Florida has dismissed senior righthander Stephen Locke from the team in the wake of his arrest early Saturday morning for drunk driving. Locke, who started Florida’s opening game of the 2005 College World Series before missing all of 2006 with Tommy John surgery, made 12 starts a year ago, second-most on the team. The Gators were planning on using him as their Saturday starter in 2009 once he returned from a knee injury in late March.
Locke’s dismissal means Florida could have two freshmen in the weekend rotation. Lefthander Nick Maronde and rigthy Anthony Desclafani both have the talent and the polish to succeed immediately, but the Gators probably would have felt more comfortable with a senior going on Saturdays.
Locke’s dismissal comes days after Texas coach Augie Garrido received just a four-game suspension for a drunken driving arrest in Austin.
Only a lack of pitching depth and experience kept Louisiana State from topping Baseball America’s preseason rankings, and the Tigers took a hit in both of those areas this weekend. LSU announced that senior righthander Jordan Brown, whose 67 innings a year ago were the second-most of any returning Tiger, has retired from baseball because of knee and elbow injuries.
Brown was a key part of LSU’s No. 2 ranked 2007 recruiting class, a junior college transfer with a 90-94 mph fastball and good curve. But he took a cleat to the knee while jumping over the dugout railing to celebrate LSU’s dramatic College World Series win against Rice last June, and it never has felt right since, according to Tigers coach Paul Mainieri. Brown also faced the prospect of potentially needing Tommy John surgery on his elbow, and he decided he did not want to climb that mountain.
"I hate the fact he’s hurt and his career is over," Mainieri said this morning. "This makes us a little more thin on the mound, but I still think we’ve got the arms to compete." [...] Continue Reading »
At an emotional news conference Friday, Texas coach Augie Garrido apologized for his drunken driving arrest last Saturday and announced he would be suspended for the Longhorns’ season-opening four-game series against Illinois-Chicago. He will be allowed to attend practices during his suspension, which will be paid.
"I made a serious mistake," Garrido said at a news conference with Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds. "I drank alcohol, I got behind the wheel of a car, and that’s a bad decision . . . I sincerely apologize. It’s heartfelt, it’s honest. One of the great privileges I have is that the university is going to give me the chance to prove that. I won’t disappoint. I won’t."
The news conference puts to rest any speculation that Garrido, the winningest coach in Division I history, might be forced out at Texas. He had been given an indefinite suspension immediately after his arrest Saturday.
"I hired Coach 13 years ago," Dodds said. "We’ve been through a couple years that were pretty tough there at the beginning and I stood by him. I stood by him when we were winning Big 12 championships and NCAA championships, and I stand by him today."
You might have noticed a large green clock counting down in the middle of our College page. The clock is counting down toward the first pitch of the college baseball season–specifically, the first pitch of the 12:01 a.m. game between Central Michigan and Florida Gulf Coast on Feb. 20. By rule, that’s the earliest a Division I game can start in 2009.
Chippewas coach Steve Jaksa hatched the midnight madness idea as a way to build excitement for the start of the season.
"Coach Jaksa wanted to do something a little bit different," said Central Michigan assistant coach Mike Villano. "We brought it up to Florida Gulf Coast, and they were all for it too. We have a lot of alumni support in Florida, and there should be quite a few that want to come out for that game. And I’m sure their fans will be outstanding–kids love Thursday nights." [...] Continue Reading »
NCAA president Myles Brand announced Saturday that he has pancreatic cancer and the outlook is "not good", according to the Associated Press. NCAA vice president Wally Renfro said that Brand would remain in charge with no change in duties.
“I am currently undergoing chemotherapy, and I am receiving excellent care,” Brand, 66, said in a statement. “I will know in the next several months the success of this treatment.”
Though former Mississippi State coach Ron Polk famously crusaded against Brand for years over the NCAA’s relationship with baseball, American Baseball Coaches Association executive director Dave Keilitz has long maintained that Brand is a great ally for the sport. There is some momentum on the Board of Directors to reduce baseball’s games from 56 to 52 or 50, but Brand has assured coaches he will fight to ensure they keep 56 games. Brand further showed his support to the coaches by appearing and speaking at a coaches summit in Indianapolis in November.
"I thought his talk was the most significant thing of the whole event," Keilitz said in November. "What the coaches heard and saw was, ‘Wow, we’ve got somebody here at the very top that cares for us and supports us.’ That’s the message he conveyed, and I think the coaches felt very, very good about that."
Texas coach Augie Garrido, the winningest coach in college baseball history, has been suspended indefinitely with pay by the Longhorns after being arrested for drunken driving early Saturday morning. Garrido failed a field sobriety test near downtown Austin around 1 a.m. Saturday, according to the Associated Press. Travis County Jail officials told the AP that Garrido was not in jail Saturday afternoon but did not release details about his custody status or bond.
DeLoss Dodds, the school’s men’s athletics director, said Garrido would be suspended with pay while the school investigates the incident.
"This is a difficult and regrettable situation that we are taking very seriously," Dodds said in a statement. "I spoke with Coach Garrido and he’s devastated and realizes he made a serious mistake. He deeply regrets putting the university in this position and will act quickly to do what’s right."
Garrido, 69, has a Division I -record 1,629 career wins and has won five national titles, including two at Texas and three at Cal State Fullerton. Texas made four straight College World Series appearances from 2002-’05 but has failed to win a regional since capturing the 2005 national title.
The Diane Rehm Show on NPR does a Friday news roundup every week; in Diane’s honor, here’s a mini college baseball version:
• As expected, the NCAA’s Division I legislative council has defeated the Southeastern Conference’s proposal to increase baseball’s scholarship limit from 11.7 to 14. Former Mississippi State athletics director and ex-chair of the Division I Baseball Committee Larry Templeton said at the 2008 College World Series that the proposal was merely intended to start a discussion about scholarships. The legislative council also deferred until April decisions on proposals to add a week to the baseball season and reduce the number of games from 56 to 52. [...] Continue Reading »
After six days of testimony, the bench trial to restore Andy Oliver’s eligibility and invalidate the NCAA’s "no agent" and "restitution" rules concluded Tuesday, but a decision might still be weeks away.
Judge Tygh M. Tone of the Erie County Court of Common Pleas took the case under advisement and ordered the parties to file proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law by Jan. 23, according to Oliver’s attorney, Richard Johnson. Thereafter, the judge said he will deliberate and issue an opinion within a week or two. He gave no indication how he will rule.
Under this timeline, a written decision should be issued around the end of January or start of February, or about the time Division I teams can start practicing for the spring. Oklahoma State opens its season Feb. 20 against Brigham Young, with or without its ace lefthander.
As for the trial portion of the case, which would address Oliver’s monetary claims against the NCAA, the judge said he would schedule that phase after he issues his ruling on the bench trial.
Patrick Rooney, a four-year starter at third base for Pepperdine from 2002-05, was killed in a plane crash Sunday at age 26. According to a release sent out by the school, Rooney and his father, Bill, were flying a single-engine turboprop plane outside Steamboat Springs, Colo., when it crashed about a mile north of the runway.
"Anyone who knows the Rooneys sees that family always comes first for them," said Pepperdine coach Steve Rodriguez in a statement. "They really understand the true meaning of family, and I believe that as Christians and people who have a strong faith in God, the Rooneys will be able to get through this tragic time."
Patrick Rooney’s younger brother Colin is a third baseman for the 2009 Waves, and his brother Sean is a catcher in the Nationals system. Patrick hit .270 with 11 home runs and 126 RBIs in his four-year career.
I’ve gotten a number of inquiries this week about the Andy Oliver trial, so here’s a quick update. Oliver’s side rested its case Wednesday and survived the NCAA’s motion to dismiss, as the court ruled that the plaintiffs had introduced "competent credible evidence" to support their claims. The NCAA starts its case today, there is a break Friday, and the NCAA has said it can conclude its case by Monday, according to Oliver attorney Richard Johnson. He also indicated that the judge might issue his ruling on Oliver’s injunctive claim to restore his eligibility on Monday, or he might take the issue under advisement and issue a ruling sometime later. We should also learn Monday when the jury portion of the trial (to hear Oliver’s monetary claims against the NCAA) will be scheduled.
Florida State suffered a significant blow today, announcing that freshman lefthander Kyle Long has withdrawn from the school, citing academic concerns. Long, whose father Howie starred for the Oakland Raiders and whose brother Chris was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft, is built like a football player (6-foot-7, 285 pounds) and has power stuff to match, with a fastball that has topped out at 95 mph in the past. He ranked as the Seminoles’ top recruit this year, though it’s uncertain how much he factored into their plans as a freshman because his secondary stuff is underdeveloped. Still, he was a key building block for the future and probably would have seen time as a freshman on FSU’s young pitching staff.
As for Long’s future, the Tallahassee Democrat is reporting he will transfer to a junior college closer to his home in Virginia. The statement issued by Florida State offers this nugget: "After falling behind academically, Kyle and his family have decided that it is in his best interest at this time to be closer to home while he tried to get back on track academically."
Oklahoma State lefthander Andy Oliver’s lawsuit against the NCAA will be decided in court starting Monday, but the Cowboys are no longer a defendant in the case.
An Ohio court dismissed the NCAA’s cross-claim against OSU on Friday, according to court documents, which means that Oklahoma State won’t be responsible for any monetary damages that Oliver wins in his suit. Last month, the court forced Oliver to include OSU as a defendant in the suit, but Oliver was only suing the Cowboys for injunctive damages to restore his eligibility. On Friday, the court changed its mind and dismissed Oliver’s suit against Oklahoma State, reasoning that OSU would also be bound by any injunction Oliver wins against the NCAA to restore his eligibility.
Oliver’s lawyer, Richard Johnson, also said in an e-mail that the court cut the case in half. Oliver’s injunctive and declaratory claims (which would restore Oliver’s eligiblity and declare the "no agent" and "restitution" rules void) will be tried on Monday starting at 9 a.m. Oliver’s breach of contract and tortious interference with contract claims (which could result in a monetary award for Oliver) will be tried to a jury shortly thereafter, although the date has not yet been set.
(CORRECTION) The trial could last all week or longer, but soon enough we should know whether or not Oliver’s eligibility will be restored, and whether the "no agent" and "restitution" rules will be struck down. See last week’s story for more on the "no agent" and "restitution" rules.
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