Written by Jeff Latzke, AP Sports Writer Thursday, 31 March 2011 20:02
A judge is deciding whether Oklahoma State basketball player Darrell (duh-RELL') Williams should stand trial on felony charges that allege he inappropriately touched two women without their consent.
During a full day of testimony Thursday, the two female students said Williams reached into their pants against their will at a December party.
The 21-year-old Williams is charged with one count of sexual battery and three counts of rape by instrumentation. He's pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors are asking the judge to add another count of rape by instrumentation, along with sexual battery and kidnapping.
Judge Michael Stano says a ruling won't come until Monday, because he needs to review whether to allow the defense to call witnesses.
Written by Steve Szkotak, Associated Press Thursday, 31 March 2011 04:44
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On a campus where hundreds have lined up daily to buy Final Four T-shirts at $21.98 each, VCU film students Caroline Miller and Tommy Bell were selling glazed doughnuts at $1 a pop while pausing to reflect on their school's improbable run.
"I've never seen this much school spirit," said Miller, standing behind boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, the sticky sweet attraction of their arts fundraiser. "On Sunday, you couldn't even walk outside without cracking a grin for how proud the school is right now."
Building steam, Miller added, "I think the school is going to, like, massively grow — it's just going to explode."
Bell has been caught up in the Rams' run, too, and shares the widely held view that the basketball team's inspirational performance can only benefit the school.
"VCU's a great school, in my opinion," said the sophomore from Knoxville, Tenn. "If it gets more attention, more people, more tuition, I don't think it can hurt."
From the president's office to City Hall, Virginia Commonwealth University's trip to college basketball's most exclusive gathering is viewed as a huge plus for this urban campus of 32,303 students and the city in which it occupies some prime real estate. It's a great opportunity to highlight the school's academics while dispelling some myths in the process.
"What's happening is there's an enormous level of interest from all kinds of people in VCU right now," school President Michael Rao said Tuesday. "We're really on everyone's screen."
Rao expects VCU's first trip to the Final Four, where it plays Butler for a spot in the championship game, to double the school's annual giving to $80 million in a decade, along with bringing in more research dollars and attracting more students.
He's also intent on setting the record straight: VCU is not a commuter school and it is not an open-access school.
"People will say to me — and it makes me crazy — 'What's your average SAT score? Is it up near a thousand yet?' Well, it's well over a thousand," Rao said.
For the record, it's just under 1,100.
"It's not a commuter school anymore," Rao said. "We can't build housing fast enough."
VCU dates its origins to 1838, when it was the medical department of Hampden-Sydney College, and became Virginia Commonwealth University in 1968. It now occupies vast expanses of Richmond at the tip of The Fan, a residential district of stately homes and trendy restaurants.
The campus is a mix of brownstones fitting of Boston's Back Bay and high-rise student housing that could pass for Moscow apartment buildings — all concrete and metal. The campus also includes the 52.4-acre VCU Medical Center across downtown.
The optimism inspired by the team's trip to Houston is reminiscent of another Virginia school and its 2006 appearance in the Final Four: George Mason. The two are rivals on the court in the Colonial Athletic Association, and jockey annually for the claim as the school with the largest enrollment in the state.
"It was an exhilarating time," George Mason spokesman Daniel Walsch recalled. "It was not like anything we've experienced before."
A study conducted by the school concluded the Final Four appearance resulted in immediate gains. Admissions inquiries increased by 350 percent, alumni became more active and fundraising continues to climb. The study estimated the value of free media exposure at $677 million.
"Student demand has certainly increased dramatically" Walsch said, "to the point where we're bursting at the seams."
At VCU, the bookstore has been a visible barometer of the school's popularity as the Rams upset their way to the Final Four, with a stunning victory over top-seeded Kansas last Sunday the biggest of all. About 600 people lined up after that win for the latest shipment of clothing and memorabilia celebrating the team's historic run.
Amy Randolph, the store general manager, hasn't been able to keep apace of demand as lines have snaked around the building, just down the busy thoroughfare where the Rams play.
"So many have come down on their lunch break," Randolph said. "I've heard so many people say I'm not even a basketball fan but I had to get a Final Four shirt."
Bob Dickerson, a 1990 VCU grad, was sizing up a yellow golf shirt with the VCU logo. He was looking for something to wear to work Friday at Virginia Dominion Power. Its downtown high-rise saluted the team in lights Monday with the words: "VCU GO RAMS!"
"It's incredible, just incredible," he said. "I don't think even Kentucky can stop them."
Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, who came from Philadelphia to attend Virginia Union University, said the Rams' success can only be good for his city of approximately 200,000. It was also rooting for the University of Richmond, which made it to the round of 16.
"We're riding the wave and we're really excited about the national attention," Jones said. "People need to know that Richmond is a city on the rise, that we're up and coming. Thirty-three-thousand students can't be wrong."
Jones said he planned on attending the Final Four.
"How can you be the mayor of Hoopstown and not go to Houston?" he asked.
Written by Chris Jenkins, AP Sports Writer Wednesday, 30 March 2011 15:27
Marquette took a chance on Buzz Williams back in 2008, hiring a relative unknown whose name elicited head scratches and shoulder shrugs from fans and alumni in the wake of Tom Crean's disappointing departure for Indiana.
Now that Williams has led the Golden Eagles to the NCAA tournament in all three of his seasons as head coach — including a surprise run to the round of 16 this year — it is clear the school's gamble has paid off.
And they're sweetening the deal to keep him around.
Marquette announced Wednesday that it has finalized a new contract with Williams, who led the team through an uneven regular season to beat Xavier and Syracuse in the NCAA tournament before they bowed out to North Carolina. Terms were not disclosed.
The new deal presumably takes Williams' name out of the running for several high-profile programs looking for a new coach.
"I was given an opportunity beyond my wildest dreams 1,086 days ago and my entire family is extremely humbled and grateful by the opportunity to continue this journey," Williams said in a statement. "Too much attention is given to my position, but I assure you, it's the collective ownership of all of those who impact our program daily, who have developed the culture we currently have. I am thankful to all of those who work so diligently to make our program the success it is today."
Williams was a surprising hire after Crean left in 2008. He had been a head coach for only one season — at the University of New Orleans in 2006-07 — when he joined Crean as an assistant. Since taking over, Williams has led Marquette to three straight NCAA tournaments, is 69-37 overall and 32-22 in Big East play.
Athletic director Steve Cottingham said the new deal recognizes Williams' status as "one of the rising stars" in the college coaching ranks.
"The current direction of the program under his leadership fits perfectly into the mission and values of the University," Cottingham said. "Buzz has done a tremendous job guiding the program to successes both on and off the court and we look forward to that continuing for many years to come."
As speculation about Williams' future at Marquette grew during the Golden Eagles' tournament run, the coach said he would address the issue after the season. Even before the 81-63 loss to North Carolina, Williams reiterated that he was thankful to Marquette.
"Marquette gave me a chance when I had no job," Williams said then. "That's the deal."
Despite the tough loss to the Tar Heels, it was Marquette's best performance in the NCAA tournament since 2003, when Crean's Dwyane Wade-led team made the Final Four.
Williams has maintained the program's success largely through the addition of junior college transfers. But Williams also has reeled in a few marquee players — including Madison native Vander Blue, who originally had committed to in-state rival Wisconsin before coming to play at Marquette.
The new contract is another step in a unique journey for Williams, who got his start in coaching as a student assistant at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas.
He went out to meet every college coach he could from there, then began writing frequent letters to all of them in hopes of getting his foot in the door.
"I didn't know anything about college basketball, to be honest with you," Williams said recently. "But I knew how to say 'Yes, sir,' and 'No, sir.' I wasn't scared to work, and I knew that being polite and being honest would at least give you a chance."
He eventually landed a $400-per-month assistant job at Texas-Arlington in 1994, and worked his way up the ladder.
"I just knew that the only chance I had as a non-player, as no one that was connected to anybody associated with anybody in college athletics, was to wake up early, be very hard and diligent and effective and efficient in my work, to always tell the truth and to always try to treat people the right way," Williams said.
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Written by John Zenor, AP Sports Writer Wednesday, 30 March 2011 14:57
Four former Auburn players have told HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" that they received thousands of dollars while being recruited by or playing for the Tigers.
Stanley McClover, Troy Reddick, Chaz Ramsey and Raven Gray made the allegations in an episode of the show airing Wednesday night.
Auburn declined comment. None of the players was on last season's national championship team and none has played for Auburn more recently than 2007.
McClover says he received money for a $7,000, 1973 Chevrolet Impala from an unidentified Auburn booster and that he was paid $4,000 after a four-sack game against rival Alabama.
He, Reddick and Ramsey all said they were paid up to $400 after games. Gray says he received $3,000 from someone he called Auburn representative during his recruitment.Add a comment
Written by (AP) Tuesday, 29 March 2011 19:56
Pittsburgh junior Ashton Gibbs will declare for the NBA draft, but he will not hire an agent during the process.
Gibbs has until April 24 to formally apply and submit his NBA paperwork. As long as he doesn't hire an agent, he would have until May 8 to withdraw his name without losing his eligibility with the Panthers.
Gibbs, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound guard from Scotch Plains, N.J., has led the Panthers in scoring the last two seasons.
Pitt, a No. 1 seed and the Big East regular-season champions, lost in the second of round of the NCAA tournament to Butler 71-70.
Gibbs averaged 16.8 points this season, a career high, while shooting 49 percent from 3-point range. He had 26 points in a 74-51 first-round win over N.C. Asheville, but finished with just 11 in the loss to the Bulldogs.
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