NCAA paints ugly picture of Tyndall's two seasons at Southern Miss

Donnie Tyndall did not simply allow NCAA violations to take place during his two seasons as coach at Southern Miss.

He was an active participant in more than half of the seven significant violations investigators say took place, according to a notice of allegations sent to Southern Miss on Friday.

Tyndall, fired by the University of Tennessee in March because of the investigation, and Southern Miss will have 90 days to respond.

From The Associated Press:

Tyndall said in a statement he was "very disappointed and saddened at the allegations of NCAA violations." He also said he "did not knowingly violate NCAA rules, nor did I encourage or condone rules violations by anyone on the coaching staff" and that he cooperated with the NCAA's review.

He apologized to the "Southern Miss community for any harm caused by violations that occurred."

A rundown of what NCAA investigators say he did:

• Tyndall and staff members were involved in fraudulent completion of online course work for seven prospective student athletes from June 2012 through May 2014. Five of those seven later enrolled at Southern Miss. This is a Level I allegation.

• Tyndall provided roughly $8,000 in impermissible financial aid to two student-athletes who were ineligible but competed anyway from the 2012-13 through 2014-15 academic years. One player received roughly $6,000 in cash and prepaid cards and the other received roughly $2,000 in prepaid cards. This is a Level I allegation.

• Tyndall deleted pertinent emails and provided false or misleading information to NCAA investigators between August 2014 and June 2015. He also contacted others and attempted to influence what those others would say to NCAA investigators. This is a Level I allegation.

• Tyndall did not promote an atmosphere of compliance and failed to adequately monitor the actions of staff members and administrators who reported directly or indirectly to him. This is a Level I infraction.

A Level I allegation is for conduct that “seriously undermines or threatens the integrity of the NCAA Collegiate Model.” It is considered a “severe” infraction, the worst of four-level violation structure implemented in 2013.

Thus far there has been no indication that any similar conduct occurred during Tyndall’s one season at Tennessee.

Jul 27, 2015 5:20 AM

Top-ranked Vanderbilt recruiting classes lived up to hype, formed core of CWS teams

Want to know how to build one of the best college baseball teams in America?

It’s simple. Recruit the best players.

Vanderbilt’s 2014 national championship and return to the College World Series final this week did not happen by accident. According to Baseball America, Tim Corbin and his staff put together the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class in 2011 and 2012 — and many of the players from those two groups were central to the program’s unprecedented success these past two seasons.

“You can't put it into perspective right now how I feel about our group,” Corbin said after his team lost to Virginia in this year’s best-of-three national championship series. “And I won't do that. That will be for private time. But I don't know if I'll have another group like this again. This is going to be a tough, tough group to replicate.”

In particular, the 2012 class, of which Baseball America wrote, “No class can match the versatility and upside of Vanderbilt’s,” turned out to be as good as advertised.

Based on player ratings at the time, the top four recruits, in order, were pitcher Walker Buehler, pitcher Carson Fulmer, outfielder Rhett Wiseman and shortstop Dansby Swanson. All four were central figures to the team’s two-year run, and Swanson (pictured), Fulmer and Buehler all were first-round picks in the 2015 Major League draft.

Also among that year’s signees were third baseman Xavier Turner, pitcher Tyler Ferguson and infielder Tyler Campbell.

Here is some of what Baseball America wrote of the class before any of the signees ever played a college game:

For the second straight year, Vandy reeled in a power-armed righty who ranks as the nation's top recruit; like Tyler Beede before him, Buehler can reach the mid-90s with his fastball and has good command of his secondary pitches—a devastating power curveball and a sinking changeup. Fulmer gives this class a second marquee arm with a 92-95 mph fastball and a slider that flashes plus. Stephenson and Ferguson offer projection and electric arm strength, as both … In Swanson, Vandy has a quick-twitch, instinctive shortstop with smooth infield actions and a fundamentally sound swing. Wiseman and Turner offer serious athleticism, bat speed and power potential.

Beede, of course, was the prized recruit in the 2011 class that also included pitchers Philip Pfeifer and Adam Ravenelle, first baseman Zander Wiel and outfielder John Norwood, among others.

“I mean, when you're able to come together, 35 strong each year and basically have 34 new best friends every year, it's a special moment,” Swanson said Wednesday. “And that's what we create. We have a family. It's not just 35 players, it's 50, because we have all the staff and the coaches that put so much effort in. So it's a special thing. I've never been a part of something this amazing in my life.”

(Photo: Joe Howell/Vanderbilt athletics)
 

Jun 26, 2015 1:14 PM

Vanderbilt looks to cash in on latest CWS finals appearance

David Williams said that in recent months he and other Vanderbilt officials “have worked quietly” to raise funds for enhancements to the school’s baseball facilities.

Now that Tim Corbin’s team has reached the College World Series final for the second straight year, the school has decided to pump up the volume.

Details of the project are vague but are designed to, according to a release from the university’s athletics department, “focus on success.” It says only that the school plans to provide additional room for instruction, team-building and interaction with former Vanderbilt players now in professional baseball.

What is clear is that additional contributions are needed before work can begin.

From the release:

“The planned project builds on Coach Tim Corbin’s vision for our baseball program – to not just prepare our players for success in baseball, but to ensure they have the skills, network and lifelong ‘home’ where they return frequently to help us build the next set of leaders and players,” said David Williams, Vanderbilt athletics director and vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs.

“During the last several months, we have quietly worked with some of our most dedicated supporters to secure lead gifts for the project, and we are working hard to raise the remainder.”

There’s no question that any money used for the baseball program is money well spent. Corbin has made the baseball program one of the country’s elite and a legitmate option for any player with professional aspirations.

That the school felt the need to begin raising funds quietly makes no sense. A public announcement as soon as the plan was conceived probably would have had just as much impact.

Corbin is undeniably the most successful coach on campus and probably the most popular one. Chances are there is no shortage of people who want to help and be connected to his program.

“The new facility will be a continuation of creating the environment of a ‘home’ where mental and physical development takes precedence for our current players while serving the development of our alumni in the off season,” Corbin said in the release.

Jun 22, 2015 6:35 AM

Vanderbilt travels different path, makes its way back to CWS final

Vanderbilt certainly looks like a team that could win a second straight College World Series.

If it happens, though, it would be inaccurate to say the Commodores repeated.

“We did it a different way last year,” coach Tim Corbin said. “We had to beat Texas in the second game. So this is new and different for us. But we'll make decent use of the two days that we have leading up to Monday.”

Corbin and his players have a little time to rest because they beat TCU 7-1 on Friday night to sweep their bracket and earn a spot in the CWS championship series.

They have won eight straight games beginning with the NCAA regional they hosted two weeks ago. They have not had to go outside their three primary starting pitchers and – at times – have made it look easy. They have had three shutouts and won three times by eight runs or more.

A year ago, the Commodores faced elimination in the Super Regional against Stanford, in CWS pool play against Texas and in the final series.

Fifteen players from that team are back to try and do it again.

“It's so special,” outfielder Rhett Wiseman said. “I mean, when you look at it, I guess I find so much excitement out of it because the guys that weren't here last year, especially the guys that were on the team that were redshirted. That's where I get even kind of choked up talking about it like just for them to be able to get back here after hearing about what it was like last year.”

Vanderbilt’s second straight CWS final appearance makes it eight straight years that at least one Southeastern Conference team has gotten there.

In the last 40 years only four schools have won back-to-back College World Series titles. The last to do it was South Carolina in 2010 and 2011.

“I think anytime you get back to the series that we're about to go into it's pretty exciting, and it's your goal coming into the year first to come to Omaha and when you get here it's to get to that series,” pitcher Walker Buehler said. “No, I don't think there's any damper on it since we were here last year.”

The best-of-three final begins Monday and is guaranteed to enhance the feeling of familiarity. Vanderbilt will face either Virginia – the team it beat in the 2014 CWS final – or Florida – the team that beat the Commodores twice in their first CWS appearances in 2011 and in this years SEC Tournament championship.

The Cavaliers and Gators play an elimination game Saturday to decide which team advances.

“I think when you have an older group, they understand what the coaching staff wants and they implement it themselves and I've said all along I do feel like a parent that's in the back seat letting your kids drive the car because you trust them. And when you trust a group of kids, it's the greatest feeling a parent can have. And that's how I feel. I told them three weeks ago, complete peace with them. I am. They do things right. They take care of one another. They take care of people. They engage with other people. They do the small things well.

“And because of that they see success. But a lot of the success they see is deserved and has nothing to do with baseball. But it comes full circle around to help them in baseball.”

Now they’re right back where they were a year ago, albeit via a different path.

(Photo: John Russell/Vanderbilt athletics)

Jun 20, 2015 8:15 AM

Wiseman plays through pain, powers Vanderbilt into CWS final

Rhett Wiseman was a pain in the neck for TCU.

That made things even.

The junior right fielder was hit in the throat by a pitch during his first at-bat Friday but stayed in the game and went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs. His two-run home run in the fifth inning was the big blow as Vanderbilt advanced to the College World Series final for the second straight year with a 7-1 victory over TCU.

“Obviously after he took the ball to the neck, hitting the home run and just staying in the game was such a big moment for him and our team,” coach Tim Corbin said.

Wiseman received treatment throughout the contest and his neck showed the effects of the high and inside pitch as he tried to bunt against TCU’s Tyler Alexander but remained a factor throughout.

His leadoff single in the third inning led to two runs that made it 3-0. His home run made it 5-0 and got things rolling again after a fourth-inning rally was cut short when umpires ruled Zander Wiel left third base early on an apparent sacrifice fly. Rather than score, Wiel was called out, the third out of the inning.

“It was just a 1-0 slider that was a little bit up in the zone,” Wiseman said of his home run. “Didn't break the way he wanted it to. And runner on second base. That was in our game plan there – runner on second, looking for some off-speed pitches and fortunate enough to get one up in the zone. Just put a good swing on it.”

Wiseman was one of three Commodores with multiple hits in the game. He also had a hit in each of this year’s first two CWS games – and he was not about to let getting hit by a pitch stop him from getting a couple more in the latest.

“College World Series, baby,” Wiseman said. “Would have to kill me to take me out of that game. I think that's probably what I said. … ‘I'm not coming out of this game,’ especially that early in the game. … By the third inning I had forgotten about the neck and was back in the game.”

(Photo: John Russell/Vanderbilt athletics)
 

Jun 20, 2015 7:49 AM

Another freshman pitcher thrives for Vanderbilt at tournament time

The secret to postseason success for Vanderbilt is to have a freshman pitcher willing and able to handle the most challenging moments.

When the Commodores won the 2014 College World Series it was Hayden Stone who stepped in and delivered a string of memorable performances.

Vanderbilt is one win away from a return to the CWS championship series, a state of affairs in which Kyle Wright has been a significant factor.

The 6-foot-4 right-hander out of Huntsville, Ala. is 1-0 with three saves in four appearances since the start of the NCAA Tournament. He pitched the final two innings in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over TCU. In the Super Regional clincher against Illinois, he came on with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the eighth and got out of the jam without a run allowed. In between he got the win in the CWS opener against Cal State Fullerton.

"Pitching here is just a different kind of experience," Vanderbilt pitcher Walker Buehler said. "Kyle threw his tail off (Tuesday). And I think it was good for him to get an inning against Fullerton in order to settle in (against TCU) for what he had to do."

Basically, he has become Stone, who in 2014 was the winning pitcher in the Super Regional and CWS clinchers as a true freshman. An arm injury caused the 6-foot right-hander out of Columbia, Tenn. to miss most of this season. Stone, who was 3-0 in the NCAA Tournament, also got the win in the game that sent the Commodores into the CWS championship series.

KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
A comparison of the NCAA Tournament statistics for Hayden Stone in 2014 and Kyle Wright through 2015:

Appearances: Stone 4; Wright 4
Innings pitched: Stone 14 2/3; Wright 5 1/3
Hits: Stone 10; Wright 3
Walks: Stone 4; Wright 1
Strikeouts: Stone 20; Wright 9
Runs: Stone 5; Wright 2
Earned runs: Stone 3; Wright 2

Vanderbilt looks to continue its current CWS run when it faces TCU on Friday (7 p.m., ESPN). A victory in that one puts the Commodores in the championship series. A loss, and those teams will play against Saturday in an elimination game.

(Photo: John Peterson/Vanderbilt athletics)

Jun 19, 2015 11:22 AM

Vanderbilt keeps winning by smallest of margins at CWS

Vanderbilt continues to accomplish big things at the College World Series.

The Commodores are not, however, living large. Not in terms of results, at least.

Going back to last year Vanderbilt has won five of its last CWS contests – and all five victories have been by one run. So far this year Zander Wiel’s solo home run Tuesday provided all the offense in a 1-0 victory over TCU and a three-run ninth-inning rally produced a 4-3 victory Cal State Fullerton.

“It felt like a championship-style game in every way,” coach Tim Corbin said following Tuesday’s game. “I think once we got through the third or fourth, you felt like one run could possibly make the difference. And that's the way it shaped up.”

EVERY RUN COUNTS
A look at Vanderbilt’s all-time College World Series results:

2015
Vanderbilt 1, TCU 0
Vanderbilt 4, Cal State Fullerton 3

2014
Championship series
Vanderbilt 3, Virginia 2
Virginia 7, Vanderbilt 2
Vanderbilt 9, Virginia 8
Pool play
Vanderbilt 4, Texas 3 (10)
Texas 4, Vanderbilt 0
Vanderbilt 6, Cal Irvine 4
Vanderbilt 5, Louisville 3

2011
Florida 6, Vanderbilt 4
Vanderbilt 5, North Carolina 1
Florida 3, Vanderbilt 1
Vanderbilt 7, North Carolina 3

“You know, from a competitive side you want that 1-0 ballgame,” Tuesday’s starting pitcher Philip Pfeifer said. "And (TCU) gave it to us. They really did. That's a very strong team.”

As are all the others, which is why there probably will be a few more close games before the Commodores are done.
 

Jun 18, 2015 7:34 AM

Wiel comfortable playing part of Commodores' CWS catalyst

Zander Wiel was the one who got it started Monday.

On Tuesday, Vanderbilt’s offense began and ended with the junior first baseman. His solo home run in the seventh inning broke up a no-hitter and lifted Vanderbilt to a 1-0 victory over TCU at the 2015 College World Series.

The Commodores’ defense of their 2014 championship now includes a pair of one-run victories in as many games. Their next contest is 7 p.m. Friday against either LSU or TCU.

Wiel struck out in his other three at-bats but drove a change-up over the left field fence off TCU pitcher Alex Young, who struck out 12 and allowed three hits in 7.2 innings. It was his 15th home run of the season, which tied him with Dansby Swanson for the team lead.

“(Young) would throw them low and we were going after them,” Wiel said. “So he was just really able to keep us off balance. And in that at-bat, I was just … he threw me a changeup and it had been higher than the rest of the ones he had thrown. It still wasn't a terrible pitch. But it was hit-able. And I just put a good swing on it.”

A day earlier Wiel’s sixth-inning double drove in Vanderbilt’s first run when its CWS opener against Cal State Fullerton resumed after having been suspended Sunday night because of weather. He doubled again to start a three-run, ninth-inning rally that lifted the Commodores to a 4-3 victory.

Through two games he is 3-for-8 with two runs scored and two RBIs.

“Last year it really helped because you kind of get, I don't want to say overwhelmed when it's your first time experiencing it, but seeing it the second time, it puts you a lot more at ease in this venue,” he said. “I'm just trying to go up and compete every time and put a good swing on a ball and hit it hard somewhere. I've been able to do that the last couple of days.”

(Photo: John Peterson/Vanderbilt athletics)

Jun 17, 2015 5:38 AM

Avoiding big mistakes allows Pfeifer to get the best of TCU

Philip Pfeifer was not the best pitcher on the field at TD Ameritrade Park on Tuesday.

Vanderbilt’s senior left-hander did not make the worst mistake, though.

“I was just trying to soak in every minute of it that I could while I was out there on the mound,” he said. “I've been looking forward for this moment for a long time and playing it over and over in my head and I feel like taking advantage of (Tuesday’s) game was kind of what kept me at peace.”

Pfeifer pitched seven innings in his first College World Series appearance and none of the four hits or three walks he allowed led to a run. After seven shutout innings and 111 pitches he turned it over to freshman Kyle Wright, who closed out the Commodores’ 1-0 victory, their second one-run triumph in as many days.

It was Vanderbilt’s first shutout in 13 all-time CWS contests.

“He was very tranquil on the mound, he was at peace with himself and he was executing his pitches,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said of Pfeifer. “And I don't think that there was anyone here that enjoys being in Omaha, the moment more than he does.”

TCU’s Alex Young was even better – most of the time, at least. The junior left-hander struck out 11 and did not allow a hit through the first six innings but then gave up a solo home run to Zander Wiel on a changeup that accounted for all the scoring.

"It was just one mistake and his bat just ran into the ball," Young said. "Every other pitch I was throwing for a strike. And it's bad luck."

It wasn’t just this one day. though. Young looked better than Pfeifer throughout most of the season -- in their respective stat lines and in the eyes of professional scouts.

Pfeifer entered the game with a 5-4 record and a 4.09 ERA and opponents hit .221 against him. He was a third-round choice (101st overall) in last week’s Major League draft.

Young was 9-2 with a 2.31 ERA and opponents hit .217 against him. The Arizona Diamondbacks drafted him in the second round (43rd overall) last week.

“I thought Young was obviously very, very effective,” Corbin said. “And I credit him, because once he found that we were going to make moves to pitches below the strike zone he kept forcing that. And he pitched very, very well.

"One ball made the difference. And that's the one Zander hit out."

(Photo: John Peterson/Vanderbilt athletics)
 

Jun 17, 2015 5:29 AM

Re-start of Vanderbilt-Fullerton game delayed

The re-start of Vanderbilt’s suspended baseball game against Cal State Fullerton at the College World Series has been moved to 2 p.m. (CDT)

Play was halted Sunday night in the bottom of the sixth inning and originally scheduled to resume at 11 a.m.

The Commodores trail the Titans 3-0 but will have a man on third with two outs when play begins again.

ESPN2 will broadcast the remainder of the contest.
 

Jun 15, 2015 10:22 AM