Women’s college basketball
Ex-WNBA head Ackerman suggests making changes
The WNBA’s first president contends women’s college basketball needs to make changes if the sport is to grow.
Val Ackerman was hired by the NCAA in November to assess the state of the women’s game. In a report submitted last week, Ackerman advised a series of ideas.
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They included moving the Final Four back to a Friday-Sunday format, exploring a two-site super regional for the second week of the NCAA tournament and returning to a format where the top 16 teams host the first two rounds. In Ackerman’s proposal, the eight-team super regionals would be awarded to sites for three years at a time.
“A lot of the ideas came from the membership,” Ackerman said. “When I went into this, a piece of the process involved interviewing those who were associated with the sport. My questions were open ended: What do you like? What would you change if you could?”
The women’s basketball committee will meet next week in Nashville, Tenn., site of the 2014 Women’s Final Four, to discuss Ackerman’s paper. They will be the people to determine which, if any, of the recommendations they will implement.
Many of Ackerman’s ideas aimed at boosting attendance, which has become rather stagnant. Last season, the NCAA averaged 5,466 for all tournament rounds, which was 17th since the tournament began in 1982.
Last season, teams shot 39 percent from the field and that resulted in an all-time low in scoring of 62.1 points a game per team. That is down nearly eight points from the first season of NCAA play, 1981-82.
“Scoring, to me, matters,” Ackerman said. “That really surprised me. I didn’t realize the scope of that sort of trajectory going in that direction.”
Ex-Penn State players seek overturning of sanctions
About 325 former Penn State players and coaches have signed a statement supporting the lawsuit filed by the family of former coach Joe Paterno and other ex-players seeking to overturn NCAA sanctions against the program for the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.
Former player Brian Masella released the letter in support of the lawsuit, which was also filed last month by some coaches, trustees and faculty.
Lunt to transfer to Illinois
Wes Lunt, a former Oklahoma State starting quarterback, is transferring to Illinois, returning to his home state after giving the Illini little consideration out of high school.
Lunt is from Rochester, Ill., and started five games last season as a freshman for the Cowboys but was sidelined by an injury. He was the first true freshman to open the season as the starting quarterback at Oklahoma State since at least 1950.
Lunt, who will have to sit out this fall under NCAA transfer rules, declined to say why he left Oklahoma State.
Hermann starts at Rutgers
Saying she already has rolled up her sleeves and is ready to work, Julie Hermann took over as Rutgers’ athletic director with the promise her top job is to create an atmosphere for Scarlet Knights students to excel on and off the field.
The embattled Hermann showed up for work before most of her employees Monday and started the task of leading an embarrassed athletic department back to respectability, winning back boosters and alumni and leading the university into the Big Ten Conference in 2014.
Hermann, 49, was hired May 15 and spent weeks under the microscope after it was alleged by volleyball players she coached at Tennessee in 1996 they were verbally and emotionally abused by her. She denied the allegations.
The allegations were particularly troublesome because Rutgers’ recent problems started after a videotape was aired in early April showing men’s basketball coach Mike Rice verbally and physically abusing players during his three-year tenure. The verbal assault included anti-gay slurs.
Rice was fired and athletic director Tim Pernetti later was forced to resign.
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The father was sentenced to six years in prison. Five teenage players drew two-year sentences in youth detention; another was sentenced to a year.
• Bubba Thornton, 66, is retiring as Texas men’s track coach Aug. 31 after 18 seasons and 12 conference championships.
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