Baylor’s Dave Aranda gets contract extension through 2028 season

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
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WACO, Texas — Baylor coach Dave Aranda has agreed to a contract extension through the 2028 season after leading the Bears to a Big 12 championship and a school-record 12 wins capped by a Sugar Bowl victory on New Year’s Day and a No. 5 ranking in the final AP Top 25 poll.

The school announced the extension two months after athletic director Mack Rhoades had said there was a verbal agreement to amend the contract of the coach who at that time was being mentioned for several head coach openings. The private school does not disclose specific contract terms.

Aranda is 14-9 in his two seasons at Baylor, where he is a head coach for the first time. The 45-year-old Aranda was coming off an undefeated national championship as LSU’s defensive coordinator when he got a six-year contract in January 2020 after Matt Rhule left the Bears to become coach of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

“My family and I are truly appreciative of the tremendous support we have received from Mack, President (Linda) Livingstone and the entire Waco community,” Aranda said. “I look forward to continuing the work we’ve started on and off the field in the years to come.”

Baylor went 2-7 in Aranda’s altered and shortened debut season. He wasn’t even able to have spring practices with his new team after taking the job because of the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bears were much improved on defense and had new offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes in 2021. They made it to the Big 12 title game for the second time in three seasons, winning 21-16 after safety Jairon McVea knocked Oklahoma State running back Dezmon Jackson out of bounds just inches short of the end zone pylon on his desperate, fourth-down dive.

Baylor’s only other Big 12 titles came in 2013 and 2014 under coach Art Briles, who was fired in May 2016 after the revelation of a sprawling sexual assault scandal. A lingering NCAA investigation related to that case was finally resolved last August, just before the season.

While there were no players or coaches remaining from Briles’ tenure, Baylor was placed on four years of probation while still able to play in postgame games. Aranda and his staff had to deal with a reduction of 30 official visits and a three-week ban on unofficial visits during recruiting this academic year.

Aranda was named the AP Big 12 coach of the year even before Baylor beat Ole Miss 21-7 in the Sugar Bowl and finished with its highest ranking ever in a season-ending AP Top 25 poll. The Bears’ 12-2 record included five wins over ranked teams, a single-season school record.

“Dave has brought unprecedented success to our football program both on and off the field. He has brought tremendous national exposure and acclaim to our institution and the greater Waco community,” Rhoades said. “Dave is, without question, one of the most brilliant minds in college football across the country.”

When he left LSU, Aranda was the highest-paid college assistant at $2.5 million a season, and had been a Power Five defensive coordinator for seven seasons. He was at Wisconsin from 2013-15 before spending four years at LSU. He began his college coaching career in the Big 12 as a graduate assistant at Texas Tech from 1999-2001.

Livingstone said Baylor is “extremely pleased” to make a long-term commitment Aranda after one of the most successful seasons in school history.

“We believe he has our football program and our student-athletes poised for ongoing development and sustained success,” Livingstone said. “We appreciate how Coach Aranda represents Baylor, and his sincere commitment to our Christian mission and our student-athletes is evident in all that he does.”

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.