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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

Hampton University announced Tuesday the addition of women's triathlon, which the NCAA designated as an emerging sport in 2014, as its newest athletic team effective next fall.

HU will become the sixth Division I school, and the first Historically Black College and University, to sponsor women's triathlon. Hampton has been awarded a $225,000 grant from the USA Triathlon Foundation, which was designated for the first HBCU to take on women's triathlon as a varsity sport.

The money will be distributed over five years to help fund travel, equipment, coaching and scholarships.

"This is another way to get the Hampton brand worldwide," HU athletic director Eugene Marshall said. "We are known for a lot of things academically, and some athletically, but this is a way to continue to attract leaders and champions."

Marshall said Hampton will compete as a club team in the fall of 2019 and go varsity in '20. Unlike with men's lacrosse and women's soccer, the two most recent sports to be added, Marshall said HU might be able to grant some scholarships right away thanks to the grant.

The process of hiring a new coach is expected to begin by the end of the year.

"Between USA Triathlon and us," Marshall said, "we can put together a great staff and a great program."

According to USA Triathlon CEO Rocky Harris, less than 1 percent of athletes who compete in the sport are African Americans. He wants that to change.

"We have a vision to make triathlon the most welcoming and inclusive sport, and right now we're not there," Harris said. "We still have a lot of work to do, but this is one really significant step in that direction."

Being recognized by the NCAA as an emerging sport gave women's triathlon 10 years to demonstrate sustainability. To help, USA Triathlon approved $2.6 million in grants to encourage NCAA schools to add the sport.

The goal is to establish 40 varsity programs by 2024. Hampton makes 26.

Other Division I schools that compete in women's triathlon are Arizona State, East Tennessee State, San Francisco, South Dakota, and Wagner College. There are 11 D-II schools that sponsor the sport, but the nearest to Hampton Roads is Queens University of Charlotte (N.C.).

The season will consist of three regional qualifiers and the Women's Collegiate Triathlon National Championship. It will feature sprint-distance races covering a 750-meter open water swim, draft-legal 20-kilometer bike and a 5-kilometer run.

This isn't the first time Hampton University went against the norm in establishing teams. In 1995, it became the first HBCU to offer sailing as a varsity sport. Twenty years later, Hampton added men's lacrosse, the first HBCU to do so on the Division I level.

Dave Johnson can be reached at 757-247-4649.

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The Philadelphia Daily News

 

FOR THE FIRST time ever, one of Philadelphia sports' crown jewels now has a different name.

Penn announced Tuesday that it sold the naming rights to the court at the Palestra to Macquarie, a global financial conglomerate whose American arm is headquartered in Philadelphia. The name of the building isn't changing, but when you go to games there, you'll hear the public address announcer say "Macquarie Court at the Palestra."

It's a multiyear deal that will boost the Penn basketball teams' budgets, and boost a range of community service programs that the athletic department runs. Athletic director Grace Calhoun wouldn't disclose the amount of money changing hands, or the exact length of the deal, but she did call it "far and away the largest sponsorship Penn athletics has entered into, and one that we feel is really going to visibly change the way we're able to sponsor our programs."

Calhoun acknowledged that selling the floor of a venue often hailed as college basketball's most historic gym was not an easy decision. And she knows there's a backlash among longtime fans of not just the Quakers, but the rest of the Big 5.

"We felt that taking this next step was a really strategic step in terms of not only generating the extra resources to reinvest in the programs, but also finding a partner that stands for a lot of the same things that we do," she said. "We were clear with JMI [the agency that handles marketing and rights deals for Penn's athletic department] that it would take the right partner that we felt really good about to want to give away that asset... We will never name the Palestra anything other than the Palestra. There are things like that which we just won't do. But we felt a wonderful step forward was to do, as we've done, the Macquarie Court at the Palestra."

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Copyright 2018 The Durham Herald Co.
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The Herald-Sun (Durham, N.C.)

 

An urban version of soccer — known everywhere outside the U.S. as futbol — is growing in Durham. Futsal is soccer played on a smaller, usually indoor court, with fewer players and a smaller ball. It's ideal for kids because they get more contact with the ball and ideal for cities because tennis courts and basketball courts can be converted to a futsal pitch more easily than creating a new soccer field.

That's what's happening in Durham.

Thanks to a Blue Cross Blue Shield grant of $160,000, two tennis courts at East End Park are being converted into futsal pitches. One is already finished, and Durham Parks and Recreation and the U.S. Soccer Foundation — along with young futsal players — celebrated its opening on Tuesday evening.

Fox Sports broadcaster Fernando Fiore was there and provided the words everyone was waiting for: "Gooooooaaaaaaallllllll!"

RAL_SOCCER3NE103018CEL.JPGNC Courage player Crystal Dunn and Fernando Fiore, Argentinian sports anchor help Durham Parks and Recreation dedicate another futsal pitch on repurposed tennis courts at East End Park on North Alston Avenue, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. Kids were able to play a short exhibition game in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

"You saw a couple of tennis courts probably nobody uses and [turned them into] now new soccer mini pitches kids use everyday," Fiore said. "I wish as a kid, I had this."

Fiore said that growing up in Argentina, he and his friends played on the dirt. With the futsal pitches, "every day is a sunny day. Even when it's raining, because the next day you know this will be there."

Ramiro Castaneda said his whole family spends the weekends playing futsal and soccer. Four brothers, his sister, nieces and friends all play.

"You can never have too many [futsal pitches], especially when kids and the community can benefit," he said.

Castaneda has played all his life and dreamed of going pro. He is originally from Guatemala, and said that soccer is what everyone does every weekend there, too. When he came to the U.S. in 2002, the soccer community wasn't very big.

RamiroCastameda.jpgDurham Atletico soccer and futsal player Ramiro Castameda said that most of his family plays soccer every weekend. Orginially from Guatemala, he said that everyone there plays soccer every weekend, too.

"Durham has grown so much. Now the community comes together — you see more families coming out, coming together. And now we have more places to come and play," Castaneda said.

The $160,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield covers the cost of turning both courts into pitches and four years of a U.S. Soccer Foundation afterschool program called "Soccer for Success," which is free for kids. The second futsal pitch will open in December. There are a few other futsal pitches in Durham — at Hillside Park and Sherwood Park.

The Durham City Council heard about the grant from Parks and Recreation in September. The money would convert either basketball or tennis courts, but basketball was a 'no' because of demand. The six tennis courts at East End Park are not used for league programming, because eight tennis courts would be needed for tournament play. So conversion of two tennis courts into futsal pitches still leaves the park with four tennis courts.

Tennis is still popular in Durham, said Annette Smith, Parks and Recreation program administrator for grants and special projects. But at East End Park, the demand is for futsal.

"This is a wonderful example of a partnership that helps everyone in Durham," said City Council member Javiera Caballero. "Our kids need to go to school together and they need to play together."

Mayor Pro Tem Jillian Johnson said at a recent council meeting that her 4 year-old son is in a young futsal league and the games are "the cutest hour of my life."

U.S. Soccer Women's National Team player Crystal Dunn, also an NC Courage player and UNC grad, said that her family moved from Queens to Long Island when she was little. Their house was less than a mile from a soccer field, she said, which helped get her into the sport with her friends.

"This sport can change lives and bring people together," Dunn said. The new pitches are "a safe environment for them to play and just be kids."

Soccer is a game of the people

Parks and Recreation partners with Durham Atletico, which runs soccer and futsal programs for kids and adults. That's the league Castaneda plays in.

David Fellerath of Durham Atletico said that as soccer gained popularity in Argentina and Uruguay in the 20th century, those in cities repurposed other courts into futsal courts. The space is cheaper to convert and you don't need as many people to get a game going as you do in traditional soccer, he said.

Fellerath said that there are about 50 to 75 kids who play futsal and soccer through Durham Atletico

"There's pretty much an unending demand for soccer," he said.

"I don't think anyone can match the Latino population for soccer passion. It's popular all over the world."

At the same time, soccer in the United States "developed a reputation as a middle class, suburban sport, which is completely counter to the rest of the world. It's a sport of the common people," Fellerath said.

Omar Obaydi plays and coaches futsal and soccer in Durham Atletico. He moved to the U.S. from Iraq four years ago in a refugee program.

"I grew up in the Middle East [playing]. It doesn't cost too much to play. It's a good outlet for kids and adults," he said.

Obaydi said he found it very therapeutic in a lot of ways.

"The beauty of soccer is it does not need a lot of explaining. And it's a social gathering."

Parks and Recreation dedicated another futsal pitch on repurposed tennis courts at East End Park on North Alston Avenue, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. Helping with the dedication were NC Courage player Crystal Dunn and Fernando Fiore, Argentinian sports anchor. Kids were able to play a short exhibition game in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawnbvaughan

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

I try not to make sports the focal part of my column very often, but something happened last week here locally that I simply cannot ignore.

The Illinois High School Association, in its infinite wisdom, declared the Pinckneyville High School volleyball team ineligible for postseason competition last week. Executive Director Craig Anderson made his decision based on the fact that the Panthers inadvertently played one more match than the state allows (36 as opposed to 35). Therefore, Anderson said the Panthers had an unfair competitive advantage over the other schools.

And not only did PCHS lose out on competing in the postseason, but it had to forfeit its River to River Mississippi Division co-championship.

I'm sorry, but I think the punishment far outweighs the crime here. Clerical errors happen. The Panthers made a mistake. They miscalculated the number of matches they played.

This was a PCHS team that went 28-8 and had at least a shot at qualifying for state.

Shouldn't you look at intent here? Do you really think Pinckneyville would intentionally play an extra match to try to gain an edge in the postseason? What edge would that be? How does playing 36 matches instead of 35 make a difference?

If anything, it would likely wear the players down more and make them more susceptible to losing.

Pinckneyville school officials appealed Anderson's ruling, but the IHSA board upheld his decision.

Bully for you, guys. You ought to be proud. You made an example of the Panthers.

How about the girls on the team who worked their tails off in putting together one of the better records in school history? What did they do wrong? What lesson were they taught here? I would say the lesson they learned is that adults have a tendency to make a mess of things.

To be quite frank, Anderson and the IHSA board should be ashamed of themselves. There are far more appropriate punishments that could have been meted out for what I believe to be a minor infraction. Surrendering a tournament title, for example, could have been an option. Preventing them from participating in one or two tournaments next school year could have been an option. Even take the conference title away if you must, but to prevent the team from competing for a state title is downright ruthless and unconscionable.

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

DAYTONTrey Landers wore a T-shirt reading, "Just a Kid From Dayton," to interviews at the Cronin Center on Tuesday.

Landers was born in Dayton, but he's hardly a kid when it comes to the 2018-19 college basketball season, which starts for the Dayton Flyers with an exhibition game at 7 p.m. Friday against Capital at UD Arena and then gets going for real at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 with the season opener against North Florida.

The Wayne grad Landers, now a junior guard, played 16 times as many minutes as a sophomore (837) than he did as a freshman (52). He'll be counted on to play a similar role this season as one of four returning starters. He and the other Flyers can't wait to get on the court in front of the fans at the new-look UD Arena, which opens its doors Thursday and Friday for women's and men's exhibition games after phase two of the three-year, $72-million renovation.

"It's really exciting," Landers said. "We've been beating up on each other, so it's always good to play outside competition, and obviously to be in the arena with the renovations, it's a great feeling for us to be back."

Dayton coach Anthony Grant got a sneak peek at the arena, which features expanded concourses and new seats in the 300 and 400 levels among many other updates, on Monday. Dayton Athletic Director Neil Sullivan gave Grant and some of his assistant coaches a tour. Grant expected the team to get practice at the arena for the first time Wednesday or Thursday.

"It's beautiful," Grant said. "I'm excited for our fans to get a chance to experience it."

This won't be the first time the team has played in front of fans. It held a practice and intra-squad scrimmage in front of fellow students Friday at the RecPlex on campus.

"It was really fun," Landers said. "They come out and support us all the time. We had a couple nice dunks that got the crowd into it."

Dayton also held a closed scrimmage against Pittsburgh on Saturday at Denison University in Granville.

Grant and Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel decided before the game not to publicize the result by releasing the box score, score or other specific details. However, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Panthers won the game by nine points.

"We had eight guys that played in the scrimmage," Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. "Four of them were playing their first ever Division I college competition. I thought they handled it well. I thought we competed well. Certainly, there are a lot of things as a coach you look at and want to get better at and want to improve on, but in terms of what we wanted to accomplish, I thought it was a good game for us."

Redshirt junior forward Ryan Mikesell didn't play against Pittsburgh. Grant said Mikesell had a sprained ankle, and his absence wasn't related to the two hip surgeries he had in 2017.

"Ryan's good," Grant said. "He's had no issues with the surgery he had. I think our medical staff's done an unbelievable job of making sure he's progressed in the fashion he needed to avoid any setbacks. He's good. I think he's looking forward to getting the year started."

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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

GERMANTOWN -

A manhunt is underway tonight for a man on trial for sexual conduct with a teen he coached in youth soccer.

Justin K. Smith is wanted for failure to appear according Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.

Smith took the stand Wednesday morning in his own defense, but did not return after the court took a break for lunch.

"When the court ruled for our lunch recess at 11:30 a.m. the court advised all parties that we were going to resume at 1 p.m.," Judge Erik Blaine said when court resumed without Smith. "The defendant was present for that order and did hear that order."

The judge said that Smith may have tampered with an ankle bracelet that monitored his location.

A pretrial services officer testified that they received a malfunction notice for the bracelet around noon.

Smith's last known location is an emergency room in Franklin.

Pretrial services contacted emergency rooms in Franklin and Middletown to see if Smith was seeking treatment, but could not locate him.

Smith's family is not aware of his location and he has not returned calls or texts from his lawyers, according to his defense team.

The victim and her mother are safe and are not with Smith.

"I think everyone's immediate reaction was concern for the victim," said Dylan Smearcheck, assistant Montgomery County prosecutor. "It was ascertained fairly quickly that she was safe, in a safe place with her family, everyone kept an eye on that pretty closely.

Smith gave no indication that he wouldn't return to court according to his lawyers.

"He's been compliant throughout this entire process," said Adam Arnold. "We've talked about this date for weeks."

"We had no indication that he was going go to absent on us," said Michael Booher.

A pretrial services officer previously called Smith a "saint" during one of his hearings according to Arnold.

"He was one of the best people [the officer] ever had on EHDP," Arnold said.

Smith took the stand Wednesday morning and admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with the 14-year-old victim.

However, he claimed there was no sexual conduct between them, something that prosecutors said the teen's testimony contradicted.

Smith and his lawyers tried to paint the picture that while relationship with the teen became inappropriate and involved some sexual contact, it did not involve sexual conduct.

When prosecutors began their questioning of Smith, they pointed out that 326 texts were exchanged in one day, which the teen described as "light."

In one month, Smith and the teen exchanged more than 17,000 texts, according to the prosecution.

They maintained that the teen's texts and her own words on the stand make it clear that there was sexual conduct between Smith and the girl.

"My testimony is that we had a physical, as embarrassing as it is to say, we had physical contact in nature," Smith said. "Because it was in my home, there were people there, in proximity. We were never naked, never had our clothes off. It never escalated to that level."

Around 11:30 a.m., the court took a break for lunch and was scheduled to resume at 1 p.m. for closing arguments. When Smith did not show up, it was pushed back to 2 p.m.

Court resumed around 2:30 p.m.

No decision is expected today.

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Justin Smith, a former soccer coach accused of sexual conduct with a 14-year-old girl, took the stand Wednesday in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.
 
November 1, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

BALTIMORE — The University of Maryland has reinstated suspended football coach D.J. Durkin and retained athletic director Damon Evans amid the fallout of an investigation into the school's football program's "culture" and dissonance in the athletic department.

The parents of deceased Maryland football player Jordan McNair made clear to reporters they were not satisfied with the recommendations made earlier Tuesday by the University System of Maryland Board of Regents. The McNairs' attorney implied they may consider a lawsuit by saying, "This will not be the last word."

"I feel like I've been punched in the stomach and somebody spit in my face," Martin McNair, the player's father, said.

At a press conference in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, university president Wallace D. Loh facing reports that he did not want Mr. Durkin to return but was compelled to bring him back announced that he will retire on June 30, 2019.

Although Mr. Durkin accepted some responsibility for the student athlete's death, board of regents chairman James T. Brady said the regents felt Mr. Durkin was "unfairly blamed" for much of the dysfunction in the athletic department.

"We believe that he is a good man and a good coach who is devoted to the well-being of the student-athletes under his charge," Mr. Brady said.

In a statement issued later by the athletic department, Mr. Durkin said he's "grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the team and very much appreciate having the support of the Board of Regents. Our thoughts have and will continue to be with Jordan's family. I am proud that the team has remained united and represented themselves and the University well during this difficult time. As we move forward, I am confident that our team will successfully represent the entire University in a positive way both on and off the field."

Mr. Brady also said Mr. Evans should be given an opportunity to lead the department. He was promoted to the position full-time in June.

McNair's parents responded with their own press conference, with attorney Hassan Murphy telling reporters the university's personnel decisions mean "the only person who has paid for (the staff's) failures is Jordan McNair."

"If the university will not do right by Jordan, we promise to explore every possible avenue that will," Mr. Murphy said.

McNair collapsed at a team workout in May and died two weeks later, and reports in August alleged a "toxic culture" within the program under Mr. Durkin, triggering dual investigations.

The regents accepted the findings and recommendations of an eight-member independent commission that investigated reports of a "toxic culture" in the Terrapins' football program. Overall, the commission wrote that it did not find a "toxic" culture, and did not believe that the culture caused Jordan McNair's death.

But the findings pointed to "a culture where problems festered because too many players feared speaking out," the commission wrote.

The regents, who oversee the state's 12-institution system of public universities, met five times between Oct. 19 and Oct. 29 to deliberate their course of action. They met with Mr. Durkin, Mr. Evans and Mr. Loh on Oct. 26.

The regents could not directly fire Mr. Durkin or Mr. Evans. But their top priority was to keep Mr. Durkin employed, the Baltimore Sun reported, and they told Mr. Loh they would remove him as president if he didn't comply.

Mr. Loh, who is in his early 70s, has served as president in College Park since Nov. 1, 2010, and made a decades-long career in college administrations around the country.

Asked about reports that he did not want to bring Mr. Durkin back, the president said, "He has been a successful coach in terms of many aspects of football. He is coming back."

Mr. Durkin, 40, was hired as Maryland's head football coach in 2016. The Terrapins went 10-15 in his first two seasons. He is the second-highest paid public employee in the state, making just shy of $2.5 million a year.

Mr. Evans served in several athletic department administrative roles at Maryland since 2014 and was promoted from interim to acting athletic director at Maryland last June. While Mr. Loh did not mention Mr. Durkin by name during the press conference, he expressed strong support for Mr. Evans.

"He is, in my judgment, one of the finest athletic directors in this country, and I am proud to call him my colleague," Mr. Loh said.

Mr. Loh would not confirm whether Mr. Durkin would coach the Terrapins in their next game Saturday against Michigan State. But ESPN reported that Mr. Durkin met with the team in College Park Tuesday, and several players "walked out" of the meeting.

Offensive lineman Ellis McKennie reacting to Tuesday's news on Twitter, said: "Every Saturday my teammates and I have to kneel before the memorial of our fallen teammate. Yet a group of people do not have the courage to hold anyone accountable for his death. If only they could have the courage that Jordan had. It's never the wrong time to do what's right."

Some current players' comments published in the commission's report revealed the team was far from unanimous in wanting Mr. Durkin out.

"He loves the game, and loves our team," one player said. "It is not his fault the training staff didn't take proper care (of McNair). He would never have allowed that. He cares for us. He deserves to be back, was not in the wrong... Coach Durkin is innocent."

The report also revealed supportive text messages that some players and parents sent Mr. Durkin in the days following the ESPN report.

The commission found that neither Mr. Evans nor previous athletic director Kevin Anderson did enough to help Mr. Durkin as a first-year head coach or maintain proper oversight of the football program, and that Mr. Durkin "bears some responsibility" for failing to supervise head strength and conditioning coach Rick Court.

Mr. Court was Mr. Durkin's first hire at Maryland, but the commission found there was confusion over who Mr. Court reported to within the program despite his contract making clear he was supposed to report to Mr. Durkin.

Mr. Court was found to have demeaned players with verbal abuse, and in one case, players alleged he choked another player by pulling the bar of a lateral muscle pulldown machine into his neck.

"I was forced to do things I couldn't do," a former player told the commission. "Too much weight was put on the bar for me to lift. When I couldn't lift it, [Court] bashed me with horrible language."

The commission's findings also backed up allegations of Mr. Court's food-related humiliation tactics, which included making a player the team deemed overweight eat candy bars while watching teammates practice.

"Mr. Court would attempt to humiliate players in front of their teammates by throwing food, weights, and on one occasion a trash can full of vomit, all behavior unacceptable by any reasonable standard," the commission wrote.

Mr. Court resigned from the program in August, days after the initial ESPN report, and the school gave him a $315,000 settlement.

The independent commission included Washington Redskins executive and former football player and coach Doug Williams, former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, sports journalist and Maryland alumna Bonnie Bernstein and two retired federal judges.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

You would imagine, based on the way Maryland has subverted logic and torpedoed its integrity Tuesday, that it was acting in the service of a coach who was actually good at winning football games.

That's a play we've all seen before in college football, and even in cases where schools completely abandoned their capacity for shame, at least they got some enjoyment out of it on 12 Saturdays a year.

But what are the Maryland Board of Regents getting for bringing back DJ Durkin and athletics director Damon Evans? What about that utterly replaceable combination is going to make it worth the abdication of moral responsibility that now taints the University of Maryland forever?

The answer is nothing, other than the squishy spine of Maryland's plutocrat class deciding Tuesday that it can somehow rescue a problematic football program without removing those who were in charge of it.

It is the pathetic thing to do. It is the weak thing to do. It is the cheap thing to do.

Despite the conclusions reached last week in the school's 192-page independent investigative report, the information contained inside of it suggests we'll never know for sure whether the culture Durkin created at Maryland contributed, either directly or indirectly, to the events that led to the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair. While there were poor decisions made by both Maryland's strength and conditioning staff and its medical staff as McNair began suffering from heatstroke, it's unclear whether any of it was connected to the old school, hyper-macho atmosphere Durkin and his strength coach Rick Court demanded.

The thing is, you don't need to make that determination to turn the page. All you need is a big check and a motivation to bring in a new set of people to run your athletic program who had absolutely nothing to do with the tragedy.

"We believe coach Durkin has been unfairly blamed for the dysfunction in the athletic department," said Maryland Board of Regents chairman James Brady, which is a perfectly fair thing to believe but has nothing to do with the reality of what the school now faces.

Instead of confronting the massive public relations disaster the way a well-run school would, Maryland has opted to entrust a turnaround to Evans (who either did or didn't have enough oversight over the football program, depending on who the investigative committee asked), Durkin (who either did or didn't coach through fear and humiliation, depending on which player was asked) and some yet-to-be-formed culture oversight committee, because if anything this situation needs it's another committee.

Even school president Wallace Loh, who announced his imminent retirement Tuesday and essentially became the fall guy, recognized what had to happen. According to multiple reports, and confirmed by a glaring omission of praise for Durkin in his comments, Loh would have fired Durkin and kept Evans if it was his choice.

Instead, Brady's banking on "a very strong belief that DJ is absolutely prepared to move in a direction that's totally consistent with the values of the university."

But in the end, it really doesn't matter what kind of support structure Maryland puts around Durkin or how much he's promised to change certain ridiculous aspects of his program like, say, showing serial killer videos during meals as "motivation" tools. He's effectively done. It's only a matter of when.

While the Maryland regents would like you to believe that the program's dysfunction fell on the shoulders of Court and a former athletics director in Kevin Anderson who hasn't been around for a year — how convenient! — there's no way to recover from this. Not with current players, some of whom walked out of a meeting with Durkin on Tuesday, according to an anonymously sourced report from ESPN, and not with recruits and their families.

That's what makes this decision so mystifying.

For everything that's transpired over the last five months to make Maryland the subject of national news, there was a foolproof and simple, albeit expensive, way to get rid of the problem. Instead, it deliberately chose the most convoluted solution with the smallest chance of success.

Even if Durkin had tried to sue Maryland for millions of dollars in damage to his reputation, the sunk cost of keeping him, when it's obvious the hole will only grow deeper in a year or two, is practically incalculable.

If Durkin was as good as Urban Meyer — or heck, even if he'd won as much as Ralph Friedgen — you could maybe squint and see the upside of putting the school through all of this to keep a football coach.

Instead, the decision-makers staked the school's reputation on a coach who's 10-15.

The history of atta-boys for college coaches who've humiliated their profession might be long, but the bar has never been lower.

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Copyright 2018 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
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The Philadelphia Daily News

 

She may only be 20, but Tori DiSimone has already retired.

DiSimone is a former YouTube star — known online as Tori Sterling — who boasts more than 475,000 YouTube subscribers and who at the height of her internet fame signed brand deals that netted her up to $37,000. She left it all behind to become co-owner of Stride Spin & Fitness, a Phoenixville fitness studio.

DiSimone's time on YouTube turned her into a sort of celebrity. Fans have come from as far as Idaho and California to attend her spin classes, and she attributes much of the studio's early buzz to her online following.

Her decision to shift careers means she's potentially leaving a lot of money on the table. YouTubers like DiSimone create videos in which they promote products. (Agreements to do additional promotion on Instagram or avoid using competitors' products can tack on thousands more.) Brands typically pay a YouTuber with 500,000 subscribers between $10,000 and $25,000 per deal, according to Brittany Hennessy, author of Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media.

"You're easily making six figures a year," Hennessy said.

Brands are willing to pay big bucks to YouTubers because of the relationships they have with their audiences. Pick the right YouTuber to promote a brand, and the product doesn't just do well. It sells out.

DiSimone is still active on Instagram, but she hasn't posted on YouTube in four months — a video sponsored by Tampax. Five months ago, she posted a video about why she no longer does makeup tutorials.

Such tutorials — an exceedingly popular genre on YouTube — fascinated a seventh-grade DiSimone. A year later, her mom suggested she start her own channel. She created one under the name "Tori Sterling" and began posting "Get ready with me" videos and tutorials. By her sophomore year, DiSimone was traveling for events and receiving sponsorship offers. Subscribers and brand-deal money were pouring in.

DiSimone thought she had found what she wanted to do with her life. After finishing her junior year of high school, she transferred to an online high school and moved to L.A. to live with other YouTubers and keep building her brand.

Three months later, she was back home.

"I just hated it, so then when I got back to school, I was like, 'OK, I guess I'll go to college,' " she said. "I didn't really know what else to do."

She headed south to the University of Alabama and left YouTube behind. But by the end of the semester, she realized college wasn't for her, either. She moved back to Pennsylvania and picked up her camera again.

This time though, her focus was different. She had discovered spin and fitness in L.A. and fallen in love with it. Home again, she began training to become a spin instructor at a local studio and posting videos about her eating habits and fitness routines.

"I started YouTube when I was 14, so, like, can you imagine?" DiSimone said. "I was playing softball, and I was into makeup when I was 14. I don't play softball anymore. I'm not really into makeup anymore."

Last fall, DiSimone got the itch to make another shift.

As soon as she walked into her first fitness studio, she knew she wanted to own one. "But I always thought it'd be when I was like 24 or 25," DiSimone said. "But when I was 19, I wanted to leave my old studio, and I didn't know where else to go."

She approached Jess Vierow, a friend and fellow spin instructor, about opening their own studio.

Vierow, 31, said she never had doubts about partnering with the young DiSimone. "Tori's age is just a number," Vierow said. "It didn't mean really anything to me because I knew her so personally. She's always been so determined to do big things with her life."

DiSimone's parents were on board, too.

"She's always taken the path less traveled," DiSimone's mom, Karen, said. "It was our job to help her hold the machete and forge anew path instead of steering her toward one that she didn't want to take."

As DiSimone began making plans for the studio, YouTube had to take a backseat, she says.

"Honestly, I just lost time to do it. My days were so busy to the point where I wouldn't even look at my phone all day. How could I pick up a camera and follow my whole day around when I couldn't even keep up with myself?" Stride opened Aug. 4, an experience DiSimone described as euphoric. She expected that after the opening she'd have more time for YouTube, but that hasn't been the case. "I know you prioritize what you want to make time for, and I guess it's just not a priority for me right now, and I'm OK with that," she said.

Hennessy said DiSimone's desire to take a step back from You-Tube isn't surprising.

"After a certain point, I think people start to feel empty. A lot of YouTubers start looking for something tangible. They can scale way back, still make a lot of money, and go pursue another passion."

DiSimone is hesitant to say she's closed the door on You-Tube, but she doesn't mind putting less of herself on the internet these days.

"If I could redo it all, I probably wouldn't do YouTube, because I just don't like being in the spotlight. It brought me to where I am today, so I'm really grateful for it, but there's definitely times that I wish things were just more private."

She admits there have been downsides to entering adulthood so quickly. Her jobs and the responsibilities they entail have never been confined to 9to 5, and she says she struggles to relate to people her own age.

In Stride, though, DiSimone has discovered not only a assion, but a family. She refers repeatedly to it as home and says the hardest part of her job is navigating the blurred line between being a friend and a boss to her employees.

If anything, DiSimone's youth seems to have empowered her to dream bigger. She and Vierow hope to expand Stride to multiple locations, maybe even across the country.

"When I've had this business for five years, I'm only going to be 25," DiSimone said. "I have my whole life ahead of me."

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

With apologies to the old yarn, and regardless of who might have said it first - Winston Churchill often gets the credit - with Gary Bettman it is almost always a matter of haggling about the price. Witness the most recent NHL announcement Monday with the screaming headline of the news release: "National Hockey League Announces Landmark Sports Betting Partnership with MGM Resorts." Hold on. Sports betting partnership?

This from the NHL commissioner who for decades said that gambling would be the death of sports and, specifically, professional hockey.

The NHL was a plaintiff, along with the NCAA and all the major sports, in a long court battle with New Jersey, which was fighting to legalize sports betting. In a 2012 deposition, Bettman said, "We're concerned how gambling and betting affects the NHL game and changes the perception of and challenges the integrity of the NHL game."

Integrity of the game. Nonsense, of course.

The best way to ensure integrity in wagering is to have regulators above board monitoring the action, and nobody does that better than Vegas. When something is askew, it's the legal books who see it first.

Said Bettman just two years ago, "I do believe that there is a negative element or atmosphere from any betting."

But having lost the New Jersey case and with sports gambling alive in so many states, and with many more coming online in the next year, now the NHL and all the sports want a piece of the action.

Each of the leagues has been trying to negotiate "integrity fees" with states that adopt sports betting, which is just another way of saying they want a cut of the proceeds after doing everything they could to prevent it from happening. New Jersey legislators called it "extortion" and essentially laughed at the leagues trying to grab money from them.

To Bettman's credit, the MGM deal is a wise marketing partnership which adds revenue to the league, and passing on it would have been foolish. Not long ago, the NBA made basically the same deal with MGM good for about $25 million, though Adam Silver long ago realized what the NFL has always known but has refused to acknowledge, that betting on NFL games is the reason such a terrible product continues to get ratings.

Bettman seems to have forgotten all of the awful things he thought about gambling, saying Monday, "The new sports betting landscape presents a unique opportunity for fan engagement utilizing technology and data that are exclusive to our league.

"As a leading global gaming operator and entertainment company, MGM Resorts is the perfect partner for us to begin our transformative entry into this space. "Fan engagement, technological advancement and innovation are paramount to our progressive approach and will be at the forefront of everything we do."

So now it's a progressive approach.

Well, that all sounds pretty promising and quite the turn of events and opinions from the NHL boss. It's also worth remembering that Bettman was - quite wisely - first to allow his league a franchise in Las Vegas, and it just happens to be a model franchise with a spectacular fan experience. The Raiders are on their way, and it's only a matter of time before all four leagues have teams in Sin City.

It's still rather entertaining to see Bettman flip on the gambling issue when such a small percentage of sports betting involves hockey, and it can only help grow his sport if more patrons were interested in the puck line.

As the NHL stated in its release, "MGM Resorts will receive access to previously unseen enhanced NHL proprietary game data that will be generated by the league's state-of-the-art tracking systems currently under development.

"Access to this data will allow MGM Resorts to provide its customers with specialized NHL game insights, as well as unlocking new and innovative interactive fan engagement and betting opportunities for its U.S. customers wherever legally available."

The NHL partnered with DraftKings in 2014, and that is gambling any way you slice it, so all the talk of being a little bit pregnant has long been absurd. Hockey needs gambling much more than gambling needs hockey. The NHL might be finally admitting that. And now it's just haggling about the price.

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

Although Wright State University is trying to navigate its way out of a financial crisis, a new report states it would not make sense for the school to eliminate all athletics or move its teams from NCAA's Division I to Division II.

The report was issued by a fact-finder late Monday as part of ongoing contract negotiations between Wright State's faculty union and administration. Issues in negotiations include compensation, benefits and faculty workloads, among other things.

» RELATED: WSU officials react to sale of two buildings, staff protest at trustees meeting

Wright State "stepping down" from Division I to Division II status has been brought up in recent years as the university has debated how to handle its ongoing budget crisis. Board of trustees chairman Doug Fecher said in May 2017 that such a move was in no way "off the table."

There are "penalties" and additional costs that are associated with either proposal that the fact-finder determined Wright State "cannot afford," according to the report.

Though there was "much discussion" of the proposals during negotiations, the fact-finder's report states that doing so "simply is not productive."

"Division I Athletics, and those of the lower Divisions, still require costs to operate. The total elimination thereof, it is simply not practical or necessary even though the financial circumstances of this University are in much need of recovery," the report states.

Wright State trustees slashed more than $30 million from the school's fiscal year 2018 budget in June 2017 in an attempt to begin correcting years of overspending. Those cuts ended up not being enough, and by the close of FY 2018, Wright State had reduced spending by around $53 million.

In June, trustees approved a FY 2019 budget that predicted another $10 million decline in revenue.

Athletics spending has been a target of faculty criticism. In June 2017, more than 250 WSU faculty signed a letter calling the university's spending on athletics "disgraceful" and "absurd."

With the fact-finder's report now available, the Wright State chapter of the American Association of University Professors is hosting two meetings for members, president Martin Kich has said.

Members will then vote for more than a week on the report, which proposes a sort of compromise contract, Kich has said. If at least 60 percent of the union's membership turns down the fact-finder's proposal, then the union would begin initiating a strike.

The report comes as WSU administration and faculty union have been locked in a sometimes-tense contract negotiation for more than a year. Contract talks initially stalled when former Wright state president David Hopkins resigned in March 2017.

The administration has since offered the union a three-year contract with no raises and reduced health benefits, Kich has said. Kich said via email that the AAUP-WSU would not announce its opinion on the report until Wednesday.

 

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

DAYTONFans have long complained about the lack of Wi-Fi at UDArena. With 13,000-plus fans often watching the Dayton Flyers play, it can be hard to even get a cell phone signal during a game. Checking scores of other games or posting a video to Twitter or Instagram can be a pain.

Some fans should see an improvement this season, however. An ad in the new game program tells fans they can "Enjoy Dayton basketball in a whole new way," because of new Cincinnati Bell Wi-Fi at UD Arena.

After phase two of the three-year, $72-million renovation, there is now Wi-Fi coverage for those seated in the lower bowl. Coverage will be available in the full arena in the 2019-20 season.

Fans who want try the new WI-FI at 7 p.m. Thursday when the women's team plays Indianapolis in an exhibition game or at 7 p.m. Friday when the men's team plays Capital in an exhibition, the network is titled, "Fioptics Free WI-FI."

To give fans more time to get used to all the changes at the arena, it will open two hours before tip-off — instead of one hour early — for the exhibition games, the women's first regular-season games and the first couple of men's regular-season games.

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

LEBANONThe judge handling the criminal case against the former treasurer of the Springboro Clearcreek Baseball Association told her on Tuesday that the bond would remain at $750,000 due to continued doubts about her health claims and concerns she might flee prosecution.

"Nothing I heard today moves the needle," Judge Donald Oda II said during a bond reduction hearing in his court in Lebanon. "Something in this case just does not smell right."

Despite efforts by Rene K. Nichols' lawyer, Oda left Nichols' bond at $750,000, pending a Nov. 26 pretrial hearing.

Oda expressed doubt about the series of events that ended in Nichols checking herself into a hospital where she had been taken from the Warren County jail.

"I still have serious doubts as to whether you even needed to be at the hospital," the judge said.

During the hearing, lawyer Laura Woodruff emphasized Nichols never left Bethesda North Hospital after checking herself out and urged Oda to set a "reasonable bond."

Nichols, 65, of Springboro, is charged with aggravated theft of more than $150,000 from the youth baseball league and tampering with records.

Nichols's bond was set on Oct. 16 after she signed herself out and was taken back to the jail, about 30 minutes after court staff had set her up with an electronic monitor she was to wear while in the hospital, according to the testimony in the hearing.

Oda also rejected Woodruff's claims that she could see to it that Nichols would show up for court, now that she had hired the Mulligan & Associates firm to represent her in the criminal case.

The judge also explained to Nichols that he didn't want her to make bail with money she would otherwise use to reimburse the nonprofit.

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Copyright 2018 The Pantagraph

The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois)

 

CHAMPAIGN — University of Illinois football coach Lovie Smith was surprised Sunday when Hardy Nickerson told him that he was resigning as the team's defensive coordinator.

Smith equated the resignation to injuries — you don't plan on them, but they can happen.

Smith and Nickerson have a deep coaching history together and have known each other since 1996. Nickerson had been the defensive coordinator after being hired in March 2016.

"Our relationship is a lot more than just coaches working together on a daily basis," Smith said on Monday. "We've been through an awful lot. It's a personal relationship that you have. Whenever someone leaves the program, it's tough. Hardy came in yesterday morning and of course resigned his position of defensive coordinator from our football team for personal reasons.

"It's a tough day — tough time for our program. We're not satisfied with a lot of things that we're doing football-wise right now. Defensively, we haven't played good defense, but you kind of work through things. Medical issues come up. They can make you do some things that you ordinarily wouldn't do."

The Illinois defense is allowing an average of 510.4 yards, ranking 125th out of 129 in the Football Bowl Series. Illinois ranks 119th in rushing defense, allowing 222 yards per game, and ranks 124th in passing yards allowed with 288.4.

Illinois allowed 712 yards in Saturday's 63-33 loss to Maryland. The Illini have allowed at least 400 total yards to their opponents in six of the eight games this season, and have allowed at least 500 yards four times.

"I've been involved defensively, but I don't call special teams plays, offensive plays or defensive plays, but I have been more involved, of course, defensively this year," Smith said. "I've been involved every year defensively. I haven't been in that role, but I feel comfortable being in that role."

Nickerson left his position as linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers to join Smith in Champaign. Smith and Nickerson worked together in Chicago in 2007, when Nickerson was linebackers coach and Smith was head coach, and again from 2014-15 in Tampa Bay, where Smith was head coach and Nickerson linebackers coach.

"When I was contacted about being offered this job back in 2016, I was excited for the opportunity to come in to coordinate and run Illinois' defense," Nickerson said in a news release. "I had every intention of helping put our defensive student-athletes in the best possible position to win, and, ultimately, to make the University of Illinois community and fans proud of our results. Due to health-related circumstances beyond my control I must step aside at this time.

"I would like to thank Lovie Smith and Josh Whitman for giving me the opportunity to coach at the University of Illinois. I'd also like to thank my colleagues and staff, as well as the entire Illinois football program, for the privilege of working with them. Most importantly, I want to thank our student-athletes for all of their hard work and great effort. Working with you every day has been fun. I wish you all nothing but the best in all that you do going forward."

Smith called defensive plays last season for one game when Nickerson was away from the team after the death of his mother.

Calling plays and completing his other duties as a head coach won't be an issue, Smith said.

"During the course of the game, I know most head coaches like to think there are 30 million things that we're doing, but we can make some calls when the defense is out there and pay attention to the rest of the game when that's going on, also," Smith said.

Nickerson also was linebackers coach for the Illini, a role that defensive analyst Rob Wright will take over.

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Copyright 2018 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
All Rights Reserved

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

The Marquette men's basketball team is ready to settle into its new home.

The Golden Eagles will face Carroll in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, the first time MU will play against an opponent at gleaming new Fiserv Forum.

The team had a dress rehearsal of sorts at the building with a practice for season-ticket holders last week on Thursday.

Afterward, head coach Steve Wojciechowski sat in the coaches meeting room in the expansive MU locker room at Fiserv Forum and talked about the excitement of playing in the new arena.

"Being here, there was much more emotional energy," he said. "Our guys were really fired up. Our guys were here at like 4 o'clock. It's like 'Can't wait to get out there.' I'm like, 'You know, guys, practice isn't for another two hours.' "

The Golden Eagles held a few practices at Fiserv Forum, but before Thursday hadn't in front of an audience or with the arena configured the way it will be on MU game days.

"There was some juice, man," Wojciechowski said. "There was juice in the building. You see it. And we've been in here before. But most of the time we've been in here we've played on the Bucks floor.

"You see it with the blue and gold. The lights. The scoreboard. Don't discount how that impacts a guy. It's like driving that new car for the first time."

Besides testing out the new arena, the exhibition gives MU a chance to play against someone other than themselves. The Golden Eagles also held a closed-door scrimmage against Northwestern on Sunday in Evanston, Ill.

"A lot of times when you're evaluating your team this time of year, the days when your offense doesn't look good, you think, 'Man, we look pretty good defensively,' " Wojciechowski said. "And the days your offense looks good, you think you stink defensively.

"This gives you kind of a clearer picture of where you're at."

MU junior guard Markus Howard, who averaged 20.4 points per game last season, is excited about the potential of MU's deep roster.

"I think we're going to be really versatile," Howard said. "We have a lot of guys that can score at will. This is probably one of the most unselfish teams I've been around in terms of being able to move the ball.

"In our weeks of practice, there have been some unbelievable plays made in terms of moving the ball."

The game also gives fans a look at MU's intriguing new pieces, including transfers Ed Morrow and Joseph Chartouny as well as freshmen Brendan Bailey and Joey Hauser.

"I think this year is going to be very exciting with the different plays we're running, different lineups we have," Howard said. "It's going to be really fun to watch. They're really exciting to play with."

Wojciechowski cautions against reading too much into early season results, especially an exhibition.

"We're still very much a work in progress," he said. "I think we will be a lot better at the end of the year than we are at the beginning because there is still some newness.

"But I think we have a chance to be a really good team and that's our expectation."

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Copyright 2018 SCRIPPS Howard Publications
All Rights Reserved

Corpus Christi Caller-Times

 

Recreational use of marijuana is now legal in Canada. The NHL has the most lenient pot policies of North America's major team sports. But those facts, taken together, do not add up to Hockey Night in Cannabis.

Though they might someday, if Glenn Healy gets his way. He's executive director of the NHL Alumni Association and he hopes certain compounds of cannabis can become a better painkiller for former players than dangerous opioids. Healy said his organization is working with two neurologists to study whether such compounds are safe.

"Give me the science first and last because you can't refute science," Healy told USA TODAY. "You can disagree with me on politics or whether you like bagpipes, but you can't disagree on science."

The NHL tests for cannabis but doesn't apply penalties for positive results. When a significant amount is detected, players are referred to a behavioral health program, rather than being suspended or fined. Meanwhile, multiple infractions can lead to suspensions in the NFL and NBA and fines in Major League Baseball.

"We still consider marijuana a drug of abuse," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. "And our program allows for intervention in appropriate cases."

NHL Players' Association spokesman Andrew Wolfe said by email, "We are going to respectfully decline comment."

Healy said he regularly hears from the wives, children and teammates of former players who have lost themselves to the thrall of opioid painkillers. Sometimes he hears from the ex-players themselves.

"I've had players call me and say, 'I wish you knew me when I was me,'" Healy said. "That's hard to hear."

Proponents of cannabis say while opioids are synthetic, marijuana is a natural plant. They say cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabis compound that offers relief from inflammation and pain as a non-addictive alternative to opiates.

Healy hopes CBD can someday safely replace opioids for pain management.

"If it is Vicodin or OxyContin and I can take him from four (pills a day) to two, and he gets 50 percent of his day back, I win," Healy said. "If I get him to zero, then order the rings. But it has to be based on science. It can't be based on profit. It can't be based on, 'Someone told me it works.' It can't be based on there could be money. It has to be based on science telling me we can get people functionally integrated again."

No less an eminence than Oilers star Connor McDavid, who is careful in the things he says, thinks it's time at least to listen. "I say this more talking about the CBD side of it, obviously: You'd be stupid not to at least look at it," McDavid told the Associated Press. "When your body's sore like it is sometimes, you don't want to be taking pain stuff and taking Advil all the time. There's obviously better ways to do it.... You're seeing a lot of really smart doctors look into it. If all the boxes are checked there and it's safe and everything like that, then I think you would maybe hear them out."

Daly said the NHL reviewed its existing policies in consultation with the NHL Players Association over the summer in anticipation of Canada's new law and determined "no changes to our current policies were necessary at this time." He said the league issued a memorandum for all clubs to post in their dressing rooms to make players aware of the laws in Canada and in the U.S.

NHL players frequently cross the border — 24 teams are based in the U.S. and seven in Canada — and the league wants them to remember that Canada's legalization does not change U.S. federal prohibitions. Ben Curren is CEO of Green Bits, which produces the software that helps roughly 1,000 cannabis retailers across 12 states process more than $2.2 billion in annual sales. He thinks the NHL is a model for the other major team sports leagues in terms of pot policy. "The NHL is ahead of the curve," he said. "I think the other leagues should really look at that."

Curren said cannabis is not a performance-enhancing drug. "It is actually helping people and it is actually getting people off of opioids," he said. "They can live a more sane life and manage their pain at the same time."

That's what Healy is hoping for.

"I'm not just talking about OxyContin or Vicodin," he said. "It could be depression. It could be anger. It could be anxiety. It could be joint pain. It could be a lot of things. Or, after repeated blows to the head, it leaves you not in functional agreement with your world. And pretty soon, your world will not be in agreement with you....

"I don't want to paint a sad-sack picture of the alumni association — 'Whoa is us.' What I want to paint is hope. This is hope. If there is a player who is not functionally integrated, he has hope. That's what I want to give him."

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Copyright 2018 Virginian-Pilot Companies LLC
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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

The NBA's G League tips off its 18th season Friday. The barnstorming developmental circuit includes 27 teams, including the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Maine Red Claws and Sioux Falls Skyforce, playing before modest crowds in ordinary arenas.

For example, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers' home opener last November drew 3,471 to the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas. Former Phoebus High star Troy Williams, who played three seasons of college basketball at Indiana, scored a game-high 26 points for the Vipers.

Next season the NBA will offer those working conditions to "elite" prospects as they depart high school. The additional option for young people is welcome, but good luck to the G League outrecruiting Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and other top-shelf college programs.

The preferred course would be for the NBA to reopen its draft to the year's high school graduates. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James chose that avenue before the NBA and its players union decreed that prospects must be a year removed from high school to be draft-eligible.

Unveiled earlier this month, the G League initiative appears to be a provisional step until the NBA and the union lift their draft restriction. Moreover, how the NBA will define "elite" and how many players will qualify remain unknown.

The money is more precise. The one-year contracts for elite players will pay $125,000, more than three times above the $35,000 base salaries for the rank-and-file.

Cynics, only some in jest, say the $125,000 would represent a pay cut for many top college basketball freshmen. And given some of the testimony in the recent federal corruption trial that targeted the sport's recruiting underworld, they have a point.

But regardless of money, college basketball, replete with the charter flights and cutting-edge training, nutrition and medical care the G League lacks, is a better proving ground. There is also the prestige of competing on national television before raucous crowds and in the NCAA tournament.

"I think it's good," Virginia guard Kyle Guy said of the G League option. "If that's what you want to do, I'm not going to judge you. Do what you think is best for you. I wouldn't have gone that route. I always wanted to play college basketball and in March Madness.... I wanted to get a degree. I promised myself I would."

Rivals.com rated Guy as the nation's No. 43 prospect out of Indianapolis' Lawrence Central High School in 2016. The primary question is whether other elites also value education, or want to tolerate the academic obligations of college, if only for a semester-plus.

"I think they'll get some," first-year Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel said of the G League, "and if they have some guys that go and have success, I think there will be more.... I think it's a great thing for young people to have opportunities and for them to be able to figure out what's best for them and their family.

"The reality is that college isn't for everyone... and (it's great) to give them different opportunities, just like you give a tennis player, just like you give a golfer, just how you give a baseball player."

After working for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke the previous seven years, Capel understands top prospects better than most. He helped the Blue Devils sign Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter Jr., Jayson Tatum, Brandon Ingram, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow, each of whom after one season for the NBA.

Preparing for his 43rd season as Syracuse's head coach, Jim Boeheim, 73, is 30 years older than Capel (73-43) and certainly more jaded. Absent an influx of cash to enhance the G League's infrastructure and player support systems, he doesn't envision many takers, and he's probably right.

"The NBA people I've talk to don't think this is a good thing for their league," Boeheim said. "Why would you want to have your franchise have a young kid that you're working with, developing, and then at the end of the year he's going to get drafted by one of your rivals and he's going to play for that team? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense....

"You're also talking about a 17-, 18-year old kid going to play against 25- and 28-year-old men.... You can go to college, and you're going to be better than (most) everybody else. You're not going to be better than everybody else in the G League, I can tell you that. I don't care who you are."

David Teel, 757-247-4636, dteel@dailypress.com

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

The editorial board of the Diamondback, the University of Maryland's independent student newspaper, has published a column calling for the firing of university president Wallace Loh, athletic director Damon Evans and suspended football coach DJ Durkin.

The story was in response to an independent commission's investigation into allegations of a "toxic" culture within the football program on Durkin's watch.

The findings, released to the public by the Washington Post last week, stopped short of calling the culture "toxic" but outlined many problems within the structure of the program that led to players feeling unsafe.

"The report implicated not just coach DJ Durkin, but also athletic directors Kevin Anderson and Damon Evans and university President Wallace Loh of enabling a noxious environment within the athletic department," the editorial reads. "Despite the commissioners' best attempts to minimize these officials' misconduct, this editorial board takes from the report an obvious conclusion: Durkin, Evans and Loh must go."

The editorial board wrote that the commission's "watered-down recommendations" do not go far enough in correcting the problems around the football team and punishing those involved.

"A total system failure requires a complete overhaul," the editorial reads. "So long as Durkin, Evans and Loh remain in their positions, this university cannot repair this profound and well-deserved injury to its reputation."

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents met four times between Oct. 19 and Oct. 26 to discuss the commission's report. The regents are expected to announce their decisions and possible punitive actions this week.

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Copyright 2018 Collier County Publishing Company
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Naples Daily News (Florida)

 

The Florida High School Athletic Association's newest classification proposal, which reduces the amount of classes in some sports and will partially rely on computer rankings for playoff berths, became official on Monday.

The FHSAA board of directors approved the proposal 12-3 at a meeting in Gainesville. The new classification system will be in effect for the next two school years, 2019-20 and 2020-21.

The new structure effects seven team sports — baseball, softball, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, and volleyball — but not football. There will be seven classes in each sport.

The most drastic change is using rankings from high school sports website MaxPreps to determine half the regional playoff berths. Each class will have four regions and four districts per region. The district champions will automatically qualify for regionals, while the remaining four at-large bids will be determined by MaxPreps rankings.

For at least the past 20 years, the district runner-up in those team sports received a regional bid, which no longer will be the case.

Using the rankings from MaxPreps, a private company independent of the FHSAA, was the biggest sticking point for coaches and athletic directors. MaxPreps says its rankings are based on wins and losses, strength of schedule and quality of opponents, but the company does not make its full algorithm public.

"I want to see (the rankings) improved. I want a better understanding," Gulf Coast High School athletic director Matt Kuk said. "I don't feel satisfied with what's there."

Kuk's concern comes from what he saw in boys soccer last season. Gulf Coast won the Class 4A state championship but finished the season fourth in the MaxPreps rankings — one spot behind the team it beat in the state finals.

"The rankings are supposed to get it right in the end, but that was the end," Kuk said. "That's the concern."

A representative from MaxPreps was at Monday's FHSAA board meeting to clarify the ratings system.

According to Lakeland Ledger reporter Roy Fuoco, who attended the meeting, margin of victory was a concern with the rankings. The MaxPreps representative said there is no incentive for running up the score and that MaxPreps can work with the FHSAA to address issues around margin of victory, Fuoco wrote.

The new plan does not require teams to play district opponents during the regular season.

In years past, seedings in the district tournaments were determined by regular-season district records. Now seeding will be determined by MaxPreps rankings.

All districts in each sport will have the same number of teams. To divide them equally, some schools could be in a district with teams several hours away. The FHSAA did not want to require teams to make long road trips to play those district teams during the regular season.

As the only schools in Southwest Florida with more than 2,000 students, Gulf Coast, Riverdale and South Fort Myers likely will be in a larger classification than the rest of the area's public schools. Since their districts will have anywhere from four to six teams depending on the sport, those three schools will be in districts with out-of-area teams.

Evangelical Christian boys basketball coach Scott Guttery served on the state advisory committee. He favored the FHSAA's previous competitive balance proposal that took enrollment out of the equation and relied on placing teams in divisions based on their MaxPreps rankings.

"It's not going to provide the change (the FHSAA) wanted to see," Guttery said of the new structure. "It will not change the lack of attendance and the lopsided victories in the state (basketball) final four."

In addition, he said the new structure will negatively affect Southwest Florida basketball programs, suggesting it will only make it more likely that schools from metro areas like Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville win state crowns as they'll comprise most of the at-large bids.

As for smaller schools like ECS, they'll still be stuck in classifications with powerhouse private schools like Orlando Christian Prep. In 2018, smaller private schools comprised more than half of MaxPreps' top 50 teams in the state.

"It will be harder to win a state title for regular schools who don't recruit and pull kids from all over the world," said Guttery, who won the area's last boys basketball state title with Fort Myers High in 2010.

"I just feel bad that (FHSAA Directors of Athletics) Frank (Beasley) and Ed (Thompson) spent all that time researching other states and what they do and it fell on deaf ears. I thought the state had the chance to do something radical and turn the state on its head. But coaches and ADs didn't want to lose their precious districts. Well, they did anyway because you don't even have to play the teams in your district (during the regular season). The new system is not so much different than what we have."

Not requiring district play gives teams scheduling freedom, particularly teams in big districts.

Seacrest athletic director and baseball coach Mark Marsala likes the move. His volleyball team, which won a Class 2A championship in 2013, has sought to play a tough schedule in recent years but has been limited by having to play as many as 12 district games.

Marsala's baseball team also wants to play stiff competition to prepare for the postseason. However, the Stingrays have had to travel as far as Sarasota for district games in the past.

However, coaches often built rigorous schedules knowing that a regular season loss didn't mean much. A team could go winless in the regular season and still make it to regionals by finishing district champion or runner-up.

Now that MaxPreps rankings decide district seeding and at-large regional berths, teams have to be careful about scheduling too tough and taking on losses.

"You have to come up with a formula for the type of schedule you'd like to play so and the end of the season you're not short-changed when it comes to (a playoff berth)," Marsala said.

Mark Rosenbalm, Collier County Public Schools' coordinator of interscholastic athletics, said the county's seven public high schools will continue to play each other in the regular season. However, the manner in which the Collier County Athletic Conference teams play each other could change. For example, teams might participate in a midseason conference tournament or play each other just once instead of twice.

One of the reasons the Gulf Coast boys soccer team was ranked fourth in its class despite winning a title was because the Sharks had six losses in the regular season. The three teams ahead of Gulf Coast all had three or fewer losses.

Coach Alan Scott likes to face teams in the regular season that test his squad, which can result in losses. With wins and losses presumably coming into rankings, Scott might have to consider who he schedules next season.

"In years past you could almost say our regular-season results didn't matter," Scott said. "Now I'll have to rethink that.... At the end of the day, it's about getting the kids exposure (to better teams) and getting them prepared for the playoffs."

Lehigh Senior High boys basketball coach Greg Coleman was pleased the FHSAA listened to coaches' and athletic directors' concerns following the unveiling of the previous proposal and sought a compromise that kept district championships and used power points to decide at-large postseason berths.

"I'm happy they're trying something new," Coleman said. "You don't have to play the teams in your district until the tournament. And if you're going by power pointers there are some teams you don't want to play."

Under the previous proposal, Lehigh would have been the only boys basketball team from Southwest Florida playing in Division I against state powerhouses.

At first glance, Coleman said the idea sounded like an effective way to sell his program.

"You can sell that to an extent, but when every year you're losing in the first round of the playoffs against Orlando Christian Prep and other local schools are advancing in lower divisions you're going to lose kids to school choice," Coleman said. 

October 30, 2018
 
  
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Copyright 2018 Orange County Register
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Orange County Register (California)

 

USA Badminton, the sport's Anaheim-based national governing body, has failed to complete criminal background checks on nearly half the individuals required to undergo such screening under U.S. Olympic Committee policies, according to a recent USOC audit obtained by the Orange County Register.

The USOC was so concerned about USA Badminton's failure to comply with USOC and U.S. Center for SafeSport policies that it raised the possibility of terminating the organization's national governing body status last month.

The USOC's internal audit division found four areas of "high risk" in USA Badminton's Athlete Safety program, including failing to conduct required criminal background checks on members, not following SafeSport training requirements, not verifying SafeSport course completion in a timely manner, and not requiring background checks or SafeSport training for individuals in "frequent contact with athletes," including medical personnel.

"Badminton's contracted doctors and other medical personnel, sanctioned club directors, and administrators are not required to complete background checks and Safe Sport training [by USA Badminton] and should be subject to both," Wendy Guthrie, USOC vice president for athlete safety, wrote in a Sept. 14 letter to USA Badminton Chief Executive Jeff Dyrek.

Citing "the degree of risk associated with these deficiencies and to ensure compliance with the USOC and U.S. Center for SafeSport policies," Guthrie outlined a series of measures for USA Badminton to comply with in a 30-day period or risk being decertified.

"As you know, under the U.S. Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, the USOC is responsible for recognizing sport organizations as National Governing Bodies, for implementing the Act's NGB eligibility requirements, and for enforcing these requirements," Guthrie wrote Dyrek. "If for any reason USA Badminton fails to take the enumerated steps above, the USOC will initiate a review and possible termination of its recognition as an NGB."

Dyrek, in an interview Monday, said USA Badminton did not dispute the USOC's findings.

"This has brought these things to our attention," Dyrek said. "This athlete safety is paramount to what we do. We're taking this report seriously."

Dyrek said USA Badminton provided the USOC a response within the 30-day window.

"We didn't identify everyone" joining or working for USA Badminton, Dyrek said, "so now we can go back and better check everyone."

Dyrek, however, said he was unable to say how many of the individuals identified by the USOC as not having undergone criminal background checks and/or SafeSport training are now in compliance.

"I don't know specifics," he said.

The revelation of USA Badminton's noncompliance with athlete safety requirements comes against the backdrop of the Larry Nassar controversy, the largest sex abuse scandal in American sports history.

Nassar, the longtime U.S. Olympic and USA Gymnastics women's national team physician sexually assaulted more than 300 gymnasts and young athletes, including at least six Olympic champions. USA Gymnastics officials were made aware of Nassar's sexual abuse but took a number of steps to keep allegations of his abuse from becoming public. Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny was arrested earlier this month for felony evidence tampering.

USA Badminton has had its own sex abuse scandals this year.

Bay Area coach Bob Malaythong, a six-time U.S. champion and 2008 Olympian, was arrested in Santa Clara County in July after being found inside his 2018 Maserati with a 17-year-old female student near a public park. Malaythong was charged with suspicion of annoying /molesting a minor and sexual assault.

USA Badminton in January was forced to move its U.S. Junior Championships from a facility in suburban Chicago owned by banned volleyball coach Rick Butler. The junior tournament features around 400 athletes between the ages of 11 and 19. USA Badminton awarded the event to the Great Lakes Volleyball Center owned by Butler and his wife. Butler was banned by USA Volleyball in 1995. The ban was partially lifted in 2000 but allegations of sexual abuse continued to hound Butler, creating national headlines. Butler was the focus of a July 2015 investigation by ESPN's Outside the Lines.

USA Volleyball awarded the 2018 U.S. Junior tournament to Great Lakes in September 2017.

National governing bodies are required to abide by the USOC and the U.S. Center for SafeSport's policies and procedures in order maintain their certification as an NGB with the USOC. The USOC-created- and-funded U.S. Center for SafeSport opened in 2017. NGBs are also required to maintain their own athlete safety programs.

Under the USOC's athlete safety program, NGBs are required to conduct criminal background checks, at least every two years, for those individuals the NGB "formally authorizes, approves or appoints (a) to a position of authority over, or (b) to have frequent contact with athletes" and to provide "education and training concerning the key elements of (NGB's) athlete safety program for (1) those individuals it formally authorizes, approves or appoints (a) to a position of authority over, or (b) to have frequent contact with athletes and (2) NGB staff."

The USOC audit, however, found that USA Badminton was at "high risk" in four athlete safety areas:

• Not following the required background check process and policies.

"A sampling of 25 individuals that were required to have criminal background checks were tested as part of the audit," Guthrie wrote Jeff Dyrek . Badminton's records indicated that no background check was completed for 12 of these 25 (48%) individuals."

• Not following its SafeSport training requirements.

"A sampling of 25 individuals that were required to complete SafeSport training were tested as part of the audit," Guthrie wrote. "Badminton's records indicated that SafeSport training was not compliant for 14 of these 25 (56%) individuals."

• USA Badminton's members use an online registration system to become new members or renew their membership. Badminton's membership registration system allows members to enter their own SafeSport training completion dates.

"The members are then required to submit their SafeSport Certificate to Badminton to verify the information provided was accurate," Guthrie wrote. "The verification process is not happening in a timely manner."

• Failing to require doctors and other medical staff, club directors and administrators to complete background checks and Safe-Sport training.

"We need to start doing that," Dyrek said. "If we're going to hire an athletic trainer for an event, we need to make sure they've gone through a background check and SafeSport training."

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Copyright 2018 Richmond Newspapers, Inc.
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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

CHARLOTTESVILLE - A Monticello High School student has filed a lawsuit against two members of the Albemarle County school's staff, saying he almost died at a summer soccer practice last year.

According to the lawsuit, the student, Patrick Clancy, had his health put at risk by the defendants - Monticello High's athletic director, Matthew Pearman, and boys soccer coach Stuart Pierson.

The lawsuit requests $1 million in compensation, as well as an additional $1 million in compensation for a count of gross negligence.

The suit claims Clancy, then a sophomore, suffered heatstroke on July 21, 2017, at a two-hour soccer practice designed to help athletes become acclimated to the heat.

At 8 a.m. that day, the air temperature in the Charlottesville area, including around the high school, was already above 80 degrees, and humidity was approximately 70 percent. There was little wind, and it was sunny.

At the beginning of the practice, the National Weather Service heat index was approximately 83 degrees, the lawsuit says.

Adding in the effect of synthetic turf and full sun, the weather service's heat index would have been 107 to 120 degrees.

By the end of the practice at 10 a.m., the temperature had risen and the weather service's full sun heat index on a synthetic turf field would have been 124 to 139 degrees, a level characterized by the weather service as "extreme danger."

After Clancy returned home that day, his mother noticed that he could not perspire and got him into a cold shower, where his fingers turned blue, according to the suit. He was later taken to a hospital, where he was diagnosed as having exertional heatstroke.

A news release from attorney Lloyd Snook, who is representing Clancy, said several "well-established" practice guidelines were not followed.

"There was no trainer present. There was no cold water present. There was no shade to get the boys out of the heat. The team took no rest breaks," he said in the news release.

The lawsuit claims that negligence on the part of the defendants caused Clancy to suffer serious and permanent injury.

The Albemarle school system did not provide comment on the lawsuit. No hearing date in the case has been set.

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Copyright 2018 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

 

OREM - Utah Valley University has settled a whistleblower lawsuit from its former Title IX director, but neither party is giving details on the terms.

Administrators at the Orem university have not said why details of the agreement and any potential payout are being kept secret.

Melissa Frost, who headed UVU's Title IX office from 2014 to 2017, sued the university in May in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City, alleging she was fired after telling the school's attorney she was about to investigate allegations by three women against white men in upper management.

"While each side denies any wrongdoing, Ms. Frost and UVU have agreed to set aside their claims and focus on their mutual interest in ensuring equality and fairness for everyone in the university community," the parties said in a joint statement.

UVU spokesman Scott Trotter confirmed the parties had reached a settlement but declined to say whether Frost has her job back. Her attorney, Lauren Scholnick, also declined to comment beyond the statement.

Title IX is a federal law barring sex-based discrimination at schools. At colleges and universities, the offices investigate reports of sexual harassment and assault.

Frost has alleged school officials were slow to refer students the Title IX office and to adjudicate a sexual assault case involving athletes, and argued that campus police took gay male students' sexual assault complaints less seriously, among other issues. She sought reinstatement at UVU, plus payment for lost wages, benefits and seniority rights, and other damages if she is not reinstated.

Attorneys for the school argued in court filings that administrators didn't know she was gathering information about potential Title IX violations at the time, and the university later hired an outside investigator who found Frost's claim of retaliation was unsubstantiated.

UVU's attorneys also argued that Frost used coercive tactics to force student victims to participate in Title IX investigations. They pointed to a June 2017 memo giving her notice of the school's intent to terminate her that said complaints against her intensified over several months.

Email: aknox@deseretnews.com

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Copyright 2018 Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc.
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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

WORCESTER — When Charles Steinberg, president of the Pawtucket Red Sox, took the stage at Mechanics Hall recently for a chamber of commerce event, it was, ostensibly, to make introductions.

But as Dr. Steinberg, a dentist by training, plugged the minor league baseball team's plan to relocate to Worcester, he took a moment to mention something else: the pending sale of municipal bonds to help finance construction of a new ballpark for the team.

"We invite you, if that's your area of interest, to invest in Worcester," he said.

That day is coming soon. The city of Worcester is planning to price a taxable bond offering on Oct. 31, according to Thomas F. Zidelis, the city's chief financial officer. Although some details about the offering are still preliminary, the city is seeking to raise about $30 million from the sale.

The offering is expected to be the first in a series of bond sales that will raise the $100 million that Worcester estimates it will spend to build a new home in the Canal District for the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

The ballpark is planned as part of a larger effort to redevelop vacant former industrial parcels with hotels, apartments and retail, while also modernizing the Kelley Square intersection near Interstate 290. Private and state investments will likely push the total project cost more than $200 million.

It's not often that individual investors seek out specific bond purchases, said Gary H. Sherr, senior vice president of Carl P. Sherr & Co. LLC, a Worcester financial advisory firm. He once had a client on Martha's Vineyard who wanted to invest in Martha's Vineyard municipal bonds, he said.

"In the old days, I did have clients who were very specific on a particular investment they were looking for," said Mr. Sherr. "These days, advisers like myself will identify an asset allocation" and find appropriate investments for clients.

It's more typical that individual investors are focused on the quality of municipal bonds, according to Thomas J. Bartholomew, chairman and president of Worcester-based Bartholomew & Co. Inc., an investment advisory firm.

"It's all about making money," Mr. Bartholomew said. "Nobody is willing to take a lower return to buy something because they feel good about the project."

According to a preliminary bond offering statement dated Oct. 25, Worcester's offering will consist of taxable bonds offered in $5,000 increments. UBS Financial Services Inc. and the city will, under a negotiated agreement, determine the price of the general obligation bonds and the interest rate the city will pay to the bond holders.

UBS will market the bonds, which will mature at different points over the next 30 years. Investors will receive interest payments twice a year.

All three of the major credit ratings agencies issued positive ratings on the offering last week. Moody's Investors Service gave the bonds a rating of Aa3, S&P Global Ratings issued an AA- rating and Fitch Ratings issued an AA rating.

Ratings agencies, which typically get paid by bond issuers, use different scales to rate bonds. Ratings can depend on factors such as existing debt loads, municipal expenses and the ability to repay loans.

"In our opinion, the project introduces a modest level of financial risk and budgetary challenges should the city face revenue shortfalls requiring general fund and tax levy support in order to make timely debt service payments," S&P wrote in its report.

One factor that may benefit the Worcester offering: a relative shortage of new muni bond issues in 2018. National tax cut legislation in 2017 eliminated a type of bond offering that governments and nonprofits used to refinance tax-exempt debt, impacting the number of bond issues this year.

Mr. Zidelis, the city's CFO, said he expects the Worcester offering will attract interest from individuals.

"I truly believe you'll see some local investors investing in these bonds," he said.

On Monday, the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce sent a notice to members informing them of an "opportunity to invest in the Worcester Red Sox" by purchasing the bonds.

 

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
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Copyright 2018 The Arizona Daily Star Oct 29, 2018

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

 



Aspiring agent Christian Dawkins wrote of a plan to pay UA standout Rawle Alkins and his family $50,000 while he played for Arizona last season, ESPN reported in a lengthy story posted Sunday night.

The report also linked Dawkins to UA coach Sean Miller via phone records. Phones registered to Dawkins and Miller were connected multiple times between May 3 and July 2, 2017, ESPN reported, citing evidentiary files obtained from the federal trial involving college basketball. Thirteen of those calls lasted five minutes or longer.

Michael Schachter, the defense attorney for Adidas executive James Gatto, unsuccessfully tried to enter into evidence the fact that the FBI did not record a handful of calls between Miller and Dawkins, ESPN reported, even though the attorney said Miller was listed as a "target" of the FBI wiretaps.

"There are a number of calls that occurred that the defendants had with people that are very relevant to this investigation, and for whatever reason those calls simply were not recorded at all," Schachter told U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, according to ESPN. "We can demonstrate that. For example, there are multiple calls with one of the targets of the wiretap, a person who was mentioned in opening statement, Sean Miller, who is a coach at the University of Arizona."

ESPN reported that Dawkins sent an email to partner Munish Sood on Sept. 5, 2017, that detailed a plan to pay Alkins. The aspiring agent planned to pay Alkins $2,500 a month from September 2017 through April 2017, plus another $30,000 in travel expenses for Alkins' family.

Dawkins also wrote that he wanted to give Alkins' cousin, Rodney Labossiere, a share of his new sports management business.

"Rodney will get 25 percent of net income we generate from Rawle as well as additional players he brings in moving forward," Dawkins wrote, according to ESPN. "Rodney has a bonus structure in his contract as well for delivering players at ($)10,000 for a first round pick, $2,000 for a second round pick."

Dawkins and then-UA assistant coach Book Richardson were among 10 figures in and around college basketball who were arrested in September 2017 as a result of the federal investigation into college basketball. The first of three related trials concluded last week, with Dawkins, Gatto and Adidas rep Merl Code being convicted on federal fraud charges. Another trial is scheduled for February, while Richardson is scheduled for one in April.

The September 2017 federal complaints said Dawkins and Richardson were recorded at a meeting on July 20, 2017, in which Richardson "further committed to steer a particular student-athlete ("Player-6") who was on the men's basketball team at (a school identifiable as Arizona) to Dawkins and his company, stating, 'I'm telling you (Dawkins is) getting (Player-6)... there's no if, ands about that. I've already talked with (Player-6's) mom, I've talked with his cousin.'"

The September 2017 complaint said that on the same day, Dawkins referenced a player on last season's UA team as one who "had already received payments, so we got no expenses there."

Miller has referred all questions about the federal investigation back to one of his two previous statements. In October 2017, the coach said he recognized his responsibility to foster compliance, and in March he denied an ESPN report that he discussed paying star player Deandre Ayton, saying he has "never knowingly violated NCAA rules" while coaching at Arizona.

Arizona issued a statement Sunday that it was reviewing information that has surfaced since the trial concluded on Wednesday:

"The University of Arizona is aware of the information that has appeared in media reports regarding the just completed trial in New York," the statement said. "We are continuing to review the matter and will take such steps as are deemed necessary and appropriate based upon credible and reliable evidence. Out of respect for the judicial and administrative processes involved, we have no further comment at this time."

The Arizona Daily Star submitted a public records request in 2017 for Miller's cellphone and email records, but Arizona has not responded to it. The same goes for a number of other requests involving Miller, Richardson and other basketball staffers.

Arizona has also denied multiple open-records requests made by ESPN, Sunday's report stated. ESPN had requested any subpoenas the university received from the federal government for information and grand jury testimony related to the investigation.

The UA also declined to provide Miller's cellphone records and his correspondence with university officials to ESPN, repeatedly citing "the balancing test established by the Arizona courts to protect the best interests of the state" in its refusal to release the records.

Dawkins did not say whether he'd paid Alkins. If he did, Alkins could be declared retroactively ineligible for some or all of the games he played in by the NCAA. Ineligible players can result in vacated wins and/or the return of postseason revenue.

Testimony from the New York trial also could put Ayton's eligibility into question. Former travel-ball director T.J. Gassnola testified that he gave a family friend of Ayton $15,000 in an effort to steer him toward Kansas. It's unknown if the friend passed on any money to Ayton or his family.

Any allegations that are later found to be NCAA violations could result in sanctions for the Wildcats, and Miller could also face individual NCAA penalties for the actions of his assistants even if he is found to not have known of them. NCAA bylaw 11.1.1.1 states that head coaches are responsible for the actions of their direct or indirect reports unless they can "rebut the presumption of responsibility."

The NCAA is not expected to fully investigate allegations resulting from the federal investigation or trials until all three of them are complete. The federal investigation and this month's trial have alleged, among other things:

That then-UA associate head coach Joe Pasternack offered $50,000 for recruit Brian Bowen to play for the Wildcats. Bowen's father testified that Dawkins told him of the offer.That Richardson took $20,000, some of which he "appears to have kept for himself and some of which he appears to have provided to at least one prospective high school basketball players,"according to the complaint. In exchange for the payments, Richardson agreed to use his influence over the athletes he coached to retain two advisers, Christian Dawkins and Munish Sood.That Arizona offered $150,000 for Nassir Little, according to a conversation between Adidas reps that was detailed in the federal complaint and discussed during the trial.

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

GERMANTOWNThe trial for a former youth soccer coach and league president accused of an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old girl began Monday with the victim's mother testifying.

Justin K. Smith, 41, is charged with three counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of sexual battery and two counts of sexual imposition, according to Montgomery County records.

Smith was a soccer coach for the Southwest Soccer Club, which is also known as the Germantown Swarm.

The 14-year-old's mother told the court she discovered a text message exchange allegedly between Smith and her daughter, which included the words "I love you" and more explicit messages. The mother said when she confronted her daughter about the messages, the girl broke down crying.

Smith also allegedly sent a text message telling the 14-year-old he planned to build a new house for the two of them once he had finalized a divorce with his wife, the mother testified.

Smith's attorney acknowledged an "inappropriate relationship" between the teen and Smith, however argued that there was no sexual conduct, only some sexual contact and that the 41-year-old is guilty only of the misdemeanor sexual imposition charges filed against him.

The teens mother said after she confiscated her daughter's cell phone, Smith allegedly sent her daughter another phone in a Manila envelope.

The mother said after looking at that phone, she allegedly spotted 327 messages exchanged between her daughter and Smith in less than 24 hours.

Monday's trial is a bench trial with Judge Erik Blaine hearing the case, after Smith waived his right to a jury trial.

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October 30, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

OREMIn the same universe where superstars become millionaires, champions get (and sometimes reject) invitations to meet with our country's leaders, and fans criticize, vilify and even harass athletes they've never met for not delivering them the euphoria they crave as a "supporter," the lives of young people are being transformed.

This universe is sports.

The seemingly trivial activity is games.

The reality is complicated.

We say sports are peripheral. We acknowledge they're not real life. No one's life will be saved because a team won a title.

But at the same time, the games are essential.

I am reminded of this reality every time I watch high school teams compete for a championship. The evidence can be found in any game, in almost any athlete.

Sometimes they realize their dreams, sometimes they don't. At the end of one championship match this weekend, I noticed two girls, one from each team competing, embracing a family member. Faces buried in the chest of someone who loved them, both girls cried. By definition, one was a winner, one a loser. But as anyone who has competed for, worked for or fought for a goal, there is accomplishment in just having that moment.

I cannot stop thinking about those young athletes and the lessons they teach with their decisions to pursue excellence. Today I share the lessons this middle-aged bench warmer learned from their effort to be something extraordinary.

1. Dedication is the path to excellence. It is easy to want to win. It's easy to talk about it, and it's easiest to celebrate it. The commitment comes far from game day, maybe months away from the glory of achievement. Dedication is getting up early to work out. It's deciding that training is a gift you're giving yourself and not a punishment being imposed. It's trusting a coach, a workout, a scheme. It's being committed to showing up for other people, and being willing to sacrifice immediate gratification for something you may not even be able to envision. It's making better (but harder) decisions because you want a better life.

2. A rising tide lifts all boats. The ability to find joy in the achievement of others is key to (a) finding personal happiness and (b) creating a team-first environment. If you cannot revel in the accomplishments of a teammate, you will never know the joy of having others celebrate your moments. It's OK to feel envy, but it's not OK to hold onto it. Let your affection for your teammates wash it out of your heart. Because even if you never achieve what you want in that competitive domain, you will be known as a great teammate, a loyal friend, and long after the final whistle blows, that's something the world needs more than champions.

3. Accomplishing something great as a group of diverse individuals feels even more satisfying than accomplishing something on your own. Some will debate this lesson because finding the drive necessary to do something great on your own is something special and worth celebrating. But the question is how much of what we accomplish as individual athletes is really achieved alone? We need each other. Learning to encourage, teach and work together is the kind of accomplishment that will help one succeed in any situation. Finding ways to set aside differences and working toward a common goal is really the only way anything gets accomplished. Sometimes you won't find easy friendships or a nurturing, knowledgeable coach. Maybe you will need to be the leader you desire. Maybe you will need to offer the affection and support that you wished someone would shower on you. If your team is fractured and mired in negativity, consider that you are the one who is supposed to bring positive energy and a unifying spirit. That can only be learned if you're willing to enter into a team effort.

4. Failure and disappointment are necessary components of success. Avoiding them only sentences one to mediocrity. This one is the most difficult for me. I can find ways to be committed, to be happy for others, to be selfless as a teammate. But risking failure, real heartache, humiliation and the loss of a dream is not just difficult. It's so terrifying that most people won't do it. Which is why most people won't achieve excellence.

But over and over I watched teenage volleyball players risk it all for a goal they shared with their teammates. Really great athletes suffered heartbreak this weekend. Really good teams didn't take home a trophy. A lot of hard work appears to have gone unrewarded.

Except that it didn't.

And that might be the most transformative aspect of athletics. Regardless of the outcome, whatever you risk, whatever you invest, that's your reward. And nowhere is that more evident, more tangible than it is when you're watching high school athletes compete in gymnasiums far from the glare of the spotlight.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

What will be the legacy of these people pillars of the community, successful leaders in their respective fields?

How will the lives of those members who serve on the University of Maryland Board of Regents be defined? Will they speak for Jordan McNair the Maryland football player who died on their watch?

Will they make a statement about what kind of institution of higher learning they want the University of Maryland to be?

Or will they hope for amnesia, the passing of time, for people to forget what happened on May 29 during an offseason workout at the University of Maryland, when the 19-year-old McNair collapsed after a conditioning test and failed to receive proper treatment from the athletic department's medical staff, which ultimately led to death two weeks later?

Lest we forget, Jordan McNair's death in June barely registered a ripple until the ESPN report in early August that reported negligence in connection with the treatment of the young man and a football program filled with fear and chaos "toxic," I believe, was the word used.

Remember that word. It's important. The school, in its quest to protect itself rather than admit the mistakes fueled by Big Ten greed that put them where they are now, created a commission to examine McNair's death that included former Prince George's County State's Attorney Alex Williams, former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich, Washington Redskins senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams and others. They issued a 200-page report that basically consisted of trying to use every synonym other than "toxic" to describe the Maryland football program. They talked about abuse of students and the rampant mismanagement within the program. But "toxic?" That was clearly a forbidden word.

I wonder how they would describe their own houses if they were run like the Maryland football program?

Will these great men and women who sit on the University of Maryland Board of Regents, armed with reports and investigations still none of which as damning as the initial ESPN report that uncovered all of this lay down a code for their school defining decency and humanity? Or will this group just try to find a way to avoid having to pay that Big Ten money they got in a back-door deal several years ago to what could best be called the unindicted co-conspirators of head football coach D.J. Durkin, athletic director Damon Evans and school president Wallace Loh to cut the cord connected to this contemptible chapter of Maryland sports?

How could any of these men or women look a Maryland student in the face if they decide that the football team should still be run by Durkin, the athletic department by Evans, or the face of the school should remain Loh?

Departed and paid-off strength and conditioning coach Rick Court may be ground zero when it comes to blame and responsibility, but he is joined at the hip with Durkin and would not have been carrying out the disgusting (not toxic) practices that he did with the care of young men by threatening their health and terrorizing them without the blessing of the man who brought him to Maryland in 2015 and considered him his most trusted lieutenant, according to various reports none of which have been refuted in any of the official so-called probes by the school.

Durkin, in turn, is connected to Loh and the board of regents and the closed-door decision to join the Big Ten in 2012. Durkin brought those Big Ten values and sensibilities with him after leaving the University of Michigan. It's what Loh and, let's face it, the board of regents wanted. Evans was an assistant athletic director while this was going on who seemed more concerned with undermining his boss, former athletic director Kevin Anderson, then he did in the health and welfare of the students in his care.

Why would you want to be in business with any of these people, moving forward? That decision may be made this week by the board of regents. You should know who those people are. Some may be your friends and neighbors. Their decision will say a lot about them:

Chairman James T. Brady currently serves as a member of the board of directors of Dunbar Armored, Inc. and is a former director of T. Rowe Price Group, Inc., Constellation Energy Group Inc., and McCormick & Co Inc.; vice chair Barry P. Gossett, retired chairman and CEO of Baltimore-based Acton Mobile Industries and retired Chairman and CEO of Williams Scotsman, Inc.; Gary Attman, treasurer, president and CEO of FutureCare Health and Management Corp.; Linda Gooden, assistant treasurer, retired executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services and officer of the Lockheed Martin Corp.; secretary Dr. Michelle A. Gourdine, a physician and CEO of Michelle Gourdine & Associates; assistant secretary Robert D. Rauch, a principal with the civil engineering and construction firm, Rauch, Inc., of Easton, Md.; Joseph Bartenfelder, Maryland secretary of agriculture; Katrina J. Dennis, Esq., partner in Baltimore office of law firm Saul Ewing LLP; Ellen Fish, Hamilton Bank's executive vice president and chief lending officer; James Holzapfel, managing director-investments, Holzapel Investment Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in Hagerstown; D'Ana Johnson, partner with the firm of Bonner Kiernan Trebach & Crociata LLP; Robert Neall, secretary, Maryland Department of Health; Robert L. Pevenstein, member of the board of directors of the University of Maryland Medical System; Louis M. Pope, president and owner of Century 21 Trademark Realty, Inc.; Robert L. Wallace, member of the Board of the Greater Baltimore Committee and other organizations, and William T. "Bill" Wood, past chairman of the University of Maryland Baltimore Foundation and currently on the board of directors of the University System of Maryland Foundation.

These are the men and women who will speak for Jordan McNair and define what kind of school they truly represent at the University of Maryland.

⦁ You can hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast every Tuesday and Thursday.

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Copyright 2018 The Buffalo News
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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

Under the stadium lights and with a key divisional rival across the field, it will be all hands on deck Monday night at New Era Field.

And that's not just the thinking from Buffalo Bills players or coach Sean McDermott.

That includes law enforcement, too.

As "Monday Night Football" returns to Orchard Park for the first time in a decade, the Erie County Sheriff's Office is boosting the number of personnel on hand in and around the stadium for the game against the New England Patriots.

The extra law enforcement personnel will be deployed at the stadium to cover additional areas, including an outdoor studio for ESPN, Undersheriff Mark N. Wipperman said in an email to The Buffalo News. There are other additional "posts" that need to be covered, Wipperman said. Sheriff's personnel also will be deployed at all entrance gates to assist with screening fans entering the stadium, he said.

The Sheriff's Office ordered all available personnel to work Monday night, according to an Oct. 10 email sent by Wipperman to department personnel, a copy of which was obtained by The News.

That order was given so the agency would make sure it had enough staff to cover both the Bills game and the department's regular responsibilities around the county, including patrol and emergency response, along with staffing the Erie County Holding Center and the Erie County Correctional Facility, he told The News.

"Unfortunately, this rivalry brings out the worst in fan behavior," Wipperman wrote in the email to department staff. "The Patriots @ Bills home games have been our most challenging, especially last year when we struggled to maintain peace and order. We also encountered violent groups of fans that hurled rocks and bottles at our personnel and caused damage to our marked patrol vehicles. To make matters more challenging for us on the 29th, we add the component of a 'night game' which historically has led to an extremely busy and violent environment."

Orchard Park police also plan to have additional personnel on hand for the game and in the area during the day prior to the game, Chief Mark F. Pacholec said.

Orchard Park police and Sheriff's Office personnel, as well as the State Police, federal authorities and private security cover the stadium and surrounding areas for all Bills games. Sheriff's personnel and other agencies work inside the stadium and county-owned lots and other property. Orchard Park police typically handle everything "off-campus," including in private lots, Pacholec said. The Sheriff's Office may assist other agencies with calls off of county property depending on call volume, Wipperman said.

SWAT units also will be deployed around the stadium, which is something the agency started last year and which fans have given positive feedback about, the undersheriff said.

Sometimes crowds at night games are rowdier than those during Sunday afternoon games, Pacholec said. At Thursday night games in recent years, the crowds "typically are a little bit more challenging because people just tend to behave a little bit differently," he said.

The last Monday night game the Bills played at home was Nov. 17, 2008, a loss to the Cleveland Browns. That was the season after the infamous Monday night home loss against the Dallas Cowboys, when 64 people were arrested.

Last year's home game against New England was the busiest of the season for sheriff's deputies, Wipperman said.

Of all the Bills' opponents who visit the stadium, the Patriots' fans tend to be among the largest contingent of out-of-towners, Wipperman said.

The Bills have had only two home games so far this season, but over that time authorities are seeing an average of 42 people ejected per game. That's an all-time low for the stadium, according to Wipperman.

Over the past two seasons, there have been an average of two arrests per game at New Era Field, he said.

"Historically, night games tend to be busier than Sunday 'day' games," he said.

A night game in November 2012 turned out to be deadly for one fan who attended the game. A Rochester-area man's body was found in a creek outside the stadium the morning after a Thursday night game against the Miami Dolphins. The man had been ejected from the game. Authorities ruled the death an "accidental drowning."

On Monday night, the Sheriff's Office will be "fully staffed" and ready to respond to any incidents.

"The vast majority of Bills fans are responsible and tailgate responsibly," the undersheriff said in an email. "We will continue to focus on the small minority of fans that don't comply with the laws and rules that are in place to ensure everyone can have fun and enjoy their game experience."

A Sheriff's Office spokesman last week denied the agency would be boosting personnel for the Bills game and insisted there would be no changes to staffing levels or any other facet of event security from the first two home games of the year or preseason games.

Wipperman credited department personnel - some of whom wanted the night off to watch the game - as well as union leaders, who worked with management and told their members "we need to step up on Monday," he said in an email.

"I'm very proud of our men and women over here," he wrote.

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Copyright 2018 The Post and Courier
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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

 

These days it's hard to read the sports pages without a dose of business news. From D.C. to Vegas and L.A., the same story plays out over and over: Teams extract millions in public funding for stadiums through a high-stakes game of public relations posturing, shaky economics and political influence peddling.

For a perfect illustration of what's wrong - and for some hope - look to two new stadium deals in Seattle.

In September the King County Council approved a $135 million subsidy to spruce up Safeco Field, home of Major League Baseball's Mariners, in a contentious 5-4 vote. A new civic organization, the Citizens Against Sports Stadium Subsidies, quickly filed paperwork that could allow voters to overrule the council in a referendum.

Meanwhile, the council approved a different deal, this one geared toward securing a National Hockey League franchise. The KeyArena plan is a refreshing departure from America's typical taxpayer-funded stadium scheme.

Handing the Mariners $135 million is equivalent to a $162 tax on every household in King County. That's mildly outrageous considering many won't ever set foot in the stadium. A full accounting would include hidden costs, too. The original stadium deal made Safeco Field publicly owned so that the Mariners would not have to pay $6 million in annual property taxes.

More important, any funding dedicated to the Mariners puts entertainment luxuries above civic needs. The council rerouted the money from a fund for affordable housing, arts and tourism marketing. King County could instead use the cash to boost affordable housing funding by 19 percent. The lost $6 million in annual property taxes would be enough to fund 27 new Seattle police officers, 54 new public school teachers, or help expand the city's strapped bus service.

While the subsidy is funded by hotel taxes that traveling fans would help pay, it doesn't even come close to paying for itself. That would require over 33,000 visiting fans to attend every Mariners home game - more than their average total attendance last season - and spend at least $100 at local hotels.

Perhaps the most flabbergasting thing? The Mariners would only need to charge actual fans - rather than taxpayers - an extra $2.50 per ticket over the 25-year life of the subsidy. This makes far more economic (and ethical) sense, since a product's price should reflect the full cost of providing it.

The vast majority of academic studies show that stadium construction and renovation don't broadly improve economic growth or community welfare. Locals don't spend more money, they simply shift where they spend it. After all, consumers' budgets don't magically inflate when a new team comes to town.

It comes down to picking winners and losers. Teams, sports bars and ballpark-area businesses win. The smaller restaurants, concert halls and clubs that pay higher taxes to fund their entertainment industry competitors lose.

The subsidy stands in stark contrast to the council's unanimously approved agreement with the Seattle Arena Company to redevelop KeyArena. This taxpayer-friendly plan uses $700 million in private funding and relatively few public subsidies. It's a step in a much better direction.

So it's a tale of two stadiums. Both were built with public funds, but while one underwrites private profits and makes professional sports a publicly funded service, the other charts a new course that leaders in other cities should watch closely.

Team owners know that it's easier to sway politicians, who stand to gain political influence from adoring fans, than it is to win a public referendum. Nearly 70 percent of voters across the country oppose stadium subsidies. After months of political controversy, Seattle area voters may have their say. Will the rest of us pay attention?

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Copyright 2018 The Buffalo News
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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

In 10 years as MAC commissioner, Jon Steinbrecher has helped the conference extend its long-term football television deal with ESPN and increase its number of bowl ties.

Under his leadership, the MAC has diversified itself as a basketball conference. Two women's teams reached the 2018 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. The MAC will host the 2024 Women's Final Four in Cleveland.

Still, Steinbrecher jokingly scoffs at the MAC being labeled as "a mid-major conference."

But he isn't afraid to do something outside the traditional leadership box. In an effort to improve the conference's visibility, he dressed like a pirate who combed the shores of Lake Erie and urged the 12 MAC football programs to "Fly The flag." The video, released in August, turned into a viral MAC moment — who would anticipate a commissioner of a major Division I athletic conference to espouse such creativity?

In a 20-minute conversation with The Buffalo News on Sept. 22, prior to the UB football team's 42-13 loss to Army at UB Stadium, Steinbrecher discussed the UB football team's success, the growing popularity of "MACtion," the conference's mid-week games on ESPN; and how the conference rewards its basketball teams.

This interview has been edited for clarity and condensed for space.

BN: When you unveiled the 2018 football season, you did it dressed as a pirate to promote MAC football. Not a lot of people expected to see an athletic conference commissioner do something so daring, and the video went viral. Why did you do that?

Steinbrecher: The whole thing is interesting. I've been doing that for four or five years, privately. Not the dressing of a pirate thing (laughs), but "Fly the flag" is something I've been doing with our teams, with our coaches, with our ADs. After non-conference wins or bowl games, I'd email them a picture of the MAC Jolly Roger flag and say, "Hey, congrats, and fly the flag." And we'd share it with everybody.

Again, in the nonconference games, particularly, we all have to root for each other. We're all trying to collectively raise this organization. I said, "Heck with it, I'm going to talk about it publicly, and we'll see what kind of reaction we'll get." I've been pleased. People get it. It's fun. It's a fun part of sports. It's a great way for us to collectively rally. Even during the conference season, you win a game? Fly the flag for yourself. Sometimes, we have to take different steps to gain some notoriety and exposure.

BN: Buffalo is a football team that continues to make history within the program, within the MAC. What does this do to help boost the profile of the MAC, to "fly the flag," if you will?

Steinbrecher: Lance (Leipold) has gone about building the program in the right way. It's a step-by-step process, and he'd tell you that. It's taken a few years to turn that ship around. But he's building a program to last, I believe. They're bigger. They're faster. They're stronger. The school, they're doing things to provide some of the support services that, they're not luxuries, they're necessities, whether it's the office space, the meeting space, the locker-room space, the fueling station, the indoor facility, which is absolutely critical. All these types of things, you need to have. All these parts are coming together, and it certainly appears you've got the right coach and the right coaching staff, you've got a great group of kids and you're starting to see some of the results on the field.

BN: UB went 6-6 in 2017 and didn't get a bowl bid. That surprised a lot of people. Is that a reflection of the conference, or is that a misnomer regarding the conference?

Steinbrecher: 'X' years ago, we had been contracted for five primary bowls last year. However, the year before that, one of the games, the Poinsettia Bowl, decided to close shop. So we lost a game. We were down to four bowls last year. That did us. We knew going in that it would be challenging, and there would very possibly not be enough games. And then we didn't get some help from some of our bowl friends that we might have had hope for. Sometimes that happens.

But our teams knew going in, sometimes 6-6 might not be good enough to get you a bowl game. It doesn't mean you're not disappointed. I'm bitterly disappointed for our teams. I know the kids were. This year we're back to five primary bowl agreements and I'd also share that we're in the process of negotiating bowl agreements for the next six-year period, which starts in two years (2020). We anticipate we'll be signing six primary bowl agreements. Hopefully, it will take care of that issue.

This year we're in Montgomery, the Raycom Camellia Bowl. We're in Mobile, which is the Dollar General Bowl. We're in the Bahamas Bowl, Boise, the famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and we're in Frisco, Texas. No Boca Bowl this year.

BN: Mid-week games on ESPN — "MACtion" — have become a trademark. As far as getting those mid-week games as opposed to the traditional Saturday games, have you seen that impact programs or teams, where a program might say, "Hey, we've got to juggle our schedule," or "I don't know about a Wednesday night game in November." Or are teams receptive to this change in the schedule?

Steinbrecher: You spoke of it as a calling card, and I would say it's provided the platform to take us from being a regional conference to being a national conference, and it's brought unprecedented exposure to our teams. When you have a couple nights of the week in that last month of the season, when you're playing out that race, no one else is playing on those nights. You get a chance to tell a story. Our coaches, to an institution, would tell you it's assisted them with recruiting. It doesn't mean it's not a challenge for the fans. Sure it is. But we're asking one or two games a year to work with us. I'm completing the stats right now, and virtually every team in FBS is playing one or more non-Saturday games. We've been doing it for 20 years. It's helped build the "MACtion" brand.

BN: There are a lot of night games in November, but there are nights like election night, for instance (Buffalo hosts Kent State at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6) or mid-week when it was 30 degrees and nobody in the stands. What's the challenge, to tell the fans, "come out here tonight"?

Steinbrecher: What I'd also tell you is that in November, it can also be cold and wet on Saturdays as it is mid-week. You've got to decide it's important and make the commitment, that we're going to be up late and we're going to come out and support the local team.

BN: There was a Wall Street Journal report earlier this year that examined inflated attendance figures that we're seeing across the board in college football. The MAC stood out in that report. When you saw that, what was your first thought, and what does the league and the schools need to do, collectively, to close that gap and say, "let's get some butts in the stands"?

Steinbrecher: I think what we find is at our schools that are doing well, their attendance is very strong. When the success of the team falls off, the attendance falls off. It follows very closely to that. To me, there's marketing and promotional stuff we can do, but it's just so critical that your team be successful. You've already seen it this season, what's going on with attendance at Buffalo (UB has reported an attendance of 79,490 for its first four home games, an average of 19,873 a game).

Let's go back to Western Michigan a couple years ago. They went to the Cotton Bowl and it didn't matter what night of the week they played on, that place was packed. (Western Michigan reported an attendance of 143,025 for its six home games in 2016, an average of 23,838 per game). We see what everyone else sees, and student attendance is really challenging. It's continuing to find ways to hook them into it. It's more than a game. What schools are all selling is the experience. You've got the concerts and Buffalo and all these other things going on, so schools are looking at different ways and different things to build that into what's going on around football games.

BN: What do you think schools have done to get the word out? What are they doing to sell that experience to get people in the stands, beyond winning?

Steinbrecher: All of our schools sell it in different ways. Go to Toledo and go through their tailgate areas and what they do. Ohio University, which is a much more rural setting, the different student areas they have. Again, you go across any one of our institutions and they are doing their own unique and neat things.

BN: College football enters the second year of the early signing period, with securing recruits in December and February, has it affected the MAC at all?

Steinbrecher: My sense is, at this point, is that our folks like it. I don't know that we necessarily like is where the date is. If push came to shove, if we're going to have an early signing period, let's have it somewhere in August or the end of July or the first of September. But I think we do like it, and my sense is also the recruits like it and parents like it. For the kids who know where they're going and have made that commitment, it gets it off the board and they can move on and focus on other things.

I think that's been positive, but we're moving into the second year of it, and let's give it two or three years, let's let it breathe, and then let's step back away from it and talk to the different groups involved. Talk to the prospects and recruits, talk to the coaches, look at some of the data. What is it doing, in terms of things like, what are the academics? Are kids coming in and performing the way we want them to? Are they sticking around or are they transferring? All these types of things that we'll need to take a look at and make some determinations of whether or not it was, in fact, the right thing to do.

BN: Basketball had a lot of success in the NCAA tournaments, with Buffalo and Central Michigan reaching the Sweet 16 of the NCAA women's tournament and Buffalo reaching the second round of the men's tournament last year. It helped elevate the conference's profile as a basketball conference. But how will the league distribute money it receives from the postseason payouts?

Steinbrecher: We have a pretty standardized distribution, and it's basically divided pretty evenly (among teams). We also have an incentive plan and to qualify for it, you have to hit some scheduling marks, and then, based on meeting certain criteria, you get additional dollars, whether it's where you fall in the final RPI, or certain kinds of wins. There's seven things you can qualify to get units for, and if you hit those, you get additional dollars.

I don't remember what the distribution was. The interesting thing is that Buffalo won a game in the tournament and it didn't change the distribution last year, but it will mean an extra unit for the next six years of distribution. We know we have seven units this year (per the MAC, the league regular-season champion, MAC tournament champion, NCAA tournament appearance and each NCAA tournament win, NIT appearance and each NIT win, CBI/CIT berth, quadrant wins that are Quadrant 1 non-conference wins and Quadrant 2 non-conference wins and final RPI adjusted ranking, between 1-50 and 51-100).

They're roughly $250,000 per unit. You can do the math with that.

The standard distribution is divided evenly. There's an incentive pool that teams qualify for, meets scheduling criteria of 15 home games over a rolling two-year period, or average 15 home games over a rolling two-year period. Then, if you do that, you qualify for dollars out of this pool. I don't have the list in front of me, but the criteria includes: is your final RPI 1-50, or 51-100? You can pick up a couple units for that. If you have some wins over a certain level of opponents. If you win the conference tournament, if you win the regular season, if you win postseason games, you pick up additional units. Then we add up all the units and divide the pot by whatever units there are. From the NCAA, we're given dollars, and the basketball revenue distribution is based on cumulative period of units over six years.

It's $250,000 times seven units, and that's almost 2 million dollars.

Note: Neither Steinbrecher nor a MAC spokesman would disclose the standard distribution.

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Copyright 2018 Independent Publishing Company
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Anderson Independent-Mail (South Carolina)

 

District 5 unanimously approved a bid by SprinTurf, a Daniel Island-based company, for $3million to bring synthetic turf to the fields. The motion included the construction of bullpens, batting cages and two multi-sport complexes.

The baseball and softball coaches at T.L. Hanna and Westside high schools will have a little more down time this year, and upcoming years, because of major construction projects at both high schools. Gone are the traditional freshly cut grass, dirt-dragged infields and fresh ground-chalk foul lines. This spring, the baseball and softball fields will look like each schools' respective football fields and be all synthetic turf. Base paths and pitcher's mound included. Those changes mean the daily upkeep that grass baseball and softball fields require is no longer needed. First-year Westside coach Jarrod Payne said that prospect was a factor in his taking the job.

"It gives me a chance to focus on my family a little more. This much square footage, the mowing, the edging, the dragging, especially if you are the only one doing it, it can take a solid hour and a half, two hours a day," he said.

"(Having turf) does give us the opportunity to focus more on coaching and do what I need to do at home. It saves a lot of time."

The changes also mean the district saves money on costs associated with a baseball or softball field, such as gas to run the mower, upkeep on the mower, dirt, chalk or paint to line the field and water for the grass.

District 5 unanimously approved a bid by SprinTurf, a Daniel Island-based company, for $3 million to bring synthetic turf to the fields. The motion included the construction of bullpens, batting cages and two multi-sport complexes.

"We have a construction budget of $3 million for four fields at the two high schools," said Wess Grant, District 5 assistant superintendent of operational services. "We have a construction budget of $7 million for the two multi-sport complexes."

The projects are paid for with funds from the county-wide penny sales tax, an initiative approved by voters in 2014.

District 5 superintendent Tom Wilson said the change is a "long-term investment."

"The big cost is the first time putting it down. It is a 10-year warranty, and in 10 years when you have to replace it, it is like replacing the carpet in your house," he said. "The ground work is already done; that is where all the cost is.

"Putting a drainage system in, putting the rock in and getting the base ready. So when you come back 10 years, the cost is not nearly as high as it is now."

Grant said the hope is in 10 years the district would bundle replacement costs for the baseball, softball and football fields, which would save money. Those 10 years are also the time estimated it will take to break even on the investment.

"We did analysis on the football fields, and it was about 10 years. Looking at all the work you have to do on the baseball and softball field, we may get the return on investment sooner," Grant said. "The moment you get there, the replacement is phenomenally cheaper."

Wilson said there were multiple benefits to turfing the fields

"In the long run, it is more economical and maintenance-free," Wilson said. "Another big reason is we can play ball when it is raining, unless it is lightning."

Grant said there are safety benefits for the players as well.

"With synthetic, you can change the infield so an athlete can feel the difference in the texture of the ground as they approach the fence or warning track," he said.

Wilson said the district met with other schools that use turf fields, including the University of Louisville, North Greenville University and Anderson University.

"Between (North Greenville) and Louisville, we looked at them and made some design changes. Their mounds are dirt, but the Louisville coach recommended go to turf. There are issues with the dirt getting in the turf," he said. "We are excited to be the first high schools in the state with turf baseball and softball fields."

The board started looking into turf fields last year and the project was approved unanimously by the board during the March 20, 2017, meeting.

The Rams' Payne said not many high schools have what Westside and Hanna will have this season.

"When I was in high school, we had a team in our conference that had turf, so I have played on it, but I have not coached a team on it," he said. "There has always been potential at Westside. The fact the district takes it seriously, the fact there is so much pride in the area. It was an instant draw."

At Hanna, the field is being moved up a few feet, to allow for seating behind the plate and to create more room between the field and the concessions stand. Hanna also is building a brick wall for a backstop, coach Daniel Crenshaw said.

"It was real tight in front of the concessions stand," Crenshaw said. "We would have fans sit down the third base line, but that has (area) been turned into bullpens."

Because of the changes at Hanna, the project at Westside is ahead. The full project is expected to be completed by mid-to-late November.

"I'm real excited to see what it will look like when they are done," Crenshaw said.

Adjustments will be needed when playing on the synthetic field, players and coaches say.

"The ball may skid and go a little quicker in the outfield and the gaps," Crenshaw said. "There won't be any bad bounces on grounders in the infield."

With a turf surface, the dibits and uneven areas of ground are eliminated with the flatter surface.

Regan Reid, a Hanna infielder who has committed to Clemson, said he is looking forward to playing on the new surface. He has played on a similar surface during midseason tournaments with Hanna and with his travel team.

"I like it a lot," he said. "As an infielder, you don't get any bad hops."

"It is going to play faster, so we won't have to take near as deep an angle because the grass is not going to kill (the ball's momentum). You are going to have to get straight to it, and it is going to be coming at you hot."

Jordan Young, a senior outfielder for Westside, said he has some experience playing on the surface as well from his travel league.

"It is cool to have it at your home," he said. "The ball moves a little faster and the ground balls bounce a little more.

"Everyone on the team is ready to play on it."

Young said he had a strong first impression of the new field.

"It is pretty beautiful," he said. "It has always been a nice stadium, but getting the turf has made it really nice."

Crenshaw said while at times he will miss tending the field the new field - "coming out here before doubleheaders and after school dragging the field and making the place look nice," he said - the new field will give him more time to focus on coaching and being with his players.

"It will definitely be a lot less work on my end," he said. "It will save us a good 20 to 30 minutes after practice."

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

By no means is it official, but a local architecture firm released a sample rendering for what a $31 million downtown sports stadium might look like in Spokane.

The rendering fills a hole in the city's pitch for a 5,000-capacity stadium, which originally didn't offer the public any renderings. The lack of visuals contributed to some confusion for voters.

Trek Architecture proactively made the rendering with no approach from the city, and it took about a month of work, said Evan Verduin, principal architect at the firm.

Verduin, a proponent for a downtown stadium, said he made the rendering for free as a service to the public.

"As an architecture firm, we look for opportunities to be involved civically," he said. "No one had a good idea of what it would look like."

He said he wasn't sure if he'd bid for the contract in a public bidding process, but "it would be right up our alley."

The rendering drew the attention of Mayor David Condon.

"It gives an idea of how it fits," he said. "It gives you an idea of what it could be. It's not just a bunch of aluminum bleachers."

Michael Cathcart, who is leading the campaign for the downtown stadium option, said he approached Verduin and asked him to recommend anyone who could make a rendering, but Verduin offered to do it himself.

Cathcart is executive director of Better Spokane, a nonprofit economic development group. He said people are sometimes leery of the stadium idea because they can't visualize how it would fit in the space, which is on property owned by the Public Facilities District on the north bank of the Spokane River.

"Hopefully the rendering answers that," he said.

And people are worried about having enough parking, too.

Cathcart said additional parking will be available from private lots close to the site.

"There's not going to be a need for a tax-paid parking garage," he said.

Cathcart also said some people are emotionally tied to Joe Albi Stadium, which was built in 1950 and has hosted the Seahawks, Washington State Cougars football team and countless local high school games in all types of sports.

"The economic impacts are significant," he said, and building a stadium downtown would allow for better organizing of events.

"The school district is not good at being event operators," he said, and if the stadium goes downtown, then the PFD would contract with the district to plan games and events.

"That's professionally what they do," Cathcart said.

Voters will find an advisory vote on their ballots asking where the new stadium should be located. The two options: Keep it in northwest Spokane, where Joe Albi Stadium is located, or move the stadium downtown.

In both cases, the school district will pay $31 million for the stadium and it will host local high school games. That funding is part of a $495 million capital bond item that voters also will find on their ballots.

Contact the writer: (509) 459-5513, willc@spokesman.com

 

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Copyright 2018 Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

It's been the black eye on the Tennessee high school football season.

Forfeits.

Three schools — Northeast, Giles County and Powell — forfeited five or more wins for playing an ineligible athlete. It's shortened their seasons as they no longer will be playing in November.

The final week of the regular season is over. The playoffs start next week and the conversation remains on improperly filed paperwork.

Yes, because it didn't have to happen had paperwork been filled out correctly on the front end.

"We try to tell administrators if you feel like there is a gray area, and we don't feel like there is — we feel like they are consistent in our interpretations — pick up the phone and call," TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said. "We'll be glad to walk you through anything you have questions about.

"The problems we see now is they won't do it. We want to catch it on the front end. We don't like dealing with it on the back end."

The TSSAA received 2,005 high school transfer forms during the 2017-18 school year.

The association asks each school to verify their submitted information is correct.

There isn't anyone with the high school association who can check over 2,000 athletes who have transferred schools. From the forms submitted, 1,683 athletes were ruled eligible.

But if the information is incorrect, schools run the risk of getting caught breaking a rule.

The USA Today Network — Tennessee obtained a copy of the TSSAA's transfer form that schools must submit for every athlete who moves in. It's not a complicated form.

In it, all three violations should have been caught had paperwork been correctly submitted.

The general rule to know is if an athlete doesn't have a bona fide change of address to a school, they cannot play a varsity sport for 12 months since the date of their last game.

Northeast's ineligible player hadn't been at the school for 12 months, but moved to the school from West Creek where the parent was teaching.

The TSSAA transfer form states an athlete is eligible if a transfer was a result of a parent, who was a full-time certified teacher at the former school, took a position as a full-time certified teacher at the new school.

However in Northeast's case, the parent had never taught at any school in Montgomery County except Northeast.

Powell's athlete was ineligible because he transferred from his previous school into the Karns zone, but was attending Powell as an out-of-zone student.

The transfer form stipulates that the "new residence is in the territory of the new school and outside the territory of the former school."

Finally, Giles County's forfeits came when a parent did not leave the former residence. The transfer form says the former residence has been disposed of as a residence of the entire family unit that was residing in the old residence.

So as we watch for the playoffs to unfold, remember there are three teams that will be sitting at home in November. And it could have been prevented.

Reach Tom Kreager at 615-259-8089 or tkreager@tennessean.com and on Twitter @Kreager.

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Copyright 2018 Times-World, LLC
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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

The NFL fired down judge Hugo Cruz on Thursday for inadequate performance, a person familiar with the firing tells The Associated Press.

Cruz is in his fourth season as an NFL official.

Cruz, a part of referee Carl Cheffers' crew, was involved in a missed call in the Chargers-Browns game that led to a Los Angeles touchdown on Oct. 14. Chargers tackle Russell Okung false-started on the play and nothing was called.

The NFL Referees Association said it would challenge the firing.

Cruz's firing was first reported by FootballZebras.com, a website dedicated to officiating which said it's the first in-season firing by the league of an official because of performance in the Super Bowl era.

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October 26, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

 

Want another piece of evidence times have changed (as they always do)? One of my friends used to have a toy, a blow-up, hard-rubber clown that was weighted at the bottom. No matter how hard you slugged it, it bounced back. And always did. I thought about it Wednesday morning when reading about Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott.

I guess the toy's existence doesn't prove anything about the changing times. Believe it or not, it is still available for purchase. Who would have thought? I guess, in a way, it is even more applicable as a metaphor for Scott's recent tenure.

Who would have thought he would still be there, smiling, taking punches and bouncing back? After all, some of the recent blows would be enough to deflate most careers.

Wednesday night, the conference sent out a press release saying, in part, the Pac-12's athletic directors were endorsing recent changes in the replay system. You think? The group, meeting this week, agreed with Scott that changes had to be made. And that certain, unnamed, conference officials, were to be reprimanded. (Contrast this with the public nature the conference used during the day to reprimand and fine Arizona State defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales for his comments after the Sun Devils loss to Stanford.)

The litany of problems in the league office has grown recently, with the impetus supplied by controversy over a couple of replay calls - or noncalls - in USC's 39-36 win over Washington State.

But the recent kerfuffles are just the tip of a huge iceberg - in more ways than one.

The core of the problems was frozen in place long ago, from a TV contract that looked good at first but, over the years, turned out to be inadequate. OK, that's putting in mildly, isn't it, those of you who love your DirecTV? There have been other issues over the years issuing from Scott's domain, from a bounty put on a basketball coach to the proliferation of late-night football games. In a vacuum, none of the problems is enough to cause lasting damage to the commissioner, but add them up and it starts to chip away at his ability to lead.

Nothing illustrates that as to documents related to the replay incidents this season. Someone, probably connected in some way to the conference office, leaked a proprietary report from the game to Yahoo. That began the firestorm. And then, when Scott was making the rounds explaining the fixes he was implementing, another document was leaked to The Oregonian's John Cazano, making Scott look ill-informed - at best.

It's almost as if there is a cabal trying to push Scott out the door.

None of this is new, either. Such things happen all the time in all major corporations. It's just that most of us don't care about the behind-the-scene machinations at Kimberley-Clark or Charmin. All we want them to do is produce high-quality toilet paper.

And all most sports fans want out of their favorite Pac-12 school is it produces successful football and basketball programs. That hasn't happened, on a national scale, all that often under Scott's watch, either. It's not entirely his fault, certainly. There are a lot of reasons why the Pac-12 probably won't have a team in the football playoffs again this season or the basketball showing in the NCAA Tournament will be lackluster as it has been the past few years.

But the buck finds its way to his desk - literally, when you realize he made almost $5 million last year - as does the criticism.

Sooner or later, it will end up being too much. And change will happen. After all, after all the hits it absorbed, even the painted-on smile wore off the clown's face back in the day.

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
All Rights Reserved

The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Here is a timeline of events leading up to the Oct. 22 shooting death of University of Utah student-athlete Lauren McCluskey, as compiled by campus police and with additional Tribune reporting.

Sept. 2 Lauren McCluskey met Melvin Shawn Rowland at a local bar where he was working as a bouncer and began a relationship with him. He visited her often at her residence hall and built friendships with other students in the building. While police did not specify the bar, FOX13 has reported Rowland had worked in the past as a bouncer inside Maxwell's East Coast Eatery. Black Diamond Security Group said Thursday it had ended its relationship with Rowland about a month ago; the state is now investigating the company.

Oct. 9 McCluskey learned Rowland's real identity - including that he had lied about his age, 37, and not disclosed that he was a registered sex offender. She invited him to her dorm room, confronted him with the information, and broke off their relationship. He admitted his sex-offender status, but denied the age difference. McCluskey told Rowland she was ending the relationship, but allowed him to spend the night in her room and borrow her car the next day to run errands.

Oct. 10 Jill McCluskey, Lauren's mother, contacted campus dispatch to request a campus security escort to help Lauren retrieve her vehicle from Rowland. University police contacted Lauren. She at first declined assistance, saying Rowland was going to drop the vehicle at her apartment and she felt comfortable with him doing that. A dispatcher told Lauren she would have security officers near the building just in case. At 5 p.m., Lauren called back, saying the car was dropped off at the Rice-Eccles Stadium parking lot and she needed a ride to pick it up - which a security escort provided.

Oct. 12 Lauren McCluskey contacted University police, reporting she had received suspicious messages she believed were from Rowland's friends. The texts said Rowland was dead and that it was her fault. But she found he had recently posted on social media, disproving the claim. Such posts were a violation of Rowland's parole terms, which prohibited him from using social media. Lauren told the reporting officer she did not feel in danger or threatened by the texts, but felt his friends were trying to lure her out of her dorm.

Oct. 13 At 9:22 a.m., McCluskey again contacted University police, reporting she had received more messages she believed were from Rowland or his friends. The messages demanded money in exchange for not posting compromising photos of McCluskey and Rowland online. McCluskey said she sent $1,000 to an account as demanded, in hope of keeping the photos private. Police took a report, pulled Rowland's criminal history - but did not learn he was on parole, Chief Dale Brophy said - and assigned a detective to follow up on possible charges of sexual extortion.

Oct. 16 A parole agent spoke with Rowland - but University police had not communicated with Adult Probation and Parole. Rowland's use of social media violated his probation, and involvement in a new crime also would have been a violation. A spokesman for the Board of Pardons and Parole said Thursday, "if the parole agent has enough information to establish probable cause that the person violated parole, then the agent can request a warrant from the Board. The person would be returned to prison and the Board may revoke parole."

Oct. 19 A formal investigation of the extortion charges began, after McCluskey received another text. Explaining why a formal investigation did not begin on Oct. 13, Brophy said: "Our detectives have many cases, and our detectives started work on the Tuesday after the initial report on the 13th and [were] working other cases until" Oct. 19. A detective contacted McCluskey for more information about the extortion, to identify all suspects who might be involved, and worked on seeking an arrest warrant for Rowland and his acquaintances. It's unclear whether a request was filed or a warrant was issued.

Oct. 19-22 Security video shows Rowland at various campus locations, apparently seeking McCluskey.

---

The day of the shooting

Oct. 22, 1039 a.m.: McCluskey emailed police that she had received another text from a spoofed number, claiming to be Deputy Chief Rick McLenon, asking her to go to the police station. University police now believe the text was from Rowland, with the intent of getting McCluskey to leave her dorm.

Oct. 22, 3 to 6 p.m. Rowland waited for McCluskey with some of her friends in the residence hall.

Oct. 22, 820 p.m.: Rowland confronted McCluskey in the parking lot outside her residence hall. She was returning from a night class and on the phone with her mother. He grabbed her, and she dropped her cellphone and belongings. He dragged her to a different spot in the lot, forcing her into the back seat of a car he had driven to campus. Once she was in the car, Rowland shot McCluskey multiple times. As a felon, Rowland could not possess a gun; a man who had loaned the gun to him said Rowland claimed he had a girlfriend and wanted to teach her how to shoot.

Oct. 22, 823 p.m.: Matt McCluskey, Lauren's father, called dispatch. He relayed what Jill McCluskey heard on the phone, and asked officers to respond.

Oct. 22, 832 p.m.: Police went to the parking lot and found McCluskey's belongings. More police were mobilized. A search began of her dorm room, the parking lot and the surrounding area.

Oct. 22, 838 p.m.: Rowland called a woman he met on a dating site, and asked her to pick him up. They went to dinner at a restaurant, drove by the state Capitol and went to her home downtown, where he took a shower. She then dropped him off at a coffee shop. Later that night, she saw news reports about the shooting, recognized photos of Rowland, and called the police.

Oct. 22 9:55 p.m.: While searching the parking lot, police find McCluskey's body in the back seat of a car.

Oct. 22, 956 p.m.: A secure-in-place alert was sent campus-wide, telling the university community that there had been a shooting on campus.

Oct. 22, 1009 p.m.: An alert was sent with suspect information. Updates were sent about every 30 minutes.

Oct. 22, 1146 p.m.: An alert lifting the secure-in-place order was sent, after University police determined Rowland had left campus.

Oct. 23, 1201 a.m.: An alert was sent identifying the suspect as Melvin Rowland.

Oct. 23, 1246 a.m.: Salt Lake City police found Rowland and followed him on foot. He entered Trinity AME Church, at 239 E. Martin Luther King Blvd. (600 South). As police entered the church, Rowland fatally shot himself.

Oct. 23, 147 a.m.: An alert was sent saying Rowland had been located and was no longer a threat.

-Tribune reporters Nate Carlisle and Courtney Tanner contributed to this story.

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC


Newsday (New York)

 

The impending nor'easter for the upcoming weekend had high school officials scrambling to reschedule events for this weekend. The storm is expected to start late Friday night and end early Saturday afternoon with wind gusts up to 48 mph and an inch or more of rainfall.

Most of Saturday's high school football schedule was moved to Friday night and Sunday morning/early afternoon. There are still two football games scheduled for Saturday as Lindenhurst will play at Bellport at 2 p.m. and Floyd will play at Connetquot at 1 p.m.

"We gave individual districts the opportunity to reschedule games because of the storm and the potential for dangerous winds and heavy rain," Tom Combs, the executive director for Section XI, which governs Suffolk's high school athletics said. "It's always safety first and most of the superintendents expressed a desire to move the contests."

Pat Pizzarelli, the executive director for Section VIII, Nassau's governing body, was also working with administrators to shuffle schedules and make sure there were enough officials available for the events.

Pizzarelli, citing safety concerns, made it mandatory that there were to be no outside events played on Saturday in the county.

All three CHSFL games were moved off the Saturday schedule. The Kellenberg vs. Fordham Prep game scheduled at Mitchel Athletic Complex was moved from 7 p.m. Saturday to 7 p.m. Friday.

Some playoff games were moved to Sunday and Monday.

The Suffolk girls soccer Class B final, pitting top-seeded Babylon against Mattituck, was moved to 3 p.m. Monday at Center Moriches.

The Nassau girls and boys individual cross country championships were moved from Saturday to 11 a.m. Sunday at Bethpage State Park.

The Nassau boys soccer Class B final, Carle Place vs. Cold Spring Harbor will be played at 5 p.m. Sunday at Farmingdale State.

The Suffolk boys soccer Class B and Class C finals were moved to Sunday. Southold and Greenport will play for the Class C crown at 3 p.m. at Diamond in the Pines in Coram and Hampton Bays will meet Center Moriches for the Class B title at 6 p.m. at Diamond in the Pines.

The Nassau girls soccer Class AA semifinals were moved to Sunday. Syosset will meet Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK at Cold Spring Harbor at 11 a.m. followed by Baldwin and East Meadow at 1 p.m.

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Copyright 2018 News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
All Rights Reserved

News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

CHARLOTTE - When the ACC tacked on two years to its tournament rotation last month, adding Washington in 2021 and Brooklyn in 2022 onto announced trips to Charlotte this March and Greensboro in 2020, the abbreviated nature of the extension was no accident.

The ACC, like the Big Ten, continues to covet Madison Square Garden and wants to maintain maximum flexibility going forward should an opportunity open to get into that arena.

"Everybody in our league, around that table, feels like it's important for our tournament to be in New York periodically," ACC commissioner John Swofford said Wednesday. "It's just a question of where."

While the Big East's contract with the Garden is believed to contain options for either side, the earliest another conference could potentially get into the Garden for a year, if at all, is probably 2024.

Swofford has previously ruled out holding the tournament a week early and sharing the arena with the Big East, as the Big Ten did last year.

And while the drive to get into Manhattan is strong - especially among former Big East schools Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh - the ACC remains happy with Brooklyn's Barclays Center as its primary New York pied-a-terre, as evidenced by its continuing presence in what has become an unofficial rotation between the two North Carolina sites, Washington and New York.

"That is a rotation that is working very well for us," Swofford said. "We're still a relatively new expanded footprint as a conference. We've talked a lot about respecting the past and embracing the present and the future....

"There doesn't seem to be another league out there that can move their tournament around and have the success with it that we've been fortunate enough to have."

Among other topics, Swofford confirmed that the ACC will open the 2019-20 basketball season with a slate of conference games, with one team - presumably Duke in the Champions Classic - omitted to make up the numbers.

Beginning the season with ACC games is designed to provide inventory for the ACC Network, which remains on schedule for an August 2019 launch.

"We've talked a lot about how do you tip off the basketball season in a way that you kick off the football season? And that's really hard to do, because of obvious circumstances," Swofford said.

"And our discussions have been more national about that. This is a way we can sort of address it just as a conference in terms of tipping off the year. And if you go back - gosh, you can go back in the '60s, there were ACC conference games in December in the '60s.

"A lot of people forget that. I think it will be fun. I think it will be a terrific thing."

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Copyright 2018 BridgeTower Media
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The Journal Record

LAWTON — University of Oklahoma President James L. Gallogly recommended a pilot program to the board of regents for the sale and advertising of alcoholic beverages at athletic facilities and events. At a meeting in Lawton, Gallogly said that while the plan is not to have alcohol sales for this football season as there are only a few home games left, he proposed a pilot program for sales to be in place for implementation during the 2018-19 men's and women's basketball seasons at the Lloyd Noble Center and for the 2018-19 baseball and softball seasons.

The university will report outcomes of the pilot program to the board of regents in May and may seek approval of the regents to continue the sale and advertising of alcoholic beverages at that time. Gallogly also recommended approval of the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium Bowl Improvement Project, which incorporates improvements for the addition of handrails, aisle and seat widening, an additional 158 ADA and companion seats and other structural maintenance and repairs. The project also adds Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the stadium. The improvements have been funded by Athletics Department capital funds and through private funds.

Copyright © 2018 BridgeTower Media. All Rights Reserved.

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October 31, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

A federal jury found three men guilty of fraud charges for channeling secret payment to the families of top-tier recruits to influence their choices of schools, apparel companies and agents.

Wednesday's verdicts place the blame firmly on the men for exposing the universities to NCAA sanctions, essentially portraying the schools as victims.

The NCAA may view the verdict differently.

In fact, the organization that oversees college athletics may now have a deeper reach when it goes after rogue programs. The decision essentially turns amateurism into federal law, possibly giving future NCAA bylaws more bite and ability to dole out punishment.

"I think anybody who breaks the rules in any aspect of our society, you'd like to see them held accountable," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "If the jury found them guilty of breaking rules, then they should be held accountable. But yeah, that's why we have a jury system and that's good. It's always good when, if someone does something wrong, they're found out, and they're held accountable for it."

Former Adidas executive James Gatto, business manager Christian Dawkins and amateur league director Merl Code were convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for funneling money and recruits to Louisville and Kansas.

All three will be sentenced on March 5, but the corruption case doesn't end there. Former NBA star and Auburn assistant Chuck Person will stand trial in February. Former assistant coaches Emmanuel Richardson of Arizona, Tony Bland of Southern Cal and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State go to trial in April.

All are accused of funneling apparel company money to recruits and their families.

They could be facing a difficult defense with Wednesday's verdict now that a precedent of fraud has been set. So could the schools.

The first trial revealed text messages and recorded conversations between coaches and the fixers, though nothing to definitively connect them to paying recruits.

The prosecution argued the schools, which receive federal funds, were not aware of the secret payments, including $100,000 promised to top recruit Brian Bowen Jr.

When put on the stand and facing long prison sentences, the four assistant coaches may tell a different story. At minimum, they will certainly pull back the curtain even further on what had been college basketball's worst-kept secret.

"I hope that the truth prevails and I mean that with all sincerity," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "There's so much stuff being floated out there, I hope what's true will be found out if there's stuff going and in the long run it will make a difference and help the game."

The game has already been blemished, first with the arrests of 10 people in September 2017 through the three-week trial that concluded on Wednesday.

More than two dozen schools have been ensnared since the arrests a year ago, for everything from paying for meals to six-figure payments to recruits' families.

Duke, Oregon, North Carolina State, Creighton and Texas were among the schools mentioned in testimony during the trial. More schools and coaches could be caught up when the next two trials take place, each day of testimony becoming another round of the "who's next" that played out in New York over the past three weeks.

The NCAA has already adopted a reform package to curb some of the seedy recruiting practices and could be headed toward more reforms now that a legal precedent of federal fraud has been set.

"There's been many things throughout my 30 years, however many it has been, when things came out, 'this will be awful for college athletics' and 10 years later that wasn't as awful at all," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "We may be better off for it."

As the trials move forward and more information comes out, the depth of the pay-to-play corruption could become clearer. More schools could be involved or, as some coaches have said, the shady recruiting practices could be limited to a few bad seeds at the top.

"I think it's easy to paint all of college basketball with a dark brush and that's not fair; there's lot of great kids and great coaches and terrific schools involved in it," Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowslby said. "Are there bad operators out there? Yeah, there are bad operators out there. Some of them are inside schools, some of them are outside schools, but they're not the vast majority. And, at this point, I don't know who it is and who it isn't because the NCAA has not run its process yet."

AP Sports Writers Dave Skretta in Kansas City, Aaron Beard and Pete Iacobelli in Charlotte contributed to this story.

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Copyright 2018 South Bend Tribune Corporation
All Rights Reserved

South Bend Tribune (Indiana)

 

The top administrator at a prestigious prep school in LaPorte says the school had nothing to do with paying a student's father so his son would play basketball there.

During a federal trial in New York involving bribes and other corruption in college basketball, Brian Bowen Sr. recently testified that when his son, blue-chip recruit Brian Bowen II, played at La Lumiere School in LaPorte, then-head coach Shane Heirman paid the father $2,000 a month so his son would attend the school.

Adam Kronk, head of school at La Lumiere, told The Tribune this week that school staff first learned of the alleged payments after reading a tweet from Yahoo! Sports writer Dan Wetzel, who has been covering the trial.

"We were obviously surprised by it, looked through all of our audited financial statements and records, and the school has never paid Brian Bowen Sr. any money of any sort," Kronk said. "As far as we knew, when his son was at the school, his dad was a volunteer assistant coach. He'd come to practice and help support the team. If he was given any money, it was done without the knowledge of the school. That's not something we condone, or were aware of, or have done, or will do. That's not part of how we do what we do."

Heirman compiled a 75-8 record from 2014 through 2017 at La Lumiere, which has a nationally recognized basketball program. Heirman left La Lumiere in May 2017 to become an assistant coach at DePaul University in Chicago.

Bowen II, originally from Saginaw, Mich., is nicknamed "Tugs" and is now playing professional basketball in Australia, according to an ESPN report.

Kronk said he was curious whether Heirman actually made the payments but he hadn't tried to contact the coach since hearing the reports.

"To me, it's in the interest of the school to make sure it didn't happen and nothing like it would happen in the future," Kronk said.

Kronk was asked whether Heirman might argue that he was paying Bowen Sr. for helping to coach the team.

"It could have been, but again if that's the idea, that's not something that was run through the school," Kronk said. "It's not appropriate. It doesn't make sense to me. You go to high school to get an education and prepare to succeed at the next level."

The Tribune was not able to reach Heirman for comment.

Greg Greenwell, DePaul's sports information director, declined to be interviewed but issued a written statement saying, "DePaul University takes seriously the high standards of conduct expected in our athletic department. To date, federal prosecutors have not contacted us about the investigation into college basketball recruiting or statements included in testimony in recent weeks in federal court in the Southern District of New York. We will fully cooperate if contacted in the future by federal law enforcement, the Department of Justice or the NCAA."

La Lumiere is not a member of the Indiana High School Athletic Association, which prohibits paying students or their parents to attend, but the school does play some IHSAA high schools, along with prep schools from other states.

Such payments at IHSAA member schools would violate the association's Rule 5, known commonly as the "amateurism rule," punishable by up to a 365-day suspension.

Paul Neidig, an assistant commissioner at the IHSAA, said he's been following news coverage of the trial, and Bowen's testimony didn't surprise him.

"I don't think we've begun to hear all that's going on," Neidig said. "I think it's very sad we've gotten to that point."

Neidig said there are occasional Rule 5 violations, such as a student receiving prize money for winning a race, but he hasn't yet heard of one involving a parent being paid for a child to attend.

"I really think high school as we know it is still pure," he said. "Let's hope it stays that way."

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa was benched indefinitely by the top-ranked Jayhawks on Wednesday after his name surfaced in testimony connected with the corruption scandal rocking college basketball.

The 6-foot-9 De Sousa, one of the Jayhawks' top rebounders, is out while the school and NCAA look into his eligibility. He could miss a good chunk - or perhaps all - of the regular season, which begins with a high-profile game against No. 10 Michigan State on Nov. 6 in Indianapolis.

"The timetable is unknown," coach Bill Self said.

Self spoke just a few hours before a jury in federal court in New York convicted former Adidas executive James Gato, Adidas consultant Merl Code and NBA agent runner Christian Dawkins of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The trio had been accused of funneling money from the apparel company to the families of recruits at Kansas, Louisville and its other sponsored schools - and the trial was closely watched across the sport as big names came up in court.

Ex-AAU coach T.J. Gassnola testified that he facilitated payments to De Sousa's guardian in an attempt to steer him toward the Jayhawks. Those payments would have rendered the native of Angola ineligible to play for the Jayhawks. Gassnola said Self and his staff did not know about the payments.

"Information was presented during the current trial in New York - some of which we knew, some of which we didn't," Self said before the verdict was announced. "We have decided to withhold Silvio from competition until we can evaluate and understand the new information. We have already discussed trial developments with the NCAA and will continue to work with NCAA staff moving forward."

De Sousa graduated from IMG Academy last December, joined the Jayhawks for the spring semester and provided valuable interior depth as the school made a deep March run. He had 16 points and 10 rebounds while helping Kansas beat West Virginia for the Big 12 Tournament title, then appeared in every game while helping the Jayhawks reach the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. De Sousa was at his best in the Elite Eight, when he had four points and 10 rebounds while playing 26 minutes in a victory over Duke that sent the Jayhawks into a showdown with Villanova.

Self said during the Jayhawks' local media day two weeks ago that he was planning for De Sousa to play this season, and De Sousa himself declared, "I know I'm going to play." That was just as the trial began for Gatto, during which text messages presented by defense attorneys indicated Self and Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend may have been aware that Gassnola helped to deliver money to De Sousa's guardian, Fenny Falmagne, to pay for online classes and get out of a pay-for-pay scheme that had been brokered with Maryland.

De Sousa committed to the Jayhawks a few days after the text messages.

Kansas officials do not believe last year's Big 12 title or Final Four will be in jeopardy because De Sousa had been declared by the NCAA eligible at the time.

Self was still at Sprint Center for the Big 12's media day when the verdict was announced. He said the university would issue a statement later in the day, then he would have a comment.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he anticipates the NCAA will launch an investigation into the corruption case once the federal trials are complete - there are two more to go. But he sidestepped several questions about the Kansas case, calling it "premature" to comment on a sensitive situation.

"The conference and the NCAA have intentionally deferred to the federal governing process and until that process is complete we can't continue down that path," Bowlsby said.

Bowlsby did acknowledge having conversations with Self and Kansas athletic director Jeff Long earlier this week, but he said the corruption case was not discussed in any great detail.

"Well, I know people at all of those companies that are involved and they operate with integrity in the ways I've encountered them," said Bowlsby, a longtime college administrator. "But clearly there is influence in the system and to the extent we can manage it and control it, we ought to do that. And I think that'll be the step that comes after it, rules that respond to things that have been raised in the court case."

Kansas decided it couldn't wait that long, choosing instead to bench De Sousa indefinitely.

The Jayhawks have plenty of interior depth to pick up De Sousa's minutes. And with a bevy of high-level transfers, including former Memphis standout Dedric Lawson, and one of the nation's top recruiting classes, they are a trendy pick to win the national title. And using a player later to be deemed ineligible could wipe out what promises to be a big season in Lawrence.

"I don't really think it will affect nothing," Lawson said. "Silvio comes to practice every day and we're here for him and support him. I know it's a tough time for him but as time goes on the truth will come out.... He just has a clear mind, he has a great spirit."

More AP college basketball: http://www.twitter.com/APTop25

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Copyright 2018 News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
All Rights Reserved

News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

CHARLOTTE — Lawyered up and casting its own schools as victims, college basketball either won a major court decision Wednesday or bartered its soul for a verdict.

No one seems to know.

Three men were found guilty on seven counts of nefarious dealings, caught on wiretaps and other FBI tactics in an investigation that the feds promised would be a game-changing bombshell for college basketball.

But then they decided they needed a victim, and they came up with N.C. State, a school that hired a coach to sit on its bench and represent the university in a shoe deal for cash to get a player from Fayetteville to go to Raleigh.

They decided Louisville, a school that hired one coach who later hired strippers to help him recruit players and then another coach to pay cash to a street agent to bring a high school student to play basketball for one year, was a victim.

They decided that Kansas, one of the crystal towers of college basketball, was an injured party for throwing around money in every direction to lure players to come to the bright lights of Lawrence and entertain the Jayhawks zealots.

The jurors had no clue what this case was all about. The FBI, which brazenly announced to the major college basketball programs last year to watch out because "we have your playbook," still has no idea what it has stumbled upon.

They don't have anybody's playbook.

The playbook is different at every school and crystal tower in America. It's a dirty game from the grassroots up, a system that steps over the smaller schools and lands directly on the campuses of the major sports universities. Nobody — not the schools nor the NCAA nor the FBI — knows how to fix it.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski sat down in front of phalanx of cameras and notepads at ACC Operation Basketball minutes after the verdict from Manhattan was announced. He said it was good. Sort of.

"The jury found them guilty of breaking rules and they should be held accountable," he said. "That's why we have a jury system. That's good. It's always good when someone does something wrong, they're found out and held accountable for it."

But he said he has no idea where this goes from here: the ongoing trials or college basketball itself.

"Do you?" he asked a reporter who was shaking his head.

Here's what we do know: Calling the schools victims is a complete joke.

N.C. State knew what it was doing when it hired Mark Gottfried, a former assistant to twice-fired Jim Harrick and now his boss at Cal State Northridge, and an assistant coach who turned out to be a bagman. Louisville knew what it was doing when it hired Rick Pitino and the people he associated with. Kansas now knows what it has with Bill Self and his assistants.

The schools are in the business to win and make money. And the ruling changes nothing other than giving the NCAA the ammunition to go back and hammer N.C. State, Louisville and Kansas.

The guilty verdict will not change the dirty game. We've watched it from up close here in North Carolina for years and years, going back to the point-shaving scandal involving N.C. State and Carolina in 1961.

William Friday, the former UNC system president, once said "we're turning our universities into entertainment centers."

He wasn't talking about the smaller schools all over the nation who play by strict rules and require student-athletes to go to class and get a degree. He was talking about our basketball factories that now bring in kids to use them for a year or so solely to entertain us and make money for the universities.

And everyone from the college presidents to the coaches and the boosters who are allowed to wallow in the dark areas of the entertainment business are to blame. They aren't victims.

Through the years, we've managed to delude ourselves that college basketball is a virtuous model of athletics, amateurs sacrificing their study time while juggling academics and the vagaries of the secondary fast break.

And while Krzyzewski and UNC's Roy Williams try to get their heads around the modern game of enticing recruits to Tobacco Road, struggling to explain away the issues swirling around the sport, they've basically thrown their hands in the air and begged ignorance.

In a sense, you can believe them. Nobody has any answers, not the Rice Commission nor the coaches association nor, God forbid, the NBA.

The FBI lifted the dark veil on college basketball and believed that alone would persuade the people to start cleaning up the game. Now we realize the feds revealed something we've known all along.

There are too many people involved. It's a shell game involving shoe companies and dirty money taking advantage of our teenagers, not our colleges. There are too many people with their hands out and too many with their hands in the air.

This wasn't the beginning or the end.

It was just Wednesday.

College basketball season starts in less than two weeks.

Contact Ed Hardin at 336-373-7069, and follow @Ed_Hardin on Twitter.

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Former Ferris High School football coach Jim Sharkey, who was investigated for allegedly exposing himself to students and allowing hazing of his players, will continue to be employed by Spokane Public Schools until at least the summer of 2021.

According to public records obtained Wednesday by The Spokesman-Review, Sharkey signed a suspension and discipline agreement with the district on Aug. 7, agreeing that he will resign on Aug. 31, 2021.

In the meantime, Sharkey is on staff as a fitness teacher at Spokane Virtual Learning, which is housed at the Libby Center.

Under terms of his employment, Sharkey interacts only with students through email with a co-teacher, according to district spokesman Brian Coddington.

The mediated settlement agreement avoids possible legal action by Sharkey, who has not been charged with any crimes.

The district agreed to the deal in part "for the purpose of settling differences between the parties and to avoid future cost and inconveniences," documents state.

"It was a good resolution all the way around," said Sharkey's attorney, Larry Kuznetz, who added that Sharkey's employment could go beyond 2021 should both parties concur.

As part of the agreement, Sharkey admitted to "engaging in inappropriate comments and behavior toward students while employed by the district."

Sharkey also expressed "remorse and regret" over his admitted behavior and said that he has not "acted as a positive role model at times in his position as a public school teacher."

However, the document does not contain any admission that he exposed himself to students during a leadership camp near Cataldo, Idaho, in August 2016, or that he tolerated "juicing," in which players would gather in a large group on a teammate's birthday and stick their fingers in the student's anus, according to school documents released last year.

Sharkey "absolutely denies these allegations," Kuznetz said.

A player at the camp reported that while Sharkey was grilling hot dogs he placed his penis inside a bun and displayed it to players.

Those records include written notes from Mary Templeton, an administrator with Spokane Public Schools from her meetings with Sharkey in September 2016; emails from parents and students about Sharkey's alleged behavior; letters to Sharkey from the district; and other documents.

During a meeting with Templeton on Aug. 31, 2016, to discuss the allegations, records state that Sharkey told her, "That is the biggest lie I have ever heard, 100 percent total lie."

On Sept. 13, Templeton gave Sharkey a written warning, which stated that the district was unable to substantiate either the allegations about drinking or that he exposed himself.

"The District was, however, able to substantiate by your own admission, that there was alcohol consumed in front of students by the camp 'hosts' and that at least one camp 'host' had unsupervised access to students while under the influence of alcohol," Templeton wrote.

"The District was able to substantiate that you compromised the safety of students by failing to supervise them appropriately and failing to sufficiently provide for their safety," he added.

Other allegations stated students at the camp were passengers in vehicles driven by coaches who were under the influence of alcohol.

Sharkey also denied those allegations to school officials but said the ranch hosts were drinking in front of the players at dinner.

Hazing allegations were investigated in the spring of 2017 by the district, but no criminal charges were filed.

"If the kids had said anything that led us to believe there was a criminal act we would have taken the next step," said Mark Sterk, the SPS director of safety, risk management and transportation.

In June 2017, the Shoshone County Prosecutor's Office declined to file charges on allegations that Sharkey exposed himself. By then, Sharkey was no longer the football coach at Ferris.

School records show Sharkey was first placed on paid leave starting Feb.1, 2017. Documents at the time said his leave would continue until further notice.

In the spring of 2017, the district opted not to renew Sharkey's coaching contract.

Contact the writer: (509) 459-5437

jima@spokesman.com

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
All Rights Reserved

The Washington Times

 

NEW YORK — An Adidas executive and two other insiders from the high-stakes world of college basketball recruiting were convicted Wednesday in a corruption case that prosecutors said exposed the underbelly of the sport.

A federal jury in Manhattan found former Adidas executive James Gatto, business manager Christian Dawkins and amateur league director Merl Code guilty of fraud charges.

The trial centered on whether the men's admitted efforts to channel secret payments to the families of top recruits luring them to major basketball programs sponsored by Adidas was criminal. At stake was a fortune in revenue for the basketball programs and potential endorsement deals for the players if they went pro.

Evidence included text messages between the defendants and coaches from top-tier coaches like Bill Self of Kansas and Rick Pitino of Louisville and testimony from the father of prized recruit Brian Bowen Jr. describing how a Louisville assistant handed him an envelope stuffed with cash.

Prosecutors claimed the schools were in the dark about the payment schemes, including $100,000 promised to Bowen's family, that are outlawed by the NCAA. They accused the defendants of defrauding universities by tricking them into passing out scholarships to players who should have been ineligible.

Gatto, Dawkins and Code left court Wednesday without speaking to reporters, though one defense lawyer indicated there would be an appeal. Sentencing was set for March 5.

Two more college basketball corruption trials are set for next year. The defendants include Chuck Person, a former associate head coach at Auburn who played for five NBA teams over 13 seasons, and also former assistant coaches Tony Bland of USC, Emanuel Richardson of Arizona and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State.

In closing arguments at the first trial, prosecutor Noah Solowiejczyk recounted testimony from cooperators and wiretap evidence about how the defendants took steps to create false invoices to Adidas, route funds through various bank accounts and convert it to cash for the families.

The behavior "tells you an awful lot about the defendants," the prosecutor said. "It tells you that what they were doing was wrong."

The defendants didn't deny they sought to make the payments. But they argued that was how the recruitment game was played by Adidas, Nike and other sportswear companies - and that talent-hungry coaching staffs knew it.

A lawyer for defendant Dawkins, who was instrumental in steering Bowen to Louisville, claimed his client thought he was helping the program succeed to the benefit of everyone involved.

"What proof did the government present that Louisville suffered any harm?" attorney Steven Haney said in closing arguments. In Dawkins' mind, "he thought what he was doing was OK."

Defense attorneys sought to convince the jury the text messages and phone records showing Self and Pitino were in touch with the recruitment middlemen aligned with Adidas proved they had to be aware of the payments. They said further proof the schools weren't blind to the schemes was testimony by Brian Bowen Sr. claiming he received $1,300 from Louisville assistant Kenny Johnson and other testimony by a cooperator, former Adidas consultant, Thomas "T.J." Gassnola, that he delivered $40,000 to North Carolina State assistant coach Orlando Early intended for the family of highly-touted point guard Dennis Smith Jr.

In the texts last year, Gassnola told Self he was in the touch with the guardian of player Silvio De Sousa, who prosecutors say was among recruits whose families were offered secret payments. And another exhibit showed how Dawkins was communicating with Pitino as Bowen was nearing a decision about where he would play.

Self remains at Kansas. But the school announced this week that De Sousa will be benched during games by the top-ranked Jayhawks pending a review of his eligibility.

In a statement on Wednesday, Kansas school officials said they were working with federal authorities and the NCAA to ensure "a culture of compliance." They also said they are continuing to evaluate their options about whether to extend a contract with Adidas.

At Louisville, the scandal resulted in the firing of Pitino who had been hurt by previous controversies and forced Bowen to leave the university and college basketball entirely without ever playing a game. Pitino has denied any wrongdoing. Bowen is pursuing a professional career in Australia.

The trial's most emotional moment came when a prosecutor first began questioning the elder Bowen about his son, who goes by the nickname "Tugs."

"Is Tugs in college?" asked prosecutor Edward Diskant.

"No, he's not," Bowen responded.

When the prosecutor asked why not, Bowen dropped his head into his hands and wept.

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Copyright 2018 Richmond Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

A fight broke out Friday night between the Freeman and Hermitage football teams following Freeman's 37-0 victory.

Multiple football players at Hermitage and Douglas Freeman will be disciplined for their role in a fight between the teams following their game Friday night, Henrico County Public Schools spokesman Andy Jenks said.

The school division declined to identify the players involved or explain the extent of the punishments.

One coach will not participate in this week's game, Jenks said. His school was not identified.

Freeman is scheduled to visit Mills Godwin on Friday, and Hermitage will host Manchester. While Freeman likely still has a playoff game ahead, Hermitage's season will end Friday.

No punishment will come from the Virginia High School League, spokesman Mike McCall said. Because the fight occurred after the game, VHSL rules no longer apply.

"It is strictly a school issue since the fight took place on school property, and all participants are subject to school policy/discipline," McCall said.

The incident took place while the players were shaking hands after Freeman's 37-0 victory. One altercation occurred, then several more, according to a letter that was sent by the principals of the schools to their communities. It took several minutes to separate the two sides.

ekolenich@timesdispatch.com 

(804) 649-6109

@EricKolenich

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Copyright 2018 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

SALT LAKE CITYFrom Logan to St. George, student-athletes and their coaches rummaged through the closets of friends or family searching for gear they normally couldn't be paid to wear.

Among them was Weber State tennis player Sarah Parker.

The senior borrowed a red shirt from her fiancé, scrawled a message of support on purple poster board and drove from Ogden to Salt Lake City to stand in solidarity with a heartbroken University of Utah community Wednesday night.

It didn't matter that she didn't know Lauren McCluskey, the Utah track athlete who was shot and killed in the parking lot of her on-campus apartment Monday night. What did matter is that Parker and her fellow student- athletes find a way to show Lauren's family — both her biological family and her athletic family — that they are not alone in their anguish.

"I thought it was important to come show support for her and her family and teammates because I can't imagine what they're going through," said Parker, who also gathered with other Weber State athletes Wednesday morning to pose for a photo they put on social media of them dressed in red and displaying the block U with their hands.

"It was just such a horrific and terrible thing," she said, as the crowd slowly dispersed after the 30-minute ceremony and candlelight vigil honoring the life and legacy of the 21-year-old Washington native.

In the outpouring of love and support from athletic departments at every college and university in Utah, as well as around the Pac-12, it became obvious there was something special about the bond that exists among student-athletes, even those from different schools.

Two hours after the vigil honoring McCluskey, the Utah volleyball team linked arms with their opponents for the night, Washington State, which happens to be the school in Lauren's hometown and where both of her parents work. The teams and fans offered a moment of silence to honor Lauren as her picture was displayed on the electronic scoreboard, and the Cougars wore the same decals of a winged foot with Lauren's initials on their sleeves as the Utes wore.

They were doing what Utah athletic director Mark Harlan advised them to do during the vigil Wednesday night.

"Take care of each other," he said, "Get through this together."

The life of a student-athlete is uniquely demanding. There would be heartbreak, outrage, and likely a similar outpouring of love and support if Lauren hadn't been a student-athlete.

But the fact that she represented the school in athletic competitions and community projects ripped a hole in the department that is often the only thing outsiders know about a school.

Coaches recruit players from around the world to compete for a school. They count on the school community to make the student-athlete feel included. They — and the students — trust that these young athletes will be embraced for their willingness to give their talents to a university that binds them all.

"Being a student-athlete is a special thing, and you have to share that," Harlan said, noting that Lauren did just that with excellence in the classroom, her accomplishments in her sport, and quiet acts of service in the community.

The rigorous physical requirements, athletic standards, community commitments, and intense scrutiny create the kind of experience that is difficult to understand if you haven't had both the privilege and challenge of trying to navigate it.

If anyone outside of her Utah teammates understands what Lauren brought to her team, to her school, to the community that embraces the school's programs, it's people like Sarah Parker.

It's the other student-athletes from 20 Utah programs, male and female, who feel her loss acutely, even if they never met her.

That's because they share a rare and unusual bond.

They intuitively understand what brought her so far from home, who understand how her sport created a new kind of family, and who understand what it's like to call your mom, even when she's another time zone, just to keep you company as you walk home from a night class.

"The most tragic thing of all is when (I read) that she was on the phone with her mom," Parker said. "I do it all the time. That was one of the hardest things.... When I finished reading about it, I called my mom right away and said, 'Mom, just so you know, I love you.' "

Lauren's coach and teammates put their pain on display so the world would know the magnitude of their loss. The crowd showed up so the team might feel less alone in their grief.

"Lauren McCluskey was an outstanding young woman," said track and cross-country coach Kyle Kepler. "She was a joy to coach."

Three of the team's seniors — Eliza Hansen, Raynee Helm-Wheelock and Mesa Weidle — stood together trying to put into words what they've lost, who they loved.

"Lauren was always a driven athlete and gave 110 percent to everything she did," Hansen said. "This loss is devastating."

Weidle sobbed as she tried to describe how the girl she met on a recruiting trip five years ago blossomed into the sister and teammate she loved for reasons that might begin with sports but exceed anything athletic.

"She was an amazingly genuine and caring person," Helm Wheelock said. "She will be missed."

It was gymnast Shannon McNatt, who is also the president of the student Crimson Council, who reminded those gathered in front of the steps covered in flowers, that they can continue to be good teammates to Lauren McCluskey.

"No one is really dead until the ripples they cause in the world die way," she said, quoting Terry Pratchett. "We are her ripples."

EMAIL: adonaldson@deseretnews.com

TWITTER: adonsports

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Using a free phone app, low-income obese patients achieved clinically meaningful weight loss when paired with coaching from primary care providers.

In the Duke University study released Monday, a group of 351 participants who were at risk of cardiovascular disease used the Track app for a year to self-monitor behavior changes weekly. Over the 12 months, a health clinic dietician or student also made regular coaching calls to each individual.

Duke's researchers say it's among the first studies to report successful weight loss within a low-income population - a group that suffers from rising rates of obesity.

"Obesity continues to wreak havoc on the health of our country, and we've had the most difficulty treating low-income Americans, those who are most affected by the condition," said lead author and Duke professor Gary Bennett.

"This study shows we can help patients who are most at risk by embedding treatment in primary-care settings and keeping patients engaged using a simple app."

Among study participants, more than 40 percent lost at least 5 percent of baseline weight, a standard associated with health benefits. Those people who used the Track app and received coaching fared better than a control group that received routine care.

Participants were residents in a rural area and mostly employed full or part-time, study results said. About 67 percent of individuals reported annual household income at less than $35,000.

"Digital health approaches hold promise for extending the reach of highly personalized, low-cost, evidence-based obesity treatments to a range of clinical care settings," the study said.

In the Spokane area, at least two programs are staking similar ground in offering low-cost, longer-term obesity treatment along with regular counseling by health providers. The local approaches weren't part of the study and aren't using the app, but similarities include coaching and regular follow-up.

This past summer, Community Health Association of Spokane launched its new program inviting small groups of 10-15 patients to do an eight-week session of weight-loss counseling and regular exercise, alongside once-a-week talks by providers and dieticians at YMCA facilities.

CHAS modeled it after a program started by Heritage Health in Coeur d'Alene in partnership with the Salvation Army Kroc Center, said Dr. Bill Lockwood, CHAS' chief medical office.

"They started a program about three years ago," he said. "In a couple-year period, they had about 1,500 patients go through the program and universally they lost weight, their diabetes measures improved, their depression improved, pain levels improved, they had lower anxiety.

"Across the board, it lead to improved health."

For CHAS, clinic providers recruit participants for the program called Pathways to Wellness, done in partnership with the YMCA and currently out of CHAS's Maple Street, Spokane Valley and downtown Denny Murphy clinics.

The Pathways program eventually is expected to be offered at all CHAS clinics. For participants who complete the eight-week session including exercise about three times a week, CHAS then supplements their YMCA membership for an entire year, Lockwood said.

"With the hope they will continue exercising," he said. "The experience at the Kroc is people do continue to exercise."

That's the bigger challenge, he added, how do health care providers help patients sustain long-term changes in nutrition, activity and weight loss. "One of the ways you do that is using dieticians." CHAS has six dieticians for counseling patients at all clinics.

He said what are common among the Duke study and programs like ones for CHAS and Heritage Health are ongoing support, follow-up and accountability.

Lockwood said a number of "social determinant" factors affect low-income residents, many who do have higher rates of obesity.

"Many work two jobs," Lockwood said. "Maybe they grew up where healthy habits weren't taught. They have difficulty getting time off from work to make doctor appointments. There might be transportation issues or they live in an unhealthy environment.

"I think in addition to that, the challenge we have as health-care providers is we see patients for 20 minutes maybe once or twice a year. That's a blink of the eye. There is not a lot you can accomplish. The similarity that approaches such as this app study and our program has is ongoing support.

"It's regular ongoing support rather than a one-time recommendation or handing them an app and saying good luck."

Other actions to fight obesity require societal changes such as walkable cities and residents' access to affordable fresh foods, said Washington State University Spokane associate professor Pablo Monsivais.

He does research on societal interventions for the department of nutrition and exercise physiology.

Monsivais said while it's positive that the Duke study with digital and clinical coaching reached a low-income group for weight loss, he also believes society societal changes will sustain healthy patterns long-term.

"I'm familiar with Gary Bennett's work; he's a classic obesity interventionist," Monsivais said. "And he's absolutely right, that there's not much done for low-income people who have disproportionately higher rates of obesity.

"I'm often just stuck with the question about how this fits into a bigger picture, because pretty much every dietary intervention eventually fails. This study result seems to work, but the problem of any dietary intervention is if you don't stick with it, your weight comes back.

"The intervention in my view that needs to be made is societal intervention. With respect to weight and related chronic diseases, it's the fact that being physically active can be difficult. Our world is engineered for being sedentary."

Not only do we spend more times in cars and have easy access to high-calorie food, in low-income populations, there is more food insecurity, and that also can cause unhealthy patterns of eating, he said.

"We do need to make communities more healthy, including more bicycle paths, walk-ability, and improving healthy eating food sources in neighborhoods."

He said the study's intervention length of one year likely helped to establish habits, but he questions what that will look like in another year. He said smartphone apps might be used more in the future for intervention, but they're more effective in conjunction with professional health advice.

"We're kind of teaching people to swim faster in unsafe water," he said. "Maybe we need to build a safer swimming environment rather than just teaching everyone to swim faster."

Contact the writer:

(509) 459-5439

treval@spokesman.com

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Copyright 2018 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

HUNTINGTON — Commissioner Judy MacLeod thinks Conference USA men's basketball is better than the national perception and she wants it to get more respect.

To try to achieve that, C-USA went with a unique scheduling format.

"It's really just one of our strategic initiatives to improve basketball, MacLeod said in a Monday interview at the C-USA Basketball Tip-Off event in Frisco, Texas. "I know our basketball is better than what some perceive it to be. We've had great success in the NCAA tournament. We had half our programs win 20-plus games last year.

C-USA actually had six 20-game winners last season among its 14 members, but MacLeod's point was made.

Of the six big winners, only Marshall University (25-11) got into the NCAA tournament, and the Thundering Herd received an automatic ticket as the conference tournament winner. C-USA was represented by only one NCAA tournament team for the sixth consecutive season. There is a 68-team field playing for the national championship — 32 automatic qualifiers and 36 at-large picks by the NCAA Selection Committee.

Marshall's victory in the 2018 NCAA tournament against Wichita State made it five out of six years C-USA had a first-round winner.

"We embarked on some strategic initiatives, hired Mark Adams [TV analyst and former coach] as a consultant and this year we are trying a new schedule, MacLeod said.

The goal of the scheduling format is to enhance resumes of teams by playing additional quality games within the conference season, a C-USA release said.

Each team will play every other team in the conference once and play their designated travel partner twice in the first 14 games of the conference season before a reset that ranks the teams based on the standings. C-USA's best five (1 through 5), middle five (6-10) and bottom four (11-14) will be grouped together for four games in the final three weeks of the regular season for an 18-game conference schedule.

"We don't get enough Top 50, Top 100 games and so now we're going to make sure our Top 50 and Top 100 conference members play each other twice instead of once, MacLeod said.

For conference tournament seeding purposes, teams will be locked in within their group. For example a team in the middle (6-10 group) will be seeded no higher than six and no lower than 10.

She mentioned some other reasons for the new wrinkle, such as having good television games late in the season and excitement for fans. Also, only 12 teams get in the C-USA tournament and the bottom four are playing for those spots.

The C-USA tournament returns to Frisco, Texas, for the second year March 13-16 at the Dallas Cowboys' training facility at the Ford Center at The Star, and once again two courts will be set up side-by-side with two games going on at the same time.

MacLeod said the rare setting had a real championship feel.

"It didn't look like you walked into an AAU tournament gym, which some people were saying, she said.

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Copyright 2018 The Columbus Dispatch
All Rights Reserved

The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

 

The criminal trespass case that launched a summer of turmoil and engulfed the Ohio State football program in controversy ended quietly Tuesday in Delaware County Municipal Court.

On May 12, Zach Smith, an assistant OSU football coach, was accused of violating a protection order involving his ex-wife, Courtney Smith.

As a result, Powell police filed criminal trespass and disorderly conduct charges against Zach Smith on May 22.

On Tuesday, the Smiths, their attorneys, Delaware City Prosecutor Melissa Schiffel and Powell Police Chief Gary Vest reached a memorandum of understanding that resolved the criminal case.

The city prosecutor agreed that the criminal trespass charge would be dropped. Zach Smith pleaded guilty to a reduced minor misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct and will pay $150 in court costs.

Courtney Smith was granted a three-year civil protection order, to which Zach Smith agreed. The memorandum mentions the "need to ensure the continued protection of Ms. (Courtney) Smith."

Zach Smith, 34, was fired in July by head coach Urban Meyer over those criminal charges as well as allegations that Smith had abused Courtney Smith when they were married.

Meyer's response to questions about Zach Smith at a Big Ten media event prompted news stories that questioned whether Meyer had ignored domestic violence complaints connected with the Smiths' troubled marriage. Those included an incident in Powell in 2015 that did not result in charges months before the couple divorced in 2016.

Ohio State University's Board of Trustees ordered an investigation, and Meyer was suspended for three games without pay for failing to properly supervise Zach Smith. Athletic Director Gene Smith also was suspended for three weeks without pay in connection with the case.

Meyer admitted that his fondness for Zach Smith — the grandson of former Ohio State football coach Earle Bruce, who was Meyer's mentor — was the root of his failures in this case.

On Tuesday, all parties agreed in the memorandum that there was no violence and no threats of violence connected with the May 12 incident. On that day, Zach Smith was supposed to return one of their two children to Courtney Smith in a public place near her Powell apartment by 8 p.m.

When Zach Smith was late, Courtney Smith advised Zach Smith not to come to her apartment, but Zach Smith drove his truck into her driveway. Zach Smith did not get out of his truck at any time or threaten her at any time, the agreement says.

"All parties acknowledge that this resolution is best so that they individually and their children are not the subject of further media attention, and that Ms. Smith continues to be protected by the civil protection order," the memorandum states.

After the court case was resolved Tuesday, Zach Smith took to social media to share his thoughts and to lash out at former ESPN and current Stadium.com reporter Brett McMurphy over his reporting on Smith's case.

"She wasn't awarded anything," Smith said in a Twitter response to McMurphy. "I requested the mutual order for life. Ask my attorney. They told me to just do a 3-year."

jwoods@dispatch.com

@Woodsnight

dnarciso@dispatch.com

@DeanNarciso

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Copyright 2018 The Columbus Dispatch
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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

 

Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer is hesitant to name any deadlines with respect to the potential purchase of Crew SC by a group that includes Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam and the Edwards family of Columbus.

That reluctance comes in part because he knows had he tried last year to predict a timeline by which Crew SC's future would have been finalized, he would have been wrong.

"I would have guessed if we were at this point in time and we didn't have a team, that we would be dead in the water," Fischer said. "Turns out, we're not."

MLS announced Oct. 12 that the prospective ownership group had made "significant progress" with a committed MLS toward securing Crew SC's future in Columbus.

As the group works through the final steps to push a deal across the finish line, it knows the 2019 season is looming. It also knows, however, it can't rush toward arbitrary deadlines, especially with an ownership group that formed only recently.

"It's not like we haven't been thinking about it for the last year, but it has only been a week that we've known definitely that we've got an ownership group that came together that has been approved by the league to do this transaction," Fischer said. "It's now all hands on deck with MLS and the ownership group to think through a myriad of details."

One of those details pertains to the Crew's long-term home, as Mapfre Stadium on the Ohio State Fairgrounds continues to age and the team's lease with the state runs out in 2023.

A stadium on privately owned land west of Huntington Park in the Arena District has long been discussed as a possibility, but Fischer said "there are a number of really great sites" and reiterated that this early in the prospective ownership group's existence, no final decisions have been made.

"We're not going to rush it. We've got to get it right," Fischer said, adding that a location close to Downtown is a priority. "You want this to leverage (a growing downtown population and atmosphere) and you want to enhance all of that. Therefore, you're not going to put a stadium out at Buckeye Lake."

For all of the work that still needs to be done to complete a deal with MLS, Fischer recognizes the progress Columbus has made with respect to its MLS future since last October.

It started with an ownership group committed to both Columbus and Ohio.

"At some point in time, members of the Haslam organization had a conversation with MLS officials" at a gathering of NFL owners in California, Fischer said. "I was told of that and I've got a long history (with the Haslams) and picked up the telephone. At that point, they were kind of watching it and curious (about MLS)."

Fischer said there were others interested in the possibility of joining a prospective Crew SC ownership group but that the Partnership and others in the city worked with MLS to form "the best possible" ownership group with individuals that were a "cultural fit" with respect to the needs of an MLS team.

As the potential new owners and MLS work toward an agreement, it also marks a significant transformation in the relationship between the league and Columbus decision-makers, which in late 2017 and early this year was icy, to put it mildly.

After a while, "We were acknowledging that if there was any hope that anything was going to get done, we both needed to tone it down a little bit and start working collaboratively," Fischer said. "That was a good sign back in the spring."

A subtle olive branch from both parties, while not immediately noticeable, helped set the stage for what could soon be a new Crew.

aerickson@dispatch.com

@AEricksonCD

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
All Rights Reserved

The Salt Lake Tribune

 

University of Utah senior Lauren McCluskey had discovered the man she was dating was a registered sex offender.

She broke off their relationship on Oct. 9, her mother said, and when the man, Melvin S. Rowland, began harassing her days later, McCluskey told university police.

Monday night, Rowland went to campus and shot and killed McCluskey, a 21-year-old heptathlete on the U.'s track team. Rowland fled and fatally shot himself early Tuesday at a Salt Lake City church, police said.

The university's police chief said Tuesday that his officers couldn't find Rowland in the days before the shooting. But Rowland was on parole - and a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections said officials knew where he was living.

Parole officials also say that university police did not tell them that McCluskey alleged Rowland was harassing her. When parolees are accused of new crimes, they often can be arrested for violating parole and sent back to prison; Rowland had repeatedly been returned to prison for violations.

The university's police chief, Dale Brophy, said at a Tuesday news conference his officers couldn't locate Rowland because "we don't have a correct address for him." Brophy said Rowland had walked away from a halfway house.

But Kaitlin Felsted, a spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Corrections, said no one told its parole agents that there had been a complaint about Rowland, 37.

"We had no notification of any of that," Felsted said.

And Rowland was living, Felsted said, at the Salt Lake City address listed on the sex offender registry. An agent had done an inspection there in August and had been in contact with Rowland more recently than that, Felsted said.

As a felon, Rowland was prohibited from having a gun. Brophy did not comment on investigations into how Rowland obtained the weapon.

Asked at the news conference if his department had done enough to protect McCluskey, Brophy replied, "I want the answer to that question as well. And when we have it, I'll share it with you."

Felsted on Tuesday said Rowland was "not fully compliant" with his latest parole. He had technical violations but not the kind that would automatically return him to prison. Felsted didn't specify what those were.

"He was working with his agent to get through those" violations, Felsted said.

Through a campus spokesman, Brophy declined to answer follow-up questions later Tuesday. The spokesman, Chris Nelson, said the chief would hold another news conference in the next 48 to 72 hours.

'I heard her yell'

On Monday night, McCluskey had left a night class and was on her way home to her apartment on campus as she spoke to her mother, Jill, an economics professor at Washington State University.

Jill McCluskey said in a statement Tuesday, "Suddenly, I heard her yell, 'No, no, no!' I thought she might have been in a car accident. That was the last I heard from her."

McCluskey's father, Matthew, a WSU physics professor, called 911, the statement said, as Jill McCluskey stayed on the line with McCluskey's phone.

"In a few minutes, a young woman picked up the phone and said all of Lauren's things were on the ground," the statement said.

University police responded to a report of a possible abduction about 820 p.m., and after reports of gunshots, they discovered McCluskey's body in a car parked outside the south tower of the Medical Plaza.

Rowland ran from the scene; Brophy said police believe he left campus "within a half hour of the initial call." A person who picked up Rowland and drove him away from campus was interviewed but was not taken into custody, Brophy said.

About 1150 p.m., police said Rowland had left the university and "is no longer a threat to campus."

Police later spotted Rowland and pursued him to Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church, at 239 E. 600 South. He broke down the back door of the church and shot himself in the pastor's study, according to the Rev. Nurjhan Govan, a retired pastor at the church.

Rowland's body was discovered around 130 a.m., police said. University officials issued an all clear at 1:47 a.m.

"To the best of our knowledge," Govan said, Rowland never attended Trinity AME Church. "He is a stranger to us. We don't know why he chose Trinity as a place of refuge."

Brophy said McCluskey did not have a protective order against Rowland. He repeatedly declined to discuss specifics of the reports McCluskey made to his department and its investigation.

According to McCluskey's parents, she had dated Rowland for about a month when a friend discovered his identity and his past. Their statement said he had lied about his name, his age and his criminal history.

In 2003, Rowland was charged in state court with offenses that records say happened within two days of each other.

According to an audio recording of Rowland's 2010 parole hearing, he was in an online chat room in September 2003 and agreed to meet for sex with a person he thought was a 13-year-old girl. He was actually communicating with an investigator from the Utah attorney general's office.

During the investigation, detectives learned Rowland, then age 21, had two days earlier chatted with a 17-year-old girl and met her at her parent's house. According to what Rowland admitted to in the parole hearing, he and the girl engaged in some sexual contact, but she did not want to have sex and told him to leave. Rowland refused to leave and forced her to have intercourse, he acknowledged.

In that case, he was accused of a felony count of attempted forcible sexual abuse. In the second case, he was charged with a felony count of enticing a minor over the internet.

He pleaded guilty the following year in both cases. For the sexual abuse charge, he was sentenced to up to five years in prison, with a concurrent term of one to 15 years in the enticement case.

'Manipulative cycle'

The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole provided audio recordings of Rowland's parole hearings Tuesday. According to discussions in those hearings, Rowland was born and largely raised in New York.

He was adopted by what one parole hearing officer described as an older couple who died when Rowland was still young. The state of New York placed Rowland in a group home. He later was sent to a school in Boulder, Colo., and earned a high school diploma or certificate.

Rowland spent time at a Buddhist institute in Berkeley, Calif., according to one parole hearing, and then enrolled in JobCorps in Clearfield, Utah. He later studied for a year at Salt Lake County Community College and for two semesters at the University of Utah.

Rowland spent his youth, he admitted in one parole hearing, as a "womanizer" who would lie to women to get them to have sex. During sex-offender treatment, he admitted to having an attraction to underage girls and vulnerable women and said he would seek them out.

"I'd say every woman I met or that I came across I used my manipulation tactics to get what I wanted," Rowland said in a 2012 hearing.

"How many people did you out and out rape like the one young lady?" the hearing officer asked.

"I'd say," Rowland replied, "similar to [the 17-year-old], I'd say two."

According to the hearings, when the prison sent him to the San Juan County jail for sex-offender treatment, he manipulated an employee there to gain internet access.

He was later discharged from treatment for lying to its staff and failing to be forthcoming about his crimes. His failure to finish the program was a factor in why he was not granted parole in 2010. He completed treatment in April 2012 and was paroled the following July.

He returned to prison that September. The recordings show Rowland initially wouldn't allow his parole agent to search his phone, and when the phone was searched, it showed he had started a Facebook account and viewed pornography. The parole board had said he couldn't engage in either activity.

The parole board released Rowland again in September 2013. He was returned to prison Feb. 17, 2016, after his agent discovered Rowland had been using social media to meet women for sex. When he returned to prison, according to an episode relayed during the hearing, Rowland said he didn't want to be paroled again.

A lawyer representing Rowland read a report during the hearing that said "if an agent were to come conduct a field visit, he might become violent."

The hearing officer, Pegeen Stewart, noted a pattern of Rowland lying and breaking rules for sex.

"I think you have, like, a manipulative cycle," Stewart said.

Rowland said he was done pursuing vulnerable women for sex. As for the threat of hurting a parole agent, he said he was frustrated and didn't mean it. Rowland was paroled again on April 17 of this year.

Rowland's sentence was set to expire in May 2019.

Peggy Fletcher Stack and Kurt Kragthorpe contributed to this report.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
All Rights Reserved

The Washington Times

 

COLLEGE PARK — Maryland interim coach Matt Canada answered three "football questions" about the Terrapins' loss to Iowa last week and the upcoming game against Illinois before the topic turned, as it has for weeks, to the fate of D.J. Durkin.

With no word for weeks on the future of his suspended boss, the program's head coach, Canada was asked about keeping the team focused on football. He has had to face questions like that all season.

"The opportunities to play are so small in our game," Canada said. "You get 12 guaranteed chances to play games. That's it. So to spend time on anything else would be a disservice to them and how hard they've worked and the opportunities they have to play. I think they're focused on each other. Proud of them for that."

As Canada held his weekly press conference Tuesday in College Park, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents met in closed session in Baltimore to continue deliberating the findings of their investigation into Durkin and the culture of "fear and intimidation" that critics say led to the heat-stroke death of player Jordan McNair earlier this year.

The university system said in a press release it "expects to publicly share findings from the independent commission investigation and to announce any initial decisions and/or recommendations from the board" within a week of the regents' Tuesday meeting.

The regents are weighing a report, delivered Friday at their scheduled meeting, from an eight-person investigatory commission that includes Washington Redskins executive Doug Williams, former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich; sports journalist and Maryland alumna Bonnie Bernstein and two retired federal judges, among others.

The regents went into closed session Friday after accepting the commission's report and decided to hold a special meeting Tuesday to continue discussions. University of Maryland president Wallace D. Loh announced the creation of that commission in August, when it was only going to be four members, but the board of regents soon voted to take authority over the commission out of Loh's hands. The Washington Post also reported this week that the board has "refused" to share the commission's findings with Loh.

It could spell trouble for the embattled university president, who has served in that position since 2010. Loh said in August the university takes "legal and moral responsibility" for the training staff's mistakes the day McNair collapsed during a football practice. McNair was hospitalized and died two weeks later.

But the commission's report is separate from the investigation into the specific events leading to McNair's death that report was released in full in September. This investigation is expected to address allegations of a toxic culture under Durkin which were first reported by ESPN in August.

The commission could recommend the university fire Durkin and perhaps athletic director Damon Evans. Some parents of Maryland players have come out in support of Durkin in anonymous comments to the media, but more parents have said they want to see him out.

It creates a tricky environment for the 4-3 Terrapins and their temporary leader. All season, Canada has been careful to correct people who call him Maryland's head coach, insisting he is the offensive coordinator. Canada said Tuesday the staff does not try to make players avoid news coverage of the scandal.

"There's no way to keep anything out in our world right now," Canada said. "We're not gonna tell them what to read. But I think they've done a better job than anybody else of sticking together and focusing on what they're doing, focusing on football, focusing on each other, focusing on mourning the loss of a teammate."

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

For debilitated and often-broke former football players and their families, the NFL's agreement to pay more than $1 billion in a settlement for victims of chronic brain trauma appeared to be the end of the battle that had consumed them for years.

The money was supposed to provide a measure of peace and stability for the wives, widows and children of tormented players who had died young or are fading away in nursing homes. Not disclosed, however, is the significant portion of the fund that is being withheld from those it was promised.

As the award notifications begin to trickle out, some of the recipients have been stunned to find they might receive just pennies on the dollar of what they're owed, likely setting off another spate of frustrating court battles.

Some have even received notices that show pending payments in the negative.

Sarah Goldston, the 90-year-old widow of Ralph Goldston — who was one of the first black players on the Philadelphia Eagles in 1952 before Alzheimer's set in during his retirement — learned this month that their family had been awarded $160,000 from the settlement. But that preliminary award dwindled to about negative $737 after deductions and "holdbacks," including thousands the court has kept in case the family owes money for Ralph's medical bills.

"I thought they made a mistake," Ralph's daughter, Ursula Goldston, said after seeing the family might receive nothing because of the pending liens, which email correspondences show might have been withheld in error. "I just cannot believe these people did that."

USA TODAY reviewed documents or interviewed families in a dozen cases of former players whose settlement projections have been similarly reduced. Money that the former players or their family members had counted on will instead, for now, remain in the NFL's settlement fund or will be redirected to insurance companies, lawyers, credit card companies or others who have placed a lien on the awards in an effort to secure a piece of the payout.

The payout determinations are not final. Court officials and lawyers are sorting through the lienholders' claims, while players can also appeal their deductions for an additional cost of $1,000. Out of 20,000 players involved in the suit, less than 700 have been approved for payment so far.

Some of the former players, as well as outside observers, blame in part lawyers who have filed liens seeking a large percentage of the awards even though they did minimal work on the case or recruited players with false promises after the settlement was reached.

USA TODAY reviewed letters in which former attorneys, who were fired before the case settled, demanded as much as 25 percent of a player's award for as little as 15 months of work. The firms indicated in the letters that their work product amounted to "considerable time and effort." They say they deserve fair compensation for helping qualify players to receive a settlement and that the lien is largely a fight with the new lawyer over fees.

John C. Coffee Jr., a professor at Columbia Law School, reviewed a sample of the settlement payout notices obtained by USA TODAY. He said if attorneys who did little work are demanding large chunks of a player's award, that amounts to "unjust enrichment."

"That's where you should be outraged," he said.

'Patently unfair'

It's now on those players to dispute the work their old lawyers put in, and a magistrate judge will ultimately decide if and how much of a cut they will get.

The settlement terms created a formula for each player's specific case and then a court administrator decides how much of the settlement fund to disperse, while holding back any money contested in a lien.

As of this month, payouts in the settlement total almost $570 million, according to a claims administrator. Though it includes claims the NFL has appealed, the high dollar figure has been touted by both sides as evidence that the settlement is already compensating players.

The specific dollar amounts withheld from players had not been reported until now. Those involved will not release what share of the total payouts are actually deductions and disputed liens.

Jim Acho, a Michigan attorney who has represented roughly three dozen retired players, said his clients have said they are stunned by the holdbacks.

He called some of the deductions "patently unfair" and said they "eviscerate a big chunk of the payment," leaving his clients with a fraction of what they expected.

"When it really hits home for them is when you are sent the breakdown of the payout by the claims administrator," Acho said. He added that his clients have likened the reduced payouts to being "punched in the gut."

Craig Mitnick, a lawyer whose firm co-represents more than 1,000 players in the class-action, said he now regrets publicly championing the agreement when it was first announced. Clients who fought for years to get a piece of the settlement have seen their potential payouts reduced to the low thousands, or even to nothing, by the holdbacks, he said.

"These players didn't know what they were getting into," Mitnick said. "The settlement is not what we thought it was."

Players and their families who spoke with USA TODAY said the withheld payouts are the latest insult in a years-long battle to hold the NFL, the world's highest-earning sports league, accountable for brain injuries incurred during playing careers. The league long denied connections between the sport and lasting brain injury and, the suit claimed, failed to warn players or do what it could to protect them from head trauma caused by hard hits, leading to a condition now known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

Plaintiffs have complained in the past that the legal battle against the NFL has been full of trapdoors and fine print that has tested resolve and stretched bank accounts, all while dealing with the devastating long-term impact of careers spent in football. Some had to unearth decades-old proof of their playing days and medical history before fighting through audits, appeals and narrow diagnosis criteria to show the court they deserved part of the settlement.

"A lot of people would have given up by now," Ursula Goldston said. She and her family corralled decades-old paperwork documenting her father's illness from past doctors. They got letters from neighbors who witnessed Ralph declining. One saw him standing by himself outside in the Ohio winter, freezing and confused, years ago. He stopped bathing and caring for himself. He lashed out at his wife in fits of rage.

"I'm not giving up," Goldston said, "because my mother deserves this money."

Different from other settlements

The terms of the class-action settlement are a result of negotiations between lawyers representing the players as a whole and those for the NFL. In interviews, many of those on the players' side faulted Chris Seeger, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, for negotiating settlement terms that they said opened the door for holdbacks without safeguards to ensure players don't leave empty-handed.

In a letter sent to USA TODAY, Seeger wrote that the court accepted the terms and payout structure. He pointed to the hundreds of millions in approved payouts as evidence that the settlement was "working effectively."

"It is required by law" to hold back funds until medical liens are resolved, Seeger wrote. He added that no players whose medical liens had been finalized had received a negative payout.

"All of the criticisms you repeat have been aired previously, considered by the court, and rejected," he wrote.

In other high-profile class-action cases with large settlements, the parties negotiated the ability to increase award amounts to make sure deserving victims did not see their payouts diminished, said Kenneth Feinberg, an attorney who has administered class-action settlements, including one stemming from the September 11 attacks.

"We had broad discretion to prevent the injustice of an eligible member getting nothing due to the cold calculation of a formula," Feinberg said.

Similar steps were not taken to ensure NFL players won't walk away with very low or no awards.

"I'm afraid that wasn't part of the negotiating," said Larry Coben, a lawyer for the plaintiffs involved in reaching the terms of the settlement.

The NFL declined to make a league official available for an interview. In a statement, the league did not address the issue of depleted awards but said, "The settlement program is working as intended, and we will continue to work in good faith to pay all approved claims under this settlement, which has been thoughtfully and thoroughly negotiated by the parties and approved by multiple courts."

Coben defended the broader terms of this deal, which has been criticized by debilitated former players as too full of exclusions and provisions, as "not a one-time shot."

"Ten to 15 years from now, if their condition worsens, they could apply again and potentially get a benefit," Coben said.

Echoing an opinion of the federal judge overseeing the settlement, Coben justified the holdbacks as a measure to negotiate down liens and prevent players from later getting sued by medical providers or other entities. It's not uncommon for large, public settlements like this to open the door for third parties who think they are due a cut. Health care plans with hospitals, insurance providers and Medicare often specify some sort of repayment should a patient ever win a windfall settlement meant to help cover the cost of care.

Some of the payout notices reviewed by USA TODAY show initial awards calculated by the administrator reduced to nothing after all the pending lien holdbacks.

After Gordon Smith, a Minnesota Vikings tight end who played in the 1960s, went through a formula that calculated his age at the time of his Alzheimer's diagnosis, degree of illness, years in the league and medical history, the courts administrator awarded him $183,000 for his brain trauma.

But because private insurance had covered some of the costs related to his care, the courts administrator held back all but $4,600.

Smith's wife, Maetha, who spoke on Gordon's behalf, said she was shocked at the amount after seeing the public statements about large payouts from the NFL and lawyers who negotiated the settlement.

"We were hearing hundreds of thousands," she said. "This settlement is minuscule."

The administrator awarded Barbara Stark $100,000 in a settlement for her husband, Ed Cooke, a defensive end on five teams in the 1960s who later developed Alzheimer's. After holdbacks for pending liens, the final figure showed Cooke is slated to receive negative $200.

Andrew Stewart, a 52-year-old former linebacker who has Parkinson's disease, said that angry phone calls and messages are circulating among retired players and their wives after receiving notices detailing their settlement payouts.

"It's shocking what the offsets are," said Stewart, who was on the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers from 1989 through 1993. He saw his own potential award drop from $3 million to $750,000 after the administrator reduced the amount of seasons he was credited for because he missed time with injuries. He has not yet received his claim determination because his case is tied up in appeals, he said.

"I've heard of guys receiving a tenth of what they were going to get," Stewart said. "Nobody's getting what they thought they were getting."

Officials working on the claim distribution said many of the liens placed on players' payouts are from former lawyers, some of whom were fired before the class-action litigation even began.

Sandra Irvin, speaking on behalf of her husband, Darrell, a defensive lineman for the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks in the early 1980s who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, called her fired attorney's $200,000 lien an affront.

"I think we got a total of three phone calls from them," Irvin said. "What a joke."

Contributing: A.J. Perez

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Copyright 2018 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

SALT LAKE CITY — Even as she sent a message to her players, Utah volleyball coach Beth Launiere worried that her initial reaction to reports of a shooting on the U. campus Monday night may have been a bit overprotective.

"Immediately, the first thing I did last night was send a message out to (my players) and ask them to confirm that they were all safe and sound," said Launiere, tears welling in her eyes as she talked about learning that University of Utah track athlete Lauren McCluskey had been shot and killed near her on-campus apartment Monday night. "I felt like, 'Am I being an overbearing mother right now?' And then when I heard it was a student-athlete, I mean, I would have done it regardless, but it just hit home.... I just felt good knowing they were all safe."

University officials canceled classes, but for McCluskey's fellow student-athletes, deciding whether to take a break from the demands of training and preparing for competitions was a complicated maze of grief, fear and shock.

"We had practice scheduled for this afternoon," said Utah women's basketball coach Lynne Roberts. "We met at 11 and decided we'd go from there.... There is no game plan for dealing with something like this. We just kind of had a conversation about what happened (and what resources were available to them). They talked about what they thought, how they felt. We had some kids who lived in the dorms and the apartments where this happened, and they shared how scary it was. They were a somber, stoic, kind of shocked group of young people."

She asked her players if they wanted to practice, and they said yes.

"I didn't even get back to my office, when the strength and conditioning coach called and said we had about eight kids break down," Roberts said. "It just hit them. One of us was killed last night. So we canceled everything."

Instead of breaking down plays, the girls met with counselors.

"The discussion did go toward relationship violence, looking out for one another and what to do if something doesn't feel right," Roberts said. "But Lauren did that. That's what's so hard. Here you have this athlete who is bright, talented, pretty.... And this university is very close-knit. We're separate teams, but we're all one team. This could have been one of my athletes. They're thinking this is one of my teammates.... Because this is a really tight-knit place, these types of things really reverberate hard."

The pain was palpable across the campus, but most acutely in the vicinity of the athletics department and team offices. McCluskey's coach canceled a press conference, choosing to issue a statement instead, as the anguish was overwhelming.

"Everyone associated with our program is devastated by the loss of Lauren," Utah track and cross-country coach Kyle Kepler said in his statement. "There are no words to express the emotions and grief we are experiencing right now."

His description of McCluskey echoed the sentiments shared by her mother, Jill McCluskey, in an email sent to KSL Radio Tuesday morning.

"Lauren was a wonderful person, an excellent student and a dedicated member of our track and field team," said Kepler, who has coached the women's programs for 14 years. "She showed a relentless drive to improve every day over the last three and a half years and was always kind and supportive of her teammates. Those are just some of the reasons why her loss has hit us so hard."

Launiere, whose team is preparing for a home match against No. 19 Washington State tonight, said her players had spent a lot of time talking about their feelings and their fears, as well.

"One of our players lives in the same apartment building, so she was really affected," Launiere said. "We were in touch with all of our players who live in campus this morning, and then throughout the day, I've had several players who've come in to take advantage of the counseling. They had counseling for all the student-athletes available in the Varsity Room."

Launiere said they had counselors come talk to all of the players, even those who didn't seek help.

"We wanted them to know how to handle and how to deal with something like this," she said. "And to let them know that whatever your feelings are, they're real and it's OK." There are no boundaries for the discussions and no timelines for those struggling.

"We're just going to take it day by day," Roberts said. "There is nothing you can do to put this in a box, and like 'OK, we dealt with that.' These are young people who don't have a whole lot of life experience yet. It can be really, really traumatic."

In an effort to help all university students and staff, U. President Ruth Watkins issued a statement that counseling services for students would be available through the Counseling Center, while Human Resources arranged for the Employee Assistance Program to provide counseling for staff and faculty.

There are a number of free resources available to any student or faculty.

Today, a vigil will be held at 5 p.m. on the steps of the Park Building. All are welcome to attend.

Handwritten notes for McCluskey's family will be accepted at the vigil and also at the office of the dean of students, 270 Union Building.

Lauren McCluskey Memorial Fund: https://giving.utah.edu/lauren-mccluskey/

In memoriam condolences: https://continuum.utah.edu/ lauren-mccluskey/

A GoFundMe page was started by Utah alum Nick Holland to help with funeral expenses.

"It hit home because I'm a Utah alumni," Holland said. "I just felt this heartache and sympathy for her parents and what her family is going through. It hit kind of hard.... Our goal was to try to fund her entire funeral, somewhere right around $10,000."

In just a few hours, Utah, and even some BYU fans, had contributed more than $8,000. Holland said he's working with the dean of students to either give the family a check or turn control of the page over to them.

The Utah women's volleyball match, which begins at 7 p.m. and is the featured Pac-12 match of the week, was supposed to be a Pink Game honoring breast cancer survivors. Instead, those festivities will occur Friday when the Utes host No. 21 Washington; today they will honor McCluskey instead.

"It's tough that we're playing tomorrow," Launiere said, noting the players and staff are always discussing student-athlete safety and support.

All of the coaches expect these will be conversations that will continue indefinitely.

"There is no time limit on grief," she said. "It's just tragic."

Roberts said she hopes the focus will remain on what a wonderful, accomplished young woman was lost on Monday night.

"I hope through this whole story, the attention it's getting, that the focus will be on Lauren," she said. "And not this sick, evil predator that doesn't deserve any of our time or any of your ink.... It's just so unnecessary. I just feel sick for everybody."

EMAIL: adonaldson@deseretnews.com

TWITTER: adonsports

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Copyright 2018 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
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The Philadelphia Daily News

 

WHILE A REPORT from the Temple News says university officials will talk with the Eagles about a potential lease extension at Lincoln Financial Field, that is apparently news to the Eagles.

Bill Bergman, Temple vice president for public affairs, told the newspaper that the university will begin talks by the end of the year. But the sides have yet to talk, Patrick J. O'Connor, Temple's board chairman, told the Daily News and Inquirer. His story was confirmed by a person familiar with the Eagles' position.

Temple's original 15-year lease with the Eagles to play at the Linc expired at the end of the 2017 season, and the university signed two one-year extensions to continue the agreement for this season and 2019.

Temple had hoped to build an on-campus stadium for the football team by the start of the 2020 season, but that is not realistic at this point.

The school has yet to get approval for astadium from Darrell Clarke, the City Council president and 5th District councilman whose district overlaps with the location Temple chose for the 35,000-seat stadium, which is projected to cost $130 million.

So for now the best course of action, O'Connor said, is to set up a meeting with the Eagles.

"We do not have a meeting set up yet with the Eagles," O'Connor said in aphone interview Tuesday. "We have not had recent contact with the Eagles, but they are aware of our predicament. Even if a stadium got approved tomorrow, we still wouldn't be ready for 2020."

A source familiar with the situation from the Eagles said Temple had not reached out to the defending Super Bowl champions since the 2019 extension was signed during the fall of 2017.

One source said looking off-campus to build the stadium is a possibility, especially because the project hasn't been approved. O'Connor said that was premature.

"Our people are being asked to look at potential sites for a stadium," hesaid.

When asked who is trying to persuade Temple to look at potential sites, O'Connor said: "Developers are all over us. We have had multiple inquirers of building a stadium in certain areas."

Still, the original plan is the one that Temple wants.

"My primary goal and wish is to have a stadium on campus," O'Connor said.

An Eagles spokesman declined to comment on any potential negotiations with Temple.

 

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

Positive feedback and a productive meeting with then-Clemson athletics director Terry Don Phillips late in the 2008 season left Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster feeling good enough about his chances to land the Tigers' head coach vacancy that he brought the opportunity to his three children.

We're excited for you, his kids replied. And then, Foster recalled, they asked a question: But if you get the job, can we still have season tickets to Virginia Tech games?

"That's when you know you've rooted your kids in one place," Foster said. "They would've been happy for me, but I don't think they ever would've been Tiger fans. I think they would've been Virginia Tech Hokies all their life."

Foster would miss out on the Clemson job — it would go to then-interim coach Dabo Swinney — but remain a Virginia Tech institution. This season marks his 32nd year with the Hokies, making Foster the program's dependable constant during the transition from Frank Beamer to Justin Fuente and one of college football's true rarities: the longtime, single-team assistant coach.

There aren't many in the Football Bowl Subdivision, with most situated in programs with rare coaching continuity. The staff at Iowa, for example, where Kirk Ferentz has served as head coach since 1999, has four assistants with at least 15 seasons of tenure with the program. Three assistants have spent at least 17 years at TCU, where Gary Patterson has served as the Horned Frogs head coach since 2000. Half the coaching staff at Ohio has at least 10 seasons of experience with the Bobcats, with both coordinators spanning the duration of Frank Solich's 13-year tenure.

In excelling in a specific role — as a coordinator or position coach — these longtime assistants represent the outliers in a profession that engages in a raucous game of musical chairs each offseason, with rising salaries and quick-trigger firings often leading talented assistants to hopscotch between jobs and programs in chase of the ultimate end goal: becoming a head coach.

"It seems like everybody is in a rush to become that head coach as opposed to staying at the position that they're in, that they're very good at," West Virginia AD Shane Lyons said. "Let's face it, the salaries for head coaches are very high in some situations. So everybody's looking to say, 'Hey, that's where I want to be, to be a Power Five head coach.' That's the enticement as well."

The "natural progression" is to rise from position coach to coordinator to head coach, said Cincinnati's Luke Fickell, a longtime assistant at Ohio State, "and if you're not a head coach then you're not head coach material."

"Sometimes you can't be chasing something that you don't really have a passion for just because of the title or money," said Fickell, who spent 15 years with the Buckeyes. "I never prepared for it, I never did some of the things you have to do. Because deep down inside, you said that because that's what the media wanted to hear. In reality, if it's not your true passion, then I don't think it's going to work."

In a sense, it's easier, and more lucrative, than ever to remain an assistant coach. Salaries among assistants have soared in recent years, particularly among Power Five coordinators, to the point where key assistants at major programs earn more than most head coaches on the Group of Five level. LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda is making $2.5 million a year for the Tigers, more than at least 73 FBS head coaches in 2017. But when he was hired in 2016, LSU marked Aranda's fourth stop in six seasons. Aranda's path, which seems destined to eventually hand the 42-year-old control of his own program, is more common than not on college football's highest level.

On the other hand, assistants such as Foster have decided to be picky. "The grass wasn't always greener on the other side for me," he said.

There was the shot at Clemson. He was a finalist for the opening at Virginia that eventually went to Al Groh. He considered Pittsburgh, which would go on to hire Todd Graham, and could have traded in his role as the leader of the Virginia Tech defense for several openings on the Group of Five level.

"I've seen a lot of coaches move," said defensive coordinator Phil Parker, who has spent two decades at Iowa. "I didn't want to be one of those guys who moved around and had my kids in a whole bunch of different spots, different houses. I wanted my kids to grow up in one area and go to one school."

Few assistant coaches have the luxury of such job security. Nearly a third of FBS head coaches were hired within the past two seasons; each change at head coach results in a staff-wide shake-up that casts aside one crop of assistants in favor of another. For every Foster or Parker, there are dozens of assistants pinballing from one program to the next as part of staffs let go due to unrealized expectations.

Meanwhile, single-program assistants face a different battle: judging any outside opportunities that almost inevitably arise, including the chance to run their own programs, and battling against the stigma seemingly attached to assistants who excel in secondary roles without ascending to become a head coach. For college coaching's rarest breed, comfort and familiarity outweigh the alternative.

"I'm confident enough in who I am and what we've done and what we've accomplished that my ego doesn't need to be driven by that title of head football coach. It really doesn't," Foster said. "I hope that makes a statement for other lifelong assistant coaches."

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Copyright 2018 Times-World, LLC
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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The pregame spat between Michigan and Michigan State is showing no signs of going away.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday the athletic directors for both schools should probably talk about what happened on Saturday before the game at Michigan State. The Spartans walked from one end zone to the other with their arms locked, as they do before each game, but it happened while some of the Wolverines were stretching near the middle of the field.

Contact was made, words were exchanged and Michigan went on to beat Michigan State 21-7.

Harbaugh called it "bush league" after the game and clearly wanted to talk more about it two days later. He said the Spartans were on the field for their traditional walk later than scheduled and were led by the strength staff with coach Mark Dantonio just behind the players.

Dantonio called the incident "B.S." after the game and addressed the situation again Sunday night.

"The whole thing to me was sort of juvenile," Dantonio said.

Michigan State said Monday the two schools were communicating about the school's pregame ritual and said it has not been a problem in Dantonio's 12 years.

 

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Football is coming to Judson, the Elgin Christian liberal arts university announced Monday. The NAIA football program has a head coach — Judson graduate Shawn Flynn ('89), a former baseball and basketball player who coaches high school football in Colorado — and intends to play a 10-game schedule beginning in the fall of 2021. "We're excited about it," said Chad Gassman, Judson athletic director and head baseball coach. "We're using football to help us with enrollment.

Athletics is an important piece to the puzzle here at Judson so adding football does help with the enrollment piece and we're not ashamed to say that. "The second piece is that football brings a campus community together. People gather at football games and around football programs." Games will not take place on campus, however. Judson football games will be played at a local high school. Negotiations with local school district officials have begun in earnest, Gassman said.

Flynn, originally from Marshalltown, Iowa, said he became aware of Judson's plan to add football last December, when he received the Distinguished Alumni Award and spoke at Fall Commencement. He is the president and managing partner of a Colorado-based advertising agency called AdPro 360. In Flynn's spare time, he is the offensive coordinator at Ponderosa High School in Parker, Colo. The Ponderosa Mustangs are 6-2 this season.

"This will be my first true head coaching experience," he said. "I feel like it's a tremendous opportunity and it's humbling. I was once recruited to Judson and I've got a pretty good understanding of the benefits of going there. I can speak personally to the players why I went there." The new coach said the program will be built in stages over the next three years. He hopes to recruit at least 30 players by next fall, enough to perhaps schedule some club-level games.

The goal is 70 players the following year, at which point the program could begin playing "true junior varsity games," Flynn said. The ultimate goal is to recruit 100 to 125 players and field a full team at the NAIA level in 2021. Gassman did not name the conference Judson will join, but it is expected the Eagles will apply for membership in the Mid-States Football Association, which counts Olivet Nazarene, Saint Xavier and St. Francis among its membership.

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Copyright 2018 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

Police in Bucks County were searching Monday for a former youth football coach who skipped a court hearing on rape and sexual assault charges.

Shannon Westmore-land, 48, who is accused of assaulting at least three minors over several years, failed to show up for jury selection for his criminal trial and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest, said Assistant District Attorney Kristin McElroy. His bail in the case was revoked, and he was charged with default of appearance.

"We want the community to know that we are actively searching for Mr. Westmoreland, and we look forward to the day we bring him to justice," McElroy said.

Paul Lang, Westmore-land's attorney, declined to comment at length about the case.

"I hope he's OK," Lang said of his client, "and I would urge him to return to Bucks County so we can defend his innocence."

Westmoreland, who also goes by the first name Shawn, was arrested in June in the assaults, which prosecutors say occurred over more than a decade. He was charged with rape, statutory sexual assault, and related offenses.

He formerly lived in Bensalem, but moved to Chester County, where local police were assisting in the search for him Monday.

Investigators have said Westmoreland was a coach with the Bensalem Ramblers Athletic Association at the time of at least one of the attacks. It's unclear whether any of the victims was connected to the association.

Police say Westmore-land assaulted a 15-year-old girl in 2005, when he coached for the association. He assaulted another girl over several years, police said, when she was between the ages of 4 and 9 or 10. Police didn't say in what years those attacks took place. He first assaulted the third victim when she was a 6-year-old in 1999, and again in 2011 when she was 18, police said.

Anyone with information on Westmoreland's whereabouts is asked to call 911.

VVella@phillynews.com

610-313-8020

@Vellastrations

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Copyright 2018 Orange County Register
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Orange County Register (California)

 

Ladera Ranch is putting hundreds of solar panels in Cox Sports Park, cutting the facility's electricity bill by more than 70 percent.

The panels in their first year are expected to generate more than $60,000 in savings for the community, according to the Ladera Ranch Maintenance Corporation's estimate.

LARMAC invested more than $400,000 in the project, which the corporation estimates will be paid for in five years. Through the panels, the corporation estimates it will have saved more than $6 million by 2043.

LARMAC Vice President Jeff Hamilton has been encouraging the use of solar panels for years as a way to save money for the master-planned community. He has the panels at his home, and has seen their benefits firsthand, he said.

"We don't even have an electric bill anymore," Hamilton said.

This is LARMAC's first solar installation project. It first looked into having the panels at clubhouses and carports, but each had its drawback, said the corporation's general manager Ken Gibson. There were limits on how many panels could be on the clubhouses' rooftops, he said.

"What we soon found, surprising to us, was that the bang for our buck was not quite there at our clubhouses," he said.

Hamilton said people didn't like the aesthetics of the panels on carports either.

Those concerns took LARMAC to Cox Sports Park's artificial turf soccer field. The park uses the most energy of any LARMAC facility, officials said.

The field does not use any electricity during the day, when electricity is at a premium.

So the electricity created by the panels goes straight to the region's power grid, giving the field credits that can be used to power its lights at night.

The panels will also provide shades for spectators at the field, Gibson said.

LARMAC would like to explore solar panels at other places in the community, albeit at a smaller scale, Gibson said. As for the park's panels, the corporation is just waiting for the signal to "flip the switch," he said.

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
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Copyright 2018 Journal Register Co.

New Haven Register (Connecticut)

 

AVON — The seven Division 1 men's college basketball coaches in Connecticut run widely disparate programs with different goals, competition levels and recruiting targets.

Each one of them, however, agree that while the NCAA must find solutions to the problems uncovered in the FBI's investigation into corruption in the sport, their programs haven't been — or won't be — affected. Rather, it's a problem at the very highest levels of college basketball — the 1-percent, if you will.

At the second annual coaches' tip-off breakfast, hosted by ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg at The Golf Club of Avon, all seven coaches were asked about the scandal that's rocked the college hoops world for the past year.

"I was in shock," Sacred Heart coach Anthony Latina said of his reaction when the FBI probe was first announced on Sept. 26, 2017. "I was like, 'Why does the FBI care about college basketball?' There are so few schools involved with that, a very small percentage of college basketball, I think. It's not something I've ever dealt with."

James Jones, entering his 20th season as head coach at Yale, concurred.

"I slept like a baby that night," he said, referring to the day the federal government announced that it had the "playbook" that sneaker companies, agents, runners and college coaches use for illicit recruiting. "If someone said to me, 'Coach, do you have $50,000 for me?' That would be kind of funny to me."

Recent revelations from the corruption trial have linked some of the nation's top programs, including Kansas and Louisville, to offering as much as six-figure payouts to coveted recruits. Louisville's Rick Pitino was fired last year in the wake of such allegations, and Kansas head man Bill Self has recently found himself in the crosshairs. Both are Hall-of-Famers.

Coaches like Latina, Jones, Fairfield's Sydney Johnson, Hartford's John Gallagher, Quinnipiac's Baker Dunleavy and Central Connecticut's Donyell Marshall operate in a different recruiting world than the Dukes and North Carolinas. Johnson remembered when the news first broke last year.

"One of my assistants called me and said, 'Coach, I'm so glad I'm at Fairfield,'" Johnson said. "Obviously, there's something going on at the elite level."

Dan Hurley was in the same waters the past eight years (two at Wagner, six at Rhode Island). Now in his first season at UConn, he's going up against the Power 5 schools for four-and five-star recruits. He figured it would be a lot "dirtier," and assumed he'd have to have some uncomfortable conversations with people looking for money. So far, however, he hasn't experienced any of that, and Hurley figures a lot has to do with his family name and the respect it has garnered in the basketball world over the years, thanks largely to his father, Bob, a Hall of Fame high school coach, and brother Bobby, a former Duke All-American now coaching Arizona State.

"I think what insulates me is my background, who my dad is," Hurley noted. "And, I don't think I'm the most approachable person with that type of thing, either. If you pay a kid, I don't understand how you can coach them. You're setting a (bad) standard for them to live their life, if you pay them."

Gallagher noted that Mark Few, head coach at Gonzaga, called him recently and told him, "For the last five years, I've tried to recruit these players and couldn't get them. I now know why."

Dunleavy and Marshall have had an inside look at the highest level of recruiting. Dunleavy played at Villanova and was Jay Wright's assistant there for seven years, earning a national championship ring in 2016. Marshall, of course, was an All-American player at UConn.

"Being a former All-American, the one thing I can hang my hat on is I've never been a part of that," Marshall said. "But it's been going on for a long time. I wasn't shocked. I'm surprised it took this long to come out. It's a difficult thing to get a handle on, but we have to, somehow. I'm not sure how it's going to be done."

Added Dunleavy: "Regardless of the verdict, we can all admit that, for the top-level programs, the system might be a little bit flawed. Now, we've got to find what adjustments we need to make."

And what are those adjustments? No one seemed to have a clear answer. The NBA recently announced that its G League will offer $125,000 contracts to a few elite high school graduates each year, though it's hard to say how much of an affect that will have.

"I don't see that as a great option, especially as we continue to do as much as we can for our student-athletes," said Hurley. "I think if we could just figure out a way to continue to progress, think progressively about how we can make the experience better at the college level, it's such a better environment for them to develop, in terms of the next 40 years of their lives as opposed to six."

Young is back for more

One way the NCAA seems to be making life a little easier for student-athletes is an increase in waivers for players to transfer or play another year. Quinnipiac was a beneficiary of the latter, when Cameron Young, who led the Bobcats in scoring last year at 18.8 points per game as a senior, was given a waiver to play one more season.

"We were really excited, not only for our team getting our leading scorer back, but just for Cam Young to get another season of college basketball," said Dunleavy. "He played in junior college, didn't play a lot his junior year, then exploded as a senior. We just felt if he could just have one more year under his belt, he deserved it. We're excited. I don't know if we necessarily expected it, but it was a pleasant surprise."

Unlike most players who seek a waiver for another year, Young didn't sit out due to an injury. He simply barely played at all as a junior, logging just eight minutes over six games and not scoring a single point.

"I think the fact there was a coaching change plays into it, too," said Dunleavy, who took over the reins from Tom Moore last season. "I think waivers in general, you're gonna see a lot more get granted here in college basketball, trying to get the players more rights. You certainly see it at different places across the country now in the fall, where kids are getting waivers as transfers."

Indeed, Waterbury product Mustapha Heron recently was granted a waiver to transfer from Auburn to St. John's to be closer to his mother. Heron is immediately eligible.

Travel plans

UConn is expected to play in the Charleston Classic, an ESPN-sponsored tournament, in November, 2019, according to a source. The eight-team tournament should feature some strong competition, including Florida, and will be played right around Thanksgiving.

The Huskies are also expected to be invited to play in the PK85 Invitational in 2022. UConn played in the inaugural PK80 Invitational last year in November out in Portland, Oregon. In between, UConn will also likely return to the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas and the Maui Invitational over the next few years.

Can you keep a secret? 

UConn will host Harvard in a "secret" scrimmage on Saturday at Gampel Pavilion. It is not open to the public or the media, but will be played in game-like conditions, with referees, scrorers, etc.

Also on Saturday, Quinnipiac will host Princeton and Yale will travel to Rutgers in a pair of closed-door scrimmages.

david.borges@hearstmediact.com

 

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Copyright 2018 Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

WEBSTER - A formergym owner defended herself against allegations she duped customers by selling long-term memberships while the sale of the business she owned for 15 years was in the works.

Nikki Holland sold Pure Fitness in leased space on Sutton Road to Everybody's Fitness Center on Oct. 4. Everybody's Fitness Center is owned by Jason Cook.

Some of Ms. Holland's former customers are irate that the business sold 12-month memberships up until the sale. She said about 10 people have asked for and received credit card refunds.

Ms. Holland explained that she continued to sell memberships up until the sale was consummated because she was obligated to continue to run her business. It was possible the sale would not go through, she said.

In an interview outside of her home last week, Ms. Holland acknowledged that the new owner "could do anything he wanted with those memberships."

But she said she was led to believe during several meetings with Mr. Cook that he would honor her advance-payment customers.

"We were under that assumption," she said, expressing regret that she didn't get it in writing as part of the purchase-and-sale agreement.

"That is the honest truth," she added.

Reached Friday, Mr. Cook said Ms. Holland's characterization was "100 percent inaccurate."

Mr. Cook's business partner, his father, Bob Cook, elaborated.

Bob Cook said the discussion centered on whether each party would absorb half of the advance payment memberships. "They said, 'Absolutely no way,' " Bob Cook said.

Ms. Holland called that version "a complete lie." She said the new owners knew what they were getting into.

Although Everbody's Fitness Club didn't see "a dime" from the advance payments sold by Ms. Holland, the new owners have taken steps to accommodate those pre-existing members.

"All the people that are in that situation, we sent them an email basically saying we'll honor their contract that they had with the Hollands, with Pure Fitness, through Dec. 31," he said.

"If they want to sign a new contract for a year, for the year of 2019, we would give them a full credit for the balance they had on that contract."

In other words, if a member has six months remaining on a 15-month membership with Pure Fitness, Everbody's Fitness Club will credit the six months toward a new membership.

Also, Everbody's Fitness Club is giving a discount on new memberships by having pre-existing customers continue to pay the Pure Fitness rate of $29 per month. Everbody's Fitness Club charges $39 a month. Brand-new customers will pay $39.

"I thought that was pretty fair," Bob Cook said.

The terms appear to be well-received by members, he said. "They're happy that we're doing something for them. I don't know what more we could do," he said.

Everbody's Fitness Club inherited more than 200 members who had paid Ms. Holland in advance, according to the Cooks, who are also allowing Webster members to use other Everbody's Fitness Club locations, in Auburn and Sturbridge.

"I don't wish any bad luck to the Hollands," Bob Cook said. "They did whatever they did for whatever reasons. It's got nothing to do with us. We're just starting from Oct. 4 and moving along as Everybody's Fitness Center."

Bob Cook said the business encourages members to pay monthly rather than in advance.

Ms. Holland said it's not a crime to sell advance memberships, and she noted she paid back five customers who paid her just before the sale.

Ms. Holland said it's been exaggerated the extent to which advance customers carried her business. She said she had 1,800 members, and most of them paid monthly. She said she signed up about 170 advance payment customers during the past year.

Ms. Holland said she began offering memberships for $24.99 a month, and paid-in-full memberships for $249 a year, because of stiff competition from Planet Fitness. She said she lost many customers to Planet Fitness.

Ms. Holland added that she had been torn about whether to sell until August, when she decided the business had grown too big to handle, and that she preferred to focus more of her attention on her family. She has a husband and four children.

"It was just time to move on after 15 years," she said.

A member who reached out to the T&G via email, Michelle Macomber, described herself as "one of the members that was scammed out of $250."

She said she was contacted at the end of July to renew her membership early. It was to expire Sept. 8.

As for the debate between the Hollands and Cooks, Ms. Macomber said she's unsure whom to believe. The customer said she's awaiting a response to a complaint she made with the attorney general's office.

"Everybody's Fitness has come up with what they think is a great resolution to the problem," she said. "But I along with so many other people are still not too happy. I'd rather just be refunded my money from the contract, which I had only used a month of."

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Copyright 2018 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

HUNTINGTON — Marshall University took a huge step toward building a baseball stadium Friday when athletic director Mike Hamrick announced the school has hired an architect to design the long-awaited facility.

Hamrick announced the ballpark plans to more than 75 former Thundering Herd baseball players during a meeting in the Big Green Room of Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

"I know you've heard this before, but you've never heard it from me before, Hamrick said before announcing an architect had been hired.

Hamrick didn't divulge to the media the name of the architect, but displayed photographs of where the stadium will be located, at the Flint Group Pigments Plant property, formerly BASF, 2401 5th Ave. The property was recently purchased for $1.2 million.

The reaction was one of elation from former players and coaches. None was happier than legendary Marshall head baseball coach Jack Cook, 92, who won more games with the Thundering Herd than any coach in any sport in school history. Cook coached Marshall baseball from 1967 through 1989.

"I told my players I recruited every year since I was hired that next year we'll be getting a new field, Cook said Friday during a reunion of the 1973 Herd baseball team. "That's what I was told. It never happened.

Marshall currently plays non-conference home games at George T. Smailes Field at the YMCA Kennedy Center. Conference USA home games have been played at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston and Linda K. Epling Stadium in Beckley.

"Going forward, I hope this will help [current MU coach] Jeff Waggoner having a field on campus so they don't have to bus to Charleston or Beckley, Cook said. "He stays all night there when they play a series. It's like a road trip.

Hamrick said he has discussed the new ballpark with Cook for the past few weeks.

"I gave Coach Cook an update and he told me to hurry it up because at 92 he was rounding third and heading home, Hamrick said, drawing laughter. "We called all the baseball players in for homecoming to announce this to them.

Larry Verbage, a Herd baseball captain in the early 1970s, said he was thrilled with the movement toward a new stadium.

"It's time, Verbage said. "We've heard it for years. It's time. Coach Cook was promised it and promised it, and now it's ready to happen.

Tim Murphy, another Herd player from the 1973 team, said he is relieved to hear news that a stadium appears about to become a reality.

"It's needed, Murphy said. "It's long overdue. It's embarrassing to be in a league such as Conference USA and have to go somewhere else to play home games. To compete at that level, Marshall needs a new ballpark. It would attract students and increase enthusiasm for the program. Economically it would attract new businesses around it. I hope they get it right.

Darren Woody, softball coach at Huntington High School and a former Herd baseball player, said he was overjoyed at Hamrick's announcement.

"It's been a long time coming, Woody said. "I feel so good for Coach Cook. The university needs and deserves a new facility, and it's going to be great. I can't wait to go on to the field for the first time. It has to make recruiting a little bit easier.

The park not only would be home to Marshall baseball, but also could house a minor league team. Huntington hasn't fielded an affiliated minor league team since the rookie league Huntington Cubs left after the 1994 season.

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Copyright 2018 Boston Herald Inc.
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The Boston Herald

 

The Bruins-Flames game from Wednesday night spoke volumes about the changing path from amateur to pro hockey.

Canadian juniors still reigns supreme, but college hockey is on the rise. In 2000, just 20 percent of the NHL came from the NCAA ranks; two seasons ago, a record 314 former college players played, comprising 32 percent of the league.

It is the ninth straight season with more than 300 NCAA veterans skating on NHL rosters. As USA Hockey — despite questionable roster decisions — has started to make a bigger name for itself on the world stage, much of that has to do with college development.

The game in Calgary felt like a mini-reunion of the Beanpot. It was former Terrier Charlie McAvoy leveling former Eagle — and Hobey Baker winner — Johnny Gaudreau with a hit that sparked controversy. McAvoy's former defensive partner at BU, Matt Grzelcyk, and Harvard's Ryan Donato skated for the Bruins, while former BC defender and Gaudreau teammate Noah Hanifin played for the Flames.

One-and-dones are also becoming more common, among them BU stars Clayton Keller with the Coyotes and Brady Tkachuk with the Senators. (Tkachuk, injured earlier in the week and projected out for a month, was impressive early in his professional tenure.) Around 71 percent of college hockey players in the NHL played at least three seasons, among them BU's Jordan Greenway (Minnesota) and Harvard's Jimmy Vesey (Rangers), but super-talented players are shrinking that number.

Before the season, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy noted some NHL teams squirm as their drafted collegians reach their junior season out of fear they will "pull a Vesey" — playing four seasons in the NCAA and nullifying the drafting team's rights to become a free agent.

Tkachuk was among 67 NCAA players taken in the 2018 draft, the most since 2012. That's no doubt helped by players jumping from college to the pros without missing a beat quicker than ever, notably McAvoy in the postseason two seasons ago and Donato last year.

A year ago, 49 of the 60 NCAA hockey programs had skaters in the NHL, from the powers like BU and BC to Alabama-Huntsville — goalie Cam Talbot of the Oilers, who faced the Bruins on Thursday. The Bruins alone have representatives from BU, Notre Dame, Harvard, Denver, Providence, Michigan State, Vermont, Michigan, Miami, Colgate and Minnesota State.

The 12 former college skaters is ahead of the 11 with the Penguins and Wild, and 10 with the Ducks, but the rest of the league has taken note as well.

It's also not just Americans — 52 Canadians on NHL rosters played in the NCAA, with presences from Finland and Sweden as well.

The Bruins will face a Senators team for the second time on Tuesday that dresses eight former NCAA players, including Chris Wideman, who was a Miami University teammate with Sean Kuraly.

Early hit parade has some on alert

Edmonton's Matt Benning won't face a hearing or possible suspension for his Thursday night high hit on David Backes, which sent the Bruins center to the dressing room. (He returned and finished the game.)

In light of the Mike Matheson hit on Elias Petterson in Vancouver earlier in the week, big hitters are on higher alerts. Similarly, McAvoy won't face any repercussions for his hit on Gaudreau. The Bruins defender did reach out to the Flames skater, but Gaudreau didn't have a problem with the hit.

Keeping those scoreboards rolling

Despite scoring being far from a concern early, the Bruins have been connected to Artemi Panarin of the Blue Jackets. Starting price, according to reports, is expected to be McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk — certainly a high-cost for a team that entered Friday top 10 in goals.

Darren Dreger of TSN reported the B's seek another center. With Backes moved to the middle, it isn't out of the realm of possibility.

The NHL is on pace for its highest-scoring season since 1995-1996, with teams averaging 3.11 goals/game 98 contests into the year, though it's not too much higher than it was a season ago. Five teams had more than 25 goals entering Friday's play, compared to seven last Oct. 19.

Toronto is again leading the league, off last year's total by just one. There's a lot of time left for defenses and goalies to settle into their systems, but scoring is trending toward a fourth straight season on the rise.

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2018 The Arizona Daily Star Oct 21, 2018

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

 

At college basketball's ongoing corruption trial, it appeared that $100,000 was a typical going rate for those alleged to have been offered money by the game's elite schools.

Now the NBA's G League will offer "select contracts" worth $125,000 to top high school prospects. It sounds like a win-win for those who don't wish to first take part in the educational experience of college basketball. It may seriously cut back cheating by coaches.

The G League option includes being part of the NBA infrastructure, based on accelerating a prospect's development on and off the court. Parents of those 18-year-olds can hire agents, profit from marketing deals and, well, not worry about the NCAA's rules and just play basketball.

Just like in real life.

The unknown: How many high school seniors will take the $125,000 and skip college?

Baseball has forever allowed high school seniors to skip college and sign immediately. One potential gauge of how the early-signings will go can be seen in Tucson's prep-to-pros baseball prospects: 46 Tucson high school athletes have played in the major-leagues.

Of those 46 MLB players, 12 signed directly out of Tucson high schools. That's about 25 percent.

Those who signed out of high school were Salpointe's Mark Carreon; Sabino's J.J. Hardy; CDO's Chris Duncan; Santa Rita's Anthony Sanders; Amphi's Alex Kellner; Tucson High's Tom Wilhelmsen and Tavo Alvarez; Palo Verde's Andy Hassler; Sahuaro's Alex Verdugo, Tom Wiedenbauer, Jim Olander and Sam Khalifa.

Finances have changed the last 25 years. Those like Verdugo and Hardy got bonuses in excess of $500,000 to sign. Twenty-five years ago, Sanders got an estimated $125,000 to forego a UA football career and sign with the Blue Jays. Now, most early-signees get a clause that includes money for a full college education.

My guess is that if the G League's $125,000 offer had existed the last 10 years, former Arizona players Stanley Johnson, Aaron Gordon, Kobi Simmons, Rawle Alkins and Allonzo Trier would've taken the G League route.

The future of college basketball recruiting will soon change significantly. But it should be a trickle-down effect, meaning a school like Arizona will still get the top available prospects. Fewer elite players will opt for college, but it might also lead to more programs like Arizona retaining players for three and four years.

If so, that's a good tradeoff.

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

From the outside, the Hawks arena looks the same as before, with the exception of new signage that conveys a new name.

"When you look at the outside of the building," Hawks CEO Steve Koonin conceded, "you don't really anticipate much having been done."

But a lot has been done — about $200 million worth, in fact — on the inside.

The Hawks organization unveiled its renovated and renamed home — formerly Philips Arena, now State Farm Arena — to the public with an open-house party Saturday. The Hawks will play their first game in their remade arena Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks.

"It's a $200 million new building, as far as I'm concerned,"Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler said in an interview Saturday. "It's a magnificent transformation - better than I thought (it would be),honestly, truly."

The Hawks said about 10,000 people attended the open-house event, which included a 10-minute ceremony at center court, capped by a pyrotechnics display, and several hours for fans to tour the building. The event marked the arena's grand (re)opening after being closed for the past six months for the last and largest phase of its extreme makeover.

The six-story stack of suites on one side of the court has been replaced with two levels of reimagined suites, new upper-deck seating and party space featuring Topgolf simulators. On the other side of the court, substantial structural work allowed the creation of a unique premium space called Atlanta Social, which is outfitted with plush chairs, couches and cabanas.

All around the arena, video boards have multiplied, with large new screens in each corner and a massive new center-hung board above the court. Three new premium clubs have been built, as well as new restaurants, new concession stands and even a barber shop (Killer Mike's Swag Shop). Open perches along the reconfigured 360-degree concourses provide ample spots for standing and socializing with a view of the game.

The overarching result is a more connected, more open, more interesting building.

"Our belief is that with today's Atlanta audience and today's sports audience the attention spans are shrinking and shrinking," Koonin said. "The old days of going to a game and getting a seat, a hot dog, a beer, a Coke, and sitting for three hours — that doesn't exist anymore. And so we (incorporated) a lot of entertainment, a lot of interactivity, a tremendous amount of social spaces about networking and communicating."

Among Ressler's favorite features of the renovation: the demolition of the high wall of suites on one side of the court, a signature feature of the arena when it opened in 1999.

"The old building (with) the fancy seats on one side and the less fancy on the other, however that got built, I'm glad it's not here any more," Ressler said.

The transformation of Philips Arena into State Farm Arena completes the construction boom that has permeated Atlanta sports in recent years. Last year, the Braves opened SunTrust Park, while the Falcons and Atlanta United opened Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Collectively, the construction of the new Braves and Falcons stadiums and the renovation of the Hawks arena have cost almost $2.5 billion. That includes more than $700 million in upfront taxpayer-backed funding for the three venues, a public cost that will rise as interest and other expenses accumulate over the next three decades.

The Braves, Falcons and Hawks are now committed to play in their current homes through 2046.

The Hawks' deal with the city of Atlanta calls for public funds to cover $142.5 million of the cost of the renovation, with the team responsible for the rest. Originally, the total budget was $192.5 million, which would have made the Hawks' portion $50 million. But the team ended up spending more than that as the total cost reached $200 million-plus, Ressler said.

"With the excess, we still think we got our money's worth," Ressler said. "It's unbelievable what we got for $200 million-plus."

Although the arena's footprint hasn't changed, leaving its total size at 680,000 square feet, about 100,000 square feet of space previously used for offices, storage and the like has been put to better use, such as for the three fancy new clubs under the stands.

As with the new Braves and Falcons stadiums, the Hawks arena features a wealth of premium spaces designed to appeal to well-heeled fans (and often businesses) and increase team revenue. The number of suites was reduced from 90 to 40 because the Hawks previously had more than they could sell. But the number of premium seats, defined as those with amenities attached, stayed roughly the same at 3,800.

"We built suites to what we perceived the market could handle," Koonin said, "and then we built new things the market didn't have.

"We saw renovation as innovation," he said, citing the Topgolf and Atlanta Social spaces among others.

Koonin said the total seating capacity for basketball will be about 16,600 this season, down from 18,047 before renovations began. Another 500 seats will come on line next year when another premium area, covered for now with tarps, opens on the terrace level behind one basket.

From anywhere in the seating bowl, multiple video boards are visible.

The center-hung board, weighing 85,000 pounds and measuring 4,500 square feet of screens, is the third largest in the NBA. The four-sided board includes continuous screens of approximately 43 feet wide by 28 feet high facing each sideline and 38 feet wide by 28 feet high facing each baseline.

The video boards in each corner of the arena are sizable, too: Two of them are approximately 43 feet wide by 14 feet high, the others 24 feet wide by 16 feet high. Add two dozen other LED screens scattered throughout the building, and State Farm Arena has 12,047 square feet of display boards.The Hawks have calculated that is about 10 times as much as the arena had previously.

In a market of new stadiums, the Hawks bucked the trend by choosing to renovate. A big part of the reason was "this is the perfect location for an arena," said Thad Sheely, the Hawks' chief operating officer.

It would have cost $550 million, not including land, to build a new arena in Atlanta, Sheely said. About $350 million would have gone toward things already in place, he said - the "core and shell" of the building, the foundation and the roof and the walls, the plumbing and electrical systems, that kind of stuff.

The Hawks decided to keep all of that and rebuild around it.

"We got to do the fun stuff," Sheely said.

The decision to leave the exterior untouched, except for the new signage for the new naming-rights partner, made the $200 million go further, Koonin said.

"Madison Square Garden (in New York) spent over a billion dollars on its renovation," Koonin said. "And we actually feel we have gotten more impact and more change than Madison Square Garden."

As 800 construction workers hustled to finish the project last month, State Farm Arena general manager Brett Stefansson looked around and anticipated the fans' arrival for the Hawks' home opener.

"I think the first thing they're going to say to themselves is, 'Where am I?'" Stefansson said.

Collectively, the construction of the new Braves and Falcons stadiums and the renovation of the Hawks arena have cost almost $2.5 billion.

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Copyright 2018 Woodward Communications, Inc.
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Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)

 

It probably felt like a cutting-edge caper at the time: The New York Giants, using an elaborate spyglass-and-buzzer system, would have the opposing team's signs relayed from their center-field clubhouse at the Polo Grounds to the bullpen and then to the batter, passing along valuable information during the team's pursuit of the 1951 pennant.

The question nowadays is whether there's an app for that.

Stealing signs is as much a part of baseball tradition as stealing bases, but the technology available now could open a whole new frontier of competitive sleuthing. The latest flare-up came when a man associated with the Houston Astros was pointing his cellphone into opposing dugouts during playoff games against Cleveland and Boston. The Astros said they were just trying to defend themselves against any suspicious activity from opponents.

There's clearly plenty of paranoia to go around.

"The game is so ultra-competitive and there's so small margins between really good teams and really good players and there's a lot at stake," Houston manager AJ Hinch said before losing to the Red Sox in the AL Championship Series. "So we do have to find a healthy place for everyone to be comfortable moving forward competitively because it's a bigger topic than even one instance."

The art of sign stealing ranges from the mundane — a baserunner trying to decode the catcher's signals and let the batter know what's coming — to more complex spying schemes. Even 19th century technology could apparently be useful.

In his 2007 book "The Cheater's Guide to Baseball," Derek Zumsteg mentions an 1898 incident in Philadelphia when a visiting player found a buried wire in the area around third base.

"The wire ran all the way to the home team's clubhouse in the outfield," Zumsteg wrote, "where a player would sit with binoculars and signal the pitch by setting the ground under the third base coach shaking, and the coach would in turn alert the batter."

The 1951 Giants famously beat out the Dodgers for the National League pennant on Bobby Thomson's playoff-winning homer . A half-century later, New York's sign-stealing system was laid bare in a Wall Street Journal story that quoted members of that team. The bullpen would receive the signs from the clubhouse via a buzzer system. Catcher Sal Yvars said he relayed them to hitters.

Fast forward to the present era, and the possibilities for surreptitious surveillance seem endless.

"If they're in the dugout, and they're in there trying to steal our signs, I think that's part of the game," said Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations for the Red Sox. "If you're doing electronic devices, that's against the rules. We were penalized last year."

The Red Sox were indeed fined last year for using an Apple Watch while trying to steal signs from the New York Yankees. Major League Baseball says before this postseason, teams contacted the commissioner's office about sign stealing and "the inappropriate use of video equipment" — and it wasn't just one team that was the target of those concerns.

This week's controversy brought suspicion upon the Astros — and Houston in turn expressed its own suspicions of other teams. MLB essentially agreed with the Astros' explanation, saying an investigation of recent incidents concluded "that an Astros employee was monitoring the field to ensure that the opposing club was not violating any rules."

Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow said his team always has its guard up.

"There's a lot of technology in ballparks these days, video cameras and high-speed cameras and high-magnification cameras," Luhnow said. "When we go into an opposing ballpark, we tend to look around and make sure that we don't see any suspicious activity. We've been doing that as a matter of course for a while."

Watch any game, and you can find evidence of the lengths teams might go if they're worried about who is watching. It's one thing for a catcher to switch to more complex signs to avoid giving away the next pitch to a runner on second — but now a team might do that even if the bases are empty.

"We utilize multiple signs with nobody on base. Other teams do that as well," Hinch said. "We ask a lot out of our catchers. We have 12, 13, sometimes 14 pitchers on a roster that can all have different signs and different sequences."

One way to avoid having signs stolen is for the catcher and pitcher to have a private meeting — but mound visits were slowing the game so much that baseball put a limit on them. There have already been seven passed balls in the postseason this year — there were six in the whole 2017 postseason — so perhaps pitchers and catchers are getting crossed up more often.

For decades, sign stealing was a mysterious, almost charming addition to baseball's culture, but too much suspicion can certainly hurt the sport.

"I think there is a paranoia about what you're doing competitively to try to be your best," Hinch said. "And when teams are curious about us or we're curious about other teams, it's largely a distraction away from the best part of the game, which is on the field with the players."

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Copyright 2018 Chattanooga Publishing Company
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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

Chattanooga Lookouts' officials have held no talks with the Chattanooga Red Wolves Soccer Club about jointly developing a new facility, an official for the minor league baseball team says.

Also, the director of the group that runs Finley Stadium said scheduling complications may have prompted the Red Wolves to pursue their own stadium for matches.

With Finley Stadium and AT&T Field already supporting football, soccer, baseball and other events — and the Lookouts talking about a new multipurpose facility off South Broad Street — can Chattanooga support still another facility for sporting events?

The new professional soccer team announced last week it plans to build its own stadium to host its matches in two years. Officials were apparently unable to reach an agreement to use Finley Stadium and decided instead to play next season at Chattanooga Christian School.

Chris Thomas, executive director of the group that operates Finley on Chattanooga's Southside, said he doesn't believe anyone in the city is getting rich off a stadium.

"I wouldn't put my own money into a stadium," said Thomas, who had been in discussions with the Red Wolves over use of Finley.

Thomas said he and Red Wolves owner Bob Martino were involved in "good and sincere" talks about the team's use of Finley, which it would have had to share with the amateur soccer team the Chattanooga Football Club, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and others.

Thomas said he doesn't know why the Red Wolves decided to go its own way. He cited potential scheduling conflicts as a possible reason.

"We have a lot of long-term partners," Thomas said, saying that may have created a more complex schedule of matches than "[Martino] wanted to fool with."

But he said a potential deal that surrounded discussions with the Red Wolves wasn't as rich as what UTC receives.

"Not by any stretch of the imagination," Thomas said. He said UTC put money into constructing Finley two decades ago.

"It's really apples and oranges... both contractually and morally," Thomas said.

Martino and the Red Wolves management declined to comment beyond a news release put out last Thursday in which it said it plans to build a new stadium on an undisclosed site. It said it will play matches next year at Chattanooga Christian School's David Stanton Field, which seats 3,500 people.

It's not known if the Red Wolves will seek public funding or incentives to build its facility.

Jason Freier, the Lookouts' operating partner, said the question regarding supporting stadiums isn't about facilities, but rather teams.

"The market will support a professional baseball team and a soccer team," said Freier, whose club plays at AT&T Field downtown. "I don't think the presence of a professional soccer team has any impact on our attendance or success in the market."

In Fort Wayne, Indiana, where Freier's company has a team and helped raise a new multipurpose stadium, the minor league baseball club is drawing 400,000 people a year, minor league hockey is attracting about 300,000 annually and there's a successful National Basketball Association developmental squad.

He said Chattanooga's metro area is 50 percent larger than Fort Wayne's.

"We're not concerned that the numbers of teams will impact the Lookouts in any negative way," Freier said.

He added that he has had no talks about the Lookouts and Red Wolves sharing a possible new facility.

"I've never spoken to them, never met them," Freier said, adding that the Fort Wayne facility has hosted soccer matches in the past.

Mike Mallen, a partner in the company that owns the 141-acre Wheland Foundry/U.S. Pipe tract off South Broad identified as a potential new Lookouts home, said he, too, has had no discussions with the Red Wolves group about the foundry parcel.

While he supports soccer, he said he doesn't know anything about that business.

"That's so far removed from what we're trying to accomplish right now," Mallen said.

He said such facilities need to be multifaceted and programmed "each day of the year."

Mallen said his group continues to try to attract a so-called "master developer" for the property.

Freier said that to have substantive discussions on a possible new minor league baseball stadium at the site, bringing on such a developer for the tract is critical.

"We'll be glad to have that discussion and see if we fit in once they have a master developer," he said.

Contact staff writer Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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Copyright 2018 The Arizona Daily Star Oct 21, 2018

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

 



University of Arizona police investigated 16 student-athletes and athletic department employees for sexual assault or dating violence over a six-year span beginning in 2012, according to a document produced in court by the school's attorney.

The document is part of the discovery process in one of two federal Title IX lawsuits levied against the UA. School officials are accused of mishandling reports that former football player Orlando Bradford was abusing women. Tucson police arrested Bradford in September 2016 and charged him with more than a dozen domestic-violence-related offenses. He pleaded guilty to two felony counts of aggravated assault and is serving a five-year prison sentence.

One of Bradford's victims filed a lawsuit against the UA a year ago, saying the school knew about his violent behavior and failed to take appropriate action to protect other students. It cited a campus police report from April 2016, when another woman reported abuse by Bradford to campus police and an athletic department official. Bradford wasn't charged with a crime in connection with the complaint. He soon moved into a house off campus with other members of the football team. Bradford was arrested five months later after two other women said he repeatedly beat and choked them while his roommates watched.

In January, a second Bradford victim filed her own federal lawsuit.

Both lawsuits have since been amended. The first has added former football coach Rich Rodriguez as a defendant. The second one alleges that Wildcats football players gang-raped female students and support staffers in the years leading up to Bradford's arrest. The list of UAPD investigations was the result of a discovery request in the second suit. Lawyers for the victim asked for investigative records from UA police for all sexual assault, sexual harassment and dating violence incidents involving "student athletes, athletic department employees and athletic department coaches," according to a transcript of the hearing obtained by the Star.

The victim's attorneys previously claimed there is a culture of violence within the UA football program, but now say they have reason to believe "that culture of violence may be broader" and span across multiple sports. They have also asked for access to the accusers' identities to determine whether the investigations were accurately completed, saying that they have concerns that the school may have been giving preferential treatment to student-athletes "or otherwise not responding the way that it should under Title IX."

Under federal Title IX laws, universities are required to ensure that students receive an education free from sexual harassment, including abuse and dating violence.

The judge ordered that the information be produced in the form of a chart that includes the basic facts, what the charges were, the investigative process and who was interviewed, but requested that the identities of the accusers and of those accused not be disclosed yet. Student-athletes accused of sexual or dating misconduct have instead been identified by the sport they play.

The chart was produced on Sept. 12, and covers all relevant investigations of athletes and athletic department employees between Jan. 1, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2017, court documents show. The timeline coincides with Rodriguez's tenure as Arizona's coach. He was hired Nov. 22, 2011, and fired on Jan. 2. Contents of the chart were not immediately available.

On Monday, the judge ordered that UA lawyers produce all police reports connected with the 16 investigations along with any documents not in the investigative files that "address the issues of what, if any, broader response there might be by the football program, the athletic department and the university to these types of complaints."

Rodriguez's attorneys reject 'silly' claim

Rodriguez's attorneys filed a motion to dismiss him from the first federal suit in August, arguing that he could not be held accountable for the actions of all his football players. Arizona's roster typically includes 100 or more players. Lawyers said Rodriguez could not possibly be expected to keep up with all of them - even though, according to the victim, Bradford openly bragged about the incident in the locker room.

"One cannot seriously believe that everything said by team players and overheard by Athletic Department staff and assistant coaches will be brought to the head coach's attention," Rodriguez's attorneys said in the nine-page document.

Rodriguez said the claims to connect him to Bradford were a misdirected attempt to frame him. Rodriguez's attorneys said he did not commit any crimes, and said there is no evidence suggesting he was an accomplice to Bradford.

Rodriguez's motion was ultimately struck by the court because of improper filing procedures. As of now, he remains a defendant in the case.

Bradford rushed 47 times for 308 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman in 2015 and was set to receive a larger role as a sophomore. Rodriguez and former offensive coordinator Calvin Magee repeatedly called Bradford a "co-starter" alongside Nick Wilson as the team prepared for the 2016 season. Attorneys for the victim said Rodriguez did it as a power move, because the starter label would "increase Bradford's presence and power on campus." Rodriguez's lawyers called the claim "downright silly."

Attorneys are starting to take depositions in both cases. Erika Barnes, the UA's executive senior associate athletic director, will be deposed next month; so will Susan Wilson, a UA Title IX senior investigator.

Judges in both cases have ordered that settlement talks take place by April 5. The second case is tentatively set to go to trial in December 2019.

Search for Title IX director continues

In June, after a monthslong review by Title IX attorney Natasha Baker, UA President Robert C. Robbins announced sweeping changes to the university's policies regarding sex abuse and dating violence.

Four months later, the UA still hasn't hired a full-time Title IX director.

Mary Beth Tucker continues to act as the UA's Title IX coordinator, one of her many duties on campus. She is co-chairing the search committee for a new director with UA Senior Vice President John Dudas, university spokesman Chris Sigurdson told the Star.

"In the meantime, there has been more funding to support Title IX investigators and investigations," Sigurdson said in an email.

The UA has filled several other positions created as a result of Baker's review, including two survivor advocates in the Dean of Students Office and a respondent services coordinator who assists students accused of Title IX violations. The UA hopes to have a new Title IX director selected by the end of the month.

"Some of the other developments, such as enhanced training and prevention materials, are on hold for the new director to review," Sigurdson said.

Details of Baker's investigation or its findings will not be made available to the public, as the UA cited attorney-client privilege in response to a records request to the Star. The Star requested the information in May and again in August; the university responded last week after a third request.

UA officials did turn over billing totals for Baker's firm, Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP. They showed that the university spent more than $124,000 for Baker's work over the span of five months.

The UA previously said that Baker interviewed more than 55 people and reviewed thousands of documents before recommending policy changes.

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October 21, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Anderson Independent-Mail (South Carolina)

 

In defending his client against charges of fraud, Merl Code Jr.'s attorney turned to murder to make his point.


Code, a Greenville native and former Clemson basketball star, and two co-defendants face conviction in the federal college basketball pay-to-play trial, accused of conspiring to funnel $100,000 in Adidas money to the family of Brian "Tugs" Bowen to steer him to play for the University of Louisville.


It's an accusation Code never denied but argued was moot because the Bowen family previously received payments from high school and AAU programs.

"Tugs Bowen had been rendered ineligible as far back as 2014 because of his father taking money," Code's attorney told the jury. "You can't kill a dead man. He was already dead."

The same logic might apply to college basketball as a whole after the sport was repeatedly bruised and battered throughout the course of the extensive fraud, corruption and bribery trial, which is set to head to jury deliberations Monday in New York.

Closing arguments wrapped Thursday, leaving 12 jurors to pick through the pieces of documents and witness testimony detailing gas station meetups, cash-stuffed magazines, secret "bat phones" and sham invoices.

The rampant corruption in college basketball, and just how deep those roots run through high school and travel ball programs, will surprise almost no one close to the sport.

The details uncovered in that Manhattan court room, however, are what a jury will use to determine the fate of three defendants and answer the question: How much does this all really matter?

Defense attorneys for the three men on trial - former Adidas consultant Code, Adidas executive James "Jim" Gatto and Christian Dawkins, an aspiring agent and a one-time runner for former NBA agent Andy Miller - would have you think it does not.

Everyone from coaches to apparel companies to agents to recruits, the defense argued, is complicit in the seedy nature of college hoops, and you can't be a co-conspirator and also a victim.

Gatto's attorney, Michael Schacter, claimed in closing Thursday that former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino and Kansas head coach Bill Self were aware of payments to players and that his client acted on behalf of the schools to help them - even though government witness T.J. Gassnola testified he did not tell Pitino or Self about the payments.

"The government wants you to believe Louisville is a crime victim?" Dawkins' attorney, Steve Haney, asked the jury incredulously.

Returning a conviction would give the feds affirmation that the months of wiretapping and undercover work was worth it; a non-guilty verdict might discourage them from pursuing additional arrests and weaken the government's case in two more trials slated for next year.

Adidas was the main focus in New York this month, but four former coaches associated with schools sponsored by Nike and Under Armour were arrested and charged last fall.

Ex-Auburn assistant Chuck Person and financial adviser Rashan Michel will be tried in February. Ex-USC assistant Tony Bland, ex-Arizona assistant Book Richardson and ex-Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans will be tried in April.

The result of this first trial will determine whether the NCAA and college coaches can afford to shrug it off as a "blip," as Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski suggested this week, or whether they will be forced to face consequences beyond NCAA sanctions.

Accusations continued to mount against high-profile schools like Kansas and Louisville, along with others including Arizona, NC State, LSU, and DePaul. Other blue-chip programs like Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina were mentioned in passing but never directly implicated. Numerous recordings and documents were not allowed into evidence because they did not directly deal with the charges against the defendants.

It could take many more months of investigations for federal authorities to gather enough evidence to make additional arrests involving previously untouched schools. And even then, would the charges stick?

All of this is a tricky legal case and amounts to an even bigger headache for the NCAA, which will be tasked with combining evidence uncovered through the trials and through its own separate investigations to come up with punishments.

It remains to be seen if the NCAA will decide to investigate and penalize on a school-by-school basis, but there is regardless a lot of ground to cover.

This all goes to say that while the evidence presented in this month's trial may just be a drop in the bucket, the verdict will set the tone for how seriously these actions are treated in the future.

Jurors may decide that Gatto, Code and Dawkins broke the law and defrauded the universities in question.

Or they may decide that college basketball has suffered enough, that punishing schools and players for operating in a system that has been broken for far too long is useless.

- Louisville Courier Journal 

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC


Newsday (New York)

 

The consolidation of Long Island University's Brooklyn and Post athletic departments has rankled some student-athletes who said they were caught off-guard by the school's Oct. 3 announcement.

"They dropped a bomb on us," said Liam Kunkel, a freshman basketball player from Glen Head. "Nobody saw this coming."

The school's decision to combine the two campuses into one Division I program puts the future of its Division II athletes in limbo as they consider what they say are undesirable options.

The school said it will honor all of its current scholarship athletes, including those who do not make 2019-20 rosters. LIU said it worked with the NCAA throughout the process and received waivers that will allow student-athletes to transfer to new schools.

Affected sports - those which are currently being played by both campuses - are baseball, men's and women's basketball, women's bowling, men's and women's cross country, field hockey, men's and women's golf, women's lacrosse, men's and women's soccer, softball, women's swimming, women's tennis, men's and women's track and field and women's volleyball.

The choice for most of the Division II players comes down to transferring to a new school or to stop playing sports. While the athletes can try out for the Division I team, they risk losing their scholarship because of Division I scholarship limits. It also would mean that athletes at Post might have to travel to the Brooklyn campus for practices and games, though the school has said it will provide transportation.

"Everyone came here, they fell in love with the program, the campus, the academics, then all of a sudden, I feel like they're saying they don't appreciate what we do," said Lauren Kloos, a sophomore volleyball player from Kings Park.

Kloos said her teammates share her disappointment with the school. On Oct. 5, in the first home sports event after the official announcement, members of the women's volleyball team warmed up with white tape covering the "LIU" on the backs of their jerseys before a 3-0 win against Queens College. Referees asked players to remove the tape for the game, Kloos said.

Supporters demonstrated similarly, with representatives from the student body and other teams packing the gymnasium in their university apparel with "LIU" covered.

Jayna Rios, a freshman from Shirley on the softball team, said softball players will wear their gray jerseys that say "Pioneers" on the front during each game this season because, "We support the Post Pioneers, not Long Island University."

Rios said she'll likely transfer out of LIU after this season because the Brooklyn campus, where softball will be played, doesn't offer physical education, her major. Kloos also said she is "90 precent sure" she will transfer.

A Change.org petition that raises awareness of the situation has more than 4,400 signatures, and an Instagram account called "not.my.liu" has more than 450 followers.

Athletic director Debbie DeJong responded to a request for comment with a statement that read, "We at Long Island University are dedicated to competing at the highest level of collegiate athletics."

"When evaluating our unified rosters, we will aim to maximize the number of athletic opportunities available while carrying on our tradition of excellence," DeJong's statement continued.

Michael Soupios, a political philosophy professor and president of the faculty union, has been teaching at LIU Post for 40 years. He believes the reasons for the merger are more financial than for re-branding purposes.

"I think there's a budgetary gap that they're desperate to fill," Soupios said.

The university has had difficulty recruiting students in recent years and has been reducing the number of staff, Soupios said. The merger may be a way to save money, by eliminating redundant staff and cutting program budgets.

"The move to Division I is not at all a budgetary issue," LIU spokesperson Gordon Tepper said. "We are elevating our university."

Soupios said,"Many of the Division II players are either not going to have a team at all, or they're going to have to pack up and go to Brooklyn to play."

Soupios said, "It's unfair to the kids," especially of those who have athletic scholarships. "They were offered an arrangement when they were first admitted. As far as I'm concerned, that's a contract that should be binding."

Soupios described seeing students crying after the announcement.

"The kids are really angry and very upset," he said.

Vocal tenured faculty members have been critical of the administration under President Kimberly Cline, and have asked state education officials and accrediting agencies to take a look at budget decisions that they say are at odds with the college's mission. Professors of both campuses last year wrote to the state Education Department to investigate a number of concerns including a lack of transparency on fundraising and accurate enrollment figures, as well as the suspension of academic programs.

Jada Butler, 21, of Reading, Pennsylvania, is a journalism major and co-editor-in-chief of the school paper, "The Pioneer." She has been reporting on the fallout.

"For those who came to play Division II, it's a life changer," Butler said. "A lot of students are confused. They're feeling a little bit underappreciated that they're not being heard or that decisions are being made without consulting them."

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The Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)

 

Melquan Robinson was honored and his life was celebrated Saturday during his youth football team's game at Butler Bulldog Stadium.

The 12-year-old, who played for the Trinity Elite Titans 12-U team, died Monday after he was electrocuted when he touched a fence at a Fleming Athletic Complex field that had been electrified by an underground live wire.

During halftime of the team's game against the Empact Elite Wolves, of Baldwin County, No. 23 balloons (Melquan's number) were released into the air and a donation from fans and Georgia Pac 12 American Youth Football, of which the Titans are a member, was presented to Melquan's family.

"This is a celebration because this is what we're here for, to celebrate your son's life," commissioner Jermaine Hudson told Melquan's parents, Melquan Robinson Sr. and Chinnika Jackson, and others who gathered for the ceremony. "If he was out here, that's what he would be doing, celebrating."

Melquan's No. 23 was retired, and Hudson said teams will wear No. 23 stickers on their helmets throughout the league's playoffs, which end Nov. 10, in remembrance of Melquan.

"It was great teamwork. You could feel the love and support," said Baylon Stone, the coach of Melquan's team. "We really appreciate it."

The Titans led the Empact Elite Wolves 6-0 at the half before the Wolves rallied for a 35-20 victory.

"It was emotional coming into the game. It's been a rough week. We only had one practice (Friday)," Stone said. "This was a tough one for us. But they played ball. I'm really proud of them."

Before the game, Melquan's teammates and his mother, father and brother, Jaden, held up two and three fingers in his honor on the stadium's track.

Jaden wore a special No. 23 jersey, which players and coaches signed. The back of it read, "#LONGLIVEMEL."

His mother wore shirts and a hoodie that read, "Long Live Melquan" that featured a picture of the two.

Others, including his father, wore "Fly High TITANS" T-shirts, which featured a picture of Melquan with angel wings.

The Empact Elite Wolves team came out with a banner that read, "Melquan 23 In Our Hearts." Players raised their helmets in his honor.

Before another game between the two programs, the teams held a banner that included the words, "#MelquanStrong ONE FAMILY 23 FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS."

"It's a difficult situation right now, but we're trying to do all that we can to make sure this family's taken care," Hudson said.

Hudson praised the two friends who tried to help Melquan and were injured Traqwon Berry and David Sette. They are out of the hospital.

"Those guys are heroes," Hudson said. "As long as they're out here and can play youth football, if they come and join the Pac 12, they will never have to pay any registration fee."

Hudson extended the same offer to Jaden.

A vigil for Melquan was held Thursday night at Bernie Ward Community Center. His funeral will be held at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at Beulah Grove Baptist Church, 1434 Poplar St.

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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

A shockwave went through college basketball this week, and despite the denials from some of the biggest names in the sport, it's worse than we thought it was.

The corruption trial in Manhattan has rolled back the covers of deception within college basketball, revealing a widespread disease that includes everybody, from the coaches and schools themselves right down to the street peddlers and the shoe salesmen, all involved in one fashion or another in what is an ugly revelation.

College basketball, at the highest levels of the game, is dirty.

A whirlwind of news unfolded slowly as the trial exposed deals involving some of the biggest names in the sport at some of the most successful programs in the sport. And it hit home right here in North Carolina.

That flew in the face of what Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski and even High Point's Tubby Smith said in recent days.

The corruption is real. It is deep. And it threatens to rip the very fabric of the game before our very eyes.

All we have to do is open them, which is something our old-school coaches don't seem to want to do.

Krzyzewski said on Monday that he's not even paying attention to the "blip" that is playing out in an FBI investigation. By the end of the week Zion Williamson, one of his prize recruits, was in the cross-hairs of the evidence.

Williams swore he knew nothing of the corruption in the grassroots feeder system where street agents and bagmen lurk, though an Inside Carolina interview with recruit Nassir Little's father midweek revealed that Williams, his staff and the school were monitoring a situation involving Little's AAU coach. So he knows what's out there.

Smith ended up in High Point because he refused to play the dirty game in Memphis where boosters and a local AAU pipeline have long tainted that program. He suggested that the corruption can seep into the cleanest programs.

"When I run a program we run the program the right way," he said. "Having said that, in every organization there are going to be some issues you have to deal with. Coaches are going to take shortcuts sometimes."

And sometimes, they're going to get on the phone and call shoe dealers and flesh peddlers and beg for elite basketball players.

Orlando Early was on N.C. State's bench under Mark Gottfried. We heard this week that he personally accepted $40,000 in a slush payment from a shoe agent to be delivered to the family of prize recruit Dennis Smith Jr.

Louisville's name has came up again, of course. And this time the tales involving Rick Pitino and assistant coach Kenny Johnson included cash payments and a possible $100,000 recruit in Brian Bowen Jr., who was considering going to State at one point.

Miami, Kansas, Arizona, Auburn, LSU, DePaul, Oregon, Creighton, Oklahoma State, Washington. The list of schools involved in this cesspool is still growing.

And the finger-pointing has started, just as the FBI knew it would. The rats are jumping off the ship now, and the ship is about to hit the fan. There are two more trials to come. There are wiretaps yet to be released. There are players still in high school who now suddenly are thinking maybe college isn't such a clean and classy environment.

The NBA announced this week that it would begin a program of scouting and choosing the most elite high schoolers in the country and pay them $125,000 in salary to play one year in the G League instead of one year at Duke or Kentucky or Kansas or Louisville or North Carolina.

And you can bet that's where they're all looking to land for a one-year vacation from reality while training for the NBA Draft. At some of the schools, $125,000 might be a paycut. This is the NBA's solution to cleaning up the grassroots corruption in basketball, an idea Williams scoffed at when asked if the NBA could figure out what to do about the cancer that is the current basketball feeder program.

"You can't figure it out,"Williams said. "I don't care how smart you think you are. You aren't going to figure it out."

You can start weeding out the bad guys though. You can make sure those caught up in this and future scandals never coach again, never play again, never get close to programs or high schools or AAU teams again.

Williams, Krzyzewski and Smith are honest coaches. And they can say they're not aware of what's going on and they can say they run clean programs and they can say they're not paying attention to the sordid tales coming from the FBI investigation.

But the game they'll soon be leaving has changed. Yes, it's a wonderful game that does a lot of good for a lot of people. Still, the money has corrupted it even if most of our old-school coaches have stayed above the corruption.

Maybe it's time we stopped asking the old guys what they think.

"Mike and Roy and I have been in it a long time," Smith said. "We've seen some changes. Basketball is in great shape."

"That world is a world I am not familiar with," Williams said.

"I think it's actually pretty clean," Krzyzewski said.

Yeah, we need to stop asking the old-school guys to comment on the state of the game. The world they're not familiar with has passed them by. Which is probably a good thing, assuming anything good will come out of all of this.

Contact Ed Hardin at 336-373-7069, and follow @Ed_Hardin on Twitter.

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

Midway through his third season as Virginia football coach, Bronco Mendenhall and his wife have pledged $500,000 to a new UVa football operations center.

The center is part of a $180 million master plan to upgrade UVa's athletic facilities. The Mendenhalls' gift is the largest ever pledged by a Cavaliers coach.

Mendenhall is in the third year of a five-year contract that totals $17.75 million of guaranteed compensation, with other incentives available for certain achievements, such as bowl appearances and academic goals that are reached.

"Holly and I are excited to be a part of the process that transforms Virginia football," Mendenhall said in a news release distributed by the school.

"We love developing young people through football and the new football operations center will provide our young men a home where they can develop into exceptional football players, students and leaders."

In addition to the operations center, the master plan includes an Olympic sports center and grass practice fields.

"I am very thankful that Bronco and Holly have further demonstrated their commitment to the University of Virginia with this gift," Virginia athletic director Carla Williams said in the school's release.

"Bronco's vision for the impact this facility will have on the football program is inspiring and I hope his and Holly's gift will motivate others to invest in the future of Virginia student-athletes."

The master plan is currently in the design phase.

 

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Copyright 2018 The Commercial Appeal, Inc.
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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

To be a football player at Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, you have to know how to persevere without making excuses. The program, which is in just its second year, doesn't have a locker room, and players cross a busy street every day to get to practice.

"I pray every day that we cross the street and get over here safely," said coach Julius Jackson, who has been leading the team since day one.

The team's nickname is the Phoenix, which is fitting because MASE (6-2, 4-1 8-1A) was able to rise from the ashes of last year's 0-10 season and start fresh.

"To be totally honest, nothing has really changed. We're playing harder than we played last year. Once we got down last year, we kind of gave up," Jackson said. "But I have the same guys. We're a little stronger than we were last year, but other than that, we're doing the same thing we've been doing. It's the same stuff I tried to tell them they could do last year, but they just didn't believe it."

But just as the team, which is riding a three-game winning streak, was set to play the biggest game of the season, against region-leading Freedom Prep (5-3, 5-0), Jackson suspended at least 11 players for academic reasons. That's nearly half the 28-member team.

Jackson said the team hasn't been taking its academics seriously enough. Report cards come out next week, and Jackson, who doubles as the school's athletics director, was blown away by the poor grades that he saw when he checked in Monday. His rule is that any player with an "F" has to sit out for two weeks. He said the soonest a suspended player can play again is next Friday's season finale against B.T. Washington.

"I kind of slacked off on my grades, not taking it 100 percent seriously," said linebacker Tony Rush, one of the players who was suspended. "And now Coach has to shuffle in the people who can play, so it's hard on us, hard on the team. I should have took it seriously."

Jackson has implemented similar policies in previous coaching stops, including his most recent stint at Hillcrest. He said he never has had to suspend this many kids; it's usually two or three.

But he is stepping in to teach a lesson that could come at the expense of a potential region title.

MASE already clinched a playoff spot. Its 4-1 region record is tied with Hillcrest (4-4, 4-1) for second place entering Thursday night's game. A MASE win on Thursday night would leave MASE tied with Freedom Prep going into the final game with a head-to-head advantage. The top four teams in each region make the playoffs, with the top two teams earning home playoff games.

MASE executive director Rod Gaston said he supports the decision to suspend the players and hopes it will be a wake-up call for them. He expects the players to serve their suspensions and bring their grades up so they can come back for the playoffs.

"We're trying to build student-athletes. Football is an extracurricular activity," Gaston said. "The kids have to do what they're supposed to do in the classroom."

Jackson said that two players quit the team when he told them they couldn't play. They asked for a second chance, but Jackson doubled down by repeating the rule to them.

"I feel disappointed for the most part because we had all these people here to help us improve, and it feels bad that we're doing positive this year and we're having so much taken from us because we don't want to put in the extra time to work hard in the classroom," said running back Sidney Hall Jr., who is among the players who still can play.

Said Jackson: "I'm not perfect, but the discipline that we do is important. It's stuff that these kids need to hear. I wish I didn't care so much because... it would make my life so much easier. Like, 'Oh, if you make F's, you can continue to play.' Some coaches are like that. But the world doesn't work like that."

Parent Tina Malone said that the discipline Jackson is instilling in her son Kenneth already has made a big difference. He has been more focused on his work, and behavioral problems have cleared up, she said. She said the changes came because her son knows he can't play football without giving proper effort in school.

"I really like what Coach Jackson is doing because he always tells them, 'I can get you to college, but you have to help yourself with the grades.' So they're all trying to get the grades. It's making them be more responsible and accountable in the classroom," Malone said. "I am so happy that he is over there because a lot of the kids, including my kid, were getting in trouble at first. But now his whole behavior is changed. He hasn't gotten in trouble this year or all of last year."

Another parent, Chaundra Jones, whose son Caleb plays on the team, said she also fully supports Jackson's decision.

"Football is all fine and dandy, but everybody is not going to make it to the professional level," Jones said. "If my son had a bad grade, I'd be right there supporting Coach Jackson because he looks out for the team. When he started the season off, he strictly told them in the first parents' meeting that his first goal was academics."

Two concepts Jackson has been trying to drill into his players are leadership and accountability. He preaches that their actions affect more than just them individually. One person's decisions can affect the entire team. And in this particular case the effect was multiplied by a number of poor decisions. Jackson wants the lesson to sink in.

"I tell them that that's selfish," Jackson said. "They've been knowing me the whole year. It ain't like I just told them last week. They've been knowing this since before school started. I said it, and I'm not going back on my word. I'm serious about these grades.

"They say they want to go to college but ain't making no grades. Where they do that at? It's going to be a lesson for them. I hope it hurts. I really hope it hurts. Even for the other kids who will be playing. Because they're in the class with these boys. Why are you letting them do all that?"

Jackson said its a lesson rooted in love.

"I feel like I have an impact on their lives, and I want to help them maximize their lives," he said. "I love them enough to tell them yes, but I also love them enough to tell them no."

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Copyright 2018 The Evansville Courier Co.
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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

Steve Penny, the former president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, has been indicted on a felony count of tampering with evidence, according to a news release from the Walker County criminal district attorney's office in Texas.

The U.S. Marshals Smoky Mountain Fugitive Task Force arrested Penny Wednesday in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The 54-year-old is accused of ordering the removal of documents from the Karolyi Ranch in Texas "for the purpose of impairing the ongoing investigation by destroying or hiding the documents," according to the release.

"Mr. Penny is confident that when all the facts are known it will be shown that he did nothing criminal," his attorney, Edith Matthai, told IndyStar in an email.

During their investigation, the Texas Rangers and Walker County sheriff's office learned documents were removed from the Karolyi Ranch and delivered to USA Gymnastics' headquarters in Indianapolis. It is unclear what happened to the records after that.

Penny resigned from USA Gymnastics in March 2017.

When IndyStar asked about the missing records last June, c declined comment "due to ongoing investigations and pending litigation." On Thursday, the national governing body said, "We support law enforcement's efforts and have fully cooperated with the investigations by the Texas Rangers, Congress and others, and will continue do so to help the survivors and our community heal from this tragedy."

The Walker County criminal district attorney's office said investigators believe the records are "material to their investigation and that the removal of the records by Penny prevented them from reviewing documents that would have helped in their investigation" of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, "as well as assisted with the investigation of other offenses that may have occurred at the Karolyi Ranch."

Nassar was arrested after a 2016 IndyStar investigation exposed widespread sexual abuse problems at USA Gymnastics. He was sentenced in January to 40 to 175 years in prison on seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Nearly 500 girls and women have come forward claiming they were abused by Nassar over more than two decades.

In a separate case, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges.

The removal of records from the Karolyi Ranch, which used to be USA Gymnastics' national team training center, first became public when U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, asked Rhonda Faehn during a subcommittee hearing whether USA Gymnastics destroyed or removed any medical records to conceal Nassar's misconduct.

Faehn, a former senior vice president at USA Gymnastics, said Penny ordered USA Gymnastics employee Amy White to remove medical records from the Karolyi Ranch and bring them to Indianapolis.


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Copyright 2018 Richmond Newspapers, Inc.
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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

One big football game can represent 10 percent of an athletic department's annual budget. A poorly attended game can cost the school money.

The line to enter the stadium stretched out the gate, down the sidewalk and into the parking lot at Henrico High School. The Warriors were hosting Highland Springs, a matchup of two of the area's top high school football teams, and a big crowd had come to watch.

The result that night was a blowout — Highland Springs won 40-7. But from a financial perspective, the night was a major success for both schools. Approximately 4,000 tickets were sold, additional bleachers were brought in and the crowd swelled so much, some fans stood on the track.

It was the school's highest attended game in six years, Henrico athletics director Rob Welch said. About 4,600 people were in attendance, including staff, bands and those who were admitted on passes. When tickets sold out, some fans were turned away.

Games such as these are a huge boost to the budgets of high school athletic departments. The money made from one big football game can account for 10 percent of the Henrico athletic department's yearly revenue, Welch said.

"It's the economic engine for what you need to do," he added.

Schools depend on the money made at football games, because those dollars pay for other sports. It's used to pay for field hockey jerseys, soccer balls and baseball umpires. The amount of money made in the football season can determine how much the athletic department can spend the rest of the year.

"Football is kind of what we base the year on, budget wise," Hermitage AD Chris Rollison said.

While the school division will cover the costs of big items, such as the coaches' stipends and the electric bill, typically everything necessary to put on a game — equipment, uniforms, officials and police officers — is paid for by the school's athletics department.

The arrangements can vary slightly from division to division, and schools in the city of Richmond receive more help than the surrounding counties.

With 4,000 tickets sold at the Henrico-Highland Springs game at $8 each, a total of $32,000 was generated. But it takes several thousand dollars to host such a large crowd. Twenty-five police officers were stationed there, costing $5,600. (A lower-attendance game may require only five or six officers.) The seven officials on the field cost $650. About a dozen ticket takers were paid a total of $1,500.

After those expenses were paid, about $24,000 of income remained, and that amount was split in half, with Henrico and Highland Springs each receiving $12,000. In almost all high school football games in the area, ticket income is split between the schools.

That's why Richmond city schools play so many games on the road. Three of Richmond's five high schools don't have lights. If they play at home, they have to play on Friday or Saturday afternoon, when crowds are smaller. Administrators at Richmond schools understand they can make more money if they play on the road.

When Hermitage hosted Highland Springs in August, about 3,200 tickets were sold, Rollison said. It was as big a crowd as any Rollison has seen since he became the school's AD.

The money made that day was enough to cover an entire season of football expenses, he said. This includes reconditioning of helmets and the replacement of hip and knee pads, which have to be purchased each year.

While a highly attended game is a boon to athletic departments, a poorly attended game can be devastating. Welch was hoping for a sellout for Henrico's game against Varina. Then school was postponed that day because of Hurricane Michael, and the game was moved to Monday. The weather was perfect, Henrico won by 1 point, but less than 1,000 tickets were sold.

"If games are not played on Friday, it's always a big hit [to the budget]," said Manchester AD Greg Woodle.

When a football game is moved to another day or played in bad weather, the crowds can be so small that ticket sales don't cover the expenses of the game.

Chesterfield County closed school after Hurricane Michael, too, but administrators gave teams permission to play that night. Manchester hosted L.C. Bird, and about 3,750 tickets were sold, Woodle said.

Having an undefeated team and star players such as Notre Dame-bound quarterback Brendon Clark go a long way. They draw big crowds, even on the road, and drive the athletic department's budget.

"At Manchester, we live off the gate at football season," Woodle said.

At some schools, teams other than football can generate enough money to cover their expenses. At Henrico, the girls volleyball and field hockey teams can. At Glen Allen, the baseball and softball teams can.

But many sports operate at a loss, which is why the popularity of the football team and the weather on Friday night go a long way in determining the financial health of an athletic department.

"A lot of it is things we can't control," Rollison said. "It's difficult to make money every year."

This year the Colonial District raised ticket prices for football games to $8, which is the standard at public schools across the area. For other sports, it now charges $6. The district had charged $5 for probably 20 years, Rollison said.

And expenses never really decrease, he said. Each year, they stay flat or go up.

That's why ADs have to be frugal with their purchases. If the money isn't there, they might wait to purchase new uniforms or buy fewer balls. They might encourage the team to raise money to buy new uniforms.

"You have to be fiscally responsible," Welch said. "You have to take into account every purchase you're going to make. Is it really necessary and is it going to help the program?"

ADs also are proactive in encouraging students to attend games. Kids don't just show up at sporting events like they used to, Welch said. There are too many options for entertainment.

Welch held volleyball matches that were free to students in hopes of drumming up interest for the team. The school also takes part in an app called SuperFanHigh, which tracks a student's attendance at sporting events. The more games he or she attends, the more points the student collects. The student with the most points at the end of the year wins a prize.

Schools look for corporate sponsors, too. Chicken restaurant Zaxby's sponsors several in the area. In exchange for advertising, it provides food at a school's banquet or dinner for administrators before a game.

Some schools make money on advertising banners, too. Glen Allen has sold about 30 of them, and they cost anywhere from $250 to $1,500 depending on how long the banner is displayed, AD Mike Jiancristoforo said.

And some athletic departments depend on their booster clubs for portions of their income. At Glen Allen, the booster club can generate $50,000 toward the athletic department's annual revenue, Jiancristoforo said.

The booster club at Glen Allen operates the concession stand, holds fundraisers, silent auctions and social events to raise money. On Saturday, the club is holding a fundraiser at Richmond Ford Lincoln. The dealership will make a donation to the athletic department for every person who test drives a car that day.

To keep an athletic department afloat, directors have to be creative coming up with new ways to attract revenue.

"You have to be crafty," Jiancristoforo said.

ekolenich@timesdispatch.com (804) 649-6109 @EricKolenich

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Copyright 2018 Richmond Newspapers, Inc.
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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Bronco Mendenhall took a big risk when he left BYU to take over Virginia's football program three years ago. The Cougars had posted 11 straight winning seasons under Mendenhall. The Cavaliers had put up just one in the last eight years.

The announcement Thursday of a $500,000 gift pledged by Mendenhall and his wife, Holly, for a new football facility is a clear sign he believes he made the right move and plans to be at Virginia for the long haul.

"Why a new building is important, more so than anything else, to make a clear and simple statement that Virginia football matters," Mendenhall said recently. "It's not an afterthought. It's a priority and we intend to be excellent. Like anything else on grounds, we want to be exceptional."

U.Va. announced the half-million dollar pledge, the largest ever by a Cavaliers coach back to the school, Thursday, making it the first gift announced in relation to the athletic department's $180 million master plan.

Mendenhall took over the Cavaliers before the 2016 season. After a two-win season in his debut, he guided U.Va. to six wins and its first bowl appearance since 2011 last year. This season, Virginia is 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the ACC heading into Saturday's game at Duke (5-1, 1-1).

Mendenhall's on-field work has been a big step, but he and athletic director Carla Williams agree, off-field improvements are also necessary to build Virginia into a consistent winner.

"When you consider not beating our rival for 14 years or not being back to back bowl games for 14 years, none of that is accidental," Mendenhall said. "It's not an accident. It's been planned for. The choices have been aligned for. It's time to fix it."

The donation also is a call-to-arms of sorts from Mendenhall to fans he hopes will support the fundraising effort.

"Bronco's vision for the impact this facility will have on the football program is inspiring," Williams said in a statement released by the school. "And I hope his and Holly's gift will motivate others to invest in the future of Virginia student-athletes."

The master plan, still in its design phase, also includes a new Olympic sports facility and grass practice fields.

Mendenhall's program has seen an apparent spike in interest in his brief tenure. Saturday night, when the Cavaliers upset then-No. 16 Miami for their first win over a ranked opponent since 2014, the announced attendance of 42,393 was the third largest crowd at Scott Stadium in his time, behind his debut, the 2016 home opener against Richmond (49,270) and last season's game against rival Virginia Tech.

"We definitely, the players, we feed off that, and we appreciate that and it means a lot to us that people show up, they're loud, they're cheering," senior tight end Evan Butts said. "Those pom poms they had, in unison, going back and forth, that was awesome. When they blast the music, third downs when they get hyped, we see and appreciate that and I'm not sure if fans understand that but it doesn't matter if it's Miami, Duke, Liberty, it helps us."

Of course, Mendenhall believes his "earned not given" mantra applies to the fans, as well, and he's admitted he doesn't expect the stadium to start selling out until the results are consistently there on the field.

Now, he's given his own money to the cause, while he aims to keep winning. That, he knows, is what will eventually earn the most.

mbarber@timesdispatch.com @RTD_MikeBarber

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Third-year coach Bronco Mendenhall's pledge is the largest ever by a Virginia coach back to the school. The athletic department's master plan is in the design stage. DANIEL SANGJIB MIN/times-dispatch Third-year coach Bronco Mendenhall's pledge is the largest ever by a Virginia coach back to the school. The athletic department's master plan is in the design stage. DANIEL SANGJIB MIN/times-dispatch
 
October 19, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 The Post and Courier
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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Atlantic City's new Call Of Duty is this: To become the East Coast center of competitive video game tournaments, also known as esports.

The activity is rapidly growing in popularity across the country and around the world, and the New Jersey gambling resort wants to become a major player in the nearly $1 billion global market.

Proponents see it as a way for Atlantic City's nine casinos to add revenue and help endure the slow winter months. And in the hyper-competitive East Coast casino market, they also believe it can attract tourists whose interest in gambling is marginal or non-existent.

Isle of Man-based Continent 8 is building a $5 million data center at the Atlantic City Convention Center to serve not only the data-intensive esports industry, but Internet gambling and sports betting technologies as well. It should be ready in April.

Two Atlantic City casinos held tournaments last year, and another will host an industry convention this weekend. And Stockton University is joining the Eastern College Athletic Conference's intercollegiate esports competition, building a room at its Galloway campus, near Atlantic City.

Gambling and technology companies believe esports is a natural progression in Atlantic City's ongoing diversification of its gambling market.

"The sky is the limit on this," said Barbara DeMarco, a spokeswoman for Continent 8. "Sports wagering is bringing in millennials, and this group likes to work off a mobile device. Do we catch that before someone else does?"

Esports is already well-established in the United States, and growing rapidly. In 2016, the Downtown Grand in Las Vegas built an esports lounge, hosted tournaments and, with bookmaker William Hill, took the first sports wager placed in Nevada on an esports tournament.

Major gambling companies including Casesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International have invested in esports tournaments and facilities.

The market research firm Newzoo puts esports at a $905 million global market this year, predicting it will hit $1.4 billion by 2020. About 380 million people will watch at least one esports tournament this year, the company estimates.

"The first time I noticed esports was in the streets of Seoul, South Korea," said L. Anthony Gaud, president of Atlantic City-based INGAMEesports. "There was a giant crowd, and I asked someone, 'Is that a movie star or a rock star?' They said, 'No, it's a game player.' I had never seen anything like it in my life."

Internet gambling has been a steadily growing industry since Nov. 2013, and New Jersey launched sports betting in June after winning a U.S. Supreme Court case allowing it and other states to do so.

This weekend, the Ocean Resort Casino will host Gameacon, a convention with video game tournaments, networking sessions for game creators and artists, and sessions for fans to interact with developers.

The industry is also examining whether any laws or regulations can be changed to help spur the growth of esports in Atlantic City.

 

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Miami • The G League will begin offering "select contracts" worth $125,000 next year to elite prospects who are not yet eligible for the NBA, a move that could slightly lessen the handful of one-and-done players at the college level.

It is unclear how the players would be selected, but the league said Thursday it is establishing a working group to identify players who could be offered the contract.

Players will be eligible to sign the select deal if they turn 18 by Sept. 15 prior to the season that they would spend in the G League. The move follows recommendations released earlier this year by the Commission on College Basketball, a group that was chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and was tasked with reforming the college game.

The commission report said "elite high school players with NBA prospects... should not be 'forced' to attend college."

G League President Malcolm Turner said the move addresses that concern.

"Select Contracts are an answer to the basketball community's call for additional development options for elite players before they are eligible for the NBA," Turner said.

Under current rules, players are not eligible to enter the NBA draft until they are a year removed from high school - though that is expected to change through an amendment to the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players in time for the 2022 draft.

The G League has allowed 18-year-old players in the past, but never before under any elite designation.

While it is apparent there are still details to be ironed out, NCAA President Mark Emmert said he appreciates the G League's plan.

"Obtaining a college education continues to provide unmatched preparation for success in life for the majority of student-athletes and remains an excellent path to professional sports for many," Emmert said. "However, this change provides another option for those who would prefer not to attend college but want to directly pursue professional basketball."

Earlier this year, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James called the NCAA model "corrupt" and said he would suggest to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver a plan to expand the G League and turn it into more of a farm system with an eye on truly preparing young talent for the NBA.

"As the NBA, we have to figure out a way that we can shore up our farm league," James said in February, when he was still with the Cleveland Cavaliers. "And if kids feel like they don't want to be a part of that NCAA program, then we have something here for them to be able to jump back on and not have to worry about going overseas all the time."

Through the first two nights of this NBA season, 35 rookies - most of them having left college early - made their debuts. Of the 35, only five scored more than 10 points in their first game.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

While most of us weren't paying attention, the U.S. women's national soccer team easily qualified for its eighth consecutive World Cup. Were this team of another gender, the nation would be over the moon. World Cup qualifying doesn't come quite as smoothly for the American men as it does for the women.

So they're in, which really isn't news, because they're always in, having never missed a World Cup going all the way back to the first one in 1991, which they won. They famously triumphed again in 1999 in a red, white and blue sports spectacle that turned into a cultural awakening, inspiring a generation of women who are now beginning to assume their rightful place in society — which has the distinct look of slowly but surely taking over the world.

And they won again the last time the Women's World Cup was played in 2015, so they are the defending champions heading next summer to France, where, led by veterans Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn, they will be favored to win their fourth World Cup. Germany has won two; Norway and Japan have each won one.

That pretty much sums up the sports side of this story. But this being the U.S. women's national soccer team, there's always going to be more. This team is perennially in the middle of some issue or another that matters to girls and women not just in the United States but around the world. And it's always on the right side of that issue.

Four years ago in Canada, the subject was turf. FIFA, the non-profit international federation whose mission is to grow and promote the game of soccer worldwide, refused to let the women play on natural grass, which is of course what the men play on. They insisted the women play on artificial turf, considered by elite players to be an inferior surface that can cause more injuries than grass.

When Abby Wambach and 80 other players from 13 nations sued on the basis of gender discrimination, FIFA not only fought the suit, which eventually was withdrawn in the face of mounting legal hurdles, it also threatened retaliation against the players.

Nothing encourages little girls around the world to take up soccer like seeing their heroes being treated as second-class citizens by the leaders of the sport.

Four years later, the Old Boys Club known as FIFA is at it again. This time, they're back to their favorite issue: vastly unequal prize money.

The other day, SI.com and Fox Sports TV broke the news that FIFA was going to double the total prize money for the 24 Women's World Cup teams from $15 million in 2015 to $30 million in 2019.

That sounds like good news until you consider that FIFA has pledged to give $440 million to the 32 teams playing in the men's World Cup in 2022 in Qatar.

"I think they're probably looking for pats on the back for the increase, and they're not getting any from here," Rapinoe told SI.com. "Until they're going to take meaningful steps to truly show they're caring about the women's game in a sort of deeper way, it's like, I don't know, $15 million is nothing to them.... It's a significant amount of money, I get that, for the teams, but where are they even pulling this number from? If they just want to sort of arbitrarily do it, they could increase it by $100 million and wouldn't miss it."

She's right about that. FIFA has the money. This summer's men's World Cup generated $6.1 billion in revenue for FIFA.

As a comparison, the best the Women's World Cup has ever done is about $73 million in revenue in 2011 in Germany. But those numbers should not matter to FIFA because it is not a for-profit company. It is designed not to make decisions based on who's bringing in the money, but rather on how to help the game grow, and girls and women are still an untapped market for FIFA in many places around the world.

By giving women an international stage to showcase their game, FIFA believes it is doing well. But next year, unbelievably, it scheduled the final of the Women's World Cup on the same day (July 7) as two big men's events, the Copa America final and the CONCACAF Gold Cup final. That means, in many nations around the world, the crown jewel of women's soccer will be just the third biggest story in the sport on that day.

FIFA has the power to do anything in soccer, including changing the dates of a couple of games. It must do that in this case.

"In the way that they truly care about the men's game," Rapinoe said, "they don't truly care about the women's game."

That's a U.S. women's soccer player doing what she does best: winning games, giving her opinion, causing some trouble, making us think.

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

The attorney for former University of New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs confirmed this week that his client donated $25,000 to UNM after the Scotland golf junket controversy - but Gene Gallegos said Krebs did so only after a high-ranking university administrator told him a donation would resolve the situation.

The lawyer said Wednesday that David Harris, UNM's executive vice president for administration, chief financial officer and chief operating officer, "encouraged" Krebs to get a $25,000 donation to match the public funds UNM used for private donor expenses on the now-infamous 2015 golf fundraising trip.

It is a claim Harris denies.

"Basically, David said if you can get a $25,000 donation, that will take care of everything," Gallegos told the Journal.

Krebs ultimately decided it was easier to make the contribution himself, the lawyer added.

"I don't think it was good judgment, but Paul, rather than trying to go out and beat the bushes for a donation, just thought, 'Well, I'll just be the donor.'"

"I have never advised Paul Krebs on any matters related to the Scotland trip, financial or otherwise," Harris said in a statement provided through a UNM spokeswoman.

Scandal erupted over the foreign excursion when media began unearthing the financial details last year. In response, Krebs said in a May 2017 statement that an "anonymous" gift would cover what UNM paid for three private donors' Scotland expenses.

UNM and the University of New Mexico Foundation have never publicly identified the $25,000 donor, despite numerous inquiries from media and investigators.

As recently as last month, Gallegos and Krebs did not respond to a Journal inquiry about whether Krebs made the donation.

Gallegos said he did not know why Krebs went to the trouble of keeping his donation anonymous.

In an effort to pinpoint the source, special agents from state Attorney General Hector Balderas' office last month searched the UNM Foundation headquarters and determined that "a Paul Krebs" was the donor.

Balderas' office is now investigating Krebs for possible money laundering, fraud and embezzlement, according to a recent search warrant affidavit filed to probe Krebs' credit card records.

Gallegos disputes that there's any basis for criminal charges.

"If you read the search warrant, it sounds like maybe Paul wasn't the best employee, but it doesn't have anything to do with crimes," Gallegos said.

He said that Krebs would have turned over documents showing he made the donation if Balderas' office had asked, but the AG's Office has never contacted him or Krebs in the past 16 months.

Gallegos, who served as a UNM regent from 2009-14, provided the Journal with a letter dated June 15, 2017, that he said he sent Balderas announcing he was representing Krebs.

"Mr. Krebs and we as his counsel are prepared to and offer to provide complete cooperation with your inquiry," the letter said. "Please let me know if there is any information or assistance you wish that we may be able to furnish."

AG spokesman David Carl wrote in a statement: "While Paul Krebs may be willing to cooperate with our investigation, his initial failure to disclose the accurate source of the questionable payment has forced us to take appropriate law enforcement measures. When we are at an appropriate stage in our investigation to take a statement from Mr. Krebs, we will reach out to Mr. Gallegos. Mr. Gallegos and his client cannot dictate the manner in which we conduct our investigation."

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Copyright 2018 The Florida Times-Union

Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)

 

The Florida High School Athletic Association moved one step closer to approving a reclassification plan for seven sports, which would end mandatory district games and introduce ranking-based at-large berths for postseason.

The FHSAA's athletic directors advisory committee voted Wednesday to endorse the modified plan, a decision that sets the stage for a final decision on the proposal in less than two weeks.

The reclassification, which would apply to boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball and volleyball, would take effect for the 2019-20 school year.

Under the plan, those six sports would move to six classes, in addition to the unaffected rural class, beginning next fall. Soccer currently uses five classes, while the others now have nine. Those classes would be determined based on student enrollment, as in the current system.

The FHSAA would no longer require teams in those sports to schedule all of their district opponents during the regular season, a change intended to give schools greater flexibility in drawing up their annual slate of games.

In addition, the plan would use the rankings of California-based high school sports website MaxPreps to determine at-large qualifiers for the playoffs, four for each region in each classification, who would advance along with district tournament champions.

By contrast, in the current system, both district champions and runners-up automatically qualify for the postseason.

The vote passed 9-1, with Hialeah American athletic director Marcus Gabriel casting the lone dissenting vote. While the committee does not have power to implement policy directly, its approval normally carries significant weight with the FHSAA board of directors when evaluating major decisions.

That's a hurdle that an earlier, more radical plan failed to surmount. That proposal, developed over the summer, would have eliminated districts, district tournaments and enrollment-based classification entirely, replacing them with a divisional system based on the MaxPreps rankings.

However, at a Sept. 5 meeting of the committee, multiple athletic directors and coaches balked at elements of that plan, defending the value of district tournaments and expressing concerns about the accuracy and transparency of the MaxPreps rankings.

Those rankings remain a significant factor under the modified system, but by themselves, they won't determine a team's playoff destiny.

From this point, the next steps will unfold quickly.

A final vote is expected Oct. 29, when the FHSAA board of directors meets in Gainesville.

Should the proposal pass, the FHSAA would then face the task of drawing up the dividing lines of enrollment and squeezing the present eight non-rural classifications into six. The association has never before reduced the number of classes in any major team sport.

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Copyright 2018 Boston Herald Inc.
All Rights Reserved

The Boston Herald

 

Calls for "#OneLeague" might not have been so far off.

The National Women's Hockey League and Canadian Women's Hockey League might be making long-speculated progress uniting the two entities.

NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan told the Associated Press that one league is "inevitable," and has had discussions with new CWHL commissioner Jayna Hefford regarding a merger.

"I feel it's inevitable because there's no doubt it would be the right thing for the continued advancement of the women's game across all levels in the U.S. and Canada," Rylan told the Herald.

The NHL's involvement may also be inevitable.

"It's definitely something we have to look at," Hefford said. "There is a lot to consider and where I am new to the role I'm trying to understand what the challenges and roadblocks are and how we can get us to the point where we have one professional hockey league in a way that works for everyone."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman balked in the past at being involved in the women's leagues' disputes, and he's expressed a desire to not start a third league to overstep their bounds.

As the NWHL continued to grow, however, Bettman has spoken more at length about the NHL getting involved in women's hockey.

"When you've started a business and made great progress in just three years, what's it like when Gary Bettman tells the media the model for our women's league doesn't work? Of course, it's really disappointing," Rylan said. "But behind the scenes, the commissioner has been a gracious adviser to me and the NHL has been supportive, so we hold up his comments as another challenge that inspires us. Can we improve? No question about it."

Behind the scenes the NHL has quietly got involved. According to the AP report, it was the men's league that stepped in and helped end the labor and wage dispute between women's national team players and USA Hockey that resulted in equal pay ahead of the 2018 Olympics.

The NHL or USA Hockey have not publicly discussed the funding or four-year agreement between the players and the latter entity. The NHL declined comment.

The NWHL hasn't publicly lobbied for NHL support as much as the CWHL, but three of its five franchises have some NHL involvement. The Buffalo Sabres own a team, while the New Jersey Devils and Minnesota Wild have partnerships.

"My hope is that over time we'll earn Gary's respect for our business and for what we're doing for hockey," Rylan said of Bettman. "In the advancement of a sport that we all believe is for everyone, we're in this together with the NHL, the CWHL and all the hockey leagues."

One league would be a lot easier to throw support behind for the NHL. The NHL did not step in when the NWHL was struggling to pay its players in the midst of its second season, or offer any other support or show interest until the league has been seemingly on stable ground.

The NWHL offered no comment on the NHL's involvement or how they could assist the women's leagues.

A source confirmed the leagues have discussed a merger. If the motive is to unite to bring in NHL involvement isn't clear, but it would be a step if that is what the leagues desire.

Hefford is, according to the AP, scheduled to meet with Bettman this week. The CWHL did not return a request for comment.

Both the NWHL and CWHL are in the midst of their seasons. The NWHL is in its fourth year and has games scheduled in two NHL arenas this season.

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Copyright 2018 The E.W. Scripps Company
All Rights Reserved

Abilene Reporter-News (Texas)

 

Modern-day cryotherapy may seem like a new concept, but the origins of cold plunges and contrast baths date as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans. Back then, cold plunges were used to stimulate blood circulation and rapidly cool the body, particularly when soldiers where in active training preparations for war. Water temperatures ranged from 4 to 8 degrees. Perhaps we need to credit our ancient ancestors as being the first to develop whole-body cryotherapy.

What exactly is whole-body cryotherapy?

Fast forward several centuries and modern-day cryotherapy is a procedure that literally means cold-therapy. It requires participants to be minimally dressed (e.g. bathing suit and socks) while being exposed to extremely cold temperatures for several minutes, typically in a chamber type setting.

According to a report in medical news today, cryotherapy may offer the following benefits:

Decreased headache and reduced pain from migraines. Cryotherapy helps treat migraines by cooling and numbing nerves in the neck area and cooling the blood passing through intracranial vessels.

Cryotherapy helps treat nerve disorders by numbing the pain. This has proven helpful when treating athletes with pinched nerves or neuromas, chronic pain, or even acute injuries.

Provides pain relief and muscle healing. Cryotherapy can help with muscle pain, as well as some joint and muscle disorders, such as arthritis. It may also promote faster healing of athletic injuries.

Just as doctors have long recommended using ice packs on injured and painful muscles, using cryotherapy may increase blood circulation after the ice pack is removed, promoting faster healing and greater pain relief.

Research has also been conducted on the effects of whole-body cryotherapy and bone health. Initial findings showed whole-body cryotherapy had beneficial effects on bone resorption, suggesting that the increased osteogenic (bone formation) would be beneficial in the prevention of stress fractures and in post- fracture recovery.

Finally, research has determined the heightened effectiveness of whole-body cryotherapy in relationship to improvements in muscular tiredness, pain, and well-being following strenuous exercise.

These days, many high profile professional athletes, NFL teams, and European soccer clubs are using cryotherapy chambers on a regular basis to assist in overall performance; recovery, reduced injuries, energy, sleep.

There is anecdotal information that whole-body cryotherapy can reportedly burn between 500 and 800 calories in three minutes, though I have not been able to find a published study to substantiate this claim.

If this were true, it would likely be due to heat generation within the body to compensate for external cold. It is well known that shivering increases the body's metabolism and hence caloric expenditure.

 



Angie Ferguson is an exercise physiologist from Fort Myers, Florida. She is a USA Triathlon Advanced Level 2 coach, USA Cycling coach, has a Specialty in Sports Nutrition certification and a PhD in results! For more training tips, contact her at www.gearedup.biz.

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Copyright 2018 Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
All Rights Reserved

Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

 


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - With more than 40 years spent in the college basketball world, Rick Barnes doesn't believe cheating ever will leave the game.

But the Tennessee coach - who says cheating has been going on for 60 years - also doesn't think it's a widespread issue in college basketball as the first trial tied to an FBI investigation into corruption in the sport started in early October.

"Cheating has always been in basketball, as in every sport and in business," Barnes said Wednesday at SEC Basketball Media Day. "We can talk about the business world. We can talk about anything. It has been. Regardless of what comes out of this, it's bad for the game. We all know that; it's bad. I was asked this question this morning: Do I think it's going to stop cheating? I don't think it will.

"The people that want to cheat are going to cheat. What I want people to understand is not everybody cheats. No one should come up and say it's widespread in college basketball. Because it's not. It's not."

The steps toward the trial began in September, when unsealed court documents provided details of a multi-year FBI investigation into suspected bribery and fraud in the sport. The findings - largely alleging money was being provided to steer future NBA players toward specific companies, advisers and agents - led to federal corruption charges against a handful of NCAA assistant coaches and shoe executives.

Coaches, including Louisville's Rick Pitino and an assistant coach at Auburn, lost their jobs as a result of the probe. Louisville, Kansas, Miami and N.C. State have featured prominently in the court proceedings. Schools including Oregon, Creighton and Arizona also have been mentioned because of ties to former five-star recruit Brian Bowen.

"Coaches that have been doing this as long as I have, believe me, we know - when you are in a recruiting situation - what's going on," Barnes said. "... If anybody is saying they didn't, we all know it. The fact of the matter is you choose to stay in it or you choose to get out."

On Monday, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski reportedly referred to the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball as "a blip." The subject was prevalent among SEC coaches in Birmingham even as the court proceedings took place in New York City this week.

Barnes said it's not hard for coaches not to cheat in recruiting; it boils down to making a choice. He said when a coach gets into a recruitment, they quickly find out which way the recruitment will go.

"Then there is where you have to make your choice," Barnes said. "Do I stay in it? If I stay in, what's it going to cost me? Is it going to cost me my reputation? Or do I say, no, that's not for us. That's not the way we do it. You find out over time there's enough players out there for everyone."

Barnes previously said he was not surprised by cheating in college basketball but was surprised at the FBI's involvement last fall.

He wasn't surprised, either, in February when a Yahoo! Sports report detailed the depth of potential NCAA violations involving high-profile players and programs.

But Barnes maintained Wednesday that more coaches do things the right way. Still, he is convinced cheating won't vanish from college basketball.

"Do I think it's going to stop? I don't think it will ever stop," Barnes said. "There's too much at stake. I can only tell you this: Basketball has been really, really good to me. I've been in this business for over 40 years. I can tell you without question, there are so many guys in this business that have done this thing the right way."

"Regardless of what comes out of this, it's bad for the game. We all know that; it's bad. I was asked this question this morning: Do I think it's going to stop cheating? I don't think it will. The people that want to cheat are going to cheat."

Vols coach Rick Barnes

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Copyright 2018 The Post and Courier
All Rights Reserved

Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

NEW YORK (AP) - Lawyers at a trial exploring corruption in big-time college basketball clashed in closing arguments Wednesday over the question of whether major programs were harmed by an alleged scheme to give secret cash payments to the families of top recruits.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Noah Solowiejczyk told a jury in federal court in Manhattan that a former Adidas executive and two co-defendants were shady fixers who put Louisville, Kansas and other universities at risk for costly sanctions by the NCAA by concealing the prohibited payments. The cover-up also tricked colleges into giving scholarships to players who should have been ineligible, he said.

"That's a crime," the prosecutor said. "It's called fraud."

A lawyer for defendant Christopher Dawkins, a business manager instrumental in steering prized prospect Brian Bowen Jr. to Louisville, called the government "theory" that the schools were victims "flawed." He claimed that his client thought he was helping the program succeed to the benefit of everyone involved.

"What proof did the government present that Louisville suffered any harm?" said attorney Steven Haney. "In Christopher Dawkins' mind, he thought what he was doing was OK."

Dawkins, former amateur league director Merl Code and former Adidas executive James Gatto, have pleaded not guilty to charges that they committed fraud by plying the families with cash so the prospects would attend colleges sponsored by the athletic wear company.

Prosecutors say the three struck an illicit deal to give $100,000 to Bowen's father for his son to commit to Louisville. Once the criminal investigation was made public, Bowen left the school without ever playing and coach Rick Pitino was fired despite denying any wrongdoing.

In his closing, Solowiejczyk recounted testimony from cooperators and wiretap evidence about how the defendants took steps to create false invoices to Adidas, route funds through various bank accounts and convert it to cash that was delivered in envelopes to family members in parking lots and hotel rooms.

The behavior "tells you an awful lot about the defendants," the prosecutor said. "It tells you that what they were doing was wrong."

The defendants haven't denied that there were attempts to funnel cash to the recruits' families. But they've argued that was how the recruitment game was played and that talent-hungry coaching staffs knew it.

Haney said Dawkins was even advising Bowen to consider Oregon, a Nike-sponsored school, in a competition known as "sneaker wars." A text message in evidence that Code, who was a consultant for Adidas, sent to Dawkins implored: "Don't send Bowen to Oregon."

Dawkins "was working just as much to help Nike schools," the lawyer said.

Once the scandal broke, Bowen transferred to South Carolina but was never cleared to play college basketball and is pursuing a professional career.

Closing arguments were to continue Thursday with deliberations expected to begin next week.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
All Rights Reserved

The Washington Times

 

The Los Angeles Chargers have struggled to attract a fanbase since relocating from San Diego and the NFL owners are fully aware of the problem.

According to a new report from ESPN, the Chargers' lack of success was a hot-button issue at the league's owner meetings this week.

The network reported the Chargers have had to adjust their financial projections from $400 million down to $150 million when the team moves into its new Inglewood stadium in 2020. The Chargers will share the stadium with the Los Angeles Rams, who relocated from St. Louis to the city in 2016.

The Chargers moved to Los Angeles after the 2016 season. They play their games at the StubHub Center in Carson, which seats only 30,000. Chief among the Chargers' issues is they've had home games filled with fans of the opposing team.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the Chargers' situation at a press conference Wednesday.

"We were out of the market for a long time," Goodell said. "We have to earn our way back with our fans. We have to build that relationship back with our fans and make sure that we do it right."

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

HOUSTON - It's completely out of control, this widespread cheating, and it's time for Major League Baseball to put a stop to it.

MLB has extensive drug testing for its players, trying to at least slow down performance-enhancing drug use. Now it must do something dramatic to curb this sign-stealing espionage by teams.

The Astros were the latest to get caught, with a team employee monitoring the Red Sox dugout with a cellphone camera from the first-base photographer's well in the first three innings of Game 1 at Fenway Park. Red Sox security, which received a tip from the Indians that this employee -- identified as Kyle McLaughlin by Yahoo Sports -- would be trying to steal signs, escorted him from the area in the third inning. McLaughlin, who listed the Astros as his employer on social media, erased it from his biography late Tuesday after Boston Metro reported the incident.

The Astros insist it was simply an employee trying to determine if the Red Sox were cheating themselves, using dugout video monitors. Yet the Indians also filed a report with MLB accusing the Astros of filming their dugout during Game 3 of the American League Division Series, according to Cleveland.com. And the Red Sox were caught cheating a year ago by using Apple watches to signal signs.

Dave Dombrowski, Red Sox president of baseball operations, said he was informed of the incident by MLB but didn't think McLaughlin directly influenced the game's outcome, won by the Astros 7-2. "It really is in Major League Baseball's hands,'' Dombrowski said outside manager Alex Cora's office. "I'm not concerned about it, though. That was taken care of very early in the game.... It did not cost us anything."

Still, it's just the latest sign of espionage running rampant through baseball, with one Red Sox player telling USA TODAY they were warned about the Astros' antics during the season and were told to be careful with the advance scouting reports in case there are secret cameras in the clubhouse.

"I'm always concerned about (sign-stealing) throughout the season," Cora said. "We do a good job changing sequences and paying attention to details. And we don't get caught up on the whole paranoia thing of the signs.... If we feel there's something going on, we switch the signs."

MLB cleared the Astros of any illegal activity Wednesday but ordered them to stop doing their own surveillance on teams they suspect of cheating with the use of electronic equipment.

Teams are switching signs with such regularity, even with no one on base, that you're seeing more catchers getting crossed up than at any time before.

Going into Wednesday, there had been 32 wild pitches and passed balls this postseason, including seven by the Astros, which is on pace for the most in history. Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal had three passed balls.

"We ask a lot out of our catchers," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We have 12, 13, sometimes 14 pitchers on a roster that can all have different signs and different sequences. That's why you see catchers go to the mound all the time in between innings when it's allowed, when a new pitcher comes in."

Catchers used to go to the mound with regularity during the postseason to make sure their signals were straight, but with the new legislation limiting teams to six mound visits, there's more confusion than ever.

"You think of all the signs everybody's going through, especially when a guy gets on second base," Astros veteran starter Justin Verlander said. "I mean the game comes to a halt when that happens because of all the technology....

"How often do you see a pitcher ready to go, batter ready to go, catcher ready to go, but we're still getting signals from the manager in the dugout whether it's pickoff or throw over or pitch out or whatever sign could possibly be coming. You've got to give a sign every single time. And probably 95 percent of those are nothing, deke signs."

It's time to put a stop to it.

MLB should not have to employ nine people to monitor the AL Championship Series simply to determine whether a team is cheating. Teams shouldn't have to concern themselves with cameras focused on every coach in the dugout or trying to spot team employees in the outfield stands or near the dugout.

You put a stop to it with severe punishment. You can't strip teams of scholarships like the NCAA, but you can take away their prized draft picks. You can't forfeit bowl game appearances, but you can prohibit them from participating in the free agent market.

Please, no more wrist slaps.

Make the punishment hurt.

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Swimmers for Life, a nonprofit created by former members of the Deerfield High School swim team, has raised $6,500 in support of the North Suburban YMCA's new drowning prevention program. The gift continues a partnership between the Y and the group's founders, who launched Swimmers for Life while still in high school to promote water safety for all children. Lauren Kurzydlo and Grace Frankel were inspired to create Swimmers for Life in 2014 when they were teammates at Deerfield High.

They shared a lifelong love of swimming that had been developed through childhood lessons, and felt strongly that all children should have the opportunity to enjoy the water safely. They were stunned by statistics that show accidental drowning to be the second leading cause of death among children. The swimmers decided to work with the YMCA to support swim lesson scholarships through the Y's Strong Kids Fund.

"I grew up taking classes at the North Suburban YMCA and loved them," Kurzydlo said. "When Swimmers for Life was searching for a strong swim partner in our community, serving a diverse population to help us achieve our goals, we reached out to the YMCA. "Not only were they enthusiastic to partner with us, but they helped us go above and beyond what we would have been able to do on our own. We are so excited that our combined passion for providing swim and water safety lessons could help prevent childhood drownings for all."

Joined by Lauren's sister Lily Kurzydlo, they began fundraising at swim meets and events, selling rubber bracelets and accepting donations. In 2015, their efforts enabled them to donate $2,000 to the Strong Kids Fund. In 2018, the Y launched its "Two Seconds Too Long" swim safety initiative, which provides free water safety assessments to second-graders on a school-by-school basis, beginning with seven elementary schools in Wheeling and Northbrook.

Children who lack sufficient skills are offered a free series of water safety classes, along with discounted rates on future swim lessons. Although they have now moved on to college, the founders of Swimmers for Life were excited to continue their support for the Y in this new program that fits perfectly with their original goals. In addition to the donation of funds, they plan to participate as volunteer instructors as the program moves forward.

"We are so inspired by the dedication and community spirit that these young leaders have shown," said Kathy Fielding, NSYMCA vice president of Membership Engagement, Marketing and Programs. "Their hard work will help provide life-changing swim lessons to many children who otherwise would be at risk."

"We chose to work with the North Suburban YMCA because they share the same fundamental value that Swimmers for Life was built on," Frankel said. "This value, that every child deserves equal opportunities regardless of their parent's financial situation, is what led us to start Swimmers for Life. Not only does the YMCA embrace this belief, but they inherently share it as well, and this is what makes them such an amazing organization to work with."

For more information, visit NSYMCA.org or contact Kim Nyren, knyren@nsymca.org 

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Copyright 2018 The Buffalo News
All Rights Reserved

The Buffalo News (New York)

 

One of the region's elite private schools is seeking to add a two- story gymnasium and fitness facility to its Buffalo campus.

Nardin Academy wants to construct a 20,700-square-foot addition to the current school building at 135 Cleveland Ave.

Plans call for the addition to include a full-size gym, a fitness center, a wellness center, two locker rooms, athletic offices, concessions and a bookstore. The gym will have 11 rows of bleachers to seat 482.

The project would also feature new landscaping to screen the expansion, as well as an exterior courtyard and a new plaza for better pedestrian access. The design by Schneider Architectural Services also adds wood fencing along the interior side yard, plus site lighting and new paving.

The brown masonry and precast concrete addition would be located in the rear of the building, on the school's 3.8-acre property, and would include 15 additional parking spaces after the existing lot is reconfigured, according to the school's application to the city's Zoning Board of Appeals.

Bicycle racks also would be added near the entrance and in the new courtyard.

Future phases shown in drawings indicate a new elementary school playground, new outdoor sports courts, a new high school green and other courtyard improvements.

Nardin officials are seeking variances from the Green Code for the height of the addition - 46 feet and 7.25 inches, versus the maximum of 40 feet - and for some of the landscaping requirements, which are higher than what the project would include. The height is needed so the gym will meet standard regulations for size, and to allow "an ambulance to circulate through the parking lot below at the ground floor level," the school said in its application.

Officials argue they need the landscaping relief to provide more parking on the site, reducing the need for cars to take up space on the street, and also for visibility and pedestrian safety so that drivers' views are not obstructed.

"The requested variances are not substantial in nature. The intent of the Green Code is still being met," the school said in its application. "There will be no increase in students or staff and therefore no increase in traffic. On-street parking for residents should improve."

The Zoning Board will consider the request this afternoon at City Hall.

According to its application, the school held a neighborhood meeting on Oct. 10, and hopes to attain all city approvals by the end of this month.

Officials are aiming to start construction by RP Oak Hill Building Co. by June 3, 2019, and finish the work by August 2020.

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

The Ponitz High School football team will forfeit this Friday's game against Belmont after all the team's players were suspended because of an altercation in last week's game, a school official said.

The incident last Friday came in a game against Northland at Welcome Stadium. Ponitz trailed Northland 43-8 late in the first half when the game was stopped because of an on-field incident, said Dayton Public Schools director of athletics Shawna Welch. All Ponitz players who were not on the field were cited by officials as leaving the bench area and were immediately ejected from the game.

Citing a lack of players, Ponitz forfeited the game to Northland. The 43-8 score counts as a final.

Welch said the Ponitz suspensions would be lifted after this week and Ponitz would play Thurgood Marshall in a regular season-ending game at Welcome Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 27. Ejections carry an automatic one-game suspension in football (two games for all other sports), according to Ohio High School Athletic Association bylaws.

Beau Rugg, the OHSAA's senior director of officiating and sport management, said there would be no additional penalties against Ponitz or DPS athletics.

Last April, the OHSAA extended the DPS athletic probationary period through June 2020 from a previous series of events that were ruled a violation of administrative responsibility and institutional control.

The extended probation came about after the OHSAA ruled that Dunbar used an ineligible player in the boys basketball tournament last season. Dunbar's probation was extended through June 2022, and Dunbar is ineligible to play in the 2019 postseason.

Several Northland football players also were suspended.

"It's always unfortunate when you have an incident that takes place where the young people get out of character and get themselves in a situation in a sport that they love and they chose to participate in taken away," Northland athletic director Mario Bowles said on Wednesday. "As a program, we've moved on."

Northland (6-2), a member of the Columbus City League North Division, is bidding for a spot in the Division II, Region 7 playoffs. The Vikings are a D-I boys state basketball power, having won a state title in 2009 and finishing as runner-up in 2011. Northland has qualified for the football playoffs twice.

Rugg confirmed Belmont will be awarded a 1-0 forfeit win over Ponitz this week.

It was the first time Ponitz and Northland had played in football. Bowles didn't know if the teams were scheduled to play again next season.

"Best wishes to the Ponitz program," he said. "That's an unfortunate situation as well."

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Copyright 2018 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
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The Philadelphia Daily News

 

A FIGHT that originated in the stands after Olney beat host West Philadelphia Friday night has resulted in both teams forfeiting the rest of their respective seasons.

Each team had just one game left in the regular season, though both would have made the playoffs. Olney would have played Southern this week to determine the third seed in the Public League Liberty division.

Instead, Southern will host Boys' Latin Friday night at 6:30 p.m.

Last Friday, the Trojans had kneeled on the ball to run out the clock, defeating the Speedboys, 20-8, just before players from both teams talked trash in the customary handshake line.

No pushing or shoving occurred during that time, according to someone at the game. Both coaches eventually restored some order. Minutes later, however, a fight broke out in the stands. Multiple players from each team became involved. Police responded to the scene.

The decision to forfeit the games was mutually decided and agreed upon by the principals of both schools, according to Jimmy Lynch, the executive director of athletics for the School District of Philadelphia.

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

LEBANON -

The former treasurer of the Springboro Clearcreek Baseball Association was back in the Warren County Jail on Wednesday, officials said.

Renee K. Nichols, 46, was being held in lieu of $750,000 bond after her arraignment in Warren County Common Pleas Court, according to court records.

Nichols is accused of embezzlement of $180,000 from the group between 2011 and 2017, while she was its treasurer.

The group's troubles first came to light a year ago when a new board member, who is also a Certified Public Accountant, began looking into the organization's finances and discovered no Form 990 had been filed with the IRS, outlining the group's financial status, Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said in his press release. Failing to file jeopardized the group's tax-exempt status.

The IRS revoked the association's non-profit tax exemption on May 15, 2017. A revocation was posted three months later, on Aug. 15, 2017, according to an IRS online database.

No reinstatement date was listed.

Nichols was booked into the jail in Lebanon on Monday after her indictment on charges of aggravated theft and tampering with records. She was furloughed for medical reasons, according to court records.

Jail officials said Nichols was back behind bars on Wednesday after her arraignment.

Magistrate Andrew Hasselbach set Nichols' bond and her medical release was modified, according to court records.

No lawyer had been appointed or retained to represent Nichols, according to court records.

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Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)

 

AMES, Iowa - Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen said Tuesday the university will appeal a $25,000 fine levied by the Big 12 Conference for violating postgame celebration policies when fans stormed the field following a home win over West Virginia last weekend.

The league told Iowa State that Commissioner Bob Bowlsby had determined university officers did not take the "appropriate precautions to create a safe environment" for the Mountaineers. West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen was critical of school efforts, calling the scene "unprofessional" and suggesting his players were not in a "safe place."

Iowa State says it reviewed the actions taken by its officers. The Cyclones contend they followed all postgame celebration policies and had taken "several additional measures" to make the situation safer.

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office this week seized the financial records of former University of New Mexico Athletic Director Paul Krebs, looking for possible evidence of money laundering, fraud and embezzlement, newly released documents show.

Attorney General Hector Balderas' office served a search warrant on a credit card company used by Krebs in an attempt to further confirm the former administrator himself made a $25,000 donation to cover the losses UNM sustained on the now-infamous 2015 Scotland fundraising golf trip, a search warrant affidavit shows.

But Krebs' attorney, Gene Gallegos, confirmed to the Journal late Tuesday that Krebs had made the donation and he would have turned over the credit card proof if the Attorney General's Office had asked for it.

The Attorney General's Office did not specifically respond to questions late Tuesday about whether it had asked Krebs or his attorney about the donation, with a spokesman citing the investigation.

The seizure comes after the AG's office found evidence that Krebs was the donor during a search of the UNM Foundation last month.

A UNM Foundation official identified Krebs as the donor and the AG's Office obtained a donation receipt that shows Krebs' name and the last four digits of a credit card number.

"I would like to see the certified Chase credit card records and complete card information in order to further assist in positively identifying the source of the donated funds and also assist in positively identifying donor Paul Krebs and further investigate possible violations of the State of New Mexico Government Conduct Act... which requires all public officials to conduct themselves in an ethical manner in advancement of the public trust as well as other crimes," including violations of the state's money laundering, fraud and embezzlement statutes, AG Special Agent Antonio Vargas wrote in the search warrant signed on Sept. 24 and fulfilled by Chase Bank this week.

Balderas last year launched an investigation into UNM after media discovered the university used nearly $25,000 in public money to pay some private donor expenses on the Scotland trip.

In the wake of the media coverage, Krebs in May 2017 announced an anonymous donor had given $25,000 to help repay UNM.

UNM has never publicly revealed the source of the donation despite repeated questions from investigators and media, including the Journal.

But the search warrant says emails between Krebs and his wife, Marjori, a UNM employee, strongly suggest the donation "appears to be an attempt to cover up" violations Krebs committed in authorizing the trip.

In one message, Krebs provided Marjori the text of an anonymous letter explaining the donation that he wanted her to print and hand-deliver to the UNM Foundation's Vice President for Development, Larry Ryan. He told her it should have "no name, return address or anything associated with us on the letter or envelope."

Multiple high-ranking officials at the foundation have withheld the donor's identity from Balderas' investigators.

Ryan acknowledged taking the donation, but would not say who made it.

Foundation General Counsel Pat Allen, meanwhile, provided the AG's Office with a credit card transaction for the gift, but the name was redacted, the affidavit states.

The foundation officials' conflicting stories about the donation helped prompt AG's special agents to execute a search warrant on the foundation's Albuquerque headquarters on Sept. 5.

The new search warrant for Krebs' bank records said last month's search revealed "a Paul Krebs" made the $25,000 donation.

The warrant says Annette Hazen, listed on the UNM foundation website as an associate vice president for development, told investigators that Ryan contacted her one evening to say Krebs wanted to make a $25,000 donation. He provided her with Krebs' credit card information to process it, which she did the next day.

Hazen said she also completed a donation acknowledgment letter for Paul Krebs for tax purposes, according to the affidavit.

In addition, a donation receipt "had the name Paul Krebs listed on it along with the credit/debit card type (Visa), last four digits of the card number, but no other identifying information."

According to the affidavit, the foundation sent the $25,000 donation to the University of New Mexico Athletics Department, where it was "placed in a contingency index controlled by the Vice President of Athletics, Paul Krebs."

Balderas said in a written statement that his office "will continue our highly active investigation into financial transactions at UNM. We will provide the public with updates as we are able."

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Copyright 2018 The Buffalo News
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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

One of the region's elite private schools is seeking to add a two- story gymnasium and fitness facility to its Buffalo campus.

Nardin Academy wants to construct a 20,700-square-foot addition to the current school building at 135 Cleveland Ave.

Plans call for the addition to include a full-size gym, a fitness center, a wellness center, two locker rooms, athletic offices, concessions and a bookstore. The gym will have 11 rows of bleachers to seat 482.

The project would also feature new landscaping to screen the expansion, as well as an exterior courtyard and a new plaza for better pedestrian access. The design by Schneider Architectural Services also adds wood fencing along the interior side yard, plus site lighting and new paving.

The brown masonry and precast concrete addition would be located in the rear of the building, on the school's 3.8-acre property, and would include 15 additional parking spaces after the existing lot is reconfigured, according to the school's application to the city's Zoning Board of Appeals.

Bicycle racks also would be added near the entrance and in the new courtyard.

Future phases shown in drawings indicate a new elementary school playground, new outdoor sports courts, a new high school green and other courtyard improvements.

Nardin officials are seeking variances from the Green Code for the height of the addition - 46 feet and 7.25 inches, versus the maximum of 40 feet - and for some of the landscaping requirements, which are higher than what the project would include. The height is needed so the gym will meet standard regulations for size, and to allow "an ambulance to circulate through the parking lot below at the ground floor level," the school said in its application.

Officials argue they need the landscaping relief to provide more parking on the site, reducing the need for cars to take up space on the street, and also for visibility and pedestrian safety so that drivers' views are not obstructed.

"The requested variances are not substantial in nature. The intent of the Green Code is still being met," the school said in its application. "There will be no increase in students or staff and therefore no increase in traffic. On-street parking for residents should improve."

The Zoning Board will consider the request this afternoon at City Hall.

According to its application, the school held a neighborhood meeting on Oct. 10, and hopes to attain all city approvals by the end of this month.

Officials are aiming to start construction by RP Oak Hill Building Co. by June 3, 2019, and finish the work by August 2020.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa will not play for the Buckeyes again, instead turning his attention to rehabbing a core muscle injury and preparing for the 2019 NFL Draft, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

ESPN later added that Bosa will withdraw from the university.

Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer confirmed in a statement that Bosa considered one of the top NFL prospects for the Class of 2019 would not return to his program.

"I was hopeful that Nick would be able to return to play again for us," Meyer said. "I know this was an extremely difficult and emotional decision for Nick and his family, and I wish him well as he moves on to get himself 100 percent healthy and ready for his next chapter. I want to thank Nick for the remarkable efforts he gave for this program. He is a first-class young man who we have been honored to coach."

Bosa, who was a junior, hasn't played since Sept. 15 when he sustained the injury. He had 17.5 sacks in 29 collegiate games.

His older brother, Joey Bosa, was the third overall pick by the Los Angeles Chargers in the 2016 NFL Draft.

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC

Newsday (New York)

 

The NFL experienced a 13 percent reduction in concussions during the 2018 preseason compared with 2017, according to Dr. Allen Sills, the league's chief medical officer and Jeffrey Miller, the NFL's executive vice president of health and safety initiatives.

"Concussions were down in the preseason from 91 a year ago to 79," Miller told a small group of reporters at the NFL's October owners meetings in New York.

"We are cautiously optimistic about that result," Sills said. "We know we still have a lot of work to do, and we are continuing a more in-depth analysis of concussions during the (regular) season."

The league this year introduced rules changes on kickoffs, including the requirement that players on the kicking team line up just behind the kicking spot and remaining stationary until the ball is kicked. In addition, there changes to blocking rules were introduced that eliminated some high-impact collisions. The NFL also imposed a rule prohibiting all players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact anywhere on the field.

"Nobody's claiming victory," Miller said. "Before we evaluate whether or not some of the tactics have been successful, we are pleased with where we are so far."

The introduction of safer helmets has also had an impact, according to Sills and Miller. They said 72 percent of players now wear helmets rated in the highest category by the league, up from 41 percent in 2017.

"We're pleased to see players adopting better-performing helmets because we're pretty confident from the work that the engineers have done that that improved use of better performing helmets is going to lead to some injury reductions," Sills said.

Sills also reported that the league had "interventions" with seven teams that saw an unusually high number of concussions among players during the preseason.

"We did a targeted intervention with those clubs and (had) discussions with their football operations and coaching staffs about those numbers and looking for ways that (concussions) could perhaps go down in terms of type of practice, drill design and emphasizing their players use better performing helmets," Sills said.

Sills reported that nine players from those seven teams suffered concussions in the 2018 preseason, compared with 23 last year. He declined to identify any of the teams.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

Safety is the common ground motivating officials from the NFL and NCAA to convene in New York this month for an unprecedented in-season summit aimed at aligning player protection rules.

No, the NFL isn't angling to institute college football's wild overtime system. Defensive pass interference will remain a spot foul in the pro game. But power brokers on both sides sense a need for consistency when it comes to measures — chiefly rules and techniques — needed for a safer game.

"It's long overdue," Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president for football operations, told USA TODAY. "I think we can learn from each other. That's the intent."

It's been a tough season for the NFL on the officiating front, with numerous controversies stemming from how rules — namely an emphasis on the roughing-the-passer foul and a new helmet rule that bans lowering the head to initiate contact — are interpreted and applied.

Yet there's little debate that the rules in question are fueled by efforts to minimize football's inherent danger. The meeting at NFL headquarters on Oct. 30 is an extension of such objectives. It will include representatives from the NFL and NCAA officiating departments and competition committees, and likely other invested parties — including the NFL Players Associations and delegates from various conferences.

Vincent said the goal is to establish standards that apply on all levels of football, creating consistency that extends to a player's earliest days playing the sport. Vincent expressed frustration that players too often ascend to the NFL needing to learn new techniques, given the pro game's specific rules. He used the chop block, now outlawed in the NFL, as an example of how the rule book's goalposts move depending on the league.

"We just eliminated the chop block two years ago," Vincent said. "Well, on the high school level and in Pop Warner, it never existed."

Increased focus in recent years on the effects of head injuries have prompted numerous rule changes and officiating standards throughout football — including the college game's "targeting" rule and NFL's new emphasis on its pre-existing roughing-the-passer penalty and those helmet-to-helmet blows that occur all too often among all players.

"There is so much focus to do better at health and safety," Arizona State athletics director Ray Anderson, who chairs the NCAA Division I Football Competition Committee, told USA TODAY. "If the rules need to be tweaked or changed... we just need to get this right."

Universal rules would conceivably allow for comprehensive techniques and a common approach for teaching, educating and officiating. Theoretically, recommendations that flow from the NFL and NCAA exchanges would be taken for further action with the rules-making entities at both institutions.

"This is an opportunity for collaboration," Anderson added. "Everyone is motivated. We've got to figure it out."

Anderson brings a unique perspective. He previously held Vincent's position in the NFL, which includes overseeing the officiating department. Anderson said that for years, officials from the NFL and NCAA met routinely at the scouting combine and that NCAA officials would participate in the annual NFL competition committee meetings in Naples, Florida. But the upcoming meeting is distinctive in that it will occur during the season, signaling an even stronger connection in the mission to align safety standards.

"No one wants to say it, but the NCAA is a feeder system for the NFL," Anderson said. "It makes sense, particularly when it comes to health and safety, to get as much information as possible and work together."

Concussions drop: The NFL announced Tuesday at is fall owners meetings that concussions were down 13.2 percent this preseason from the previous year.

In the 2018 preseason, there were 79 reported concussions, which was down from 91 in 2017. By comparison, there were 71 reported concussions in the 2016 preseason and 83 in each of the two previous years.

Additionally, the NFL said there were zero concussions during kickoff plays in 2018 preseason games, down from three over the previous year, "the first time we've seen that number over the past several years," NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said.

The NFL adopted several changes for 2018, including making kickoff team players stationary to prevent them from getting a running start against returners and penalizing any contact that is initiated by lowering the helmet.

Contributing: Lorenzo Reyes

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

ATLANTA — Up on stage Tuesday, as he addressed a convention of women administrators from across college sports, NCAA President Mark Emmert almost seemed wistful talking about the public's pronounced loss of faith in American institutions.

From Congress to the news media to higher education, Emmert said, opinion polls show the trend lines of approval declining. And his field is no different, as Emmert acknowledged that the public trust of college sports is "still high, but moving the wrong direction."

Emmert's diagnosis? "It's often failure to look at the facts," he said.

Perhaps the real answer is taking place in a federal courtroom in New York in Manhattan, where plenty of facts are being laid out about the sport Emmert's organization oversees and, in fact, relies on to fund the NCAA's very existence.

Based only on the small amount of evidence and sworn testimony available in the first of three trials related to the FBI's investigation of corruption in college basketball, it's a fact that shoe companies have been running an underground economy that funnels money to some top prospects.

It's a fact that the people doing the funneling have helped deliver players to specific schools that make millions of dollars wearing the shoe company's apparel.

It's a fact that coaches such as Kansas' Bill Self are at least aware enough of that influence over prospects to keep those bag men close, even if there was no specific discussion about how that influence would work.

And it's a fact that this arrangement has been very good for the shoe companies that want to market their product, the blue-blood programs that boost NCAA tournament ratings, the television networks that build valuable programming off March Madness, and the Hall of Fame coaches, who somehow have managed to retain implausible deniability.

This is how the sport works now, for all to see. This is what it is. But is the NCAA even listening?

Emmert has been criticized in some circles for staying away from the courtroom during the trial of Adidas executive Jim Gatto and Merl Code, a former consultant for the company. If nothing else, making an appearance would signal that Emmert was serious about confronting the truth about college basketball.

It's one thing to see indictments; it's another to hear someone like T.J. Gassnola, the government's star witness and a former Adidas representative, testify about whom he paid, how he did it and who might plausibly have been aware of it.

Though nobody affiliated with the NCAA has been identified in the courtroom during the trial, Emmert told USA TODAY on Tuesday that the NCAA had people representing its interests at the trial. He declined to identify who they were or what capacity they serve (enforcement, outside counsel, etc.).

"We're tracking it very closely and obviously very, very interested in it. Doing everything to cooperate with the federal investigators so that we don't in any way hinder them and as the opportunity arises, as the trials move forward, we'll begin our work. But for now we're watching and staying in close contact.

"We know fully what's going on in the courtroom at all times."

That's at least slightly more realistic than what you heard this week out of Durham, North Carolina, where Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said he wasn't paying attention to the trial because it's "a blip. It's not what's happening."

Sorry, but the head-in-the-sand routine being performed by Krzyzewski and North Carolina's Roy Williams isn't going to work anymore. The credibility of the sport is under withering assault in that courtroom, and there are still two more trials.

What's being revealed isn't some anomaly; in fact, everything about the evidence suggests it was altogether normal.

Just consider the text exchange between Gassnola and Self on Sept. 19, 2017, shortly after Kansas and Adidas had agreed to a $191 million apparel deal.

After Gassnola thanked Self for helping complete the deal, Self responded, "Just got to get a couple real guys," seemingly referring to recruits.

Gassnola texted back: "In my mind, it's KU, Bill Self. Everyone else fall into line. Too (expletive) bad That's what's right for Adidas basketball. And I know I'm right. The more you have lottery picks and you happy. That's how it should work in my mind."

Self responded: "That's how (it) works. At UNC and Duke."

Gassnola answered that it works that way at Kentucky, too.

"I promise you I got this," he texted Self. "I have never let you down. Except (Deandre Ayton). Lol. We will get it right."

So while Gassnola testified that Self and the Kansas staff never knew that he was paying people around then-recruits Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa, it's worth asking what kind of recruiting help Self thought Gassnola and Adidas were providing. And further, it's worth asking whether Self was justifying that help when he mentioned "how it works" at North Carolina and Duke with regard to their Nike affiliation.

Those are questions you're unlikely to get much of an answer from any time soon. Self is going to coach the team, and everyone around Kansas is going to mostly pretend it's business as usual because the Jayhawks are a top-three team in the preseason.

But the trial in New York might be something NCAA investigators eventually have interest in. One meaningful rule change the NCAA made is that its enforcement division can import evidence from outside investigations such as that trial.

That process, however, could take years to play out.

"The timeline is up to the federal government and their investigation," Emmert said. "We're mostly in the mode of watching right now and collecting information as it's appropriate and as they give us permission to, but it's going to take a long time."

By then, will anyone even care? Will people such as Self or Arizona's Sean Miller, who have seen the evidentiary smoke billow around them, even stick around long enough to deal with the fallout? Will the NCAA just eventually shrug its shoulders and say it can't prove anything more than the government?

For now, all we're left with is how people in college basketball are reacting to what they're hearing coming out of the trial, and for the most part they're either not talking or pretending like it doesn't exist.

As for Emmert?

"It would really be inappropriate for me to comment," he said, citing the ongoing case.

Maybe so, but as the NCAA remains silent, the facade around how things work in college basketball has come crashing down. Emmert wants college sports to be judged on the facts. Well, they're all right here.

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Copyright 2018 The Post and Courier
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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

The NCAA hit Charleston Southern with a two-year probation and a loss of football scholarships on Tuesday after a review of CSU's athletic department revealed a "failure to monitor its athletics program," and failure or unwillingness to comply with needed corrections in its compliance department.

In a detailed review of numerous violations within the program, the NCAA placed the athletic department on a two-year probation, beginning Oct. 18. It also reduced the number of football scholarships by six over the next two years and fined the school $5,000, plus one-half of one percent of the school's total athletic budget.

It is likely the school will also vacate wins in several sports from 2011-17. That could include wins in football and basketball, including the two Big South Conference championships won in football during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. CSU has 45 days to research and report past participation records to determine which ineligible athletes participated in victories in various sports.

According to the Big South, Charleston Southern won conference titles in softball, men's golf, women's tennis and football (2015 and 2016) during the time in question. The men's basketball team won regular-season Big South titles in 2012-13 and 2014-15.

In its report, the NCAA found that the school improperly certified 55 student-athletes in 12 sports over a six-year period, which is a Level II violation.

The report states, "CSU first became aware of deficiencies in its compliance operations in 2011, after the Big South Conference completed an audit of CSU's compliance program. While the report praised CSU's lone compliance director's performance, it also noted the need for written certification policies, additional staff and the development of a formal rules education program.

"According to CSU, however, it did not have the time and resources to appropriately address the recommendations," the report continued. "Instead, CSU continued to use an informal eligibility process, reassigned non-compliance staff to assist with certification and failed to develop formal rules education."

According to the report, CSU said it was unable to hire "additional resources due to losing over 10 million dollars as a victim of a Ponzi scheme," a reference to the scheme run by former CSU professor Al Parrish.

As examples of improperly certified student-athletes, the NCAA cited:

· Six junior college transfers who competed while ineligible due to not meeting transfer eligibility requirements.

· A four-year college transfer who competed in his first year at CSU "without having satisfied any four-year transfer exception."

· Seven student-athletes who competed while ineligible due to not meeting "percentage-of-degree" requirements."

· Four student-athletes who competed "without maintaining enrollment in a minimum full-time program of studies leading to a baccalaureate or equivalent degree."

The NCAA report also said that CSU and its bookstore also allowed 34 athletes to improperly use scholarship book monies for items not related to books, such as electronics, jewelry and clothing. The 34 players received impermissible benefits totaling $11,962, ranging from $100 to $922. That's an average of about $351 per player.

The players cited served game suspensions during the 2016 football season.

The report cites "the presence of additional systemic failures in administering and monitoring book scholarships and the fact that CSU became aware of compliance pitfalls and neglected to adequately address them." as a Level II violation.

CSU athletic director Jeff Barber would not comment Monday, according to a school spokesman.

When he was hired last summer, Barber said, "Upon my arrival to CSU in June of 2018, I was made fully aware of the NCAA situation. The entire university fully cooperated with both the NCAA and the Big South Conference. I feel extremely confident that the necessary steps have been taken and we will continue our due diligence to operate at the highest level of compliance that we possibly can."

Jeff Hartsell contributed to this report.

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Copyright 2018 The Buffalo News
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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

Town of Tonawanda officials have an idea about what could replace Tonawanda Coke: the Buffalo Bills.

(Insert joke here about exchanging one thing that stinks for another.)

Supervisor Joseph Emminger and Town Engineer James Jones want the Bills to consider building a new stadium on the site of the River Road coking plant, which is shutting down. The site is in the heavily populated Northtowns, it has sufficient roads and other infrastructure and it's easier to access for the team's Canadian fans, they say.

The officials say they've kicked around the idea for a couple of years, but they haven't publicized it because they didn't want to push Tonawanda Coke out of business to make way for the team.

They know some people won't take this idea seriously - including the people who ultimately will decide where a new stadium would go - but they're convinced it makes sense to turn this brownfield into a football field.

"Your initial reaction is to start laughing, you know, but when you think about it, it's not a bad idea," Emminger said Monday.

The Tonawanda officials haven't talked about the idea with the Bills or with Erie County, which will play a prime role in any new stadium.

Asked for comment, a Pegula Sports and Entertainment spokesman said he had no information about the proposal.

A spokesman for Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said they haven't had any contact with town officials on the stadium.

Emminger admits the idea is more of a pipe dream at this point, but he wants Tonawanda to be part of the conversation about a new stadium site.

"I don't know if it's going to happen, but I just want it to be considered," Emminger said.

Tonawanda Coke operated at the site along the Niagara River under various names for 101 years, until financial and regulatory pressures led to last week's decision to close. That shutdown is taking place now.

The property is 206 acres, according to the town, and requires an extensive cleanup.

What better way to reuse the property, Emminger said, than to replace the coke ovens with a new Bills stadium?

Emminger said it will take years to clean up the property, which is on the list of federal Superfund sites, but that's OK because it will take years before any decision on a new stadium is made.

Owners Terry and Kim Pegula have said little publicly about any plans for a new stadium.

But discussion of the best site for a new facility has focused on extensively renovating New Era Field, building a new stadium near the current site in Orchard Park or building a new venue near downtown Buffalo.

Tonawanda wasn't in that mix, but Emminger and Jones say the Tonawanda Coke site has merit.

It's meant to be a year-round, multiuse facility, said Jones, who has put together a basic diagram of where the stadium could fit and who first tried to sell the supervisor on the concept.

"I sat on it for a couple of years. I would periodically tell Jim, 'Your idea's not dead,' " Emminger said.

For one thing, it's in the population belt of the Northtowns that includes the Tonawandas, North Buffalo and Amherst. It's also closer for fans in Niagara County and Ontario, Emminger said.

There's easy access from the Niagara Thruway (I-190)and the Youngmann Memorial Highway (I-290). There's plenty of space on the site.

And putting a stadium and ring of asphalt parking lots on the site is probably the safest way for people to reuse the property, Emminger and Jones said - certainly better than a park.

"You're not going to be rubbing your face on the ground at the site," Emminger said, "unless you've had a little too much to drink."

A stadium in Tonawanda remains an elusive goal, like finding a franchise quarterback. But Emminger said it's not as crazy as it sounds.

For example, he and his daughter were watching Sunday's Bills-Texans game while the supervisor fielded calls about Tonawanda Coke. At one point she turned to him and said, "Why don't you put the stadium where Tonawanda Coke is?"

Emminger, who had not told her about the concept, said, "I looked at her and I said, 'Interesting idea. You never know.' "

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Copyright 2018 Chattanooga Publishing Company
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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

The Red Bank High School football stadium is getting a new sound system thanks to a $17,000 program service grant awarded to the Red Bank Quarterback Club by the Red Bank City Commission.

The stadium's sound system quit working after it was struck by lightning four or five years ago, said Jamie Wilkey, president of the Quarterback Club, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The club's purpose is to support the needs of the football team not covered by game ticket sales, which are otherwise the team's sole source of funds, he said.

The club had been renting a sound system, said City Recorder Ruthie Rohen, and Wilkey said a Quarterback Club member has been loaning speakers to provide sound at the stadium for the past year.

"This frees us up from worrying about raising the funds to replace it," Wilkey said of the sound system. "We really appreciate the city of Red Bank for the donation."

Mayor John Roberts said Wilkey approached the commission to request the funds to purchase a new sound system, and commissioners decided unanimously to award the grant from the city's economic development budget. Roberts noted that when people visit the stadium, they also spend money at city businesses such as restaurants and gas stations.

"The more people you bring into your town, the more people spend in your town," he said.

In addition to hosting the high school, middle school and elementary school football and track teams, the stadium is used by the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, the high school band and the Scenic City Youth Football League, said Wilkey.

ecrisman@timesfreepress.com

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Copyright 2018 Boston Herald Inc.
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The Boston Herald

 

Canada will become the largest country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana tomorrow, and the NHL and NHL Players' Association plan no changes to their joint drug-testing policy, under which players are not punished for positive marijuana tests.

It is the most lenient approach to cannabis by any major North American pro sports league.

"The Substance Abuse & Behavioral Health Program for decades has been educating players on using drugs, legal or illegal," Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "That process will continue and we will consider what changes, if any, in our program have to be made. But right now, we think based on the educational level and what we do test for and how we test, at least for the time being, we're comfortable with where we are."

While the NFL and NBA can suspend and MLB can fine players for multiple marijuana infractions, only a significantly high amount of the drug found in NHL/NHLPA testing triggers a referral to behavioral health program doctors.

Bettman contends the mainstream medical community has not concluded that cannabis prevents or heals injuries, and said an argument could be made to the contrary.

Given the looming legalization set for Canada, the league and union opted for education over policy changes.

Elsewhere in the NHL — Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz will miss the next four months with a fractured left leg. Schultz injured the leg on Saturday after getting tangled up with an opposing player. . . .

Florida Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson was suspended two games without pay for his hit on Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson on Saturday night. The Canucks put Pettersson in concussion protocol. Also, center Jay Beagle is out six weeks with a broken forearm. . . .

The Colorado Avalanche claimed center Marko Dano off waivers from Winnipeg.

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Hoffman Estates officials say they believe Sears Holding Corp.'s renewal of its naming-rights agreement for the Sears Centre Arena, approved only a week ago, was done in good faith, despite the company's filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday. Under the agreement, Sears committed to paying $600,000 per year to keep the 11,000-seat arena under its original name through at least Aug. 31, 2022. The agreement requires payment in full more than a year ahead of the period each $600,000 installment would cover.

The agreement likely will be among the contracts Sears lists as its obligations in bankruptcy proceedings. But a company representative who negotiated the deal called arena General Manager Ben Gibbs Monday to say Sears intends to move forward with it, Village Manager Jim Norris said. The bankruptcy never came up during the renegotiation of the naming rights, Mayor Bill McLeod said, adding that the Sears representatives assigned to the talks likely weren't aware of the impending filing.

"The rumors about Sears have been around for some time now," McLeod said. "We didn't know (bankruptcy) was going to be imminent. "Everything was done in good faith." The rate at which Sears' financial forecast changed over the past week also makes it possible that even those at the top weren't aware a bankruptcy filing would come so soon, Norris said. "I don't think they knew," he said.

Though the financial terms of the new three-year naming rights agreement are the same as the previous deal, Sears was allowed a greater promotional presence inside the 12-year-old venue. That includes the development of an SYW (Shop Your Way) Lounge for arena visitors.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

After a New England Patriots fan threw beer at Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill in Sunday night's contest at Gillette Stadium, the team announced it will send "a letter of disinvite to all future events" there.

Statement from the New England Patriots: pic.twitter.com/VapBDpzzdg

New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 15, 2018

Hill had 142 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the Chiefs' 43-40 loss. After one of his scores, he ran up to the first row behind the end zone and was greeted by Patriots fans flipping him the middle finger. One then threw his beer at Hill's face:

The end of that touchdown catch by #Chiefs Tyreek Hill not exactly a banner moment for #Patriots fans. Especially the Bud Lite to the face. pic.twitter.com/cYS4RC7I6H

Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) October 15, 2018

The Patriots said this violated their "fan code of conduct."

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Copyright 2018 Collier County Publishing Company
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Naples Daily News (Florida)

 

Modern-day cryotherapy may seem like a new concept, but the origins of cold plunges and contrast baths date as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans. Back then, cold plunges were used to stimulate blood circulation and rapidly cool the body, particularly when soldiers where in active training preparations for war. Water temperatures ranged from 4 to 8 degrees. Perhaps we need to credit our ancient ancestors as being the first to develop whole-body cryotherapy.

What exactly is whole-body cryotherapy?

Fast forward several centuries, and modern-day cryotherapy is a procedure that literally means cold-therapy. It requires participants to be minimally dressed (e.g. bathing suit and socks) while being exposed to extremely cold temperatures for several minutes, typically in a chamber-type setting.

According to a report in Medical News Today, cryotherapy may offer the following benefits:

Decreased headache and reduced pain from migraines. Cryotherapy helps treat migraines by cooling and numbing nerves in the neck area and cooling the blood passing through intracranial vessels.

Helps treat nerve disorders by numbing the pain. This has proven helpful when treating athletes with pinched nerves or neuromas, chronic pain or even acute injuries.

Provides pain relief and muscle healing. Cryotherapy can help with muscle pain, as well as some joint and muscle disorders, such as arthritis. It may also promote faster healing of athletic injuries.

Just as doctors have long recommended using ice packs on injured and painful muscles, using cryotherapy may increase blood circulation after the ice pack is removed, promoting faster healing and greater pain relief.

Research has also been conducted on the effects of whole-body cryotherapy and bone health. Initial findings showed whole-body cryotherapy had beneficial effects on bone resorption, suggesting that the increased osteogenic (bone formation) would be beneficial in the prevention of stress fractures and in post- fracture recovery.

Finally, research has determined the heightened effectiveness of whole-body cryotherapy in relationship to improvements in muscular tiredness, pain and well-being following strenuous exercise.

These days, many high-profile professional athletes, NFL teams and European soccer clubs are using cryotherapy chambers on a regular basis to assist in overall performance; recovery, reduced injuries, energy, sleep.

There is anecdotal information that whole-body cryotherapy can reportedly burn between 500 and 800 calories in three minutes, although I have not been able to find a published study to substantiate this claim. If this were true, it would likely be due to heat generation within the body to compensate for external cold. It is well known that shivering increases the body's metabolism and hence caloric expenditure.

Angie Ferguson is an exercise physiologist from Fort Myers. She is a USA Triathlon Advanced Level 2 coach, USA Cycling coach, has a Specialty in Sports Nutrition certification and a PhD in results. For more training tips, contact her at www.gearedup.biz.

Fitness

Angie Ferguson

Guest columnist

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Copyright 2018 The Columbus Dispatch
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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

 

BOWLING GREEN — Bowling Green has fired coach Mike Jinks midway through his third season, with the Falcons winless against FBS competition.

Athletic director Bob Moosbrugger announced the move Sunday. Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini, the former head coach at Florida Atlantic, was named interim coach.

Jinks was 7-24 with Bowling Green and the team seemed to be sliding backward. The Falcons won four games in 2016, two last season and are 1-6 after falling 42-35 at home to Mid-American Conference rival Western Michigan on Saturday.

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

A Springboro woman is accused of embezzling at least $180,000 from the Springboro Clearcreek Baseball Association, according to prosecutors.

Renee K. Nichols, 46, is charged with aggravated theft and tampering with records, the prosecutor's office said.

Investigators said Nichols used the money for personal spending, including a Disney vacation, personal credit card bill and other expenses.

"The idea that funds that should have been used for things like replacing aging helmets to prevent concussions, instead were used as someone's own personal slush fund, it's infuriating," said Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell.

Nichols served as treasurer for the youth league from 2011 until 2017, prosecutors said.

The youth league said they cannot comment on the specifics of the case, but added they are working closely with law enforcement.

"While the actions of the past board member have shaken the league, we are encouraged by the community support and are excited to build on the great 2018 season and bring a stronger SCBA to the community next season," the league said in a prepared statement.

The league also said they have put an entire new executive board in place since the incident took place. They've also established a finance and audit committee that is focused on financial oversight and accountability, the board said.

"The scheme was discovered in 2017 when a new board member, who was a CPA and had experience in fraud investigations, began looking into the organization's finances and discovered that Nichols had failed to file SCBA's Form 990 with the IRS thereby threatening its tax-exempt status," the prosecutor's office said in a prepared statement.

Investigators said Nichols doctored bank records to hide the expenditures and possibly destroyed and got rid of a laptop containing historical financial information for the youth league.

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
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Copyright 2018 Journal Register Co.

New Haven Register (Connecticut)

 



UConn junior linebacker Eli Thomas suffered a stroke on Wednesday prior to a weighlifting session, according to a statement jointly released by UConn and Thomas' family on Monday.

Thomas is currently hospitalized, in stable condition and making good progress toward recovery.

"Thank you all for your love and well wishes for Eli," Mary Beth Turner, Thomas' mother, said in the statement. "To say we are stunned by this turn of events is an understatement. A strong, healthy, 22-year old man having a stroke is not anything we anticipated. However, Eli will fight back as he has with every challenge that has come his way with 'Eli Style.'

"We want to thank every single member of the UConn football staff. They have been tremendous. The love from them, and the team, has been overwhelming. A very special thank you to (assistant athletic trainers) Caitlyn VanWie and Tony Salvatore. Without their quick response, this horrible situation could have been devastating. We owe them more than we can ever repay. Continued prayers for Eli's recovery are appreciated."

Thomas, a native of Elmira, N.Y., played in four games this season and recorded 11 tackles including the sack on the final play of a 56-49 win over Rhode Island.

UConn coach Randy Edsall guided UConn through some tough times following the on-campus murder of defensive back Jasper Howard, an event that happened nearly nine years ago. When asked about the situation on the weekly American Athletic Conference call, Edsall said he didn't want to provide any additional information on Thomas' situation. He did, however, say situations like this serve as a reminder of how precious life is.

"The biggest thing is that every day you just never know what can happen," Edsall said. "Things like this are very unfortunate but it is one of those things where you take one day at a time and do the best you can each and every day because you just never know what can happen."

Thomas suffered a neck injury a loss to Syracuse on Sept. 22 and did not play against either Cincinnati or Memphis.

As his mother referenced, Thomas has dealt with his share of adversity. He suffered three torn ACLs limiting him to four games played from 2014-17 all coming at Lackawanna College in 2015. Thomas worked his way back from his second serious knee injury to make an appearance at a UConn football camp where he ran well enough to earn a scholarship offer from the recently hired UConn football staff. Thomas, who also went from being a non qualifier academically in high school to earning a 4.0 grade-point average at Lackawanna, spoke to Hearst Connecticut Media at the July 31 media day about the opportunity to return to the football field.

"I am excited, it is a hunger that I can't even describe," Thomas said. "Even if I did describe it, nobody would be able to understand. The journey has been crazy but everything happens for a reason."

UConn was off last week and will play at No. 21 South Florida on Saturday at 7 p.m. It will be the sixth time in seven games that the Huskies will face a team without a loss this season.

james.fuller@hearstmediact.com; @NHRJimFuller

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

A local youth sports organization is pursuing a plan to make Vernon Hills a hub for elite soccer players. While there are opportunities elsewhere for that small segment of players to hone and advance their skills, the Vernon Hills Soccer Club is seeking a partnership to bring "development academy" status to the village. That would mean high-caliber players would not have to leave Lake County to take part in the U.S. Soccer Federation-created program described as a pipeline to college programs and beyond. The development academy "is considered the best opportunity in the nation" for high-level players, according to Peter Kempf, director of travel soccer for the Vernon Hills Soccer Club and a member of its board of directors.

"They can stay here and be viewed by the top club coaches in the nation and have a pathway," he added. Youth soccer is a competitive market, according to Kempf, with various clubs - mostly for-profit entities - vying for the best players. "They prey on kids' dreams, parents' dreams that their kids are elite," he said. "We run into problems where other clubs feed on the kids and parents and make promises they can't keep." The soccer club is a nonprofit organization that has 300 to 350 participants in its recreational program and about 225 on the travel level.

It is an affiliate of the Vernon Hills Park District, which allows it to use fields in return for abiding by certain rules and procedures, including having at least 85 percent of participants be Vernon Hills residents. The plan is for the club to partner with Glenview-based FC United Soccer Club, one of six development academies in Illinois listed on the U.S. Soccer Federation website. Vernon Hills would become its home base for outdoor play. Other suburban academies include the Chicago Fire Academy in Bridgeview and Sockers FC, with locations in Naperville and Palatine.

The partnership would stem the flow of departing players, allow the local club to grow, improve the quality of service and bring more and better events to Vernon Hills, Vernon Hills Soccer Club President Kevin Adkisson wrote in a letter to the village board. "Since the creation of the academy system, medium-sized clubs such as Vernon Hills Soccer Club have been struggling and folding across the country," Adkisson wrote. "All youth soccer players with next-level ambitions aspire to make the development academy team, including talented players from Vernon Hills," the letter continues.

"The development academy system is designed to provide a pinnacle of youth soccer, a pipeline to the U.S. national team." The letter was read to Vernon Hills trustees last week during an outline of the academy concept by Chad Gruen, who in recent years has brought several soccer and lacrosse tournaments to Vernon Hills, each drawing thousands of players, parents and spectators. His company, Soccer Events Group, operates FC United.

"The idea behind this is to help U.S. Soccer (Federation) create the best World Cup team," Gruen said. The development academy partnership would prevent elite Vernon Hills players from leaving town. "They stay," Gruen said. Establishing the academy would come at no public cost but would require intergovernmental agreements with the park district and the village, which owns the fields at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex. As planned, two fields would be reserved for the development academy and one for the soccer club.

"The park board verbally has committed to add this academy as an adjunct group of the (local) soccer club," said Jeff Fougerousse, park district executive director. Besides being able to use indoor facilities by affiliating with FC United, the development academy would hold clinics on coaching, nutrition, recruiting and other topics to benefit elite players, according to Kempf. He and others emphasized this would not involve general tryouts. Instead, coaches would recommend players. "The development academy is for a select few," Kempf said.

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Copyright 2018 Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc.
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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

WORCESTER — While the city lays the initial groundwork for the construction of a new home for the coming of Worcester Red Sox in 2021, it is now getting ready to also move forward on a plan to finance the ballpark project.

City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. is recommending the creation of 28.6-acre district adjacent to the proposed ballpark in the Kelley Square area, where the incremental increase in tax revenues generated by private development there will be used to finance the construction of the 10,000-seat minor league stadium, to be known as Polar Park.

The proposed district — the Canal District Ballpark DIF Development District and Invested Revenue District — encompasses 16 taxable real estate properties in the Canal District. It includes the ballpark parcel and development sites around the ballpark.

Of the 16 properties, seven are commercial (3.34 acres) and nine are industrial (21.41 acres).

The proposed district will not lead to the elimination of any residential units or displace any residents, according to city officials.

The area is roughly bounded by railroad tracks on the north side of Madison Street; it then crosses Madison Street and incorporates the vacant Wyman-Gordon property on the south side of the street to as far south as Hermon and Lamartine streets. The proposed boundary then goes east along Lamartine Street to Washington Street, north across Madison Street and the east to Green Street.

It then goes north on Green Street to Ash Street and then west to Ash and Summit streets. From there the boundary goes northerly, incorporating parts of

Gold and Plymouth streets, to the Pickett Municipal Parking Lot on Green Street.

Within that area, the city wants to utilize what is known as "District Improvement Financing," a state law that allows municipalities to utilize new tax revenues generated within a targeted area for the purpose of economic development.

A so-called DIF is generally enacted along with an Invested Revenue District from which the city can collect and designate future incremental real and personal property tax revenues to support infrastructure investment and economic development within the proposed district.

It is the same concept the city used for CitySquare.

"Through this designation the city has been able to leverage private investment to offset the cost of infrastructure and roadway improvements in the area of CitySquare," Mr. Augustus wrote in a report that goes before the City Council Tuesday night.

Mr. Augustus said approval of the Canal District Ballpark DIF Development District and Invested Revenue District is needed before the city can sell bonds for the ballpark project.

Because time is of the essence, the manager will be asking the council Tuesday night to refer his recommendation to its Economic Development Committee for a hearing.

He said District 2 Councilor Candy Mero-Carlson, who chairs the three-member Economic Development Committee, has indicated that it will hold a hearing before the regular City Council meeting on Oct. 23, with the intention of reporting its recommendation to the full council later that same evening.

Michael E. Traynor, the city's chief development officer, emphasized that the establishment of a DIF District does not impose a special assessment or other increased tax on any parcel within it.

He said the same property tax rates that are applied to parcels outside of the DIF District are applied within it.

"This designation is simply a tool in the economic tool box that allows cities and towns throughout the commonwealth to leverage increased tax revenues as a result of private investment for further improvements in a special area," Mr. Traynor said.

The construction cost of the proposed ballpark alone has been pegged at $86 million to $90 million. Meanwhile, the cost of the overall ballpark project, which includes land acquisition and other associated improvements in that area has been estimated at $100.8 million — the amount of money the city intends to borrow for the project.

Since it was first announced that the Pawtucket Red Sox will be moving to Worcester for the start of the 2021 season, Mr. Augustus has repeatedly said that ballpark project will be "self-supporting" and not cost Worcester taxpayers any additional money. He has also said that existing budget money will not be used to fund the project.

Instead, the project has been structured in such a way that new taxes and other revenues sources it generates will be used to pay for the ballpark.

The term of the DIF District is 30 years from the date of adoption by the City Council, according to Mr. Traynor. He said the DIF program will run concurrently with the DIF District.

Mr. Traynor said the DIF statute enables the city to allocate a defined percentage of revenue accruing from the improvement of the properties within the DIF District to fund eligible activites — in this case the construction of a state-of-the-art minor league baseball park.

He said the tax increment that is subject to "capture" through the DIF Development/Invested Revenue District is defined as the valuation amount by which the assessed value of the district exceeds the original assessed value of the district.

City Assessor William Ford has certified that the 16 properties within the proposed DIF district, including land and buildings, have an aggregated assessed value of slightly more than $10 million as of Jan. 1, 2018.

That means that additional property taxes generated by new development in that area — over and above the property taxes now generated by the current $10 million valuation — will be used to off the construction bonds for the ballpark. The city will still retain for the operation of the municipal government the taxes now being generated by those properties.

The new tax revenue to fund the ballpark project will come from a $90 million private development, as part of an overall $240 million redevelopment of the Kelley Square area.

That private development, much of which is proposed to be done on the vacant Wyman-Gordon property, includes the construction of a 150-room hotel, a second 100- to 110-room boutique hotel with rooms overlooking the ballpark, a 225-unit apartment complex and 65,000 square feet of retail/restaurant space.

All of that is to be done in the first phase of the project by March 2021, according to city officials.

The second phase of the project would include 200,000 square feet of residential, office and/or mixed-used development. City officials did not calculate any tax revenues generated for that phase of the project in the pro forma that was developed for financing the construction of the ballpark.

Any tax revenue generated from that phase would be in additional to what has already been calculated.

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC

Newsday (New York)

 

Sheila Moriarty pushed her blue walker along the sidewalk outside Belmont Park, balancing two cardboard signs protesting the new Islanders arena and sprawling commercial complex planned near there.

Despite her bad back, the Bellerose Terrace woman wanted to be part of Sunday's protest march against the project, which Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky recently said he expects to start next May.

That timetable, coming as the project remains under environmental review, has further angered residents — and made them more nervous, said Moriarty, 50, president of the Bellerose Terrace Civic Association.

"No matter what we say, no matter what we do, no matter how many phone calls we make, or letters," she said. "We feel we don't really have a voice. Nobody's sitting at the table with these developers."

As the several dozen residents toted signs in front of Belmont Park in Elmont, they offered a vision of the massive project as a misfortune to the surrounding communities. Hempstead Turnpike and the Cross Island Parkway, already troubled with traffic, would lock up even more, they said, and an influx of drivers would turn their neighborhood streets into thoroughfares and parking lots. Then there's the noise and pollution from all that construction, they contend.

Moriarty, for her part, worries about her son, Ian, a 12-year-old who carried his own homemade sign saying "Too dangerous." The project edges near the gates of his school, Floral Park Memorial Middle School. She worries the sporting events and concerts will bring in drunken drivers.

The project includes an 18,000-seat arena, 435,000 square feet of retail space, restaurants, a movie theater and a 250-room hotel. It also includes 30,000 square feet of office space, 10,000 square feet of community space and 8.5 acres of public open space.

Developers have billed the billion-dollar project as a homecoming for the Islanders and a financial bonanza for the area.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said the project will serve as an economic engine for the region, increasing visitor spending, stimulating local businesses and creating 12,300 construction jobs and 3,100 permanent jobs.

State officials at Empire State Development said Thursday they've "fostered robust community engagement at every step of the Belmont Park redevelopment process, and the project has been refined and improved as a result."

Not so, said the frustrated residents who marched Sunday, a conglomerate of people from Elmont, Floral Park, Bellerose Terrace and other nearby communities. Many have come to know each other since they started protesting the plan announced a year ago.

March organizer Tammie Williams, of Elmont, arrived early carrying signs and her red bullhorn. Aubrey Phillips, an IT security consultant from Elmont, handed out news releases.

Marching, Matthew Sexton, 41, of Floral Park, led the call-and-response chants, as he has done before.

What do we want? he bellowed.

"Transparency," came back the chorus.

As a chill autumn breeze blew along Hempstead Turnpike, the group stopped at the racetrack's Gate 3 and set up a podium.

"This is not a done deal," Williams told the crowd. "I am willing to fight this to the Supreme Court."

"Enjoy the ride," she added, as if addressing all those behind the project.

When the rally was over, Lucinda Doyle headed back to her Elmont home. Doyle, 38, said she was raised in Nassau County, and that her husband was from Brooklyn. When they married she pushed hard for them to live out here.

"I want to ensure that this is a place where my family can grow and enjoy," she said.

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The New York Post

 

The history-laden walls of legendary Queens high-school basketball coach Ron Naclerio's office tell quite a story - but a new principal allegedly wants to shut them up.

From the thank-you letter Martin Luther King Jr. sent to Naclerio's surgeon father for saving his life after a 1958 stabbing to the yellowing photos of star NBA players who trained with the coach, every inch of the Benjamin Cardozo HS space is plastered with meaning.

But Principal Meagan Colby will soon replace the 44 years of memories with a new ROTC program. Custodians changed the locks late Friday, as the two-time Public School Athletic League championship coach was leading his team to victory in a fall-league contest against Francis Lewis.

Retired NBA star Duane Causwell, a Cardozo grad, called it an "injustice."

"It's a place where we learned the game, we learned about life," he said. "I remember there were plenty of nights where we all just sat in there and talked about different things . . . You have a teacher here trying to help kids. If anything, you should be asking, 'What else do you need?' "

Cardozo alum Melvin Robinson, who played professionally overseas and now coaches high-school basketball in Manhattan, seethed, "That principal has no principles."

Robinson makes a point of bringing his student athletes to see Naclerio's shrine, which includes pictures of himself along with past and present NBA pros like Lamar Odom, Kevin Love, Rafer Alston and Royal Ivey on the walls, cabinets and ceiling.

"All the articles, all the letters by the King family . . . it's like a museum. It's bigger than just a coach's office," he said.

In 1958, a deranged woman stabbed Martin Luther King Jr. during a Manhattan book signing. Dr. Emil Naclerio, a thoracic surgeon at Harlem Hospital, operated on King for more than two hours, saving his life.

Former Mets general manager Omar Minaya has known Ron Naclerio since the two competed against each other in high school baseball in Queens. Minaya's son later trained with the coach.

"When it comes to public high-school basketball, he's legend, and whenever you went to that gym, you would go into that office and see all the history and all the pictures of all the guys he's helped," Minaya said.

Naclerio, 61, retired from teaching years ago and earns roughly $8,000 a year as a coach. He shares the office with other staffers and is distraught over the loss.

"It's a special place," he told The Post. "I gave it my life . . . It is something that to so many people probably means nothing, but to me, it's like a sanctuary."

Naclerio's boss handed him a letter with the news during a basketball event last month.

The coach, whose 796 victories is a state record among public high-school basketball coaches, says he's repeatedly asked if he's getting a new office and where he can go with his equipment and mementos, only to be ignored.

"It's like a part of me that died," said Naclerio, who believes his job is safe even without an office.

Education Department spokeswoman Miranda Barbot claimed on Friday that the department is working with Cardozo coaches to "identify alternative space," but Naclerio insisted Saturday, "Nobody's said anything to me."

The principal didn't respond to messages.

kboniello@nypost.com

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Copyright 2018 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Chad Morris is wading carefully through a discussion of the trials and travails of his first season at Arkansas — the Razorbacks are 1-5 — when he is interrupted. Barry Lunney, the Razorbacks' tight ends coach, appears at the glass doors to Morris' office. He smiles and hands an iPhone to the head coach, who disappears into the hall to talk with an important recruit, Little Rock's Hudson Henry.

Ten minutes later, Morris reappears. He hands the phone back to Lunney. They high-five. And let's be clear: a commitment from the No. 1 tight end in the country as ranked by 247Sports is worth celebrating at any time, in any college football program. But when you're in your first season, and you've won one game in six tries?

"It just reaffirms the course that we're on, and to stay the course," says Morris, who was prohibited by NCAA rules from discussing the recruit — but Henry announced his decision Thursday.

Beaming over a victory that many will never see and pointing to a note atop his desk, Morris continues:

"I've got written right here: 'Be present, not perfect.' Stay the course. Be who you are. And then you get phone calls like this."

And then you tally victories when you get them.

A coach's first season is difficult, almost by definition. They usually inherit difficult situations. The exception is when a new hire takes a team to dramatic improvement. But at the midpoint of the season, several highly anticipated new hires are struggling — some far beyond what anyone predicted.

* Chip Kelly, who was easily considered the most sought-after coach on last year's carousel, is winless in five games at UCLA.

* Scott Frost, Kelly's former protégé, who returned home to Nebraska amid hopes he would restore the Huskers' glory, is winless in five games, too. The Cornhuskers have equaled the worst start in the program's 129-year history.

* Willie Taggart is 3-3 at Florida State, which seems great by comparison to Kelly and Frost. But halfway through the season, the Seminoles are seen as one of the biggest disappointments in college football.

Though the reasons varied, expectations for the new guys' debut seasons were high at all three places. But perhaps they shouldn't have been. Frost, Kelly and Morris took over programs that each had four wins in 2017.

None of the four programs were expected to do more than one thing: improve. Instead, their starts have been disastrous. On the Pac-12's weekly teleconference last week, someone asked Kelly: What's the hardest part of 0-4 right now?

"Our record," Kelly said.

After a 31-24 loss to Washington, the record is 0-5. In the spirit of dubious "first time since" notes, it's the Bruins' worst start to a season since 1943. And don't try to tell Kelly things are getting better, that a very young team is showing improvement. He clearly believes they are, but in his postgame interview session after the loss to the Huskies, he made this point and then reiterated it:

"You've got to win, you know what I mean? We're not into moral victories," Kelly said.

The struggles are exacerbated, Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek says, because of our larger culture is increasingly geared toward instant gratification. Failure is magnified in some cases because once the coaches are hired, those first offseasons are filled with optimism, all possibility and potential. And then a very different reality sometimes sets in.

"I don't know if anybody has any magic pixie dust that they can come in and sprinkle and make your program all of the sudden better," he says.

Unlike some of his first-year peers, not much was expected from Oregon State (currently 1-5) in Jonathan Smith's first season. But the former Washington assistant notes that a head-coaching change typically means wholesale changes to an entire staff. And he says he underestimated the difficulty of gaining the trust of players who were rocked in 2017 when Gary Andersen resigned during the middle of the season.

"I didn't fully realize all these guys had been through," Smith says. "I knew their coach had left, but some of these kids were recruited by (former coach) Mike Riley and so now I'm the fourth guy sitting in the head coach's seat."

 

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

A large delegation of NFL staffers and contractors convened in Atlanta for a series of meetings last week as the countdown continues to Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

More than 100 people with responsibility for various aspects of the Super Bowl spectacle participated in the planning meetings Monday through Wednesday.

"We're gearing up, coming up on 100 days to go (as of Oct. 26)," said Peter O'Reilly, the NFL's senior vice president of events. "We've got people back and forth to Atlanta all the time, but we had our whole events team and a lot of our main partners (at these meetings).

"We spent a bunch of time taking each of the elements of the Super Bowl, whether it's transportation, hotels, hospitality, the fan experience, and solidifying those plans.... We're feeling really good about the progress across each of these areas and how it's about to get into execution mode."

Among the NFL contractors on hand were a party-planning company, a signage company and a transportation/parking company, according to Brett Daniels, chief operating officer of the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee. Other topics covered included security, public safety and ancillary events, he said.

"Each time (the NFL representatives) are in town, the next level of detail gets added to the mix," Daniels said.

A 'green legacy'

The NFL launched its annual program to plant trees around the Super Bowl host city with a ceremony Monday in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood near Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Forty trees were planted adjacent to a new soccer field and green space under construction.

The Super Bowl LIII urban forestry program — a partnership among the NFL, the local host committee, Verizon and Trees Atlanta — will continue with the planting of hundreds of trees over the coming months at a dozen locations in metro Atlanta.

According to the NFL, the program aims to reduce the environmental impact of Super Bowl events and leave a "green legacy."

What are the odds...

No team has played in the Super Bowl in its home stadium, and the Falcons' 1-4 record increases the odds against that changing this season.

The Falcons are now a 33-1 long shot to win the NFC championship and 66-1 to win the Super Bowl, according to Vegas Insider. At the start of the season, the same source had the Falcons' odds at 10-1 to win the NFC title and 16-1 to win the Super Bowl.

The Los Angeles Rams currently are favored to win Super Bowl LIII at 3-1 odds, followed by the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots at 7-1

"and the New Orleans Saints at 10-1.

By the numbers

32,500: Number of people who applied to the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee to serve in volunteer roles.

10,000: Number of people chosen to serve as volunteers after an application and interview process was completed.

Ancillary events

Dates and sites have been set for major ancillary events leading to the big game, including:

Super Bowl Live: This outdoor celebration, featuring free concerts and other activities, will be held in Centennial Olympic Park from Jan. 26-Feb. 3. Details about some attractions could be announced by the end of the month, Daniels said.

Super Bowl Experience: This indoor football theme park will be held at the Georgia World Congress Center (Building B) from Jan. 26-Feb.

2. Tickets will go on sale in December, O'Reilly said.

Super Bowl Opening Night: The event formerly known as Media Day will be held in State Farm Arena, formerly Philips Arena, on Jan.

28. Tickets likely will go on sale in December, O'Reilly said.

 

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Copyright 2018 The Daily Record Oct 13, 2018

Daily Record; Wooster, Ohio

 

WOOSTER — A discussion of the grade point average needed to participate in athletics in Wooster City Schools will be on the agenda at the Board of Education's work session at 7 p.m. Monday in the district meeting room at Wooster High School.

Board member Sue Herman brought the topic to the attention of the board at September's regular meeting during consideration of the revised student handbook.

"The one thing that really troubles me," Herman said at that meeting, is what she considers the low GPA standard, a 1.0, in determining student eligibility for participation in sports.

"Our student athletes need to be scholar athletes," Herman, a retired teacher, told the board.

"I absolutely believe in lessons they learn in discipline and teamwork," she said, but in considering the mission of the district to care for the "whole child," she thinks the scholarship issue should be addressed.

The purpose of school is to "build educated citizens," she said.

While education is lifelong, athletic endeavors, at least for some students, will not extend beyond high school or college, she said.

But the message being sent by the minimal GPA requirements is that "it's OK to barely pass," Herman said.

"I know it's not the handbook's fault," she said, but "it's a conversation I think needs to be discussed."

"We cannot shortchange (students) in that area," she said. "We just can't."

In answer to a question from board member Bill Gantz, Herman said she thought the requirement "was higher when I first started teaching — 2.0."

During the discussion at September's board meeting, Superintendent Michael Tefs said, "You can't go lower than the state standard," referring to Ohio High School Athletic Association regulations.

"You can go higher," Herman pointed out.

While affirming points made by Herman, Tefs said, "I just worry a little bit for certain students," for whom athletics "brings them to school."

"We're trying to grow assets in the neediest students," Tefs said, adding, "School is already a tough place for them."

For those who could benefit, study tables could be established, Herman suggested, and for those "showing effort in the classroom... some kind of deal could be worked out."

Tefs said feedback would be needed from the athletic community, the Booster Club, guidance counselors and others in considering a change in policy; and subsequently, the board agreed to put discussion of it on the agenda of the October work session.

A sampling of other districts found similar eligibility requirements in place, but in a couple of cases, with modifications.

"We follow OHSAA guidelines for eligibility," said Green Superintendent Dean Frank. "In my short time (as Green superintendent) it hasn't been a discussion item, so it is hard to comment on the history of this decision."

"Wayendale, Rittman, and Orrville all have 1.0 GPA requirement to play sports," said their superintendent, Jon Ritchie. "At Orrville, if you have between a 1.0 and 1.5 GPA, you must attend study tables to be eligible as well."

"Our student athletes must be passing five credits and have at least a 1.0 GPA," said Triway Superintendent Nate Schindewolf. "We adhere to OHSAA's credit requirements."

"We revised our policy and increased our GPA requirement to a 1.5 GPA in 2011," said Northwestern Superintendent Jeffrey Layton.

"At the time, we received a lot of push-back," Layton said, "yet, as expected, the students rose to the level of expectation, with the rare exception of a student every few years."

The protocol set by the Northwestern board for students in grades 7-12 includes "conditional eligibility. Athletes on conditional eligibility will have their grades checked at the interim. If their GPA is 1.5 or higher, they will be granted full eligibility for the remainder of the grading period.

"Student athletes that do not meet the OHSAA eligibility and (Northwestern High School) GPA requirements may, with the head coach and (athletic director's) approval, work out with the team, but may not participate in scrimmages or games," according to a list of stipulations and requirements established by Northwestern board policy.

Reporter Linda Hall can be reached at lhall@the-daily-record.com or 330-264-1125, Ext. 2230. She is @lindahallTDR on Twitter.

 

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Copyright 2018 The Arizona Daily Star Oct 13, 2018

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

 

SAN FRANCISCO — Less than a week after Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak and his Pac-12 peers rolled out the ball for preseason practices, the news alerts started popping up.

Testimony from the ongoing federal trial involving college basketball included, among other things, allegations from Adidas reps that Oregon offered an "astronomical amount" to five-star forward Brian Bowen, and that the shoe company felt they needed to match an alleged $150,000 offer from Arizona to help Miami land five-star Nassir Little.

This week, Adidas shoe consultant and fixer T.J. Gassnola said he gave a total of $90,000 to one five-star player. Some 40,000 to another.

And a sum of $15,000 to a handler of former UA star Deandre Ayton. Ayton, the No. 1 pick of the Phoenix Suns, told Phoenix's 12News on Friday that he was "so clueless on that; I don't know why my name is in that."

There were other allegations, too. It went on and on and on. And it will keep going on when the trial resumes Monday, too.

But while Krystkowiak said it has been "worth taking a peek" at all the news from time to time, he never really raised an eyebrow.

He had heard these sorts of stories before. They were just underground.

"I don't think it's any big secret," Krystkowiak said at Thursday's Pac-12 media day. "It's not blowing anybody away. It's public for the first time. I think there's a lot of understanding of things that have been happening for a long time."

Krystkowiak, of course, is the same coach who said a year ago that he and his staff "didn't lose any sleep" over the ongoing investigation. He and Colorado's Tad Boyle said they backed off recruits if they sensed they or their handlers were looking for an extra benefit.

Since then, five Pac-12 schools — including Utah — have been implicated one way or another in the federal investigation. USC assistant Tony Bland and Arizona assistant Book Richardson were arrested and later fired, while Washington and Utah were peripherally tied in by another news report. Yahoo Sports reported in February that Fultz received $10,000 from an agency and that an associate of Utah star Kyle Kuzma received $9,500.

The "astronomical" allegation also ensnared Oregon, though Bowen's father later testified he could not recall such an offer.

Commissioner Larry Scott he doesn't believe the Pac-12 has a systemic problem with compliance, but said the conference and its schools are treating the allegations coming out of the trial very seriously.

"Like any process like this, there are allegations, and there's a process to prove or disprove them," Scott said. "So I think we'll certainly hold any judgment until the process goes through, and we see what comes of it.

"Each of our schools have made statements about their position. We've got leadership at our universities. They take the integrity of the competition, the behavior of their leadership and the coaches very seriously, and I think at this stage we're monitoring very carefully and waiting for the process to play out, and we'll see what the truth is that emerges."

Utah issued a statement last week that said it "takes these allegations very seriously" after financial advisor Munish Sood testified that he worked with another sports agency to provide money to Kuzma's associate in the hopes of developing a relationship.

But the Utes were not directly named in that allegation, and Krystkowiak dismissed a question about what the school was doing in response as a "silly question."

Several other coaches at the Pac-12 media day also had tense exchanges.

Arizona's Sean Miller answered eight questions about the investigation and trial by deferring to his March statement that he never knowingly broke an NCAA rule. He also would not comment on the possibility that the Wildcats' 2017-18 wins and postseason revenues could be vacated if the NCAA finds Ayton was ineligible because he received an extra benefit — even if UA had nothing to do with it.

Oregon coach Dana Altman, meanwhile, expressed confidence in his assistants and the school's compliance department. Of Bowen Sr.'s testimony that he didn't know of an astronomical Oregon offer, Altman said he had no reaction because "I knew it wasn't true."

Bowen Sr. also testified that he didn't recall an alleged $3,000 payment from Oregon assistant Tony Stubblefield.

"Well, I have a lot of confidence in my staff and in Tony, so I wasn't surprised," Altman said of Bowen Sr.'s testimony. "Tony has done a great job for me, and like I said, I've got complete confidence in my staff."

Altman said his compliance office hadn't discussed with him the allegation involving Stubblefield, but that it did review his program in September 2017 and October 2017, and again last week.

The way USC coach Andy Enfield described it, the Trojans have a particularly stiff hammer in their compliance office.

USC suspended standout guard De'Anthony Melton all of last season after the school reviewed an allegation in the federal complaint that a family friend received a $5,000 payment from an agent.

"We have more compliance people at USC than probably any school in the country, and they're great," Enfield said. "They travel with us, and we have a tremendous working relationship with them. It's been like that since I've been at USC, and this is our sixth season."

USC has not been mentioned in the current trial involving a former Adidas rep, a former Adidas executive and would-be agent Christian Dawkins, and Enfield says "I really don't follow it as closely as you might think."

But it's also unavoidable, hovering overhead, even as practices continue.

"I have assistants who tell me what's being written, and I don't have quite enough time to follow everything," Altman said. "I think everybody is following it a little bit, yeah."

Rim shots

Arizona has agreed to a two-year series with Illinois that begins next Nov. 10 at McKale Center and concludes at Illinois' State Farm Center on Dec. 12, 2020. Ryan Reynolds, UA's operations director, said Illinois is scheduled to play Grand Canyon on Nov. 8 and asked to play UA at McKale Center on the same trip. The home-and-home evolved from there.The Wildcats announced that tickets for Sunday's Red-Blue Game have sold out. UA's annual preseason celebration has sold out for eight straight seasons, sometimes within days. Tickets first went on sale Aug. 18.As usual, the weekend around the Red-Blue Game is critical for Arizona's recruiting efforts. The Wildcats are hosting committed five-star guards Nico Mannion and Josh Green, and are scheduled to host five-star forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and four-star forward Zeke Nnaji.

 

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Copyright 2018 The Commercial Appeal, Inc.
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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

Memphis Highland Hundred booster president Tim Ingram hadn't planned to wear white for Saturday's football game against UCF and neither were his members.

The school announced Monday night on Twitter that the whiteout was now a blueout. Ingram was caught off guard when he heard about the change but said he and the boosters were ready to embrace the color most Memphis fans wear to games anyway.

"We just go with what we want to wear but when something comes out and says, 'Hey we're going to do blue,' we go exactly with what the university wants to do or whoever the sponsor is," Ingram said.

The whiteout was announced in June as part of the university's promotion schedule. It was something Memphis did two years ago when the Tigers hosted Temple on a Thursday night game on ESPN.

Fans were encouraged to wear white and Memphis had planned to wear all-white uniforms. The problem is NCAA rules mandate home schools wear dark uniforms and road teams wear white unless both teams agree to it in writing.

A University of Memphis source said that despite the AAC approving the idea, UCF wouldn't agree to wear dark jerseys on the road.

UCF did not return emails seeking comment.

Memphis will still wear white in its uniform at home for the first time this season. On Friday, the football team's Twitter account sent out a video with the team wearing white pants with its traditional home blue jersey.

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Copyright 2018 Independent Publishing Company
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Anderson Independent-Mail (South Carolina)

 

CLEMSON — Success can be expensive.

The Clemson University athletic department has committed to competing at the highest level. That demands spending at the highest level.

Clemson spends sharply to ensure that its facilities never fall from the cutting edge. Clemson also spends generously to compensate coaches comparably to their peers.

Clemson will spend $15.6 million this academic year in total salary for the football and men's basketball coaching staffs. Clemson could owe nearly $3million more if those two teams accomplish their loftiest missions.

Football coach Dabo Swinney, men's basketball coach Brad Brownell and all of their assistants have performance incentive packages in their contracts. The more they win, the more the department pays.

Clemson awarded Swinney and Brownell a combined $480,000 for postseason bonuses last season. This year, the program prudently protected its pockets in anticipation of another successful stretch.

Clemson secured an insurance policy for incentive bonuses with Risk Point Consulting, a firm based in Marietta, Georgia. According to Clemson associate athletic director Graham Neff, the policy insures approximately $1.25 million but includes a $215,000 premium and a $425,000 deductible.

Clemson could exceed the deductible before the midpoint of the basketball season. If the football team reaches the College Football Playoff semifinal for a fourth consecutive season, Swinney will earn a $200,000 bonus. Each of his 10 assistant coaches will receive $50,000.

The insurance policy would cover any remaining bonuses, up to $800,000.

"Obviously, it's impossible to project what our actual payout will be, but the insurance gives us a way to cap our exposure," Clemson associate athletic director and CFO Eric George said. "We know our maximum cost will be the premium amount plus the deductible, and we can use that figure as we plan the rest of our departmental budget."

Clemson purchased a similar policy before the 2016 season, but only for football. It saved the department $1.3 million in bonus payments after the Tigers won the national championship.

Clemson did not secure insurance last season. Swinney earned $400,000 for winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and reaching the Playoff. Men's basketball coach Brad Brownell earned $80,000 for advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Clemson administrators included men's basketball in the insurance policy this season, after agreeing to a six-year, $15 million contract with Brownell.

If the football and basketball teams rise to last season's watermark, Clemson would owe $1.2 million in bonuses to both staffs. However, only $937,500 of that total would be insured.

The policy Clemson purchased this season does not cover the football team's achievements outside the Playoff. Bonuses offered for winning the ACC and reaching a non-CFP bowl game are not included.

If Clemson wins the national championship, the staff would earn $2.3 million in bonuses, including:

$200,000 to Swinney and $10,000 to each assistant for winning the ACC title

$200,000 to Swinney and $50,000 to each assistant for reaching a CFP semifinal

$200,000 to Swinney and $60,000 to each assistant for reaching the CFP final

$250,000 to Swinney and $25,000 to each assistant for winning the national title

Swinney could also earn another $75,000 for winning ACC and national coach of the year awards. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables could earn an additional $200,000 if the Clemson defense finishes in the Top 5 of two specified statistical categories.

The maximum bonus for Brownell and his three assistants is $1.07 million, including:

$150,000 to Brownell and $5,000 to each assistant for earning the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament

$100,000 to Brownell and $5,000 to each assistant for winning the ACC Tournament

$50,000 to Brownell and $5,000 to each assistant for appearing in the NCAA Tournament

$50,000 to Brownell and $2,500 to each assistant for each NCAA Tourney win in the first three rounds

$75,000 to Brownell and $2,500 to each assistant for each win in NCAA Tourney Regional semifinal and final

$100,000 to Brownell and $2,500 to each assistant for winning a National Semifinal

$250,000 to Brownell and $10,000 to each assistant for winning the national championship

Brownell would earn another $75,000 for winning ACC and national coach of the year.

Risk Point pitches incentive insurance each season to more than 50 college programs, according to president Michael Wright. However, the policies vary based on the realistic expectations for each team.

"You're not going to Middle Tennessee and insuring against their national championship bonuses," Wright said, "but they may have a level of bonuses within their coaches' contracts that are based off of making a bowl game or winning a certain number of games. Their bar is going to be lower than Clemson's, but it still has that same financial impact on their budget if it happens."

The insurance policies help programs prepare for the best. They are also assurance policies for coaches.

"We rarely talk about the bonus insurance with our coaches," George said, "but we'd certainly like to think that it is one of the ways that we can show our confidence in them."


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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

A college football player from metro Atlanta who sustained a critical head injury in a game is showing progress.

In a tweet, the mother of Tennessee State University linebacker Christion Abercrombie said her son "is moving in a positive direction."

"Christion is so strong," Staci Abercrombie said this week in the post. "He squeezed my hand so hard, my knuckles were popping."

Christion Abercrombie, who played high school football at Westlake in south Fulton County, was injured in a Sept. 29 game against Vanderbilt.

The 20-year-old sophomore linebacker was "taking on a blocker" when he was injured in the second quarter, TSU coach Rod Reed said on his radio show the day after the game. Reed said there "wasn't anything malicious" about the play on which he was injured.

The player has been at Vanderbilt Medical Center in critical condition since the injury.No specifics have been released on his diagnosis.

"(Christion) is showing improvement, doing some things that are really positive," Reed told the Tennessean newspaper. "All those things that he is doing shows that his brain is functioning in some capacity, and those were the things that we were concerned with. I'm really happy for him and his family right now."

In another tweet this week, Stacie Abercrombie urged her followers to "pray bold prayers."

"Christion," she said, "will be restored."

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

First-year Nebraska coach Scott Frost said Thursday the transfers of three of his former players to Oregon State raised his suspicions, though he stopped short of leveling a tampering charge against the Beavers.

Linebacker Avery Roberts, quarterback Tristan Gebbia and receiver Tyjon Lindsey all transferred from Nebraska to Oregon State in the last two months. It was part of the reason Frost listed Oregon State as one of the schools Greg Bell couldn't transfer to as a condition of granting the running back's scholarship release last week.

The Cornhuskers' previous staff has deep ties to Oregon State, and former Huskers assistant Trent Bray returned there to coach linebackers this season. Former director of football operations Dan Van De Riet has gone back to Oregon State in the same role. Mike Riley, the coach Frost replaced, was a longtime Oregon State head coach who now is a consultant for the Beavers.

It's against NCAA rules for representatives of a school to contact a player from another school about transferring.

Frost's decision on Bell was made 10 days before NCAA transfer rules change. Starting Oct. 15, athletes will no longer have to ask for permission to transfer from their current schools and schools cannot block transfers.

"If someone is contacting our kids while they're still our kids and trying to get them to transfer, I'm not going to be a big fan of that continuing to happen," Frost said. "And I'm not saying it did happen."

Oregon State athletics spokesman Steve Fenk said the school had no response to Frost's comments.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

Scientists researching chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in athletes consider women to be a vulnerable demographic but they need to be able to study more female brains to determine why.

"We have large gaps in the number of women's brains we've collected," McKee said in a teleconference with reporters Thursday. "We need to know if there are gender differences in CTE, which we do suspect, but we don't have evidence for it at this point."

McKee directs Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and is known for her pioneering research into CTE. The center has a "brain bank" of more than 625 brains that were donated for research, which came from donors of a range of ages who played a variety of sports.

Although men receive more concussions because they play high-contact sports more than women, women suffer concussions at a higher rate, according to researchers. They are studying whether it could be due to hormonal differences between men and women or physiological differences in the neck, among other possibilities.

Prior research also showed that it takes longer for women to recover from concussions than men.

Outside athletic participation, concussions also can occur due to intimate partner violence, which disproportionately affects women, Angela Colantonio of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute said.

"This area of inquiry is pretty in-development, because historically there has been not a lot of attention or systematic integration of sex and gender in our research," Colantonio said.

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

 

The Pac-12 will make immediate changes to how video replay reviews are handled after Commissioner Larry Scott admitted procedural mistakes were made when a targeting foul was not called during last month's Washington State-Southern California game.

Scott responded Thursday to a report on the review by Yahoo! Sports that cited an internal conference document. The document showed a replay official at the stadium believed he and officials working at the league's review command center had been overruled by a Pac-12 executive on a targeting call against Washington State linebacker Logan Tago on Sept. 21 at USC.

The report said the replay official at the game and the command center agreed that, in addition to the roughing the passer foul that was called on the field, a targeting penalty should also be enforced. That would have resulted in the ejection of Tago. The report said a "third party" did not agree and the targeting call was removed.

Scott acknowledged the third party was Woodie Dixon, the Pac-12's general counsel and senior vice president of business affairs who also oversees football. Dixon and director of officials David Coleman oversee the command center though they are not necessarily there during games; Dixon often attends games on Saturdays.

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

Has there ever been a high school football game in New Mexico in which fans were barred from attending?

Because we're about to have one.

The fallout from the fight last Friday night between players from Española Valley and Bernalillo includes an unusual, and perhaps even unprecedented, decision from Española Valley High School and the New Mexico Activities Association:

Fans - from both schools - will be banned from the Sundevils' final home game, Oct. 26 against St. Pius.

"After considering options based on the NMAA sportsmanship bylaw, it was determined that prohibiting all fans would provide the most equitable environment for the Oct. 26 contest," NMAA executive director Sally Marquez said.

From Española's side, athletic director Ruben Salazar said he and other school and district administrators wanted to be proactive.

"We discussed the possibilities of what we could do to send a true message to our fans, our community... that we're taking the NMAA's Compete with Class (initiative) at heart," Salazar said.

Last Friday, players from Bernalillo and Española Valley began to fight in the middle of the first quarter of their district game at Española. The game was stopped there with the Spartans leading 7-0.

It is believed a couple of Española Valley parents also made their way onto the sideline or field, although Salazar said there were no fights among adults. That contradicts what multiple sources from Bernalillo have told the Journal, who said they observed adult Sundevil fans throwing punches.

Marquez said that two Bernalillo players and five Sundevils were ejected. The Spartans are home to St. Pius on Friday, Española Valley is at Taos. Those seven players will sit out this week as a one-game penalty for being ejected.

Salazar said the decision to bar fans from the St. Pius game, which is the final home game for Española Valley's seniors, was not a safety decision. He also was asked why the school did not ban individual fans, rather than have an empty stadium.

"It's just something we decided that we would have a zero tolerance for fans across the board," he said. "Sometimes, it takes a few to give everyone a bad name."

Salazar admitted that this measure will "put us out financially as far as our gate receipts, and as far as concession money, plus our fans not being able to see our kids play."

The NMAA is going to arrange for a vendor to streamline the game over the internet so fans from both teams can see the contest, Marquez said, but details are still being worked out.

"The NMAA has bylaws and we are to adhere to those bylaws," Salazar said. "And we crossed that road."

The NMAA's decision did not go over well with St. Pius.

"Our fans are being punished, and our kids are being punished, especially our seniors, for something they didn't have a part of," Sartans head coach David Montoya said.

Playing a game without fans is drastic, but it has occurred.

The most recent glaring varsity example was a girls basketball game in 2010 between Los Lunas and Rio Grande. Animosity between those two programs led to a game being played at Rio Grande in which only players, coaches, and essential game personnel were admitted into the gymnasium.

"I'm trying to picture what the game is going to look like," Montoya said.

Marquez said she was unaware of any prep football game in the state ever having been played without fans.

The NMAA also has officially awarded Bernalillo a 1-0 forfeit. The Spartans are 5-1 overall and 1-0 in District 2/5-4A.

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

The Lobo men's soccer team on Wednesday was told its spring season will not happen.

The team remains hopeful the UNM Board of Regents' August vote to discontinue the team as of July 1, 2019, will be reversed. But, even if it is not reversed, several players say they feel UNM is breaking a promise to them by not letting them have a full spring program of practices and games.

At the time of the summer vote to discontinue men's soccer and three other sports, regents, UNM President Garnett Stokes and Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez said the student athletes in the cut sports would all be fully supported through the duration of their coming seasons (men's soccer's regular season ends in November) and the sports would all remain a part of department until the July 1, 2019, elimination date.

"That was a big factor for a lot of the underclassmen who choose to stay for this year and not rush into a transfer because they were promised a full year in which they could take their time in deciding on a place to transfer to while waiting to see if the program got reinstated," senior midfielder Matt Dorsey told the Journal of the team believing the administration's promise to continue its support meant until the summer.

"... This decision is not only breaking a promise on behalf of the athletic department, but it is putting all of the guys with remaining years of eligibility at a huge disadvantage."

Essentially, some players on the team, and their parents who have written multiple letters this week to UNM's administration and the Board or Regents, feel they are now being forced to rush a decision to transfer in the coming December semester break in order to participate in spring practices at another program or run the risk of other programs not viewing them as valuable a transfer if they skip spring drills.

UNM associate athletic directors Ed Manzanares and Eric Schultz told the team at a meeting Wednesday it would still have access in the spring to academic advisers, trainers and facilities, but there won't be formal practices or training sessions with coaches or a spring game schedule, usually five games, which most teams take part in. Those spring drills and games are customarily considered preparation for the following season, one now not scheduled to happen at UNM.

"Are you willing to now come out and say you no longer have the best interest of your student athletes?" Michelle Shepherd, the parent of Lobo soccer freshman midfielder Ben Shepherd, wrote in a letter Wednesday afternoon to Stokes and the entire Board of Regents. "... We accepted the decision that the soccer program would end July 2019 and my son was prepared to use the spring season to train with his team, compete in games, complete his freshman academic year and secure his next school."

Ryan Swanson, an assistant professor in the UNM Honors College and member of the faculty's Athletic Council, was in attendance at Wednesday's meeting at the request of the team.

"My interest, hopefully like other people, is what's best for these student athletes," Swanson said. "After the team was told, there was a rather vigorous debate over why that happened."

Swanson said he was proud of the student-athletes ability to express in an "eloquent" and passionate manner their frustrations and concerns about the decision.

Nuñez has said he and the department will do anything to help facilitate any player's desire to transfer, now or in the summer. But, despite several state politicians and even one governor candidate saying they will work to bring back the soccer program in the new year, Nuñez said he has to move forward making decisions as a director based on the current reality that the regents voted to cut the sport.

Nuñez originally said he had hoped to talk with the team about any decisions on a spring season after the regular season ends, but told the Journal on Wednesday the department felt it "owed those young men the opportunity to understand the decision now and not have them be misled in any way about what might happen in the future."

Head coach Jeremy Fishbein declined to talk to the Journal about the meeting when contacted Wednesday.

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Copyright 2018 The Arizona Daily Star Oct 11, 2018

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

 




NEW YORK - A former consultant for Adidas America testified Wednesday in federal court that he made concealed payments on behalf of the shoe company to the families of five elite basketball prospects - including former Arizona Wildcats star and No. 1 NBA draft pick Deandre Ayton.

Thomas "T.J." Gassnola, 46, said he worked with Adidas to make payments to the families of Ayton and four other players who landed at Adidas schools: Brian Bowen (Louisville), Silvio de Sousa and Billy Preston (Kansas) and Dennis Smith Jr. (N.C. State). Ayton verbally committed to the UA, a Nike school, in September 2016. The decision surprised recruiting experts, many of whom believed he'd commit to Kansas.

Bowen never played at Louisville after the FBI learned that his father, Brian Bowen Sr., worked with Adidas on a scheme to funnel him $100,000 for his son to play at Louisville.

"These players were either going to our (Adidas) universities, or we wanted them to go to our universities," Gassnola said.

Asked by the prosecution why he concealed the payments to the families of the five players, Gassnola said, "I didn't want people to find out."

Ayton and the others would have been declared ineligible by the NCAA had the payments become public.

The prosecution is arguing that the three men on trial - former Adidas executive Jim Gatto, former Adidas employee Merl Code and would-be sports agent Christian Dawkins - had intent to defraud four so-called "victim universities": Louisville, Kansas, N.C. State and Miami.

Asked how he received the money from Adidas, Gassnola said, "Ask Jimmy," referring to Gatto. Gatto was seated in the court when Gassnola made the comment.

Gassnola, who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, is a government witness in the case. He did not mention any specific payment amounts to Judge Lewis A. Kaplan and the jury on Wednesday, but is due back on the stand Thursday morning.

Attorneys told the jury last week that Ayton's name was likely to come up in the trial, along with those of UA coach Sean Miller, former Wildcats assistants Joe Pasternack and Book Richardson, and dozens of others throughout college basketball.

ESPN reported in February that Miller discussed a pay-for-play scheme involving Ayton, a story the coach vehemently denied. An attorney hired by the UA to conduct an outside review, Paul Kelly, issued a statement after the ESPN report that said Ayton had "consistently and credibly" maintained that neither he nor any member of his family received money or an extra benefit that influenced his decision to attend Arizona. Miller returned to the UA bench March 1 after sitting out a game amid the ESPN report and defended his star player, saying the allegations hurt, among others, "Deandre Ayton and his incredible family."

Ayton signed a lucrative shoe deal with Puma in June, days before the Suns made him the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

Wearing a gray jacket, plaid shirt and red pocket square, Gassnola testified Wednesday that he was paid $150,000 a year as an Adidas consultant. He said he, Gatto and the other two defendant in the case - Code and Dawkins - agreed to funnel the money to the families of the five players.

The prosecution also presented an email from Gassnola to Adidas executive Chris Rivers dated March 2, 2015, that detailed so-called "touch points" - times Gassnola met or communicated with key college coaches, high school players and their families.

Between Feb. 19-22, 2015, the email said, Gassnola attended practices involving both UCLA and Arizona. "Spent time with (Steve) Alford and his staff," it read. Nothing specific relating to Arizona was mentioned. The Wildcats and Bruins played Feb. 21, 2015, at McKale Center, with Arizona winning 57-47. ESPN's "College GameDay" broadcast from McKale Center earlier that day.

Another email, dated Feb. 17, 2015, was sent by Rivers to several Adidas employees and consultants with the title, "Adidas Soul Patrol - AKA Black Opp's (sic) Update."

Rivers said he wanted "notes on who we are seeing and how each of these touch points will help us in the short and long term future."

Gassnola began working as a grassroots basketball coach in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and eventually set up the New England Playaz Basketball Club, a powerhouse club which Adidas sponsored from 2004-17. He admitted that he used funds intended for the nonprofit New England Playaz "to pay for personal expenses." He said his annual expenses for flights, hotels and rental cars for himself and his players were about $200,000-$300,000 a year.

He stopped working for Adidas in September 2017, after the FBI made 10 arrests in the case.

CREDIT: By Adam Zagoria Special to the Arizona Daily Star

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Copyright 2018 Richmond Newspapers, Inc.
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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

The University of Richmond will start selling beer to the general public at men's basketball games this season, the school's vice president and director of athletics, John Hardt, said Wednesday morning, pending approval from the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority.

None of Virginia's other 13 Division I schools has sold beer to the general public at basketball games, and none has announced plans to do so.

Sale of beer and wine at intercollegiate events has become a rapidly growing trend in response to the requests of some fans, and as a way to increase attendance. Often, NCAA institutions have added beer to concession options, especially at football stadiums, because it's a relatively easy, fresh revenue stream.

That is not why Richmond plans to do so, according to Hardt.

"At this point, it's just to help support Spider athletics, generally," said Hardt. "We think it will have a positive impact on our revenue, however our primary motivation for implementing beer sales is to enhance the fan experience."

He added that projections indicate "a modest amount of revenue will be generated by beer sales." Hardt did not elaborate on the revenue projection. "This is not a big revenue driver," he said.

UR has no plans to extend beer sales to women's basketball games at this time, or to Robins Stadium, home of Spiders football, said Hardt.

Richmond's existing ABC license allows for beer sales at other school functions, including performing arts at Modlin Center.

Some of Virginia's Division I schools, including UR, have made beer and wine available in club areas, or suites, at their venues in past seasons. But beer has never been sold throughout a Virginia Division I arena, as will be the case at the Spiders' Robins Center.

Richmond has hosted craft beer pregame events that have been popular in areas adjacent to the Robins Center arena.

That is part of the reason UR explored the potential of beer sales during games, according to Hardt, who started at Richmond in January.

While selling beer, Hardt said UR is "sensitive to wanting to maintain a real positive fan and family atmosphere."

Five of the other 13 Atlantic 10 Conference members sell beer at their on-campus basketball facilities. ACC member Wake Forest, a school similar to Richmond, began selling beer at basketball games and football games two years ago.

The Richmond Flying Squirrels sell beer and wine at The Diamond, as is the case with professional teams at all levels, in all sports.

In April, the NCAA announced it eliminated restrictions on alcohol sales at Division I championship events.

That move came two years after a pilot program that permitted alcohol sales at the College World Series, the FCS championship game and at wrestling, lacrosse, ice hockey and volleyball championships.

In May of 2015, former UR Athletic Director Keith Gill told The Times-Dispatch that selling beer at the Robins Center "is not something that we've talked about or that is under consideration in any way.... It's just not part of who we are right now."

joconnor@timesdispatch.com(804) 649-6233@RTDjohnoconnor

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Copyright 2018 News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

RALEIGH — N.C. State compliance director Carrie Doyle testified in federal court in New York on Tuesday that she had no prior knowledge of a $40,000 payment made to the father of Dennis Smith Jr. to secure his son's commitment to play basketball for the Wolfpack.

The government alleges that former Adidas executive James Gatto gave $40,000 to an unidentified N.C. State assistant basketball coach who passed it on to the father in fall 2015.

"What, if anything, did you know about the payment of approximately $40,000 to the father of Dennis Smith Jr. in connection with Smith Jr.'s decision to attend N.C. State University?" U.S. assistant district attorney Noah Solowiejczyk asked Doyle on Tuesday, according to a court transcript obtained by the News & Observer.

"I have no knowledge," Doyle answered.

Doyle was called to testify in the federal wire fraud and conspiracy trial of Gatto, former Adidas employee Merl Code and former agent runner Christian Dawkins. She was expected to continue testifying Wednesday. The FBI's case involves corruption in college basketball that involved Adidas employees, agents and coaches paying players to get them to play at certain schools and sign with Adidas upon entering the NBA.

On Tuesday, Doyle was questioned about the scheme, an unauthorized recruiting trip involving former Wolfpack coaches Mark Gottfried and Orlando Early's use of a helicopter, and the relationship between Smith's father and Eric Leak, a former football player at N.C. State and agent runner who had been disassociated from the university.

Early in her testimony, Doyle was asked by Solowiejczyk what would have happened if N.C. State had been aware of the $40,000 payment made to the player's father, according to the court transcript.

"If we had found out about it before we had issued the financial aid and it was determined to be valid and true information, we would never have provided the athletics scholarship," Doyle said. "If we found out about it after the aid had already been disbursed, we would not award future aid."

Doyle added that it wouldn't have mattered if Smith Jr. had no knowledge of the payment. A payment to his father, she testified, would be an NCAA violation.

Smith, from Fayetteville, enrolled at N.C. State for the 2016 spring semester and played basketball for the Wolfpack during the 2016-17 season before entering the NBA. Gottfried and his staff, including Early, were fired in February 2017.

Doyle also testified that she had no knowledge of the involvement of an N.C. State assistant coach and an Adidas consultant in the payment to secure Smith's commitment. When asked what would have happened if she had discovered that such a payment occurred, Doyle said the coach "would have been fired."

In 2015 Gottfried, then the head coach, and Early, an assistant heavily involved in Smith Jr.'s recruitment, flew in a helicopter to visit Smith Jr. at Trinity Christian High School in Fayetteville.

Doyle testified on Tuesday that she was "irritated" that she learned of the trip in "real time" through Twitter and had no advance knowledge of it, which was not normal procedure for recruiting visits.

"The coaches, generally speaking, run all of these kinds of things by the compliance staff to make sure that whatever it is they're going to do is in accordance with NCAA rules and that we're avoiding potholes and pitfalls, and in this instance they didn't do that."

Doyle was concerned that the trip occurred during the school day, which is against NCAA rules. She also was concerned about the publicity during the trip, which also involved a visit to a second recruit, Edrice "Bam" Adebayo, at High Point Christian. Adebayo was not named in the trial on Tuesday.

Doyle testified that she subsequently determined that no rules violations had occurred with the trip. She reported her findings to the NCAA, who agreed that the trip was within the rules.

Doyle also became concerned that Leak, a former N.C. State football player who the school disassociated itself from in 2011 in light of NCAA violations, was involved with Smith Jr.'s recruitment.

"My understanding is that coach Gottfried was the one that brought forward the information that Eric Leak might be in contact with Dennis Smith Sr.," Doyle said Tuesday.

Doyle said she met with Gottfried and athletics director Debbie Yow to address the situation.

"We decided that Orlando Early, being the primary recruiting coach, should go and talk with Dennis Smith Sr., and determine the extent to which these conversations were occurring and determine whether anything else was going on," Doyle testified.

Early met with the father, Doyle said, and when he reported back to her, she said her concerns were calmed.

Still, Doyle testified that she had Julie Roe Lach, a former NCAA vice president of enforcement, meet with Gottfried and his staff to explain NCAA rules.

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

MADISON, Wis. - Embattled University of Wisconsin receiver Quintez Cephus is suing the school because he says a disciplinary probe it is conducting while he's trying to defend himself in a criminal sexual assault case violates his rights.

Cephus was suspended from the Badgers in August after he was charged with sexually assaulting two women in his apartment. Cephus says the sex was consensual.

Cephus filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday alleging that a university disciplinary investigation against him launched in May is unfair because he can't participate in it without potentially harming his criminal defense, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for emotional and psychological harm and past and future economic losses, claiming Cephus is a likely high NFL draft pick.

University spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said school officials haven't reviewed the lawsuit but believe their investigatory process complies with federal law.

Cephus' attorney, Andrew Miltenberg, said in an email that Cephus "has had his rights stripped from him by this public school."

Cephus, who is from Macon, Georgia, is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday for his arraignment on the sexual assault charges. He was ordered last month to stand trial in the case.

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Copyright 2018 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
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The Philadelphia Daily News

 

St. Joseph High School football coach Paul Sacco, South Jersey's all-time leader in career victories, was suspended by the Hammonton, N.J., school's president for two games Wednesday for failing to supervise players who made and shared a video with profane and racially charged language.

In addition, the Rev. Allain B. Caparas announced that the players involved would face consequences that will include "suspensions from school, suspensions from games, community service, and disciplinary probation for the remainder of the school year."

Sacco, whose teams have won 322 games in his 36 seasons, was suspended because the video was shot at a gathering at his home on Sept, 28, the night before his team's game against Haddonfield Memorial High School.

Sacco confirmed Wednesday that he was not home when the video was shot but said his wife was monitoring the players, who regularly gather for pizza at the coach's residence on the night before Saturday afternoon home games.

"Coach Paul Sacco should have been supervising the students at the time of the incident - though he was not present at the time of the video," Caparas wrote. He said that in the future, Sacco will not be "permitted to host team gatherings in private residences."

In the video, which appears to have been shot in the basement rec room, a St. Joseph player is heard to utter a curse word against Haddonfield and refer to Haddonfield players as "rich [expletive]."

Another St. Joseph player is heard mentioning "that rich white boy" about a Haddonfield player.

On the video, which apparently was sent to an African American Haddonfield player via Snapchat, another St. Joseph player, who also is African American, appears to use the n-word.

"The behavior is absolutely unacceptable and directly opposed to Catholic teaching," Caparas wrote.

Larry White, executive director of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, said the video as well as a report from his office would be forwarded to the New Jersey Attorney General's Office's Civil Rights Division because of the racially intimidating language.

"It's disappointing," White said. "Number one, schools aren't getting the message out or aren't getting through. You just can't do this stuff. You can't send this stuff out there for the whole world to see.

"And number two, there's just no place for this in high school sports. In any sports, really."

Haddonfield Memorial principal Chuck Klaus said he had viewed the video but declined comment other than to say in an email, "At this time we are reaching out to St. Joseph."

Caparas said in his statement that he had reached out to Haddonfield officials.

"I have called the Haddonfield principal to apologize for the actions of my students," Caparas wrote. "I also extend my apologies to the student athletes of the Haddonfield high school football team."

The video surfaced a little before noon Wednesday, when a Haddonfield parent sent it to Haddonfield and St. Joseph officials as well as news media.

In an accompanying note, the parent compared the video to an incident last spring in which the Haddonfield boys' lacrosse team had its season canceled when one of the lacrosse players was accused of using the n-word toward an African American track athlete from Sterling High School during a track meet at Haddonfield.

"Troubling Video - Where is the Fairness?" read the subject line of the email sent by the Haddonfield parent.

St. Joseph is one of South Jersey's top programs. The Wildcats have won eight state titles in the last nine seasons and are 5-1 and ranked fourth in the Inquirer's South Jersey rankings.

St. Joseph was No. 1 but lost its Sept. 29 game to Haddonfield by 22-15. The Bulldawgs are 6-0 and the new No. 1 team in the rankings. At the time of the game, both teams were 4-0.

Haddonfield quarterback Jay Foley, who seems to be mentioned in the video by a St. Joseph player, threw three touchdown passes to lead the Bulldawgs to victory.

"I'm coming for that little 5-7 quarterback," a St. Joseph player says on the video, in an apparent reference to Foley.

Sacco seemed devastated early Wednesday afternoon before the disciplinary action was announced.

"I'm sick to my stomach," Sacco said in his office. He declined further comment.

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Copyright 2018 Collier County Publishing Company
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Naples Daily News (Florida)

 

Chris Bosh admits his premature transition from NBA player to non-playing days was a struggle.

"It's extremely different because as athletes, especially in the NBA, you work your whole life and sacrifice to get this point professionally," Bosh told USA TODAY Sports. "If and when that's in jeopardy, it makes things very hard. I had to answer a lot of questions. I had to take time. It was a very rough time. What else do I like? I didn't even know what else I liked."

Bosh is a person with varied interests: travel, cooking, coding/technology, guitar, family.

Add a new one to the list: esports.

Bosh has joined esports franchise Gen.G Esports as a player management advisor.

Bosh plans to bring his experience in sports to esports: leadership, communication, teamwork, championship ideals, dealing with pressure and off-the-court issues.

"It's a dream for me to be able to work with these guys," Bosh said. "The way I look at it, competing at a high level, whether that's business, art or film, athletics, anything you do, there's a certain way to go about it. Being in the NBA, being successful, being able to win championships at the highest level in the world, there's certain core values that you have, certain things you have to follow."

Gen.G competes in several games, including League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm and the Los Angeles-based Overwatch League.

How did this come about? Bosh developed a relationship with Gen.G co-founder and vice chairman Phillip Hyun. "We talked a lot and were just hanging, and he said, 'Why don't you come see what it is we're doing with Gen.G?' " Bosh said. "I took my kids to watch, and it was pretty cool. Phillip asked if I wanted to become involved in some sort of way, and it just came together."

Bosh's NBA career came to a halt after his second blood clot diagnosis in 2016. The first blood clot, which traveled to his lung, was discovered in 2015. He hasn't played a game since just before the All-Star break in 2016. He won two championships with the Heat, was named to 11 All-Star teams and is an Olympic gold medalist.

While he told USA TODAY Sports that he is not retired and interested in playing again, it is difficult to envision a team doctor clearing him for an NBA return.

In the meantime, Bosh, who is realistic about his NBA prospects, looks for fulfillment elsewhere.

"I wanted to find something I could enjoy doing and find passion," Bosh said. "It's been very rewarding. I didn't expect this opportunity or relationship to come up. I like technology and games."

Bosh is not a stranger to gaming. He used to play a lot, as recently as three years ago. He played Call of Duty and before that, Halo.

"Chris is good for us both on a surface level and on a deeper level," Gen.G chief growth officer Arnold Hur said. "On the surface level, he's a champion. He knows what it's like to put people together and work on a team and head in the same direction. That's something that we thought was such an invaluable experience - to do it at the highest level of professional sports. We thought getting that kind of experience was important for us. It's new for us. It's new for esports.

"On a deeper level, we felt as we got to know Chris better, he was basically always one or two steps ahead of where everybody else was. He understood how important gaming was. He understood why esports had so much potential. We didn't need to sell him on anything. He already knew where everything was going.... It felt like he already got it. He was the one anticipating problems we might have."

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

For many months now, we've been talking about the NFL as a sport in trouble: falling TV ratings, polarizing protests, Donald Trump's nasty political diatribes, the terrible effects of concussions — in other words, nothing but controversy.

It turns out we've been focusing on the wrong sport.

The NFL certainly has its issues, but Major League Baseball is the one that's truly suffering. Attendance is dropping, TV ratings are adequate but nowhere near the NFL's, the games are too long and extend too late into the evening, and kids aren't growing up to be baseball fans as they were a generation or two ago.

There's no better example of baseball's problems than what happened Monday night. Going head to head with a midseason NFL game, MLB gave it its best shot: Game 3 of the series to end all series, the Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees American League Division Series from Yankee Stadium, tied at one game apiece. The NFL offered Washington at New Orleans, with the added enticement of record-setting Saints quarterback Drew Brees. While that was intriguing, it had nowhere near the importance of the Red Sox-Yankees game.

So, the comparative ratings? The baseball game, which turned into a 16-1 Boston rout, attracted 4.41 million viewers. The football game, also a blowout, a 43-19 Saints victory notable for Brees' all-time NFL passing yards record and nothing else, averaged 10.6 million viewers.

MLB's masterpiece was pummeled by a run-of-the-mill NFL game.

With many wedded to their smartphones, there are questions about the value of TV ratings — although one would think that would even out between football and baseball fans on a night like that — so let's look at things the old-fashioned way: who's showing up.

That's not good for MLB either. Attendance dropped by 4 percent this season, falling under 70 million for the first time since 2003. There was some terrible weather that led to a season total of 54 postponements, the most since 1989, but whatever you want to blame, going backward 15 years for an attendance comparison is not a good development for any sports league.

Then there's the length of games. If your goal is to please graying seam-heads, a three-hour game isn't just right, it's probably too short.

But, if you want to have any fans in, say, 2058, the games are way too long. Today's 10-year-old is 2058's 50-year-old. He or she doesn't have the time or the attention span to watch a full baseball game today. (Truth be told, I don't either, and I know no one who does.)

But if the 10-year-olds don't become fans now, how do they become fans in 40 years, in what will presumably be an even faster-paced, more distracted society?

I think I have the answer to that: They won't.

This is the point in the column where purists and others looking for a fight have a coronary and proclaim pieces such as this are a plot to overthrow the game. They couldn't be more wrong. Baseball was the first sport I loved that loved me back. Before girls were allowed to play organized sports, baseball was there for me, every day and every night. When my parents gave me a baseball scorebook, I promptly kept score of an entire season of Toledo Mud Hens games by listening to the radio broadcast. My father took note of this development and bought us season tickets for years to come.

That wasn't all. We drove an hour to Detroit to spend many summer nights at Tiger Stadium, and went to Comiskey Park at least once every year when visiting relatives on Chicago's South Side.

Soon, college football captured our hearts, but I never gave up on baseball, even when I started playing sports in high school and had much less time to go to games. By the way, that is a development that often gets short shrift when we talk about kids not attending pro sports: They're too busy playing in their own games — not just the boys, but now, for a generation or two due to Title IX, the girls too.

While baseball's future is iffy, its present still holds tantalizing possibilities. After four disappointing opening playoff series — let's be honest, if you didn't have a rooting interest, they were duds — the two championship series could be riveting.

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Copyright 2018 Union Leader Corp.
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The Union Leader (Manchester, NH)

 

NASHUA — Rivier University broke ground on its first phase of the school's Vision 2020 campus improvement plan on Wednesday, which includes several athletic facility upgrades. "This is an incredible opportunity to create a real game-day experience for our students and our friends," said Sister Paula Marie Buley, president of the university.

The school broke ground on Raider Pavilion, a 6,217-square-foot athletic building that will be constructed near the existing Raider Diamond and Raider Field and will include locker rooms, showers, storage, a laundry area, public restrooms and a press box.

"This will give student athletes and the community a venue that is fan-friendly, and that embodies the spirit of Rivier University," said Buley.Several athletes and city officials gathered Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the start of construction. Aside from the new building, several upgrades to existing athletic facilities on the campus will take place as well, including new bleachers, a dugout, new backstop netting, a second press box, storage and seating at the softball field.

"This project is a way for us to turn a field into the Raiders' home," said Buley. "Construction begins next week and we think will be completed in late spring."

The first phase of the Vision 2020 project also includes a new parking area and new connector driveway to allow easier access to the athletics area from the parking lot behind Sylvia Trottier Hall. Much of the initial work will take place on campus north of South Main Street and east of Clement Street, according to the plans.

"The new athletics pavilion and Raider Diamond upgrades show the commitment Rivier has to the student athletes and all that they bring to campus life, and will support greater student engagement and teamwork," Joanne Merrill, director of athletics, said in a statement. According to Merrill, the newly renovated facilities will also expand athletic resources and strengthen the school's connections within the community.

These facilities will support Rivier's NCAA Division III athletic programs for soccer, field hockey, lacrosse and softball, said school officials. The second and third phases of Rivier University's Vision 2020 include a new 30,000-square-foot science building and a gymnasium addition to the Muldoon Fitness Center, among other improvements. Buley is hopeful that the university will be able to break ground on the science building this coming spring. Vision 2020 is the newest phase of renovations at Rivier University, 410 S. Main St.

Recently, the school upgraded its Clement Street corridor, and several years ago it launched a major $4 million renovation project that improved the campus' main entrance, building facades and parking lots.

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Copyright 2018 The Columbus Dispatch
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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

 

Glenville has been ruled ineligible for the football playoffs this season and John Marshall must forfeit two football victories and three boys soccer wins as the result of Ohio High School Athletic Association sanctions for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

The OHSAA determined that the district incorrectly assigned students to certain schools for participation in football and soccer. The district was fined $5,000 and reprimanded for lack of administrative responsibility and institutional control, the OHSAA said. Glenville also was placed on probation through June 2021.

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Copyright 2018 Star Tribune
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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

The U.S. national men's soccer team is coming to new Allianz Field in St. Paul to open CONCACAF Gold Cup play June 18.

It's the first time here since, well, Minnesota United Sporting Director Manny Lagos remembers when the Americans played a Russian club team in 1990 at the little National Sports Center stadium in Blaine.

"Things have changed massively since then," Lagos said. "The stadiums they play, the teams, the competition."

The CONCACAF Gold Cup is soccer's national-team championship for the North America, Central America and Caribbean regions. The confederation announced Tuesday that Allianz Field will be the site of two games on opening day of Group D play.

The soccer-specific, 19,400-capacity stadium is expected to hold its first MLS games in April, after the NCAA's Final Four has left town.

The Gold Cup's arrival will put Allianz Field on an international stage for a 16-team tournament that is growing by four more nations for the first time.

"It gives our club an opportunity to showcase a new stadium we're all going to be really proud of," Loons coach Adrian Heath said.

Complete groups and schedules will be announced early in 2019, after all nations have qualified. Those qualifying rounds will be played this month, in November and March 2019 as well.

Six national teams — the U.S., Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama as well as Trinidad and Tobago — have already automatically qualified.

Minnesota United defender Francisco Calvo is a candidate to play for his Costa Rica national team, as is midfielder Kevin Molino for his Trinidad and Tobago team.

Californian Miguel Ibarra and Wisconsin's Ethan Finley are among United's American players hopeful to catch the eye of a U.S. team coach who has not been hired yet.

Finley has played three times for the U.S. national team, including in a World Cup qualifier in Guatemala held in a stadium as intimate and loud as he expects Allianz Field will be.

"Playing for your national team, it's incredible, an absolute privilege," said Finley, who is hopeful he'll be recovered from an ACL injury and be back to training fully by January.

"I'm coming off an injury, but I still hope to put my name in the hat, especially when you have the opportunity to don the red, white and blue in your home stadium."

Gold Cup tickets for Allianz Field matches will go on sale in mid- to late-November. Season-ticket holders and subscribers to the United's newsletter — www.mnufc.com/newsletter — will receive early access.

The Americans will play their second match June 22 in Cleveland and close Group D play June 26 at Kansas City.

Both Lagos and Heath hope Allianz Field and the United franchise impress enough that the U.S. team returns.

It has played qualifying games late in the year in such northern places as Columbus, Ohio, Philadelphia and Colorado, seeking an edge against opponents accustomed to warmer climes.

"We could be more of a home for the U.S. national team," Lagos said, "if we put on a really good event."

Heath said the attention both the state and stadium will receive is good for the game in Minnesota.

"We're all still pioneers here who keep growing this game," Heath said. "It has come on leaps and bounds these last 10 years, but we've still got a long way to go."

Allianz Field, under construction since May 2017, is expected to be completed by February.

It's currently more than 80 percent completed.

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

The players and parents of the University of New Mexico men's soccer team on Tuesday sent Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez a letter asking that their spring season be promised to them, even if their future beyond that is not.

The team is one of four Lobos sports, along with women's beach volleyball and the men's and women's ski teams, that the UNM Board of Regents voted over the summer to eliminate after the current school year.

When the regents approved a plan on the sports to be cut, UNM administrators said the sports would be fully supported through their final season and their elimination would officially take effect July 1, 2019.

So what does that actually mean for any potential offseason activities - activities normally geared at preparing for a next season, that, at least for now, isn't scheduled to come?

"We request confirmation that UNM will provide everything that it and other Division I programs provide during the winter/spring, including 1) regularly scheduled training sessions (field and weight room) beginning the opening week of classes; 2) three full-time professional coaches; 3) five match dates against top intercollegiate and/ or professional competition; 4) certified training staff and related medical services; and 5) academic advising and support," the letter states.

The 2018 men's soccer regular season ends Nov. 3 with the Conference-USA tournament to follow.

The spring season, for fall sports like soccer and football, is generally used to prepare for the following regular season. With no regular season in the fall of 2019 guaranteed, does UNM move forward with a full spring routine?

"My focus right now continues to be to fully support these student-athletes for the fall season at hand, meaning the season they are in right now," said Nuñez. "Those other decisions beyond that will officially be made once the fall season is completed."

For all the sports, and men's soccer in particular, there has been political promises from several lawmakers that financial assistance will come in the spring legislative session to save the teams, but UNM for now is standing by the summer decision and the premise that the sports will be gone.

The problem at play is the realization that if the sport is going to be eliminated, players at some point will want to transfer to another program. If there isn't a spring season offered at UNM, some players who might otherwise stick around to wait out the 2019 Legislative Session, to see if funding indeed saves their sport, will likely instead decide to transfer at the winter semester break to play spring soccer at their new program.

"The UNM Regents announced that the men's soccer program would be eliminated effective July 1, 2019," the letter states. "... UNM has already broken one promise to these players by eliminating the program, and we certainly hope that it does not intend to break another."

The letter asks UNM to provide an answer to the concerns about the spring season within one week.

BEER FOR SPORTS:

There will be a beerfest fundraiser Nov. 10 at Civic Plaza to help the sports being eliminated at UNM.

Jamie Schweback, the general manager of Canteen Brewhouse, and Danielle Ebaugh, President of Women Rise Albuquerque, organized the "Save the Endangered Lobo" event that will feature local breweries and wineries, live music and other vendors with proceeds going to the teams scheduled to be eliminated at UNM.

More information can be found online at SaveTheEndangeredLobo.com.

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Copyright 2018 Woodward Communications, Inc.
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Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)

 

A Dubuque university has received a $400,000 donation to aid construction of a new wellness center.

Clarke University officials announced the anonymous gift Tuesday morning. Preliminary work is underway on the project, and construction will begin in December. Work on the $400,000 project is expected to be complete in August.

The center will include counseling and health services, as well as campus ministry. There also will be activities such as group fitness, yoga and meditation classes and access to light therapy and massage chairs.

The center will be located on the lower level of Mary Josita Hall. It will span about 5,500 square feet.

While the new center will have exercise space, the Kehl Center will remain the home of basketball and volleyball courts, the walking track and weight room.

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Copyright 2018 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

The father of a former Louisville basketball recruit testified Tuesday in federal court in New York that former Louisville assistant Kenny Johnson, now a La Salle Explorers assistant, gave him $1,300 to make payment on a rental apartment in Louisville.

According to multiple reports, Brian Bowen Sr. told a jury that he had asked Johnson for the money and that Johnson was "flabbergasted" at the request in the summer of 2017, but later made the payment. "He made it pretty clear that this was like a one-time deal for him,'' Bowen testified, saying that Johnson told him, "At Louisville, they didn't need to pay players."

Bowen also testified that he did not tell Louisville coaches that Adidas was separately funneling him money for his son to go to the Adidas-sponsored school. Rick Pitino was let go as Louisville's head coach after the news about the payments to Bowen Sr. were part of an indictment against Adidas employees and others. Louisville coaches were not part of the indictment.

Brian Bowen Jr. spent last year at Louisville without playing before he transferred to South Carolina. Due to an NCAA ruling, he removed himself from college.He is now playing professionally for the Sydney Kings in Australia. Johnson was let go at Louisville after Pitino was fired. New La Salle coach Ashley Howard then hired Johnson as an assistant.

According to ZagsBlog.com, Bowen Sr. also testified that he had received $5,000 for his son to play for a Nike-affiliated travel team and that the coach of an Indiana prep school where his son played gave Bowen Sr. $8,000 in cash "over a period of time." Both of those coaches are now DePaul assistants.

According to Law360, a website that covers New York courts, Bowen Sr. testified that Christian Dawkins, on trial in this case, told him that an unnamed Creighton University coach was offering him $100,000 and a "high-paying job" for his son to choose Creighton.

Bowen Sr. also testified about a $150,000 offer from Oklahoma State, couldn't recall hearing that Texas had offered free housing, and couldn't recall telling the FBI that an Oregon assistant had paid him $3,000.

According to the Associated Press, Bowen Sr. testified that his son didn't know of the payments: "I didn't want him to get involved in something that was wrong... and I definitely didn't want my son to lose his eligibility." mjensen@phillynews.com

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Copyright 2018 The Post and Courier
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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

Summerville's Parks and Recreation Department has plans to upgrade to LED lights at Gahagan Park's softball, football and baseball fields.

Doyle Best, manager of the department said more than 300 fixtures now using metal halide lights could be changed out for LED bulbs to improve lighting quality and be far more energy efficient.

He presented his project details to the town council during a standing committee meeting Monday evening. Doyle said replacing the lights would cost $875,772 if done all at once through contractor SuperGreen Solutions, which has done previous work for the town.

Funds for the project would come from Local Hospitality and Accommodations Tax fund balance in a request from the Public Works Department.

Best said the lighting replacement could be split into three phases but then the project would take longer to complete and end up costing more than $1 million.

Councilman Aaron Brown asked if the old bulbs could be repurposed in any way and Best said they could be repurposed or even sold.

Councilwoman Kima Garten-Schmidt said she thinks it would be better to save time and money by upgrading all of the lights at one time instead of breaking the project into phases.

Council members voted to send the decision to full council for further action.

Also during a discussion of parks and recreation items Councilman Aaron Brown said Wassamassaw Park needs some kind of security because there have been problems recently with vandalism. He said some ideas are to add extra police patrols at night or motion-controlled lights.

"We haven't tried anything like that," Brown said. "Let's light the park up more."

He said Wassamassaw is one of Summerville's most beautiful parks and said it needs to be preserved.

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Copyright 2018 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

SALT LAKE CITY — You can tally passing yards, sacks and interceptions all you want, but the most important numbers for college football aren't found on the stat sheet; they're on the spread sheet and they have dollar signs. Score it: Texas A&M $148 million, Texas $133 million, Michigan and Alabama $127 million.

That's annual football revenues. Talk about a good return.

There is the top-25 football poll, and then there is the other top-25 that most fans ignore. Forbes recently listed the top 25 most valuable college football programs in 2018, based on football revenues.

The Forbes list reveals a mind- boggling flow of money and a wide gulf between the rich and everyone else. The top 11 programs pull in well over $100 million. Four of the schools collect more than double the revenues taken in by No. 25 Texas Tech. They are the Rothschilds and Rockefellers of the gridiron, overseeing their own monopoly.

It would be difficult to overstate the effect this wealth and the disparity of wealth have on the game we see on the field. The schools at the top of the Forbes list have such a huge advantage over the rest of college football's 130 FBS schools that they're really playing two (or even three) different games.

The small, rich upper class is so far ahead of college football's middle class and even further ahead of the lower class that the latter two classes should revolt and break away to form their own competition and postseason — especially when you consider that more than half the field is shut out of a playoff system that's rigged to favor the few rich schools already.

Consider this:

* Twelve of the top 15 schools in this week's AP poll are on the Forbes list.

* The top 20 schools on the Forbes list have won 23 of the last 25 national titles — the lone exceptions being Miami in 2001 and Clemson in 2016 (it should be noted that Clemson barely missed making the list — the school ranks 26th in total athletic department revenue). Five of the "Forbes" schools account for 16 of those 25 championships.

* The Forbes list consists entirely of Power Five schools, with 10 from the SEC, seven from the Big Ten, three from the Big 12, three from the Pac-12, one from the ACC and one independent (independent Notre Dame is officially treated as an at-large Power Five member).

And the rich keep getting richer, as everyone who follows the game knows by now. Each year they widen the gap on the have-nots because everything is stacked in favor of the schools on the Forbes list. They have a clear and exclusive path to the national playoffs, they get the richest TV deals, and they have access to the top bowl games, all of which reap millions of dollars and national exposure for both the participating schools and their fellow conference members. In other words, barring dramatic changes, the have-nots are falling further and further behind and will not close the gap. Ever.

The have-nots have not any realistic hope of winning a national championship. Ever.

The College Football Playoff was billed as the equalizer, the format for bringing equity to the game. That's nonsense. It was easier for non-P5 schools to qualify for a meaningful bowl game and have a shot at a national title before the creation of the playoffs and, for that matter, the BCS, going back to 1998. BYU's unbeaten 1984 national championship team would have no chance of winning the title in today's system.

The money and prestige afford the P5 schools special treatment, none more than Alabama. The Crimson Tide, winners of six national championships in the last 25 years, can play a dreadful nonconference schedule annually — this year it consists of Louisville, Arkansas State (not to be confused with Arkansas), Louisiana-Lafayette (not to be confused with Louisiana State) and The Citadel — because they know they'll get respect on reputation alone. Their schedule is ranked 44th in the country and no one cares; they're old-moneyed members of the club.

Alabama and the other members of the $100 million club play in a different world than most of their competitors. They have (much) more money for coaches, more money for travel, more money for recruiting, more money for facilities.

How does Utah stack up? The Utes were admitted to the exclusive P5 club in 2011 when they joined the Pac-12. A state audit released in June 2017 showed they had $54 million in revenues from football with total athletic department revenues of nearly $84 million. That's more than double the Utes' first year in the league — but also only about 50th nationally, where 31 athletic departments collect between $100 and $215 million. The Utes have not been able to mount much of a threat on the field in the Pac-12.

It's all about the money.

Email: drob@deseretnews.com

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Copyright 2018 Chattanooga Publishing Company
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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga finalized a three-year contract Tuesday to continue playing football and soccer at Finley Stadium. The new deal was agreed upon during the Stadium Corp. meeting Tuesday morning.

The new deal is for 34 months, ending on June 30, 2021. There will be an option for a fourth year.

"Finley Stadium is an outstanding venue for UTC football and soccer," UTC chancellor Steve Angle said in a news release. "The addition of a new video scoreboard has enhanced the quality of the fan experience. We are delighted to continue the partnership with Hamilton County, the city of Chattanooga and the community that led to the construction of Finley Stadium.

"We also appreciate the Stadium Corporation Board for working with us to reach an agreement that is in the best interest of both UTC and the Finley Stadium Board."

UTC will pay an annual fee of $146,880 with a 2-percent increase each year in the new agreement. The university will retain 100 percent of ticket sales for its events and receive 50 percent of net income from both food truck concessions and north parking lot revenues and 20 percent of gross revenue from general food and beverage concessions -- same as with the past contract.

Finley will receive all revenue from skybox rentals and from the sale of food and beverages to skybox patrons.

The school also will have first priority for scheduling football and women's soccer games, provided they are scheduled by the guidelines specified in the agreement. Any other UTC events that conflict with a non-UTC, revenue-generating event will not receive top priority.

The Mocs will receive access to the stadium, the First Tennessee Pavilion and parking for football games, women's soccer matches, practices for both programs and other UTC events.

"We are looking forward to continuing our long-standing relationship with Finley Stadium," UTC vice chancellor and athletic director Mark Wharton said. "This agreement fits the needs of our athletics program, and I am excited about the future of our partnership with Finley Stadium."

The next board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 4, but there may be a "special items" meeting before that to present contracts for the Chattanooga Football Club soccer organization, which has been using Finley since 2009, and the Chattanooga Red Wolves, who will begin play in 2019.

"It's all a work in progress," Stadium Corp. board chairman Gordon Davenport said. "We'll continue to work earnestly with all parties on that."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

A playground fire at Chaparral Elementary School is being investigated as arson by Albuquerque Fire Rescue.

John DuFay, Albuquerque Public Schools executive director of operations, told the Journal that the fire — which took place early Saturday — is estimated to cost anywhere from $55,000 to $80,000, depending on the salvageable substructure.

"Thanks to (AFR) it wasn't as bad as it could've been," said DuFay. "We would've lost the entire playground."

He said the investigation is underway for the West Side elementary school located at 6325 Milne Road NW.

There were security cameras at the Title I school — meaning it has a high percentage of children from low-income families — but the footage didn't provide many details.

"They didn't show a whole lot" said DuFay about the cameras, adding the damage took place in darker areas and was set at about 1 a.m. Saturday.

About 50 percent of the playground, which had some pieces designed for students using special needs services, is not in use currently.

As students went back to school Monday, they were still be able to use parts of the play area that weren't affected by the blaze while the rest was fenced off, DuFay said.

Replacing the damaged playground equipment is expected to take approximately six weeks.

The executive director has been with the school district for 31 years and while he has seen fires started at schools before, the Chaparral fire was bigger than previous incidents.

"This was a pretty big one," he said. "It's a higher cost than what the others have been."

The up to $80,000 will come out of APS' operational funds as the school is self-insured.

"It's horrible," he emphasized about the fire. "Kids lose out."

The school facility was not damaged during the fire and no students nor faculty were on school grounds when it occurred.

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Police arrested a 36-year-old volunteer football coach at Bartlett High School on Friday on allegations he brought an unloaded firearm onto school grounds where it was prohibited.

Peter J. Naughton of the 2600 block of West Superior Street in Chicago is charged with carrying a concealed weapon in a prohibited area, a misdemeanor, Bartlett police said Monday. About 6 p.m. Friday, officers responded to a report that an unloaded firearm had been found inside the Bartlett High School Activities Complex.

Officers determined that the unloaded firearm fell out of Naughton's backpack during pregame warm-ups, police said Naughton was released on a $1,500 individual bond with a court date of Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the DuPage County courthouse in Wheaton.

Officials with Elgin Area School District U-46 could not immediately be reached for comment. Schools and offices were closed Monday for the Columbus Day holiday.

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

In Carol Stream, there's really no excuse for avoiding exercise with three new fitness centers opening in town. Planet Fitness is the latest gym to announce plans to fill a retail vacancy as a new tenant in a Carol Stream shopping center. The New Hampshire-based chain intends to fully occupy a vacant, 29,000-square-feet-space in Geneva Plaza at the northwest corner of Geneva Road and President Street.

The Village Market Place closed there a year ago after a nearly decade-long run catering to a diverse neighborhood near the border with Wheaton. The family owners made the decision to close their mom-and-pop grocery in the face of growing competition and to focus on their remaining store in Skokie. Another gym franchise, Orangetheory Fitness, opened a club late last month in a 5,000-square-foot tenant space in the Northland Mall anchored by Home Depot along Geneva Road. That space was previously a physical therapy office but had been vacant for the past few years.

"Fitness uses are popular to either take over vacant grocery stores or vacant commercial spaces in general," said Tom Farace, Carol Stream's planning and economic development manager. At a third shopping center, LA Fitness will construct a 34,000-square-foot outlet building north and west of Angelo Caputo's Fresh Markets at North Avenue and Schmale Road. The gym will have a total of about 250 proposed parking spaces east of the building.

Village trustees in August approved plans for the project at the Carol Stream Marketplace, a shopping center spread across a nearly 30-acre site. Farace said developers have applied for an engineering permit but have not yet requested a building permit to construct the new gym. An attorney who is listed in village documents as a representative of the property owner did not immediately return a phone message Monday inquiring about a project schedule.

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2018 The Arizona Daily Star Oct 9, 2018

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

 

Last October, former Arizona Wildcats quarterback Anu Solomon medically withdrew from Baylor after experiencing several weeks worth of concussion-like symptoms.

The career-ending concussion Solomon suffered during his second game as a graduate transfer wasn't his first: During the second game of the Wildcats' 2015 season, Solomon was sidelined with a concussion and missed the next week's game.

But nearly six weeks after the Sept. 9, 2017, game against UTSA, Solomon still hadn't returned to the field. He had missed too many classes and had a hard time keeping up after the injury.

It only took two documented concussions during Solomon's four years of college football to end his career. The residual damage from the injuries remains to be seen.

While brain injuries can be devastating to players in their 20s, 30s and beyond, research has shown that hits to the head can have even more catastrophic results in children and teens. More than 800,000 children visit emergency rooms annually for concussions, according to the CDC.

Youth tackle football leagues continue to thrive, even as participation in high school football steadily declines.

A study published last month could change the game for youth football leagues, however. A national think tank recommends a ban on tackle football until high school. Lawmakers from California, Illinois, New York and Maryland proposed legislation earlier this year that would ban tackle football for children under 12 years old. Around the same time, the Concussion Legacy Foundation — a well-known brain-trauma research and advocacy nonprofit — urged parents to keep their children out of tackle football until age 14.

"Advocates for delaying the starting age of tackle football argue that flag is a safer, age-appropriate alternative," according to the Aspen Institute. "In homes and on fields across the U.S., this argument appears to be winning."

Last year, flag surpassed tackle football as the most commonly played version of the game for kids ages 6 to 12, the analysis says, citing data from the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.

The issue has become so big that, for the first time ever, the CDC has released clinical guidelines for doctors treating children with mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions. Among the CDC's recommendations: Waiting three days to return to non-sports activities and even longer to return to the field or court.

The recent push in legislative efforts, medical treatment and public education come on the heels of research that shows children are particularly vulnerable to brain injuries in high-collision sports like football and soccer. Children have relatively large heads and relatively weak necks, according to an analysis by the Aspen Institute Sports and Society Program. Their brains are still developing.

Concussions affect children differently than adults, the CDC says, and can cause changes in health, thinking and behavior that affect learning, social skills and self-regulation. Brain injuries in children can also negatively affect a child's school performance and ability to learn, according to the CDC.

The Aspen Institute recommends that all youth tackle organizations shift to flag football for players younger than 14, but begin teaching blocking, tackling and hitting skills in practice starting at age 12. This will better prepare athletes for high school football in a controlled, "safe-as-possible manner" that doesn't involve helmet-to-helmet or player-to-player contact, the study says.

In addition, the institute recommends that high school and college football programs adopt the "Dartmouth-style" practice standard. In 2016, Dartmouth moved to a tackle-free practice system under the leadership of former Stanford coach Buddy Teevens. The Ivy League, where Dartmouth plays, moved kickoffs to the 40-yard line. The 5-yard change makes a huge difference, research shows. There are more touchbacks, eliminating high-impact collisions on returns.

Critics of the movement to standardize flag football have suggested that the health benefits — notably, physical activity — of tackle football outweigh the risks. They also say the move to flag football could turn off families who feel blocking and tackling are the point of the game.

However, the Aspen Institute says it believes most families would adapt to flag and the game would prosper, citing the proliferation of hockey after it introduced its ban on body-checking in children.

Prioritizing flag football would also allow children who would otherwise avoid the game due to injury risk to participate in the sport, the analysis said.

The Aspen Institute contends that players who get a later start on tackle football still go on to succeed in the NFL. Tom Brady, Jerry Rice, Walter Payton, Warren Sapp and Lawrence Taylor are among a group of elite players who didn't participate in tackle football before entering high school.

At least one University of Arizona professor and researcher agrees with the recommendations.

"I don't think more kids are getting injured, but I think there's more awareness of long-term effects of concussions and more awareness of what the injury is and how it presents," Dr. Ian Crain, an associate professor at the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix and director of Banner's Brain Injury Center told the Star. "Parents are noticing and players and friends are notifying adults when they suspect concussions in teammates."

Children under 12 who receive concussions face a longer recovery.

"Even with sub-concussive blows, there's a question of 'are we changing a developing brain?'" Crain said. "There's a good correlation between sub-concussive and concussive blows and more behavioral problems later in life."

When deciding whether young children should engage in high-contact sports like football and soccer, parents need to weigh the risks and benefits of letting their children play, Crain said.

"What's the risk of not doing it? Not much," he said. "There's not enough evidence to make medical guidelines and ban it, but I do think... you have to weigh the risks and benefits."

Kids who play flag football would likely arrive in high school and college with a less-extensive concussion history, Crain said, adding that he expects colleges to support the recommendations since they would — in theory — get healthier players.

"The more concussions you get, the easier it is to become concussed. The recovery time gets longer and a person can develop permanent symptoms," Crain said. "It's important that parents get their child cleared by someone with experience and who stays up to date on the recommendations for concussion treatment."

For the time being, kids' tackle football is still alive — and thriving — in Tucson.

The Tucson Youth Football and Spirit Federation offers both flag and tackle football to thousands of Tucson kids each year. Its flag program- which league commissioner Julius Holt said is one of the largest in Southern Arizona — is available for kids ages 5 to 7 and is considered an instructional league. Coaches don't keep score during the games and players don't compete for a championship at the end of the season, unlike in the league's tackle program, which is available for players ages 8 and older.

While he's frequently asked about starting a "Mighty Mite" tackle program for the organization's 5 to 7-year-olds, Holt said Sunday, "We're not doing that."

With tackle football available to players ages 8 and older, the group has a number of safeguards to ensure the safety of its players and those who participate in the league's cheer program.

It requires all coaches to undergo training and certification by USA Football, including in concussion management. It also uses the CDC's HEADS UP program to educate coaches and players, ascribing to the CDC's guidelines when it comes to concussion management and return to play. HEADS UP is a series of initiatives designed to protect kids by raising awareness about prevention, recognition and response to concussions and other brain injuries.

The helmet of each player is inspected and certified by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment and fitted to ensure a safe fit.

Only time will tell if the Tucson league, and other leagues like it, will go further.

"To their credit," the analysis said, "football leaders aren't waiting for all answers to come in to begin reforming youth tackle."

Signs and Symptoms of a concussion

Headache or "pressure" in the headNausea and vomitingBalance problems or dizzinessDouble or blurry visionSensitivity to light or noiseFeeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggyConcentration or memory problemsConfusionJust not "feeling right"Dazed or stunned appearanceConfusionMoves clumsilyAnswers questions slowlyLoss of consciousness (even brief)Shows mood, behavior or personality changes

 

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Copyright 2018 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
All Rights Reserved

The Philadelphia Daily News

 

Penn wasn't ready to release a definitive statement on the situation concerning Jerome Allen.

The former head basketball coach pleaded guilty to laundering money in connection with accepting payment from a businessman in an attempt to help his son gain admission to the school. The incident occurred in 2014, when Allen was the head coach of Penn. He is an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics.

The school released this statement Monday to the Daily News and Inquirer: "Penn Athletics is currently in the final stages of the independent review regarding the situation involving former head men's basketball coach Jerome Allen. Until that process is finalized, it is not appropriate to comment further."

Allen, a former star at Penn, pleaded guilty last week to a federal crime in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

In a statement released by his attorney, Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., Allen stated:

"In 2014 before I joined the Celtics organization and while I served as the head basketball coach at the University of Pennsylvania, I accepted $18,000 as referenced in the information from the father of a prospective student for the purpose of using my position as the coach to help his son get admitted to the school as a'listed' recruit."

Allen went on to say that his plea agreement with the government required him to repay the $18,000 plus a$200,000 fine.

"I failed on many levels," Allen continued. "Primarily, I had a failure of character. Idid not live up to the high standards I set for myself, or were expected of me in the position that I held. I am sorry. I let down my family, my friends, my alma mater, and my Celtics family. Even more important, I was not true to my faith. I let down my God."

Allen, 45, from Episcopal Academy, helped lead Penn to Ivy League titles in 1993, 1994, and 1995 and was a two-time Ivy League player of the year. He played two seasons in the NBA and had along career as a pro basketball player overseas.

Allen was Penn's head coach from 2009 to 2015, compiling a 65-104 record. He was hired by the Celtics in July 2015. A Celtics spokesman said the team would have no comment.

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

SEATTLE — The ownership group looking to bring an expansion NHL team to Seattle unveiled plans Monday for a $70 million training facility in the northern part of the city.

NHL Seattle CEO Tod Lewieke announced the plans, which include three full-sized rinks and office space to serve as the headquarters for the proposed new franchise. The facility will total 180,000 square feet and be located near Seattle's Northgate Mall, which is being redeveloped. The location is a short walk from a new light-rail station set to open in a few years and has easy access to Interstate 5.

"We have an incredible opportunity to make Seattle the epicenter of hockey in the Pacific Northwest and our ownership has given us the ability to take a big, big step today," Leiweke said. "This is a major commitment. We're investing lots of money in KeyArena, we're acquiring a team we hope, and this is another major financial commitment that our owners are making to try and grow the game, build the game and have impact."

The expansion bid by Seattle appears to be set for final approval by the NHL Board of Governors in early December. The board's executive committee gave a unanimous recommendation last week in New York to move ahead with approving Seattle's bid to become the league's 32nd team.

The hope is Seattle will be ready to join the league for the 2020-21 season, assuming construction stays on schedule for the $700 million renovation of Key-Arena. The venue hosted its final scheduled event Friday, when Golden State and Sacramento met in an NBA preseason game.

The proposed training facility would have one rink with seating for 1,000 and two rinks each with seating for 400.

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Copyright 2018 The Buffalo News
All Rights Reserved

The Buffalo News (New York)

 

A Maryland booster who made comments critical of Jordan McNair and subsequently faced opposition within the football team before its game Saturday at Michigan apologized Monday to those he offended and said that the student newspaper took the remark out of context. He did not accompany the team to the game.

In a story in The Diamondback, Rick Jaklitsch was quoted as saying, "As much as we hate to say this, Jordan didn't do what Jordan was supposed to do. A trainer like Wes Robinson thinks a kid's properly hydrated and runs a drill set up for kids that are properly hydrated, and when the kid didn't drink the gallon he knew he had to drink, that's going to send the wrong signal to the person running the drill."

Jaklitsch was referring to the fact that, according to the independent review looking into the circumstances surrounding McNair's heatstroke and subsequent death, an unopened gallon of water was found by the 19-year-old offensive lineman's locker after he took ill during a May 29 conditioning test.

"The last thing I would ever do is blame Jordan and I certainly apologize to anybody who felt I was blaming Jordan," Jaklitsch told The Baltimore Sun in a telephone interview. "Jordan was a great kid. He made me laugh every single time I talked to him.

"I loved kidding him about McDonogh [where McNair went to high school] versus Calvert Hall. He was a great, lovable kid. I'm heartbroken that he's gone and that his teammates have been through this, his parents have been through this, the university's been through this."

The Diamondback defended its reporting in a statement to The Sun. "The Diamondback does not feel it mischaracterized Mr. Jaklitsch's comments, and we stand by our reporting," said editor-in-chief Ryan Romano. "Mr. Jaklitsch did not raise any concerns with our story after it was published."

The story led Jaklitsch to cancel his plans to travel with the team to Michigan last week. Jaklitsch said he was parking his car at BWI-Thurgood Marshall International Airport on Friday when he received a call from senior associate athletic director Cheryl Harrison informing him that a few players had told her they were upset and that it could be uncomfortable if he traveled on the team plane.

Jaklitsch, a lawyer and former Terrapin Club president who was among a group of high-level boosters to send a letter of support for coach DJ Durkin last month to the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, said it was his decision whether to fly with the team. Jaklitsch said he didn't want to be a distraction and returned home. He did not attend the game.

A university spokeswoman declined to comment Monday on the circumstances surrounding Jaklitsch not taking the team plane to Michigan, where the Terps lost to then-No. 15 Michigan, 42-21.

Jaklitsch said his quote in The Diamondback "made it look like I was blaming Jordan, which was the last thing in the world I was doing. I was making a point that there's a whole lot of little tiny things that often come together that cause tragedy, there's no one thing that stands out. Because of that, there's no reason to blame other people and look for a head on a pike."

Alabama's Diggs injured

Alabama starting defensive back Trevon Diggs broke his foot in Saturday's game against Arkansas and is out indefinitely, coach Nick Saban announced Monday.

Through the first six games for the Crimson Tide, the 6-foot-2 junior had 20 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble and six pass breakups.

Diggs is tied for third among SEC defensive backs with the six passes defended.

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Copyright 2018 SCRIPPS Howard Publications
All Rights Reserved

Corpus Christi Caller-Times

 

REFUGIO — One year after Hurricane Harvey, Tracelyn Ross remembers the shock of returning to her hometown to see the destruction of her home and school.

After evacuating to Goliad before the storm hit, Ross's family received messages saying the new addition to their home had brought down the rest of the structure, leaving only her room standing.

"Coming home to see that and how bad the school was and then realizing we didn't have a gym was mind-blowing," Ross said.

As the volleyball season reaches the later stages, Refugio has not played in its home gym all season and is undefeated in District 28-2A play heading into Tuesday's matches.

The high school's competition and practice gyms are waiting on repair and are considered condemned with floors warped nearly waist-high, according to coach Selina Hemphill. Despite talks of a temporary gym, plans never came through, leaving the team to start the season practicing on the tennis courts.

Although the team practices in Refugio's elementary school, it also shares Taft's full-size gym once a week. Taft's gym was repaired this summer after damage sustained during Harvey.

"Taft shares the gym with us, they'll be on one side and we'll be on the other," Hemphill said. "We just try to practice our hitting skills and hone the depth perception because there are no lines here."

The low-ceilings and lack of lines in the elementary school gym make practicing difficult for the team, but remain optimistic and continue to work.

"We try not to think about it when we don't have a large gym, we just try to focus on when we do have a gym," Ross said. "The time that we do have a gym we take it seriously because we know we're limited in gym space and time."

As for home games, Refugio plays at Taft, who has made the team feel as if they really are home, Ross said.

"Our first home game over there they put up posters for us and everything," Hemphill said. "They've been very sweet and kind."

Senior captain Heather Wineman, who lost part of her home in Harvey, believes not having a gym has made the group work much harder.

"We work a lot harder now," Wineman said. "We want to show everyone that just because we don't have a gym doesn't mean we're not good."

Although many of the players were affected by Harvey, Maycee Wright, who also lost her home in Harvey, says her team's attitude and work ethic were unaffected.

"It affected us, but not really," Wright said. "We still work hard, we still practice and stick together as a team. This has helped us practice harder and work better together during games."

Wright said the adversity shared after Harvey strengthened the team and its focus.

"I think we get along together as a team, but after Harvey our relationship really got stronger," Wright said. "Harvey was eye-opening for us and I think that's when we realized how hard we were going to have to snap back."

Hemphill believes the team's strong bond is a key factor in the their success.

And Ross said knowing the team doesn't have a gym has only made it's bond stronger.

"Coming to practice and realizing we have targets on our backs helps us work harder every single day," Ross said. "We've really grown and matured as a team, and now that we're on a streak it's even better."

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

MIAMISBURG — Fourteen Miamisburg schools student-athletes have been suspended from regular scheduled athletic activities following an incident on homecoming weekend, according to the district.

The suspended students from "a number of fall teams" violated the code of conduct the weekend of Sept. 29, according to an email last week from Miamisburg Superintendent David Vail.

Vail declined to provide many details regarding the suspensions, including what part of the code they violated, of which athletic teams they are members nor the students' grade levels.

However, police said the incident involved underage consumption of alcoholic beverages. On Sept. 29, Miamisburg school district resource officer, Ryan Copsey, was the officer reporting a response to a home on Rosina Drive on a liquor violation, police records obtained Monday show.

Miamisburg High School's homecoming dance was Sept. 29.

The report, which states police responded to the call about 10:30 p.m., indicates an "underage party was discovered to have occurred."

Vail said last week the suspension came after "the administration and our (school resource officer) investigated the allegations, as well as interviewing approximately 40 students, athletes and non-athletes.

"The outcome of the investigation is that 14 student-athletes were found to be in violation of the code of conduct," he added.

Vail said the student-athletes are suspended for 20 percent of the regular scheduled games, which may entail post-season tournament games.

"All of the student-athletes, their parents, and their coaches have been notified and made aware of the consequences," he said.

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Copyright 2018 Virginian-Pilot Companies LLC
All Rights Reserved

The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

A company is using technology to help lead kids away from screens and encourage outside play.

The trick: mobile games on apps.

Canada-based developer Biba Ventures puts the phone in the parents' hands and requires the parent to tell the children what to do for the game - run around to interact with different characters, race across monkey bars or crawl through a tunnel to find a treasure, for example.

Biba has several apps with different themes such as dinosaur digs, relay races, team games, and obstacle courses.

The company's augmented reality markers are installed at two Norfolk playgrounds: Tidewater Park at Tidewater Elementary School and Meadowbrook Park between West Little Creek Road and Trouville Avenue.

When scanned with the apps, the markers activate games and content.

Children must be active for at least 80 percent of the game, according to Biba.

The apps can also be used on playgrounds without the markers and are designed for children ages 3 to 9. They can be downloaded for free through both iTunes and Google Play.

Briana Adhikusuma, 757-222-5349, b.adhikusuma@pilotonline.com

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