Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.

Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.

Posts about NCAA

Big Ten statement stresses urgency for a new NCAA model, giving five power conferences autonomy

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: June 2, 2014 - 10:53 AM

The Big Ten is ready for significant NCAA change. Commissioner Jim Delany has long made that clear, but the conference issued a statement Sunday stressing that it supports a new model that would give autonomy to the five power conferences (including the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC).

The statement echoed the urgency the Pac-12 presidents had in their letter last month. The five power conferences are ready for this new model now, so they can begin providing athletes with "full cost of attendance scholarships” and other enhanced benefits.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive said Friday that if the Power Five conferences aren't given the flexibility to form their own bylaws, they might have to form a new NCAA Division -- Division IV. The Big Ten didn't go that far, but here's how it summed up its annual June meeting of the Big Ten's Council of Presidents/Chancellors:

Key areas of discussion focused on NCAA restructuring, the need for autonomy for the 65 institutions comprising the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, and ensuring accountability for delivering reform.

Similar to Pac-12 letter, the Big Ten stressed the urgency of taking action now:

While the NCAA Board of Directors’ Steering Committee on Governance has made good progress in the area of autonomy, more work needs to be done as we seek to implement a 21st century governance structure that preserves the collegiate model while allowing each school to focus on improved student-athlete welfare.

Why autonomy? Because the power five conferences are ready to start implementing these changes but have met resistance from the lower-revenue conferences. From the statement (with highlights of what the athletes could get in bold):

The Big Ten continues to strongly support full cost of attendance scholarships, reasonable on-going medical or insurance assistance to student-athletes, continued efforts to reduce the incidence of disabling injury, guaranteed scholarships to complete a bachelor’s degree, decreased time demands and enhanced time to fully engage in campus life, adjusted restrictions on preparing for careers based on advice and counsel of agents and a meaningful role in governance for student-athletes.

Some other key points:

The [Big Ten presidents] also examined three other principal objectives for reform proposed by the Pac-12 presidents – strengthening the Academic Progress Rate (APR) requirements for post-season play, the “one and done” culture in men’s basketball and liberalizing current limits on transfer rules. While the concept of increasing APR requirements has not been discussed in the past, the Big Ten has long supported increased academic standards for all institutions. With respect to the issues of the “one and done” culture and transfer rules, the [Big Ten council of presidents] agrees that these are important issues that should be examined and addressed in cogent ways.

Gophers receive passing marks -- and then some -- in latest APR report

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: May 14, 2014 - 2:20 PM

The Gophers athletics department received passing scores – and then some – Wednesday, as the NCAA released its latest Academic Progress Rates (APR) report.

All 25 Gophers teams exceeded the 930 multi-year score required to avoid penalties such as a loss of scholarships. The men’s basketball team and men’s hockey team were among 18 Gophers programs that recorded perfect 1,000 scores for the 2012-13 school year.

The Gophers football program posted a 994 score for that year, matching its record from the previous year.

The annual APR report offers a snapshot of each program’s academic success. The latest NCAA multi-year numbers examine the school years from 2009-10 through 2012-13.

In 2009, under then-coach Tim Brewster, the Gophers football team lost three scholarships when it posted a 915 multi-year APR. The team’s latest multi-year APR score is 962, which still ranks toward the bottom of the Big Ten but is tracking up.

Here’s a link to the Gophers’ full APR release, with a breakdown for each program.

Report: Keise voluntarily dismisses claims against NCAA

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: July 31, 2013 - 5:12 PM

Gophers wide receiver Victor Keise has voluntarily dismissed his claims against the NCAA, as part of Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit, according to AL.com, which received a copy of the court filing today. No reason was given for Keise's decision.

Gophers tight end Moses Alipate remains part of O'Bannon's lawsuit, along with four other active college players, but now Keise has been taken off that list. The players are challenging the NCAA's right to use their likenesses in video games.

Two Gophers football players join O'Bannon lawsuit

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: July 18, 2013 - 9:33 PM

Gophers tight end Moses Alipate and wide receiver Victor Keise have joined Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit against the NCAA, multiple media outlets are reporting tonight.

Alipate and Keise are among the first six current college football players to join the lawsuit, which is challenging the NCAA's right to use their names and likenesses in video games.

The other four current players are Arizona linebacker Jake Fischer, Arizona kicker Jake Smith, Clemson defensive back Darius Robinson and Vanderbilt linebacker Chase Garnham.

The 6-5, 281-pound Alipate, who was recruited as a quarterback out of Bloomington Jefferson, has converted to tight end for the Gophers and has yet to play a down heading into his senior season. Keise, from Coral Springs, Fla., has played sparingly heading into his senior season.

On Wednesday, the NCAA announced it would not renew its agreement with the video game manufacturer EA Sports.

Gophers make the grade in APR report; transfer Malik Smith closer to gaining eligibility

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: June 11, 2013 - 3:34 PM

Every Gophers athletics team received passing marks Tuesday, when the NCAA released its annual Academic Progress Rate (APR) report, and guard Malik Smith moved one step closer to gaining immediate eligibility after transferring from Florida International University.

FIU’s men’s basketball team received a one-year postseason ban for posting a multi-year APR score of 858, well below the 900 cutoff point. Athletes who transfer from a team that is banned from the postseason can get a waiver from the NCAA to compete at their new school without having to sit out a year.

The Gophers have filed for that waiver on Smith's behalf. He averaged 14.1 points as a junior last season for FIU and set a single-season school record by making 96 three pointers.

The latest NCAA multi-year numbers examine the school years from 2008-09 to 2011-12. FIU is paying the price for academic struggles under Isiah Thomas, the coach who preceded Richard Pitino.

Pitino has been credited for helping turn around FIU academically, as well as on the court, before becoming the new Gophers coach.

The annual APR offers a snapshot of how each team is performing academically. The Gophers football team’s multi-year APR increased from 932 last year to 955 this year. In 2009, under then-coach Tim Brewster, the Gophers posted a multi-year APR of 915 and were penalized with a loss of scholarships.

This year, five Gophers teams received perfect 1,000 scores -- baseball, men’s tennis, women’s basketball, women’s gymnastics and women’s soccer. Other notable Gophers scores included 955 for men’s basketball and 987 for men’s hockey.

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