USA Athletic Director Joe Gottfried To Retire August 1st

June 2, 2009 · Filed Under News · Comment 

At a press conference in the Mitchell Center today, Athletic Director Joe Gottfried announced that effective August 1st he will retire. This marks the end of an era of unprecedented success in athletics at the University of South Alabama under his guidance.

President Gordon Moulton will conduct a nationwide search for his successor at the University.

Gottfried said the following at the press conference, “It has been a terrific experience, I have been very fortunate to have been surrounded by an outstanding group of coaches, student-athletes, support and administrative staff. To be able to have the success and accomplish the many things we have, you need to have the support of the President and the Board of Trustees.  I have felt that has been a big plus, it made my job much easier.”

“Obviously I am very proud about what has been accomplished and to have been a member of the South Alabama family for 28 years.  It’s been important to me and my family.  We will always be Jaguars and will continue to follow the progress of not only the athletic program but the University as well.”

University President Gordon Moulton commended Gottfried on his many years of service to the University. “Anyone who cares about University of South Alabama athletics owes a debt of gratitude to Joe Gottfried, who has led the growth and expansion of the Jaguar athletic program for more than a quarter century. He has guided Jaguar Athletics to new heights of accomplishment and has set the stage for greater achievement in the future. The entire University of South Alabama family appreciates his contribution, and we trust that he will remain a familiar face at Jaguar athletic events.”

The Jaguar Athletic program has experienced success in competition as well as in the classroom. He has been key in the development of numerous athletic facilities but also on the community with the recent addition of the football program to USA.

During his time at USA, the Jags was presented with the Vic Bubas Cup which goes to the program that demonstrates excellence in the league’s now 19 sports. USA has claimed this honor 10 times in a 13 year span, which no other school in league history has earned more than USA.

Here are some raw numbers. Overall, Men’s and Lady Jaguars have won 104 league titles, USA Teams have appeared in 54 NCAA Championship events, individuals have qualified for NCAA postseason action 123 times (this inclues two track and field athletes who have won NCAA titles). 75 USA student-athletes have earned All-America recognition while 62 coaches have been selected to the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year in their sports. 95 baseball players have signed with teams in the professional ranks, including 17 who have gone on to the Major’s.

With the addition of football, the athletic department is now supporting an all-time high number of student-athletes at around 300.

In the classroom the students have excelled as well. In the most recent Academic Progress Rate report that was released by the NCAA, 13 of USA’s 16 programs scored above the 925 standard set by the NCAA. While Gottfried has been at USA, 83% of the student-athletes have graduated and 37 USA student-athletes have been named to the SBC Commissioner’s List for maintaining a 3.5 GPA or better with another 32 who have made the SBC Academic Honor Roll with a GPA of 3.0 or higher in 2007-2008.

Gottfried has been instrumental in the following buildings on campus: $30 Million Mitchell Center, a $3.5 Million renovation to Stanky Field, a 4,000 square-foot clubhouse, the intramural fields on campus, a $1 Million football field house to open this summer, a new Softball adn Soccer locker room and office complex, A new softball field, improvements to ‘The Cage’ (the soccer facility), the USA Track Complex and the Bruce David Lubel Memorial Tennis Courts. Future plans are a new academic center, upgrades to the track and field venue with new seating, lights and locker rooms.

Gottfried was also instrumental in getting the Sun Belt Conference basketball tournament to Mobile for the first time in 1991 and would also bring the highest attendance at the event in 20 years.

This is merely a few highlights to his great time here at the University of South Alabama. President Moulton will have very large shoes to fill.

From the fans of Jaguar sports, we thank you Coach Gottfried for your years of great service to the University and its fans. We are proud at what you have done for USA and we hope you have a great retirement. You are always welcome in the stands and we will miss you.

The NCAA Makes Some Decisions On The Use Of Twitter

May 20, 2009 · Filed Under Football, News · Comment 

Twitter has emerged to be a huge social networking tool that can be used to help make lasting connections in the community. We use the Twitter account USAThunderjags to help promote the website, pass on up-to-date information and chat with South Alabama fans who are following us. Personally, I have made lots of contacts in the Mobile area for many things. It was only a matter of time before someone picked it up for recruiting. While its not as prevalent in high school kids as Facebook, it is the new way to keep in touch.

A few high profile coaches have gotten on the twitter train. Pete Carroll, Tom Crean, John Calipari and Gary Williams namely. But since that has came out, there has been some debate about just what coaches are and are not allowed to do on the platform.

Tom Crean tweeted this a few weeks ago: “I appreciate how many people are following me on this. Please remember that I cannot read or respond to replies. NCAA rules.” Then Kathleen Hessert, who is the President of Sports Media Challenge and also the person responsible for teaching Shaquille O’neil how to use Twitter, responded with: “Really? Compliance pros differ significantly on this. It needs clarity!”

The NCAA said that Crean is correct, any type of twittering back and forth using @replies that can be viewed in the public domain is not allowed. However, direct messaging on Twitter, which can be only viewed by the two people involved in the communication is permissible because it is seen as being equivalent to email. The same can go for facebook too. A coach can use the messaging function (similar to email) but can’t write on anyones wall. This is according to the current electronic transmission guidelines that are in place by the NCAA.

Cameron Schuh who is an Associate Director of Public and Media Relations for the NCAA said that they view the direct message option in Twitter the same way they view emails. You cannot post those on your main page. Schuh goes on and says that they view Twitter as a blog. “As long as coaches are on there talking about what they’re doing with their day and how their practice went or things like that … not getting into specific terms, that’s fine. They can’t talk about a person they’re recruiting, or they can’t use it to talk about their whereabouts on a recruiting trip.”

All of this applies to Coaches and recruits. But you will rarely, if ever, see a coach talking back and forth with fans on Twitter because compliance officers have strongly recommended that coaches should not do that. Why? Because you just never know who is behind the keyboard. Tennessee and Lane Kiffin found this out that hard way this week. There is no way to monitor who is and who is not a recruit by the name on someone’s account.

Plus, the logistics of having to respond to hundreds of replies would be a nightmare for a coach, they could literally spend entire days replying to fans posts without getting anything else done and still not be able to reply to each message.

Additionally, Twitter only allows Direct Messages between mutually following friends. Thus unless a coach is following a recruit and vice versa, direct messaging would not be able to occur through their official accounts.

Later the NCAA changed what they said and stated this: “In Division I, there are no specific NCAA restrictions to what kind of interaction a coach can have with a fan (on Twitter),” said Cameron Schuh, Associate Director of Public and Media Relations for the NCAA. “With that being said, that kind of interaction would fall under institutional discretion and would hopefully be closely monitored by the school and the coach.” Which seems to be in line with what the compliance officer said.

Are any coaches actually replying to anyone? Yes. Pete Carroll exchanged tweets with the official Lakers twitter account, but that hardly counts I would say.

So what can you take away from this? It shows that these bylaws are still being sorted out as they apply to new mediums, such as Twitter, as they pop up. Most of the time the NCAA is unsure of just how to enact them and how they apply. It seems that everything is sorted out for now. But one thing I am sure of is that the compliance officers are trying to err on the side of caution to help keep their programs out of any problems with the NCAA.

The Lane Kiffin/Tennessee Twitter story. Lane Kiffin didn’t even write the twitter post that has thrust Tennessee back into the headlines this week. Bascially what came out about that is that Tennessee is going to self-report another secondary NCAA violation after a high school recruit was mentioned by name on Tuesday on Lane Kiffin’s Twitter page. It was not Kiffin himself that wrote the post, but rather it was an employee in the football office who was updating Kiffin’s Twitter page for him.

It was up for about an hour before it was removed by Tennessee officials, however and hour in Internet time can be equated to an eternity. The NCAA rules prohibits coaches and athletic department employees from commenting about or publicizing unsigned prospects in any way.

Apparently the post originated from one of Kiffin’s personal assistants, which just so happened to be their first day. He posted the message on the Twitter page without asking about compliance.

This is the second such error by Kiffin that Tennessee has had to self-report involving an unsigned prospect. Back in February, he mentioned a player by name on a radio talk show in Knoxville and referred to him as a great player. Brown was still allowed to sign with Tennessee after they self-reported the violation.

Alabama seems to be using Twitter wisely. They use their Twitter account RollWithTheTide to tweet out what their assistant coaches are doing. For instance, earlier today this tweet was posted “Williams: practices and scrimmages all day today”. Then on May 17th this was posted, “Mac: travel day so i can get an early start first thing in the morning”. Back on May 12th, “Crimson Caravan Tonight in Panama City, FL– anxious to see all the fans”. Nothing wrong with those, nothing directed at people and no recruits names being used, yet you get a glimpse behind the scenes of the Alabama staff.

If you have an account on Twitter, then please follow USAThunderjags to receive the latest news and postings from Thunderjags.com  You can also follow me on Twitter as well.

Go Jags!

Some links to help you understand what twitter is.

Men’s Tennis Program Found Guilty Of Major NCAA Rules Violations

May 13, 2009 · Filed Under News, Tennis · 1 Comment 

The University of South Alabama Men’s Tennis program was found guilty on Tuesday of major NCAA violations. The announcement at 2pm yesterday by the NCAA said that they have placed the program on probation for three years, including a postseason ban in 2010, the loss of scholarships and the forfeiture of past wins and championships. With the loss of scholarships, USA will only have 2.72 scholarships per year to offer through 2011 rather than the normal 4.5 per year.

The violations as stated by the NCAA include unethical conduct by the former head coach Scott Novak, the University’s failure to monitor, impermissible financial aid and loans, improper student-athlete certification and an impermissible decrease in athletic scholarships.

Also in the letter from the NCAA, the penalties included permanent disassociation of the former head coach Scott Novak and a four year show-cause order for the former head coach. Under the show-cause order, should the former head coach seek athletic related employment with any NCAA institution, he and his hiring institution must appear before the NCAA Committee on Infrations to determine whether his duties should be limited at the new institution for a designated period of time.

USA is considered a repeat violator since it appeared before the committee in 2001 for violations in the Men’s Basketball program. Since the University had a previous major violations case within five years of this violation, it was eligible to receive harsher penalties and as a result USA received the 2010 Men’s Tennis team postseason ban.

The violation stemmed from the former head coach providing more than $12,000 in impermissible financial aid to five international Men’s Tennis student-athletes over six years. Also on various occasions either before or during their enrollment, the former head coach promised four of the men more financial aid that he was able to award.

These four athletes believed they had received a full scholarship based on the representations made to them by this former head coach. In order to make up the difference, the former head coach either provided them with cash or made payments on their student accounts at the University and thus exceeded its financial aid limits for Men’s Tennis from 2000-2001 through the 2004-2005 academic years.

Additionally, this former head coach provided $3,000 cash to one of these students to allow him to obtain an international visa.

The former coach refused to furnish the NCAA enforcement staff with information relevant to the investigation and declined the enforcement staff’s interview requests on eight different occasions over about six months.

The University impermissibly decreased the financial aid of a Men’s Tennis student-athlete. The student was awarded a 71 percent scholarship for the 2004-2005 academic year, 35 percent of which was administered during the 2004 fall semester. Prior to the start of the spring semester, the University terminated the student’s scholarship for the remainder of the academic year and failed to notify the student of the opportunity for a hearing to contest the reduction.

Based on the violations, it was found that the University failed to monitor the conduct and administration of the Men’s Tennis program and further, the University failed to monitor certain aspects of its athletics program with regard to international student-athletes. This included the administration of financial aid award notification and failure to properly certify the amateurism of 27 student-athletes in 10 sports.

This is a tough hit by the NCAA and as Athletic Director Joe Gottfried said, its an embarrassment for the school. Gottfried further stated, “The penalties were pretty much what we expected or self-imposed. We have taken the proper steps to make sure that this will not happen again. It’s obvious that it sets our men’s tennis program back. There were many people that helped build this tennis program and we’ll get through this. We’ve got an outstanding coach now in Nick Brochu and we can get back to the level we were before these infractions took place.”

The whole athletic department had better stand a distance away from the line that is the NCAA rules because another investigation into majors rules violations would definitely not end well for the University.