• Kenny Vaccaro shines in NFL

    Former 2013 first-round draft pick Kenny Vaccaro is on pace for a career high in tackles this season. During the Saints’ victory over the Colts on Sunday, Vaccaro recorded five tackles, including his first sack of the season. Just six games into the season, Vaccaro has already totaled 44 tackles. With nine games to go, Vaccaro expects to surpass his previous marks of 74 tackles in 2014 and 79 in 2013.

    Vaccaro attributes much of his recent success to overcoming a rash of injuries. At the end of his rookie season, Vaccaro injured his ankle. He returned to the field four months later for what was considered a year-and-a-half-long recovery process. The injury continued to bother Vaccaro for months, and in his first game of 2014, Vaccaro tore his hamstring. He then suffered a quad injury that was never officially reported and continued to trouble him through the season.

    “I’m one of those guys that’s going to be hard to sit on the bench,” Vaccaro said. “I’m going to play through any type of injury so I can be on the field.”

    Vaccaro played safety for the Longhorns from 2009 to 2012. His brother Kevin, now a Texas safety, has 15 tackles this season. Kenny Vaccaro was a defensive captain at Texas alongside Alex Okafor. He was also a first-team All-American his senior year.

  • Longhorns compete in Day 3 of Texas Regional Championship

    The ITA Texas Regional Championship continued Monday with the men’s singles and doubles rounds.

    In the singles round of 16, freshman Harrison Scott was defeated in a three-set match, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 by Texas Tech sophomore Alex Sendegeya. Scott was eliminated from play.

    In the singles consolation, redshirt freshman Julian Zlobinsky edged UT-Rio Grande Valley sophomore Koby Jansen 6-0, 7-5. Zlobinsky advanced to the next round where he played SMU redshirt sophomore Charlie Nettlefold and lost 6-1, 6-2.

    In the doubles round of 16, senior George Goldhoff and freshman Liam Caruana teamed up and were defeated by Texas A&M junior Max Lunkin and sophomore AJ Catanzariti, 8-5. Goldhoff and Caruana advanced to the quarterfinals. Sophomore John Mee and Scott matched up against SMU redshirt junior duo Hunter Johnson and Yates Johnson and lost 8-7.

    In the doubles quarterfinals Texas Tech seniors Hugo Dojas and Felipe Soares edged out Goldhoff and Caruana 8-4.

    Match play continues Tuesday and a winner will be crowned. The tournament champions will earn automatic entry into the ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in New York City, the same site as the U.S. Open.  

  • John Bianco rehired to football media relations position

    The athletics department announced Monday that it has rehired John Bianco as associate athletics director, media relations for football, effective immediately. Bianco served in the role for 23 years before leaving over the summer due to a departmental reorganization. 

    “John has vast experience and a high level of mutual trust with the coaching staff,” said interim men’s athletics director Mike Perrin in a press release. “I’d like to personally thank and applaud Scott McConnell for an outstanding job in difficult circumstances. Scott’s leadership and work ethic, with tremendous support from Brian Davis, Susie Epp, Travis Feldhaus, Joe Hernandez and David Wiechmann, has been inspiring.”

    McConnell will return to be the full-time media contact for men’s basketball. McConnell has been the media contact for both football and men’s basketball in Bianco’s absence. 

    The department also announced further additions to the athletics communication team will come in the future. Sean Cartell, the current assistant director of communications for the SEC, will join the department in November as the primary women’s basketball contact.

  • Column: Texas athletes deserve to capitalize on successes

    The Longhorns can be 6-0 if you have a video game controller in your hand. But in real life, the Longhorns are 2-4, and a new edition of Electronic Arts’ NCAA Football hasn’t been released for two years.

    Trademark licensing from conferences and the NCAA has created issues for EA Sports, but uncertainties surrounding player likeness lawsuits like O’Bannon vs. NCAA provide the biggest source of anxiety for not only EA Sports but college football as a whole.

    Currently, the O’Bannon case represents the biggest threat to the NCAA amateurism structure. The initial case, brought forth by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon in 2009, regarded the NCAA’s profit from the names and likenesses of former student-athletes. The case has since been expanded to include all NCAA Division I football and men’s basketball players.

    On Aug. 8, 2014, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken determined that men’s basketball and football players should receive a $5,000 stipend.

    However, last September, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the $5,000 student-athlete stipend while upholding the ruling that the NCAA is violating antitrust laws. In doing so, this ruling reinforces the amateurism model that the organization continues to sell to the public.

    Despite its overall lack of legal success, the O’Bannon lawsuit is viewed by many as the first domino in the fall of the NCAA.

    In a proactive measure, the University has increased the scholarship money received by student-athletes from $21,552 to $25,862. This is far from the $10,000 amount that former athletic director Steve Patterson proposed had the NCAA lost the O’Bannon case. But it is an attempt to reconcile the existence of the student-athlete in a billion-dollar business.

    The University is a major player in the business. According to reports from the Associated Press, the University of Texas and Nike have agreed to a 15-year, $200 million licensing and apparel deal. That's $13.3 million per year in revenue — on top of media rights deals, the Longhorn Network and the athletic program itself.

    With that said, each student-athlete deserves more than $4,310 in spending money. A lot more.

    After quarterback Jerrod Heard's record-setting performance against California, he deserved the opportunity to capitalize on it. Whether that's through selling his autograph or appearing in a Nike commercial, Heard should have that opportunity. Increasing those rights is a practical, free-market solution that would allow the NCAA and the rest of the billion-dollar college sports business to exist. Heard can earn the extra money he deserves, but the University will not suffer financially.

    Texas is one of the most valuable brands in college football. The student-athletes who have built that brand deserve to profit, too.

  • University reaches 15-year deal with Nike, according to sources

    The University of Texas has reached a 15-year deal with Nike, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The Statesman reports the value of the deal is expected to be close to $200 million, making it the biggest shoe and apparel deal in college sports.

    The University of Michigan signed a 15-year agreement with Nike over the summer worth $169 million. 

    Under Armour was expected to be in the bidding for Texas, but the Statesman reported the school canceled it’s meeting with Under Armour on Oct. 4. Even had Under Armour made an offer, Nike would have had the chance to match it.