win vs. Lithuania
Beal: 16 points (team-high), 6-10 FG, 2-6 3-PT, 3 AST, 3 STL [24 minutes]
Monday, July 5 – 113-73 win vs. China
Beal: 20 points, 5-12 FG, 5-11 3-PT, 4 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL [22 minutes]
Tuesday, July 6 – 132-64 win vs. Egypt
Beal: 18 points (team-high), 6-10 FG, 4-7 3-PT, 3 REB, 2 AST, 2 BLK [17 minutes]
Wednesday, July 7 – 112-75 win vs. Serbia
Beal: 20 points (team-high), 8-14 FG, 2-7 3-PT, 3 REB, 2 STL [25 minutes]
Friday, July 9 – 105-70 win vs. Australia
Beal: 25 points (team-high), 8-13 FG, 7-9 3-PT, 3 REB [22 minutes]
Saturday, July 10 – 103-80 win vs. Canada
Beal: 17 points, 6-14 FG, 4-11 3-PT, 4 REB, 2 AST, 2 BLK, 5 STL [32 minutes]
Sunday, July 11 – 111-80 win vs. Poland
Beal: 19 points, 7-13 FG, 5-9 3-PT, 5 REB [31 minutes]

Joining Beal on the FIBA All-Tournament Five was five-star power forward James McAdoo, a heralded recruit and North Carolina commit.

Florida head coach Billy Donovan was in attendance for the final few games of the international competition, hoping to seal the deal on Beal’s commitment while scouting five-star small forward Adonis Thomas (Memphis, TN) and four-star PF Johnny O’Bryant (Cleveland, MS).

Photo Credits: FIBA

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TWO BITS: Vols WR arrested, Bullard profiled

1 » Four-star wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers (Calhoun, GA) was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after getting into a fight early Friday morning with “seven to 10” of his Tennessee Volunteers teammates at a nightclub in Knoxville, TN. “I don’t know why. I don’t know what happened, but several of the guys started beating up the other customer,” club co-owner Sandy Morton said. “I want to guess there was seven to 10 guys beating up this one gentleman. […] My husband saw them picking up bar stools and starting to swing them. […] There happened to be a friend of ours who was an off-duty police officer outside. He tried to help, and he ended up getting knocked out in the street and proceeded to be kicked while he was down on the ground.” Rogers, who was first committed to Georgia before swinging to Tennessee, was recruited heavily by the Florida Gators for quite some time.

UPDATE: Sophomore safety Darren Myles, Jr. was also charged in the incident after being arrested for assaulting a University of Tennessee police officer and both resisting and evading arrest. Rogers was released on $1,000 hours after being arrested. More arrests are expected after conversations are held and tapes are reviewed.

2 » As readers of OGGOA are aware, we have been keeping you up-to-date with the trials and tribulations of former Gators defensive end Thaddeus Bullard – now known as Titus O’Neil to wrestling fans – in his quest to become a professional wrestler with the WWE. The Gainesville Sun was able to get a hold of Bullard and discuss a number of topics related to his new endeavor.

On joining WWE: “It’s the largest sports-entertainment company in the world. That’s what drives me. I want to compete at the highest level. I didn’t get in it to just go halfway. I’m in it to try to compete at the highest level I can.”

On his character: “My character is basically me being myself. What the WWE wants you to do is be yourself and then turn it up two or three notches when you are on camera.”

On his decision to wrestle: “I was always amazed at the physical things that they can do in a small amount of space. The entertainment aspect of it also appealed to me.”

On Tim Tebow as a pro wrestler: “I think [he] could pretty much do whatever he sets out to do. I’ve had the chance to talk to him a few times. He’s an amazing human being.”

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Donovan enthusiastic about Gators’ future

Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan, who is on his way to Germany to watch five-star 2011 guard commitment Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) and other top recruits compete with the USA Basketball Men’s U-17 National Team in the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship for Men, spoke with ESPN’s Andy Katz about the team’s return to respectability and his excitement over the latest batch of incoming recruits.

“If [senior forward] Chandler Parsons‘ 75-foot shot at NC State doesn’t go in or we’re one of the four teams that misses the NCAA tournament and we’ve been out for three years in a row, then maybe we’re having a different conversation,” Donovan told Katz earlier in the week. “If we didn’t get into the tournament, there would be a different feeling right now. But we did, and I told our team that we’ve got to maximize that.

“But our goals have to be bigger than that. It’s easy for everyone to feel good with five starters back since no one else does in the SEC, but we can’t fall into the trap about the outside perception. We’re not as good as people think or not as bad.”

Donovan also raved about four-star power forward Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL).

“We’ve got a chance to be really good going forward,” he added. “What we’re getting with Patric is a player with an excellent motor. He’s got a high energy level and plenty of humility. He wants to earn everyone’s respect. This is a different challenge, and he’s setting the right mentality.”

Other notes from Katz’s story:

– The Gators are also taking a strong look at other 2011 recruits participating in the international competition including five-star small forward Adonis Thomas (Memphis, TN) and four-star power forward Johnny O’Bryant (Cleveland, MS).
– Donovan’s itinerary included stops at the adidas camp in Indianapolis, IN, and the King City Classic on Thursday in Cleveland, OH, before he heads to Germany.
– Young realizes that his experience with USA Basketball, while fun, does not equal the challenge of playing against top NCAA competition.
– Joining Donovan in Germany – among others – are Kentucky’s John Calipari and Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl. “You can see how your guys stack up against international competition, [and] you can watch a much wider range of players at events like that, more so than going from one AAU event to another.”

OGGOA will be reporting on Beal’s journey after competition concludes.

Photo Credit: Wiley Price/The St. Louis American

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USC to Florida: Hope we didn’t embarass you…

On June 11, USC Trojans and director of compliance Matt Billings contacted Pac-10 associate commissioner for governance and enforcement Ron Barker and accused five programs – including the Florida Gators – of illegally contacting sophomore running back Dillon Baxter about transferring from Southern California after the school was hit with a variety of program-wide penalties by the NCAA.

Less than a month later, the New York Times’ Pete Thamel reports that Trojans athletic director Mike Garrett sent a letter to the Gators apologizing for the previous accusations. Specifically, Garrett tried to make amends for “any inconvenience or embarrassment” the allegations caused Florida, admitting that Baxter told him he did not speak to UF.

USC had also previously slandered Alabama, Oregon, Washington and Fresno State.

The Mobile Press-Register is also reporting that the Crimson Tide received a the same apology letter from Garrett, dated July 1. ESPN has learned that the Huskies and Ducks have also been sent letters. The generic message sent to each respective athletic director read as follows:

This comes after the school sent an e-mail to the Pac-10 last month.

“I just met with (Baxter) and he told me that he received phone calls from five institutions (June 10th),” Billings originally wrote to Barker. “All of the institutions asked if he was interested in transferring [from] USC due to the NCAA decision. Would you please speak with these schools to remind them they cannot speak to this student athlete?”

When asked for proof the communications took place, Baxter told Billings he had lost his cell phone and was unable to provide further specifics or documentation.

Florida associate athletics director for communications Steve McClain immediately denied the accusation in early June, as did representatives from Alabama and Oregon.

UPDATE: The Orlando Sentinel spoke with the Gators’ own senior associate athletic director of compliance – Jamie McCloskey, who told the paper that coaches “knew the rules,” insinuating that “normally the process would not be through the media.”

“Our coaches understood the process and who to contact,” he added. “They were upset that someone would make that allegation and feel that they have to respond to it.”

Image of the letter courtesy of ESPN affiliate Gator Country.

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SIX BITS: Tebow, Brantley, Horschel, volleyball

1 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has already had a few eventful days in Florida in the month of July. On Saturday – teaming up with Florida’s Blood Centers, the Van Duzer Foundation and Palm Beach Autographs – the former Florida Gators star headlined a 12-hour blood drive in Fort Pierce, FL. Between meeting with fans, signing a ton of autographs (some of which can be purchased here) and speaking about his charities, Tebow entertained the crowd and kept fans wanting more. His First and 15 Foundation was also a featured part of a brand new playroom addition to Shands Children’s Hospital‘s pediatric cancer facility; the organization donated $156,000 used to buy high definition televisions, video game consoles and the like.

Five more BITS on John Brantley, golfer Billy Horschel and more…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tebow, Brantley, Horschel, volleyball

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FOUR BITS: Young going for gold, Pagan thinking, Gilbert leading, Bullard eliminated from WWE

1 » Competing with the USA Basketball Men’s U-18 National Team in the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men, Florida Gators four-star power forward commitment Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) already wow’ed his coaches and is now impressing his opponents, too. Below are his stat lines thus far:

– June 26 vs. Virgin Islands – 5/7 for 11 points, nine rebounds in 10 minutes
– June 27 vs. Mexico – 2/4 for four points, eight rebounds, two blocks in 20 minutes
– June 28 vs. Argentina – 4/5 for 11 points, five rebounds in 16 minutes
– June 29 vs. Canada – 1/2 for two points, one rebound, one block in 10 minutes

Young will join his team in the tournament gold medal game on Wednesday at Bill Greehey Arena in San Antoinio, TX, against Brazil. Also of note is former Gators five-star guard commit Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL), who set a FIBA record with nine consecutive three-pointers in the USA’s defeat of Canada. Rivers went 3/6 from the field and 9/12 from beyond the arc while posting a tournament-high 35 points.

2 » Almost immediately after committing to Florida, there were rumors that four-star defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC) may change his mind. The Gators’ second-best 2011 recruit overall behind quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL), Pagan committed back in April, telling Rivals that head coach Urban Meyer “stood up, did a little dance and gave me a hug” when he accepted the scholarship offer. “I decided that I definitely wanted to lock in my spot with the Gators and be part of this team,” he said in April. “I think I’m firm [with my decision]. I don’t plan on taking any more visits or seeing anywhere else. I’m sure people say it all the time, but this feels like home. Florida makes me feel like I am at home.” Now Pagan calls himself “about 50 percent on Florida, but the commitment is still there. It’s strong,” adding that he will “announce whether I’m going to Florida or look elsewhere before the season starts” on Aug. 27.

3 » Florida Today caught up with Florida redshirt senior offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert and picked his brain about a few topics including what happened at the end of last season. “We had guys thinking they were better than they were and weren’t playing up to their potential,” Gilbert said. “We’ve got this saying, ‘No primos and no rock stars. Go out and do your job.’ Everybody is going to work the same amount, and there aren’t going to be any superstars on the team. I think everybody – especially after watching that SEC game in Atlanta – everybody has fire and desire to handle things in a different way because my feeling is, I didn’t think we were that ready. We had a good game plan in and we had the players to beat Alabama, but we weren’t ready to go out there and get the job done because I guess we had been there before. That’s what it seemed like to me. We weren’t as focused. That week of practice wasn’t as it usually had been. It was different.” As for this year? “It’s our time. It’s our team,” he said. “That’s what [the seniors] go by. So anything that goes on, they say this is your team; you have to make the decision; you have to be the leaders; you have to step up. It’s our responsibility. I think we have the guys still who can do the same thing — get back there — because we have a talented group coming back. I think we can be better.”

4 » Former Gators defensive end Thaddeus Bullard‘s (ring name Titus O’Neil) mission to become World Wrestling Entertainment’s next breakout star ended on Tuesday as he was eliminated from the WWE NXT television program. O’Neil, whose background as a football player and master’s degree recipient from the University of Florida was played up heavily by the producers/announcers, did a Gator Chomp when at the top of the entrance rap and was quite powerful in the ring. However, as some might agree, he was one of the least dynamic personalities on the show and was scripted to both lose matches and make mistakes throughout his short time on WWE television.

Photo Credit: Asheville Citizen-Times

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REPORT: Specialist Christy kicks LSU for Florida

Rivals is reporting that kicker/punter Kyle Christy (Brownsburg, IN) committed to Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer Monday night, according to his father Ken.

Christy, who also has an outstanding offer from LSU, recently stated he would commit to the Tigers if he did not receive another offer before his senior season began.

Being recruited by linebackers and special teams coach D.J. Durkin, who took over the latter job for Meyer this offseason, he likely received – and jumped on – an offer from the Gators to eventually replace either senior Chas Henry or redshirt sophomore David Lerner as the team’s punter of the future. The Gators already have four kickers on the roster including junior starter Caleb Sturgis.

Christy can place-kick, punt and kickoff, may be used in more than one role at Florida and is considered one of the top punters in the nation. He averaged 34 yards on his punts in 2009 and converted 25 touchbacks in 59 kickoff attempts as a junior.

UPDATE: He said the following to Rivals later on Tuesday: “It’s amazing. I never really thought I would be able to become a Florida Gator. I had hoped that if they saw me they would want me. I went there hoping to get an offer and it worked out.”

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