Happy hump day. Grab your coffee and get ready, because the world of sports went wild over the past 24 hours.
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In today's Sprint:
- 🏈 Creatively paying recruits
- ⚾ Workplace misconduct
- 🏀 NBA's best owner
Securing The Bag
“Hi, yes, I’ll take a Big Mac with a side of $10K, hold the mayonnaise.” - a University of Tennessee football recruit, probably.
The story: Dan Patrick broke the news that the University of Tennessee football program paid recruits. Okay, nothing out of the ordinary. What gives?
The team was too obvious about it. Reportedly, assistant coaches stuffed cash into McDonald’s bags and handed them to recruits during visits.
The outcome: Tennessee fired head coach Jeremy Pruitt and several assistant coaches before the news was released, indicating the university is attempting to move quickly to avoid sanctions from the NCAA. But, given the significant and public nature of the violations, it will be shocking if the NCAA doesn’t severely punish the Volunteers.
Zoom out: Seems like a lot of work to go 3-7. Pairing the team's recent track record with any incoming NCAA violations, suddenly the Tennessee job - once a premier destination - looks quite unattractive to top coaching candidates.
While no other programs have been implicated by the NCAA, Dan Patrick also said, “Tennessee got sloppy, Georgia has gotten sloppy.” No news yet, but if I’m a Bulldog, I’m nervous.
On a much more serious note, after reports surfaced that he sent over 60 unsolicited, inappropriate messages and pictures to a female reporter, the New York Mets fired GM Jared Porter.
Steven Cohen, the team's owner, said, “In my initial press conference I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it. There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”
The incident took place in 2016 while Porter worked for the Chicago Cubs.
For The Win
Backstory: A viral image showed former NBA player Delonte West homeless in Dallas, a city where he formerly played. He was struggling with addiction and bipolar disorder. Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban got in his car, drove around the city, and found West.
What happened next: Cuban reunited West with his mother and helped him get admitted to a Florida rehab center where West spent several months. Cuban reportedly financed the stay.
Now? West holds a job at the same facility where he received treatment.
Zoom out: Mark Cuban is known as one of the best owners in the NBA - both on and off the court. On the court, his Mavericks upset the LeBron James and Dwayne Wade-led Miami Heat to win the 2011 NBA Championship.
Off the court, Cuban:
- Continued to pay Mavs’ employees when the NBA postponed the 2020 season in March
- Implemented a reimbursement program for employees eating at local restaurants to encourage supporting small businesses
- Donated to multiple non-profits supporting healthcare workers
Back to college
The NCAA set the dates for the 2021 March Madness Tournament:
- The First Four will start on March 18th
- The Tournament will continue each weekend, culminating with the Final Four on April 3rd and the Final on April 5th - if anyone knows why NCAA Championship games are played on Mondays, please let us know. Even Reddit didn't give a good answer.
- All games will be played at various venues in and around Indianapolis.
Let's check in on some teams we'll see there:
(9-1) #3 Villanova 76 vs. (9-6) Seton Hall 74
- Villanova barely avoided the upset behind Collin Gillespie’s (22 pts) clutch performance.
(7-4) Florida 75 vs. (10-2) #6 Tennessee 49
- The Gators played their best game of the year, holding the #6 team in the country to 17-59 (29%) from the field. For context, Tennessee was an 8.5 point favorite.
(12-1) #7 Michigan 87 vs. (8-7) Maryland 63
- One stat says it all - Michigan shot 12-24 from three while Maryland went 4-19.
WATER COOLER TALK
- 🏈 Six seasons after becoming the first female on-field official, Sarah Thomas will become the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl.
- 🏈 New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas requires surgery to fix two injuries sustained this year. Knowing it may be QB Drew Brees’ last season, Thomas kept playing to try to help his QB reach the Super Bowl.
- ⚾ George Springer signed a six-year, $150M deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.
- ⛳ Tiger Woods underwent the fifth back surgery of his career. He hopes to return to the course by April in time for the 2021 Masters.
- 🥊 UFC fighter Conor McGregor, who has been on UFC's Fight Island for the past 10 days, had a multimillion-dollar personal injury lawsuit filed against him for incidents that allegedly occurred in 2018.
How many All-NBA teams did Dirk Nowitzki make during his 21 seasons with the Dallas Mavericks?
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D. 12. Nowitzki also became the first European player to win the NBA MVP award. Another European playing for the Mavs may soon become the second…