- Friday, January, 16, 2015
Former NCAA Chair Admits to Not Reading Freeh Report
According to new court documents released this week, former NCAA executive committee chair and Oregon State president Ed Ray did not read the Freeh report before sanctioning Penn State’s football program. The report was the primary piece of evidence used by the NCAA to hand down sanctions.
The revelation comes from court documents filed as part of the Paterno lawsuit, Ray admitted to only reading the executive summary and press accounts. From the documents:
Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers: You reviewed the Freeh Report at or about the time it came out, I take it.
Ray: Actually, it was -- I think I did not go through the detailed report until after the agreement was reached. Remember, the report came out on the 12th. I went to Hawaii on, I don't know, the 14th. So, I may have looked at the executive summary when it came out, and certainly read press accounts, but I don't believe I read or was able to download and get a copy of the full report until after I got back, which would have been around the time of the press conference [announcing the Consent Decree], or sometime shortly thereafter.
Sollers: Did not have the Freeh Report sent out to you in Hawaii?
Ray: No. No.
Sollers: Do you recall when you got back--
Ray: So let me be clear about that. When I went to Hawaii, I didn't even know that we were going to be having any conversations about the Freeh Report. So I had no sense that I needed to prep for anything.
We went on either the 14th or the 15th, at this point I can't remember. And then we had this conference call on the 17th. So no, I didn't have the Freeh Report.
And then I came back on, I think the 19th or 20th, traveling from there, probably on the 20th, and then the 21st we had this phone call [approving the Consent Decree]. So I didn't have a lot of time to prep for anything.
"These are extraordinary circumstances," Ray said at a news conference announcing the sanctions. "The executive committee has the authority to act on behalf of the entire association in extraordinary circumstances. And we have chosen to exercise that authority.
The NCAA has been under increasing criticism as of late for its handling of the Sandusky scandal, especially with new information coming to light as part of the lawsuit filed against the NCAA by the Paterno family.
The scrutiny has also prompted a meeting of the Penn State board of trustees to discuss joining a lawsuit filed by state senators set for trial next month. The board is meeting today (January 16) to discuss and vote on a resolution to join the suit, which alleges that the NCAA had no authority to hand down its punishments.
- Wednesday, January, 14, 2015
E-Cigarette Blamed for Gymnasium Explosion, Fire
Police say an electronic cigarette is to blame for an explosion at Sparks (Nev.) High School that caused minor damage to the gymnasium floor and led to a code-yellow lockdown and an evacuation of 150 students Monday. A teacher saw the fire shortly after 10 a.m. and quickly reported it to school police and administration, evacuating all students from the gym and those in nearby classrooms to the football field.
"From what the teacher told me there was a small explosion and then a ball of fire," principal Kevin Carroll said.
Streets surrounding the school were blocked off while an investigation of the explosion took place, and parents were also notified of the event after the incident.
"Our number one priority is student safety,” said Carroll. “I have a solid admin team. I have faith in our school police department that we are a very safe school and we do everything we can."
Students elsewhere on campus reported hearing announcements about a bomb threat, and classrooms were placed on lockdown for approximately 90 minutes. “I just heard that they found something in the gymnasium," said one student. “Some of the students were saying they heard a loud pop, but I didn't know until it all happened."
After identifying the cause of the fire, investigators deemed it unintentional, the result of two students playing around with an e-cigarette.
- Wednesday, January, 07, 2015
Translucent Panels Bring More than Daylight to Facilities
No athletic or recreation facility built in the past 15 years has been designed without consideration for LEED or other sustainability measures. Chief among the design elements is daylighting, a function that earns points for sustainability while saving on operational costs. Glass is usually the first element that comes to mind when daylighting is mentioned — from basic windows and skylights to large expanses of glass curtainwall — but glass is not the only way to achieve such an effect. Translucent panel systems can bring natural lighting into a facility, while leaving out some of the common disadvantages associated with glass.
- Friday, January, 02, 2015
Study Pits Army Fitness Training Versus CrossFit
Whether we're for or against it, most of us can agree on one thing: CrossFit workouts are tough. Really tough.
- Wednesday, December, 17, 2014
Sayreville AD Suspended Amid Hazing Investigation
The Board of Education voted on Tuesday night to suspend the Sayreville High School athletic director amid an investigation into the hazing scandal involving its football program. The football team's season came to an abrupt and early end in October following allegations of harassment, bullying and sexual assault.
The board voted 8-0 to suspend athletic director John Kohutanycz with pay, effective December 17. The school's football coach, George Najjar, has been suspended since October, though four assistant coaches suspended at that time have been reinstated.
At Tuesday night's meeting, the board also approved the hiring of one of those assistant football coaches, Michael Novak, as the school's new strength coach, a position Najjar held until his suspension. The move was a controversial one among board members, some of whom felt that Novak should not have been considered for the position because of his connection to the football hazing investigation. Said one board member in a written statement, "I voted no on appointing Michael Novak as strength and conditioning coach because I don't believe that any of the football coaches should be returning to any coaching position at this time."
Seven players have been charged as part of the ongoing investigation, though no coaches or administrators have faced charged.
- Friday, December, 12, 2014
AD Reassigned as Iowa Braces for Her Partner's Lawsuit
Pending a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by her partner, an athletic administrator for the University of Iowa has been reassigned. Jane Meyer, a senior associate athletic director, has been reassigned to the school’s facilities management office, where she will assist with construction contract quality and compliance.
- Friday, December, 05, 2014
New Transgender Athlete Policies Approved in Minn., Va.
Following successful votes by their respective high school governing bodies, transgender student-athletes at high schools in Minnesota and Virginia will be able to participate in sports based on their identified gender.
"I applaud the Minnesota High School League's decision to pass a proposal that tells trans students in our community their identities matter just as much as everyone else's," said Congressman Keith Ellison in a written statement. "At a time when so many transgender students are bullied and harassed in the schoolyard, the MSHSL's decision recognizes their dignity and humanity on and off the playing field. All trans students are asking for is to be treated as human beings and I stand with them."
The policy has been getting a lot of attention in Minnesota over the past few months, delaying a vote initially planned for October after more than 10,000 emails were sent to league officials voicing opinions on the issue. Once again, supporters and opponents of the policy packed the meeting room for this week's vote, holding signs expressing their opinions. The new policy, approved by 18 of 20 board members, specifically addresses the participation of students born male but identifying as female participating in girls' sports, as state law already allows for girls' participation in boys' sports.
"We would not want to take away that privilege from anyone, but the answer is not to say that you should be given special privileges above and beyond everyone else," said Autumn Leva of the Minnesota Family Council, which submitted a petition with more than 5,000 signatures opposing the policy. "The answer isn't to say we're just going to completely ignore physical realities, especially in the world of physical sports."
The new policy in Virginia amends one passed by the Virginia High School League last February that included the requirement that students must undergo gender reassignment surgery before being allowed to play for a team matching their identified gender. The requirement was viewed as too strict and unobtainable, since reassignment surgery is rarely approved for those under the age of 18.
While the new policy removes this restriction, students must still meet a variety of criteria before their participation on a particular sports team is approved. Students must submit a personal statement affirming their gender identity, as well as testimonies from family or peers, and must demonstrate that they have begun some type of hormone therapy.
The materials must then be submitted to the VHSL district committee, which will review the materials and make a recommendation to VHSL’s executive director. If the request is approved, a student is immediately eligible to begin participating in a sport. If denied, a student can appeal the decision.
In Minnesota, students must submit statements from parents and healthcare professionals, leaving the decision up to the school's activities director, though appeals will be conducted by an independent party. The new policy will take effect beginning with the 2015-16 school year. Private schools will be exempt from the policy under state and federal law. The MHSL’s approval of the new policy brings the number of states with some type of policy addressing transgender student participation in high school activities to 33.
- Friday, December, 05, 2014
New Projects: Wilmington Center for Sport Sciences | Armed Services YMCA
- Tuesday, December, 02, 2014
Designing Tracks for Recreational Users
A staple in any modern recreation center is the walking or jogging track. It is typically found elevated around the gymnasium, offering the user views of the activity below — a sensible arrangement, but not necessarily the best, depending on the size of the facility.
- Tuesday, November, 18, 2014
New Projects: Campus Crossroads | Xavier University | Southlake Community Rec
The University of Notre Dame begins construction this month on Campus Crossroads (pictured), a $400 million project that will add three academic buildings and premium seating onto Notre Dame Stadium.
- Thursday, September, 01, 2016
Letter from the Editor: Facilities Worth Talking About
This article appeared in the October issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.
- Tuesday, August, 30, 2016
Letter from the Editor: Preparing for the Year to Come
This article appeared in the September issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.
- Thursday, July, 07, 2016
Letter from the Editor: Eat Your Veggies
This article appeared in the July/August issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.
- Monday, June, 06, 2016
Passing the Torch in Facility Design
This article appeared in the June issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.
- Thursday, May, 05, 2016
At the moment...
I can't think of a recent issue of Athletic Business that captures the feel of our industry quite as comprehensively as this one. No, we don't have any momentous, industry-changing topics this month, but what we do have speaks to the current environment of athletic, fitness and recreation professionals.
- Thursday, March, 31, 2016
Our Common Ground
This article appeared in the April issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.
- Wednesday, September, 16, 2015
Blog: Quantifying the Impact of Parks and Rec
The National Park and Recreation Association's annual convention is underway this week in Las Vegas, Nev. After arriving Monday afternoon and getting my first taste of life in the City of Lights, I caught a brief glimpse of the sun and the strip before steeling myself for a day of windowless sessions in overly air-conditioned rooms.
- Wednesday, July, 08, 2015
Blog: Women’s Soccer and Return on Investment
In the days after the U.S. Women’s soccer team’s World Cup win, we’ve heard a lot of back and forth over the issue of how much the players were paid. The women’s team received a record-setting $2 million for their win… record-setting for women, that is. Last year, the German men’s team earned $35 million for its World Cup win.
“But it’s all about the revenue!” claim those who justify the discrepancy. The women’s tournament brought in a mere $17 million in sponsorship revenue compared to $529 million for last year’s men’s World Cup. Thus, because the men bring in more revenue, it only makes sense that they get paid more.
When I was in college, I interned for an editor at a book publishing company. I recall, among the editor’s many tales of the publishing world, the story of how he signed one particular new author and set her up for success. Her work was good, he said, but she was relatively unknown and still new.
For those more familiar with coaching contracts than book contracts, book contracts typically pay an advance, anything as low as a couple thousand dollars (J.K. Rowling was given a £1500 advance on the first Harry Potter book) to upwards of $100,000, if you’re an established name. If a new author doesn't go over well with the audience, the publisher hasn't lost much. If they're good, the publisher simply ups the advance on the next book.
Rather than offering this new author something at the lower end of the spectrum as would befit the situation, the editor swung big. I don’t recall the exact dollar amount, but I think it was at least $20,000 (chump change for a pro athlete, but a big deal for a struggling writer).
His reasoning? The more the publisher invested in an author, the harder it would work to ensure her success, giving her a preferred launch date, better marketing and visibility. Part of this was about recouping the investment — book advances are paid against royalties, which means a larger advance needs to be offset by greater book sales if the publisher wants to come out ahead.
What does this have to do with soccer?
I’m not in the sports marketing business. I’m not even in the book marketing business. But I do know that a product’s success is as much about the effort that goes into marketing it as the quality of the product itself.
Don’t justify lower pay for female athletes by pointing to the lower revenue they generate — they’re not the ones negotiating sponsorship contracts or selling commercial slots. In the case of women’s soccer, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke attributes the lower revenues to women’s soccer being a newer sport than men’s.
“We played the [20th] men’s World Cup in 2014, when we are now playing the seventh women’s World Cup,” Valcke said in December press conference. “We have still another  World Cups before potentially women should receive the same amount as men. The men waited until 2014 to receive as much money as they received.”
Or, how about this: Pay the players what they’re worth, and then put in the effort to back that investment up.
- Friday, June, 19, 2015
A Response to Critics of Soaring College Rec Spending
“LSU Faces Dramatic Budget Cuts While It Builds An Expensive Lounging Pool” This was the headline of an article that appeared in The Huffington Post this past May criticizing Louisiana State University’s spending of $84.75 million on an overhaul of its recreation facilities despite a threatened $55.5 million funding cut from the state.
Last week New Jersey governor Chris Christie admonished what he considers wasteful spending in the higher education system, denouncing “extras” such as lazy rivers and climbing walls.
"Some colleges are drunk on cash and embarking on crazy spending binges,” he said.
If you work in college recreation, the incidents made you cringe.
The cost of higher education is going to get a lot of attention leading up to the 2016 election, and unfortunately, that’s going to come with a lot of misguided scrutiny of campus recreation programs.
What both incidents overlook — as anyone working in college recreation will immediately recognize — is that a university’s education budget and recreation budget are two entirely different things. Campus recreation centers are not built at the expense of science labs or classrooms. For most universities, such projects are funded (and maintained) from students fees.
"The funds for the project come directly from the student fee and can only be used for the project," LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard told The Huffington Post. "Similar to donations to the university or funds from the state for capital projects, these types of funds can't be shifted to fill in budget holes or be used in another way. They can only be used for what they were originally designated for."
The impact of such facilities on the price of a college education is actually minimal, according to David Feldman, economics professor at College of William & Mary.
“Lazy rivers are only a tiny piece of the costs,” he told Inside Higher Ed. “These lazy rivers are not the reason why student debt is soaring seemingly out of control. The big problem that higher education faces today, at the public side, is cuts in state spending.”
Some argue that cuts in spending are actually driving the construction of bigger and better recreation amenities, as universities look draw in more out of state students. According to research from the University of Michigan, “wealthier students [are] much more willing to pay for consumption amenities.”
Despite its negative headline, The Huffington Post article went on to admit as much, quoting a 2013 article in which former Miami University president James Garland explains, “We took advantage of low interest rates for municipal bonds and invested in rehabilitating our residence halls and eating facilities and putting in more recreation -- workout rooms and lounges, and the kinds of accouterments that really dressed up a campus and made it a much more comfortable and familiar place for upper-middle class students. So those students started applying to us in droves. Application numbers went up, we became more selective, and the SAT scores of the entering class became higher."
So, in the face of a $55.5 million budget cut (avoided, thankfully) LSU would need to rely more heavily on the appeal of its non-academic offerings to bring in more students and more revenue. As Jane Wellman, a finance expert with College Futures Foundation, told Inside Higher Ed, the issue is not of how colleges spend money, but the priorities of schools.
“The sense is that college costs are going up too rapidly, and institutions aren’t doing enough to control them,” she says. “The critique underneath that is the critique of the decision-making culture in higher education.”
Rather than ask why LSU would spend $85 million on a recreation center, maybe politicians should be asking why the state of Louisiana was mulling a $55 million cut to education.
We won’t get into the other complexities of campus recreation facilities, such as the positive economic impact of construction (According to NIRSA, $1.7B was spent on 157 recreation construction projects in 2012), the employment opportunities afforded to students, the educational programming opportunities, the importance of recreation to students' quality of life (and GPA), the role in building a schools’ reputation, or any number of issues.
Unfortunately, neither will the politicians pinning the climbing costs of higher education on climbing walls.
- Monday, June, 16, 2014
AB's Architectural Showcase a Yearlong Affair
The Architectural Showcase in June is the one issue of Athletic Business I look forward to most each year. It's also the issue I spend most of each year working on.