- Friday, February, 16, 2018
Ref Ejects Arizona Cheerleader Over Megaphone Taunt
Turns out, school spirit has its limits.
Veteran Pac-12 Conference basketball official Randy McCall evoked a seldom-used rule Thursday night during a game between Arizona and Arizona State in Tempe. As Arizona State guard Remy Martin lined up a second-half free throw attempt, an Arizona cheerleader taunted, "Not today, Remy," through his megaphone. McCall first stared the cheerleader down, then walked to the scorer's table and ejected him, stating, "This guy needs to get out of here."
The referee later told The Arizona Republic, "He was yelling, using the [megaphone] to call out people by name, which is not acceptable. And he was asked to please stop, and he chose not to."
According to ESPN.com, Rule 10, Article 8 of the official referee handbook states that cheerleaders "shall not commit an unsportsmanlike act," such as "using musical instruments, amplified music or artificial noisemakers while the game is in progress, except timeouts and intermissions." In cases of "extreme or excessive" behavior, ejection is a possible remedy.
Alas, Arizona got by without the sideline support, winning the game, 77-70.
- Thursday, February, 15, 2018
FBI Basketball Probe May Ensnare Dozens of Programs
The number of schools potentially implicated once the FBI completes its months-long investigation into improper college basketball recruiting practices would be enough to more than fill a second-round NCAA tournament bracket.
According to a report at ESPN.com, as many as three dozen programs could face discipline resulting from the scandal that broke Sept. 29, when the the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York revealed that the FBI had uncovered mass corruption, bribery and wire fraud at some of the nation's elite basketball institutions. The scope of the scandal has broadened since and is believed likely to ensnare programs such as Arizona, Auburn, Louisville, Miami, Oklahoma State and the University of Southern California. "It's not the mid-major programs who were trying to buy players to get to the top," a source told ESPN. "It's the teams that are already there."
Many of the alleged incidents involve illegal cash payments by shoe manufacturer Adidas to prospects and their families, as well as players and their families receiving tens of thousands of dollars from agents while they were still playing in college. In some cases, NCAA head coaches were aware of the payments. Wiretapped phone conversations — as well as financial records, cell phone records and emails seized by the FBI from NBA agent Andy Miller on the same day in September that the agency arrested 10 men — hold the potential to implicate more than 30 schools and lead to NCAA sanctions for each.
Meanwhile, a federal judge is expected to hear arguments today as to whether the case against three of the 10 men indicted so far should continue. As ESPN's Mark Schlabach writes, "Attorneys representing former Adidas executives James Gatto and Merl Code and former sports agent Christian Dawkins are expected to argue in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that what their clients are accused of doing — allegedly funneling money from Adidas to the families of high-profile recruits to ensure that the players signed with Adidas-sponsored schools, and then Adidas and certain sports agents and financial planners once they turned pro — doesn't constitute a federal crime."
A ruling on dismissal could come later today. Trial is set for Oct. 1.
- Thursday, February, 15, 2018
An Inside Look at Iowa State’s Sports Medicine Dept.
The average year-round temperature in Ames, Iowa, is just under 50 degrees Fahrenheit, certainly nothing to prepare Iowa State University student-athletes for the cryotherapy chamber the athletic department installed in November. Wearing gloves, slippers and little else, athletes are surrounded from the neck down in air mixed with liquid nitrogen — and temperatures dropping to below minus-180.
- Tuesday, February, 13, 2018
Mountain West to Showcase Esports at Hoops Tourney
The Mountain West Conference has announced it will host the first-ever MW eSports Showdown during the league's men's and women's basketball championships next month.
Teams of up to 15 participants from Boise State University and the University of Nevada Las Vegas will compete in exhibition matches on March 8 and 9 at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center, home to this year's conference basketball tournament, with the main event staged the following day inside Cox Pavilion, a 78,300-square-foot multipurpose indoor arena connected to the Thomas & Mack Center. The schools were selected to compete based on their established eSports programs and the support of their university presidents — BSU's Bob Kustra and UNLV's Len Jessup.
Boise State was the first Mountain West member to grant varsity status to its eSports program, with 60 so-called "e-athletes" competing at the varsity level and another 240 students participating at the club level. The university is in the process of building the largest gaming facility in collegiate eSports. It will include a 100-seat training center, a broadcast facility and a spectator arena for live weekly matches. UNLV, a founding member of the Nevada Esports Alliance, has one of the nation's only academic programs for students combining the art, science and business of eSports.
"As a conference, we have never been reluctant to try new and different things, and I appreciate the encouragement and support of our university presidents in bringing this exciting new initiative forward," Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said on the conference website. "Globally, eSports is enjoying a boom in popularity — particularly among young people who are in the same age bracket as the students on our campuses. We are also seeing universities add eSports programming, technology and business to their curriculum offerings."
The teams will compete in three popular eSports games — League of Legends, Rocket League and Overwatch. Fans holding tickets to the basketball tournament will be admitted free to the exhibitions, with pricing and ticket availability for the main event yet to be announced. All events will be broadcast on the conference's Twitch page.
Said Thompson, "We are excited to connect the tradition of our successful MW Men's and Women's Basketball Championships with something innovative and different like the MW eSports Showdown."
- Tuesday, February, 06, 2018
Five Cardio Area Design Considerations
Twenty years ago, entering a commercial health club invariably meant being greeted by the whirring energy of the facility's cardio offerings — row upon row of treadmills and steppers and elliptical trainers. Equipment pieces were on full display, as were the exercisers using them.
- Monday, February, 05, 2018
Salaries Rise at U. of Illinois Despite Budget Woes
Salaries at the University of Illinois are on the rise, despite cuts in state aid. Each of the top 10 positions on the flagship Urbana campus payroll exceed $500,000 for the first time, led by head football coach Lovie Smith at $3 million per year and head basketball coach Brad Underwood ($2.75 million).
Based on 2017-18 salary data, more than 600 IU employees make $150,000 or more annually, including more than 100 whose salaries exceed $250,000. This is despite a two-year budget impasse and the permanent loss to the university of $463 million in state support.
Turnover played a role in certain salary increases, including that of Smith, whose list-topping salary replaced former football coach Tim Beckman’s $1.8 million.
“We’re in a marketplace of higher education, and it's a competitive marketplace,” UI executive vice president Barb Wilson, who earns $450,000 a year, told The News-Gazette of Champaign. “If we don’t stay competitive, we lose people.”
About half of the university's payroll is funded by tuition and fees or taxpayer dollars, according to The News-Gazette. Coaches' salaries are funded with athletic income, including some student fees. Professors with endowed chairs get part of their salary from donors. Some faculty members earn income from research grants, and many academic professionals are on "soft money," external funding from grants or foundations, Wilson said.
- Friday, February, 02, 2018
Ex-Receiver Sues TCU, Big 12 Over Injury Protocols
A former Texas Christian University wide receiver who claims he was forced to play with an injured and unstable pelvis has sued the university's head football coach, its former athletic director, the school and various university officials, and the Big 12 Conference.
Kolby Listenbee injured his pelvis during a 2015 game against Southern Methodist. He sat out for two weeks, but alleges he was "continually harassed, humiliated, pressured, and threatened" by TCU coach Gary Patterson, then offensive coordinator Doug Meacham and others to return to action. Once Listenbee did, he claims TCU sports medicine staff members administered "continuous injections" of local anesthetics and corticosteroids before and during games.
As reported by ESPN.com, Listenbee asserts in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that he was diagnosed with pelvic instability and should have undergone six months of rest and rehabilitation. His early return to the field required him to later undergo surgeries to repair two sports hernias and a pelvic fusion procedure involving a metal plate. He seeks more than $1 million to compensate for his inability to play in the NFL due to the pelvic instability.
TCU responded with the following statement: "As a practice, Texas Christian University does not comment on the specifics of pending litigation. However, TCU takes tremendous pride in its long-standing tradition of excellence in providing a positive experience for its student-athletes, especially in the areas of care, prevention and rehabilitation of athletic injuries."
Listenbee's lawsuit targets the Big 12 over its "lack of policies, procedures and protocols" in safeguards against coaches pressuring athletes to play through injuries.
- Wednesday, January, 31, 2018
USC Lands Richest-Ever Collegiate Naming Rights Deal
The first naming rights agreement in the 95-year history of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will also represent the nation's richest collegiate deal ever.
United Airlines and the University of Southern California announced this week that they had reached a 16-year, $69 million pact effective in August 2019, when the stadium will become known as United Airlines Memorial Coliseum. USC has leased the stadium as its home football venue under a 98-year agreement with the city, county and state, and has been searching for a naming rights partner since 2015 with an eye toward a $270 million stadium renovation. The naming rights deal with United, in the works since May, will help modernize the stadium interior (including replacement of every seat) while returning the venue exterior to something more closely resembling its original 1923 appearance.
“The university has a time-honored commitment to the Coliseum, serving as its longest-enduring tenant," said USC President C. L. Max Nikias in a statement released by the school. “USC is honored to be the caretaker of this Los Angeles treasure. Together with United, we can ensure the Coliseum's future as a world-class venue and true community asset.”
City Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, a member of the Coliseum Commission, called the Coliseum one of the world's greatest sports venues and an architectural icon in Los Angeles. “Through this restoration project, USC continues to demonstrate its responsible stewardship of the stadium," he said. "With support from United Airlines, USC is ushering in a modern era for this historic landmark and preserving its legacy for generations to come.”
An already world-class facility will achieve better-than-ever status, according to USC athletic director Lynn Swann. “When construction is complete, our home field will be the best it's ever been, for our players, our students and our Trojan fans," Swann said, "and that's thanks to the contributions from founders and alumni, and partners like United Airlines."
- Friday, January, 26, 2018
Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis Resigns
Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis has resigned in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal that culminated this week with Nassar being sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison, the Detroit Free Press is reporting.
- Friday, January, 26, 2018
USOC Demands Total Turnover of USA Gymnastics Board
The United States Olympic Committee in an email Thursday demanded the resignation of the entire 21-member board of directors at USA Gymnastics, which will lose its status as the sport's national governing body if the demand is not met.
The call for complete turnover follows the sentencing this week of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who faces 40 to 175 years in prison for abusing athletes in his care.
“We do not base these requirements on any knowledge that any individual USAG staff or board members had a role in fostering or obscuring Nassar’s actions,” USOC Scott Blackmun wrote in the email. “Our position comes from a clear sense that USAG culture needs fundamental rebuilding.”
As reported by USA Today, the other conditions imposed by the USOC are:
-- All USA Gymnastics staff and board members must complete SafeSport training offered by the U.S. Center for Safe Sport within three months.
-- All staff and board members must complete a comprehensive ethics training unit within the next six months.
USA Gymnastics responded with a statement on its site, including, “USA Gymnastics completely embraces the requirements outlined in the [email]. We understand that the requirements imposed by the letter will help us enhance our ability to build a culture of empowerment throughout the organization, with an increased focus on athlete safety and well-being.”
As of Friday, all links to "Board of Directors" at usagym.org revealed nothing about the board, much less a list of names.
- Friday, January, 05, 2018
AB Today 2017: Our Top 10 Stories of the Past Year
Deregulation and legal action. Out-of-control training and recruiting practices. These were topics that drew much of our readers’ attention in 2017. AB Today has compiled a list of the top stories that broke in this space over the past year. Here are the 10 that garnered the most page views, in ascending order:
- Wednesday, November, 30, 2016
AB Show 2016: The Magic of Orlando
There’s something about Orlando, Fla., that stirs the nostalgia in this AB Show-goer. It’s where the conference and expo (as it used to be known) was held my first eight years at Athletic Business, and it has been there another four times since. In all, Orlando has served as the annual home away from home for AB roughly half the time in our show’s 35-year history.
- Monday, November, 10, 2014
Get to Know Your Peers When Attending ABC
This is a story about a conversation Lou Holtz and I never had.
- Tuesday, August, 12, 2014
Robin Williams Drew Attention to Inaugural Augie’s BASH
Robin Williams possessed the kind of frenetic magnetism that dared you to look away. For me, it wasn’t possible. The actor/comedian’s larger-than-life persona was tailor-made for a movie screen.
- Thursday, January, 17, 2013
Blog: The Tangled Webs of Lance Armstrong, Manti Te'o
The twisted tales of Lance Armstrong and Manti Te'o are now intertwined. Heroes to many, these athletes have lived lies before our eyes, and now those lies are unraveling within the same week.
- Monday, December, 03, 2012
Blog: The Life and Death of Rick Majerus
The first time I saw Rick Majerus in person, he was sitting in seldom-used end-court bleachers that had been wheeled into position for a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Class C basketball sectional at my high school alma mater's field house. I was there to cover a game for my hometown newspaper, The West Bend News. Majerus, an assistant coach at Marquette at the time (this was the mid-'80s), was there to scout Kohler, Wis., phenom Joe Wolf, who would eventually attend North Carolina.
- Friday, August, 17, 2012
Blog: Cheer These Pro Athletes for Giving Back
Assuming your membership in the Latrell "I have a family to feed" Sprewell Fan Club has expired, may we suggest a couple of options.
- Sunday, January, 17, 2010
Blog: Still Believing, 34 Years (and Counting) Later
Editor's Note: AB Senior Editor Paul Steinbach authored this piece in January 2010, but with February 22nd marking the 34th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice and the U.S. men's hockey team facing off against Canada on Friday, the message still rings true.
For nearly 30 years now, the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team has been an off-and-on obsession of mine.
- Thursday, December, 10, 2009
A Choice to Make
There's precedent for a Catholic institution sticking with a coach despite his pro-choice stance on abortion. Rick Majerus is in his third season heading the St. Louis University men's basketball program after admitting during a TV interview at a January 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign rally that he is "pro-choice, personally." But will a Catholic institution hire a pro-choice coach? Somehow, during speculation that University of Cincinnati head football coach Brian Kelly is next in line to bear the Notre Dame football cross, the rumor spread that Kelly, an Irish Catholic who decades ago campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, is pro-choice. But no one seems to know for sure. "I searched online media archives all day today trying to find one reputable media reference to Kelly's stance on abortion," read a Tuesday post by Brooks at sportsbybrooks.com. "I found none."
- Wednesday, November, 11, 2009
Hit 'Em Straight
When the AB editors dedicated our July issue to best environmental practices in the athletics, fitness and recreation industries, we managed to overlook one egregious hazard to our planet's health: golf balls.