Tuesday, October, 02, 2018
Report: NCAA Serves Baylor Notice of Allegations
Fort Worth's Star-Telegram reports that the NCAA has served notice of allegations against Baylor University, noting that former head coach Art Briles failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance and that there also existed a "lack of institutional control" regarding a sexual assault scandal that has rocked the university for many months.
According to Fox 4 in Dallas, roughly 125 sexual assault cases reported to the school between 2011 and 2015 — many involving football players.
The NCAA opened its investigation in June 2017 and submitted its report to Baylor approximately three weeks ago, the Star-Telegram reports. The school has 90 days to respond. After Baylor issues its response, the NCAA has 60 days to reply.
The NCAA typically considers whether the university has taken steps to resolve the issue. Baylor has said it has put in more than 100 measures to update its Title IX compliance and modernize how it addresses sexual assault claims. Depending on whether Baylor agrees with the NCAA in its initial conclusion, the school could offer self-imposed penalties.
According to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, Baylor was advised to consider a one-year ban from postseason play for the football team for 2018, but Baylor officials vehemently deny a bowl ban has ever been considered.
Star-Telegram sources also indicate that while the NCAA is finished with its investigation, it could potentially include any information that emerges from depositions given by former Baylor officials in the Jane Doe Title IX case against the university. Those depositions include ones of former Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw and former board member Phil Stewart, both of whom delivered testimony that indicated BU had dysfunctional leadership with conflicting agendas. Both men suggested the investigation of the school conducted by the law firm of Pepper Hamilton was not only insufficient, but it was also controlled by a few members of the board to deliver an outcome it wanted.
Multiple sources at Baylor said that during the school’s process of deciding whether to fire or maintain Briles in the the spring of 2016, several members of its board of regents wanted the school to find NCAA violations committed by the football program just to avoid paying Briles the bulk of his contract. Fired in May 2016, Briles agreed to a total compensation of nearly $18 million.
Friday, September, 28, 2018
Judge Orders Hold on Eastern Michigan Sports Cuts
Eastern Michigan University's decision to eliminate two women's sports is on hold after a federal judge ruled Thursday to grant two student-athletes a preliminary injunction.
In a 37-page decision, Judge George Caram Steeh found that there is sufficient evidence that EMU does not provide equal opportunities to female athletes under Title IX.
The university and its athletic department announced in March that it was cutting four sports — women's tennis and softball and men's wrestling and swimming and diving — in the interest of saving $2.4 million annually. Tennis player Marie Mayerova and softball player Ariana Chretien then sued the university, both arguing that transfer to another school would be difficult. Mayerova, from the Czech Republic, would need a new visa to attend school in a different state. Chretien, an aviation major, has indicated that schools interested in her as a transfer do not offer her chosen field of study.
As reported by The Detroit News, while most of the athletes affected in the March cuts were male, numbers submitted to the U.S. Department of Education since 2003 show Eastern Michigan has struggled to provide female athletes a percentage that aligns with the student-body population. In 2016-17, the most recent academic year for which data is available, 59.74 percent of Eastern Michigan students were female, while the female student-athlete population was 43.88 percent.
University officials argued they have increased opportunities for female athletes, with 323 female athletes in 2017-18, compared to a low of 185 in 2008-09. Steeh was unmoved. "The actual numbers reveal a participation disparity that has lingered for at least 15 years, with no evidence of a serious effort to address it," he wrote, adding, "The court finds that the public interest is best served by upholding the goals of Title IX."
Steeh also wrote he is not in position to decide a reasonable outcome, and instead ordered an Oct. 23 conference between Eastern Michigan representatives and lawyers representing Mayerova and Chretien.
Thursday, September, 27, 2018
McNair Attorney Seeks Answers in Letter to UM Regents
Legal action against the University of Maryland over the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair appears imminent following receipt of a letter to the University System of Maryland Board of Regents authored by the attorney representing McNair's parents.
Addressed to board chair James Brady, the letter served as follow-up to a report released Friday outlining shortcomings in the treatment McNair received for heat-related illness at a May 29 workout. He died June 13. According to ESPN.com, the five-page letter states that Martin and Tonya McNair "are deeply disturbed by the Board of Regents' refusal to accept responsibility for Jordan's death in the face of the independent, powerful and tragic findings of a report that you personally oversaw."
State prosecutors are considering whether criminal charges are warranted.
At an August 14 news conference, Maryland president Wallace Loh said he accepted "legal and moral responsibility" on behalf of the university for the mistakes made by athletic training staff, two members of which remain on leave from their positions. But Brady stopped short of echoing Loh's comments when asked about them on Friday. "I'm not in a position to make that call at this point in time. I think there is a lot of information we are gathering, and I'm not prepared to make that call. I am prepared to say that the death of this young man is a tragedy."
William Murphy, the McNair's attorney, wrote in the letter to Brady, "Your failure to take responsibility for Jordan's death is part of your continuing pattern of insensitivity toward the McNair family, motivated by your attempts to mitigate the tragedy and protect your and the university's interests."
The letter also requested documentation on football-related deaths in the state, including two additional deaths that occurred in 2011 and 2013 at schools within the university system, and asked for lessons learned by the system from the 2014 heatstroke death of a player at Morgan State.
"It is now becoming clear that you are leaving the family no alternative but to establish legal and moral responsibility in a court of law," Murphy wrote. "It is beyond doubt that this litigation will demonstrate a callous disregard and deliberate indifference for Jordan's health, welfare and safety on May 29, and a consistent and systemic pattern of callous disregard for the safety of student athletes at the University System of Maryland."
The University System of Maryland issued the following statement in response to the letter late Wednesday night:
"The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents is deeply saddened by the tragic death of University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) student-athlete Jordan McNair. As board chair James T. Brady stated Friday, Mr. McNair's death has been devastating not only for his family, friends and teammates, but for many others across the USM and the state.
"And while we can never make up for this loss, we can and must obtain all available information as to what happened on May 29 so we can ensure that a tragedy like this never occurs again on any of our campuses.
"To that end, several investigations were launched to gather and establish as many facts as possible. Dr. Rod Walters' review of UMCP's protocols and procedures and how they were implemented is the first to be completed. An independent commission continues to investigate the culture of football at the university, particularly with respect to student health and safety. Finally, the Office of the Attorney General, as it does in all such cases, is conducting an investigation to assess, among other issues, potential legal responsibility.
"We will not speculate, make judgments or attempt to apportion responsibility until all of these investigations are concluded and the Board of Regents has sufficient information to make the decisions necessary to better safeguard the well-being of student athletes at the University of Maryland, College Park and other USM institutions."
Meanwhile, UM athletic director Damon Evans told ESPN that he was misinformed initially about the circumstances surrounding the May 29 workout.
"A point of concern for me is the question over whether Jordan completed the workout, as it was initially told to the university in the hours and days following Jordan's hospitalization. What became clear through the Walters review is that Jordan did not complete the workout on his own," Evans said in a statement published Wednesday by SI.com. "I regret that those details, which were based off the information shared with the university at the time, contained inaccurate information. We learned through the preliminary findings that the appropriate protocols were not followed, and the university apologized for the mistakes made. We have committed to implementing the Walters review recommendations and taking further actions to enhance the safety of our student-athletes."
Thursday, September, 27, 2018
Great Plains Rec Facility Features Glowing Entrance
Canadian ice arenas see more traffic in the dark of early morning and late night than most sports facilities.
Wednesday, September, 26, 2018
Prosecutors Seek Full Report on McNair, Mull Charges
The state's attorney's office in Prince George County, Md., is seeking an un-redacted version of the report released Friday regarding University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair's death to determine if criminal charges are in order.
Tuesday, September, 25, 2018
New Mexico Settles with Alleged Victim for $200K
A civil suit filed in February 2015 by a woman who claims she was gang raped by three University of New Mexico students, including two UNM football players, received a $200,000 settlement from the state, according to newly released records.
Courtney Spenser, who alleged she was raped as a freshman in April 2014, first sued UNM in federal court on the Title IX claim that her case was mishandled by the university. The alleged perpetrators were never prosecuted, due to "insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt." The three men likewise sued the university, claiming it had botched the case and prevented their names from being cleared. A federal judge dismissed most of their claims, and the three dropped their final one earlier this year.
A formal public records request by the Albuquerque Journal revealed that the settlement was signed in June 2016, after the New Mexico Risk Management Division and Spenser determined doing so would "avoid the time, expense and uncertainties of litigation." It remains unclear how much of the $200,000 was covered by the university itself.
Upon their arrest on the initial rape charges, Crusoe Gongbay and SaQuan Edwards were suspended from the football team. The charges were dropped in June 2014, and the players were reinstated by head coach Bob Davie and former athletic director Paul Krebs that August.
In a written statement, Spencer’s attorney, Brad Hall, defended Title IX, the law passed in 1972 to combat gender discrimination in public education programs that receive federal funding. "Title IX represented a unique set of rights for individuals, with very specific damages against an institution. This settlement did not involve any claims against any alleged perpetrators. Nor did this Federal civil claim have anything to do with standards of proof in State criminal cases. This settlement allowed Ms. Spencer to move forward at the time, and was I think a good framework for everyone to evolve."
Monday, September, 24, 2018
Report: Athletic Training Mistakes Made in McNair Case
The independent investigation into the handling of Jordan McNair's heatstroke during a May 29 football practice concludes that University of Maryland athletic trainers reacted too late to the offensive lineman's symptoms, and suggests a culture of mistrust and intimidation contributed to the situation that led to McNair's death June 13.
Monday, September, 24, 2018
Zausner Transforms U.S. Open Facilities, Experience
The first half of Danny Zausner's 34-year career in event management took him all over the world — first as a concert promoter, then as head of Ogden Entertainment, where he oversaw the operation of 60 stadiums and arenas. For the past 17 years, his focus has resided exclusively on a 42-acre parcel of land a mere 15 miles from his home. As chief operating officer of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., Zausner has shepherded a $650 million, eight-year renovation that has transformed the world's largest public tennis facility into the envy of the entire sports world, with retractable roofs on two venues (including 24,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium) and a festival atmosphere surrounding its signature event — the U.S. Open. In the process, the Open has seen growth in ticket sales from $45 million to $120 million, as well as increases in attendance (40 percent), food and beverage sales (from $8 million to $30 million) and merchandise sales (from $6 million to $18 million). AB senior editor Paul Steinbach asked Zausner to reflect on his homecoming.
Friday, September, 21, 2018
San Diego Takes Issue with Grand Jury's Stadium Stance
A subcommittee of the San Diego City Council on Wednesday disputed recent conclusions of a grand jury assembled to assess the financial management of San Diego County Credit Union Stadium in Mission Valley.
According to KPBS public broadcasting in San Diego, the grand jury report took issue with some aspects of stadium management being assigned to third parties rather than stadium staff. Following the Chargers' departure as the stadium's main tenant, the city contracted with Fox Sports to handle stadium advertising sales and with the San Diego College Bowl Association to sell skybox and luxury suite leases. While the grand jury determined those duties could and should have been handled in house, the city argues that the outsourcing of those tasks, which were beyond the staff's expertise anyway, freed up stadium personnel to focus on booking lucrative events — a strategy that paid dividends.
"In fact, by spending so much time on booking additional stadium events, the city was able to garner $3.7 million in additional revenue above and beyond what was actually budgeted for fiscal year '18," said Lisa Byrne, speaking for the city's office of the Independent Budget Analyst.
Stadium officials had been hopeful that the stadium could finally be profitable without the Chargers, who had collected the lion's share of advertising, concessions, parking and ticket revenue from their NFL home games.
The grand jury further recommended that the city make policies and rules to evaluate future stadium contracts, and the city council and mayor now have until mid-November to accept those recommendations or make a case for refuting them.
Tuesday, September, 18, 2018
Single Suspect Tied to Locker Room Thefts at TCU, SMU
Police in Fort Worth, Texas, believe one man is on a collegiate locker room crime spree after items were stolen from football lockers at Southern Methodist University on Sept. 4 and then Texas Christian University one week later.
Other schools in the state have been put on alert since thousands of dollars worth of electronics were taken from TCU football lockers Sept. 11 as the Horned Frogs practiced. A man wearing a backpack can be seen on security cameras in the Meyer-Martin Athletic Complex, seemingly avoiding eye-contact when in the presence of others.
“He’d walk to the locker room and if someone came out, he would just turn around and get on his phone,” TCU police detective Mike McCormack told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, adding that the person of interest didn't loiter. “He was in and out of there in 10 minutes. He knows what he’s doing.”
TCU police released still images from the security cameras Monday, along with phone numbers to call with information on the suspect.
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.