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.

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Posts about NCAA

Teague says Gophers are 'extremely pleased' with Power 5 autonomy vote

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: August 7, 2014 - 2:41 PM

Gophers AD Norwood Teague issued a statement Thursday on the NCAA vote that will give the Power 5 conferences, including the Big Ten, autonomy to make their own rules.

“We are extremely pleased the Division I Board of Directors has approved a structure that allows more freedom in addressing issues related to our student-athletes and providing them with the support needed to perform in the classroom, in their respective sports and later in life," Teague said in his statement. "We look forward to working with our Big Ten and NCAA partners in determining how best to do this as we enter a period of dynamic change and transformation for the NCAA.

“While there is much to sort out as we move forward, we are excited about having the ability to focus intently on the well-being of our student-athletes, while continuing to provide our university, alumni and fans with the many benefits college athletics brings.”

For more on what this means for college sports, check out this story by Strib columnist Chip Scoggins:

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, 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.


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