Sports, Thrill of Victory

Around the SEC: Ole Miss and Tennessee facing serious allegations

The Southeastern Conference’s basketball season nears the halfway point, though the biggest news related to the league deals with some unpleasant allegations leveled against two of the league’s football programs.

Chris Lee has that, plus, his weekly power and Player of the Year rankings for hoops. 

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Two SEC greats make NFL Hall of Fame

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze could be in more trouble than thought a week ago. PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze could be in more trouble than thought a week ago. PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI

On Super Bowl weekend, the NFL names its newest Hall of Fame members. This year, that included two former Southeastern Conference players in Alabama quarterback Kenny Stabler and Auburn linebacker Kevin Greene.

Stabler, who died six months ago from colon cancer, played for the Raiders, Oilers and Saints in a career that lasted from 1970-84. He was a two-time NFL MVP and quarterbacked Oakland to a victory in Super Bowl XI.

Greene, originally a walk-on at Auburn, played 15 years between the Rams, Steelers, Panthers and 49ers. A five-time Pro-Bowler, his 160 sacks ranks third on the NFL’s all-time list. 

Among the SEC’s current 14 member schools, the SEC has 28 players in the NFL’s Hall. Alabama (eight) leads the way, followed by LSU (three), Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Ole Miss, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky (two each) and Texas A&M (one). Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt are not represented. 

Former LSU center Alan Faneca was on the list of five finalists who weren’t selected this year. 

Title IX trouble for Tennessee

In the midst of the popularity ofThe Hunting Ground, a movie that deals with the seeming indifference of college administrations towards sexual assault at schools like Florida State and North Carolina, the University of Tennessee got a black eye of its own on Tuesday night.

According to KnoxNews.com, six anonymous plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit against the university with regards to five alleged rapes involving a number of UT football players, plus, former basketball player Yemi Makanjuola. 

The plaintiffs charge that the university was “deliberately indifferent” in each case, and paints a picture of a campus culture “… that created a hostile sexual environment to female students before a sexual assault on a student by conduct and policies making a student more vulnerable to sexual assault itself,” and, “deliberate indifference and a clearly unreasonable response after a sexual assault that causes a student to endure additional harassment.”  

Bryce Brown has to take up the slack for Auburn in the absence of Kareem Canty. PHOTO COURTESY AUBURN UNIVERSITY

Bryce Brown has to take up the slack for Auburn in the absence of Kareem Canty. PHOTO COURTESY AUBURN UNIVERSITY

Football coach Butch Jones, athletic director Dave Hart and chancellor Jimmy Cheek were charged with being “personally aware” and “act[ing- with deliberate indifference” in these cases. It was also alleged UT athletic coaches witnessed an assault on former Vol receiver Drae Bowles by his teammates after Bowles had taken one of the plaintiffs to the hospital following the attack, and also encouraged her to report the incident.

Bowles testified before a grand jury, which led to rape indictments against former Tennessee players A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams in February 2015.

These allegations—and remember, that’s all they are at this point—would be Title IX violations, which insure a person’s constitutional right to equal protection. Tennessee issued a statement saying it was taking the matter “seriously” and acted “lawfully” and in “good faith.”

The 64-page legal document can be viewed here.

How serious are the Ole Miss charges?

Last week, I noted that the common sentiment regarding the NCAA’s investigation into allegations of football impropriety at Ole Miss were basically old-news items that wouldn’t amount to much trouble for coach Hugh Freeze. But on Tuesday, details surfaced that may contradict that view.

Of the 28 allegations leveled against Ole Miss, 13 are related to football.  Here’s what’s potentially the problem for Freeze: last week, it was said that most of the violations didn’t occur during his tenure, and that it wouldn’t be significant for Freeze. Yesterday, David Brandt of The Associated Press reported that nine of the violations came during Freeze’s time in Oxford

Ole Miss has 90 days to respond to the Letter of Allegations.

SEC hoops suspensions

Auburn has been without leading scorer Kareem Canty (18.3 points per game) for a pair of games already, and it might continue. Last week, Canty, a Marshall transfer, had an altercation with a member of the coaching staff, and was suspended for “conduct detrimental to the team.” 

A hot stretch by UK's Jamal Murray has him climbing our Player of the Year rankings. PHOTO COURTESY COACHCAL.COM

A hot stretch by UK’s Jamal Murray has him climbing our Player of the Year rankings. PHOTO COURTESY COACHCAL.COM

Without Canty, Auburn fell 65-55 at Georgia on Saturday, and then was thrashed by a 71-45 count at Tennessee on Tuesday

Missouri, in the midst of an abysmal 8-15 campaign, has been without reserves Jakeenan Gant (4.5 ppg) and Russell Woods (3.5) after the pair were popped for a drug-related arrest. Both missed the Tigers’ 80-71 loss at Alabama over the weekend. 

It’s not know if they’ll be cleared for Wednesday’s game with Vandy. 

Saiz cleared to play

Ole Miss had been without its best front-court player for six games as 6-foot-9 forward Sebastian Saiz missed time due to eye surgery. Saiz ranks second on the team in scoring (12.3) and leads the Rebels in rebounding by a mile (9.6). 

Ole Miss went 3-3 without him; Saiz returned on Tuesday night to post five points and six rebounds in 26 minutes in the Rebels’ 77-71 loss at Florida. 

BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS (overall, SEC record)

  1. Texas A&M (18-5, 7-3)
  2. Kentucky (18-6, 8-3)
  3. Florida (16-8, 7-4)
  4. South Carolina (20-3, 7-3)
  5. LSU (15-8, 8-2)
  6. Vanderbilt (13-10, 5-5)
  7. Alabama (13-9, 4-6)
  8. Georgia (13-9, 6-5)
  9. Tennessee (12-12, 5-6)
  10. Arkansas (12-12, 5-6)
  11. Ole Miss (15-9, 5-6)
  12. Mississippi St. (10-13, 3-3)
  13. Auburn (9-14, 3-6)
  14. Missouri (8-15, 1-9)

BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  1. Ben Simmons, SF, LSU
  2. Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky
  3. Dorian Finney-Smith, SF, Florida
  4. Wade Baldwin, PG, Vanderbilt
  5. Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky
  6. Kevin Punter, SG, Tennessee
  7. Moses Kingsley, C, Arkansas
  8. Alex Caruso, PG, Texas A&M
  9. Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt
  10. Michael Carrera, SF, South Carolina
  11. J.J. Frazier, PG, Georgia
  12. Gavin Ware, PF, MSU
  13. Stefan Moody, SG, Ole Miss
  14. Retin Obasohan, SG, Alabama
  15. Jalen Jones, PF, Texas A&M