NCAA chooses not to penalize Florida Gators for impermissible recruiting contact violation

The Florida Gators were not penalized by the NCAA on Friday for an incident that occurred on Jan. 23, 2014, when former wide receivers coach Joker Phillips violated a recruiting rule with a “bump.”

A “bump” in college recruiting is when a coach converses with a high school recruit outside of the allowable time periods at a “chance encounter,” whether the interaction was intended by the coach or not. The NCAA and Phillips agreed that he and a recruiting prospect “engaged in a conversation which exceeded a casual greeting” on the athlete’s high school campus that included recruiting conversation and the athlete “entering his social media contact information into the assistant football coach’s phone.”

The NCAA concluded that an unnamed Florida assistant (Phillips) “visited a prospect off-campus before NCAA rules allow for recruiting contact” that gave the Gators a recruiting advantage and “exceed[ed] the boundaries of permissible recruiting and are a serious issue for the membership.”

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Florida Gators to wear special Nike Hyper Elite uniforms vs. Tennessee

Florida Gators (13-13, 6-7 SEC) basketball may not be winning much in 2014-15 but that has not stopped Nike from including the program in its latest special uniform release that “fuse progressive, premium materials with school heritage.”

Florida will be one of six men’s programs to don new Hyper Elite Disruption uniforms, joining Kentucky, Duke, Syracuse, Arizona and Oregon; the UConn and Baylor women will also wear the uniforms.

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NCAA schedules infractions call about decision on Florida Gators, likely Joker Phillips-related

The NCAA will hold a press call on Friday afternoon to discuss an NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions’ decision regarding the Florida Gators football program.

Though the organization would not comment on the nature of the decision other than to note that it will be released one hour prior to the call at 1 p.m., Florida sent out the following statement:

“We have not received the report yet, but we will receive it later today. However, this is a final resolution to a matter that we dealt with last June regarding one of our former assistant football coaches.”

Then-wide receivers coach Joker Phillips resigned on June 11, 2014, after just one year on the job, citing “personal reasons” factoring into his decision to step down.

Continue Reading » NCAA schedules infractions call about decision on Florida Gators, likely Joker Phillips-related

Silver Lining for February 20: Jim McElwain talks 2015, Scottie Wilbekin succeeding, Oscars picks

Jim McElwain on infrastructure, spring practice, 2015 outlook

During an exclusive sit-down interview with Chris Fischer of WTSP 10 News that aired Thursday evening, Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain touched on a number of topics including his first two months with the program, plans for spring practice and projections for the 2015 season.

As he has in the past, McElwain spoke about the need to “constantly … stay current” and ensure that the Gators “continue to get better in everything that we do within the organization” both on the field and off. He said he remains in the evaluation stage as he hopes to rebuild Florida’s infrastructure, cautioning that “it takes time” because “you only have one chance to get it right.”

With spring practice set to begin at a yet-to-be-announced date in March, he also discussed his plans for the Gators once they finally take the field under his leadership.

Continue Reading » Silver Lining for February 20: Jim McElwain talks 2015, Scottie Wilbekin succeeding, Oscars picks

Florida Gators at 2015 NFL Combine: Thursday

For the sixth-straight year, OnlyGators.com continues our coverage of the nine former Florida Gators participating in the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The event, which is held over a week from Feb. 17-23, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to a major job interview for these athletes to participate in ahead of the start of the 2015 NFL Draft on April 30.

Running back Matt Jones (Group: 6 | Camp: RB25) arrived Wednesday but began participating on Thursday when he got measured, completed medical exams, met with the media and continued the interview process he began the previous day. Guard Trenton Brown (Group: 1 | Camp: OL04), punter Kyle Christy (Group: 1 | Camp: PK03), center Max Garcia (Group: 1 | Camp: OL20) and tackles Chaz Green (Group: 2 | Camp: OL25) and D.J. Humphries* (Group: 2 | Camp: OL31) all continued interviewing with teams, took the Wonderlic and other psychological tests, and performed on the bench press.

Linebacker Neiron Ball (Group: 9 | Camp: LB03), defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (Group: 7 | Camp: DL20) and defensive tackle Leon Orr (Group: 8, Camp: DL36) all arrived on Thursday.

Players remain on a standardized schedule throughout the week (see below).

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Florida Gators baseball (4-0) opens 2015 with dominant hitting, solid pitching

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

No. 5 Florida Gators baseball (4-0) has used power hitting and strong, consistent pitching to open the 2015 campaign with a bang, sweeping the Rhode Island Rams by a combined score of 37-5 over the weekend and earning a dominant 13-3 victory over the USF Bulls on Wednesday.

Florida’s opening-weekend sweep and four-game season-opening winning streak are firsts for head coach Kevin O’Sullivan since 2011.

The season began for Florida with a 9-1 win Friday night. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Logan Shore (5.0 IP, 4 H, 4 K), the 2014 SEC Freshman of the Year, picked up where he left off by tossing five scoreless innings and collecting the win. Junior left fielder Harrison Bader (2/4, HR, 3 RBI, R) led the way with a two-run homer and RBI single, and freshman catcher Mike Rivera (0/2, RBI, R) drove in a run and crossed the plate in his first collegiate game.

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The Fastbreak: Florida edges Vanderbilt 50-47

The Florida Gators avoided losing five-straight games for the first time since 1997-98 by pulling out a hard-fought 50-47 victory against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Wednesday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Florida (13-13, 6-7 SEC) played the game short-handed yet still managed to get revenge on Vanderbilt (14-12, 4-9 SEC), which upset the Gators on the road two weeks ago.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Wednesday’s action with 10 quick-hitters:

It was over when: Vanderbilt forward James Siakam pieced together a personal 5-0 run – including a spin move dunk and old-school three-point play – to put the visitors on top 45-44 with 1:24 to play. The teams traded buckets, and Florida sophomore point guard Kasey Hill had an opportunity at the line to give his team back the lead but missed both free throws. Following a missed VU attempt from the charity stripe, UF got consecutive offensive possessions after a missed three from freshman forward Devin Robinson was deflected out of bounds. That is when Hill drove into the lane only to find Robinson for a go-ahead dunk. Two free throws from freshman PG Chris Chiozza iced the victory for the home team.

“I was proud. I could see Kasey fighting it. I could just see his body language was not good after the two free throws. I watched him, and I think he tried to gather and regroup himself. And I’m glad he did that; he kept himself in the game,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “I thought our guys competed and battled. It’s just that, you know, offensively it is an absolute struggle – a struggle.”

Significant stretch: Struggling to score and trailing by six, the Gators suddenly retook the lead against the Commodores thanks to an 13-0 run that included a five-point trip. Redshirt junior guard Eli Carter made a basket, missed the and-one opportunity, grabbed the rebound and registered an assist as junior F Alex Murphy drained a three. UF led by a game-high seven points with six minutes to play as VU went scoreless for 6:14 and without a field goal for 8:31.

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Florida Gators F Dorian Finney-Smith suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules

Updated on Thursday at 1 a.m.

The Florida Gators announced just over one hour before tip-off on Wednesday that redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith, the team’s second-leading scorer, has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.

Finney-Smith sat out Wednesday night’s contest against the Vanderbilt Commodores and will at least miss one more game on Saturday.

“He’s suspended. I’m not playing him against LSU. I’m going to revisit it again on Monday,” head coach Billy Donovan said after Wednesday’s game.

Finney-Smith, the 2014 SEC Sixth Man of the Year, is not only Florida’s best active scorer but also its leading rebounder, accounting for 12.9 points and 5.8 boards per game. He also shoots a team-high 47.5 percent from the field among starters.

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