All posts by Brad Wolverton


Southeastern Conference Coaches Travel in Style

TV exposure gives the Southeastern Conference a big lift in recruiting, but my colleague Paul Fain found another way that SEC programs keep a leg up on the competition: owning their own airplanes.

SEC universities own at least 22 planes, many of which are used for sports, according to a Chronicle review of Federal Aviation Administration documents. Kentucky and LSU are the only institutions that don’t own one, choosing instead to lease or charter flights.

The coolest ride? Could be Alabama’s twi…


When the Faculty Fumbles Sports Oversight

Athletics scandals rarely involve professors—much less the faculty members charged with overseeing academic integrity in the athletic department. But a handful of faculty athletics representatives, whose jobs involve that and sometimes more, have become entangled in high-profile controversies this year, as detailed in a package of articles in this week’s Chronicle.

One faculty representative lobbied admissions officials to fast-track high-risk applicants and tried to disband the Faculty Senate’s…


Julie Roe Lach Is Named as NCAA’s Chief Rules Enforcer

The NCAA today named Julie Roe Lach, a longtime investigator who has worked on some of the association’s highest-profile cases, as its new vice president for enforcement. She replaces David Price, who served in the role the past 12 years.

Lach, the subject of a 2005 Chronicle profile, takes over during a particularly troubling time, with Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and other elite programs under investigation. Concern over agents’ interactions with players will probably get much of her i…


Confessions of a Sports Agent

“There are moments you will always remember, like your first kiss or your first home run, or the day you met your wife. For me, the first time I broke an NCAA rule to try to land a client is just as indelible.”

So begins an exposé in this week’s Sports Illustrated in which a high-profile sports agent names more than 30 college athletes to whom he supposedly paid money and extra benefits over a 20-year career. Among the accused players are Ryan Leaf, a former Washington State quarterback who purp…


New Book Offers Disturbing Portrait of Youth Basketball

Chronicle of Higher Education

You may wonder what a book about middle-school basketball phenoms has to do with college sports. Unfortunately, a lot. In Play Their Hearts Out, George Dohrmann, a Pulitzer Prize-winning sports writer, chronicles the dark side of grassroots basketball—one that many of us on the edges may think we understand but have never seen at this disturbing level of detail.

Dohrmann spends eight years following the rise of Joe Keller, who installed car stereos and did welding before becoming a youth-basket…


Endowment Campaign at Center of Plan to Preserve College Tennis

The University of Georgia men’s tennis team huddles up before the 2009 NCAA championship. (Photo courtesy of the ITA)

One of the country’s leading sports marketers has a new job: Securing the future of college tennis. John Embree, a longtime sales-and-marketing executive at Wilson Sporting Goods and Prince Sports, has signed on to help the Intercollegiate Tennis Association build an endowment to preserve the college game.

Some 250 college tennis programs have been cut during the past dec…


After a Reprieve, Talk of Sports Cuts Is Back on the Table

Northern Iowa’s men’s basketball team reached the Sweet 16 last spring, but budget woes could spell big problems for the university’s athletics program. (David Ulrich)

Two-hundred grand. That’s about how much money the University of Northern Iowa’s athletic department would lose in annual general-fund support by the year 2015 under a new university budget proposal. According to the university’s president, cutting much more than that seemingly modest amount could lead to the elimination …


Arrests of College Athletes Are More Than Double Those of Pros

Jeff Benedict has been investigating and writing about athletes and crime for more than 15 years. During that time, the professor of English at Southern Virginia University has written four books on the subject and looked at more than 1,000 incidents involving college and professional athletes. “So it takes a lot to raise my eyebrows,” he writes on this week.

But when he looked at publicly reported arrests involving college and professional athletes between January 1 and August 31 of thi…


Figuring It Out

Mark Speckman speaks with former quarterback Grant Leslie. (Naomi Stukey, Willamette athletic department)

Playing in the long shadow of the Oregon Ducks, small Willamette University is hardly a football power. But thanks in part to his success on the gridiron, Mark Speckman, who is entering his 13th season as head coach, is making quite a name for himself on the speaking circuit.

Born without hands, Speckman has spent a career defying the odds. You’d hardly know it from his modest


Media Bans Only Rankle the Fans

When Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini banned the media from practice last week, he was hardly the first high-profile coach to do so. Upset at reporters for calling a player’s family and high-school coach to confirm an injury the player sustained at practice, he locked them out for three days. “The kid was still on the [operating] table last night, and people were calling the family,” Pelini said. “That’s crossing the line.”

Pelini understandably wanted coaches to be the ones delivering the news…