UF accused of illegal contact with USC RB Baxter

ESPN‘s Joe Schad reports that the Florida Gators are one of five programs being accused of illegally contacting USC Trojans running back Dillon Baxter about a transfer.

Florida – along with Alabama, Oregon, Washington and Fresno State – allegedly reached out to Baxter (a true freshman) on June 10, according to USC. This potentially occurred one day before the NCAA announced that schools could recruit the Trojans’ juniors and seniors. Players wishing to leave will not have to sit out a year.

Baxter does not fall under these guidelines and told USC director of compliance Matt Billings about the illegal contact immediately; the Trojans have officially requested that the Pac-10 reach out to and speak with the accused parties.

“I just met with (Baxter) and he told me that he received phone calls from five institutions (June 10th),” Billings wrote to Pac-10 associate commissioner for governance and enforcement Ron Barker, according to ESPN. “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?”

Gators associate athletics director for communications Steve McClain, Crimson Tide associate athletics director for football communications Jeff Purinton and Ducks head coach Chip Kelly have all denied the respective accusations.

The allegations, if determined to be true, would amount to secondary violations.

OGGOA will have more on this breaking story as it is made available.

Demps wins 2010 NCAA Championship in 100m

Florida Gators sophomore sprinter Jeff Demps and senior thrower Mariam Kevkhishvili each took home national titles on Friday during the third day of competition at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor National Championships in Eugene, OR.

Demps, competing in the men’s 100-meter dash, won with a time of 9.96 seconds. He was also victorious in the same event at the 2010 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championship and captured the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championship in the 60-meter dash earlier this academic year.

“It was a great race today,” Demps said after the victory. “I executed well and came out with the win. I know my team needed the points and I just came out to get the 10 points to try to help us win the team title.”

Kevkhishvili, who became just the second student-athlete in NCAA history to win five women’s shot put national titles (indoors and outdoors combined), took her event at Hayward Field Friday with a distance of 18.11m/59-5. She is also the second woman in NCAA history to claim both the indoor and outdoor women’s shot put titles in back-to-back seasons. Kevkhishvili ends her Gators career a perfect 13-for-13 in her senior season and undefeated for the last two years.

“I am happy to win my fifth NCAA title,” she said. “I wasn’t really happy with my throw, but I’m glad I was able to score 10 points and help my team today.”

The two new title holders join sophomore jumper Christian Taylor, who won the men’s triple jump on Thursday, as Florida’s individual winners so far during the event.

As a team, UF is second in the men’s standings with 28 points through 13 events; Texas A&M leads with 36. On the women’s side, Florida are tied for seventh with 16 points, 14 shy of the leader Oregon (30). The final day of competition is Saturday.

Photo Credit: CBS via University of Florida

Meyer speaks on expansion, recruiting and 2010

Not always up for extensive one-on-one interviews, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer granted Joe Rose of 560 WQAM in Miami, FL, 15 minutes of his time on Thursday and answered questions spanning a number of topics that fans have been waiting to hear him discuss.

Meyer, who makes it a point to appear on Rose’s show once or twice a year mostly due to the fact that it is popular in the recruiting hotbed of South Florida, said he would not necessarily be against Florida’s in-state rivals being added to the mix of a potentially expanded Southeastern Conference in 2012-13.

“I think that would be great for the SEC,” Meyer said. “I have not done the research, I [would need to] ask a lot of questions. […] I know one thing – our commissioner and our office, they won’t be caught by surprise because we got the best people. It’s phenomenal the job they do. That’s a natural fit – the two schools you just mentioned – we play one of them every year anyway and the other is a great rivalry as well.

“As a coach, you look at it and say, ‘Here we go, let’s go add a couple more powerhouses.’ [But then] you have to go play them.”

He also noted that the SEC’s recent dominance is likely the cause for the immediate need for conference expansion across the country.

“As far as interest on a national level, as far as quality of play, right now the SEC is the best,” he opined. “The television contracts, the interest level that’s taking place in the SEC is forcing some of these other conferences to react. It’s going to be interesting. The one thing you can rest assured though, commissioner Mike Slive – the guy’s phenomenal. He has got his hand on some buttons if we have to do what we have to do.”

One facet in which adding Miami and/or Florida State to the conference could potentially impact the Gators is in recruiting. When it comes down to it though, Meyer is more than confident about the prowess of his program in that area.

“Our best recruiters are our players,” Meyer said. “I didn’t even go on the road the last three weeks because I was not allowed to do that. The fact that we have the facilities in place now, we have the players in place, we have an excellent coaching staff. I don’t want to say it recruits itself, because it doesn’t, but the best salesmen you have are the people that are involved in your team. Our current team right now is very close. Our team has had success in the classroom and on the field.”

That success is one of the reasons why Florida had to deny four-star athlete Travon Van admittance to the school. Van winding up with former Gators assistant coach Doc Holliday and the Marshall Thundering Heard was no coincidence – the two coaches remain close. In fact, Meyer took a bit of offense to Rose questioning if any dirty recruiting was involved on Holliday’s part.

“Doc’s a great friend – so [the decision] was nothing behind the scenes. That was in the forefront. The person that we’re talking about – I’m not even sure I’m allowed to mention it – but that was all done in conjunction,” he said. “There was no shady play or something like that. There was going to be an admission issue at Florida. Guys like Doc Holliday –he’s great for college football, he’s a great man and he’s a great friend. The most important thing is making sure the student-athlete has a place to go to school.”

Regarding 2010 recruit Kevin Nelson accusing his coaches of dirty recruiting, Meyer said he didn’t hear about those comments and that Florida worries “about its own business.” Nevertheless, he touched on the subject of how bad ugly recruiting can get.

“It’s a little bit like Tim Tebow. Tim, when he first came to Florida, he was The Chosen One. And then I’ve never seen a young man go through the scrutiny [he did and] just get picked apart,” he lamented. “I don’t think it’s necessarily me…maybe it is….but I think people just want to take a shot at something that’s doing OK. We’re very proud of our program here.”

When it comes to the Gators’ latest group of incoming freshman, Meyer once gain praised five-star safety Matt Elam and said he is looking forward to getting all of his players on the field as soon as possible this summer.

“Matt Elam is going to play. It’s done,” Meyer said emphatically. “He had a heck of a spring, he’s a heck of a kid, comes from a great family, we’ve known about him forever. We feel very good about our freshman class. Our [defensive line] – those kids are going to play. We don’t redshirt here at Florida – you go play. That’s why we recruit them and that’s why they’re here. We need some help because we lost a lot of really good players. I’m about as excited for [summer to begin on] June 24th as I’ve ever been.”

The most telling statement Meyer made during his conversation with Rose was his response to being questioned about how difficult it is to recruit nationally. Contrary to popular belief, it is an absolute non-issue for the program.

“We don’t want to recruit national. That’s one of the big sales why I wanted to come coach at Florida, because it’s a regional recruiting school,” he noted. “I have no interest in getting on a plane and flying across the country. We don’t recruit nationally, what we do is we cherry pick a little bit. If there is some kind of draw or some kind of interest – one of the best players in the country – we’ll go and make a run at them. Because of our brand, lately, we’re getting involved in that. That’s not what we do. What we do is try to do the best job we can in South Florida and Georgia and obviously the rest of the state of Florida, and then we’ll go cherry pick a little bit. This has been a unique year for out-of-state kids to jump all over it. They are some great players. I would like to, out of 25, have 18 in-state-ers or [from] south Georgia and in-state.”

Meyer also spoke on a variety of other topics, which you can read…after the break:
Continue Reading » Meyer speaks on expansion, recruiting and 2010

2010 NCAA Gainesville Super Regional Gameday: No. 4 Florida Gators vs. No. 11 Miami Hurricanes

Location: McKethan Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 5,500]
Game Times: [1] Fri. – 7 p.m. (EST); [2] Sat. – 7 p.m.; [3] Sun. (if nec.) – 7 p.m.

TV: [1] ESPN/ESPNHD; [2-3] ESPN2/ESPN2HD
Online: ESPN3.com
OGGOA Live Updates: via Twitter

No. 4 Florida Gators No. 11 Miami Hurricanes
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: Jim Morris
Record: 45-15 Record: 43-18
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

HISTORY:
» Miami leads the all-time series 124-97-1 over Florida but has a losing record in Gainesville, FL, with UF leading 60-45-1.
» The Gators are making their fourth Super Regional appearance in school history – all have been within the last seven years. The Hurricanes will play their 10th Super Regional, last beating the Orange & Blue in the event with a two-game sweep in 2004.
» Florida is 28-9 (.757) at McKethan Stadium during NCAA play, sweeping the Gainesville Regional two years in a row and knocking Miami off in 2009.
» The Canes have won the head-to-head NCAA match-up 12 of 17 times, ending the Gators’ season on eight different occasions.
» Florida faced Miami in a three-game regular season series in Coral Gables, FL, earlier in 2010, winning two of three games (7-1, 6-9, 4-2) for the first time since 2007.
» Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is 5-6 against the Hurricanes all-time, 3-6 during the regular season and 2-0 in NCAA play.
» Strength of schedule: Florida’s was third in the country, trailing Miami and Alabama.

KEEP AN EYE ON…
» Gators starting pitchers…sophomore Alex Panteliodis (10-2, 3.39), freshman Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.97) and freshman Brian Johnson (6-4, 3.97) are a combined 16-2 (.889) with a 2.40 ERA at McKethan Stadium in 2010.
» Freshman sensation Austin Maddox…a third baseman who can play three other positions, has garnered numerous awards while leading the Gators in RBI (68), multiple-RBI games (20), home runs (17) and sacrifice flies (five).
» Sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker…who leads Florida in batting average (.375, 15-40) over the last 10 games with eight RBI, five runs and five extra-base hits (two homers). He also is tops on the team with 16 doubles on the year.
» Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker…a speed demon leading UF with a 23-for-29 conversion rate on stolen bases, he is tied for fifth on the program’s career list with 65 stolen bags and leads the 2010 team in batting average (.361), runs (62) and hits (84).
» Junior closer Kevin Chapman (3-0)…has a team-low 1.28 ERA (42.1 innings) in 29 appearances. He is tied for second in the SEC with 11 saves. As a team, Florida’s 17 saves are one shy of the team’s single-season record (1991).
» The Gators bullpen…which is 16-2 with 17 saves and a 4.20 ERA in 240 innings, while its starters are a combined 29-13 with a 3.86 ERA in 289 innings.
» The ACC Player of the Year…junior catcher Yasmani Grandal leads Miami (and the ACC) in batting average (.411) slugging percentage (.729) and on-base percentage (.538). He is also tops on the Hurricanes in hits (88) and total bases (156), and second in home runs (14) and RBI (58).
» UM’s junior starter Chris Hernandez (10-3)…who is the team’s most dominant pitcher and a flame thrower, leads the ACC in ERA (2.77) and wins.

STREAKS:
» The Gators’ 45 wins so far in 2010 is the program’s highest victory total since the 2005 NCAA College World Series runner-up team finished 48-23.
» Florida is currently riding a 13-game home winning streak.
» The Gators have outscored opponents 420-266 in 2010, are 34-4 (.895) when scoring first and 11-11 (.500) when their opponents do. Florida is 33-3 (.917) when out-hitting opponents and 9-12 (.429) the other way around. UF is also 9-3 (.750) in one-run games, 39-0 when leading after six innings, 43-0 aver seven and 42-0 after eight.
» Florida has committed an SEC-low 50 errors in 60 games and boast a .978 fielding percentage – good for tops in the conference and seventh nationally.
» The Gators’ season totals of 107 doubles and 80 home runs are the most since the 2005 team (113 and 85, respectively).
» Florida is batting .311 against left-handers and .299 against righties.

Gators football nabs commitment from WR McRoy

According to The Lakeland Ledger, the Florida Gators added a fifth member to their 2011 recruiting class on Wednesday when four-star wide receiver Javares McRoy (Lakeland, FL) decided to leave his brother alone in Lubbock, TX, and switch his verbal commitment from the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

McRoy joins fellow four-star recruits quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL), defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC), and athletes A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL) and De’Ante Saunders (Deland, FL) as the sole members of the program’s 2011 class.

“I just thought about where I really wanted to go and what best fit me and my running style, and UF fits my style,” McRoy told the paper on Thursday.

Ranked as the No. 11 receiver in the country and No. 148 recruit nationally by Rivals, he is not listed on ESPNU‘s projection of the top 150 prospects and is ranked as their 27th-best wideout available. McRoy will be a four-year starter for the Lakeland Dreadnaughts, a pipeline for the Gators recently, which provided Florida with centers Maurkice and Mike Pouncey, running back Chris Rainey and safety Ahmad Black.

ESPNU calls McRoy a “scatback/slot [receiver best utilized] in the spread offense and certainly the return game where he has some upside.” Additionally, “McRoy possesses just about physical trait you would like in a skilled athlete with the exception of height. He is a diminutive smurf with elite speed and quickness and because of his height coupled with his feet and hips he is also a candidate to end up at corner.”

McRoy told the Ledger that head coach Urban Meyer and running backs coach Stan Drayton plan to utilize him in the “Percy Position” (to be played by Rainey in 2010) and will no longer be recruiting rushers for the 2011 signing class.

He originally committed to Texas Tech in December 2009 to go to school with his brother and fellow pass-catcher Benjamin McRoy, a 2010 recruit.

Photo Credit: Lakeland High School via ESPN

FOUR BITS: Tebow, Haslem, Nelson, Dorsey

1 » On Tuesday, OGGOA tweeted a picture of former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow handing a football off to a kid that got some of our female followers pretty riled up. It appears that picture was taken from a Broncos Bunch kids club event that Tebow participated in over the weekend. The Denver Broncos rookie threw passes to and took pictures with a bunch of children – not all of whom were Broncos fans. “Gator nation really is everywhere,” Tebow told CBS4 in Denver, CO. “It’s great to be out here and to play with these kids, to meet the parents and just be here in the stadium. It really is humbling to have people supporting me and to have fans. It really does mean a lot. […] It’s just an opportunity to come out here, throw balls, take some pictures, hang out with people, get a chance to make a kid smile or a family smile and – it’s more important than winning games, when you really look at it.”

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Three more BITS on the futures of Udonis Haslem, David Nelson and Demar Dorsey.
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow, Haslem, Nelson, Dorsey

USC Trojans lose scholarships, face two-year postseason ban from NCAA

Reports from ESPN and the Los Angeles Times Thursday morning stating that the USC Trojans football program would face a two-year postseason ban, a reduction in scholarships and a forfeiture of wins when the NCAA released its sanctions for the university later in the day were confirmed by the organization at 3:00 p.m.

Specifically, USC will lose 30 scholarships over a three-year period (can only accept a maximum of 15 per season), may only have 75 players under scholarship at any given time in that same span, and will vacate the 2004 BCS National Championship and every victory from the 2005 season.

Though the NCAA could not force Southern California to relinquish its 2004 Orange Bowl win against the Oklahoma Sooners, the BCS came out Thursday evening and did just that. It is currently meeting to finalize a decision to have the 2004 title vacated; a new National Champion will not be named. Additionally, the Associated Press will not strip the program of its 2004 title.

Under investigation due to numerous violations in both the football and men’s basketball programs (specifically involving stars Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo), the Trojans had been awaiting a ruling from the NCAA Committee on Infractions for months. The postseason ban will specifically relate to the football team, but the NCAA has handed down penalties to the basketball program as well. The NCAA’s penalties are listed below:

Football:
- Two-year postseason ban; four-year probation (June 10, 2010 to June 9, 2014)
- Loss of 30 scholarships over three years (maximum 15 allowed per season)
- Reduction of outstanding scholarships to 75 per year over three years
- Vacated 2004 BCS National Championship*
- Vacated 2005 season – new record: 0-1
- $5,000 fine
- Bush’s individual and team records erased; he may not assist the university financially or with recruiting; complete disassociation
- Boosters and the like disallowed from traveling with the team, attending practice, participating in camps or having access to the sidelines or locker rooms

Basketball
Self-imposed
- One-year postseason ban from Pac-10 and NCAA Tournament (already served)
- One less scholarship for 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons
- Three recruits released from respective National Letters of Intent
- One less coach allowed to recruit for 2011 class
- 20 less days to recruit for 2011 class (from 130 to 110)
- Vacated 2007-08 season – new record 0-12
- $206,020 returned to NCAA as payment for 2008 NCAA Tournament appearance
NCAA-mandated
- Four-year probation (June 10, 2010 to June 9, 2014)
- Mayo’s individual and team records erased; he may not assist the university financially or with recruiting; complete disassociation
- Boosters and the like disallowed from traveling with the team, attending practice, participating in camps or having access to the sidelines or locker rooms

Women’s tennis:
- Former student-athlete used the athletic department’s long distance to make 123 calls (cost: $7,000) to her family during her admission
Self-imposed
- Vacated all wins from Nov. 2006 to May 2009 in which the player participated

As far as Bush’s Heisman Trophy goes, the NCAA could not strip him of the award, though the organization might. “The Heisman Trophy Trust will have a comment at the appropriate time,” the group said Thursday. “Until that time, it will have no comment.”

The NCAA’s report claims USC showed “a lack of institutional control, impermissible inducements, extra benefits, exceeding coach staff limits, and unethical conduct by an assistant football coach.”

The Trojans have released statement through the university’s Sports Information Department stating that the university will appeal some of the penalties imposed by the NCAA. Due to this appeal, punishments will not go into affect until a decision is rendered – possibly delaying the inevitable and extending the school’s sentence. From Todd Dickey, senior vice president for administration:

We acknowledge that violations occurred and we take full responsibility for them. However, we sharply disagree with many of the findings in the NCAA Committee on Infractions Report. Further, we feel the penalties imposed are too severe for the violations identified in the report.

We will accept those sanctions we believe to be consistent with penalties imposed upon other NCAA member institutions found guilty of similar rules infractions. We are hopeful that the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee will agree with our position on appeal, and reduce the penalties.

Read the NCAA’s report on USC’s violations here

OGGOA will continue updating this story throughout the day.

Taylor wins 2010 NCAA Outdoor Triple Jump title

The track and field teams will continue to work hard to bring home the event’s overall titles over the next few days, but Florida Gators sophomore jumper Christian Taylor made an initial splash Wednesday by capturing the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championship in men’s triple jump at Hayward Field in Eugene, OR.

The two-time defending NCAA Indoor Champion in the triple jump, Taylor leapt 17.09m/56-1 (+2.9) to set the 2010 American mark and win the title – the first in school history.

“Getting the outdoor title means a lot to me,” Taylor said. “Heading into the finals, I knew I needed to step up and get the job done and I’m glad I was able to do it.”

As a team, the Gators men’s squad (the 2010 NCAA Indoor Champions) is in second place through two events. Their 13 points are one behind the leaders, Texas A&M.

Also in action Wednesday were Florida’s sprinters. Sophomore Jeff Demps led the men’s 4×100-meter relay team – including junior Chris Rainey, senior Jeremy Hall and junior Terrell Wilks – to an event-leading 38.94-second time in the preliminary round, advancing the unit to the finals at 1:11 p.m. on Saturday.

Demps, who won the 2010 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championship in the men’s 100-meter dash, came in second during preliminaries in the event at 10.15 seconds (+2.2). He will compete in the event finals at 8:25 p.m. on Friday.

Senior sprinter Calvin Smith also won a trip to the finals Wednesday; he advanced in the men’s 400-meter dash with a time of 45.64 seconds – good for fourth. Smith will race just after Demps, at 9:25 p.m. on Friday.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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