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The Sports Report: What does USC’s new president mean for the athletic program?

Carol Folt

Howdy everyone, my name is Houston Mitchell, proprietor of this here newsletter. Hey, opening day for the Dodgers and the Angels is one week from today.

USC

USC named a new school president on Wednesday, hiring Carol Folt, who most recently was the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Folt will become the first female president in USC’s 139-year history. You can read all about her here.

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But what does this mean for the athletic programs?

J. Brady McCollough took a look at that. An excerpt:

“Carol Folt had never been tasked with overseeing a big-time college athletic department when she arrived on the campus of North Carolina in July 2013.

“It was North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham’s job to fill her in, and in the months before she officially began her tenure as the university’s chancellor, there were two decades’ worth of drama to discuss. North Carolina had gone through several internal reviews looking into allegations of academic fraud involving Tar Heel athletes being funneled into “no-show” classes that required students to complete just one paper to pass — an embarrassing situation that many on the school’s academic side felt remained unresolved.

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“The NCAA had made camp there and slapped the football program with a postseason ban, a scholarship reduction and a three-year probation after finding that a tutor had completed coursework for players and that improper benefits had been provided by agents.

“It was a lot to take in for Folt, who had only been the interim president at Dartmouth University of the Ivy League. But Cunningham, who took over as athletic director in November 2011, expressed confidence that it was in the rearview mirror.

“We both thought it was over,” Cunningham said when reached by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday after USC announced Folt as its new president.

“North Carolina’s top administrators, it turned out, may have just been wishing their problems away. Within six months of Folt’s arrival, a professor in the African- and Afro-American Studies was indicted for allegedly accepting $12,000 for teaching a class that didn’t exist. In February 2014, North Carolina commissioned an independent investigation by former U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Wainstein. By the end of June, the NCAA had announced a second look into Tar Heel athletics.

“But, for as complex as the athletics situation as North Carolina became under her watch, the mess she’s inheriting at USC could be even more challenging to navigate.”

Not a real Lakers fan

You’ve probably seen him at Lakers games. His name is Jimmy Goldstein. He’s the older gentleman sitting courtside next to the visitor’s bench dressed in all leather, with a neck scarf and a python-skin hat. He has been a constant at Lakers games for years.

Turns out he hates the Lakers.

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“I am a big Clippers fan and I have always been an anti-Lakers fan,” Goldstein told Arash Markazi earlier this week. “I’m always rooting for the visiting team. Everywhere I go, all over the world, people walk up to me and say, ‘Go Lakers!’ I tell them, ‘I’m not a Lakers fan.’ They look shocked. They say, ‘But you go to all the games?’ And I say, ‘Yes, to watch basketball, not to root for the Lakers.’

“I didn’t grow up in Los Angeles so when I came to L.A. I didn’t feel any compulsion to suddenly root for the Lakers when I never had before. I also like to root for the underdog and I don’t like to go with the crowd. The Lakers have had it too easy over the years. They’ve had a big advantage over other teams. They’ve always gotten the star players from other teams whether it’s Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and now LeBron James. They’ve had such a huge advantage over small-town teams. It motivated me to root for the other teams. Plus, the Lakers fans are so biased in favor of the Lakers, it makes me root against them.

“I have to chuckle over the Lakers’ problems, missing the playoffs six years in a row and not even finishing close to .500,” Goldstein said. “The Lakers fans deserve it.”

I’m thinking that if you spent all that money on courtside seats over the years, not to mention parking and whatever refreshments you may be, then it’s the Lakers who have the last laugh, not Jimmy Goldstein.

March Madness

A look at the First Four and the first-round TV schedule:

Wednesday’s First Four results

No. 16 North Dakota State 78, No. 16 North Carolina Central 74

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No. 11 Arizona State 74, No. 11 St. John’s 65

Thursday -- First Round

No. 10 Minnesota vs. No. 7 Louisville (Des Moines), 9:15 a.m. -- CBS

No. 14 Yale vs. No. 3 LSU (Jacksonville, Fla.), 9:40 a.m. -- truTV

No. 12 New Mexico State vs. No. 5 Auburn (Salt Lake City), 10:30 a.m. -- TNT

No. 13 Vermont vs. No. 4 Florida State (Hartford, Conn.), 11 a.m. -- TBS

No. 15 Bradley vs. No. 2 Michigan State (Des Moines), 11:45 a.m. -- CBS

No. 11 Belmont vs. No. 6 Maryland (Jacksonville), 12:10 p.m. -- truTV

No. 13 Northeastern vs. No. 4 Kansas (Salt Lake City), 1 p.m. -- TNT

No. 12 Murray State vs. No. 5 Marquette (Hartford), 1:30 p.m. -- TBS

No. 10 Florida vs. No. 7 Nevada (Des Moines), 3:50 p.m. -- TNT

No. 15 Abilene Christian vs. No. 2 Kentucky (Jacksonville), 4:10 p.m. -- CBS

No. 11 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 6 Villanova (Hartford), 4:20 p.m. -- TBS

No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (Salt Lake City), 4:27 p.m. -- truTV

No. 15 Montana vs. No. 2 Michigan (Des Moines), 6:20 p.m. -- TNT

No. 10 Seton Hall vs. No. 7 Wofford (Jacksonville), 6:40 p.m. -- CBS

No. 14 Old Dominion vs. No. 3 Purdue (Hartford), 6:50 p.m. -- TBS

No. 9 Baylor vs. No. 8 Syracuse (Salt Lake City), 6:57 p.m. -- truTV

Friday -- First Round

No. 10 Iowa vs. No. 7 Cincinnati (Columbus, Ohio), 9:15 a.m. -- CBS

No. 9 Oklahoma vs. No. 8 Ole Miss (Columbia, S.C.), 9:40 a.m. -- truTV

No. 14 Northern Kentucky vs. No. 3 Texas Tech (Tulsa, Okla.) 10:30 a.m. -- TNT

No. 13 UC Irvine vs. No. 4 Kansas State (San Jose), 11 a.m. -- TBS

No. 15 Colgate vs. No. 2 Tennessee (Columbus), 11:45 a.m. -- CBS

No. 16 Gardner-Webb vs. No. 1 Virginia (Columbia), 12:10 p.m. -- truTV

No. 11 Arizona State vs. No. 6 Buffalo (Tulsa), 1 p.m. -- TNT

No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 5 Wisconsin (San Jose), 1:30 p.m. ET -- TBS

No. 9 Washington vs. No. 8 Utah State (Columbus), 3:50 p.m. -- TNT

No. 16 North Dakota State vs. No. 1 Duke (Columbia), 4:10 p.m. -- CBS

No. 14 Georgia State vs. No. 3 Houston (Tulsa), 4:20 p.m. -- TBS

No. 12 Liberty vs. No. 5 Mississippi State (San Jose), 4:27 p.m. -- truTV

No. 16 Iona vs. No. 1 North Carolina (Columbus), 6:20 p.m. -- TNT

No. 9 UCF vs. No. 8 VCU (Columbia), 6:40 p.m. -- CBS

No. 11 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Iowa State (Tulsa), 6:50 p.m. -- TBS

No. 13 Saint Louis vs. No. 4 Virginia Tech (San Jose), 6:57 p.m. -- truTV

Horse racing

Santa Anita is inching toward its projected March 29 opening after having closed for live racing on March 5 following a dramatic increase in the number of horse fatalities. Since Dec. 26, 22 horses have died either in racing or training. What happened at Santa Anita has been a mystery that remains unsolved. When the track reopens, the stakes are very high and all eyes will be on horse safety.

The Los Angeles Times gathered a roundtable of three well-known experts with more than a century of knowledge working in the horse racing industry to try and dig down into what went wrong at Santa Anita and where things go from here.

On the panel are Alan Balch, a former Santa Anita executive who has also worked with other horse breeds, and is executive director of California Thoroughbred Trainers; Joe Harper, president and chief executive officer at Del Mar, who has been running the track since 1978; and Ryan Carpenter, one of the top equine surgeons in the country and who works on the backstretch of Santa Anita.

You can read their thoughts by clicking here. Even if you aren’t a horse racing fan, it’s a fascinating look into the ongoing crisis.

Odds and Ends

Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw takes another positive step toward a return…. Mike Trout’s record-breaking Angels contract is made official…. NBA players who’ve been traded have a helping hand when it comes to moving…. Playoffs? Young Clippers refuse to get ahead of themselves…. Tyson Chandler: Lakers’ season was derailed by ‘the perfect storm.'… Matisse Thybulle’s ability to conjure instant defense makes him Washington’s big threat…. Infusion of youth and new tactics will be on display for U.S. men’s soccer against Ecuador…. Proposal from Angels on parking lot development is expected in two to four months…. T.J. Dillashaw relinquishes UFC bantamweight belt after positive drug test…. Kings’ Drew Doughty says his defense is getting better, despite the ugly numbers…. The Ducks lost to the Winnipeg Jets, 3-0.

Sports Podcast

On the latest episode of the “Arrive Early, Leave Late” podcast, USC writer Brady McCollough and enterprise reporter Nathan Fenno delve into the college admissions scandal that has led to the indictment of dozens of people, including four with ties to the Trojans.

Of all the schools linked to the scandal, USC is the only one with an adminstrator — former senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel — alleged to be involved. McCullough gets into the details of the scandal and discusses whether or not there is still more to uncover.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking here.

Today’s local major sports schedule (all times Pacific)

Dodgers vs. Milwaukee, 1 p.m., AM 570

Angels vs. Arizona, 1 p.m., FSW, KLAA 830

San Jose at Kings, 7:30 p.m., FSW

Born on this date

1918: Sportscaster Howard Cosell

1937: Former Raiders coach Tom Flores

1960: Race car driver Ayrton Senna

And finally

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me here. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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