Reports: Presidents meeting to discuss CFP expansion

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The university presidents who oversee the College Football Playoff are scheduled to meet to discuss expanding the four-team format, re-opening the possibility that a new model for crowning a champion could be implemented as soon as the 2024 season.

Two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday that CFP’s Board of Managers, led by Mississippi State President Mark Keenum, is set to convene by video conference.

There is no guarantee the presidents will take any official action or vote to approve an expansion model, but another person familiar with the situation told AP they would like to accelerate a process that had ground to a halt six months ago.

All the people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the board’s plans were not being made public.

The CFP management committee, comprised of 10 FBS conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director, is scheduled to meet next week in Dallas.

The management committee is responsible for hashing out a format for the CFP, but the presidents have the final say on what happens with the playoff.

Back in February, CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock announced expansion talks among the commissioners had failed to produce the needed unanimous consensus in time for the format to change before the end of the current contract with ESPN. That deal runs through the 2025.

The CFP recently announced the sites of the championship games for the final two seasons of the current 12-year deal.

Hancock said back in February that expansion talks would resume later in the year with a focus on what the playoff would be starting in 2026.

Since then, the commissioners who opposed the proposed 12-team format have seemingly softened their stances. The commissioners left a June meeting with renewed optimism their differences could be worked out, one of the people said.

Last year, the relatively new commissioners of the Pac-12, Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference pushed back against an expanded playoff plan that was unveiled in the summer 2021.

The 12-team model, that included six conference champions and six at-large teams, had been worked on for more than two years by a group of four commissioners, including Greg Sankey of the Southeastern Conference.

Concerns about automatic access for certain conferences, how the Rose Bowl would fit into an expanded format and the health and safety of players competing in as many as 17 games were cited as reasons against the 12-team plan.

Failure to get agreement on expansion left Sankey and others frustrated. Expanding the playoff before the end of the current television deal has been estimated to be worth an additional $450 million in media rights to the conferences.

At the SEC meetings in late May, Keenum said the presidents wanted the commissioners to provide a plan for the next CFP format no later than June 2023.

Keenum also said then that the presidents planned to take a more active role in expansion talks and that he wanted them to meet again before the end of the summer to “continue the dialogue.”

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.