‘95: Suspended Star Didn’t Know Of Dad Benefits

Wednesday the NCAA announced in a statement, “Auburn University football student-athlete Cam Newton is immediately eligible to compete, according to a decision today by the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff.

Lute Olson: Stoudamire did nothing wrong in '96, but still missed a game

Despite rendering Cam Newton eligible, the NCAA noted:

According to facts of the case agreed upon by Auburn University and the NCAA enforcement staff, the student-athlete’s father and an owner of a scouting service worked together to actively market the student-athlete as a part of a pay-for-play scenario in return for Newton’s commitment to attend college and play football.

In the same statement Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs, said that Cam Newton not knowing about his dad’s activities is essentially what caused him to be completely cleared:

In determining how a violation impacts a student-athlete’s eligibility, we must consider the young person’s responsibility. Based on the information available to the reinstatement staff at this time, we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton was aware of this activity, which led to his reinstatement.

The Newton situation is not without precedent.

In 1995, the father of Arizona Wildcats basketball star Damon Stoudemire was accused by the NCAA of accepting a plane ticket from an agent. Stoudamire denied knowing of the arrangement while his father, Willie Stoudamire, also denied accepting the ticket.

After the NCAA informed Arizona of its allegation against Stoudamire’s father, the school immediately suspended the star guard while simultaneously filing an emergency appeal with the governing body seeking Stoudamire’s immediate reinstatement.

In announcing the suspension of Stoudamire, the WASHINGTON POST reported that Arizona Athletic Director Jim Livengood said at the time:

“I need to make this very clear and very distinct. Damon has done nothing wrong. Damon knows nothing of what has transpired, and Damon has had no part in that.”

The BOSTON GLOBE subsequently reported that instead of immediately reinstating Stoudamire, as it did in the Cam Newton case, the NCAA “suspended Stoudamire for the last regular-season game, reinstating him for the postseason tournament.

In his 2007 book Lute! The Seasons Of My Life, Lute Olson wrote of the suspension:

Damon had done nothing wrong, he wasn’t even aware where his father had gotten the ticket.

Frank Burlison of the LONG BEACH PRESS-TELEGRAM reported at the time that the NCAA’s final ruling on the matter, which did not come until after Stoudamire had sat out a game and before the final NCAA basketball tournament brackets were set, may have hurt Arizona’s seeding for postseason play:

Arizona (23-7), expected to earn a No. 3 seed (perhaps in the West), was given a No. 5 seed and shipped to the Midwest, where the Wildcats will face at-large selection Miami of Ohio in Dayton on Thursday.

The lower-than-anticipated slot led many to speculate that the committee may have been told by the NCAA’s Enforcement branch that Arizona All-American guard Damon Stoudamire may not regain his eligibility for the tournament.

Sources said Stoudamire, a preseason all-American, was under investigation because of the possibility his father might have accepted an airline ticket from a sports agent.

Danny Robbins of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE reported the details of the NCAA’s decision to force Stoudamire to miss a game while possibly injure his team’s March Madness seeding:

Carrie Doyle, NCAA director of eligibility, said the one-game suspension was considered a sufficient penalty. She also said Stoudamire’s father, Willie, had repaid the value of the ticket. 

More from NCAA director of eligibility Doyle in 1995:

(Agent Steve) Feldman has admitted that he wants to represent (Damon) Stoudamire and had provided the (plane) tickets to his father in hopes of representing the son on a professional level. Damon Stoudamire states that he had no knowledge of the relationship between his father and Feldman.

The similarity between the Cam Newton and Damon Stoudamire cases is indisputable. Read more…

Survivor: NFL Boaters Let Sea Sweep Them Away

• The lone survivor of the NFL Florida boat wreck says Corey Smith and Marquis Cooper took off their life jackets & let the sea sweep them away.

Nick Schuyler NFL boat survivor

• Former New Orleans Saints RB Deuce McAllister is having a hell of a time with his car dealership in Mississippi.

• Good news: The Baltimore Orioles want to give you a free ticket for your birthday. Bad news: It’s for a Baltimore Orioles game.

• A couple of Wisconsin kids are in trouble for taking a whiz in sodas sold at a high school basketball game.

Read more…

NCAA Bringing Out Whoopin’ Stick For ‘Zona BB?

Lute Olson has been the face of Arizona basketball, and rightly so, for the last quarter century or so. Olson led the Cats to an NCAA berth in all but his very first season at their helm, including four Final Fours and one title, in which nobody expected Jason Terry to be nearly the NBA prospect that Miles Simon was (whoops). But the last few years of Olson’s tenure were wrought by controversy and sudden departures from the program, even as the team succeeded on the court. And while nobody accused Olson of taking leaves of absence for the hell of it - not when he had things like a divorce and a stroke going on - it could be that his final, sudden retirement might have been akin to that of a captain abandoning a sinking ship.

(Olson is also facing sanctions for doing the D-Miles thing, which is so played out.)

That’s because the NCAA has announced a full-scale investigation into Olson’s activities with a premier recruiting event, the “Cactus Classic” (BECAUSE THEY’RE IN ARIZONA, GET IT?), according to the ARIZONA DAILY STAR. The event is a big deal for the program, as six members of the team have participated in the event (a seventh AU commit to do so, Brandon Jennings, went to Europe instead, and you might remember how thrilled he is about that). And while the event isn’t officially under the University’s jurisdiction, Lute sure tried to put some fingerprints on the money trail: Read more…

Confirmed: Lute Olson’s Ex-Wife Is Certifiably Nuts

Tucson’s ARIZONA DAILY STAR chronicles the positively bizarre behavior of Lute Olson’s ex-wife on the day Olson announced his retirement, reporting she “threatened the coach’s doctor by placing a sheet ridden with bullet holes in his office, according to a restraining order granted against Christine Olson on Tuesday.

Lute Christine Olson

(Who’s the crazy one now?)

Dr. Steven D. Knope requested the order and it was granted by judge Susan Bacal.

Knope will have to get in line on this one though, as Ms. Olson has previously made dark threats to another party. Namely Lute himself! Read more…

Doctor: Stroke Caused Lute Olson To Step Down

The ARIZONA DAILY STAR reports this afternoon that Lute Olson recently suffered a stroke.

Lute Olson suffered a small stroke over the past year, his doctor said today, that likely resulted in depression and changes in judgment. The stroke was discovered Monday night when Dr. Steven Knope examined the results of an MRI. The 74-year-old was told the news and remains at his home in Tucson.

Lute Olson

(OK, photo a little tasteless in the context of the story)

The stroke was caused when a clot likely traveled from his heart to his brain, Knope said. It did not come from stress and anxiety, though it might have caused stress and anxiety over the past year. It is in Olson’s frontal lobe, which Knope said controls “executive function, or planning,” and “a center for personality.”

So Olson’s lost his “executive function and … a center for personality“? What’s Phil Fulmer’s excuse then for having a job?

What isn’t clear is when Olson’s stroke happened. And how it could’ve been missed by doctors, given the description of his oft-erratic behavior. Read more…

Vitale Was Right: Olson Officially Out As UA Coach

Earlier today I speculated that Dick Vitale’s report this morning that Lute Olson was stepping down as Arizona baskebtall coach might not turn out to be accurate - because Olson would stay on just to spite the ESPNer’s scoop. Well, Vitale was indeed correct, as the ARIZONA DAILY STAR has just confirmed Lute Olson is out as Univ. of Arizona basketball coach.

Lute Olson Arizona Wildcat statue


Lute Olson will step down as head basketball coach of the Arizona Wildcats, according to the fathers of two top UA recruits who said they were informed by the assistant coaches this morning. Read more…

Will Olson Stay On Just To Spite Vitale’s Report?

I’m sure Mike Stoops is really excited about this one. As Stoops gets his Arizona football team ready for the biggest game of his coaching career, vs. USC on Saturday, ESPN’s Dick Vitale reported earlier today that Arizona Basketball Coach Lute Olsonis stepping down as the school’s men’s basketball coach.

Dick Vitale

(Bald story-breakers keeping things interesting for ESPN this week)

In other words, no one in Tucson now cares about Saturday’s football game.

But while Vitale has staked his reputation on the story - culled from a “source,” the UA athletic department is wholly denying it. Though curiously, Olson has not made a public statement since Vitale’s report.

So what’s really going on? Read more…

Vitale: Lute Olson Stepping Down From Arizona

Last season Arizona Wildcats coach Lute Olson took a year off from the team. While an official reason for for his leave of absence was never given, the school did say that it had nothing to do with health reasons, and then a few days later we found out Olson had filed for divorce from his wife.

Well it looks like Olson enjoyed that year off, because he missed practice on Wednesday and skipped an appearance at a local Rotary Club event as well. The school said Lute was just sick and has laryngitis, but according to ESPN’s Dick Vitale, that isn’t the case. He says that Olson is just stepping down as coach.

Read more…

Lute In Love Again After Season-Stopping Divorce

Lute Olson’s love life has been in shambles for the past year or so. The Arizona b-ball coach went through a divorce so messy & TMZ-worthy that it cost him a whole season away from the Wildcat sidelines.

Lute Olson fist

(“One of these days, Christine - POW! Right in the kisser!”)

But we hear that Lute’s heart has been mended once again, and he’s found a new lovely lady to spend the rest of his life with - who happens to be 27 years his junior.

Read more…

Lute Olson & Wife Trade Divorce Barbs On Radio

Lute Olson decided to take his divorce squablings to the public airwaves - and soon-to-be ex-wife Christine quickly followed suit.

Lute & Christine Olson

The Arizona basketball coach called in to the Johnjay & Rich show on Phoenix radio station 93.7 KRQ Friday morning, to discuss an article in the ARIZONA DAILY STAR about financial issues between the Olsons.

Read more…