Sometimes, common sense has to prevail in the NCAA’s decision making process. There are times that schools and individual athletes are not trying to circumvent the rules, yet they are made out to be the bad guy when that is truly not the case. After serving our country for five years in the Marines, freshman Steven Rhodes was attempting to become eligible to play football at Middle Tennessee State. Originally, the NCAA ruled Rhodes ineligible, citing the fact that he played in a recreational league during his military service. After an outpouring of outrage by sports media members and the public, the NCAA reversed its decision and granted Rhodes a full four years of eligibility. That is using common sense, my friends. Finally justice was done when the NCAA reinstated him. Then there is the case of Donte Hill of Old Dominion. The NCAA ruled he is not eligible for the upcoming season because he participated in a closed scrimmage while with Clemson almost three years ago. He would have been the lone senior on the Monarchs roster this season and his absence is a blow to coach Jeff Jones. The bottom line is, a just ruling would have been to suspend him for a few games this season and then render him eligible. Being part of a scrimmage before transferring should not lead to such a harsh punishment. It is all about common sense. I hope the NCAA revisits that decision. It is truly unfair, and hurting a young man who deserved better. Kerwin Okoro of Rutgers should be granted eligibility to play at Rutgers immediately. Okoro’s case, involving the loss of his brother and father, has been well documented – he clearly has a sympathetic reason to be granted a waiver. It is not easy making rulings over eligibility. I give the NCAA credit for the way it went back and made the Rhodes situation right.
College football kicks off next week and it should be excitement galore. This is going to be a season dominated by quarterbacks. Think about how many quality players there are at the position. I really love the leadership of Alabama’s AJ McCarron. He has that winning experience, leading the Tide to the national championship last season. Ohio State has a great performer in Braxton Miller. He can run and pass and the Buckeyes were unbeaten last season. Urban Meyer may have the Heisman frontrunner according to many experts. Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M won the Heisman last season and the Aggies are in the preseason top 10. His status is up in the air following allegations of being paid to sign autographs, a no-no according to the NCAA. Also keep an eye on Tajh Boyd of Clemson and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota as stars who should put up big numbers.
It was an honor to share the microphone for the breakfast this morning to kick off the US Masters Rowing Championship at Nathan Benderson Park. The Benderson family has done wonders for our area, building a world class rowing venue. The venue is so special it will attract major events and right now there is a great chance that the 2017 World Rowing Championships will come here to our area. The economic impact to our area will be astronomical. The Benderson family should be commended and the Governor made that very clear in his remarks this morning. It was thru the vision of the Benderson’s, that this venue became a reality. One of the key people throughout this process is VP Paul Blackletter. He has done a phenomenal job in uniting everyone in building the best venue in the world. This is one special place and I was absolutely honored to talk about Randy Benderson and his family and their vision. They never believed in “can’t” and share so many of my beliefs and values.
Major League Baseball made its decision and 12 players received 50 game suspensions. There were several prominent names, including Nelson Cruz of Texas and Jhonny Peralta of Detroit. The Tigers were smart enough to acquire Jose Iglesias from Boston to fill the void of Peralta’s absence.
The one player suspended longer was Alex Rodriguez, who was given 211 games on the sidelines pending his appeal.
My friends, baseball is trying to clean up the sport. I am so sick and tired of these stories.
As for A. Rod., I have not heard him say that he did not take PEDs. He has fought the allegations because he is trying to salvage his contract over the long run.
Give me a break. To those that say A. Rod. is innocent until the process plays out, I counter with this. If he was innocent, he would scream that he did not do PEDs.
The whole situation is disappointing.
It is always an exciting time for my wife and I to be with all the youngsters from the Boys and and Girls Clubs. Today was our Dick Vitale Scholarship Day and Awards event and it really thrills me to see youngsters chasing their dreams and their goals. I told them to never, ever believe in the word “CAN’T” and to always make good decision and choices in pursuing their goals. My wife and I presented a total of $5,000 in college scholarships— $1,000 each to five outstanding Club members bound for college. As long-time supporters of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County, we have donated a total of $80,000 for scholarships in the last 16 years.
The news coming out of Chapel Hill, NC has not been good. Tar Heels leading scorer, P.J. Hairston, has been in the headlines too often. Lately, he has had a string of off-court issues. He was cited twice in the span of a month while driving a rental vehicle linked to a convicted felon. Those charges were later dropped. Then he was charged with reckless driving, going over 90 mph in a 65 mph zone. That latest indiscretion led to a suspension from the UNC basketball team. Think about it, there is obviously a problem here. It is all about his decision making. I have said it many times, in motivational speeches and in columns here on the website – life is very simple. When you make good decision, positive things happen for you. When you make bad decisions, a lot of negative things happen to you…just ask P.J. Hairston.
It is time for Mr. Hairston to look in the mirror and take grip of what is happening. He has a great base to work with, at a program that has an incredible track record. Look at all the greats that have worn that Carolina Blue – Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Kenny Smith, Phil Ford and the list goes on and on. Hairston not only represents North Carolina but himself and his family. He represents that tradition, and he should do so with a sense of pride and passion.
It is time for him to be accountable for his actions. He must learn from his mistakes. I hope and pray he does. I want nothing than to see young kids reach their potential. He should not be a quitter and it is time to grab on to the people who want to help him. He has a Hall of Fame coach in Roy Williams, a man who is always about doing things the right way. He has reached a point where he has embarrassed himself, those friends and family, but also the Tar Heels program. There is time to turn things around, and that time is now!
I have had a fantastic time having the opportunity to address the top three summit groups for Merrill Lynch at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs. I can’t thank John Field, Head of Global Wealth Management for Merrill Lynch, for being so kind and cordial to my wife and I. Also a sincere thank you to Janet Ashley and all her people who really made it such an enjoyable 10 days at the Broadmoor. Janet’s staff, including Rosie, Casey and Patty, did everything they could to make our stay as special as can be. What really thrilled me was the warm response of all their advisers. At all of the sessions, I was blessed and fortunate to receive a standing ovation. I tried to pour my heart out to them about the Game of Life. I shared with them many stories from my journey from teaching the 6th grade to ESPN. I also talked about how fortunate and blessed I am to have a great TEAM surrounding me, which has been vital on me being honored by the National Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Sportscaster Hall of Fame. This trip is one I will always treasure and cherish. Thank you Merrill Lynch and to put it in Vitalese, you are Awesome Baby with a capital A!
I have always been inspired by Robin Roberts. She has shown tremendous courage throughout her battle with cancer. She was honored with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPY’s on Wednesday night in Los Angeles. Her story and acceptance speech left no dry eyes in the house. Robin is a special lady. I was thrilled when I heard she was being honored. We have to beat the dreaded disease of cancer. If you want to help, call 1-800-4-JIMMYV.
We have had a blast in the Colorado area these last few days. We are staying at the breathtaking resort, the Broadmoor. In between breaks for speaking for Merrill Lynch, we have taken some day trips. We went to the US Olympic village and took a tour. I loved seeing the facilities that are utilized by our athletes in training for the Olympics. We also made a trip to Boulder to see the University of Colorado. The mountains in the background are simply picturesque, absolutely beautiful. We spent time on their version of Franklin Street ala UNC, Pearl Street, which is filled with shops, stores and restaurants. A beautiful, beautiful campus. Also had a chance to see the Garden of Gods, my friends it was spectacular to see what mother nature has created. We also had a highlight of going to Red Rocks, one of the best venues in all of entertainment. Had a chance to see John Mayer and the 2012 American Idol winner, Phillip Phillips. John and I both had surgeries on our throat by famed throat surgeon, Steven Zeitel. John is an incredible guitarist and singer. We got the chance to meet John Mayer after the show, and he could not have been nicer to us. My new buddy, John Mayer, a superstar. At the end of our trip we will see my good friend in concert, Kenny Chesney. Can’t wait to see him, as he always puts on the most entertaining shows. A terrific trip to Colorado, lots of great memories made!
I got a chance to get a tour of the Air Force Academy today but also was thrilled beyond belief to throw out the first pitch at the Rockies Triple AAA team the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. The general manager, Tony Ensor, could not have been any nicer. He treated my wife and I liked royalty. It was great to meet many of the players. It is amazing how many of them have played in the major leagues like Jeff Francis and Aaron Cook. How good have they been as major leaguers? They rank #1 and #2 in wins for the Rockies major league franchise. But as one gets older, they slip a little and have to battle their way back. Also a member of the Springs Sky Sox is a former Rays player, Reid Brignac and former Yankee, Xavier Naty. Yes I threw out the first pitch baby! Maybe they will give me a try out baby.