- Monday, April, 23, 2018
Suspended Kansas Rowers Talk of Power-Hungry Coach
A member of the University of Kansas women's rowing team feels the school is taking too long to investigate a social media scandal that has forced her and six teammates to miss three rowing events this season — equivalent to the suspension received had they failed a drug test for the second time.
The seven suspensions were issued in late March after coaches discovered the rowers had created alias social media accounts, a violation of section 501 of the Kansas Athletics Policies and Procedures Manual, which states, "I will not create fake or alias social media accounts. I understand that any information placed on any social media site is a reflection of me, my team, Kansas Athletics and the University of Kansas."
Two of the seven rowers spoke to The University Daily Kansan on the condition they would remain anonymous. One of them, a junior, decried a lack of communication between administrators, coaches and the suspended athletes, who are awaiting any word regarding their potential reinstatement. Only two events remain on the Kansas rowing schedule — the Sunflower Showdown and Big 12 championships — before the NCAA championships are held in late May.
The two rowers also question why seven were suspended, claiming administrators and coaches are aware of at last 30 women on the team who have launched alias social media accounts. "It seems really targeted and very selective about who they have chosen to suspend and who they chose to keep on the team, and they’re really been horrible about communicating,” said the other rower who spoke to the Kansan.
According to the junior rower, the atmosphere surrounding the team changed at the start of the 2017-18 season, when Carrie Cook-Callen took over from long-time head coach Rob Catloth. Since becoming head coach, Cook-Callen has made changes to the student-athlete contract — ranging from the rule about alias social media accounts to a ban on the wearing of eye masks during team flights.
“I would say it was a lot better” under Catloth, the junior said, “because you could kind of complain about him, then you’d go home and your life would still be your life. But coach Callen has just taken over everything, and you can’t really get away from her.
“I just feel like KU Athletics and the coaching staff just need to be held accountable because they’ve just had so much power for so long, and it’s all gone to their heads.”
- Friday, April, 20, 2018
Review Firm: Iowa Policy Sets Harassment Bar Too High
A law firm tasked with reviewing the University of Iowa's employment policies recommends that the school revise its definition of workplace harassment.
Fredrikson and Byron, a Des Moines-based firm hired after a jury award and additional settlements involving former senior associate athletic director Jane Meyer and companion Tracey Griesbaum cost Iowa $6.5 million, stated in a report released Thursday that the university's anti-harassment policy sets the bar too high in its description of harassment speech that could be considered illegal. In doing so, employees could “erroneously believe that harassment that falls short of this standard must be tolerated and not reported." The current policy "does not accurately communicate what constitutes protected-class harassment in the workplace," and should be revised, according to the report, which also recommends harassment training for employees, though it didn't specify which ones.
Last May, less than 24 hours after a jury awarded Meyer $1.43 million in a wrongful termination case, Iowa president Bruce Harreld announced that the school's policies would be reviewed. It hired Fredrikson and Byron in November and has paid the firm $97,575, including expenses, according to the Des Moines Register.
Other recommendations in the 39-page report include making it easier to suspend employees for egregious sexual harassment and clarifying conduct protected in the anti-retaliation policy. In general, the review was positive, pointing out that university and athletic department policies on human rights, sexual harassment, anti-retaliation and violence complied with state and federal laws.
- Friday, April, 20, 2018
Delivering Sound in Large Spectator Sports Venues
When Ken Voss has Chicago Blackhawks tickets, he makes sure to arrive in his United Center seat 20 minutes before the puck is dropped. There are spectacular scoreboard visuals and on-ice projections, but the pregame hat trick isn't complete until Jim Cornelison belts out "The Star Spangled Banner" and "O Canada" into a live microphone. As Voss puts it, "To listen to the Irish baritone do the national anthem in that stadium just brings goose bumps."
- Thursday, April, 19, 2018
Youth Tackle Football Ban Likely Dead in Illinois
A bill that would have banned tackle football for children younger than 12 lacks sufficient support to proceed through the Illinois Legislature.
State representative Carol Sente, a Democrat from Vernon Hills, had spearheaded the so-called Dave Duerson Act, and hopes it still has a future despite the fact she is leaving the assembly. "Passing this bill is an extremely important goal to me," Sente said, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. "I don’t plan to call the bill for a vote this year, but I’m going to keep it open because every week there is new information."
Duerson, a safety on the Chicago Bears 1985 championship team, committed suicide at age 50 and was later found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy. His son, Tregg, stood with Sente when she unveiled the legislations in January. The bill also received support from scientists and former football players, but was opposed by youth football coaches. "Coaches and parents are looking at safety in everything we do," said Jeffery Nicoll, president of the Bill George Youth Football League, which covers 19 towns mostly in DuPage County and allows kids to begin participation as early as the second grade. "Given the changes to tackle football in the last four to five years, not to mention the last 20, it is much safer. CTE is not an issue with youth football as it is at the college and pro level."
Added Bob Anderson, a coach and board member of the Junior Spartans in Northbrook, "We had 100 kids play tackle football last year and there were zero concussions."
- Wednesday, April, 18, 2018
NCAA Committee Ties Transfer Eligibility to Academics
The NCAA Division I Committee on Academics appears intent on allowing student-athletes in high academic standing a one-time opportunity to transfer schools and compete immediately regardless of what sport the student plays.
The committee reiterated its support for the concept during meetings held earlier this month in Indianapolis. Currently, student-athletes in most sports must sit out a year of competition at their new school upon transferring, a practice that may both slow progress toward graduation and pose additional financial burden on those high-achieving transferring student-athletes and their new schools, according to data cited by the committee. The suggested rule change would create a seamless transition for student-athletes carrying, for example, a minimum grade-point average between 3.0 and 3.3 paired with progress-toward-degree requirements.
As reported at NCAA.org, committee members noted that at all other times in a student-athlete’s career, eligibility for competition is determined by a student’s academic record — for example, before they can compete as a freshman, whether they are making adequate progress toward a degree and after they have transferred from a two-year college. When Division I members created those standards, they considered the differences across degree programs, curricula and schools, as any four-year transfer rule would.
Not surprisingly, the proposal is supported by student-athletes. “You should be rewarded for your academics,” said committee member Nicole Sherwin, a representative of the national Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee who earned degrees in biomedical science and psychology while playing soccer at Northern Arizona. “Athletics (participation) is a privilege, not a right. It’s important that we remember that they are able to transfer to another school if they’d like to, but playing immediately would be a privilege for being in the right academic spot.”
- Thursday, April, 12, 2018
Brett Favre Talks Concussions, Field Safety
The worst among Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre's many concussions resulted from his head hitting the playing surface, and it was just such a blow — on Dec. 20, 2010 — that ended a career that spanned 20 NFL seasons and 321 consecutive starts. Now Favre wants players, parents and coaches at all levels to realize what he never did — that head-to-surface contact causes one out of every five sports concussions, and that something can be done about it. As an executive producer of "Shocked: The Hidden Factor in the Sports Concussion Crisis," which asserts that a shock pad helps synthetic turf more closely mimic the resiliency of natural grass, Favre told AB senior editor Paul Steinbach on the eve of the documentary's January debut that he believes such padding can greatly reduce the occurrence of concussions.
- Friday, March, 30, 2018
HS Soccer Team Threatened on Bus Over Lost Necklace
Keeping players safe is part of any coach's job, but rarely does that duty involve a hostage situation.
A tense and potentially violent incident unfolded on a team bus last Friday, when a student traveling with the Loris (S.C.) High School soccer team held all passengers captive upon arrival at the school, claiming he wouldn't let anyone leave the bus until his missing gold necklace was returned to him.
According to The Sun Times of Myrtle Beach, police reports indicate that Zachary Jermaine Jordan, 18, marched up the bus's aisle and stated, "No one is getting off this bus until what's mine is given back to me. If not, I am going to punch anyone in the face and beat anyone down who tries to leave. I will even shoot you up it doesn't matter I have been to jail before, I've been in the streets, I don't care I want what's mine."
Student-athletes began searching their bags and looking under seats "in fear," as the team's coach put it to police, but were unsuccessful in finding the missing neckless, which was valued at $500. Jordan began confiscating players' personal items, including several cellphones. The coach tried to deescalate the situation, but was pushed and threatened by Jordan, who then began threatening players' parents, saying, "he didn't care that he would fight them also and take their stuff too," according to the police report.
That's when the coach called police. Once Jordan became aware that authorities were on their way, he left the cellphones and fled the scene. He was arrested Tuesday and charged with kidnapping, second-degree assault and battery, disturbing schools and two counts of simple larceny. As of Wednesday, he remained in jail with a $11,500 bond.
- Thursday, March, 29, 2018
Michigan State Spent $500K Tracking Nassar Case
A New York-based public relations firm in January billed Michigan State University for $517,343 for more than 1,440 hours of work. The job? Tracking social media activity surrounding the case of former osteopathic physician and team doctor Larry Nassar, convicted of sexually abusing MSU student-athletes and USA Gymnastics athletes.
- Wednesday, March, 28, 2018
Dodger Stadium Sewage Leak Ends Game on Foul Note
The puns were all too easy, but suffice to say the Los Angeles Dodgers were happy to take Wednesday’s 4-3 exhibition victory over the Angels and clear out of Dodger Stadium. Same goes for the fans.
In fact, the game was called after five innings, when a burst water main flooded a large swath of warning track, the third-base camera well and part of the stands with sewage — creating an unusual groundskeeping challenge amid the stench. Two hours later, J.P. Hoorstra, MLB reporter for the Southern California News Group, tweeted, “A vacuum has done quite well improving the aesthetics on the field. It still stinks, and I’m told they had to shut off the water valve on the [left] side of the stadium to prevent further flooding.”
According to a report at ESPN.com, more than one Dodgers player used the word “nasty” to describe the foul odor emitting from the gurgling pool on the warning track. “Apparently, there was a pipe backup on two different levels of the stadium,” Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said after the game. “We don’t know exactly where the backup was or what caused it. It had something to do with a main pipe here, as well as a main pipe outside the stadium.”
Only two MLB ballparks still in use predate Dodger Stadium, which debuted in 1962. The Dodgers open the regular season by hosting the rival San Francisco Giants tomorrow night.
- Tuesday, March, 27, 2018
Raisman: Altering Gymnastics Leotard Won't Stem Abuse
Aly Raisman, the decorated Olympian who stated last year that women don't need to cover up their bodies to be respected, unsurprisingly came out this week against altering what has become the standard leotard used in gymnastics competition at all levels.
The mere suggestion that banning the formfitting gymnastics uniform might possibly stem sexual abuse in the sport prompted Raisman, who like hundreds of gymnasts was sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar, to take to Twitter with her rebuttal. “Leotards [are] not the problem," Raisman tweeted Sunday, as reported by Huffington Post. "The problem is the many pedophiles out there & the adults who enable them. By saying clothing is part of the issue, [you] are victim shaming/implying survivors should feel it’s their fault.”
Raisman, who captained gold medal U.S. teams at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, in February sued USA Gymnastics for failing to take action against Nassar, whose abuse spanned two decades while working for Michigan State University and the national team.
According to a June 2016 article in Elle, subtiltled "Granny cuts to bedazzled bodysuits," the gymnastics leotards of the 1930s and '40s were loose-fitting and featured more coverage of the shoulders and buttocks. However, the evolution of the sport from mostly dancing to demanding athleticism dictated a more formfitting style that accommodates greater muscle mass and movement.
- 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.