|Let's Clear up One Issue for the NCAA
5:15 P.M. TUESDAY, Oct. 20, 2009
The recruiting lives of Baylor tennis coaches Matt Knoll and Joey Scrivano are about to get a whole lot easier.
Knoll, in particular, has long been opposed to NCAA legislation that says an athlete can jeopardize their amateur eligibility by just playing on the same club with a player who received "more than actual and necessary expenses" from the club.
Michael Rogers, a Baylor law professor and faculty representative for the Big 12 Conference who chairs the NCAA Division I Amateurism Cabinet, told ESPN that coaches associations have lined up to support his group's recommendation to open college sports to prospects who come up through clubs that include professional athletes but never receive salaries.
In a story written by ESPN's Tom Farrey, Rogers said, "One athlete professionalizes all of his teammates. There's a growing consensus that there is an unfair standard. It needs to be changed, and that's what we're trying to accomplish this year."
If approved, the new rule would go into effect in August 2010.
Like several teams nationwide, the Baylor women's tennis team is made up entirely of foreign players. On the men's side, Knoll has tapped into a pipeline to Germany that's produced NCAA champions Benjamin Becker and Benedikt Dorsch and current players Dominik Mueller and Julian Bley.
And while the new rule might not sit well with programs that don't recruit internationally, Rogers said he's focused on the benefits of reform. By allowing coaches to recruit amateurs who play with professionals, and on teams regarded as professional, the NCAA eligibility staff would no longer have to investigate and verify the status of former teammates.
"We reduce the size of our headaches if we just focus on the prospect," he said.
If you would like to hear more about this story, Tom Farrey discusses the eligibility issue on "E:60" at 6 tonight on ESPN.
Thanks For Listening to What We're Saying
11:45A.M. FRIDAY, Oct. 16, 2009
PHOTO GALLERY | BAYLOR SPIRIT PROGRAM
No matter what you're writing or saying, sometimes you wonder if anyone's really listening.
As it turns out, YOU are.
In the September numbers for the BaylorBears.com website, there were a record 211,080 "unique visitors" with 1,409,967 page hits. That's the third-highest month ever and the best September on record.
Interest in Baylor athletics has never been higher.
From an initial goal of reaching 300 businesses, the first-year Baylor Spirit program has had 527 businesses sign up to display Baylor flags, banners, etc. Nothing wrong with flinging the green and gold near as well as "afar."
With a No. 1-ranked recruiting class that features 6-foot-8 freshman post Brittney Griner, women's basketball is on pace for record season-ticket sales.
And as of this week, the Baylor Athletic ticket office has sold out of the $40 upper-level and $100 club level seats for the Nov. 28 Baylor-Texas Tech football game at the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The only tickets remaining are the $60 lower-level seats, with a crowd in excess of 60,000 expected for the first Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Shootout.
With the volleyball and women's cross country teams ranked in national polls, soccer tripling last year's conference goal-scoring total and the women's basketball team picked No. 1 in the coaches' preseason poll, these are heady times indeed for the Baylor Bears.
And thank you for listening to our story.
So How Does Florence-Szymanski Sound to You?
9:45A.M. MONDAY, Oct. 5, 2009
Before we go crazy and anoint Nick Florence, let's remember that the Bears weren't playing the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday.
Still, that was an impressive debut as a starter for the 19-year-old freshman quarterback. He completed 20 of 27 passes for 216 yards and showed off his skills as a runner as well, rushing for 60 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries in Baylor's 31-15 win over Kent State.
Watching some of his highlight video from South Garland High School, I could tell that Florence has a little speed. But that 29-yard touchdown run that he had at the start of the third quarter exceeded anything I could have imagined.
"That's an extra element that helps you from an offensive standpoint," coach Art Briles said of Florence's running ability. "He's aware, he understands what's going on, and then he's gifted enough with his feet to make good decisions and make some yards."
Briles' history shows that he would have no qualms at all about starting a freshman quarterback, even in what should be an extremely hostile environment in Saturday's game at No. 19 Oklahoma. But my gut tells me that if fifth-year senior Blake Szymanski's fully recovered from the bruised right (throwing) shoulder that kept him out of the Kent State game, he will be the starter on Saturday.
"Honestly, I haven't gotten there yet," said Briles, when asked after the game if he would go with Szymanski or Florence against the Sooners. "We'll just have to wait and see how Blake's shoulder is. We have a little history with Blake through practices and spring ball, more than Nick. But Nick certainly did a good job tonight."
At least at this point, this is a far cry from the Cody Carlson-Tom Muecke combo that was so successful in the 1980s. But I wonder if Briles would consider alternating Szymanski and Florence the way former coach Grant Teaff used Carlson and Muecke? Just a thought. . . .