Alternate column: Big news for Lasege, Kiddie Cats and a Hoosier crackpot

So you’ve had it up to here with Derby domination of the sports page? Don’t worry. There is an alternative, and you’re reading it. My column in the print edition today is, of course, Derby-related. But there’s plenty of non-equine opining to be done. So for the less hoofbeat-crazy among you, a column of your own.

— Congrats to Muhammed Lasege. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column (read it here) about the former University of Louisville center being admitted to several of the most prestigious MBA programs in the nation — yet another slap to the NCAA’s ridiculous and borderline malicious stance that as a college-age kid from Lagos, Nigeria, he was “intending to professionalize” in his actions to play NCAA basketball.

More good news came from Lasege this week. Jim Milliman, the Louisville attorney who represented Lasege against the NCAA, called to report that Lasege has received a full two-year scholarship to the Wharton School of Business MBA program at the University of Pennsylvania. Lasege had been unsure whether he’d get any aid at Wharton, his first choice, but had made the decision to pay to go there. The cost, however, is considerable, about $60,000 per year.

Apparently, Lasege aced another round of interviews when talking to the scholarship committees there. It’s a story I hope somebody at the NCAA reads. But I doubt they will, because of the following . . .

— The same folks who brought you Lasege’s ban are fighting Cincinnati quarterback Ben Mauk’s quest to play a fourth season of college football. As a junior at Wake Forest, Mauk missed all but one game with a shoulder injury. He then transfered to Cincinnati. As a result of the injury he got to play only three full seasons of football. Ordinarily, he’d be granted a hardship season, but the NCAA says Wake Forest has a “lack of documentation” of his injury.

Like in Lasege’s case, the NCAA is looking at a clearly committed student-athlete and saying, in essence, “You’re lying. You’re trying to play us.”

Something Lasege said in my interview with him earlier this month really hit home with me. We were talking about the one-and-done players in college basketball, many of whom don’t even go to class past their first semester.

“But the NCAA makes a lot of money off those guys,” Lasege said. “They don’t make any money off guys like me, off the athletes who go to class and don’t get lots of television exposure.”

That’s an awfully cynical view. But the way the NCAA acts toward some of these athletes, with Mauk now the latest, it’s a tough view to argue with.

— The University of Kentucky basketball program has received a verbal commitment from an eighth grader. Rule proposal: No player should be allowed to verbally commit to a college until his voice changes.

I’m not sure why coaches would accept these commitments. Sure, UK has lost men’s basketball recruiting targets to Hawaii and Southern Methodist in the past month, but beating Culver High School or Encino Crespi Carmelite to the punch on an early commitment from 6-4 Michael Avery of Encino, Calif., is hardly going to make the Big Blue faithful forget.

The buzz generated by this kind of commitment isn’t going to drown out any grumbling. This isn’t wagging the dog. It’s wagging a puppy.

— Eli Holman went to new Indiana coach Tom Crean’s office to tell the coach he wanted to transfer on Thursday, and wound up getting so upset that IU campus police had to be called. Apparently, Holman broke a potted plant in the IU basketball office. No arrests were made. The Indianapolis Star is on top of it.

This may sound like chaos, but actually, it’s progress. For the past two years, the main thing they’ve been breaking in the IU basketball office is the rules.

Crean is already bringing about change. Problem is, now he has only four scholarship players left, and one of those is a former walk-on.

No word yet on whether the plant could be saved. Crean is such a great motivator that I expect the thing to be planted outside the basketball office tomorrow as a memorial to the kind of attitude he doesn’t need in the program.

— Not surprisingly, BCS conference leaders voted to keep the status quo and rejected a proposal for a four-team playoff system earlier this week. Particularly opposed to the plan are the Big Ten Network and the Big 12 Conference.

Thought: Schools from those leagues had better hope they don’t find themselves in need of love from the human polls to get to the No. 1 or 2 spot in the case of a close vote. I say teams from those leagues should get no benefit of the doubt. My guess is they’d see the value of a playoff if it was one of their teams on the outside looking in.

And by the way, another league opposing the playoff proposal is the Big East. “We don’t think a playoff is in the best interest of college football,” Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese told the Associated Press.

Not only is it in the best interest of college football, but it’s in the best interest of the Big East, which is unlikely ever to get a team into the title game without a playoff.

And finally, one more treat for the horse-weary: A respite courtesy of ESPNU. As its tribute to the Derby on Saturday, the network will air 19 hours of University of Louisville replays. All games will be from 2007 or ’08. The lineup, as sent to me:




12 a.m.

West Virginia at Louisville


3 a.m.

2008 BIG EAST Women’s Semifinal: Louisville at West Virginia

Women’s Basketball

4:30 a.m.

Marquette at Louisville

Men’s Basketball

6 a.m.

Syracuse at Louisville

Men’s Basketball

7:30 a.m.

Louisville at Marquette

Men’s Basketball

9 a.m.

Notre Dame at Louisville

Men’s Basketball

10:30 a.m.

Georgetown at Louisville

Men’s Basketball

7 p.m.

Rutgers at Louisville



25 thoughts on “Alternate column: Big news for Lasege, Kiddie Cats and a Hoosier crackpot

  1. Finally, a decent sports column admong all the derby junk that people pretend to care about for a few days.Thank you….

  2. Fixed, Anonymous. You’re right. UK did beat out Saint Louis for Harrelson. Though I’d suggest if they want to please the fan base, they’d be well-advised to get in recruiting pools with, say, upper-division Atlantic 10 programs instead of those at the bottom. Thanks for posting.

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