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Ex-Mississippi St. coach Sherrill settles lawsuit

CANTON, Miss. — The NCAA and former Mississippi State University football coach Jackie Sherrill have settled a lawsuit in which Sherrill accused the college sports governing body of damaging his reputation.

Sherrill also said the NCAA hurt his future coaching opportunities by publicly naming him in allegations of recruitment violations in 2003.

He was Mississippi State’s head coach from 1991 to 2003 and sued the NCAA in 2004.

Financial terms of the lawsuit settlement are confidential. The agreement was reached Wednesday in Madison County Circuit Court after jurors had already heard testimony about Mississippi State’s recruiting practices under Sherrill.

“Rather than continuing what already has been a lengthy legal process, all parties have agreed to confidentially settle the claims in this case without admissions of liability or responsibility,” the NCAA’s chief legal officer, Donald Remy, said in a statement.

WLBT-TV reported that former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond testified Sherrill was diligent in following NCAA recruiting rules. Rutha Grindle, mother of former player Terrell Grindle, testified that her son’s car was paid for by her family. The NCAA had alleged he received a car to play at Mississippi State.

Sherrill, 75, lives in Wimberley, Texas. He said the conclusion to the case vindicates him.

“I’m relieved, especially after all this time,” Sherrill said after the settlement.

The lead NCAA investigator of Sherrill, Rich Johanningmeier, had been pursuing his own legal action against Sherrill. The settlement requires Johanningmeier to drop that action, the Clarion Ledger reported.

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Delany critical of CFP selection committee

CHICAGO — Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany thinks the College Football Playoff selection committee must remember its mission to value conference championships and schedule strength in determining the four participating teams.

The Big Ten champion has missed the CFP in each of the past three years, and the league has been left out entirely in 2017 and 2018. Delany, who is stepping down as commissioner on Jan. 1 after 31 years at the helm, recited the selection committee’s instructions to consider schedule and conference championships when comparing playoff candidates with similar profiles.

Delany said he didn’t understand how Ohio State, the 2018 Big Ten champion at 12-1, finished sixth in the final CFP standings, behind SEC runner-up Georgia.

“Clearly, Alabama and Clemson have separated themselves, and they have earned everything that they’ve earned in the last couple years,” Delany said at Big Ten media days. “But I’m not sure that the strength of schedule or the conference championship has been adequately rewarded.”

Delany supports the idea Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby voiced Monday to have all Power Five conference teams play at least 10 Power Five opponents. Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 teams all play nine-game conference schedules and typically at least one non-league Power Five opponent. The ACC and SEC play eight-game conference schedules, with most teams adding one non-league game against Power Five opponents and some playing two such contests.

“I’ve been disappointed, quite honestly, about the strength of schedule,” Delany said. “We’re not going to change. There may be pressure to change, but I think that’s short-selling our fans, our players, our TV partners. I’m hoping that the committee catches up with the intent of the founders.”

Delany didn’t think Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith’s presence on the CFP selection committee negatively impacted the Buckeyes’ chances for inclusion, as Smith recused himself when Ohio State was discussed. But Delany hopes the committee has “a little more continuity” going forward and hopes the CFP makes a stronger commitment to its original mission.

“We should be playing comparable schedules, and if we’re not playing comparable schedules, there ought to be some way to differentiate that,” Delany said. “But we haven’t had our way on that one.”

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