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Copyright 2018 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns can rest assured that their tax dollars aren't needed to pay for the proposed $1.4 billion budget for Salt Lake City to host another Winter Games, according to a leader of the bid effort, Fraser Bullock.

"Here's where we have a massive disconnect," Bullock told the Deseret News and KSL editorial boards recently. "The investment is zero from state and local communities. Zero. In fact, they're going to get money at the end of this."

Just like for the 2002 Winter Games, he said if Salt Lake City is selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee to host a future Winter Games, the money to pick up the tab would come from selling sponsorships and TV rights as well as other revenues.

The only tax dollars would come from the federal government for security.

"This money comes in by hosting the Olympics. We spend it, and we're going to have some left over," promised Bullock, who served as chief operating officer for the 2002 Games.

The proposed budget is included in a hefty binder of information submitted earlier this month to the USOC as part of Salt Lake City's bid to be selected as America's choice to host a yet-to-be- determined Winter Games, in 2030 or 2034.

The USOC decision could come during a mid-December board meeting in San Francisco, although officials from the Colorado Springs-based organization have said the board still needs to commit to going after another Winter Games.

If there is USOC backing for a bid, Bullock said Thursday at an Olympic Exploratory Committee meeting that Salt Lake could have to be ready for the International Olympic Committee to name the host of the 2030 Winter Games next June.

That's because the IOC may choose to award both the 2026 and 2030 Winter Games at the same time, as the Switzerland-based organization did for two upcoming Summer Games, rather than wait until 2023 to name the 2030 host.

Bullock said a dual award would give backers of another Olympics in Utah just six months to put together an international bid that must include signed thousands of contracts for everything from competition venues to some 30,000 hotel rooms.

"It's just a ton of work," he told the community leaders and athletes gathered for an update on the bid process and would require money to be raised to cover at least a portion of the $10 million budgeted for an international bid.

But both Bullock and Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said it can be done.

"It will be intense for sure," the mayor said. "But doable."

The USOC's accelerated bid process launched in October is already well underway. Of the three cities invited by the USOC to bid — Salt Lake, Denver and Reno-Tahoe — only Salt Lake and Denver are still in the running after Reno-Tahoe dropped out.

Besides having to provide the USOC with detailed information about what a future Winter Games would look like, Salt Lake City and Denver also were visited by the organization's leaders for daylong tours of venue sites.

In addition, as part of the bid process, the USOC is conducting public opinion polls in both Utah and Colorado to gauge support among residents for hosting a Winter Games.

Biskupski said the poll could be underway as soon as next week.

For Salt Lake City, that meant an opportunity to show newly named USOC leaders, including CEO Sarah Hirshland, that the ski jumps, sliding track, speedskating oval and other 2002 facilities continue to be used for training and competition.

The tour also was a chance to showcase community backing for another Olympics, measured at 89 percent in a November 2017 poll done for the state's Olympic Exploratory Committee that recommended another bid earlier this year.

Gov. Gary Herbert, as well as business leaders and Olympians, turned out for a luncheon in the tower of the University of Utah's Rice- Eccles Stadium, organized just days before the USOC's Nov. 14 site visit.

The visit ended with a stop at a rare joint meeting of the Utah Legislature, where Hirshland noted everyone the USOC officials had met throughout the day made it clear they wanted another Winter Games.

"Every one of them has said to us, 'We're ready, we're willing, we're able. Let us prove it,' " she said to loud applause. "So, I will stand here and take only a minute of your time to say, 'You're piling on.' "

Bullock called the visit "a perfect day" and said he teared up when lawmakers gave Hirshland a standing ovation. "They gained a deep appreciation for the legacy, not just the facilities, but the people and the heart."

He said that "everything is on track. We've fulfilled everything they wanted us to do. I think we, in my opinion, hit it out of the park. They have tremendous confidence in us.... We know how to do this."

In contrast, Denver has never hosted an Olympics. The city was selected by the IOC as the site of the 1976 Winter Games but had to withdraw after Colorado voters shot down a state bond to help cover the costs.

Even now, there is an effort underway to get a referendum on the Denver municipal ballot next year that would require voter approval for any spending related to hosting a future Winter Games.

Denver's submission to the USOC included the option of actually holding some Winter Games events in Salt Lake City rather than building, for example, a sliding track for bobsled, luge and skeleton events in Colorado.

Jeremy Story, a spokesman for the Denver bid effort, said the USOC was presented with multiple options "to be aligned with the IOC's Agenda 2020 and New Norm initiatives."

Those initiatives, developed by a group that included Bullock, are intended to control the cost of hosting an Olympics, such as by utilizing existing facilities even if they are located in another state or even country, or by building temporary venues.

Story said that one of Denver's proposals "is a Winter Games exclusively in Colorado, using existing facilities combined with a few temporary facilities, while several other options potentially could include partner cities such as Calgary, Lake Placid, Salt Lake City or Vancouver."

He said the IOC has identified "these approaches as viable and potentially desirable options, so we expect the USOC will give them careful consideration."

Bullock declined to comment on Denver as a competitor but said one of Salt Lake's strengths is what he termed a "one Games experience," especially for athletes housed together because their competition venues are nearby.

"If they can be in one village, up at the University of Utah, mingling with thousands of people from around the world... that's the Olympic experience," he said. "As soon as you go to another state, it's a completely different experience."

Utah taxpayers did pick up the cost of building Olympics facilities for 2002, including the ski jumps and sliding track at the Utah Olympic Park near Park City, but their $59 million investment was repaid with interest after the Games.

Bullock said the proposed budget for a future Winter Games now includes $50 million to add to what was a $76 million endowment used to maintain those facilities that also came out of 2002 profits.

Not in the budget is repaying the $40 million that Utah legislative leaders have pledged to put into much-needed capital improvements at the Olympic facilities, such as a new roof for the speedskating oval in Kearns.

Bullock said that's because lawmakers have made it clear the money would be spent even without another Olympic bid. But he said if there's a bigger surplus after hosting another Games, that could fund future capital costs.

Also reflected in the budget, updated from what was presented to the Olympic Exploratory Committee before its decision to back another bid, are savings from 2002.

Not only does Salt Lake City not need to repay the state for building Olympic facilities, Bullock said organizers of a future Winter Games could save about 20 percent on labor expenses because by using existing plans, employees could be hired later.

He labeled the budget "austere," saying it amounts to $500 million less than the price tag for 2002 after adjusting for inflation. He said with the IOC trying to reinvent the Games as more affordable, "We say, 'Let us be the example.' "

Ed Hula, editor of "Around the Rings," an Atlanta-based online international Olympic news source, said backers of Salt Lake City's bid have a lot to feel good about when it comes to the USOC selection process.

"I think Salt Lake City has proven itself compared to Denver as a more adept, more ready-to-go Olympic host," Hula said, especially with the IOC's move away from places that need to build a lot of facilities.

"Salt Lake City has that going for them," the longtime Olympic journalist said. "There's just not much of an appetite among Olympic decision-makers to go to a place that needs a lot of work."

Hula also said he sees the sudden interest in choosing an American city to bid as a sign there's pressure from the IOC to be ready in case there are no good picks for the 2026 Winter Games when that selection is made next year.

In November, voters in Calgary, Canada, rejected bidding for 2026, leaving only Stockholm, Sweden, and Cortina D'Ampezzo and Milan in Italy, still in the running, although there is significant opposition to both of those bids.

Hula said the USOC's haste may mean there is a "larger influence guiding this, it seems. And that would be the IOC's wish that the U.S. be in position to do something about (2026) if everyone drops out."

He said a decision by the USOC in December would be "a pretty good signal they've got something going on that they haven't officially disclosed," calling Salt Lake City the country's "perennial winter bid candidate that's ready to go."

USOC officials, however, have said repeatedly there's no interest in 2026 because they want to ensure Los Angeles is successful in hosting the 2028 Summer Games. The California city has already locked up domestic sponsorships through then.

Supporters of bringing another Olympics to Utah have been careful to say they're looking at 2030 or beyond. Bullock had no comment Thursday when asked about being positioned for 2026 if an international bid is put together quickly.

He said only Sapporo, Japan, also has expressed interest at this point in 2030.

Biskupski, however, said even in preparing the USOC bid, "We were keeping in mind that it is possible we could be asked to do 2026. That is possible," along with a dual bid award by the IOC that could give Salt Lake the 2030 Winter Games.

"Planning for this potential to come to our doorstep, I think for all of us, we would prefer to be able to breathe and get this done in the normal amount of time," the mayor said. "But we've done a lot of preliminary work just in case."

Bullock said he'd like to see the IOC rotate the Winter Games between six cities in Europe, Asia and North America. His North American picks? Calgary, where he's from, and Vancouver in Canada, and, of course, Salt Lake City in the United States.

"I think it makes complete sense," he said of returning again and again to the same Winter Games cities that have invested in constructing and maintaining facilities, predicting that it "may happen at some point in the future."

Email: lisa@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsPolitics

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

 

 

WORCESTER - The city is scaling back the scope of the proposed amendment to its Downtown Urban Revitalization Plan it is has filed with the state, so it only includes those properties considered necessary for the ballpark project in the Canal District/Kelley Square area.

The properties that have been identified for acquisition are at: 90 Washington St. and 2 Plymouth St. (Bafaro/Rasnick Properties); 50 Washington St. (Serena Massey Trustees); 62 and 69 Washington St. (Worcester Ambulance LLC); 127 Washington St. (Paul J. Harrington) and 134 Madison St. (Grady Holdings).

In addition, there are three vacant parcels have been listed for possible future acquisition, though there is no intent to do so at this time. They are 5, 7 and 8 Gold St.

In a filing recently made in accordance with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act, the Worcester Redevelopment Authority was looking to expand the footprint of its downtown urban revitalization area by 21 acres to facilitate the planned $240 million redevelopment of the Canal District/Kelley Square area.That project includes the construction of a 10,000-seat ballpark that will be the new home of the Boston Red Sox's top minor league team starting in the 2021 season, as well as a planned $90 million private development that is expected to include hotel, retail, office and residential uses.

The amended urban renewal area boundary was to encompass 33 additional properties on approximately 21 acres.

In addition to the parcels needed to build the ballpark, Michael Vigneux, the city's media relations specialist, said the proposed amendment identified other parcels in the Canal District and Green Island neighborhood to highlight their highest and best use to prompt further investment in that area.

He said it was a strategy that follows the vision and goals initially set forth in the WRA Downtown Revitalization Plan that was adopted two years ago.

Part of the boundary expansion that was being eyed was on the southern part of the district along Lamartine Street to as far east as Kelley Square.The amendment also called for moving the eastern boundary of the district a block from Washington Street to incorporate properties on the west side of Green Street, from Kelley Square to Temple Street.

But the scope of the proposed amendment caught city councilors and others off guard, with some fearing that it would lead to widespread land-takings and the demolition of several buildings.

City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. said that was never the intent.

He told the City Council Tuesday night that the city has no plans to acquire any property other than those properties that have previously been identified for the purposes of the ballpark.

"It's unfortunate that the MEPA filing did not allow adequate time for the city to engage the public in this process and did not afford our residents and business owners an opportunity to review and respond to the amendment," Mr. Augustus said in a statement issued Thursday.

To address those concerns, Mr. Augustus said the city will modify the proposed amendment to the Urban Revitalization Plan, as well as the MEPA filing, to include only those properties that are essential to the ballpark project at this time.

He said the WRA board and the City Council will be presented with the properties that are required to move the ballpark construction forward, along with some vacant land immediately adjacent to the ballpark site.

"We want to be deliberate and transparent throughout the process," Mr. Augustus said. "We will continue to have community discussions and public input to future proposed amendments to the Urban Revitalization Plan in order to spotlight properties for development opportunities and improve the quality of life in the neighborhood."

Negotiations are underway with the owners to acquire those properties, which are in the vicinity of the proposed ballpark site, north of Madison Street.The manager said if no sales agreement can be reached for those properties, then the WRA would take them through eminent domain. But he added that eminent domain is a strategy of last resort.

Michael E. Traynor, the city's chief development officer, said the WRA and city cannot move forward on acquiring properties for the ballpark until the proposed plan amendment is approved by the City Council and the state Department of Housing and Community Development."We can't acquire any of the land within the plan's amended area until the amendment passes at the state level," he said.

By expanding the boundaries for the Downtown Urban Revitalization Plan area to incorporate additional land near the proposed ballpark site, the WRA will be able to exercise urban renewal actions there, including land acquisition, if it becomes necessary.The city is partnering with the WRA on the ballpark project.But while the city has taken the lead on several aspects related to the project, it does not have the authority to get involved with land acquisition or takings. The WRA has the power to do so, but it can only do it within designated urban renewal districts.

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

 

North Tonawanda School Superintendent Gregory J. Woytila said this week he intends to ask the Board of Education to terminate Jeff Alger, the school district's athletic director, at the board's meeting on Wednesday.

Neither man would reveal what prompted Woytila to pursue Alger's ouster.

A lawyer for the family of a female student athlete said the district is investigating alleged roughhousing of a nonsexual nature between Alger and the student.

Alger's attorney, Stephen J. Jones, confirmed there was such an incident, but he called it a "pretext" for the real reason Woytila wants to fire Alger, which Jones contended is a medical condition that caused Alger to take some time off work earlier this year.

Jones said if the School Board fires Alger on Wednesday, he will sue the district, charging "unlawful discrimination."

"The superintendent is attempting to railroad him with a bunch of baseless allegations," Jones said Thursday.

There were plenty of witnesses to the physical incident between Alger and the girl; it occurred in front of her teammates, both lawyers said.

"This was goofing around that is typically found between teammates," said Christopher J. O'Brien, the family's lawyer.

"It was that type of physical jostling, I would describe it. There was no intent to harm anyone. There was no intent to injure anyone. This was done in front of many people. This was not done in seclusion. This was not surreptitious."

"The student came up and tried to tackle Mr. Alger from behind, and he spun around and in the process of doing that, it's kind of akin to a wrestling move, she gently went to the ground," Jones said.

"It's just absolutely preposterous that they are insinuating that there was something inappropriate here. This was a spur-of-the-moment thing where a student was horsing around. That's all it was."

The girl's mother declined to be interviewed Wednesday and referred a reporter to O'Brien, a family friend. He said the parents are not planning a lawsuit against Alger or the school district.

"They sought legal counsel just to be certain they are doing the right thing, and I endorsed the way they are handling it, viewing it as not being worthy of any type of legal action," O'Brien said.

"They believe that the athletic director did nothing wrong and that a simple incident is being blown way out of proportion," O'Brien added.

"The student's parents have no issue with Mr. Alger. None," Jones said.

"This is a trumped-up, ridiculous charge against Mr. Alger that's clearly a pretext because the superintendent does not want to work with Mr. Alger anymore," Jones said.

Alger was placed on paid administrative leave in September, Woytila confirmed Tuesday. He did not respond to a call seeking a response to Jones' statements.

The Buffalo News obtained a letter Woytila sent to Alger on Tuesday, which told him that a vote on his dismissal that was planned for the Nov. 20 Board of Education meeting has been rescheduled for Dec. 5.

"If my recommendation is approved by the Board, your services as a probationary administrator in the position of Director of Athletics in the North Tonawanda City School District will be discontinued, and your last day of employment will be Jan. 5, 2019," the letter said.

"There's some more investigation going on," Woytila said Tuesday when asked why the Nov. 20 meeting was canceled.

Jones would not disclose details about Alger's health, but Jones said the condition would not prevent Alger from continuing to work as athletic director.

"But the superintendent believes it would, and that's the crux of this," Jones said. He said the condition cropped up after Alger was hired three years ago.

Woytila said Alger is a probationary employee and would remain so until he completes four years with the district.

Jones acknowledged that under state law, a probationary employee, unlike a tenured employee, has no job protection.

Alger, who is in his third year at North Tonawanda, declined to speak on the record when contacted Thursday.

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC


Newsday (New York)

 

BOSTON - Travis Williams, the Penguins executive who was in charge of building the team's thriving new arena, was named president of business operations for the Islanders on Thursday. Co-owner Jon Ledecky said Williams will oversee the planned Belmont arena and ensure that it offers "an unparalleled experience."

Williams has been with the Penguins for 11 years, the past eight as chief operating officer. In Pittsburgh, he is best known for having been responsible for the development of PPG Paints Arena, which opened in 2010 - on time and under budget.

"His experience in developing and operating the arena in Pittsburgh will be invaluable in making sure our new facility provides an unparalleled experience when guests attend a game or concert," Ledecky said in a statement released by the Islanders.

The executive's move to Long Island was reported in early October by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Islanders made it official Thursday amid growing excitement about the franchise's return to NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night. The first official game in Uniondale since 2015 marks a major step in the transition away from Brooklyn toward the expected new home at Belmont Park.

One aspect of the Islanders' operation will remain the same as it has been at Barclays Center, though. The hockey and business departments have been separate entities and apparently will remain so. Lou Lamoriello is head of the former and Williams will lead the latter.

"I have a great deal of respect for the ownership group, as well as Lou Lamoriello and his hockey operations staff," Williams said in a statement. "I am truly excited to join the Islanders organization and look forward to working with all of them."

Williams, an Indianapolis native, graduated from Penn State and earned a doctorate from Duquesne. During his time with the Penguins, the team has been among the NHL's leaders in merchandise sales, television ratings, sponsorship revenues and social media statistics.

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

All other sporting grounds in America can eat their own dirt when compared to Fifth Third Bank Stadium.

The Sports Turf Managers Association named the home of the Kennesaw State University Owls in its 2018 "Field of the Year" winners, which was released Tuesday.

The STMA is a nonprofit group of 2,700 turf management professionals.

The group makes its annual list by having a panel of 13 judges independently score entries based on certain criteria: playability, appearance of surfaces, utilization of innovative solutions, effective use of budget and implementation of a comprehensive agronomic program.

KSU announced in June that it would be the first football team in the Western Hemisphere playing on "carpet-based hybrid grass technology." The material, grown in Braselton, is a mix of real grass and fibers, all of which are supposed to provide players more stability and a more consistent playing surface.

The school will receive the award at the STMA Conference & Exhibition in Phoenix in late January.

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
All Rights Reserved

The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Foreste Peterson confronted a cold reality after four years on the U.S. ski team development squad and four more competing at Dartmouth College Her racing days were about to end.

Not ready to retire, there were not many other avenues, either. Time to put those environmental and geography studies to use , Peterson reckoned.

Out of the blue, Peterson received an offer almost too good to be true Funds for housing, travel and coaching to keep her on the slopes.

The 25-year-old Peterson is a member of Team X , a newly formed all-female development ski team out of Park City, Utah, that's trying to become an alternate way to prepare the next generation.

It also keeps an eye out for the occasional late bloomer - like Peterson.

"I knew I had a lot more in the tank and I was hungry for more," Peterson said. "This gives me that chance."

So far, the squad is comprised of four racers from all over the globe, two coaches and two ski servicemen. Backed by private capital and led by coach Jim Tschabrun , the racers are being prepared to compete on the NorAm and Europa Cup levels, along with possibly even at World Cup races. Last weekend, Peterson earned a spot through the U.S. team to compete in the giant slalom at Killington, Vermont. She nearly earned a second run, too.

No pressure, though. This isn't a results-based team. It's not win-at-all-costs.

Instead, they're focused more on the process of development.

When Tschabrun was assembling the team of Peterson, 18-year-old Australian Madi Hoffman, 19-year-old Canadian Katie Fleckenstein and 23-year-old Benedicte Lyche, from Norway, he asked them one simple question What are your ambitions?

"I wanted their dream goals if they could lose all constraints," Tschabrun explained. "If they say they want to be an NCAA All-American or be on the World Cup or if they have an Olympic goal, it gives us a better road map."

About the name After bantering around numerous ideas, they settled on Team X - to represent the extra X chromosome in females.

There aren't many teams like this around the world - for women, anyway. There are men's versions that feature racers still going into their late 20s.

"Men are given this message that they aren't done when they're older. At 23 or 24, there are still opportunities," Tschabrun said. "On the women's side, because they physically and emotionally mature quicker, there's this unfair tendency to close the door a few years earlier. There are a lot of women who continue to improve with age and as they gain experience and knowledge. But there haven't been a lot of opportunities for women out of college."

Take Peterson for example She left the U.S. developmental squad to attend Dartmouth, where she turned in a successful career.

Late in her final season, and thinking that just might be it, Tschabrun called her Dartmouth coach and arranged a meeting. He gave her the run-down of the program they were launching and how they could help her make ends meet while she still competed.

She was in. Peterson could've tried to compete as an independent, but a season of ski racing can cost in the neighborhood $50,000.

"I wasn't going to pursue my goals for financial reasons, because I can't keep asking my parents to pay for me to chase my goals," Peterson said. "This opportunity? It's insane."

Their spots at races are really at the discretion of the national teams. Peterson competed in Killington last weekend after winning a time trial and receiving a position from the U.S. coaches. Essentially, that's how it works for NorAms and Europa Cup races, too.

"If an event doesn't fill, they leave it up to the event organizers who they want to choose. There's room for people like us on the scene," Tschabrun said. "We're not trying to be the flashiest team out there, or have the most Instagram followers. We just want to have the right fit. We're on our way there. We're learning as we go."

This is a team driven by one primary tenet Unity. They plan meals together, do CrossFit workouts together and have even formed a book club. Recently, they delved into "Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance" by Angela Duckworth.

"It's nice with a small group where you can operate as a family," Tschabrun said. "We do a lot of different kinds of team building."

On the Team X Facebook, the squad lists its motto as, "Just a group of girls and coaches trying to tackle the world of ski racing. We travel the globe chasing snow!"

They even have their own suits - black with just a hint of pink, "for a little flair in there," Peterson laughed.

She believes a team like this could be a model for the future - a way to keep a racer in the game.

"Last season, I thought my career was over," Peterson said. "I still have a lot of big goals in front of me."

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Copyright 2018 Star Tribune
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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

As snow started falling Wednesday in downtown Minneapolis, U.S. Bank Stadium was being transformed inside for springtime.

For the first time in the building's roughly 28-month history, a hard court was installed so the stadium can play host to four basketball games this weekend. The marquee event features the University of Minnesota men vs. Oklahoma State University at 9 p.m. Friday.

"This is history," a smiling Patrick Talty said as he stood on the court, which was gleaming under the stadium's lights. Talty is general manager for SMG, the operator of the stadium and this weekend's event.

The games are a prelude to the NCAA's March Madness, the men's college basketball tournament that culminates April 6-8 with the Final Four in Minneapolis.

While not a full-on dress rehearsal for April, this weekend's games will give SMG some early clues on how the building's lights and acoustics, scoreboards, locker rooms and seating will perform for basketball.

The NCAA requires the host venue to hold at least one basketball game in advance of March Madness.

This weekend's U.S. Bank Stadium Basketball Classic expands on that requirement by bringing in teams from the region.

Said Tom McGinnis, senior associate athletic director for the Gophers: "It would have been easy just to check a box and say we hosted one basketball game.

"But they said, 'Let's make the first basketball event at U.S. Bank Stadium a great one.' "

The change from football stadium to basketball arena sped toward completion Thursday.

The court, transported in 219 pieces from the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., was laid on a platform before the hoops were locked and raised.

Risers awaited chairs on what typically is the Vikings' 50-yard line, and the ribbon boards flashed maroon and gold letters and logos for the Gophers and orange and black for the Cowboys.

The platform for the court, along with the interlocking flooring that runs flush to the playing surface, came straight from the 2018 Final Four in San Antonio last March.

Talty said crews found vestiges of the confetti from Villanova's championship celebration.

The firsts this weekend at U.S. Bank Stadium will include a basketball shot clock, a buzzer sounding and the teams trotting onto a court rather than a gridiron.

What won't happen is interloping in the home locker room for the Vikings, who will be out of town Sunday to play New England; the squads instead will use the visitors' locker room, designed to be divided and accommodate four teams.

Neither the NCAA's massive center-hung scoreboard nor the stadium's custom darkening curtains will be in place this weekend.

The curtains, purchased by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) for $5.2 million, aren't ready yet.

They are required by the NCAA to maintain uniform lighting for all Final Four games and team practices.

Attendance this weekend is expected to be about 15,000 fans on each night. Tickets are $15 for an evening.

But April's attendance is expected to surpass that of Super Bowl LII at the stadium last February.

Talty expects 70,000 college hoops fans in the building then, and tickets will cost considerably more than $15.

This weekend's first game will tip off about 6 p.m. Friday with the University of St. Thomas playing the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, followed by the Gophers and the Cowboys.

On Saturday, North Dakota State University will play Drake University from Des Moines in the first game. South Dakota State University will take on the University of Northern Iowa in the second game.

Rochelle Olson · 612-673-1747 Twitter: @rochelleolson

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Copyright 2018 The Bismarck Tribune, a division of Lee Enterprises
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The Bismarck Tribune

 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa has always strongly backed its Division I women's basketball programs, a trend that dates back decades.

Fans from across the state had reason to celebrate on Monday as three of their teams landed in the Top 25 for the first time since 1998. The Hawkeyes (4-1) lead the way at No. 14, followed by Iowa State (5-0) at No. 23 and Drake (7-1) at No. 24.

Iowa joined Texas as the only states with a trio of ranked teams this week.

"It's great for our state. I think it's amazing," said Iowa coach Lisa Bluder, whose team ranked 13th nationally in attendance last season (Iowa State was third and Drake was 42nd). "All of us that coach in this state are fortunate because we have a tradition of girls basketball in this state, and we have respect from fans and kids growing up that want to play basketball. We all benefit from that."

C. Vivian Stringer helped make women's basketball relevant in Iowa when she led the Hawkeyes to 169 wins and a Final Four between 1983 and 1995. Bluder, who grew up in Iowa, took over the Hawkeyes in 2000 after building a winner at Drake - and she's never had a player as talented as Megan Gustafson.

Gustafson, the reigning Big Ten player of the year, has won the league's player of the week award for three weeks in a row despite not having injured star guard Kathleen Doyle on the court to help.

Gustafson scored 28 points and grabbed 16 rebounds - including 17 points in the fourth quarter alone - to help the Hawkeyes rally from a 24-point deficit in last week's win over West Virginia. Iowa plays at top-ranked Notre Dame on Thursday with a chance to knock off the defending national champion.

"We're really excited. I know each and every one of us has had this circled on our calendars for a longtime," Gustafson said.

Iowa State badly trailed Stringer and the Hawkeyes until it hired Bill Fennelly in 1995.

The Cyclones have since become one of the top draws in the sport despite never reaching the Final Four, and Fennelly was rewarded with what's essentially been a lifetime contract since 2007.

The Cyclones have five Sweet Sixteen appearances under Fennelly, who has star Bridget Carleton leading the way this season.

Carleton, who could play for Canada in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, is averaging 16.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists in helping Iowa State climb back into the poll for the first time since 2014.

"I think it's huge. It's exciting," Carleton said of her team's ranking.

The success of Drake and its coach, Jennie Baranczyk, might not have been possible without the momentum generated by Bluder and Fennelly. Baranczyk grew up in Des Moines, won two state championships in high school and was an honorable-mention All-America pick under Bluder at Iowa 15 years ago.

She came home to coach Drake in 2012 when she was just 31, and she has built the Bulldogs into a top mid-major programs. Drake is 42-0 in Missouri Valley games over the past two seasons, and last season they drew nearly 3,000 fans a game - outpacing the likes of Stanford and North Carolina.

The Bulldogs also benefit from the fact that Iowa and Iowa State regularly schedule them, like they did this season, even though doing so carries more risk than benefit as far as their NCAA Tournament hopes are concerned.

"I love the state of Iowa in terms of basketball quality because one, I think we have great teams," Baranczyk said, "I also think we have such an educated fan base that people come out to watch it, and so I think that's something that's very distinct."

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Chicago Daily Herald

 

Now that the matchup has been set, Elk Grove Village officials are making final preparations on promotional and advertising efforts ahead of the village's unconventional sponsorship of a college football bowl game in The Bahamas.

Of the dozens of college football teams playing bowl games in coming weeks, those in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl - which uses Elk Grove's business marketing tagline - were the first to be announced this week.

Officials said the early announcement allows players and coaches enough time to get passports if they don't already have them, as well as local fans who want to make travel plans.

The game will feature Florida International of Conference USA and Toledo of the Mid-American Conference, who will square off at 11:30 a.m. Central time Friday, Dec. 21, at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau.

Elk Grove Mayor Craig Johnson, who came up with the idea to sponsor a bowl game to promote the village's expansive business park, just signed off on the design of "Makers Wanted Elk Grove Village Illinois" logos that will be placed on the 25-yard lines of the field.

The "Makers Wanted" slogan will be nestled in between two palm trees as part of the bowl game logo on the 50-yard line. "That had to be on," Johnson said of Elk Grove's name. "Otherwise we probably wouldn't have done the game."

In July, the village board agreed to pay $300,000 for the sponsorship deal with ESPN Events, which owns and operates 15 postseason bowl games.

It's the first time a non-tourist municipality has sponsored a bowl game.

Locally on cable TV, the village promoted its bowl game sponsorship as part of a new set of commercials touting the industrial park.

And though the snow has delayed things a bit, crews are set to drape large banners with the bowl game logo on the side of village hall and the public works building at Biesterfield and Meacham roads. The intent is to gain some national - even international - exposure, when curious bowl game watchers search online for "Makers Wanted" and are directed to the village's business promotional website.

In the lead-up to gameday, the village's marketing campaign also includes targeted online ads and email blasts to business owners across the country who have some previous connection to college sports. And on Thursday night, Johnson will be the invited guest of Bahamas' Honorary Consul in Chicago at a Bahamas tourism trade show in Oak Brook.

While the village isn't coordinating group travel, Cary Travel Express is putting together packages for local residents or business employees who want to make the trip. For airfare and a four-night stay the week of the game with all-inclusive meals and drinks, an estimated double occupancy rate is $2,600, Johnson said.

The Atlantis, Paradise Island, the host resort for the game where the teams will be staying, is also booking rooms for fans. Game tickets are available through each school for $50, but Johnson said he'd make sure any Elk Grove resident who makes it down there would be able to get in the game.

A block of some 30 seats has been reserved for the village, but so far only Johnson, his wife, and between 10 and 20 local business officials may be going.

The mayor has said he and the others are paying their own way. For those who can't make the trip, the village is hosting a viewing party the day of the game at Real Time Sports, 1120 W. Devon Ave. Doors open at 11 a.m. with a $5.95 half-price lunch buffet special.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

What's the best way to reward the man who makes more money than any coach in college sports?

Give him the opportunity to make even more money, of course.

That's what Alabama did this past summer as part of a new contract with Nick Saban, who heads into Saturday's Southeastern Conference championship game with a chance to have the greatest incentive-bonus haul of his Crimson Tide career.

In addition to providing Saban with $8.3 million in basic annual compensation this season, the new agreement increased his maximum annual bonus payout to $1.1 million from the $700,000 ceiling that had been in place since he began working for Alabama in 2007.

All of the increase came in the amount Saban can get for winning the national championship, which now stands at $800,000. The payouts for lower levels of success in the College Football Playoff system also were increased.

Saban already has secured $165,000 in bonuses, and, really, it's $275,000 because it seems inconceivable that Alabama (12-0) would be left out of all six bowl games affiliated with the College Football Playoff even if it loses to Georgia on Saturday.

He would bump his total to $525,000 by winning on Saturday. He gets $50,000 for winning the SEC title, in addition to the $75,000 he's gotten for the team reaching the title game. And he gets $400,000 if Alabama plays in a College Football Playoff semifinal, rather than lesser amounts he would get if the team played in a non-College Football Playoff bowl game or a College Football Playoff non-semifinal.

Each subsequent victory would give Saban another $200,000.

But head coaches aren't the only ones benefiting as championships, bowl invitations and CFP bids are determined. Bonuses also will be going to assistant coaches and other athletics administrators and staff members.

Below are details of bonuses achieved and available to head coaches whose teams are in contention for the CFP semifinals, based on documents obtained by USA TODAY.

Brian Kelly's contract with Notre Dame, a private school, was not available.

Alabama's Nick Saban

Has...

$90,000: Play in Citrus, Outback, TaxSlayer Gator, Music City, Texas, Belk or Liberty bowls

$75,000: Play in SEC title game

Can get...

$50,000: Win SEC title game

One of the following:

$110,000: Play in CFP non-semifinal

$310,000: Play in CFP semifinal

$510,000: Play in CFP title game

$710,000: Win CFP title

Clemson's Dabo Swinney

Has...

$50,000: Play in non-CFP bowl game with at least 8 regular-season wins

$50,000: Play in ACC title game

Can get...

$150,000: Win ACC title

One of the following

$50,000: Play in CFP non-semifinal

$150,000: Play in CFP semifinal

$200,000: Play in CFP title game

$250,000: Win CFP title

Georgia's Kirby Smart

Has...

$100,000: Play in SEC title game

$75,000: Play in Outback, TaxSlayer Gator, Music City, Texas, Belk or Liberty bowls

Can get...

$125,000: Win SEC title

One of the following:

$25,000: Play in Citrus Bowl

$100,000: Play in CFP non-semifinal

$175,000: Play in CFP semifinal

$425,000: Play in CFP title game

$625,000: Wins CFP title

Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley

Has...

$25,000: Play in non-CFP bowl game

$50,000: Play in Big 12 title game

Can get...

$25,000: Win Big 12 title

One of the following:

$50,000: Play in a CFP-affiliated game

$100,000: Win a CFP non-semifinal

$150,000: Play in CFP title game

$250,000: Win CFP title

Ohio State's Urban Meyer

Has...

$50,000: Big Ten East Division champ

Can get...

$100,000: Win Big Ten title game

One of the following:

$200,000: Play in CFP non-semifinal

$250,000: Play in CFP semifinal

$350,000: Play in CFP title game

For all coaches, this does not take into account contingencies that could alter or prevent payment of bonuses (i.e. academic achievement, coach's departure, future investigations and/or sanctions). Does not include bonuses for coaching honors, team academics/citizenship/community service, or the value of tickets and perks tied to participation in postseason games.

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
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Copyright 2018 Valley News Nov 29, 2018

Valley News; White River Junction, Vt.

 

Newport — A presentation of preliminary plans for a new recreation center in Newport left supporters of the project feeling like a million bucks.

At the end of the presentation on Wednesday night, Town Manager Hunter Rieseberg announced the town has received an anonymous donation of $1 million for the project, contingent upon the town raising an additional $2 million.

"It is a great way to start the project," Rieseberg said about the donation at the public forum, attended by members of the Community Center Committee and Selectboard. "We are setting out to meet the challenge and make that happen."

The new center would be built adjacent to the Little League Field on Meadow Road, across the street from Bill Bates Memorial Field. The Little League field would be reoriented to accommodate the roughly 20,000-square-foot facility at the northwest corner of the property. The center would include a large gymnasium, three multipurpose rooms, a fitness room, team rooms and a concession area.

John Dale, architect with BreadLoaf Architects of Middlebury, Vt., said the building's design was geared toward allowing for simultaneous use.

"You could hold six or seven different activities at once in the center," Dale said.

The preliminary cost estimate presented on Wednesday is $6.65 million, a figure Fred Bellucci, vice president of estimating and purchasing with BreadLoaf, said would not increase as they refine the final numbers.

"We will talk to subcontractors and get budgets from them so we can home in and sharpen up the numbers," Bellucci said.

Some of Wednesday's discussion was about materials for flooring and the exterior and other aspects of the design where costs could be trimmed. For example, the center will be air-conditioned, but savings could be found in reducing the number of zoned areas for AC, said John Johnston, an engineer with BreadLoaf.

By the end of January, the town will have a "guaranteed maximum price," Bellucci said.

The estimated total cost, which includes site development and construction and professional fees, is far less than the $9 million-$11 million price tag that was first mentioned after a design and feasibility study looked at three options for upgrading the town's aging recreation center on Belknap Avenue. Those ideas proposed a 30,000-square-foot center with an elevated track on a second floor.

The significantly reduced cost reflects what Selectboard member and Vice Chairman of the community center committee Todd Fratzel said in May after voters narrowly approved spending $200,000 to hire an architect to design a new center.

"The close vote says how hard we have to work (on the final design) so it is affordable for everyone," Fratzel said after Town Meeting.

The proposed 20,000-square-foot facility would be designed for a multitude of athletic and nonathletic activities from basketball, volleyball, pickleball and indoor soccer to dancing, flea markets, teen clubs and birthday parties.

The current recreation center was built as an armory in 1940 and has been the recreation center since 1967.

The feasibility study looked at expanding the center or renovating Towle Elementary school to meet the town's recreational needs for space and programs; neither option was determined to be as cost-effective as a new center.

Rieseberg said the town plans to post Wednesday's presentation on the its website and also use the site to give residents updates on the project design, its costs and town fundraising.

If voters approve the project at Town Meeting in May, Dale said construction would begin in September and the new center would open in June 2020.

Patrick O'Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com

 

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

 

The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District won't partner with the town to build a new recreational facility after state Education Department officials said the project isn't eligible for aid.

Youth hockey proponents have sought improved facilities for years, but critics say road and sewer repairs are a higher priority than a rink estimated to cost $8 million.

Town and district officials discussed collaborating in hopes state educational aid could help with the cost. But the state found no demonstrated need for the project, said John Brucato, assistant superintendent for finance.

Supervisor Joseph Emminger said the Town Board will vote by January on hiring a consultant to prepare drawings and a cost analysis on upgrades to Brighton ice arena. A public vote could settle the question.

 

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

Washington State athletics director Pat Chun almost couldn't believe what he saw Tuesday when the latest rankings came out for the College Football Playoff.

The Playoff committee had dropped his Cougars all the way to 13th?

The committee also ranked his 10-win team behind No. 9 Florida (9-3), whose schedule included two wins against overmatched teams from a lower subdivision.

"It doesn't make any sense to us," Chun told USA TODAY.

It didn't make much sense to coach Mike Leach, either.

So they are making a case. And they hope the committee hears it, because this is what happens when lucrative bowl berths are to be subjectively decided Sunday by 13 people with votes. It tempts some teams to lobby for their cause in public. In this case, Chun and Leach believe WSU has earned a spot in the New Year's Six, one of the six most prestigious bowl games. That could mean the Fiesta Bowl for the Cougars on Jan. 1.

"We have earned the right to be considered the best 10-2 team," Leach told USA TODAY.

Instead, four teams with 9-3 records are ranked ahead of the Cougars after they fell from No. 8 last week and lost their regular-season finale to Washington 28-15. The Huskies (9-3) are ranked higher now at 11th. But Chun and Leach aren't arguing to be ranked higher than them.

Other issues are their bigger concern. That includes playing nine conference games in the Pac-12 Conference while other leagues, such as the Southeastern, only have to play eight and can fill the other four games on their schedule with non-conference games that are often much easier.

"We're just hopeful that there's a correction at the end with the last poll," said Chun, whose team had one other loss, 39-36 at Southern California in September. "We want to make sure people are taking a look at 10 wins for us, and two losses that were tough losses, but were by no stretch of the imagination bad losses. We feel like our resume stacks up with the best two-loss teams in the country, not the best three-loss teams in the country."

To get into the New Year's Six, the Cougars will have to rank at least in the top 12, and quite possibly higher, when the committee releases its final rankings and bowl pairings Sunday. The champions of the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Atlantic Coast conferences all get automatic berths in the New Year's Six games, plus the highest-ranked champion of a major conference from outside those Power 5 leagues.

The New Year's Six games include the top four teams in the Orange and Cotton Bowl semifinals on Dec. 29. The Sugar Bowl will match teams from the SEC and Big 12 that aren't in the semifinals. The Rose Bowl likewise is set to match the Pac-12 champion, Washington or Utah, against a team from the Big Ten.

That leaves only a few spots in the New Year's Six for other top teams - in the Peach and Fiesta, to be decided by the committee's rankings.

Right now, it looks like Washington State will be locked out of those games instead of Florida, No. 10 LSU (9-3) or No. 12 Penn State (9-3), unless the committee moves the Cougars up Sunday.

The case against Florida of the SEC is that the Gators boosted their win count with blowouts against Idaho and Charleston Southern of the lower Football Championship Subdivision. The Gators also lost at home to Missouri this month 38-17.

"There is not a doubt in my mind that if WSU was named Stanford, USC or UCLA they would be in the top 10," Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt told USA TODAY. "It's as if the committee did not know that one of the two losses was a ridiculous officiating and conference replay mistake (vs. USC). The favoritism shown the middle of the SEC is alarming, in particular when you analyze the schedule make-up of each team. Florida's schedule is incredibly weak, and that is before you consider the fact that their one (Power 5) non-conference opponent (Florida State) was terrible this season."

By contrast, WSU exactly didn't stack its non-conference schedule with heavyweights, either. It beat Eastern Washington of the FCS, Wyoming and San Jose State.

But if the Cougars were able to play a fourth non-conference game against Charleston Southern instead of nine league games, including USC, they might be 11-1 instead of 10-2.

Penn State of the Big Ten plays nine conference games but hurt its credentials with a lopsided loss this month at Michigan 42-7.

Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, told USA TODAY that "it's never just one thing" with the committee's rankings. He said Florida, LSU and Penn State played more difficult schedules than WSU.

"For example, all three of Florida's losses were to teams ranked in the CFP's top 25 (Kentucky, Georgia and Missouri)," Hancock said in an email. "Same for LSU (Alabama, Florida and Texas A&M in that wild game Saturday night). Two of Penn State's losses were to teams ranked in the top 10 (Ohio State and Michigan). Florida also defeated two CFP-ranked teams (at Mississippi State and LSU at home). LSU has a significant victory over Georgia."

Hancock said the loss to Washington was a factor for WSU, too. "Of course, the Huskies' three losses were by a total of 10points," Hancock said.

Leach has his own argument about his team's body of work.

"I will put our 10-2 record against anyone's," Leach said. "No one ever blew us out. We played nine conference games."

Klatt said one strong voice or "rogue vote" in the committee room could make a difference.

"Seems WSU just doesn't have the right (committee) voice arguing their case in the CFB beauty pageant," Klatt said in an email.

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

Traffic and road improvements in downtown West Carrollton are planned as part a project to bring an $4.5 million volleyball facility with a restaurant and bar to the city.

The city is looking to complete infrastructure improvements along West Central Avenue by Oct. 1, 2019, the target date for the completion of an 82,000-square-foot, indoor/outdoor volleyball facility near the town's center.

A traffic impact study is part the project that will determine what is required to accommodate the facility to be built by Spike-It LLC of Cincinnati. The city has agreed to sell the company seven acres at 200 W. Central to make way for the complex.

West Carrollton City Council Tuesday night approved a measure to allow the city manager to advertise for bids for the West Central improvements.

POPULAR THIS WEEK: String of felonies await businessman who changed Dayton's skyline

The project will include "streetscape and intersection improvements, as well as the installation of on-street parking and the addition of a bicycle path," the city has said.

 

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Copyright 2018 The Bismarck Tribune, a division of Lee Enterprises
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The Bismarck Tribune

 

FARGO — Montana State head football coach Jeff Choate began his press conference this week with a reference to practicing football during the winter in Bozeman, Mont. There's nothing more Choate would like under his tree this Christmas than an indoor football practice facility, among other amenities several top-level FCS programs enjoy.

The Bobcats have a top-of-the-line FCS outdoor stadium that seats almost 18,000. But making a deep run in the playoffs will require them to practice outside in potentially freezing conditions."That's the goal, right? That's the No. 1 goal," Choate said with a grin, while slapping a desk in front of him.

"Keep winning and maybe they'll build us something around here. So there's my non-sponsored but much-needed commercial that will begin every statement I make from here on out."

This Saturday, Choate's Bobcats will take on North Dakota State in an FCS second-round playoff game at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. The temperatures are not pretty so far this week in Fargo, but the Bison have armed themselves to deal with it.They have an indoor bubble for practice.

They have the dome when it's not in use, like it was Tuesday for an agriculture show. And soon to come is a proposed $37 million permanent indoor practice facility that will replace the bubble.

Groundbreaking for that project could come as soon as this summer, said NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen.

Bids and proposals for an architect were due last week."We'll go through an evaluation process and hopefully by the middle to end of a December we'll have an architect selected," Larsen said.Larsen said fundraising for the facility is going well.

Montana State announced a 20-year master plan last year that includes an indoor football and track and field facility along with a football administrative and training complex.

Choate, in his third year with the Bobcats, has taken notes with programs MSU has played like Eastern Washington, Weber State, Kennesaw State and South Dakota State. All have made recent facility upgrades.

Rival University of Montana recently completed a $14 million locker room, weight training and meeting room "Champions Center" attached to Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

"It's the next step for us," Choate said. "If we want to be considered as one of those teams, we have to step up to the plate and make financial commitments, too."

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

The Rolling Meadows Park District is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and its youth and adult hockey programs go back more than 40 years. Yet this past fall season featured a new spin on the sport: cheerleaders in the stands.

"I'm not going to lie, some of the players were a little confused about what was going on," says Stephan Polus, one of the youth hockey coordinators and a coach of the mite level Renegades, including the under 6-year-olds and under 8-year-olds. "But once the first period was over," he added, "the kids were really getting into the cheering."

Joanne Burger is one of the coaches in the Rolling Meadows Youth Cheerleading program, and she says that while the girls traditionally cheered at youth football games, those opportunities had diminished.

"In years past, our girls cheered for the youth football teams, but since those numbers dropped, we began focusing on our girls doing cheer competitions," Burger says. "This year, our girls wanted to show their support to our local youth hockey teams."

And they had plenty of games to choose from.

The Rolling Meadows Renegades now have more than 500 participants in their hockey programs, from tots through teenage players, and increasingly more girls joining the sport.

They now enjoy a newly updated facility after a nearly $2 million renovation to the rink at the Nelson Sports Complex in 2016. Park district officials pointed to the complex's heavy foot traffic, with more than 3 million people coming through its doors and those of neighboring West Meadows Arena, both in Rolling Meadows.

And having cheerleaders there to support both boys' and girls' games has subtly helped fuel girls' interest in taking the ice, Burger says, including her own daughter.

"My daughter is one of the girls who began playing hockey at 4 years old and she has continued," Burger says. "She is also on the second-grade squad of the Rolling Meadows Youth Cheerleading program, and she absolutely loved having her very own girls there cheering her on for one of her games."

Polus agrees that more girls have entered the program over the past few years, but he credits the success of the women's hockey teams in the last two Winter Olympics with ramping up interest, including their gold medal victory over Canada in February in South Korea.

"During the Olympics, they always showcase where these athletes come from and what they do for their community," Polus adds. "It just gives these young female athletes someone to look up to."

According to USA Hockey and its governing body, the International Ice Hockey Federation, there are more than 75,000 girls and women playing in the sport.

Rolling Meadows sees its growth, building from the lower levels on up.

According to Polus, more than one dozen girls are playing at the at the basic hockey levels (hockey tots and pre-mixes). If they stick with it, they would move up to the mite level, or 6 and under, and 8 and under. He adds that they currently have 13 girls playing at those levels, with four at the under-10 level, and three at the under-12s.

Having the cheerleaders at the rink on weekends helped expose them to the sport, Polus says, and he's all for starting players out early and having girls love the sport.

"Personally, I really like the idea of having the cheerleaders," he says. "Most of the time it's just the kids' parents cheering for them in the stands, so it was nice to see the cheerleaders give the players their attention. "It was just nice to see something different," Polus adds, "and to see the kids really get into it."

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Copyright 2018 News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

CHAPEL HILL — Mack Brown didn't have a lot of options when he decided he wanted to get back into coaching. In fact his wife, Sally, said she'd move to only three places on earth, and only two of them had college football.

"Hawaii, the Bahamas and Chapel Hill," she told him.

On a cold Tuesday, 21 years after leaving, Brown went home. He'll coach at the school he longed to come back to, move in to the office he never used and hope to rekindle the success he had at Carolina all those years ago.

And he just might do it. Brown is one of the few coaches in UNC history who figured out how to win here consistently. And he did win a national title at Texas.

Brown brought Sally and his children with him to the Carolina campus on Tuesday morning and talked about how much he missed the place.

"We'd looked at different opportunities over the years, and they just didn't seem to fit," he said.

He wondered if he'd ever get back into the coaching business, wondering if he even needed to, if he had anything else to prove. He had, after all, taken three other programs as far as he could take them. But it was here where he left a job undone, where feelings were hurt when he left in 1997, where so many coaches have come and gone through the years without doing what he did at Carolina.

But mostly, he felt like UNC needed him as much as he needed UNC.

"This is the only place we would've come back to," Brown said. "We love challenges."

He'd interviewed for other jobs. He had a unique vantage point after leaving Texas and landing at ESPN, able to look at every program in America, knowing when the jobs opened, knowing the culture and knowing the communities.

None of them fit.

Now 67 with grandchildren, a retirement home in the mountains and friends scattered all over the state, he knew this was an opportunity that wouldn't come again.

"We know this place, and we know you can be successful here," Brown said.

Few people believed this would ever happen. And even now, few people deep down think he can return UNC football to top 10 prominence. But he's ever the optimist, ever the salesman. He'll recruit the state he knows, going back to the high schools he remembers when he locked this state up.

And just possibly he will pull Carolina out of the mess it's in and recapture the magic from so long ago.

If he does, he'll do it with the best players from a state that has lost almost all its best players in recent years to schools outside of North Carolina. He'll do it with an old-school attention to detail and with a smile on his face.

Brown hasn't changed a lick.

He's still positive to a fault, convinced UNC's athletics department is the best in the nation and confident he can add Carolina football to a long list of national-caliber programs at UNC.

"We like to fix things," Brown said.

This one's going to need some serious fixin'.

But mainly, he'll do it because he truly wants to be here. He's been in Linville the past few month in his mountain home, watching football and wondering if his time had passed.

Brown has been out of coaching for five years, and not many coaches make for successful comeback stories.

He knows that as well as anybody, but he also knows most football coaches aren't successful to begin with.

Brown is back in North Carolina because, in his heart, he's a North Carolinian. And he believes he can be successful in his return to UNC because of what he did here before.

Things have changed. It's likely going to be a harder climb this time. In the twilight of his career, he's ready to test himself against all the programs he's been watching from afar for all these years.

Mack Brown went down from the mountains, his clothes in a pillow case and a plan to replant himself where he belongs.

"Someone asked me how long I'm planning to stay," he said. "For the rest of my life I guess."

It might take that long.

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

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Copyright 2018 Collier County Publishing Company
All Rights Reserved

Naples Daily News (Florida)

 

The Florida High School Athletic Association and Lee County Sports Development announced Tuesday the Florida High School Baseball State Championships will remain in Lee County through 2021.

"Staying in Fort Myers was important to us based on the first-class facilities and experience provided to us by the fine people of Lee County," FHSAA Executive Director George Tomyn said. "The FHSAA believes student-athletes, coaches and fans will continue to receive the red-carpet treatment they have become accustomed to the last six years."

The 2019 event will take place at CenturyLink Sports Complex May 22-25 (1A-4A) and May 29-June 1 (5A-9A). The championships will consist of separate four-team, three-game, single-elimination tournaments in each classification.

Dates and venues for the 2020 and 2021 events will be announced at a later date. CenturyLink Sports Complex, the spring training home for Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins, has hosted the event since 2017. Prior to that, the event was held at the spring training home for MLB's Boston Red Sox, JetBlue Park (2013-16).

"Lee County is proud to have been awarded an additional three-year agreement to host the Florida High School Baseball State Championships, Lee County Sports Development Executive Director Jeff Mielke said. "This is a testament of the quality of Lee County's leadership, staff, facilities and dedication to customer service. We thank the FHSAA for trusting us with the baseball finals for another three years."

The terms of the agreement remain from the previous three-year contract. The county will pay the FHSAA $10,000 each year and the FHSAA retains the first $54,000 of ticket sales and then half of each ticket sale thereafter. Tickets are $9 if purchased in advance and $12 the day of.

In addition, the FHSAA receives half of all parking fees up to $7,500 per year. Parking costs $10 for cars and $50 for buses.

While it seemed the county was giving up quite a bit the payoff came in the amount of direct visitor spending, which includes rented hotel rooms and spending at restaurants and shopping by out-of-county guests. According to Lee County Sports and Development, visitors attending the FHSAA championships in 2017 totaled 1,579 hotel nights and spent $657,002 amounting to $1,097,193 in total impact.

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Copyright 2018 Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
All Rights Reserved

Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

Andy Bolton's days as a Central Bobcats baseball player may be in the past, but that has not stopped him from heading up a long-term project to build an indoor hitting facility for his alma mater.

"I graduated in 1990, but I have stayed connected," he said. "I have one child in middle school, and my son is a freshman at Central. I was asked in 2015 if I would head up the project for an indoor hitting facility. I have spent the last three years making that happen."

To celebrate, the public was invited to an open house for the new Tommy Schumpert & Bud Bales Hitting Facility on Nov. 16.

"We started in the fall of 2015 and took the first five months in that planning stage to create an athletics foundation for Central High School to take on projects. (It is) a tax-exempt status for people to make contributions. All of the sports can utilize the foundation moving forward. That was our first step."

Fundraising for the project kicked off in the spring of 2016. "We were able to raise $200,000," said Bolton.

"The icing was to name it after Bud Bales and Tommy Schumpert," he said. "I played for Coach Bales and they are first class men and possibly two of the best former coaches Central has ever had. We are very excited about naming the building after them."

The building itself is 50 by 80 feet and features retractable batting cages, three pitchers' mounds, three softball pitching mats and machines. "If it's raining outside or in the colder months, everything they would need to train will be in that facility," said Bolton.

"Throughout the whole process Principal Reynolds and athletic director J.D. Lambert were very supportive," added Bolton. "Our goal was to build a building that the community would be proud of. We want everybody to see it."

Architect Aaron Miller is also a Central alum and recalls the initial meeting three years ago where the goal was set to create a top notch indoor baseball and softball training facility that would long benefit future generations of student athletes.

"Setting the goal was easy," said Miller. "The challenge was how to make it a reality. We didn't have to look far to find the answer to this challenge. When asked who built this facility, the answer is simple. The pride and tradition of Central High School, its alumni, and the Fountain City community built it. Without their support, this facility would not be open today. A special thanks goes out to all those who gave of their time, donations, and efforts towards this project, as well as Creative Structures and Design Innovation for donating their time and services to help this dream come true."

Former Central coach Bales said he had been keeping up with the progress and was glad to see the finished product. Bales won 12 district titles and seven region championships in his 26 seasons at Central. "It was a little surprising that they got it built as quickly as they did," said Bales. "The members of the foundation and Andy Bolton are the type of people who are going to get it done one way or another."

Bales said players have used the batting cages under the football stadium for decades. "They weren't enclosed, but we didn't waste or lose any balls, we knew where every one of them was," he said. "And every player would swing a bat, a broomstick or whatever. Because of TSSAA rules we couldn't use a ball and bat outside of the season, so we used a broomstick and Wiffle ball."

Bales was honored to have his name featured on the side of the building. "It's real nice, I don't know if it was deserved," said Bales. "I'm proud to be a part of anything with Tommy Schumpert's name on it. He was ahead of me, in the 1960s-70s and also won a state championship."

"It's a great facility," added Schumpert. "It's going to help a lot of young boys and girls. Andy Bolton has built a great facility and it's a great honor to be a part of it."

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Copyright 2018 The Buffalo News
All Rights Reserved

The Buffalo News (New York)

 

Bad audio. Inadequate video displays. Not enough high-end seating.

All of this and other limitations stand out at New Era Field in Orchard Park and at KeyBank Center in downtown Buffalo amid a constant race by other sports teams across the nation to offer more to their fans.

These are among the factors that drove Pegula Sports & Entertainment to hire a consultant to look into stadium options for both the Buffalo Bills and the Buffalo Sabres as lease deadlines approach.

Consultant CAA ICON will study the potential for either renovating the Bills' New Era Field or building a new football stadium, which could be located in the city. The Denver-based consultant also will look into possible renovations at KeyBank Center, where the Sabres hockey team and the Buffalo Bandits lacrosse team now play.

Everything is on the table.

"We've got two venues that are in need of renovation and we needed to bring in some outside expertise to begin the evaluation," Bruce Popko, Pegula Sports & Entertainment's chief operating officer, said at a press conference on Tuesday. "We have expiring leases and we have, candidly, venues that need upgrading."

Popko said the expiring leases add pressure to the information-gathering effort needed to make big decisions in the near future. The Bills stadium lease agreement expires in 2023. The lease for KeyBank Center expires in 2025.

"We have some more time, but we are up against it," Popko said. "We are now to the phase where we have to begin to make some determinations because five years goes really in the blink of an eye."

Changes could range from new seating, technology, video screens and audio systems to revamped food service and more specialized programming.

"We know we've got to improve the fan experience," Popko said.

As far as potential sites for any new stadium, including the possibility of combining a Bills stadium with a new convention center, Popko said nothing is off the table. But part of the study includes evaluating the public appetite for significant spending and funding.

"We don't go into it with any preconceived notions," Popko said. "I can tell you quite honestly, we were asked by them - by CAA ICON - to really have as open a mind as we can, and we're going into this exercise like that."

The study, which will be paid for entirely by Pegula Sports & Entertainment, will be a first step toward determining the long-term homes for Buffalo's professional football and hockey teams. New Era Field is more than 40 years old, while KeyBank Center has been open for 23 years. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Popko told him Tuesday that the findings will not be publicly shared.

The study will examine the feasibility of further renovations at New Era Field and will also weigh the options for building a new football stadium, including potential stadium sites, design and financing options. It also will look at modernizing KeyBank Center to meet the demands of today's fans, Popko said.

"The fan is now demanding different things than they were 15-20 years ago and we have to recognize that," Popko said. "There are lots of things that we don't enjoy right now and we're going to need to move forward."

Feedback from fans will be central to the study, which will solicit public input through broad surveys, focus groups and even one-on-one conversations at games. The goal is to determine "what preferences are out there, what we can afford, and really what the marketplace wants," Popko said.

He noted tailgating remains an "absolutely essential" part of the game day experience.

The consultant is not being asked to recommend whether the Bills stadium should remain in Orchard Park or move to a different location, he said. Instead, it's being asked to provide information on all worthwhile options that all the major stakeholders will review before choosing a direction.

"It'll identify the ability to stay where we are, or it's going to take a look at some options to do something different if we can," he said. "This is the germination phase. We haven't identified any specific sites yet. We're going to be going through all that research in the coming months."

The study, the cost of which was not disclosed, will take six to nine months to finish. While it will focus on both New Era Field and KeyBank Center, more resources will be dedicated to the Bills stadium because of that venue's shorter lease deadline. But Popko said the team is not facing pressure from the NFL or other owners, although it has received feedback from them about projects elsewhere in the country.

At KeyBank Center, the Pegulas have already invested about $26 million of their money on "small pieces" of the building over the last five years, but there's been no large-scale renovation since it opened.

"This place has got a lot of things related to the base infrastructure that need some help," Popko said.

He cited the quality of the seats and technology in the building, as well as the need for new digital screens. Additionally, he said, "from where I stand, certainly, we've witnessed that some of the audio in the building is not up to snuff."

Also, Popko said modern arenas have enclosed spaces where the teams can offer specialized programming to "enhance the fan experience," but "I think that's something that we are lacking."

And while the plaza area is a great feature, "we are in a cold-weather market, and sometimes that doesn't serve our purposes as much as it should."

New Era Field already received more than $130 million in renovations several years ago, funded jointly by the Pegulas and Erie County. Additionally, the Bills previously announced the investment of $18 million in stadium renovations for improved club seating and digital ribbon board signage this year, and another $18 million earmarked to upgrade the ADPRO training facility at the stadium complex by April.

But Popko said additional improvements are needed to address the same issues of technology, programming and concessions as with KeyBank Center. He also cited the "seating bowl" and the appearance of the premium areas, and noted that "just about every modern arena now" has at least two LED display boards to offer information to fans and engage them more actively.

The costs of any renovations have yet to be determined.

"It depends on what you want to do," Popko said. "It really just comes down to scale and what you want to get accomplished in terms of enhancing the fan experience."

The last time a major study was released regarding stadium options was in early 2015, when a state-commissioned study highlighted three new sites for a Bills stadium near downtown Buffalo, as well as renovating on constructing a next-door replacement of the current stadium in Orchard Park.

CAA ICON previously worked with Kim and Terry Pegula on the HarborCenter hotel and ice rink project next to KeyBank Center, and also made recommendations on the upgrades to Penn State's Pegula Ice Arena. The consultant is also partnering with Populous for architecture and planning services. Populous has previously served as a design consultant for Yankee Stadium, the London Olympics and the Super Bowl.

The design firm was also heavily involved in the last renovation to the Bills stadium, helping the Pegulas redesign premium and enclosed club spaces. In this case, though, the architectural firm will not develop any detailed renderings but may offer broad "blue sky" concepts, Popko said.

In regard to public money being earmarked into a New Stadium Fund, Popko confirmed that the Pegulas and county and state leaders have agreed to set aside money that could be spent on an outside consultant for a future stadium study that would be commissioned by all three parties. Poloncarz previously said that $500,000 was set aside this year and the same amount will be set aside next year.

"Nothing announced today should indicate any particular action, such as building a new stadium or hockey arena, will in fact occur," Poloncarz said. "Any final decision will ultimately be made by the Pegulas through PSE, the county and New York State after future negotiations."

Popko cautioned that Bills stadium considerations are in the early stages and that New Era Field will be in use for some time to come. It's possible the Bills will remain at their current stadium for some time after the lease expires in 2023, he said.

"We're talking years and years," he said of the potential completion of a new stadium, "and we're also going to be relying on the public-private partnership that we've always had to even see if it's even feasible, even if the study comes back and tells us that a new building may be a necessity."

News Staff Reporter David Robinson contributed to this story.

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

The Atlanta Braves are suing a Marietta taxi company the team said is infringing on its trademark.

The Braves filed the lawsuit in federal court on Nov. 1, naming both the company and its owner individually. The suit claims the company's logo and use of tomahawk on its vehicles are too close to the team's protected trademarks.

"Defendants are intentionally freeriding on the success and popularity of the Atlanta Braves by brazenly copying the Atlanta Braves' trademarks and trade dress, in an effort to dupe unwitting fans or other Atlantans," part of the suit reads.

The attorney for the company, Braves Taxi, denied many of the allegations in a court filing Monday but was not available for comment that day or Tuesday. The taxi company owner was out of state for an emergency Tuesday and unavailable.

The Braves argued in the filing that the taxi company is "inflicting irreparable harm to the goodwill symbolized by the Braves' marks."

In the response filed in court Monday, the taxi company denied it had "closely mimicked or identically reproduced" the Braves markings in its fleet.

A Braves spokeswoman declined to comment, and attorneys representing the team referred questions to a Major League Baseball spokesman, who also declined to comment.

The lawsuit also mentions the Braves "extensive sponsorship agreement" with Uber to provide all ride-sharing to and from the stadium.

The team said in the suit that the taxi company started operating "virtually in the shadow of SunTrust Park."

The taxi company's website mentions airport rides but not specifically taking people to baseball games.

Records show the taxi business was registered with the state in 2015, a couple of years before the stadium opened, but its website says the company has been operating since 2001.

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Copyright 2018 Chattanooga Publishing Company
All Rights Reserved

Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

MGM Resorts International became Major League Baseball's official gambling partner in the U.S. and Japan, a deal made as the sport tries to ensure more prevalent legal sports betting does not lead to any scandals of the type sparked by illegal wagers in its past.

"Over the past 18 months we've had various senior people in the office involved various aspects of the sports gaming project," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said at Tuesday's announcement. "I think that we have ensured ourselves on the integrity front by updating our policies, making clear what employees and players can and cannot do on the one hand, and on the other developing clear guidelines for the commercial activity that central baseball, meaning Major League Baseball will engage in and similarly the kind of commercial activities that will be allowed on the club level, as well."

The U.S. Supreme Court in May overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which prohibited every state but Nevada from allowing betting on most sporting events.

Baseball was plagued by betting scandals in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the biggest a thrown World Series in 1919 that led to lifetime bans for eight Chicago "Black Sox" players imposed by the first baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

Major League Rule 21 specifies "any player, umpire or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform, shall be declared ineligible for one year" and adds the penalty for betting on a game in which the "bettor has a duty to perform, shall be declared permanently ineligible."

That led to the 1989 investigation of then-Cincinnati manager Pete Rose. The probe concluded Rose bet on the Reds to win with illegal bookmakers, and the career hits leader agreed to a lifetime ban.

"There are actually two policies that will be ready for the distribution to the clubs in the relatively near future," Manfred said. "We're not prepared to distribute them today."

He said the policies were discussed at last week's owners' meeting and that final revisions were being made.

MGM will become an MLB-authorized gambling operator and will promote itself with teams and on the MLB Network, MLB.com and the MLB At Bat app. Manfred said MGM will have a presence at baseball's top events.

"There's been a huge change in public opinion" on sports gambling, Manfred said.

MLB will make a limited part of its Statcast data available to MGM on an exclusive basis. That data also is available to the 30 clubs.

"It has presented an opportunity for all sports and baseball in particular," he added. "We have to take advantage of every opportunity to drive engagement by fans."

Manfred says he does not expect there will be betting windows open at London's Olympic Stadium during the two-game series in June between the New York Yankees and the World Series champion Boston Red Sox — the first MLB games in Britain.

MGM in August became the official gambling partner of the NBA and WNBA, and last month it became the first official sports betting partner of the NHL.

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

The only U.S. team sport more rigged than college basketball? College football.

That's not opinion, that's fact; it is incontrovertible, indisputable and inarguable. So much so, I should just end this column right now and spend the rest of the day binge-watching "Friday Night Lights" reruns.

Couch Slouch is tired of hearing about the glory of great college football rivalries.

Couch Slouch is tired of hearing the contention that "every game counts."

Couch Slouch is tired of hearing how only the best teams can play for the national title.

Frankly, Couch Slouch is just plain tired.

ESPN promotes its weekly College Football Playoff rankings show with the words, "WHO'S IN?"

I'll tell you who's NOT in: every team from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference, all eligible for the CFP.

The University of Central Florida could play its entire home schedule on Jupiter, win every game by 66-3 and go 12-0, yet the Knights would still be out. UCF, in fact, has won 24 games in a row the past two seasons and is no closer to a national championship playoff than a pregnant wildebeest.

The CFP is more rigged than Wall Street, and as scripted as the WWE.

Back in the old days, there was no national championship mechanism in Division I college football. The coaches voted on a No. 1 team, the media voted on a No. 1 team, and when they disagreed, every talk radio host's head exploded until the cows came home — the cows even had an opinion — and this was all delightful and stupid.

Then came the Bowl Championship Series from 1998-2013, as a combination of human polls and inhuman computers determined which two teams played for the national title. This was less delightful and stupid.

Which brings us to the College Football Playoff, in which 13 individuals — mostly athletic directors and former coaches — decide the four best teams to compete for the title. This is even less delightful, still stupid.

The Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) is divided into the Power Five conferences and the Group of Five conferences. It should be called the Power Five and the Wallflower Five, because the latter group has no one to dance with and nowhere to go.

It's virtually impossible for a team outside the Power Five — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac-12 — to play in the CFP. They pretend every game counts, but half of FBS schools are disenfranchised in this process.

I could tell you this all has to do with TV rights and TV money, but that's too obvious.

At least in college basketball, 68 of 351 schools get to play for the national title, including every conference champion. In college football, it's four out of 130 and really it's only three, because Alabama's always in.

Since adopting the CFP format in 2014, only nine schools have filled those 16 semifinal spots; in the same time frame in college basketball, 14 schools have been represented among the 16 Final Four participants.

The past Russian presidential election (theirs, not ours) was less preordained.

So let me reprise my idea from a year ago that was laughed off the worldwide web:

Every school gets into the postseason.

It would be bigger than March Madness, a 128-team playoff that runs through December and January, culminating with the national championship game the week before the Super Bowl. The opening two weekends alone — to get down to 32 teams — would be a Thursday/Friday/Saturday gridiron extravaganza extraordinaire.

At that point, the bowl games take over, and everybody gets a meaningful contest.

Most important, everybody — and I mean everybody — makes more money.

Any Einsteins out there have a better idea that doesn't involve the Electoral College?

Ask The Slouch

Q. Have you considered employing Scott Boras to negotiate your next contract? Your alimony-receiving ex-spouses would likely contribute to his commission. (Mort Faller; Potomac, Md.)

A. (1) If Scott Boras walked into my house, I would sell it immediately. (2) What if I told you that, as a feminist at heart, I actually receive alimony from my ex-wives.

Q. You wrote lovingly about TNT's Marv Albert, but I hear him make plenty of mistakes. Have you listened lately? (Marc Terry; Chicago)

A. Listen, pal, Marv's not as flawless as he once was, but he gets a pass for quality time served. Besides, nobody is as good as they used to be; heck, I peaked at age 19.

Q. When San Jose and Winnipeg meet in the NHL, do dance numbers spontaneously break out at center ice before each game? (Scott Nesbit; Pittsburgh)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com

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

News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

GREENSBORO — Four North Carolina football players and three from N.C. State have been suspended or reprimanded for their roles in the fight after the State-Carolina rivalry game Saturday in Chapel Hill.

The ACC issued the suspensions after its official reviewed video from the television broadcast and from both universities.

The players with eligibility remaining will be required to sit out for a half in their teams' next games. State will host East Carolina at noon Saturday. Carolina's season is over, and the Tarheel's 2019 season opener will be against South Carolina on Aug. 31 in Charlotte. Two players, because they are seniors, are part of the reprimand.

The Carolina players: Dominique Ross, Patrice Rene, J.K. Britt and Jeremiah Clarke. Britt and Clarke are seniors whose eligibilities are exhausted.The State players: Freddie Phillips, Tyler Jones andJustinWitt.

The conference used the NCAA Playing Rules related to fighting as the foundation for the suspensions, which results in disqualification for a half. The schools' football programs can determine which half the players will miss.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

When North Carolina lost to East Carolina by three touchdowns in Week 2 this season, speculation began in the college football coaching industry about who might replace embattled coach Larry Fedora.

Would it be an up-and-comer with previous ties to the program such as North Texas' Seth Littrell or Arkansas State's Blake Anderson? Would this be the spot for Scott Satterfield, who has gone 50-24 at Appalachian State and regularly put scares into the likes of Penn State and Tennessee? Or could a more proven Power Five coach be drawn to the Tar Heels, a program that has long been considered a sleeping giant given its basketball-driven national brand, high quality of campus life and proximity to in-state recruiting pockets rich with talent?

Instead, the answer came Monday when North Carolina moved toward bringing back 67-year-old Mack Brown, who coached the Tar Heels from 1988 to 1997 and is set to be honored next week in New York as part of the incoming class to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Maybe it's just a coincidence, but North Carolina hiring Brown without a real coaching search a week after Kansas locked in from the start on 65-year-old Les Miles and a year after Arizona State fired Todd Graham while having 64-year-old Herm Edwards locked up feels like something that needs to be discussed.

Given all the factors involved at each of those programs, it would be too strong to call it a trend. But what does it say about the state of the coaching industry when three potentially good jobs that could have attracted a wide variety of candidates instead chose to lock in only on retreads who are old enough to collect Social Security benefits?

Perhaps it says that college football, with so many millions on the line in each coaching hire, has become a risk-averse society. It says that nostalgia and personality trump a proven ability to do more with less. It says, quite frankly, that the people making high-leverage decisions about coaches don't really know how to evaluate coaches.

Visionaries are out. Reading glasses are in.

And in a way, you can kind of make sense of it. Admittedly, hiring a young coach with a slim track record that would be a likely candidate for North Carolina is, by definition, a more high variance enterprise.

One example: There's a strong case to be made that Memphis' Mike Norvell is the next Dabo Swinney. He's young, he's high energy, he has recruited above the historical level of his program and he's about to play for an American Athletic Conference title for the second year in a row. On the other hand, you could argue he's merely another version of Kevin Sumlin, who went to Texas A&M with great fanfare after he flashed at Houston but didn't have enough defensive acumen or overall substance to flourish on the big stage.

Nobody is really going to know for sure until the 37-year-old Norvell, who is 26-12 in his career, gets that chance. But Power Five athletics directors are seemingly more skittish than ever about putting their own reputations on the line and making that call.

Look at the coaches who were fired this year. Kliff Kingsbury was the hottest coordinator when Texas Tech hired him six years ago. Mike MacIntyre had taken San Jose State, perhaps the toughest place to win in all of FBS, from 1-12 to 10-2 before Colorado scooped him up in 2012. Fedora and his high-flying offense had four winning seasons in a row at Southern Mississippi before he got the call from North Carolina.

And increasingly, athletics directors know that no matter how much money they raise or how many titles their hires win in women's soccer, their tenures will be defined by whether they can pick a winning football coach. So perhaps the natural outgrowth of that pressure is an affinity for older, more mature coaches who, if nothing else, don't have to do a lot of learning on the job.

Nobody thinks Miles is going to win Big 12 titles at Kansas or that the ceiling for Brown, who almost seemed semi-retired in his final few years at Texas, is going to be particularly high at North Carolina.

But it is likely that Miles and Brown are going to do the following things: avoid off-field scandals, raise the minimum baseline of competence and attract both attention and donations.

Maybe that's enough to consider them successful hires in four or five years.

The lack of long-term vision, however, and the unwillingness to have a real conviction about anyone in the next generation of coaches seem like little more than a punt on 4th-and-2 from the opponent's 35-yard line.

Brown is a tremendous human being who was truly one of the game's great coaches from 1996 to 2009. But the job of North Carolina's Bubba Cunningham is supposed to be identifying the next Mack Brown, not reaching for the one who existed two decades ago.

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Copyright 2018 Chattanooga Publishing Company
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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

If you're the University of Kansas basketball program, you have multiple reasons to be grumpier than the Grinch today.

For starters, despite defeating a very good Michigan State team in the Champions Classic to open the season, you lost your No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press poll the following week to Duke's freshman Fab Four of RJ Barrett, Tre Jones, Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson because the Blue Devils crushed a vastly overrated Kentucky squad by 34 points in the same event.

Then you were denied the top spot again in Monday's AP poll because that same Duke team was stunned in Maui by Gonzaga, which is the new No. 1.

But the biggest slight came later on Monday, when the NCAA released its NET ratings, which were supposed to make more sense than the RPI rankings they were created to replace. Yet in the NET — which reportedly stands for NCAA Evaluation Tool — not only were the Jayhawks not No. 1, 2 or 3, they were ranked an unfathomable 11th.

That's right. Despite a 5-0 record, a win over Michigan State and a Preseason NIT championship game win over previously undefeated Tennessee, KU was judged to be no better than 11th.

To be fair to the NCAA, NET should probably stand for No Easy Task, for every formula attempting to rank college basketball teams will have its flaws and shortcomings and detractors.

Yet criticism of the Rating Percentage Index — or at least the selection committee's use of the RPI come the NCAA tournament's Selection Sunday — had grown so loud in recent years that college athletics' governing body strongly believed some significant change was necessary.

"What has been developed is a contemporary method of looking at teams analytically, using results-based and predictive metrics that will assist the Men's Basketball Committee as it reviews games throughout the season," said Dan Gavitt, senior vice president of basketball for the NCAA, when he introduced the NET.

"While no perfect rankings exist, using the results of past tournaments will help ensure that the rankings are built on an objective source of truth."

Still, if Monday's release of the first-ever NET ratings is a sign of things to come, NET might as well stand for Not Even Tolerable.

Naturally, we're dealing with a small sample size here. By the time both Kansas and Tennessee make their expected appearances in the NCAA tournament come March, they will have played at least 26 or 27 more games than they have thus far.

In fact, as angry as KU should be over the NET, Tennessee should be more so. The Volunteers, who stand No. 6 in the new AP poll, aren't even ranked in the top 25 of the NET.

Tweeted FiveThirtyEight statistical guru Nate Silver: "I guess I'm not sympathetic because a lot of smart people have worked on this problem (power rankings) for a LONG time and the NCAA ignored all that and came up with something that doesn't reflect methodological best practices and which doesn't make sense, basketball-wise."

How little sense does this new metric make? Ohio State, whose two biggest wins have come at Cincinnati and Creighton — neither of which is in this week's AP Top 25 or the NET top 25 — is the NET's Numero Uno.

The NET's next five are Virginia (6-0), Texas Tech (6-0), Michigan (6-0), Gonzaga (6-0) and Duke (5-1).

Conversely, the AP's top six are Gonzaga, Kansas, Duke, Virginia, Nevada and UT.

So why the disparities? How does OSU rise to No. 1 without a victory over a currently ranked team and with four of its wins against folks outside the top 200 of KenPom.com's power rankings: Purdue-Fort Wayne, South Carolina State, Samford and Cleveland State?

The NET bases its ranking on the following categories: strength of schedule, game results, net efficiency, winning percentage and winning percentage adjusted based on the location of games played. A second component gives teams the same credit for a home win over a top-30 team, a neutral site win over a top-50 team or a road win over a top-75 team.

Right or wrong, this new system will be the primary measurement used by the tournament selection committee for finalizing the NCAA tourney field of 68 teams.

Problems? Because your victory margin for any one game is capped at 10, Duke's 34-point thumping of Kentucky will only go down as a 10-point win.

Also, because the NET's efficiency rankings don't account for the quality of the opponent, a team with a net efficiency of 0.5 point against North Carolina A&T will get the same credit for that accomplishment as a team earning that mark against North Carolina.

Really? REALLY?

Yes, it's early. And the NET probably got at least one surprising ranking correct when it slotted Kentucky at No. 61. Anyone watching Cal's Cats stumble and bumble their way to unimpressive wins over VMI, Winthrop and Tennessee State last week knows they're far closer to No. 61 at the moment than either 6 or 1.

But there's no way, given their play to date, that Kansas is 11th or Tennessee is all the way outside the top 25.

Which is why, at least for now, Silver's words will also end this column.

Wrote the statistician's statistician: "The worst rankings I've ever seen in any sport, ever."

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com

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

 

Andrew Grinde was not just another football player. As a running back at C.M. Russell High School in Great Falls, Montana, he rushed for 2,180 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2014, leading the Rustlers to the state title game, and was named Montana Gatorade Football Player of the Year.

With a 4.0 grade-point average, Grinde (rhymes with Lindy) was recruited by Ivy League schools, as well as the University of Montana and Montana State. He headed off to Yale before deciding to take a year off from school and football. His return to the gridiron the next summer merited a story in the Great Falls Tribune. "I miss it, for sure," he told the reporter. "I love playing."

Grinde, who goes by Drew, returned to Yale and in his first collegiate game carried the ball four times for 45 yards and a touchdown. But in practice the following week, he had a bruising collision while pass blocking against a 240-pound linebacker.

The next morning in class, another student asked him whether he was drunk. "I was slurring my words," he told me by phone from New Haven, Conn. He immediately went to the university health clinic and found he'd suffered a concussion.

He sat out for a week and a half, but when he resumed practice, something was wrong. "I got very lightheaded and could barely feel my legs," he recalls. That was enough. "I cleaned out my locker that night."

Grinde had been playing tackle football since he was in fifth grade. He had been a high school star. But he could no longer accept the risk to his cognitive function and mental health.

Even before that episode, he had begun to worry. His brother was studying neuroscience at the University of Montana and told him that playing football "was probably the worst thing you could do for yourself as an adolescent."

He wasn't deterred, but every time he got hit in practice, he would think about concussions and the cumulative damage he might be doing to his brain. "Playing football wasn't the same," he says.

He had cause for concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that chronic traumatic encephalopathy, an incurable degenerative brain disease, "is believed to be caused in part by exposure to repetitive head impacts, including concussions as well as subconcussive trauma." It adds, "The greatest risk factor for CTE is the number of years of exposure to repeated head or brain injuries."

Football involves exactly that sort of exposure. A Boston University study found CTE in 110 of 111 brains of deceased NFL players. Of the 53 brains from college players who didn't make the NFL, the disease was detected in 48 - 91 percent.

Scientists examined the brains that the Mayo Clinic had preserved from patients with neurodegenerative disorders. CTE was present in 1 in 3 of those who had played contact sports - and none of those who hadn't.

The NFL resisted the evidence about the effects of the game but eventually had to admit reality. It reached a settlement covering some 20,000 former players, which is expected to cost $1 billion. The NCAA is also facing lawsuits and last summer settled one from a University of Texas player's widow who sought $1 million.

Grinde spent years meting out and incurring hits to the head. He now has to live with the fear of developing symptoms of CTE.

Last year, I wrote a column arguing that Harvard and Yale, as two of the world's premier educational institutions, should stop subjecting their undergraduates to the danger of irreversible damage to their excellent brains. Grinde read it recently and emailed to tell me, "This article aligns with what I have been preaching to many of my peers at Yale, both football players and non-players." That email led to our conversation.

The Ivy League has tried to curb the problem by banning tackling during in-season practices and moving kickoffs from the 35 to the 40-yard line to increase the number of touchbacks. But these changes can't fix a sport designed to batter brains. Reducing the number of alligators in a lake wouldn't make it safe for swimming.

Drew Grinde has ensured that one Yale undergraduate won't be at high risk of brain damage every fall Saturday. Yale could ensure that none are.

Steve Chapman is a columnist with the Chicago Tribune.

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

 

TALLAHASSEE, FLA.An Orlando-based company fired an employee whose racist social media post showed a lynching of Florida State University football coach Willie Taggart, the Tallahassee Democrat reported Monday.

Hilton Grand Vacations announced the employee's firing after the image that was posted on Facebook sparked outrage on social media, the newspaper reported. It also prompted a formal investigation by Second Judicial Circuit State Attorney Jack Campbell.

Originally the company suspended the employee, but it terminated his employment by midafternoon Monday.

"Our concern regarding this situation has been a top priority," Hilton Grand Vacations spokeswoman Lauren George told the Democrat. "The person responsible for posting this information has been terminated. His behavior was in violation of multiple company policies and the furthest example from being a reflection of our company's values."

The photoshopped picture, posted after the Seminoles' 41-14 loss to archrival Florida on Saturday, showed Taggart's head superimposed over a photo of a man hanging from a noose, WCTV reported. The caption read, "Believe in something even if it means sacrificing your rep," along with the hashtags #JustDoIt and #FireTaggart, referring to the recent Nike ad campaign featuring former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Taggart, the first black head football coach in Florida State's history, went 5-7 in his first year in Tallahassee. It was the first losing season for the Seminoles since 1976 and ended an NCAA record 36-year streak of bowl game appearances.

George did not reveal the employee's name, citing confidentiality, the Democrat reported. The post was linked to a social media account of a man identified as Tom Shand, the newspaper reported.

Florida State President John Thrasher condemned the social media post in a statement, which FSU announced via Twitter.

"A recent racist social media post aimed at our football coach is ignorant and despicable," Thrasher wrote. "I speak for the entire FSU community in expressing our disgust and extreme disappointment, and I am glad the state attorney is investigating.

Campbell said his office was investigating the Facebook post, but is proceeding slowly.

"It's hard for me to prosecute a Facebook post," Campbell told the Democrat. "That's why we're working with our law enforcement partners to find out what the true facts are. Then I can make a determination of what charges are appropriate."

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Copyright 2018 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.
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The New York Post

 

A gas line exploded inside an Equinox gym on the Upper West Side early Sunday night, blowing out its front windows.

The gym, located on Broadway between 90th and 91st streets, was evacuated without incident and no one was injured, according to police.

Officials say a small fire from a nearby transformer migrated to the gym's basement and then ignited a gas pipe at around 6:40 p.m.

A nearby Petco was also evacuated.

"All the animals are safe," FDNY Assistant Chief John Hodgens said.

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
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Copyright 2018 The Arizona Daily Star Nov 26, 2018

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

 

CUPERTINO, Calif. — Apple's redesigned and re-engineered Series 4 watch can help users stay connected, be more active and manage their health in new ways.

While retaining the original iconic design, the fourth-generation Apple Watch has been refined, combining new hardware and software enhancements.

The new health features include a new accelerometer and gyroscope, which are able to detect hard falls, and an electrical heart-rate sensor that can take an electrocardiogram (ECG) using the new ECG app.

"We're thrilled Apple Watch has become an essential part of people's lives," said Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer.

"The completely redesigned Apple Watch Series 4 continues to be an indispensable communication and fitness companion, and now with the addition of groundbreaking features, like fall detection and the first-ever ECG app offered directly to consumers, it also becomes an intelligent guardian for your health."

Health

Apple Watch Series 4 enables customers to take an ECG reading right from the wrist using the new ECG app, which takes advantage of the electrodes built into the Digital Crown and new electrical heart-rate sensor in the back crystal.

With the app, users touch the Digital Crown and after 30 seconds, receive a heart-rhythm classification. It can classify if the heart is beating in a normal pattern or whether there are signs of atrial fibrillation, or, AFib, a heart condition that could lead to major health complications. All recordings, their associated classifications and any noted symptoms are stored in the Health app in a PDF that can be shared with physicians.

With watchOS 5, Apple Watch intermittently analyzes heart rhythms in the background and sends a notification if an irregular heart rhythm suggestive of AFib is detected. It also can alert the user if the heart rate exceeds or falls below a specified threshold.

Fall detection utilizes a next-generation accelerometer and gyroscope. By analyzing wrist trajectory and impact acceleration, Apple Watch sends the user an alert after a fall, which can be dismissed or used to initiate a call to emergency services.

If Apple Watch senses immobility for 60 seconds after the notification, it will automatically call emergency services and send a message along with location to emergency contacts.

Fitness

With watchOS 5, Apple Watch becomes an improved fitness and workout companion.

Activity competitions allow users to challenge other Apple Watch wearers, automatic workout-detection provides an alert to start a workout while giving retroactive credit, and Yoga and Hiking are new dedicated workout types that accurately track active calories burned and exercise minutes earned.

Running enthusiasts can take advantage of extended battery life — increased to six hours — for outdoor workouts and use high-performance features, including cadence for indoor and outdoor runs, pace alerts for outdoor runs and rolling mile pace, which shows pace for the immediately preceding mile.

Staying Connected

Customers can reach their friends with a tap of the wrist with Walkie-Talkie, a watch-to-watch connection that is a new way to communicate over Wi-Fi or cellular.

WatchOS 5 also lets users listen to their favorite podcasts on the go with Apple Podcasts on Apple Watch, and stream any podcast in the catalog by using Siri.

With Apple Watch Series 4, enriched complications offer a more detailed view of helpful third-party apps like Dexcom, which allows for continuous glucose monitoring, or Streaks, which shows daily progress on tasks.

 

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Copyright 2018 Orange County Register
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Orange County Register (California)

 

Beach volleyball gave Kerri Walsh Jennings a dream life. So her latest venture is about paying it forward.

Her office has a salty smell. You can hear the sound of waves crashing in the distance. The floor is made up of sand and the dress code is often a bikini, maybe a long-sleeve sweater on those unusually chilly Southern California days.

The Manhattan Beach volleyball player talked about her next chapter: creating a new volleyball and fitness circuit called p1440 that she and husband Casey Jennings hope will not just give more opportunities to fellow athletes but also inspire people to live a healthful lifestyle.

"It will be a culmination of so much blood, sweat, tears and enthusiasm, and a love for our sport," she said of the third and final event of the year scheduled for Friday through Sunday at Huntington State Beach."I think

growth is huge in life, and this next chapter is hugely important."

Walsh Jennings thinks back to her introduction to beach volleyball, a momentous occasion that would change the course of her life. She was studying at Stanford and drove down to Huntington Beach for a trial run with Misty May-Treanor in 2001, with "anxiety attacks the whole way."

"I remember driving and being so excited and nervous, I literally was having heart palpation," said Walsh Jennings, 22 at the time. "Misty was my Michael Jordan growing up. There was a lot of emotions going on."

A game was set up on the sand to see how the pair meshed.

"We had a natural synergy," she recalled.

The duo would become unstoppable on the courts, together winning Olympic gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

That first day didn't just pave the path for her long and successful career, but it was also was the day she met her husband, also a competitive volleyball player.

"He almost took off my face by hitting a ball straight down," she said with a chuckle." It was the first connection we had. He tried to kill me."

Beyond the courts

For nearly two decades, Walsh Jennings has traveled from her home in the South Bay to compete around the world. When at home, she can be found practicing on the sand in Hermosa Beach and near her home in Manhattan Beach.

"Literally, my office is the beach," said Walsh Jennings, now 40.

She thinks of why people love to watch players perform on the courts.

"I think people love the sport so much because it's sexy, relatable, fast and powerful and dynamic," she said. "The athletes have so much passion and fun and it's really infectious. … Not a lot of sports have what beach volleyball has."

But there's one problem with the sport: It's hard to make a living.

"We need to make a sustainable business model," she said. "The athletes are celebrated every four years [at the Olympics], and they are broke every other year."

Top-level athletes take home an estimated $36,000 a year, pennies compared with other competitive sports such as basketball, baseball or football.

So she wanted to create a platform to help the top athletes be seen throughout the year, as well as a way for up-and-coming athletes to showcase their skills.

"We want to celebrate the lifestyle of these top performers, and bring new eyeballs to the sport," she said.

But her vision goes beyond the courts.

Every minute counts

The title of the venture, p1440, was inspired by the 1440 minutes that make up a full day, and the message at the three-day festival is to live every minute of the day with purpose.

The first event earlier this year was held in San Jose, Walsh Jennings' hometown. The second was in Las Vegas, where her husband grew up. The upcoming event, and last of the year, will be held at Huntington State Beach near Brookhurst Street and Pacific Coast Highway.

There will be two beach volleyball tournaments: the Top Guns Invitational, with a 16-person draw, and the Young Guns Invitational, with 24-team draw.

There's plenty for the kids, with family-friendly activities, including balloon and caricature artists, inflatable slides and a volleyball court for kids.

The health and wellness village will have high-intensity interval training workouts, breathing workshops, yoga, meditation sessions and healthy cooking demos, as well as adult and junior volleyball clinics, music and food on site.

"Maybe [attendees] don't care about volleyball, but they like the technology, or want to learn from the art of breathing clinic," she said. "We want to be like Netflix, with something for everyone."

There will be live podcasts with Impact Theory, including interviews with Hurley founder Bob Hurley on Fridayat 3 p.m. and a podcast interview by Women of Impact with WWE Champion Eve Torres Gracie at 2 p.m. the same day. A meet-and-greet with UFC's Michelle Waterson is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon on Sundayand she will lead a cardio kickboxing class.

"All of our experts are contributing because they believe in us and they believe the world needs what we are giving," Walsh Jennings said. "In a perfect world, we become the place where experts can share the good word, and they help us bring legitimacy to what we are doing."

For more information or to watch the event online, go to p1440.com.

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

 

Matt Bahen credits his wife, Nichole, with planting the notion to turn his passion for fitness into a vocation.

Bahen recently opened S3E Performance Fitness in an office park at 8002 Staples Mill Road in Henrico County.

Physical training was part of Bahen's lifestyle as a U.S. Navy special operations diver and explosives disposal expert. On the job and off, his friends turned to him for help and advice on getting in shape.

"I was helping people train for triathlons, working out in the gym," Bahen said. "I had a passion for endurance sports."

In 2007, after 11 years on active duty, he transitioned to the Navy Reserve and joined the civilian workforce so his wife could pursue her career.

A Virginia Military Institute graduate with a civil engineering degree, Bahen said he initially worked as a government contractor, training others in explosives disposal. He thought about being a firefighter. All the while, he continued to help friends get in shape.

Bahen said his wife asked him sort of offhandedly, "You know you could get people to pay you for this."

That notion stayed with him when he went on deployment in 2009-10 with his reserve unit. He took along study materials with plans to pursue certification in strength and conditioning training when his tour ended.

Back home in 2010, he got certification and went to work as a trainer, even becoming part-owner of a CrossFit gym. In 2016, after six years, he sold his part ownership to his business partner and went out on his own.

"I just wanted to do something a little different. I had a son — he's 4 years old now — and I wanted to spend more time with him," Bahen said. Initially, he said he worked from home, which gave him flexibility with child care.

Now with his son older and in day care, it was a good time to move from his garage to a dedicated space, he said.

S3E Performance Fitness opened Nov. 1 in 2,700 square feet of space. S3E stands for strength, speed, stamina and endurance. The gym offers personal training and small group classes. Megan Tabib is assistant head coach and gym general manager. Bahen said about 60 percent of clients are women.

"When you come here, you are always going to be led from warmup to cooldown to everything in between for that hourlong session whether it's personal training or group session," Bahen said.

He is in the process of getting the gym a CrossFit affiliation, he said.

IronWill development planned in Chesterfield

W.S. Carnes Inc. is developing IronWill Centre, a new shopping center planned for 9801 Iron Bridge Road in Chesterfield County.

A site plan for Phase I of the project has been submitted to Chesterfield planning officials for review.

"We are excited about the redevelopment at the courthouse bringing quality construction with new life and opportunities to the area. We plan on Phase II evolving in the near future," said Teri C. Pruitt, the company's vice president.

Harrison Hall and Peter Vick of Divaris Real Estate are handling leasing for the development.

Divaris marketing materials describe the overall upscale project as 45,000 square feet with a projected 2019 completion. Individual retail spaces are 1,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet.

Phase I of the project includes redevelopment of W.S. Carnes' current office site, Pruitt said.

Plans show two new buildings, which total 17,000 square feet, planned for the property. Construction is slated to start during the first quarter of 2019.

The center's name, she said, pays tribute to her father, the late William Samuel Carnes, who died in 2010.

Frowny Face sock dolls receiving shout-outs

Local artisan Rebecca Floyd has expanded her custom Frowny Face sock doll line into the celebrity realm and is getting some Twitter and Instagram shout-outs from some of the famous folks.

Floyd said that after posting an image of a Ronan Farrow-inspired Frowny Face doll on her Instagram page, Farrow, a journalist and son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, posted it on his page.

"I also got personal messages from Bo Derek and Mo Rocca saying that they love their dolls," Floyd said.

"I am working on an order now for over 60 dolls for a customer in New York City. I think that companies are getting creative with their holiday gifts this year," she said.

Classic Frowny Face dolls sell for $25 and are suitable as children's toys, according to Floyd's website. Celebrity Frowny Face dolls, which sell for $46, and custom Frowny Face dolls, which sell for $55, are not suitable as children's toys.

Ginger Juice shop opening third location

Erin Powell is opening a third location of her Ginger Juice natural juice shop.

The business has leased a 792-square-foot space at 2061-B Huguenot Road in Huguenot Village shopping center in Chesterfield County.

The juice shop will be between Zoe's Kitchen and Hot Yoga Barre, which is also being built, said Powell, who plans to open the new location in February.

Powell's other juice shops are at 7021 Three Chopt Road in The Village shopping center and at 12171 W. Broad St. in the GreenGate development.

"We will have a smaller location with a line style set-up so that customers can have more customization with their acai bowls, smoothies and avocado toast," Powell said.

The company will continue to make its juices, juice cleanses and other products at its location in The Village for distribution at the three locations.

TLSmith@timesdispatch.com(804) 649-6572

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Copyright 2018 The Commercial Appeal, Inc.
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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

Memphis Inner City Rugby (MICR) was founded in 2012 to expand academic and athletic opportunities in Memphis' low-income communities. Since then, the program's success has been proved by student-athletes who are making the grade at college level.

Started at Kingsbury High, the program has expanded to Power Center Academy High and Middle schools, Soulsville High and Middle schools, Freedom Preparatory Academy, Ridgeway Middle, Du Bois Academy of Arts & Technology, Belle Forest Community School and Believe Memphis Academy. The schools have nine teams between them, two of which are all-girl teams.

And all the teams have flourished - despite the lack of a home field. They have played on fields at Christian Brothers High, Farmington Elementary, Tobey Park and the USA Stadium Complex in Millington.

That's about to change.

"In collaboration with Shelby County Schools, Advance Memphis and the City of Memphis, MICR is focused on making another positive impact for student-athletes right in the heart of Memphis," said Michael Deutsch, board chairman of MICR. "We're repurposing an area at a closed school (Vance Middle School) that has a lot of history and deserves to be cleaned up and used by Memphis youth. I believe this field may be the first rugby field in the country to be developed through such a unique partnership."

The collaborative effort started when two unlikely nonprofit partners, Memphis Inner City Rugby and Advance Memphis, discussed how to find a home field for the rugby players.

"This inner-city rugby field represents what is possible when the talent in our city government, public schools and nonprofits focus on a common goal - providing positive inner-city environments," Deutsch said. "We have dreamed of the day when our kids could finally play in the community in which many of them live."

Deutsch said he called his friend Steve Nash, executive director of Advance Memphis, who suggested the Vance Middle School location.

"He said, 'Michael, you have to take a look at Vance Middle School - it would be perfect,' " Deutsch said. "And anyone who knows Steve knows he immediately followed up his suggestion with another one, 'And I have the right guy that will cut the athletic field for you.' That guy was Advance Memphis graduate Donald Jenkins, whom we have hired to cut the field and landscape the surrounding area."

Jonathan Adam, business development coordinator for Advance Memphis, said the group got involved with the project "because it reflects our mission of building transformational relationships and creating economic opportunities for our friends and neighbors in the 38126 and 38106 ZIP codes."

"We believe that this partnership is a sustainable effort that will contribute to the well-being of those in the South Memphis community," Adam said.

Shane Young, MICR's co-founder/executive director, said MICR is working with Paul Young, director of Housing and Community Development for Memphis, to pursue a grant to support the project. The group also worked with Michelle Stewart, director of Facilities Planning & Property Management of Shelby County Schools, to secure a permit to revitalize the football field at Vance Middle and play rugby matches there starting this fall.

The first full season will be in the spring, Shane Young said. The goal is to eventually attract teams from across the Mid-South.

"This is an important initiative for the city given that there is $250 million being invested in the South City Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, which is in close proximity (a block away) from where this field is located," Paul Young said. "This initiative is not only about improving housing, but also about making neighborhoods better. This reuse project for the field is a perfect example, bringing more vibrancy to the overall community. We are excited about supporting this project, as well as being part of the even broader economic development opportunity. It's something we want to see happen across the city."

On Dec. 8, MICR will host a community day event designed to expose the public to the new field and rally additional support. There will be a dedication ceremony for the field, as well as interactive games for kids, and drills and a match for the teams.

Shane Young said fencing, lights and bleachers are still needed.

"We remain a grassroots, volunteer-driven organization, and our commitment to expanding the landscape of opportunities available to our city's under-served youth continues to grow," he said. "The MICR program was started by teachers, is driven by coaches, and exists to leverage the power of rugby for social change."

For more information visit https://memphisinnercityrugby.org.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

Maryland's nightmare football season is finally over, put to rest in a 38-3 loss to Penn State Saturday.

Yes, the players were noble and probably mature beyond their years in the way they carried themselves on the field in a season that will be remembered for the death of Jordan McNair after a team workout in May.

A bowl appearance might have been a nice reward for the players, but the team fell short by one win.

The reality, though, is that the best thing for everyone was for football to be finished at Maryland this season as soon as possible.

That puts the focus back on an athletic department that endorsed, according to ESPN, a "toxic" football program. That puts the spotlight back on the question: What kind of school does the University of Maryland want to be for parents who in the future will trust the school to care for and protect their children?

The stench of that toxicity remains.

The idea that one of the disgraced D.J. Durkin's coaching staff interim head coach Matt Canada has emerged as a candidate to lead Maryland football shows how warped the view of what happened at College Park was as the season went on.

Somehow, Canada, who was hired by Durkin in January as offensive coordinator, has become some sort of sentimental choice to remain as Maryland head coach.

I get that he handled a difficult situation, and, from all accounts, kept a damaged and divided team together.

But the last thing Maryland needs to do is to hire the only guy left in the room. The room still stinks.

Let us not forget it was Canada and the staff left behind that reportedly allowed Durkin put on administrative leave in August following the devastating ESPN report about abuses in the program to continue to secretly run the team.

The Baltimore Sun reported that Durkin communicated with coaches and developed game plans despite being banished while administrators looked into the damning allegations. The Sun reported that Durkin told the task force investigating McNair's death and the ESPN allegations that assistant coaches sent game films so he could come up with game plans.

Canada knew all too well the allegations and what was at stake, and he put the interests of the coach who hired him above all of that. Are you going to actually try to tell me that he didn't know Durkin was still involved? Who knows, he may have thought he was serving the program well by continuing to let Durkin coach from afar.

That is not the kind of head coach you want to lead this program out of the darkness. It was a deceitful practice that put the game ahead of the larger interests you know, things like truth and justice.

Maybe, though, Canada was just following orders from his boss.

The real stench still emanating from College Park comes from the office of athletic director Damon Evans, who somehow has been allowed to remain in his job after Durkin was fired.

Perhaps because of fatigue after weeks of controversy, the Board of regents' decision to retain Evans as athletic director barely registered a blip on the shame meter.

But make no mistake, Evans needs to be gone.

The Sun reported that Durkin told the task force that Evans OK'd his role of secretly still coaching the football team.

A school spokesperson issued a statement denying Durkin's claim that Evans had approved the secret coaching. "He was not to perform coaching duties while on administrative leave... Matt Canada was performing all head coaching duties during this interim time."

So, somebody's lying.

Evans' stories to the task force investigating McNair's death and the toxic football program conflicted with nearly every statement his former boss, athletic director Kevin Anderson, told the task force, as the two appeared to have been involved in some sort of power-play battle.

Evans was hired as senior associate athletic director and chief financial officer for the athletic department in December 2014. He was named interim athletic director while Anderson was on sabbatical and officially named athletic director in June. But his internal political battling may have contributed to the toxic atmosphere.

The task force reported that Evans did not recognize the warning signs that the football program was in trouble and conveniently claimed to not remember complaints from players about the inhuman practices by Durkin and his staff and claimed ignorance about the anonymous email to the school that claimed abuse in the program.

This is the man now charged with bringing Maryland athletics into the light?

Evans is digging his heels into the job. He has already brought in a search firm to hire a new football coach, and told the Washington Post, "I've started my work."

His work? How does he still have a job?

Maybe because he has some powerful guardian angels.

Maryland booster and regents board member Barry Gossett, who in April donated $21 million to the school for a center for academic and personal excellence (he also donated $10 million to the school in 2007 for the football team house that has his name on it), is a big Evans fan.

When Evans was hired as athletic director, Gossett sang his praises. "Because when Kevin (Anderson) was having some difficulties and then took the sabbatical; in any situation like that, I've seen it in business where there's sort of a leadership vacuum, people tend to fill that and when they have kind of nobody to go to, it's not good," he said. "Everybody wants to do the right thing but everybody's doing their own thing, so you don't have a cohesive organization.

"So I think right now, with somebody now named and now it's their ship to run so to speak, I think we're going to see people come together," Gossett said. "We have a great direction to go, so we can really build the teams to, as (head football coach D.J. Durkin) says, compete for championships, and that's all the teams, all the Olympic sports, everything else. So I think with Damon being here or being in charge now, that's going to put us in the right direction."

That was in June two weeks after Jordan McNair's death.

For a brief period, perhaps, the players themselves deodorized the smell coming from College Park with their valiant play. But football season is over, and the stench remains with those in power left behind who couldn't be trusted and still can't.

⦁ Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesdays and Saturdays and on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast every Tuesday and Thursday.

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Copyright 2018 The Florida Times-Union

Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)

 

A private recreational and workout facility will be expanding its Jacksonville facilities in 2019.

Above Athletics, 14797 Philips Highway, is planning the expansion to begin in January and will add a three-story, 26,000-square-foot building at the location.

The facility will also add health and wellness partners such as Rainbow Pediatric Center, the company said.

"Engaging in physical activity and developing healthy eating habits are two essential aspects of raising a child to become a healthy, productive adult. Partnering with Above provides us the opportunity to transition our medical practice to be more comprehensive and better serve the community," said Prasanthi Reddy with Rainbow Pediatric Center.

There also will be other health-related tenants leasing space at the Above Athletics facility.

The expansion is expected to be complete in May.

Drew Dixon Clay housing development under way

The construction of a new amenities center and model homes signifies the coming of a new housing development to Clay County.

Groundbreaking got under way this month for the GreyHawk housing development in northeast Clay County, near the Branan Field Wildlife Area. The residential development is near the new Discovery Oaks Elementary School and is also in the Wilkinson Junior High School and Oakleaf High School service areas.

The GreyHawk home development will offer homes for sale that range between $200,000 to $400,000. They'll be one- and two-story homes with 1,600 to 3,000 square feet of living space, according to GreenPointe Communities.

PERMITS

1 Shircliff Way, new building for Ascension Health Resource & Supply Management Group LLC, $32,818,009. The Haskell Co.

4600 E. Touchton Road, tenant buildout of drywall, paint, plumbing, electrical and flooring for DLL Group, $172,289. Dav Lin Interior Contractors.

4800 Town Center Parkway, roofing for new building for Concord Jacksonville TC LLC, $160,000. Eco-Logical Roofing LLC.

11699 Camden Road, interior buildout for Specialty Tool Solutions, $500,000. Specialty Tool Solutions Inc.

4583 Worrall Way, roofing for new construction of 30-unit lodge at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, 248,580. Dale Tadlock Roofing Inc.

8200 Cypress Plaza Drive, tenant buildout of two units of a business condominium for Suite Shoppe, $167,903. C & R General Contractors Inc.

6680 Southpoint Parkway, toilet room renovations for CSX Transportation, $221,767, 525 square feet. Duckworth Construction Co.

4484 W. Deer Lake Drive, new medical office building for Baptist Pavillion Health Services Inc., $900,000, 6,672 square feet. Crabtree Construction Co.

11335 Atlantic Blvd., new photo situation building for Carmax Jacksonville, $500,000, 1,747 square feet. Thomas Grace Construction.

SALES

Barbara and Robert Mills paid $1.2 million for a 3,331-square-foot condominium at the Oceanside 932 complex at 932 N. First St., Jacksonville Beach. It was built in 2007 and last sold for $1.03 million in 2017.

Permits and sales are compiled by Drew Dixon.

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2018 The Arizona Daily Star Nov 25, 2018

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

 

The Arizona Daily Star is joining a legal action to unseal records in the taxpayer-funded civil suit filed against the University of Arizona and a convicted former assistant track and field coach.

The Star filed the motion in Pima County Superior Court Tuesday, asking the judge to modify two previous confidentiality orders and unseal any documents that had been previously filed under seal.

Craig Carter was sentenced to five years in prison in March after a jury convicted him of two counts of aggravated assault - one with a deadly weapon - in connection with his 2015 attack on former UA thrower Baillie Gibson.

The two had been involved in a sexual relationship at the time of the incident. In May 2015, Gibson went to Carter's office to try to end the relationship. Carter grabbed Gibson by the throat and, with a box cutter in his other hand, threatened to cut her face.

Carter confessed to the crime during an interview with UAPD detectives. In the days following the incident in his office, Carter called, texted and emailed Gibson dozens of times, making overt threats to harm her in some of the messages. He was subsequently charged with several felonies in connection with harassment.

Days after his conviction on the aggravated assault charges, Carter pleaded guilty to domestic violence-related stalking and aggravated violation of a protective order in connection with the second case.

In November 2015, Gibson filed a lawsuit against Carter and the UA, saying the school had knowledge of the sexual relationship but failed to take action to protect her. UA track coach Fred Harvey and former UA athletic director Greg Byrne were initially named as defendants in the suit, but they were later dismissed.

Carter and his wife responded by countersuing Gibson for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Three months later, they filed an additional counterclaim against Gibson's attorney, Lynne Cadigan, saying she had defamed them.

Because Carter was a state employee during the time period referenced in Gibson's lawsuit, the state's risk management division has been paying for his defense in the civil suit.

Through mid-October, attorneys for the UA and Carter have billed the state nearly $2.06 million for work in the case.

Since the lawsuit's original filing in November 2015, hundreds of motions, responses, letters and discovery items have been filed under seal, severely limiting the public's access to the case.

"This case is a matter of public concern in Arizona because it involves the conduct of a prominent employee of the University of Arizona, a public institution," the motion says.

"It always implicates broader issues related to the institutional handling of sexual abuse and misconduct, which has been at the forefront of national public disclosure for more than a year."

On Nov. 5, a Star reporter was asked to leave a hearing involving a motion for a protective order involving Gibson's sexual history. Carter's lawyers referenced two previous confidentiality orders established in 2017 to limit the sharing of pre-trial discovery or disclosure. Judge Charles Harrington said he wasn't yet ready to deviate from the status quo and cleared the courtroom of all unrelated parties.

"Among the primary concerns of this Court 20 months ago in ordering that some records in the case be sealed was the fact that publicity may affect the ongoing criminal trial," the motion says, adding that the criminal case is now over and the documents filed in connection with that case have since been released to the public.

The motion says that in many cases, a party must show compelling reasons to seal documents. However, the Carters - who want the records sealed - have not demonstrated any such reasons.

In early November, Cadigan filed a motion to unseal the documents in the case, with Carter and the UA both filing responses in the following weeks. The Star does not have access to those documents, as they were all filed under seal.

A hearing on the issue has been set for Thursday.

 

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

TALLAHASSEE, FLA.Florida State University's president defended football coach Willie Taggart in the wake of a racially charged social media post that surfaced after the Seminoles ended their worst season since 1976, the Tallahassee Democrat reported Sunday.

Taggart, the first black head football coach in Florida State's history, went 5-7 in his first year in Tallahassee, which ended with a season-ending 41-14 loss to archrival Florida. It was the first losing season for the Seminoles since 1976 and ended an NCAA record 36-year streak of bowl game appearances.

"A recent racist social media post aimed at our football coach is ignorant and despicable," university president John Thrasher said in a statement, which FSU announced via Twitter. "I speak for the entire FSU community in expressing our disgust and extreme disappointment, and I am glad the state attorney is investigating.

"Coach Taggart has our full support and as true Seminoles know, he is a respected member of the FSU family."

Thrasher did not identify a specific social media post in the tweet, the Democrat reported. However, according to ESPN, a screenshot of a meme that was posted on Facebook showed Taggart's head edited onto an image of a man being lynched with the caption, "Believe in something even if it means sacrificing your rep."

When the poster was called out on the FSU fan page on Facebook, he responded that he was "dead (expletive) serious. This is how far I'm willing to go to get rid of this clown," the Democrat reported.

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Copyright 2018 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

Saturday's Marquette women's basketball game had to be moved to the Fiserv Forum after a car crashed into the university's Al McGuire Center, its home arena, according to the university.

No one was injured in the crash, but university officials said they're assessing damage to the building at 770 N. 12th St. They moved the 2 p.m. game against the University of Illinois at Chicago to the new Milwaukee Bucks arena.

The accident occurred at approximately 2:30 a.m. when a car traveling southbound on North 12th Street lost control and crashed into the Al McGuire Center. The car traveled into the building and down to the floor, a spokeswoman for the university said.

The driver, not affiliated with the university, was taken into custody by Marquette University police. It's believed that alcohol was a factor in the accident, according to the university.

It's not the first time a vehicle has plowed into the McGuire Center.

In October 2017, a car crashed into the entrance of the building, causing minor injuries to Marquette staff member.

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. — Police in South Florida arrested a boys high school soccer coach Friday, accusing him of sending sexual images of himself to a minor, according to multiple sources.

Owen Cleveland Gayle, 38, of Davie, the coach at Somerset Academy in Pembroke Pines, was charged with transmission of harmful material to a minor, solicitation, unlawful use of a computer and promoting sexual performance of a child, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Police said Gayle sent sexually suggestive text messages via the app WhatsApp to a female student at the charter school who was a volunteer with the boys' soccer team, the newspaper reported. Gayle had used WhatsApp to communicate with the team about practice and game schedules, WTVJ reported.

Police said the girl reported the texts to another soccer coach, who contacted the Pembroke Pines Police Department, WFOR reported. Pembroke Pines police detective Michael Silver took over the account to send texts back to Gayle, who allegedly responded with nude photos and requested nudes of the female student, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Police arrested Gayle, who admitted to the charges, the newspaper reported, citing a police report.

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Copyright 2018 The Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

Nearly 1,300 baseball games that have nothing to do with the Houston Astros or the Washington Nationals have been played at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches this year.

The nearly 2-year-old facility west of Interstate 95 and south of 45th Street is more than just the spring training home of the 2017 World Series champion Astros and the four-time NL East champion Nationals.

It also hosts baseball tournaments for all ages and levels of play, Minor League Baseball, fall instructional baseball and lacrosse tournaments, among other events.

November was a particularly busy month at the ballpark.

During a two-week span that ended Tuesday, the facility hosted a Perfect Game Youth Florida baseball tournament for players ages 13 to 16; a Men's Senior

Baseball League tournament featuring 200 teams from the United States, Venezuela and Puerto Rico; a youth lacrosse tournament featuring nearly 50 boys' and girls' teams; and an eight-day training event featuring the Canadian Junior National Team.

The Canadian baseball team also played a pair of exhibition games against the U.S. national team during its Nov. 12-20 stay in West Palm Beach. Those games drew huge crowds as well as more than 100 Major League Baseball scouts.

"This was a unique weekend that had two different sports and four different entities all on site at the same time," FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches General Manager Brady Ballard said. "We just thought it was a good showcase of what represents our summer and our fall."

The ballpark's 13 baseball fields get plenty of work between April — when spring training ends — and November.

This month's schedule began Nov. 4 with an international tournament organized by the Men's Senior Baseball League, which is the premier amateur baseball league for players ages 18 and older.

The league has held its tournaments at venues all over the country, but coordinator Gary D'Ambrisi calls the $150 million FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches one of the finest.

"This year was my 34th year hosting adult men's baseball events, and in all these years, we have never played on more beautiful fields," D'Ambrisi said. "We have played at almost all of the current and former major league spring training facilities in Florida, and this new facility is the grandest of them all. The atmosphere is fantastic."

Perfect Game Youth Florida Director Tak Walden also had high praise for the facility, which includes a 7,700-capacity stadium as its centerpiece.

"It's a world-class facility with world-class service," he said.

For information on FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, visit www.fitteamballpark.com.

jwagner@pbpost.com @JRWagner5

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

The University of Washington marching band canceled plans to perform during the school's annual rivalry game against Washington State University after one of the band's six charter buses crashed on an icy stretch of freeway Thursday evening.

UW Athletics Director Jennifer Cohen said in a statement Friday the band members decided they needed to recover and return home instead of continuing to Pullman, where the Cougars and Huskies played Friday night in the Apple Cup.

The band was traveling from Seattle when the bus rolled onto its side on Interstate 90 near the town of George in central Washington.

Of the 56 people aboard, 47 were taken to hospitals for evaluation or treatment. The university said Friday morning that two students remained under medical care for injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening.

Some band members and staff spent the night sheltered at George Elementary School. One student wrote on Twitter that cafeteria workers cooked hot food for the band, and some Grant County residents showed up to donate Thanksgiving leftovers.

In her statement, Cohen thanked first responders, locals who offered support and "the administration and staff of George Elementary who went far out of their way to take such incredible care of our students on Thanksgiving night."

"Many of the most helpful and supportive community members were Cougars fans, who demonstrated the caring values of WSU which transcend rivalry," Cohen said.

WSU Athletic Director Pat Chun tweeted Friday that the UW band's reserved seats at Martin Stadium would be left unfilled "in honor of our friends from the Westside."

Wearing full-length gray coats in a deluge of fluffy snowflakes, the Washington State marching band played the fight song for the missing Washington band.

"In the spirit of sportsmanship" the band "honors the University of Washington by performing their fight song," said Dean Luethi, the director of the WSU School of Music and the voice of the Cougar marching band said to the crowd.

In a later interview, Luethi said rival bands sometimes play the fight song for the opposing team if the band can't make the trip.

"We have this rivalry, but we wouldn't wish this on anyone," Luethi said of the bus crash. "The band travels to provide spirit. If we can provide that just for a moment, that's great. If we can help their band, why not? This moment transcends our rivalry."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact the writer:

(509) 459-5047

chadso@spokesman.com

 

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Copyright 2018 The Buffalo News
All Rights Reserved

The Buffalo News (New York)

 

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Something new is on tap at University at Buffalo basketball and football games.

UB announced Friday that it will begin selling beer at specific sporting events, starting with the men's basketball game at 2 p.m. Saturday against Marist at Alumni Arena. UB will sell beer at men's and women's basketball games and at football games next fall at UB Stadium as part of a pilot program.

"This is an opportunity to enhance the fan experience," UB athletic director Mark Alnutt said Friday at halftime of UB's football game against Bowling Green. "We have a great environment, a great experience, and for some folks, that's an additional amenity that people are going to try to take advantage of.

"Anything we can do to enhance the experience. We'll continue to tout the family experience, but by serving beer, we're not going to taint the atmosphere we already have."

Alnutt said UB learned Wednesday of the state's approval for a liquor license, a process that began earlier this year and involved the athletic department and Campus Dining and Shops, the division responsible for food services.

UB becomes the seventh school in the Mid-American Conference to sell beer. Entering the season, 52 of 129 Football Bowl Subdivision programs allowed beer sales at on-campus or off-campus venues, according to reporting by the Des Moines Register.

"When the appropriate steps are in place, it can be done, and it can be done successfully," Alnutt said, noting athletic venues he has recently visited at West Virginia University and at the University of Oregon that sell beer. "It's a pilot program. Let's see how this goes through basketball. Let's see how it goes through the next football season and we can re-evaluate for future seasons."

The school announced an agreement with Try-It Distributing to sell a variety of beers at kiosks at Alumni Arena. Alnutt said UB will carry Anheuser-Busch products, with Bud Light and craft beers on tap.

Beer sales at college campus stadiums and arenas typically begin at $7. Revenues from alcohol sales have not yet been designated for certain programs at UB.

"Concessions revenues do enhance things, but it depends on crowds, sales and everything else," Alnutt said. "Revenues will go to our operating budget, but by the same token, there's going to be a need for additional staffing, to be able to pour the beer, to check the IDs. There will be additional educational methods and messages that are out there, too, with this. We're going to try to promote drinking responsibly.

"Is this a windfall for athletics? Not necessarily. It helps enhance the revenue, but the main thing is being able to give people that option."

Alnutt said sales at football games will be confined to the west side of UB Stadium, opposite the student section.

Alnutt said UB's athletic department and its student affairs department took feedback from its fans, and researched what other schools in the Mid-American Conference are doing.

Last spring, the NCAA Division I Council announced it had eliminated restrictions on alcohol sales at all Division I championship events in the aftermath of a two-year pilot program that saw alcohol sales at the College World Series, the FBS championship game and championships in sports such as wrestling, lacrosse and ice hockey.

"A lot of this was, let's follow suit with our peers, and then see if there's any concerns they might have," Alnutt said. "That process started before I got here, under Allen's (Green, former UB athletic director) leadership, and the feedback was positive."

Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Alcoholics Anonymous did not respond to emails from The Buffalo News on Friday, but in 2016, MADD president Colleen Sheehey-Church told CBS Sports that the organization was opposed to selling alcohol at college sporting events.

"We do have a reaction," Sheehey-Church said. "It's part of our mission statement. We want to prevent underage drinking. MADD discourages the service of alcohol at a college game-day event.

"We absolutely know the minimum drinking age is 21 and most of the people there are going to be under 21."

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Copyright 2018 Times-World, LLC
All Rights Reserved

The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

It may take a while for the General Assembly to get behind sports gambling, but several state lawmakers are drafting legislation to let Virginians get in on the action.

Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City, announced this week that he'll file a bill to legalize betting on professional sports, create a state authority to regulate the activity, and direct tax revenue toward reducing tuition at Virginia community colleges.

"It recognizes the reality that sports gambling is pretty much a reality," Petersen said in an interview. "We've already done daily fantasy and that's widespread. This is just sort of taking it to the next level where a number of states are already going."

Del. Mark Sickles, D-Fairfax, rolled out a second sports betting proposal this week, projecting it could bring Virginia $41 million in annual tax revenue. Sickles proposed directing that money to "major research projects" at Virginia universities.

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that gave states the freedom to legalize and regulate sports betting. Sports gambling was previously limited to Nevada, but it's now sanctioned in six states and several others are considering similar legislation.

Petersen's bill wouldn't allow betting on college sports. That might frustrate some Virginia Tech or University of Virginia fans, Petersen said, but they should look on the bright side.

"I'm probably saving them money in the long run," he said.

With Republicans holding slim majorities in the House of Delegates and the state Senate, sports betting could face significant opposition from family-values conservatives who see gambling more as a social ill than a revenue source. But Gov. Ralph Northam has said he's open to the idea of allowing casino-style gambling, and several lawmakers have said Virginia shouldn't leave money on the table by forcing its residents to visit other states to gamble.

The office of House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, declined comment.

Petersen said he wouldn't be surprised if it takes a few legislative sessions for a sports gambling bill to pass, but he predicted it will be legal in all 50 states within five years.

"My goal is just to get this concept out there," Petersen said.

A key question for supportive policymakers is figuring out where sports gambling should go.

A Chicago-based company that bought Colonial Downs this year is in the process of renovating the New Kent County horse racing track and setting up a new system of off-track betting sites that will feature slots-like historical horse racing machines.

The General Assembly also is expected to take up separate legislation to allow a casino resort in Bristol, an economically struggling city in Southwest Virginia.

Petersen said his bill wouldn't require a casino for sports gambling, but established tracks such as Colonial Downs could "do it automatically" and have it at off-track betting sites. Localities would be free to license any sports betting establishment as long as the city or county governing body passes an ordinance and has it approved through a voter referendum.

The Virginia Lottery has also expressed interest in taking charge of sports betting if it's legalized.

Petersen said he wants sports betting kept separate, but other lawmakers want the lottery involved.

Sickles said his bill, which calls for a 15 percent tax on sports wagering revenue, would put the activity under the lottery's purview, which he said would "provide the assurance of a trusted brand while allowing the private sector to flourish." Sickles' legislation would also prohibit betting on college sports and would allow casinos to seek a separate license to have sports betting.

"This legislation provides a framework for an open, transparent and responsible market for legal sports betting," Sickles said.

Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, who sponsored legislation in 2016 to legalize daily fantasy sports games in Virginia, said he's open to the idea of allowing apps and websites that will let players gamble from anywhere.

"I think that's the way most people want to do it these days," said Simon, who is in the early stages of crafting his own sports betting bill.

Petersen took a different tack.

"I'm not interested in people sitting in their parents' basement with their pajamas on betting on a 'Monday Night Football' game," Petersen said. "I want this to be part of a social entertainment package where people get out and spend money."

gmoomaw@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6839

Twitter: @gmoomaw

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Copyright 2018 Digital First Media
All Rights Reserved

The Daily News of Los Angeles

 

LOS ANGELES — In the wake of unimaginable tragedy, after weeks filled with loss and sorrow, they stood together, spread side by side across the Coliseum field, gripping tight to handfuls of red and white fabric, as the choir began to sing.

It had been an unspeakably long few days for so many here, each of them beset in some way by the dueling tragedies that had struck the Los Angeles area. For many, there were vigils and funerals, their tightknit communities in a seemingly ceaseless state of mourning after a mass shooting rocked the region. Others had spent hours upon hours fighting wildfires burning in the coastal hills, all of which now blurred together in a harrowing fog.

But here, as they unfurled the flag and the national anthem began, they stood together, not in tragedy, but in solidarity, for a football game that was never supposed to happen here.

The Rams had brought them together in no more than a few days' time, after the NFL moved the game from Mexico City, giving out more than 1,000 tickets to those most affected by the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks and the nearby wildfires. Maybe football, they hoped, could offer even the briefest of solace from such overwhelming sorrow.

The California Lutheran University Choir sang the national anthem and were joined by first responders, who held the flag. Cal Lutheran alumnus Justin Meek, who was one of the 12 victims in the shooting, was a member of the choir for four years.

Karen and Jordan Helus, the wife and son of fallen Ventura County sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus, who was killed responding to the shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill, lit the L.A, Coliseum torch prior to kickoff.

For Mike McKenna, football was all that kept him together in recent days. For six years, he'd been an assistant coach with the Thousand Oaks Titans youth football team, but never had that role meant so much than this past week, as the city was rocked to its core.

His cousin, Jake Dunham, was one of the 12 killed at the Borderline Bar & Grill. But in the face of such devastating news, there was no time to mourn. Just 24 hours later, most of his players and their families were forced to evacuate their homes as wildfires began tearing through the hills around Thousand Oaks.

That Saturday, with most of his players and their families displaced, the Titans met to play a football game, with an opportunity to go to their league's Super Bowl on the line.

For Jacob Poley, the Titans' 14-year-old quarterback, football was the escape for which he'd been searching. When his family was forced to evacuate their home, with flames reaching the fence around their backyard, Poley brought with him only his "prized possesions." Among them, a pile of framed football photos.

"To get away from those thoughts, football was the only thing I wanted to focus on," Poley said.

When they went on the field that Saturday, they hadn't seen each other since the shootings, and the fires had devastated so many closest to them. But they won, anyway. In face of such sorrow, McKenna said, "football was our escape."

"It's been great to see that despite all that's happened, football has really kept these boys together," McKenna said. "It's motivated them to see what's important. All this tragedy around them, and what's important is, these people in the community have stepped up and helped them through."

In a sprawling city that can feel so impossibly disparate, a sense of community can be impossible to cultivate. By nature, Los Angeles is a tangled mess of different people and interests and culture, and yet, on Monday night, as fans waved towels in unison and the Rams ran onto the field, waving a flag that declared "LA Together," the Coliseum stood together at its center, a community unwavering in the face of tragedy.

For one night, football was the fabric that bound them together, in sorrow and loss, in compassion and in hope.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

DAYTONUPDATE @ 2:39 p.m. (Nov. 20):

A detective is urging people to not approach a fugitive soccer coach and just call 911 if you spot him.

"Call 911 and let them know that Justin Smith has a nationwide warrant for his arrest and that you've seen him and the location he's at," said Montgomery County Sheriff's Detective Isaiah Kellar. "That way law enforcement can gather information from those tips and capture him."

Smith stands 5 feet, 11 inches, weighs between 275 and 300 pounds, is bald, has blue eyes and possibly a goatee.

Though surveillance images recently showed Smith in Nashville and Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Smith could be as far south as the Gulf of Mexico according to Kellar.

"Justin Smith could go anywhere within the United States or even try to cross the borders into Mexico and Canada at this point," he said.

A big challenge in tracking down Smith is that he's using prepaid credit cards, cash and prepaid cell phones.

"It puts us several days behind," Kellar said.

Thankfully, the sheriff's office is getting some help from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

"We've been able to work specifically with U.S. Marshal Service and they will take the time to assist us," Kellar said. "They'll do operations, plans. They're a great partner to work with in trying to track down fugitives."

Uber has also been cooperating with law enforcement after financial records showed Smith was using the ridesharing company.

However, he has since shut off the phone associated with the account and is no longer using that email address, according to Kellar.

Because Smith is using aliases, Kellar stressed that people call police if they see anyone matching Smith's appearance.

"Even if the guy's name is something completely different but he matches the description of Justin Smith, please don't hesitate to call us," he said.

INITIAL STORY:

Fugitive youth soccer coach Justin K. Smith has been seen in two Tennessee cities, using Uber to get around and eating at popular restaurants, a Montgomery County Sheriff's detective said.

Smith, 41, of Germantown, is the subject of a nationwide search after he fled his sexual assault trial involving a 14-year-old girl he coached. He was absent two days later when a jury on Nov. 2 convicted him of eight felony counts — including unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, sexual battery and sexual imposition — involving an inappropriate relationship with the girl.

Smith was located Oct. 31 on security video at a Marriott hotel and Walmart in the Lexington, Kentucky, area the same day he left his trial in Dayton. A white Ford F150 was found abandoned there.

Detective Isaiah Kellar said Smith was in the Nashville and Murfreesboro, Tennessee, areas between Nov. 1 and 5.

"Financial records show he was using Uber, and ate at Panera Bread, Chili's" restaurants, and stayed in hotels in both cities, Kellar said.

It is suspected Smith, who has been using his own name as well as J. Smith and Justin House, is using cash, prepaid credit cards and prepaid cellphones.

"His current location is unknown and could be in the southern parts of the United States," Kellar said.

It's also unknown whether anyone is helping him, but if anyone was found to be helping Smith the detective said charges would possibly be sought.

Smith fled after testifying on his own behalf. The trial took a break for lunch, during which time Smith left Dayton. He cut his electronic ankle bracelet monitor, which later was found in Franklin.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

OXFORD — Talawanda Schools will no longer be represented by a Native American mascot.

Not after a long school board meeting Monday evening and a close vote saw the Oxford-based school system switch its mascot name from the Talawanda Braves to Talawanda Brave.

The 3-2 vote by the Talawanda Board of Education came after months of discussions and arguments concerning whether the historical mascot name was an inappropriate reference to Native Americans.

Supporters of Native American rights and heritage had publicly argued the use of Braves by the school district was disrespectful and psychologically detrimental to descendants of America's first inhabitants.

The board reviewed committees established to investigate the issue, which at times has drawn large and impassioned crowds — arguing both pro and con for the mascot change — to meetings.

"Last evening the board allowed community members and individuals representing several Native American groups share their thoughts and concerns. It was a long and difficult evening," Talawanda Schools spokeswoman Holli Morrish told the Journal-News.

Around 11 p.m., Morrish said, "a motion was made to change the name from Braves to Talawanda Brave, and to stop the future purchase of any new apparel, items, equipment, etc,. with the Indian head logo."

"The vote was 3-2. Each board member shared heartfelt thoughts and feelings about how long they have thought and worried and studied on this topic, that has been difficult and emotional for many community members, and what ultimately led to their decision to vote the way they did," she said.

"All of the board members were united in their desire to do what is best for students in Talawanda, and impressed upon everyone that finding ways to come together is important," Morrish said.

Talawanda now joins the Oxford-based Miami University in switching from a Native American mascot namethe Miami Redskins to the RedHawksin large part due to lobbying from Native American advocates locally and out of state.

Native American athletic mascots have been a subject of controversy since at least 1968, when the National Congress for American Indians began campaigning for their removal from professional sports.

Since then, many other high schools and colleges have replaced their Native American mascots with equivalents not based on real-life groups. The Miami University Redskins became RedHawks in 1996; the Stanford Indians became the Stanford Cardinal in 1981.

In Talawanda Schools, the Native American logo appears in district communications, such as the athletic department's Twitter account, and on a tower holding the high school's victory bell at the football stadium.

Morrish said the logo changes to signage and other school items "will be phased in" with meetings on the those changes starting next month.

Bob Ratterman contributed to this report.

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

MADISON TWP. — Madison High School's football season is over.

That was the reluctant message from Madison superintendent Lisa Tuttle-Huff on Monday after the school district scrapped its plans to pursue legal action in the wake of Saturday's Division V, Region 20 playoff loss to defending state champion Wheelersburg at Hilliard Darby.

The issue in question involved a man on the Madison sideline — Derrick Mosley II — who had a Wheelersburg team-staff sideline pass with his name on it. Madison officials suspected he was relaying Mohawk information to the Wheelersburg coaches.

Tuttle-Huff was on the sideline and said she heard Mosley say, "Two man wide," into a microphone as Madison broke its huddle for a play in the final seconds of the 24-16 defeat. She said she wasn't the only person who heard those words.

"It's interesting because I can't tell you if the boys had even moved to 'two man wide' at that point," Tuttle-Huff said.

Madison officials felt there was strong evidence that Wheelersburg was attempting to gain an unfair advantage by having eyes and ears on the opposing sideline. Mohawks coach Steve Poff said when Mosley was approached by his coaches, he said he was talking to his wife.

"He is stating that he was doing trailers for his company and that he was shooting the video and he was doing the audio in his hand," Tuttle-Huff said.

Tuttle-Huff, Poff, athletic director Matt Morrison, school board member Chad Norvell and members of the Madison coaching staff made an unannounced visit to the Ohio High School Athletic Association on Monday morning to plead their case. They met with executive director Jerry Snodgrass and football administrator Beau Rugg.

Thanks to an earlier email from Tuttle-Huff, the OHSAA had already contacted several Wheelersburg officials, who denied any wrongdoing. Mosley sent his video clips to the OHSAA, and Madison officials then got a look at them.

"They were edited films," said Tuttle-Huff, noting that the parts Madison needed were missing.

She said the district wanted to try to get a temporary restraining order in court, but that idea was nixed when its lawyer said there simply wasn't enough evidence to support it.

"I don't want it to sound like we're being sore losers because we're not. That's not what it is," Tuttle-Huff said. "If I weren't there and I didn't hear it and I didn't have three other people standing there that heard what was going on … it did not sound like you were talking to a video. It's sad because we know what we heard. We just don't have enough evidence."

Cox Media attempted to reach Mosley and Wheelersburg coach Rob Woodward for comments Monday. They did not respond to text messages.

Mosley's Facebook page lists him as a video producer/editor at The Marketing Company and owner/founder of Crowd Creative.

A Sunday post on his page said the following: Never in my life would I have ever imagined that talking to my wife while doing my job would cause so much trouble. #RespectTheShooter

The OHSAA didn't have to make any kind of statement once Madison chose not to pursue legal action. Wheelersburg, which defeated the Mohawks 15-10 in last year's state semifinals, will play Johnstown-Monroe in the Final Four on Saturday.

"It seems like every time we run into Wheelersburg, it's something else shady," Poff said. "We know that they had more than one person wearing Wheelersburg passes and clothing on our sideline. We know for a fact that Derrick Mosley had a microphone in his sleeve and earbuds in his ears.

"When he was on our side, he had a camera in his hands. All the pictures we have where he's on the other side, he's just watching the game. He doesn't have a camera in his hand at all, and he's supposed to be the videographer and all that for Wheelersburg. It's kind of odd that their head coach said, 'We don't even know who that is.' "

Poff said getting Madison back into the playoffs would've been the ultimate justice, but he knew that was a long shot.

"The whole thing is just entirely too shady," Poff said. "The whole trip up there, the whole experience, seemed to be a little off. Wheelersburg guys coming over to get our balls to have them checked by the referees … when does that ever happen? Well, it happened. Our coaches wouldn't give the balls to them, but who does that?

"You hear all this about doing things right and teaching these kids to be leaders and respecting the game. I see a group of people that's doing anything to win."

Tuttle-Huff said if Mosley was really just doing video work, he should've been wearing a green media pass instead of the pink Wheelersburg team-staff pass.

"I went as far as I can go to try to vindicate our boys and it didn't happen. I apologize to our community," Tuttle-Huff said. "It's very disheartening."

The Mohawks finished 12-1 and will lose a much-heralded 18-player senior class to graduation. But Poff said Madison fans should expect more success in the future.

"What do you consider a step back?" Poff said. "Are you ever going to replace that defensive line or Caleb Bolen and those other seniors on the offensive line? Probably not, but somebody will play. Somebody will get in there and learn how to play fast. There's tons and tons of talent on this team that people don't know about. They just don't know their names yet."

As for the game itself, Poff said he fully expected Madison to fight back and win after trailing 24-6 at halftime. The Mohawks were penalized 13 times for 140 yards and ended the game about 5 yards from the WHS end zone.

"I thought our kids played with an incredible amount of heart," Poff said. "We made our mistakes during the game and that's going to happen, but I feel like they played good enough to win. I feel like they played like champions and represented themselves like champions before and after the game.

"I wish the whole situation wasn't overshadowed by outside influences, but that's what we're dealing with. I want my kids to know we love them. It was an incredible season."

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Starting next school year, students at Elgin Area School District U-46's six high schools will be able to take a variety of physical education courses promoting a physically active lifestyle and moving the district away from the emphasis on team sports. The U-46 school board Monday night approved new high school physical education curriculum, resources, equipment and teacher training for a total cost of $191,502. Technological resources — heart rate monitors and iPads — make up $156,305 of that expense. The same technology already is being used at the district's middle schools for physical education classes.

New high school courses include functional fitness, strength and performance, walking for wellness, and team sports officiating and coaching. All courses will be one semester long and available to freshmen at all district high schools starting in the 2019-2020 school year. Interested sophomores, juniors and seniors also will be allowed to participate in those courses, officials said. The goal is to appeal to students with varying interests and abilities who typically don't participate in physical education classes, officials said. "The number of our students who participate in team sports is decreasing," Tracey Jakaitis, U-46 student wellness and physical education coordinator told the school board during an earlier presentation. "It's not necessarily a lifelong fitness and wellness activity, so we need to move our curriculum to what our students need. The majority of the students in physical education do not desire to play volleyball, basketball and soccer. We want kids to be able to do real movement. We want to be able to offer them other opportunities." The new curriculum will help students develop critical thinking skills necessary to understand, analyze and produce knowledge specific to movement and their health, as well as develop competence and confidence in their choice of activity, officials said. It also establishes districtwide cohesiveness of standards, assessments and rubrics aligned to the updated Illinois and National Learning Standards. Teachers and students will use iPads for assessment and lesson planning. Teachers will be trained on the new curriculum and equipment in the spring.

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Copyright 2018 Virginian-Pilot Companies LLC
All Rights Reserved

The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

NORFOLK - The demolition of 82-year-old Foreman Field began Monday, two days after Old Dominion routed Virginia Military Institute in the last game at the venerable campus and community landmark.

Along with its familiar clam-shell-style grandstands, the facility's name will also be consigned to history. When it re-opens next August, it will be known as S.B. Ballard Stadium.

"That's the name for the foreseeable future," said athletic director Wood Selig, who added that the school is not shopping stadium naming rights.

The stadium was re-named Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium in 2009, after a $2.5 million donation by contractor Stephen B. Ballard, whose company completed a $25 million restoration then and is the contractor on the $67.5 million reconstruction beginning now.

Selig said it's possible the school could sell naming rights to the field.

A $2.5 million club at the reconstructed stadium will be named the Priority Club, after a $1.5 million donation by longtime ODU booster Dennis Elmer, founder and CEO of the Priority Automotive Group.

Foreman Field was named for A.H. Foreman, a businessman and lawyer who helped found ODU as the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary in 1930.

The former stadium and its namesake will be honored at the new stadium, possibly with a timeline of the venue and information about A.H. Foreman.

Defensive help

on the way

Looking for immediate help on defense, ODU picked up commitments from three junior college players over the weekend.

Linebackers Cory Jackson, from Pearl River (Miss.) Community College; and Elijah Golston, from Mt. San Antonio College in California announced their intentions to enroll, as did defensive lineman Jeremiah Doss of Hinds (Miss.) Community College.

ODU has been scouring the juco ranks for help for a defense that ranks 120th in the nation, allowing 480.5 yards per game, and will lose six starters to graduation.

"We are full speed into recruiting," coach Bobby Wilder said. "Our goal is to get as many top junior college players signed at the mid-year and here in January to compete for starting jobs in the spring."

Coaches are not permitted to comment on specific recruits until they sign a letter of intent.

Golston was rated a three-star recruit by 247sports.com. and would have three years of eligibility. Jackson, who made 34 tackles and had 2½ sacks, would have two years. Doss would also have two years.

ODU has gone the juco route with success in the past, particularly when the program was launching in 2009.

"The benefit you get from a junior college player is he's two or three years older than the high school player," Wilder said. "They've played a high level of competition in junior college. These players are also hungry for a scholarship and they're hungry to play Division I."

Monarchs finish

at rebuilding Rice

The Monarchs (4-7) wrap up the season Saturday at Rice (1-11), which has lost 11 straight under first-year coach Mike Bloomgren after a season-opening win over Prairie View A&M. The Owls were granted a 13th game because of an NCAA rule that allows teams that play at Hawaii to schedule an extra contest.

Rice not only played the Rainbow Warriors, but Houston, Wake Forest and Louisiana STate in its non-conference slate.

"They have played arguably the most difficult schedule of anybody in our league," Wilder said. "They could end up possibly having lost to nine teams that will play in bowl games.

"They are working to develop something there and I think they will be a very good football team. We are hopeful that it doesn't start this week."

Ed Miller, 757-446-2372, ed.miller@pilotonline.com

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Copyright 2018 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

SALT LAKE CITY — For a few hours on Monday, the Utah Jazz opened up their home court to thousands in need.

Lines of people covered the Vivint Smart Home Arena concourse Monday morning for the annual We Care — We Share Thanksgiving Meal hosted by the Utah Jazz and Larry H. Miller Group of Companies.

Inside the building, Jazz and Miller employees served more than 3,000 full Thanksgiving meals donated by Utah Food Services to homeless and low-income individuals.

"I really like to be able to interact one-on-one as they come through," Gail Miller said before joining the serving line. "Giving them a warm place to have a good meal and feel loved and cared for and part of a community... that's important to me."

Salt Lake City Mission distributed winter clothing and shoes inside the arena as well. The Rev. Joe Vazquez said the mission has partnered with the Jazz organization for years on the annual event.

"Whatever their issues are, people should not be hungry when we're all enjoying hot, traditional meals at home," the Rev. Vazquez said.

The mission will also host a "Thanksgiving food box giveaway" today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1151 S. Redwood Road, and a "Great Thanksgiving Banquet" Thursday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Christian Life Center of Utah, 1055 N. Redwood Road. The mission will distribute winter clothing again at both events, the Rev. Vazquez said.

Rudy Fryer and Heather Hertig, a couple who stay at the Road Home shelter, had their first Thanksgiving together eight years ago at the same event, and attended Monday for the first time since.

"They did a fantastic job in there. They showed everybody respect," Hertig said.

She was impressed by the workers and volunteers helping those who were disabled — carrying their plates, helping them find tables and getting them all set up. "That's what made me happy and proud, that people like that are willing to help."

Dustin Dehlin, who has worked for the Jazz 16 years, said it's always a bittersweet experience — seeing how many people are in need, but being able to help them and see the smiles on their faces.

"Brand new shoes, the food's really nice... It gives them something to feel good about," Dehlin said.

Email: sburt@deseretnews.com

Twitter: SpencerABurt

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Annie Jones at first didn't understand the commotion taking place early Monday morning outside her local YMCA. Then she saw it: a hole, about the size of a car, in the front of the building, surrounded neatly by caution tape.

"I got up early for nothing," she said to no one in particular. "I guess I'll just start cooking Thanksgiving dinner."

Hours earlier — and minutes after the popular gym on the South Hill at 2921. E 57th Ave. opened at 5 a.m. — a woman in a white SUV drove into a large front window on the southeast side of the building, creating a large hole and pushing several stair-climbing machines back a few feet.

"She was coming to use the building," said John Ehrbar, the chief operating officer of YMCA in Spokane. "Didn't quite get the parking right."

Deputy Mark Gregory, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff's Office, said the woman didn't appear to be under the influence.

"From what this looks like, it's one of those driver-made-an-error and hit the building," he said.

Ehrbar said the gym was mostly empty at the time, save for a few customers and employees. Nobody was injured.

By 8 a.m., a team of structural engineers was on site to survey the damage after the Spokane Fire Department recommended closing until a proper assessment could be completed.

"Pretty much just the frame of the building," Ehrbar said. "The equipment is fine."

The staff expected the location to be closed for at least a day.

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2018 Portland Newspapers Nov 20, 2018

Portland Press Herald

 

SKOWHEGAN — Two Skowhegan-born sisters are calling for peace between opposing sides in the long-running debate over the nickname "Indians" for the high school sports teams, even drawing on the name of an opposition Facebook group for the new name.

"There's a lot of names out there, but what I'm currently liking is Skowhegan Pride," said Hope Savage, 59, who with sister Lisa Savage, 62, says their family dates back eight generations in Skowhegan. "I'd really like to pull those Skowhegan Indian Pride people into feeling happy and a part of things.

"They really see it as us against them, and it's really not about that. It's about not doing more harm. And it's about making it easy for our kids and our town's people, and I thought maybe pulling in part of their name would be helpful — Skowhegan Pride."

Savage was referring to the closed Facebook group called Skowhegan Indian Pride, which has nearly 1,600 members. The group was formed four years ago by school board member Jennifer Poirier based on what members consider to be their heritage, tapping into the strength and prowess of the Native Americans who lived along the banks of the Kennebec River.

"We are a group that supports the preservation of the name Skowhegan Indians," the Facebook page says. "Not just as our school's name, but because it is a part of our town."

The problem, say the Savage sisters and others, is that actual Native Americans find the name to be racist and offensive. They plan to attend the next meeting of the School Administrative District 54 board at 7 p.m. Dec. 6 in the middle school cafeteria.

School board members who support keeping the nickname "Indians" have said the school got rid of the mascot of a whooping Native American in 1990, along with all the caricatures and imagery.

Dixie Ring, of Canaan, the school board chairwoman, said Monday that there would be no comment on the matter "at this time."

Poirier said school board members have agreed to direct all media questions on the subject to SAD 54 Superintendent Brent Colbry.

Colbry did not reply to a request for comment Monday. After the previous school board meeting, Colbry said: "There was no comment. There was no action taken or discussed."

TO FIND COMMON GROUND, 'LISTEN'

Hope Savage said common ground can be found on the hotly contested issue with just one word.

"Listen," she said.

Listen to the Native Americans who want to change the nickname.

"Listening is what I have to offer as a descendant of those who murdered, as a descendant of those who raped, of those who stole from the people living here long before we showed up," Hope Savage wrote in a letter she read to the school board Thursday.

"Once I listened, I felt shocked at myself for being so oblivious to the pain of others. No, I didn't create their pain. But I poked at it. Made it bleed a little each time I participated in dehumanizing them, turning them into a stereotype.

"Turning them into a costume. Using them for my amusement and benefit. Do I feel guilty about it? No. Why? Because, once I listened, I changed. So as not to do harm to others for no reason, I changed."

Names other than Pride have been suggested, including the Skowhegan Rapids, the Trailblazers, Islanders and River Watchers. Many say "Skowhegan" means "a place to watch" the sea-run fish that once jumped the falls in Skowhegan and were speared by Native Americans.

At the previous school board meeting, Maulian Dana, tribal ambassador from the Penobscot Nation, also read a letter she delivered to the board, asking them to retire the nickname "Indians" for their high school sports teams.

"Your 'Indian' mascot is the last one of its kind in the state of Maine, which you share with five tribal reservation communities," wrote Dana, daughter of one-time Penobscot Chief Barry Dana, of Solon. "Mascot use has been found to be harmful to children and creates an unhealthy learning environment as well as shaping their views of indigenous people to be stereotypical and not based in reality, which is problematic for their indigenous peers and hinders their development."

A resident of the Penobscot Indian Reservation near Old Town, Maulian Dana hand-delivered her appeal to the school board, which in May 2015 voted 11-9 to keep the name, saying sports teams use it to honor their heritage and history along the banks of the Kennebec River.

Lisa Savage has worn a sweater to some of the school board meetings she has attended. The sweater was her father, Mark Savage's football sweater, Skowhegan High School Class of '51.

There is no nickname or mascot on the garment, sporting only an orange "S" on a black background. In a clipping from the Portland Press Herald reporting the undefeated Skowhegan football team dated Jan. 28, 1951, there is no mention of "Indians" or any other nickname, Lisa Savage said.

Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367 or at: dharlow@centralmaine.comTwitter:@Doug_Harlow

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

A body was discovered Saturday afternoon a few miles away from Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, where a U.S. Army veteran from Spokane disappeared during a football game, according to ABC News.

The Santa Clara and San Jose police departments have been searching for Ian Powers, 32, since he was separated from his girlfriend and her children during a New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers game on Nov. 12. Initial efforts to search by helicopter were stymied by smoke from area wildfires.

Fishermen discovered the body of a fully-clothed man in the water about a mile from a marina in the area of the stadium, police told local TV station KGO-TV. The Santa Clara County medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to verify the identity of the body and determine cause of death.

Surveillance cameras show Powers, a 49ers fan, walking out of Levi's Stadium a few minutes before 9 p.m. during the fourth quarter. The cameras loses sight of him in the parking lot at 9:03 p.m. His girlfriend, Chelsea Robbins, told authorities she had video chatted with Powers to set up a place for them to meet.

However, some of the responses Powers sent "weren't very reasonable or didn't make sense," according to a Santa Clara police captain.

The body was discovered more than two miles from the stadium.

The Santa Clara Police Department is investigating Power's disappearance as suspicious.

Powers attended Shadle Park High School and served time in the Washington Army National Guard. He was previously employed at Hotstart Inc., an engine heating company in Spokane Valley.

Contact the writer: (509) 459-5039, rebeccawh@spokesman.com

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

MIDDLETOWNA Middletown woman will spend Christmas in jail after pleading guilty to taking money from ayouthsports group.

Danielle Lucas, 38, of Inland Drive, was indicted in April by a Butler County grand jury on two counts of felony theft for allegedly misappropriating money from the Middletown Youth Football and Cheer League.

In September, Lucas accepted a plea deal and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft and the second theft charge was dismissed. As a requirement of the plea deal, Lucas made restitution to the organization in the amount of $44,000.

The theft occurred while Lucas was treasurer of the organization from June 1, 2014 to Nov. 1, 2017, according to court documents and prosecutors.

Butler County Common Pleas Judge Michael Oster sentenced Lucas on Monday to three years probation and also ordered her to spend time in the Butler County Jail from Dec. 22 through Jan. 7.

Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Gloria Sigman said Lucas' jail sentence was arranged to coincide with time she will be off for the holiday break as a school bus driver.

Middletown police began an investigation in October 2017 when the organization's new president, Quincy Hightower, reported the theft to detectives.

Middletown Police Maj. Scott Reeve said Lucas was the only person with access to the organization's account, a practice that has since been stopped.

"We always tell these organizations that two or even three signatures should be needed to access accounts and money," Reeve said.

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

The Spokane Park Board plans to spend up to $650,000 for property near the Spokane Arena to support a $42 million indoor prep sports facility long in development.

Construction of the Sportsplex, as it has been dubbed by the Spokane Sports Commission and Spokane Public Facilities District, is scheduled to begin early next year on the north bank of the Spokane River.

The facilities district is negotiating with city officials to lease about an acre of city park land between Dean and Cataldo avenues to the district to use for the Sportsplex. The land includes the former Carnation Dairy garage that the parks system uses for storage.

The Sportsplex would include a 200-meter banked indoor track, basketball courts and an NHL-size ice rink for hockey and other sports.

The Sportsplex project has proceeded independently of the push for an outdoor stadium for high school sports to be built downtown, a proposed location that nearly 65 percent of city voters shot down on this month's ballot in a nonbinding advisory vote.

The park board voted unanimously earlier this month to provide up to $650,000 to the facilities district to help the district buy private property co-owned by Amanda Hansen adjacent to the Carnation Dairy garage and tear down the building and the Carnation garage. That property is at the heart of a lawsuit against the city.

Sportsplex plans submitted to a state committee tasked with approving large-scale construction projects include a rendering that uses Hansen property. She has sued the city, alleging the condition of the park property next to her former dance studio business forced her out of the building.

Hansen declined to comment on any potential sale in an email exchange last week.

The Sportsplex will be funded in large part by bonds Spokane County agreed to sell earlier this year totaling $25 million. The city has dedicated $5million in real estate tax income to the project, and the Public Facilities District will spend $11 million of reserve money. Officials are expected to request additional funding from the state Legislature, said Stephanie Curran, chief executive officer of the facilities district.

Officials have said they can configure the complex around Hansen's property on "the bluff," as it's known, a basalt rock face that is visible walking north out of Riverfront Park. But the ideal location for the facility would include the property.

"We are still in the design phase," Curran said. "We do know that this is the best location for the Sportsplex."

The contribution from the city's Parks Department will come from several sources: nearly $490,000 from money set aside for capital improvements in the park as well money transferred to the parks from Utilities to cover work on the Howard Street bridge, and $160,000 set aside in reserves to cover soil cleanup on the north bank of Riverfront Park.

The $650,000 figure is less than what the city would expect to pay to demolish the Carnation garage alone to make way for the Sportsplex, said Rick Romero, the city's former utilities director who's been guiding discussions among City Hall, the Public Facilities District, Spokane County and the Spokane Sports Commission in support of the Sportsplex project.

"We were going to have to pay something in this neighborhood anyway, to get rid of this building," Chris Wright, who leads the board's finance committee, said of the Carnation garage.

The firms Lydig Construction and Integrus are handling the preliminary phases of design and construction for the Sportsplex, which analysts projected in 2015 could generate up to $24 million in annual economic activity for the region by its fifth year of operation.

The building is expected to be complete by September 2020.

Contact the writer: (509) 459-5429, kiph@spokesman.com

 

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Copyright 2018 Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

But wait. Aren't we jumping the gun? Don't we still have a few "I's" to dot and "T's" to cross, like choosing the players who will help make the ballpark, to be named Polar Park, an economic success?

Sure, some like Michael Traynor, the city's chief development officer and chief executive officer of the Worcester Redevelopment Authority, seem to think that the city has all the players it needs to move forward.

At least, that is how his assessment at a recent WRA meeting, in which members discussed the participation of women and minorities in the construction of the ballpark, came across to me.

Told that we are in an era of out-of-the-box thinking in ensuring women and minorities are well represented in public economic development projects in the state and that the WRA perhaps needs to embrace these new approaches, Mr. Traynor was less than convinced.

"We do have a policy; it's not like we have nothing," he responded.

"We can look at how we might be able to tweak it. We certainly will look into how we're going to monitor this, enforce it and maybe have some best practices in place before we go forward with the ballpark project. We will look into everything."

That defensive response can best be characterized as a heap of empty promises and a vote for the status quo.

At the meeting, David Minasian, vice chairman of the WRA board, tried to explain that while the city has a Responsible Contractor Policy that sets a 20 percent hiring goal for minorities, women and low-income residents, the policy is less demanding and less effective in assuring targeted outcomes than policies being followed by state agencies such as the University of Massachusetts Building Authority and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

In addition to setting specific hiring goals for women (6.9 percent) and people of color (15.3 percent), the UMBA policy comes with rigid compliance requirements and an Access and Opportunity Committee that meets every other month to monitor contractors' compliance with those requirements.

"At the beginning of each job UMBA gives each of their construction managers (CMs) templates to submit monthly diversity data," he noted in an email to me on Friday.

"The CM does pre-construction meetings with each contractor reminding them of the diversity goals, letting them know they are to take these goals seriously, and letting them know they are expected to bring in diverse work crews from day one."

Construction managers also hold similar meetings with subcontractors to stress "the importance of diversity and how to track it," he wrote. He also noted projects are assigned a compliance officer and that "contractors that have high work hours, but are not in compliance, have to have a corrective action meeting (the compliance officer and construction manager) to outline a plan for improving their numbers."

According to the Access and Opportunity Committee for UMass, a recently completed research laboratory renovation project surpassed the goals set for women and people of color, with a 9 percent participation rate for the former and an 18.1 participation rate for the latter.

Two current projects, according to the committee, are meeting the set goals or are on track to do so.

"Prior to the AOC oversight meetings, UMass Amherst's compliance numbers were dismal," Mr. Minasian noted.

"Essentially contractors knew the goals existed but without oversight they ignored them."

Encouragingly, other members of the WRA attorney Michael Angelini and Sumner Tilton — appear open to upgrading the WRA's policy. City Manager Edward Augustus said on Friday that he is also supportive of revising the policy to "be more inclusive in the work that we do and the contracts that we enter into."

So, with all due respect to Mr. Traynor's aforementioned contention that "it's not like we have nothing," I would say, sir, in comparison to the UMBA, the WRA does indeed have nothing. And before we start playing ball at Polar Park, we should have something.

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Copyright 2018 Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

About 500 student-athletes and their parents were warned at a mandatory meeting at Shrewsbury High School on Aug. 30 that hazing would not be tolerated.

To drive home the severity of the issue, Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. spoke at the meeting.

"That was very well received," Shrewsbury High athletic director Jay Costa said.

According to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 269, Section 17, hazing refers to "any conduct or method of initiation into any student organization, whether on public or private property, which willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person."

Also according to Section 17, those found guilty of hazing are subject to a fine of up to $3,000 and-or imprisonment of up to one year.

Hazing returned to the news recently with the cancellation of Worcester Technical High School's final two football games after an alleged hazing incident in the team's locker room. At least five football players were barred from classes pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing and Worcester public schools School Safety Director Robert Pezzella said Thursday that the matter wouldn't be resolved until at least this week.

Massachusetts law requires all secondary schools to provide all school groups, including athletic teams, with a copy of the anti-hazing law.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association sponsors workshops to educate administrators, coaches and students about fostering a positive school climate, a respectful learning environment and a culture of safety, sportsmanship and respect, according to Peter Smith, MIAA assistant executive director for educational athletics.

Pezzella said hazing is addressed in the WPS student handbook, which all students and their parents are required to read, sign and return to school within the first month of school. High school principals are also required by law to discuss anti-hazing laws with their students, Pezzella said.

Because Worcester has so many high schools, Pezzella said it wouldn't be feasible to require all parents to attend an anti-hazing meeting, but prior to each of the three sports seasons all students trying out for sports must attend wellness seminars at their schools. Coaches and WPS athletic director Dave Shea also attend the seminars that address hazing, bullying, the concussion protocol and possession of drugs and alcohol.

"We have to take this from ground zero," Pezzella said. "Everybody needs to know the seriousness of any type of hazing that goes on, whether it's in a locker room or it's on the field or on the court, it's not going to be tolerated and the discipline action is going to be severe. So we understand that there is still some primitive thinking from student-athletes. We have to change that thought process, we have to change that culture and that's why it's imperative for us as educators and professionals to make sure that they get the most necessary information in order to make good decisions as not only teenagers, but as student-athletes representing their schools and to have some school pride."

Since Costa became athletic director at Shrewsbury High 13 years ago, he has held a training

workshop every August with the captains of each athletic team during which he discusses leadership and the laws and regulations concerning hazing.

In addition, before each of the three sports seasons, Shrewsbury High holds a parent-athlete night during which the school's zero-tolerance policy of hazing is presented. So some three-sport student-athletes will hear the anti-hazing message 12 times before they graduate.

"I think by the time the students have become juniors and seniors," Costa said, "a lot of them have memorized the presentation. So I try to do different things to spice it up, but for the most part the parents feel it's important that their kids hear that."

Costa said he believes the anti-hazing meetings have helped "a ton" in Shrewsbury High School not experiencing a hazing incident during his time as athletic director, but he also credits the character of the students and policies established by the school administration.

Northbridge High School's principal and athletic director meet with student athletes and parents each fall to discuss such issues as hazing, drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

"There's no guarantee that even that's going to work," Northbridge High football coach Ken LaChapelle said.

Five years ago, four junior football players at Northbridge High allegedly pressured a freshman player to drink urine. Suspensions were issued, but the freshman didn't press criminal charges.

"We didn't hide anything," LaChapelle said, "and sometimes that's the biggest key. That's something I would never do. If we know about it, then my principal is going to know about it and then he can do whatever he wants with it. I would never keep anything like that in house. As a staff, it did happen to us and it was ugly. Fox news was flying a helicopter over our practices, but we dealt with it."

LaChapelle is a Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Famer and the winningest coach in Massachusetts high school football history with more than 350 victories in 43 years as head coach. He's seen just about everything.

"Any time you mix ninth-graders with 12th-graders," LaChapelle said, "there's always going to be the bully kids. They exist, no matter what, and it's our job to try to corral them and try to take them under our wing and try to make them part of the family."

LaChapelle said Northbridge has one locker room for football players in Grades 9 through 12.

"I usually talk to my captains," he said, "about locker room decorum and making sure the kids are safe and things like that. It's a constant preach."

Tania Rich, athletic director at Nashoba Regional High School in Bolton, said student-athletes are warned to avoid hazing in the student handbook, the student-athlete handbook and at a meeting with students and parents at the beginning of each school year.

Prior to each sports season, Rich meets with Nashoba's coaches to discuss school policy and protocol on everything from transportation and physical exams to alcohol, chemical health, hazing and bullying. Rich said in her eight years as athletic director at Nashoba, no hazing has taken place.

"Our coaches and our students understand," she said, "the importance of being a team and not doing these kinds of activities. We have a zero-tolerance policy here. There would be consequences."

Before each season, West Boylston High School football coach Mike Ross informs his players and their parents that the school has no tolerance for drugs, alcohol and hazing.

"By talking to the kids the first day of practice," Ross said, "I think it sets a tone for the year."

In his 18 years as a head coach at Grafton, North and West Boylston, Ross said he's never had a hazing incident.

"Not to my knowledge," he said, "and if it did, the kid would be gone."

Hazing incidents may be rare, but they do exist. Two high school football teams in Maryland have been accused this fall of sexual-related hazing incidents.

High school athletic directors and coaches interviewed for this story agree that cyberbullying has become more of a problem than hazing even though they haven't experienced trouble with it yet.

"Social media is becoming a monster," LaChapelle said. "It's not becoming one, it is a monster. It's a bigger problem because it's done far away. You can be doing it while visiting your aunt in Canada."

"So I tell our kids, 'Stay off it (social media),'" Costa said. "Don't be a part of that."

"I think social media is a big problem," Ross said. "They're cyberbullying. It's all over the place. That's the new problem."

Holy Name High School athletic director Jim Manzello instructs each coach to inform his student-athletes that hazing is not acceptable and the consequences will be severe. Manzello said teachers and coaches are required to sign forms mandating them to inform their students of the ills of hazing. In Manzello's 31 years as athletic director, he can remember only one hazing incident about 20 years ago when three football players were suspended.

"It started out as a joke," he said, "as most of them probably do. Sometimes kids don't see what is classified as hazing as hazing. I would say most high school ones start out as jokes and someone goes too far."

Manzello said those so-called jokes are obviously not jokes and cannot be tolerated.

Contact Bill Doyle at william.doyle@telegram.com Follow him on Twitter @BillDoyle15

 

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

The Spokane Park Board plans to spend up to $650,000 for property near the Spokane Arena to support a $42 million indoor prep sports facility long in development.

Construction of the Sportsplex, as it has been dubbed by the Spokane Sports Commission and Spokane Public Facilities District, is scheduled to begin early next year on the north bank of the Spokane River.

The facilities district is negotiating with city officials to lease about an acre of city park land between Dean and Cataldo avenues to the district to use for the Sportsplex. The land includes the former Carnation Dairy garage that the parks system uses for storage.

The Sportsplex would include a 200-meter banked indoor track, basketball courts and an NHL-size ice rink for hockey and other sports.

The Sportsplex project has proceeded independently of the push for an outdoor stadium for high school sports to be built downtown, a proposed location that nearly 65 percent of city voters shot down on this month's ballot in a nonbinding advisory vote.

The park board voted unanimously earlier this month to provide up to $650,000 to the facilities district to help the district buy private property co-owned by Amanda Hansen adjacent to the Carnation Dairy garage and tear down the building and the Carnation garage. That property is at the heart of a lawsuit against the city.

Sportsplex plans submitted to a state committee tasked with approving large-scale construction projects include a rendering that uses Hansen property. She has sued the city, alleging the condition of the park property next to her former dance studio business forced her out of the building.

Hansen declined to comment on any potential sale in an email exchange last week.

The Sportsplex will be funded in large part by bonds Spokane County agreed to sell earlier this year totaling $25 million. The city has dedicated $5million in real estate tax income to the project, and the Public Facilities District will spend $11 million of reserve money. Officials are expected to request additional funding from the state Legislature, said Stephanie Curran, chief executive officer of the facilities district.

Officials have said they can configure the complex around Hansen's property on "the bluff," as it's known, a basalt rock face that is visible walking north out of Riverfront Park. But the ideal location for the facility would include the property.

"We are still in the design phase," Curran said. "We do know that this is the best location for the Sportsplex."

The contribution from the city's Parks Department will come from several sources: nearly $490,000 from money set aside for capital improvements in the park as well money transferred to the parks from Utilities to cover work on the Howard Street bridge, and $160,000 set aside in reserves to cover soil cleanup on the north bank of Riverfront Park.

The $650,000 figure is less than what the city would expect to pay to demolish the Carnation garage alone to make way for the Sportsplex, said Rick Romero, the city's former utilities director who's been guiding discussions among City Hall, the Public Facilities District, Spokane County and the Spokane Sports Commission in support of the Sportsplex project.

"We were going to have to pay something in this neighborhood anyway, to get rid of this building," Chris Wright, who leads the board's finance committee, said of the Carnation garage.

The firms Lydig Construction and Integrus are handling the preliminary phases of design and construction for the Sportsplex, which analysts projected in 2015 could generate up to $24 million in annual economic activity for the region by its fifth year of operation.

The building is expected to be complete by September 2020.

Contact the writer: (509) 459-5429, kiph@spokesman.com

 

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

LOS ANGELES — If the Rams didn't really belong to Los Angeles before, they surely are L.A.'s team now.

This is what happens when a community is rocked by the events that have unfolded during the past two weeks in Southern California — a horrific mass shooting, followed by devastating wildfires — and an excellent pro football team in the backyard is simply caught up in the mix.

Yes, the Rams still have the next football game to play, which happens to be the most-anticipated matchup yet in the NFL this season, against the Chiefs.

Yet the potential Super Bowl preview between 9-1 teams on Monday night — suddenly relocated to Los Angeles Coliseum from Mexico City, given the risks of playing on a subpar field at Azteca Stadium — is nothing when put into perspective with real-life circumstances in California.

"Look, it's definitely a unique challenge to put on an NFL game in five days," Rams President Kevin Demoff told USA TODAY on Sunday. "But it pales when compared to a lot of challenges the people of the community are dealing with."

Demoff is reminded of what Rams coach Sean McVay repeatedly preaches to his team about the culture they are establishing: Be connected.

Now that has a bigger meaning than ever, throughout the entire organization.

That's why Andrew Whitworth, the sage of a Pro Bowl left tackle, is donating his game check from Monday to families of the 12 victims from the tragedy at the Border Line Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, which is near the Rams training facilities. It's why all-pro punter Johnny Hekker, who raised money and delivered relief supplies for victims of wildfires last year, visited with first responders last week. It's why several Rams players recorded video messages for a fundraising drive the team, two local TV stations and the United Way collaborated with to raise more than $1.17 million for relief efforts. A handful of former Rams, including Eric Dickerson and Jackie Slater, joined Rams cheerleaders to man telephones. It's why the Rams, expecting perhaps 70,000 on Monday, have given thousands of tickets to first responders.

And it's why Demoff says that one of the greatest lessons he's learned over the past two weeks revolves around the heart of the people throughout his organization. In crisis, you tend to learn a lot about people with how they respond.

While the games go on. As much as they want to beat the Chiefs, though, there's a greater purpose.

"You want the game to have importance and meaning to it," Demoff said.

Sure, we've heard it before. If a football game can provide a brief respite that allows people a temporary break from the real-life issues, it is a good thing. Demoff won't dispute that, but quickly adds another layer of context: "Hopefully, we can help. But that's a microcosm of what you're seeing throughout Southern California, with so many people coming to the aid of others."

Staging a game, with such short notice, is no easy venture. While the NFL mandates that for international games the designated home team must have its stadium available as a contingency, that's never been put into practice until now. After the NFL pulled out of Mexico City on Tuesday, the first item on the Rams' checklist was to get clearance from Southern Cal to waive the condition in the team's lease that prohibits night games on school nights.

Then it was a matter of lining up security, police, concessions personnel and hotels. There was no time to print tickets, so every seat is an e-ticket. Parking will be on a first-come basis. And without the capability to use scanners in the lots, parking will be cash.

The Rams business operations staff, meanwhile, hasn't had an office for more than a week. The team business headquarters, in Agoura Hills, is in the evacuation zone.

McVay's team spent the week practicing at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which was the original plan to help prepare for the thin altitude of Mexico City. The Rams stuck with the plan after the game site was switched, with an alteration added: Rams owner Stan Kroenke chartered a second airplane to transport family members of the players to Colorado, preventing separation of families.

Such adjustments have become part of the deal for the Rams. The day the fires began in Ventura County, McVay canceled practice to allow players to tend to their families. Some players and staff members had to evacuate. Before their home game against the Seahawks last week, the Rams secured the hotel the team uses before home games a day earlier for players and staff.

Never mind the notion that disruptions to the typical NFL routine is some sort of distraction for the Rams. It can't be an excuse. Not here. Not now. Although the game can provide a sense of normalcy, for players and fans alike, it's bigger than football.

"The main thing you want to do," Demoff said, "is show your best."

Winning with a best effort on Monday night wouldn't hurt civic pride.

After all, the Rams are without question an L.A. team now.

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Copyright 2018 The Buffalo News
All Rights Reserved

The Buffalo News (New York)

 

Condoleezza Rice and Cleveland Browns General Manager shot down the day's most eye-popping NFL report, that the team wanted to make the former U.S. secretary of State and national security adviser the first woman to interview for a head coaching position.

Rice, a lifelong Browns fan, used the buzz generated by the report, from ESPN's Adam Schefter, to call for an increase in the number of women in the coaching ranks. "I love my Browns - and I know they will hire an experienced coach to take us to the next level," she wrote (via the Associated Press).

"On a more serious note, I do hope that the NFL will start to bring women into the coaching profession as position coaches and eventually coordinators and head coaches. One doesn't have to play the game to understand it and motivate players. But experience counts - and it is time to develop a pool of experienced women coaches.

"BTW, I'm not ready to coach, but I would like to call a play or two next season if the Browns need ideas! And at no time will I call for a 'prevent defense'!"

Dorsey added that Rice "has not been discussed" as a candidate to succeed Hue Jackson.

"Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a great leader, possesses the highest possible character and also happens to be a Browns fan," Dorsey said in a statement released by the team. "I have the utmost respect and admiration for all she's accomplished and was honored to meet her for the first time earlier this season. Our coaching search will be thorough and deliberate, but we are still in the process of composing the list of candidates and Secretary Rice has not been discussed."

It had seemed unlikely in the extreme that we'd see Rice wearing a headset on the sideline and drawing up Xs and Os next season - she would function more like a CEO, supplying leadership and organization, both areas in which the Browns could improve. Despite growing up in Alabama, Rice, 64, has been a lifelong Browns fan who has long been as comfortable in sports as she is in politics and academia.

She has appeared in NFL merchandise ads wearing Browns jerseys and her name has been often mentioned as a candidate for NFL commissioner.

Joe Browne, the NFL's retired senior executive, noted on Twitter that, when Rice was rumored to be interested in running the NFL 15 years ago, former commissioner Paul Tagliabue signed a football for her with this message: "Madam Secretary, be careful what you wish for!"

Her sports interests extend beyond football. She was one of the first two women admitted to membership at the Augusta National Golf Club in 2012 and she recently led the College Basketball Commission, formed in response to that sport's corruption scandal. She also was one of the first members of the College Football Playoff selection committee, holding a seat from 2013-16.

It's unclear just when we'll see a woman coaching a men's team at the pro level. Rex Ryan hired Kathryn Smith as a quality control assistant when he was the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, the San Francisco 49ers have Katie Sowers as an offensive assistant and Kelsey Martinez is on the Oakland Raiders' strength staff.

Pees in hospital, is OK

Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees was taken from Lucas Oil Stadium to a local hospital during Sunday's game against the host Indianapolis Colts due a medical issue, the Titans announced.

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said after the game that Pees, 69, would remain hospitalized overnight for tests.

"I would say Dean is doing OK," Vrabel said, per the Titans' website. "They took him to the hospital, they evaluated him, and they are going to keep him overnight for some tests. But everything that I heard as of now has been very positive, that he should make a full recovery and be fine with whatever he had going on upstairs."

Pees was calling plays from the press box when medical help was summoned. He walked out of the box under his own power, but was then asked to sit in a wheelchair to leave the stadium.

Vrabel said he called the defensive plays from the field for the remainder of the game, which turned out to be a 38-10 loss to the Colts.

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

A year and a half after the first pitch at SunTrust Park, Cobb has yet to account for tens of millions of dollars in stadium construction work and officials haven't independently confirmed a final price tag on the county's largest, most controversial public works project.

The seeming lack of interest in tracking the true cost of a county-owned asset built with massive public investment reflects what some see as a lack of basic oversight by Cobb officials.

The Braves, who managed the stadium construction, say at $684 million, the ballpark exceeded its budget, with the team covering more than its share. But Cobb only has invoices covering $536 million, meaning there are roughly $148 million in construction costs for which Cobb officials have not reviewed receipts.

"We have invoices for all work that was the county's responsibility to pay for," the county said in a statement.

Determining the stadium's final cost and the percentage paid by the county and the Braves is vital to understanding taxpayers' roll in a project touted as a win-win partnership when officials announced it five years ago.

The contract inked with the Braves stipulates that if the project came under budget, the savings may be applied toward "mutually agreed upon" stadium improvements or a capital maintenance fund -- both expenses that taxpayers must help cover.

The lack of a clear accounting means the county is at a disadvantage to verify if there were any savings and hampers public scrutiny of what the Braves claimed as a stadium expense.

Cobb Chairman Mike Boyce said the remaining invoices don't matter because Cobb's contribution to the stadium is fixed and it won't change, regardless of the final tally for construction.

In 2016,Boyce rode a wave of voter discontent over the stadium deal to defeat former chairman Tim Lee. Part of his platform was a call for greater transparency with regards the ballpark. Boyce now dismisses concerns over the county's book-keeping, saying he has no leverage anyway to compel the Braves to provide more documentation.

A provision in the contract allows either side to audit the project.

"We've paid our bills," Boyce said. "Both sides are now in agreement that we have fulfilled all our obligations."

Ongoing costs at SunTrust Park and who pays for them are hardly a settled matter. In September, the county and the Braves resolved a legal dispute over $1.5 million in sewer infrastructure. Previously, the Braves successfully argued that certain road improvements around the ballpark did not count toward the county's $14 million stadium transportation obligation, forcing Cobb to dip into its water fund to reimburse the team.

No 'pointed questions'

In statements to the public as recently as this year, Braves and county officials have consistently emphasized that the team was paying the lion's share of the ballpark construction, budgeted at $672 million.

Those figures were always potentially misleading. In fact, the development agreement the county signed in May 2014 put the stadium budget at $622 million, with the Braves kicking in another $50 million in "discretionary" funds if they wanted.

Public funds accounted for $392 of the up-front costs, in addition to $35 million in capital maintenance over 30 years. The Braves were obligated to pay at least $230 million in construction costs on

the front end, and will reimburse Cobb an estimated $92 million through rent payments over the next three decades. The team was also responsible for any cost overruns.

But the Braves were in control of much of the planning and construction, placing the onus on the county to watch-dog the actual costs.

Commissioner Lisa Cupid, who has been a consistent skeptic of the Braves deal, said there is little appetite on the board to damage the relationship with the team by asking "pointed questions."

As a result, she doesn't believe the taxpayers are being protected as they should be.

"Throughout this time, there has been no record or documents forwarded to the board on a regular or periodic basis to show how these things are being accounted for," Cupid said. "There have been other costs above and beyond what the county has said our contribution should be."

The county's most recent summary of stadium invoices, updated in June, totals just $536 million for stadium construction costs. Of that, $155 million is identified as having been paid by the Braves.

A line item on the summary lists another $95 million as coming from Braves "outside" construction accounts, but there are no details about these charges and Cobb has not received invoices for those billings, county officials said.

In response to the AJC's questions for this story, Greg Heller, the Braves' executive vice president and chief legal officer, told the county's legal department that the team has spent $292 million on the stadium.

"All payments by the Braves were made in accordance with the terms of the Development Agreement, which permitted direct payments of invoices," he wrote in an email.

Assessing stadium impact

Despite Cobb's incomplete accounting of the project, some county officials have been quick to tout the economic benefits of the ballpark, citing a study released in September by the Center for Economic Development Research at Georgia Tech.

Funded by the county's chamber of commerce and unveiled at the Braves' new Cobb offices, the study predicts the stadium will have a positive fiscal impact to the county government and the school system. It estimates the Cobb government will take in an average of $4 million a year over expenses, and the school system will reap another $14.9 million a year over the next 20 years.

The study's predictions are largely based on projected revenue from rising property values in the area and the Braves' mixed-used development, The Battery. Without that development, the stadium itself has a negative impact on the county finances, the report concludes.

"[T]hat is why The Battery impact is so important," the study's author, Alfie Meeks, wrote in an email. "You simply can't use the old 'traditional wisdom' for stadium financing for this deal."

But J.C. Bradbury, a sports economist at Kennesaw State University who reviewed the study, expressed skepticism about its findings.

"This is just ripe for cherry picking," Bradbury said. "The halo effect is way overstated."

He also pointed to Meeks' role in assessing a public-private partnership between the Braves and another metro county.

Ten years ago, Meeks was the economist for Gwinnett County when it agreed to finance a new$64 million stadium for the Braves' triple-A minor league team. The deal was bolstered by Meeks' analysis that the ballpark would generate $15 million a year in new economic activity.

A decade later, the Gwinnett stadium struggles to attract fans and hasn't sparked the explosion of development taxpayers were promised.

Meeks said he stands by both stadium studies.

The extent of the stadium's influence on Cobb's rising property values is subject to debate. But by any measure, the project has been costly to the Cobb government's bottom line.

According to the county's most recent analysis, Cobb spent about $18 million on SunTrust Park in the 2017 fiscal year, including $6.4 million out of its general fund property taxes and $11 million from other taxes and fees.

That doesn't include $11.8 million Cobb paid, mostly from its water fund, to satisfy the disputed transportation obligation.

The revenue directly generated by the project didn't come close to covering the county's expenses. The Battery complex brought in $404,000 in property taxes and the Braves paid $3 million in stadium rent to the county. The ballpark also generated $1.6 million in county sales tax, but those funds can't be used to pay down the debt because they are earmarked for education and transportation.

In an attempt to off-set some of the unforeseen costs, including $840,000 in police overtime, commissioners recently amended the Cumberland hotel/motel tax to divert more money for public safety around SunTrust Park--money that would have otherwise gone to fund the Cumberland circulator, stadium debt service or promoting Cobb tourism.

This year, Cobb's stadium debt service and capital maintenance contributions increased, as did rent payments from the Braves.

Larry Savage, a Cobb resident who has filed several unsuccessful legal challenges to the stadium deal, sees Cobb's failure to provide an accurate, durable accounting of total project costs is indicative of the way the ballpark has been handled from the beginning.

"The whole thing is just misinformed and a very one-sided deal," Savage said. "This is public money and they're supposed to be accountable for it."

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November 19, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 Tribune Review Publishing Company
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Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA)

 

NORRISTOWN — Two former Philadelphia-area high school hockey players have been placed on probation for a year and ordered to do 100 hours of community service after being convicted of assaulting members of a rival team during a playoff game last year.

The (Pottstown) Mercury reports that Montgomery County jurors deliberated for nearly 11 hours over two days before convicting 19-year-old Brock Anderson and 20-year-old Jake Cross of misdemeanor simple assault and conspiracy charges.

Judge Richard Haaz said they "disrespected the game of hockey" in what prosecutors called an attack on CB West players at a Hatfield ice rink in March 2017 during the Eastern Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey Association Class 2A quarterfinal game.

Defense attorneys accused prosecutors of trying to "criminalize" a hockey fight and said opposing team members were also aggressive.

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Copyright 2018 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

You want to play in the youth football program at Journey House? First, write a book report and show that you have a library card.

It's just one of the ways that the south side community organization aims to get kids on paths to success in school and beyond.

And it's just one small piece of a picture in which nonprofit organizations in Milwaukee have increased their efforts to do more for children in the Milwaukee area, particularly low-income and minority children.

This column deals often with education issues that are on the heavy, even gloomy, side. But with Thanksgiving at hand, I want to give some thanks. A few months ago, a friend asked me if anything good had been launched for children in Milwaukee in the last 10 or 20 years. I said yes and named a couple good examples (the Urban Ecology Center and the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center), and I wrote columns describing them.

But there are many other organizations and efforts that deserve applause. Over time, I want to continue to spotlight them.

So today, three examples, each an organization with a long history and fresh commitments to young people. They have three different core identities: a youth center; a nature center; and a music conservatory.

Journey House

Journey House is about to turn 50 years old, but its current boom dates to 2012. That's when it moved into a new facility attached to Longfellow School, an MPS school on the near south side. Led by CEO Michele Bria, Journey House has expanded its impact, with a vibrant set of programs for kids, ranging from academics to theater to sports, and programs for adults, including help getting jobs. It has a strong connection to Longfellow but serves kids from several dozen schools.

In 2013, the Green Bay Packers offered Journey House the used artificial turf from one of the team's practice fields. The result: a gorgeous football field (complete with the Packers logo) in Mitchell Park and a football program for kids 14 and under that attracted about 100 players in the season just ended.

But Charles Brown, the coach and deputy director of Journey House, says kids can't play without making a commitment to success in education. He lists six pillars of the sports programs: education; building character and life skills; good nutrition practices; good appearance; active parent engagement; and, intentionally last on the list, winning.

Journey House also has an excellent gym for basketball and other sports and it is developing a set of baseball diamonds and facilities in Baran Park, a couple miles away, for its youth baseball program.

Bria says the overall goals are to expose young people to new experiences and to people who can help them get on paths to good careers, as well as to strengthen families and the surrounding community. As she puts it, the organization wants to help kids become "major league people, not necessarily major league players."

Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

Located along Lake Michigan in the northeast corner of Milwaukee County, the beautiful 185-acre property has a long history and has been a nature preserve and environmental education center since the 1970s. In the last several years, Schlitz Audubon has expanded its connection to schools, particularly ones serving low-income students in Milwaukee. It brings kids to the center and sends staff members to do programs at the schools.

Helen Boomsma, executive director, said the center serves about 20,000 students a year and, supported by philanthropic gifts, 4,800 of them are from schools serving low income students. Two years ago, that number was 2,600.

Boomsma cites studies that say that the more kids get to know the outdoor environment, the better they do in school overall. She said the center aims to involve kids from schools in at least six to nine environmental programs a year. Its school partners range from early childhood centers to high schools.

"You really are seeing some of these kids in nature for the first time," Boomsma said.

Wisconsin Conservatory of Music

The conservatory has roots that are more than a century old. Based in a mansion on North Prospect Avenue, it has long-served accomplished and aspiring musicians, both adults and kids. For decades, it served mostly, shall we say, the establishment. But it has moved strongly in the last several years toward serving more low-income and minority children.

"There is a definite need for music education in our community," said Eric Tillich, the president and CEO. He said the conservatory has taken on the mission of being "a true community music school."

In 2014-'15, its main program for schools served about 1,300 students. This year, it is serving about 15,000 in 70 schools in Milwaukee and, for the first time, in Racine. Over 80% of the students involved are African-American or Hispanic. The program is tailored to each school, with the emphasis on educating children on fundamentals of how music is made.

The conservatory has also expanded its scholarships for private lessons for students who have the potential to do well. Tillich said that this year it is providing $200,000 worth of scholarships for 40 low-income students.

There are many more good people and good organizations adding to the lives of Milwaukee children. Consider these three representatives of a bigger picture.

We've got a lot of problems in the Milwaukee area and a big need to see kids do better. But let's make this a time to look at the big picture and say thanks to people who get too little attention and credit for stepping up to building futures.

Alan J. Borsuk is senior fellow in law and public policy at Marquette Law School. Reach him at alan.borsuk@marquette.edu

 

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

 

VIRGINIA BEACH — Sharpen up those blades, ice skaters, there's a new rink in town.

With just a hint of winter in the air, VB ICE, a 100-by-50 foot outdoor rink made its debut Saturday morning at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market on Dam Neck Road.

Children took tentative steps along the oval's edge, their small hands gripping the wall or a parent's hand. A couple shared a first anniversary skate, while rink monitors glided effortlessly in their blue jackets and red first aid fanny packs.

Pop music played above the "chuush chuush" of blades scratching across the ice.

"Hi, boo!" Jake Annarino called to his 5-year-old daughter, Veronica, from the sidelines. "Skate to me all by yourself. Push with your toe — there you go."

With outstretched arms and a helping hand from her mom, Veronica slowly made her way from the center of the rink to grip the wall where her father stood. It was Veronica's first time on the ice, according to her mom, Natalia.

They hadn't planned to skate, Natalia said; just to check it out.

"It's cute," Natalia said of the rink. "It's so nice."

According to Jody Cadwell, co-owner of Boardwalk Attractions, the rink is just the beginning.

By phone Friday, Cadwell said he envisions a Christmas village — something akin to Coleman Nursery's Winter Wonderland, a popular, decades-old holiday tradition in Portsmouth that included animated displays before it closed in 2004, according to Pilot archives.

(The holiday collection can still be seen in Olde Towne, according to the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center's website.)

Next weekend, Christmas tree vendors will fill in around him, Cadwell said, and he plans to have a children's Ferris wheel and a tea cup ride in time for holiday break. The market already has a wide selection of vendors, he noted. He'd like to see more holiday lighting and scenes added each year, he said.

The VB ICE rink is developed by Boardwalk Attractions and Houston-based Ice Rink Events, Cadwell said.

The Farmers Market is city-owned and operated. In September, the City Council approved the funding for more than $167,000 in electrical upgrades — a transfer of leftover money from the Housing Resource Center project — to enable seasonal events, such as the ice skating rink, as well as eliminate gas generators, according to a presentation provided by a city spokeswoman last week.

It's not the first outdoor rink, nor is it the only one. The Oceanfront boasted one in 2014, according to Pilot archives, and Norfolk's MacArthur on Ice opened this weekend as well, according to the mall's website.

On Saturday, VB ICE venue manager Ashley Moody said they're testing the water at the Farmers Market — "or the ice, if you will."

Joseph Pallazzo was introducing his daughter, Elisabeth, to ice skating Saturday. He plays on an adult hockey league, he said, but it was the 6-year-old's first time.

"It's OK to fall," Pallazzo told Elisabeth after she slipped. "Daddy falls all the time."

Sporting a sparkly pink hooded top, the little girl wiped the powdered ice from her hands and got back on her feet. Gripping the wall, she prepared to take on another loop. Her confidence was increasing, her father noted.

"Watch daddy," she said.

Victoria Bourne, 757-222-5563, victoria.bourne@pilotonline.com

More info: vbice.com orwww.facebook.com/VBIceSkating.

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Copyright 2018 The E.W. Scripps Company
All Rights Reserved

Abilene Reporter-News (Texas)

 

Tylene Wilson was a woman.

Tylene Wilson was a coach.

Tylene Wilson was a head football coach in Texas.

Now we know the rest of the story in a compelling novel — "When the Men Were Gone" — written by former Dallas Cowboys beat writer Caroline Herrera Lewis.

The work is fiction. The facts are true, albeit with some creative liberty from Lewis, who last year became assistant football coach at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth.

Wilson died in 1992. She lived in Brownwood where she was a teacher and an assistant principal at the high school and coached football, reportedly at the high school and Daniel Baker College. The real Tylene Wilson took on the assignment as the head football coach at Daniel Baker College in the fall of 1944, when the men were gone to war. The institution was plagued with financial difficulties and was consolidated with nearby Howard Payne College (now Howard Payne University) in 1952.

In the book, the character Tylene Wilson becomes the head football coach of the Brownwood High School Lions, one of the most fabled programs in Texas high school football.

Using excerpts from her research and interviews, Lewis crafts a clever and somewhat predictable story of a woman being assigned to coach the high school football team. There are familiar scenes, including the required school board meeting to make the decision to cancel the football season (as many Texas high schools did during World War II) or to name a woman to coach their young men.

"Miss Tylene" gained her knowledge of football from her father with whom she attended her first football game in 1916. True story. Throughout her life, she would study the ins-and-outs of football and attend football games in Brownwood diligently.

Lewis, who is from New Mexico, became acquainted with Texas high school football as a sportswriter for the "Fort Worth Star-Telegram" and the "Dallas Morning News" in the 1980s.

Her writing shows that she learned well.

"Every road in Texas leads to a football field," she writes. "You sit in the stands at dusk, stare at the field, and you can see the footprint of every football player who ever suited up, some so quick they left defenders in their stocking feet. Little kids grow up watching their favorite high school football team and go to bed at night dreaming of their turn to play."

Try it. Go to your hometown football field and sit there a while. Listen to the southerly breeze whip through the stands and stare at the 50-yard-line. You'll hear the cadence of the quarterback, the blare of the trombones, the cheering of the pep squad and the joy of what has become a Texas tradition. You will get that feeling that is a unique Texas experience. Memories will flow back. You're in football country — Texas high school football.

The book is an emotional roller coaster, mixing the events of WWII with the nuances of getting a bunch of teenagers ready to play football. How in the world can a woman wearing a flower-pattern dress and one-inch heels be on the sidelines coaching football? More importantly, why?

Therein lies the crux of this well-written novel spun with a woman's touch that brings emotional page after emotional page to the front. "Miss Tylene" wanted to keep the football program going to prevent young men from going to war too early. In the book, she succeeded, but it wasn't easy. The story is based on real-life experiences of the real Tylene Wilson and it also has significant similarities between her and the author, which Lewis reveals in her acknowledgement at the end of the book.

"Miss Tylene" may be fictionalized in the novel, but she will forever be enshrined in the lore of Texas football legends and as a woman who dared take on a journey where only men had ventured before. Tylene Wilson took the challenge and started calling the signals.

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

 

Tennessee's coaches built a rapport early with Jordan Horston and the Lady Vols players then followed suit regarding the nation's No. 2 ranked prospect.

The 6-foot guard from Columbus, Ohio, signed with UT early Wednesday morning on the first day of the November signing period. Fellow women's basketball signees Tamari Key and Emily Saunders were recruited in a similar manner, which is paying off nicely.

The past two years, UT signed classes that were ranked No. 4 and No. 1 nationally. The seven players from those classes make up the majority of a team that's 2-0 and ranked No. 12 before facing Florida A&M (0-2) at 2 p.m. Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena.

This season's signing class currently is ranked No. 6 by Prospectsnation.com and No. 9 by ESPN HoopGurlz.

Coach Holly Warlick assessed Tennessee's recruiting after the Lady Vols missed on their top targets for the 2016 class. She reconfigured her support staff to better serve this crucial endeavor and re-evaluated strategy.

Getting a head start

For starters, Warlick believes that UT is doing a better job of foreseeing needs and identifying prospects.

"I think our staff does a great job of identifying and getting out and seeing kids, building relationships," Warlick said. "That's what recruiting is all about. Seeing who fits in your system and building that relationship."

Horston, Key and Saunders all made early unofficial visits, which helped fast-forward the process. Key and Saunders both committed last spring. Horston's mother, Malika, sensed that UT began separating itself from a crowded field earlier this year just by phone conversations between the coaching staff and her daughter.

Players serve as closers

Warlick said the players have been elevating their roles as recruiters above themselves.

"You've got to have players who are not looking from within," Warlick said. "They're not thinking, 'Gosh if we get this young lady (she's) going to take my spot.' You've got to have kids on your team that are confident, that are willing to do things for the program."

Warlick believes that the current players grasp a bigger picture.

"I'm not going to say they don't get upset on individual things," she said. "But they know kids out there. They want to play with certain kids and they're going to recruit these kids because they want talent, because they want to win."

Malika Horston thought other schools were measured against Tennessee after her daughter's official campus visit in late August.

"I just felt like the girls on this team, they act like me," Jordan said.

Volleyball a primer for basketball

The 6-5 Key, who's from Cary, N.C., and the 6-4 Saunders from Mullens, W.Va., cast long shadows on defense. Saunders averaged 6.1 blocks per game last season while Key averaged 5.8.

"Both of those kids played volleyball," Warlick said. "And I always say I love big kids that played volleyball because they know how to block shots and not foul. They've been taught that."

Ashley Robinson and Isabelle Harrison, who are among UT's career leaders in blocks, played volleyball in high school.

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Copyright 2018 The Evansville Courier Co.
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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

EVANSVILLE — Boys and girls across the country have grown up watching Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry shimmy away from defenders and chuck up 3-pointers from previously unseen distances.

As one of the best shooters ever, Curry turns the court into a playground and serves as the face of the 3-point revolution complicating basketball.

NBA teams are attempting 31.4 threes per game, up from 20 in 2012-13. Pace also has increased, meaning more shots, but that's still an 11 percent uptick in overall attempts coming from long-range.

In college, 39 percent of shots being taken by Division I teams are 3-pointers. The year-over-year increase from this season (albeit a small sample size) compared to last is nearly an all-time high, too.

The trickle-down effect has reached high schools and below.

"I have a fifth-grade son and I have to get on him all the time about chucking threes," Princeton High School boys coach Ryan Haywood said. "They want to get in the gym and automatically get behind the 3-point line because that's what Steph Curry does and that's what they like to do."

The 3-point arc, set at 19 feet, 9 inches from the goal, has been in place since the 1987-88 high school season.

There are insufficient data to know exactly how much high school basketball has evolved, but young players, more than ever, are launching threes from well beyond the line because that's what they see on TV.

Coaches have adapted because, well, they want to win.

"In the past, it seemed like teams wanted to pound it inside and get to the free-throw line," North Posey coach Heath Howington said. "Those things are still good, but you don't see as many back-to-the-basket post players anymore."

A generation ago, kids wanted to "Be Like Mike" even though it was nearly impossible to emulate Michael Jordan because he was blessed with supreme athleticism. Meanwhile, Curry is physically unimposing and has inspired a crop of shorter boys to defy physical limitations.

That doesn't mean everyone should be hanging out along the perimeter, though.

"I think sometimes they spend more time out on the 3-point line than they do actually learning how to make a layup properly," Bosse coach Shane Burkhart said.

There's the conundrum: In this 3-point-heavy, space-and-pace era, how do coaches find the balance between allowing players to shoot where they feel comfortable without taking it too far?

Statistically, 3-pointers are more efficient than mid-range jumpers because the reward — an extra point — outweighs a slightly lower completion percentage.

Vincennes Lincoln made 12 threes against Princeton in last year's sectional. Even if the Tigers had made a jumper or layup after each of those 3-pointers, they'd still be down double digits.

"We tell our kids a step or two inside the three-point line in the worst shot in basketball," Haywood said. "We don't even want to take those shots. You'd might as well be behind the arc and make it worth three or try to get to the rim and shoot a layup."

That logic is generally accepted, especially among coaches who've been around the game for as long as the arc has been in place. It's not a universal belief, though.

Take Mehki Lairy, for example. The city's all-time career scoring leader finished his Bosse career with 2,215 points. He relied on his mid-range shot for scoring as much as 3-pointers.

"If the ball goes in, isn't that the whole purpose of the game?" Burkhart said. "A long two is a bad shot? No, it's two points and that's great. Sometimes you second guess yourself — 'If I was a foot longer... ' — but the whole purpose is putting the ball in the goal."

Successful shooting always will come down to practice.

Steve Zeller, father of future NBA players Luke, Tyler and Cody, drew a three-point line in a parking lot in Washington as the boys were growing up. Except it wasn't regulation distance. They thought they were practicing threes, but they were merely regular jumpers.

The advent of shooting guns, which serve as an automatic rebounder before instantly returning a pass for another shot, has allowed players to practice shooting more efficiently than before.

Howington is about to start his seventh season as a head coach. In four of his first six, a North Posey player broke the program's single-season 3-point record. He determines who exactly is allowed to shoot them in a game based on how they practice.

"We want every player to extend their range as much as possible," he said. "We think it makes us tougher to guard when you put five guys on the floor who can shoot the three... it's picking your poison."

Bosse's 6-10 junior Kiyron Powell is starting to develop a jump shot. Burkhart said he expects Powell to shoot a few 3s this season, and while he may cringe in those moments, he isn't going to hold his players back.

"I never want to tell a kid he's taking bad shots," Burkhart said. "That just screws with their confidence. We want them to have a free flow offensively."

Steph Curry and the Warriors may have popularized basketball's new blueprint, but everyone is taking part in the 3-for-all.

Contact Courier & Press sports columnist Chad Lindskog by email, clindskog@gannett.com, or on Twitter: @chadlindskog

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

PULLMAN - Hannah Wilson, a 20-year-old junior at Washington State, doesn't typically go to college football games. That's about to change.

Wilson purchased five WSU hats Friday at The Bookie. She bought them for herself, her parents - who live in Bend, Oregon - and an aunt and uncle from Coeur d'Alene. They'll wear the hats at the family's first-ever football game at the Apple Cup this week.

"We bought the tickets a while ago before we knew the team was going to be so successful," the genetics and biology major said. "We're all excited. My dad is growing out his mustache for the event. It's really cool to see our team do well and people come together with support."

The No. 8 Cougars, who were picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 North, will host Washington on Friday with a chance to advance to the Pac-12 title game for the first time. Led by graduate transfer Gardner Minshew and his magic mustache, they're reaching success levels rarely seen in program history.

Washington State's victory Saturday night against Arizona gave the Cougs their sixth 10-win season; Mike Price coached three of them. The first was his 1997 squad that took on No. 1 Michigan and fell 21-16 to the Wolverines in WSU's first Rose Bowl appearance in 67 years.

"We are getting back to the excitement like when we went to the Rose Bowl the first time," said Price, 72, who, along with his wife Joyce, owns a cabin on Lake Coeur d'Alene. "But this one is going to have the magic. I really believe in this team.

"I love their spirit and the character of the team. And the quarterback has been superior."

The university has taken part in a hashtag campaign on Twitter in an effort to hype Minshew's Heisman Trophy potential. According to analytics tool Trendsmap, the hashtags #GardnerMinshew and #Minshew4Heisman picked up steam Friday in Western Washington even more than on the Palouse, with many of the tweets coming from Seattle.

Minshew took over a program that was hurting after the loss of quarterback Tyler Hilinski, who took his own life Jan. 16.

Former coach Jim Walden said no one could predict how the team would react.

"They were fighting depression from losing a teammate they all loved," Walden said. "It's almost like they are playing above their heads because of Hilinski. They seem to be happy. No players are complaining about not getting the ball. It's a total team. That caught fire. It's just been enjoyable for the entire Cougar Nation."

He credited Minshew's calm play for the turnaround.

"If we hadn't had Minshew, they may be fighting for their fourth or fifth win," Walden said. "I give Minshew that credit."

Cougar coffers

While fans stream into Pullman to soak in the success at Martin Stadium, the feel-good team of the Pac-12 North has pushed more donors to give to the program and has provided a boost to local businesses.

Bill Stevens, WSU's associate director of athletics, said he expects to match last season's four sellout crowds for home games. In addition, the school has also seen a 28 percent increase, year over year, to the Cougar Athletic Fund, the fundraising arm of the university's athletic program, Stevens said.

"We set a record last year, and we're tracking to top that," he said. This despite news that a controversial tweet by head coach Mike Leach might have led several donors to cancel recurring contributions to the fund.

But it might be weeks or months before the true effect of the Cougars' strong performance through November is felt by the university, officials said last week. Admission applications aren't due until the end of January for the school, and ticket sales can be affected by other factors such as holidays, which might have affected this weekend's tilt with Arizona, as students had already booked flights home for Thanksgiving.

"The challenge is, there's never sort of a one-to-one correlation for donations," said Phil Weiler, WSU's vice president of marketing and communications.

The GameDay effect

Outside the university, there are indications the city of Pullman has been humming with activity during a season that saw ESPN's flagship college football program, GameDay, broadcast in the predawn hours from campus Oct. 20 before a game against Oregon.

"That was a three-hour commercial for the city of Pullman," said Marie Dymkoski, who has been executive director of the city's chamber of commerce for the past 11 years. "We couldn't pay for that kind of publicity with all the money in China."

After Lee Corso and the crew came to town, Dymkoski sent out an email to businesses in town to determine what effect, if any, ESPN had on their business. Several firms reported double-digit weekend sales, year-to-year, including apparel store College Hill Custom Threads and Zeppoz, a bowling alley, bar and casino on Bishop Boulevard.

Steven Julian, 27, is the manager of the iconic pub The Coug. He had 100 people at his bar at 6 a.m. on GameDay. Julian said he first came to WSU when the coach was Paul Wulff, who won a total of nine games in four seasons before he was replaced in 2012 by Leach.

"Before, people would come for the weekend, not the game," Julian said. "Now there is excitement around the game itself."

One of the areas where a city like Pullman can feel the pinch with those large crowds is overnight accommodations. Dymkoski said there are between 600 and 700 hotel beds available in town, hardly enough to meet the demand of a stadium that seats nearly 33,000 people.

"I think this is an exceptional year," she said. "No one wants to miss anything."

Judy Crane has operated Moscow-Pullman Bedfinders, a type of hyperlocal room-sharing company that rents out guest rooms and empty bedrooms from homeowners in the area, for the past four years. She described the week before GameDay came to town as "like pandemonium."

"We filled to capacity on that weekend. I was almost begging for rooms," Crane said.

Other weekends aren't so busy. Crane rents out about 15 rooms in Pullman, and said those are usually full for home football games. It's rare to fill rooms in Pullman and surrounding towns, she said, but that's what happened on Oregon weekend.

Four generations

Harold and Sheila Brunstad, both 74, of Port Ludlow, walked through Ferdinand's Ice Cream Shoppe decked out in WSU gear, wolfing down ice cream cones.

Harold Brunstad, who has the license plate "Coug1B," said he remembers when the media picked WSU to finish fifth in the Pac-12 North.

"It's part of being a Coug," he said. "No respect."

Harold's side of the family has had Cougar season tickets games dating back to the 1950s. He and his son played baseball for the Cougs and have four generations who have watched the football team's occasional success.

"I can remember years when winning the Apple Cup was all it took to have a successful year," Sheila Brunstad said. "The GameDay exuberance was unbelievable.... It's so exciting."

The couple, who often take two days to travel to and from games, are exploring ways to attend the Pac-12 Championship if WSU can beat Washington this week. A victory in the Pac-12 title game would likely send the Cougars to the Rose Bowl unless there's a large shakeup among the teams ahead of them in the College Football Playoff rankings.

"I don't care if we play Alabama for the national championship," Sheila Brunstad said. "I want to be in the Rose Bowl. That's always the goal."

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Copyright 2018 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

The noisy Miller Park roof bogie has been successfully serviced and is back in place high over the home of the Milwaukee Brewers, a stadium district official said.

Workers removed the large custom-built engine Monday and lowered it to the plaza outside left field.

The bogie was taken to nearby Falk Corp. and a bearing that had been making a puzzling "clicking" sound was removed and replaced, said Mike Duckett, executive director of the Southeastern Wisconsin Professional Baseball District.

On Friday, the bogie was lifted back into place, he said. A large crane used to raise and lower the bogie will be moved from the site soon.

It's unclear what caused the clicking sound that led to the $900,000 project.

Officials wanted to look into the noise because there are 80 bearings on the 10 electric-powered bogies that open and close the enormous roof.

"Initial field investigations have not found any serious issues, flaws or evidence of any possible systemic problems within the bearing," Duckett said. "All good news so far."

The bearing manufacturer will conduct further study of the removed wheel bearing, he said.

Duckett said the maintenance project "continues to track on schedule and within budget."

Early this week, the roof panel will be lowered onto the bogie and the roof will be closed, he said.

The work is being paid through a special account established for such purposes and will have no impact on the stadium sales tax sunset, Duckett said.

The 0.1% five-county sales tax is expected to end in late 2019 or early 2020.

The roof is the most important part of the ballpark, which has been operating for 18 seasons — attendance is about 1 million more a year compared with Milwaukee County Stadium.

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A crane lifts one of the 34-ton bogies that move the large roof panels at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Monday. The lift was part of a $900,000 repair project to replace a 2-foot-diameter wheel bearing on the unit.
Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
 
November 18, 2018
 
 
 

 

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The New York Post

 

The week-long signing period began on Wednesday, and there was predictably a lot of activity. There were some surprises, too.

Below are four takeaways from the early signing period:

What scandal?

Remember when the FBI investigation into college basketball corruption was going to alter recruiting and even the playing field? The country's top prospects never got the memo and neither did the schools involved, not even the ones that had assistant coaches arrested. In 247Sports.com's recruiting rankings, USC has the No. 1 class, Arizona No. 3, Louisville No. 4 and Auburn No. 9. USC, which has five-star prospects Isaiah Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu among its elite five-man class, is recruiting better after the scandal than before it.

Powers make recruiting strides

Development matters. So does winning. It's not all about getting to the NBA as fast as possible. Just look at Gonzaga and Villanova, two of the nation's most consistent winners. Both have put together top classes. The Wildcats have the No. 2 group, while Gonzaga's is No. 7, each landing the kind of prospect who would have passed on them in recent years. It's worth nothing these two schools are known, arguably more than any others, for coaching up and developing their players better than anyone else. Players get better under Jay Wright and Mark Few, who have done a lot of winning without the type of blue-chip prospects they are beginning to land.

Decisions pushed back

Of 247Sports.com's top nine prospects, seven have yet to sign during the early period. That includes the No. 1 point guard, Cole Anthony of Manhattan. The 6-foot-3 floor general, who transferred from Archbishop Molloy in Queens to powerhouse Oak Hill Academy (Va.) for his senior year, has cut his list to six: North Carolina, Oregon, Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Georgetown and Miami.

He has taken officials visits to the first three - according to sources, they are his top priorities at the moment - and will visit Georgetown officially next weekend, a source said. A visit to Wake Forest is also in the works. His mother, Crystal McCray-McGuire, said a decision before the spring (perhaps as early as January or February) is possible, but not necessarily likely.

"I think it will be a combination of academics and a strong basketball program," McCray-McGuire said of the qualities most critical to their family. "On the basketball front, the most important thing honestly would be which coach Cole was most compatible with."

Prior to Anthony cutting his list, most experts considered Duke a favorite and expected Kentucky to get in the picture, in part because of the powerhouse programs' recent dominance for the nation's premier prospects on a yearly basis. But neither program made the family feel like Anthony was their priority, while the other six schools recruited him vigorously, his mother said.

"There wasn't that same consistent or persistent outreach from the programs that did not make the final-six cut," she said.

Struggling locals

St. John's and Seton Hall may not sign a player during the early period, just two of six power conference schools in that boat. Both have taken the transfer route of late - Seton Hall has Florida State big man Ike Obiagu sitting out, while St. John's has two transfers, David Caraher (Houston Baptist) and Eli Wright (Mississippi State) - which partly explains it. The Red Storm are hosting highly regarded junior college point guard Cam Mack this weekend, so there is a chance they could have a signee this week. St. John's has also yet to win under coach Chris Mullin, giving top recruits pause, another reason so much is riding on this season. Seton Hall, though, doesn't have that excuse. It is coming off three straight NCAA Tournament bids, yet is in a recruiting rut.

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Copyright 2018 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.
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The New York Post

 

A gay college athlete who was disowned by her parents will be allowed to keep donations made through a GoFundMe campaign and retain her eligibility, after the NCAA initially ruled she would have to return the money.

Emily Scheck, a Division I cross-country runner at Canisius College, was left abandoned by her family this past August after her mother found a photo of Scheck with her girlfriend. She called Scheck disgusting and said she could either move home and attend conversion therapy, or be cut off.

"I really didn't know how someone should respond to that," Scheck told Outsports.com.

Scheck, from Webster, N.Y., chose to stay at Canisius, where she was already moved in for preseason. Her parents cut her off and forbade communication with her siblings. Her father drove to Canisius' Buffalo campus to remove the license plates from Scheck's car because her parents had been paying the insurance. He also filled the trunk with her childhood belongings. Her car remains idle in her driveway.

Scheck was left without money for food, textbooks, tuition or car insurance. The sophomore attends Canisius on a partial athletic scholarship, but a full semester's tuition is more than $18,000. She currently works two jobs — at Wegman's supermarket and in a work-study position on campus — to try to stay afloat.

"At the start it was definitely tough," Scheck said. "I was lucky to be in preseason the first couple of weeks because coach could get us meals in the dining hall."

She added that she's borrowed books from her friends to study for classes and relies heavily on her girlfriend for meals.

After struggling like this for the last few months, despite some efforts from her coaches and faculty administrators, Scheck's roommate set up a GoFundMe explaining her situation and asking friends to donate what they can.

"Any amount of money will help her to buy groceries, finance to finish school, or cover insurance. Help her focus on school instead of working to make ends meet," the friend wrote. "No one thought that her coming out would have such a drastic effect. This should not be happening in today's society."

The page's initial goal was $5,000 and, after two days, had already raised $25,000.

Scheck was then contacted by an NCAA compliance officer at the school. The NCAA instructed Scheck either to return the money and keep her eligibility or keep the money and leave the cross-country team, per their rules.

Unable to afford a lawyer and without any other financial options to make ends meet, Scheck kept the money and left the team.

"It would run the risk of it not even happening," Scheck said of the option to remain on the team and fight the NCAA to keep the money. "There was no confirmation that we would even have our eligibility reinstated, or that I would get any financial help."

Matt Reitnour, the Canisius spokesperson, released the following statement to Outsports:

"After a review by the College's compliance staff, and following consultation with the NCAA, it was determined that the online crowdfunding webpage was organized and promoted in a manner not permitted under NCAA legislation."

Scheck ran in the NCAA Northeast Regional on Nov. 9. On Nov. 13, Scheck's roommate posted on the GoFundMe page that both she and Scheck had left Canisius' running program, due to the fundraising.

On Friday, OutSports' Cyd Zeigler reported the NCAA had reversed its course, allowing Scheck to keep the outside donations while maintaining her athletic eligibility.

"The NCAA staff worked cooperatively with Canisius College to provide guidance that the fundraiser can continue, with school monitoring," Canisius said in a statement.

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Results from a third autopsy conducted on the body of Kendrick Johnson — the second performed at the behest of Johnson's parents — have been released, contradicting an earlier conclusion that the 17-year-old's death was accidental.

But the new autopsy's impact is likely to be minimal, as a lengthy federal investigation already concluded there was no evidence of foul play.

Johnson, the Lowndes High School sophomore whose body was found in a rolled-up gym mat nearly six years ago, died from non-accidental blunt force trauma between his neck and abdomen, the third autopsy concludes.That mirrors the findings from the first autopsy, paid for by Kendrick's parents, Kenneth and Jackie Johnson, who once again hired William Anderson to examine their son's body.

The state medical examiner's office found the cause of death to be "positional asphyxia," meaning he became trapped in a position that caused him to suffocate. That finding led the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office to classify Johnson's death as an accident. A review of the autopsies commissioned by federal investigators determined the state's autopsy was more credible.

But the Johnsons have not accepted the official account.

"Kendrick KJ Johnson WAS MURDERED but we already knew that," Jackie Johnson wrote Friday morning on Facebook.

The Johnsons remain convinced their son was killed by brothers Brian and Branden Bell, sons of a local FBI agent. Video evidence showed the Bells were nowhere near the old gymnasium of Lowndes High in Valdosta when Johnson was last seen alive.

State and local investigators believe he got stuck inside the large, rolled-up gym mat, presumably reaching for a pair of sneakers. A lengthy federal investigation followed.

In 2016, the Justice Department concluded there was "insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone or some group of people willfully violated Kendrick Johnson's civil rights or committed any other prosecutable federal crime."

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

 

 

NORFOLK - Rick French pulled out a 1-pound wad of keys, fished the right one from the couple dozen on the ring and inserted it into the lock of the officials' locker room at Foreman Field.

Fun fact: some of the locks at the 82-year-old stadium, whose days have dwindled to a precious few, are so quirky and dated that they open by turning clockwise, the opposite of most.

French, Old Dominion's associate athletic director for operations, opened the door and stepped into the locker room, which had a lounge area in front and a large shower in the rear that has not been used for years.

Actually, it was used, but only as an area to store floor and ceiling tiles, wooden flooring, carpeting, grout, rolls of rubber flooring and other items left over from the construction of the Mitchum Basketball Performance Center and the expansion of the L.R. Hill Sports Complex across campus.

Fun fact: in addition to hosting college, professional and semi-professional football, track and field, lacrosse and field hockey over the decades, Foreman for the past several years has served as the attic of the ODU athletic department, with stuff tucked everywhere in the warren of nooks and crannies, closets and breezeways beneath the stands.

Now, everything must go.

French and his crew have until Monday evening to clear the place out. The final game will be played Saturday against Virginia Military Institute, and demolition of the campus and community landmark is expected to begin next week to clear the way for a $65 million reconstruction.

Some stuff already has gone. Three 40-foot containers of items formerly stored at Foreman sit in a lot on the west side of campus, near the Sailing Center.

The rest of it will be cleared by French, a graduate assistant and a crew of 10 student workers.

Regrettably, there aren't any leather helmets or much of anything in the way of historical relics left in the stadium, which opened on Oct. 3, 1936 and is, to be charitable, showing its age.

Rather, there are myriad things essential to the operation of one more game at the old ball yard, ranging from cheerleader pom-poms to first-down markers, TV monitors to training tables.

Much will be stored for a return to the new facility. For example, 71 visiting player lockers and chairs, coaching lockers and chairs, tables, radios, trash cans, etc. will be stashed until the new stadium is ready in August.

"These are relatively expensive if you buy them new," French said. "You want to keep them."

Like any operations manager, frugality is one of French's guiding principles. Resourcefulness is a requirement of the job. Re-purposing items, rather than throwing them out, is the goal whenever possible. So is keeping "attic stock" around for small repairs that arise.

Hardly any space has gone unused. The area under the north bleachers, which are not slated for tear-down in this reconstruction, houses giant cooling fans positioned on the sideline in warm weather as well as fixtures, faucets, speakers and other equipment.

Marching band equipment was stored in a room in the southwest corner of the stadium.

It's been a constant shuffle, moving stuff from one place to another to make room in grandma's attic.

"It's amazing all the little nooks you can shove stuff in," French said. "It's an interesting dance, so to speak."

Things will be considerably less strained at the reconstructed stadium, which will have a dedicated storage space that will make life easier, if possibly a bit less interesting, for French and his staff.

"It's a big enough space that we can utilize and function way better," he said.

The old space will have to suffice for one more game, before the tear-down begins.

Ed Miller, 757-446-2372, ed.miller@pilotonline.com

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Copyright 2018 News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

NEW YORK - The NFL is awarding more than $35 million to five organizations conducting research into diagnosis and treatment of brain injuries.

A multi-institution team including the University of North Carolina, has received a $14.7 million grant from the NFL to study potential long-term neurologic health consequences of concussions and sub-concussive injuries suffered by former NFL players. Boston Children's Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard University, the Medical College of Wisconsin and the University Orthopedic Center-State College, Pa., join UNC in the study.

It will be the largest cohort of former NFL players ever studied.

Also receiving money will be:

The University of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, $6,070,384 to its "Prevalence of Brain Health versus Neurodegeneration in Professional Football Retirees" work.The University of Calgary, led by Dr. Carolyn Emery, $9,438,473 to "Surveillance in High Schools to Reduce Concussions in Youth."The University of California-San Francisco, led by Dr. Geoff Manley, $3,454,080 to "Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury (TRACK-TBI Longitudinal)."The Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Harvard Medical School, led by Dr. Grant Iverson, $1,583,138 to "The Spectrum of Concussion: Predictors of Clinical Recovery, Treatment and Rehabilitation, and Possible Long-Term Effects."

Through its Scientific Advisory Board established as part of its "Play Smart. Play Safe" initiative, the NFL is awarding grants to investigative teams focusing on concussions and associated conditions, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

The study will track up to 2,500 former NFL players previously surveyed in 2001 with annual follow-up health assessments. Two hundred of those former players who exhibit impairment will undergo repeated, detailed, in-person research evaluations. The researchers will assess for associations between clinical outcomes and abnormal tau protein buildup as well as examine other risk factors for neurologic health outcomes.

Having awarded $35 million of the NFL's $40 million commitment made in 2016, the league has allocated the remaining $5 million to further medical research focused on player health and safety. The money will be distributed under the guidance of SAB Chairman Peter Chiarelli, a retired U.S. Army general who led the Department of Defense efforts on post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and suicide prevention.

"We saw their translational values," Chiarelli said Thursday. "(The grant winners) supplemented ongoing research that already showed great promise. We were focused on the patient, and of the eight that we asked to come back and brief us for 30 minutes and answer questions, these five had the greatest opportunity to help patients and to help understand and prevent injury in the future. That was our unified goal in picking the final five."

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

Kevin Donalson has an enviable football pedigree. The high school sophomore's father played college ball at Morehouse in Atlanta and worked as an assistant high school coach in football-crazed Louisiana.

But the younger Donalson, a defensive back at the District of Columbia's Gonzaga College High School, joined a growing American narrative last season when he suffered a concussion at practice.

Donalson's mother, Kimberly, said the school did a good job caring for Kevin and communicating with the family, and she knows how much her son loves the game. But if the teenager suffers another head injury, she said, that's it for football.

"I have always said if he gets another concussion, we are done," Mrs. Donalson said. "He is cognizant of what CTE is. He understands the consequences of an injury."

Mrs. Donalson is hardly the only parent wrestling with football's risks. Participation numbers in high school football are down nationally and in the Washington region as fear of concussions and other injuries take a toll on America's Friday night pastime.

High school football enrollment has dropped 6.6 percent in the past 10 years, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations, and the total number of players decreased by 20,320 from 2016 to 2017. But football is still the most popular sport at the high school level, with 1,036,842 boys playing last year.

Football participation in the District has increased 4.4 percent from 2013 to 2017, but numbers are down in Maryland and Virginia. Participation in Maryland has fallen a full 10 percent since 2013, and Virginia has reported a 7.4 percent decline.

Some schools have canceled seasons altogether because of a lack of interest. Among local high schools to drop varsity football this fall were Manassas Park and Park View in Northern Virginia and Bladensburg in suburban Maryland.

In football-crazy Texas, statistics for the 2017 season look almost identical to those of 2013. But a small East Texas high school canceled its football season this year after several players were injured early on and the team didn't have enough replacements.

The high school numbers reflect an even more drastic shift at the lower youth football level, where children first learn the sport.

According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, tackle football participation among all players 17 or younger dropped 30 percent in the U.S. over the past decade. In Maryland, Anne Arundel County's youth football association lost 33 percent of its participation from 2011 to 2016. The Virginian-Pilot reported that numbers for the under-10 and ages 10-14 leagues in Virginia Beach dwindled from 1,376 players in 2012 to 516 in 2017.

For years, many players at the youth level have left football when they reach high school because of a lack of interest or pressure to specialize in another sport at which they are more adept.

But football is still America's favorite sport by far, whether judged by TV ratings or high school participation. When the sport disappears, as it did at one school near Baltimore last year, people notice.

Centennial returns

The Centennial High School Eagles were down big to Mount Hebron on Sept. 28. The final score that night was 47-0. In fact, Centennial didn't score a point all season.

But some Centennial fans and families were happy just to have a team at all.

The Ellicott City, Maryland, high school did not field a varsity football team last year because of a lack of players and concerns about player safety, but it brought the game back this fall.

Centennial's athletic director and some students said the team helped boost school spirit even without a lot of success on the field. The mother of a wrestler said it was embarrassing for Centennial to be the only school in Howard County without a football program.

John Davis, the coordinator of athletics for Howard County Public Schools, is a former football coach in the county who played in high school and college. He called the sport "pretty resilient."

"Coaches are not dumb," Mr. Davis said. "They are coming up with [tackling] techniques that are better. They will find a way [to keep the sport viable], especially since the NFL is so big. There is going to be a place for it. There will be football."

Centennial fan Drew Carlson stood on an incline near the bleachers at Centennial during the Mount Hebron game. His son Tom was a backup quarterback at Centennial earlier this decade. Mr. Carlson doesn't have any children at Centennial now, but his wife works at the school and helps out under the Friday night lights.

"They did not have enough kids [last year]. It is a pretty academic place. Football is not high on the list," he said.

Centennial forfeited its Oct. 12 game against Howard but vowed to finish the season. Mr. Davis, the head of Howard County athletics, said Centennial had just 13 players available to face Howard. "We did not feel that was safe," he said.

The Eagles had 20 available players for its game the following week against Reservoir and lost 50-0. The team has also lost 47-0, 37-0, 45-0 and 56-0 this season.

The beatings have fueled concerns of parents watching anxiously from the stands.

Doug Shea, whose son Flynn is a freshman at the school and is in the Centennial marching band, was also on the sidelines for the game against Mount Hebron in September.

"They have three times the number of players," said Mr. Shea, pointing to the Mount Hebron bench.

Elizabeth Murphy, the mother of a Mount Hebron player, said she would not let her son play if he attended Centennial.

"I think when you talk about making it safer, there's safety in numbers," Mrs. Murphy said. "When you have more kids that are interested in the sport, then that generates more interest in creating a safer environment."

"My father was a former high school coach," the parent of a Centennial sophomore said. "He had a kid break his neck. The kid died a couple days later. So, no contact sports. I was never allowed to play contact sports after that."

Pros' perspectives

Colt McCoy grew up in West Texas, and his life revolved around football. So did the lives of most everyone around him.

On Friday nights in the fall, towns would practically shut down during high school games, the Washington Redskins' backup quarterback said. Traffic lights would stay green because no one would be on the road. Convenience stores and local shops would close early.

"I lived in a town of 700 people, but there was 3,500 people at our Friday night football game," said McCoy, who played high school ball in Tuscola. "So it was like, 'Where'd these people come from?'"

McCoy understands why some schools in Virginia have eliminated football. He realizes that parents are concerned about the safety of the sport.

At the same time, McCoy said, he feels that the new emphasis on players' health has made the game safer.

"The league is aware, and there's lots of talk about it and there's rule changes being put in place to protect them," he said. "I think it's getting better from that standpoint."

Redskins linebacker Mason Foster was surprised to learn that some programs had shuttered because of a lack of participation. He called the schools' decisions "messed up."

Foster, a native of Seaside, California, recounted the lifelong friendships he has made from football and the places he otherwise would not have traveled.

"I grew up with a lot of kids who couldn't make weight to play Pop Warner, so they had to wait until high school to play," Foster said. "So I think if you cut out high school football programs, that's kind of sad.

"But at the end of the day, it is a dangerous game and people are finding out people have all these head things and people going crazy and all that. I completely understand because nobody wants to shorten your life."

Foster and McCoy said they would let their children play football regardless of the risks.

McCoy, a father of three, and his wife had their first son in July. The quarterback said he won't let his son participate in tackle football until he has developed physically and can understand coaching.

Foster's two sons, ages 5 and 3, have expressed interest in the game. He said they play recreationally at school and often play the "Madden" football video game.

Foster, like McCoy, said he will wait until his children are older before he allows them to play tackle but added that it's ultimately the child's decision.

"Every parent has a different mindset about it, but as far as the way that my family, the way me and my wife handle it, [it's] whatever they want to do, they can do it," Foster said.

McCoy said he might not be so passionate about football if he had been born somewhere other than Texas. Maybe, he said, he would be playing lacrosse instead.

As it turns out, McCoy can't imagine a world without football.

"I like football from a team standpoint because you learn so many things about yourself than just, 'I can throw a football,'" McCoy said. "You learn discipline, how to be a teammate.... I can go down the list outside of drawing up a play and being a part of it."

What the future holds

Football coaches at nearly all levels have been forced to defend their sport or at least promote it.

Towson football coach Rob Ambrose, who grew up near Frederick, Maryland, has a tangible way of explaining how the game is safer than in the past.

"I remember looking at the helmet that my father wore," Ambrose said. "How is he not injured for the rest of his life? We are smarter than we were before."

Ambrose, 48, takes pride in what he calls "espousing the greatness of the game" while pointing out that it has changed for the better.

"I remember when they told us water [breaks] made us soft," Ambrose said. "We are constantly evolving. That should never change."

Elijah Brooks is coach of the high school powerhouse DeMatha Catholic High School in the Washington suburb of Hyattsville, Maryland. He also is a coach and board member at USA Football, the sport's national governing body at the amateur level.

Brooks is familiar with the challenges facing the sport but said USA Football is addressing safety issues. He sees that happening at DeMatha.

"Over the past few years, our kids have had to undergo three different baseline concussion tests so our training staff can identify head injuries sooner," Brooks said. "Our staff has to sit through several courses at the beginning of the year to identify concussion symptoms and when kids are dehydrated. We are very confident in our training staff and the procedures put in to keep kids safe."

Brooks said parents sometimes decide to start their children in football at a later age or choose flag football, but "we still see many kids playing the game."

Greg Gattuso, the University of Albany's head coach, said he sees similarities to his time coaching at the high school level.

"Back in 1989 to 1993, we were talking about the same thing back then," Gattuso said. "JV teams were disbanding. I think it is a trend in society. I think the concussion thing has had an impact on that. I think the changes football is making will save the game."

Meanwhile, the numbers of those worried about football safety seem destined to grow with every multimillion-dollar lawsuit or troubling new brain study.

Mrs. Donalson, holding her breath in the stands on a chilly fall Friday night in Landover, Maryland, said she can't help but worry.

Watching as her son and his Gonzaga teammates took on powerhouse DeMatha, she said, "He is one of the smaller kids on his team. He has never allowed that to stop him."

⦁ Washington Times sports intern Owen Dunn contributed to this report.

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The Washington Times

 

DJ Durkin stayed in communication with assistant coaches at the University of Maryland football program and helped make game plans for the Terrapins while he was on paid administrative leave, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Durkin who was fired Oct. 31 a day after an initial decision to reinstate him from his suspension reportedly told the independent commission formed to investigate Maryland football's culture that assistants sent him game film so he could assist them in preparing for opponents.

A university spokesman told the Sun that Durkin "was not to perform coaching duties while on administrative leave," but Durkin allegedly told the commission that athletic director Damon Evans approved the coach's continued involvement.

Durkin was placed on leave Aug. 11 shortly after ESPN published an article detailing allegations of a "toxic" culture within the football program at Maryland. He remained suspended until Oct. 30, when the University System of Maryland Board of Regents said the school would retain him after lengthy discussions of the commission's report.

That decision was reversed about 26 hours later on the evening of Oct. 31, when university president Wallace D. Loh overruled the regents' recommendation to retain Durkin and instead fired him.

Matt Canada continues to serve as interim coach of the Terrapins, who have two regular season games left this year.

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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

FITCHBURG - A Fitchburg State University basketball player on suspension after he struck a Nichols College player in the face with a forearm during a game Tuesday issued an apology through his Instagram account.

Kewan Platt of Jamaica Plain, who was suspended from the team and university the day after he knocked Nichols College player Nate Tenaglia to the floor during a game in Fitchburg, apologized to Mr. Tenaglia, Fitchburg State and others. Mr. Platt posted a statement Thursday.

"I hereby want to apologize and show my deep regret upon my actions that occurred during the game against Nichols College the other night," he wrote. "What I did is totally unacceptable and not justified in any way. I got frustrated and lost control over my behavior. I know these words cannot undo my wrongdoings. In the future I promise to make better choices."

Mr. Platt elbowed Mr. Tenaglia in the face as the Nichols College player was completing a three-point shot. Mr. Tenaglia, who did not appear to see the blow coming, fell to the floor, but got back up to successfully shoot two free throws. Mr. Platt was issued a technical foul and removed from the game because it was his second technical foul.

The incident was captured on video, as part of the school's airing of the contest. Replays were widely shared on social media and in national media.

The incident was condemned by Fitchburg State University, Nichols College Athletic Director Chris Colvin and the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference. The incident is under review by Fitchburg State University's police department and by the university as a whole.

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USA TODAY

 

In an interview with ESPN this week, American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco said the treatment of unbeaten Central Florida by the College Football Playoff selection committee over the past couple of years has caused him to re-evaluate his stance on whether the four-team field should be expanded beyond its current format.

"The point is, I hadn't really given a lot of thought to expansion of the Playoff, but I'm giving more thought to it, only because it seems to me that if half of FBS is pretty much going to be left out of this, then I think maybe you have to think more about it," Aresco told ESPN.

For all the talk among fans and media members about changing the current Playoff, it's a pretty good indicator of how far away we actually are from expansion that the one commissioner who should be pounding the table and screaming about the unfairness of this system is just now starting to consider something that the rest of the world has been considering since Day 1.

Of course, Aresco should be in favor of Playoff expansion. As should Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, whose conference champion was left out last year and might very well again this year. As should Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, whose conference is slipping into irrelevance as its football product struggles. As should Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, whose league is the only one thus far to have a one-loss conference champion shut out of a Playoff bid.

At this point, the only league that can reasonably say a four-team field is more beneficial to its interests than eight is the Southeastern Conference. So why does it feel like we are still several years away from having a serious discussion about a better way to do this?

One of the major fallacies in projecting when the Playoff will expand is this notion that some chaotic result is going to trigger an epiphany among the conference commissioners and cause them to scrap this thing and start over.

Remember, the nuts and bolts of the CFP system were formed through a series of meetings that took place in 2012 and 2013 in which every possible scenario was discussed. The commissioners knew going into this that the SEC would probably get two teams in sooner or later. They knew that Notre Dame could get in and take a spot from a power conference champion. They knew you could have a UCF or a Boise State go unbeaten and not get a shot.

They didn't care then, so it seems highly unlikely they'll care now.

Instead, there are two things that are more likely to shake the status quo than a name-brand team getting left out of the Playoff under controversial circumstances: signs of declining interest in the sport and the fast-approaching change in college football's leadership.

Admittedly, the first factor is admittedly more difficult to quantify. In 2017, Sports Business Journal found that CBS, ABC, NBC and ESPN all saw their average college football viewership decline year-over-year while Fox was up 23% due to the addition of its Big Ten package. Though somewhat alarming, that's not necessarily a perfect measurement either. Because of teams such as Michigan and Notre Dame, who draw big numbers when they're winning, some of those ratings could end up higher in 2018.

On the other hand, this Saturday will be the second consecutive in which ABC's coveted prime-time slot will go to matchups with limited national appeal (no offense to UCF-Cincinnati, but it's not exactly a ratings bonanza) because there were no other options. Meanwhile, any team west of Oklahoma is basically irrelevant at this point in the Playoff race and the conference championship games aside from Alabama-Georgia aren't shaping up as must-watch matchups.

The entire season, in fact, has lacked some juice, which is perhaps owed somewhat to Alabama's dominance but also speaks to the major structural problem with the Playoff as it stands.

It's simply undeniable that if there were an eight-team Playoff with automatic bids going to Power Five conference champions, Washington-Washington State would have huge meaning and the Big 12 championship game wouldn't need a Notre Dame loss to be must-watch TV.

Moreover, the bracket that would be awaiting us after championship weekend might look something like this: UCF at Alabama, Georgia at Clemson, Washington State at Notre Dame, Oklahoma at Michigan. Just from an entertainment standpoint, who's not signing up for that?

Unfortunately, rather than finding a way to make that format work, the power brokers have spent years explaining why it's not feasible: The academic schedule is difficult to navigate, the season is already too long and, best of all, that it would rob teams that lost in the quarterfinals of the oh-so-valuable "bowl experience."

All of these issues could be worked out if the commissioners wanted to take control of their postseason rather than outsourcing a good portion of it to bowl game organizers. Remember, this is a sport where they are playing the Playoff semifinals on Dec. 29 this year because the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl have priority on New Year's Day. (This would be like the Masters deciding to finish its tournament on Monday and willingly giving up the best TV time slot on Sunday afternoon to the Weed Eater Open.)

None of it makes sense, but it's going to take a new, younger group of administrators running the Playoff to see how much potential they're currently wasting. At some point, that will happen.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford hasn't committed to a retirement date, but he's turning 70 in a few weeks. Bowlsby will be 67 in January. Delany has targeted 2020 as a good date to step aside, and a number of people in the college sports industry are skeptical that Scott's tenure at the Pac-12 will last more than a few years.

In other words, the entire group of people driving these decisions could look very different by the next presidential election. And with that change will come new energy, fewer ties to tradition and the bowl industry and a longer view of what college football needs to grow its popularity.

Aresco, who is also part of that old guard as a longtime television executive before taking over the AAC, is finally seeing the light. But if it's taken Aresco this long to realize that an eight-team Playoff would be in his league's interests, the others are probably lagging even further behind.

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

The Christiansburg Aquatic Center took home two awards the first week of November from the 63rd annual conference of the Virginia Recreation and Park Society.

The Aquatic Center was awarded Best New Special Event (for population under 25,000) for its annual First Responders Battleship, and the Distinguished Volunteer Service Award honoring the dedication of longtime Aquatic Center volunteer Shirley Hallock.

The statewide awards program honors individuals, departments and organizations throughout Virginia who have demonstrated excellence during the previous year. This year, 114 applications were received vying for awards in 14 different categories.

First Responders Battleship is an annual program that began in 2017 to honor the service of emergency personnel in Montgomery County. Teams of first responders battle it out in canoes, attempting to be the last canoe standing by sinking their opponents. Entry for the public is free, but donations to local fire, rescue and police departments are accepted.

"We are honored that First Responders Battleship was recognized as the Best New Special Event because in creating this event, we really wanted to honor the many paid and volunteer emergency responders we have in this community," Aquatics Director Terry Caldwell said. "We wanted to come up with something fun - where the community could cheer these men and women on but also laugh with them and, hopefully, leave feeling like they got to know their police, fire and rescue members on a more personal level. Plus, what's not to love about a little friendly competition in the pool!"

Shirley Hallock, who won the Distinguished Volunteer Service Award on behalf of the Aquatic Center, has been volunteering with the facility for eight years. She volunteers as a timer for competitive swim meets, works behind the scenes to schedule volunteer groups for meet operations and serves on the Aquatic Advisory Board.

Hallock writes monthly articles in support of the Aquatic Center for the local newspaper, she analyzes monthly budget documents and reports revenue versus expense results to the board, and she continues to advocate the importance of a healthy community. At 83 years young, Hallock also volunteers with the Feeding America program, working directly with local grocery stores and coordinating their donation of baked goods to the Aquatic Center to help feed the less fortunate.

"Shirley has become my community advocate and serves as a volunteer role model throughout our town," Caldwell said. "It is rare to find not only a great volunteer, but someone who advocates our existence on a daily basis. Shirley Hallock has gone above and beyond and has accomplished great things for the Town of Christiansburg and the community as a whole."

The mission of the Virginia Recreation and Park Society is to unite all professionals, students and interested lay persons engaged in the field of recreation, parks and other leisure services in the Commonwealth of Virginia. For more information on the Society, contact the state office at 804-730-9447 or visit the website at www.vrps.com.

Submitted by Melissa Demmitt

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The Philadelphia Daily News

 

GOING, GOING, gone. Well, almost.

The Camden County Improvement Authority approved a $939,000 contract Thursday to demolish Campbell's Field, ending a once-promising era of professional baseball on the Camden waterfront. The vacant stadium, once home to the Camden Riversharks, will be torn down to make way for new athletic fields.

R.E. Pierson Construction of Pilesgrove, Salem County, is expected to begin clearing the eight-acre site in mid-December, said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. Construction should be completed by spring 2020.

"There is no doubt in my mind that it will be sad to see the stadium go, but the redevelopment of those areas will create an amenity and asset open to all," Cappelli said in a statement.

Under a $15 million deal reached last year, the city and Rutgers-Camden agreed to purchase the 6,400-seat stadium from the county and raze it. Rutgers will manage the new athletic complex, which will include fields for baseball, hockey, soccer and lacrosse, and a track. The city and Rutgers are putting up $7.5 million each.

The demolition marks a disappointing end to a big field of dreams for the prime site at the foot of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge that many hoped would draw baseball enthusiasts and developers to the waterfront. But the Riversharks, an independent minor league team, fell on hard times and ceased operations in Camden in 2015.

The new complex will be used by the Rutgers-Camden NCAA Division III baseball team, which leased Campbell's Field for practices and games for the 2018 season. The team will play away games for the 2019 season and practice in anearby field, said spokesperson Mike Sepanic.

County and city officials have said residents and neighborhood and youth groups, such as Little League, would also have access to the athletic fields. Community meetings will be held to get feedback from the neighborhood adjacent to the stadium, Cappelli said.

"We're excited to see what the future will bring," said Jonathan Latko, president of the Cooper Grant Neighborhood Association, which represents residents who live a few blocks from the stadium. "There's so much potential here."

The vicinity of the stadium is considered prime real estate, and many along the waterfront expressed concern about the vacant stadium. A proposal to erect a gigantic billboard in the area sparked fierce opposition from some residents who said it would mar the view of the Philadelphia skyline.

Mayor Frank Moran last week vetoed the billboard project. Vince Basara, the mayor's spokesman, did not respond to messages seeking comment Thursday on the demolition project and the new athletic plans.

"It is nice to see the demolition phase move forward," said Kris Kolluri, president and CEO of Cooper's Ferry Partnership, which is overseeing development in the city.

The state spent about $20 million to build the picturesque stadium. With about 3,100 people attending games on average and few winning seasons, the River-sharks struggled to stay afloat. The team ceased operations after it could not reach an agreement on lease terms with the county. Efforts to bring in a major league-affiliated baseball team also fell short.

The county purchased the stadium in 2015 for $3.5 million just ahead of foreclosure to maintain control of the land. The county collected about $100,000 annually from a lease with Rutgers and other events held there. The county owes about $3 million on a bond that will be retired by the end of the year under the agreement with the city and Rutgers, said county spokesperson Dan Keashen.

Ballpark Digest put Campbell's Field on its list of most endangered ballparks in the country, with odds it will survive of 1,000-1. The shuttered stadium stands out on the waterfront, surrounded by construction, including a $1 billion project underway nearby by Liberty Property Trust of Philadelphia.

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV on Thursday asked a Fulton County judge to stop allowing the Atlanta Braves and Major League Baseball to seal records in ongoing litigation with the family of a man who fell to his death over a guardrail at Turner Field.

The lawsuit was filed by Laura Murrey, whose 60-year-old husband died Aug. 29, 2015. Greg Murrey had stood up in his second-row seat in the upper deck to boo New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, but instead toppled over the first row seats and then over the 30-inch-high guardrail to the lower level about 40 feet below.

The suit contends the Braves and MLB knew the railing was unsafe because it was not high enough. The Braves and MLB deny the allegations.

In their motion, the AJC and WSB-TV are asking Fulton State Court Judge John Mather to hold an emergency hearing to ensure records are made public concerning previous injuries and safety concerns at the stadium.

"The public has an unassailable right to know whether there were certain risks to the public's safety and whether the MLB, the Braves and other professional baseball teams were aware of such risks," the motion said.

After the lawsuit was filed, lawyers for the Murrey family and attorneys for the Braves and MLB agreed to shield "highly confidential" information in the case from public view. In the ensuing months, the Braves and MLB designated thousands of records as "highly confidential," and this has meant most motions in the case are heavily "redacted,"meaning passages are blacked out.

Because of all the blacked-out passages, it is "virtually impossible"to figure out arguments being made in various court filings, such as a recent one in which MLB sought to be dismissed from the case, the AJC and WSB-TV motion said.

Inacourtmotionfiled afew months ago, lawyers for the Murrey family said the Braves and MLB had gone too far. They contended that many of the Braves' and MLB's redactions were unjustified and improper and asked Mather to stop it.

Early Thursday morning, just hours before the AJC and WSB-TV filed its motion, Mather issued an order in which he deferred taking action on the confidentiality issue. He said it was not a matter that required his attention at this stage of the litigation but said he may revisit the issue before the trial, which has been set for November of next year.

Mather has yet to address the motion filed by the AJC and WSB-TV.

The news media companies' motion says Georgia's highest courts have ruled repeatedly that open and public judicial proceedings, including access to records, are an integral part of democracy. It also says proper procedures, such as holding a hearing to determine what documents can and cannot be sealed, were not followed before the Braves and MLB were allowed to shield so many records from public view.

"The redacted and sealed portions of the judicial pleadings and records at issue bear directly on such fundamental issues as ballpark safety, management's knowledge of safety issues and steps MLB and its teams are taking or could have taken to prevent future tragic deaths," said the motion, written by Atlanta lawyers Cynthia Counts and Kenneth Franklin. "These are all matters of serious public concern, above and beyond the public's ordinary and rightful interest in any judicial proceedings."

The lawsuit, filed two years ago, has attracted national news coverage.

"One of the central issues in this case and for the public is whether professional baseball parks are safe places for fans watching the game from the upper deck," the motion said. "Whether professional baseball provides safe environments for the millions of fans who attend games every year is an important issue to almost everyone, whether or not they are baseball fans."

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Copyright 2018 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

The University of Utah revealed plans Wednesday to expand Rice-Eccles Stadium from its current stadium capacity of 45,807 to 51,444 with a renovation of the south end zone that will include premium seating.

How does Rice-Eccles Stadium stack up against the rest of the Pac-12, before its renovations? Here's a look at each stadium in the Pac-12, its key features and the latest renovations.

Stadiums are listed in order of their current seating capacity, from largest to smallest.

Rose Bowl, UCLA

Seating capacity: 88,565

Most recent stadium update: The Rose Bowl underwent a three-phase, $152 million renovation project, completed in 2013, that included a new video board measuring 78-by-30 feet, increasing the number of concession areas by 50 percent, restoring the field hedges on the sidelines and a renovation of the press box, among other improvements, including increased safety provisions.

Other key features: The home of the nation's longest-running and most recognizable bowl game includes a Court of Champions on the south end of the stadium. This highlights Rose Bowl game records, as well as the name of coaches and game MVPs, displayed on plaques attached to the exterior wall. There is also a Hall of Fame statue in the Court of Champions. In addition to the annual Rose Bowl game, the stadium has played host to four BCS national championships, two College Football Playoff semifinals, five Super Bowls, men's and women's World Cup soccer games and events for both the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics.

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, USC

Seating capacity: 78,467 (will be 77,500 in 2019 following its current renovation)

Most recent stadium update: The Coliseum is currently undergoing construction to renovate the historic stadium - its capacity was 92,348 pre-construction. The $300 million renovations will include a new structure on the south side, complete with suites, loge boxes, club level and a new press box, along with a new concourse. Every seat will be replaced - the seating capacity will be reduced to 77,500 at its completion - and two video boards will be added, while WiFi will be upgraded. It's expected to be completed in time for the 2019 home-opener.

Other key features: The historic stadium has an Olympic Cauldron, which was built for the two Summer Olympics it hosted (in 1932 and 1984). It will also host the 2028 Olympics. Its cauldron is part of a Peristyle entrance that honors the rich heritage of USC football. The stadium has also been the home of a number of NFL teams, including the Rams through the end of the 2019 season, and hosted two Super Bowls.

Husky Stadium, Washington

Seating capacity: 70,138

Most recent stadium update: A three-year, $261 million renovation brought new football offices and a new press box, as well as a grand concourse. In addition, the video and audio system was upgraded, and the track around the football field was removed. Open-air field-level suites were also added, replacing the temporary bleachers in the east end zone. Concession stands and bathrooms were also upgraded, and the student section moved from the north sideline to the west end zone.

Other key features: The stadium overlooks Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains, providing a unique and picturesque view. It has also undergone renovations in 1987 and 1950 since the stadium was built in 1920.

Memorial Stadium, Cal

Seating capacity: 62,467

Most recent stadium update: The stadium underwent a $321 million, 21-month renovation beginning in December 2010 to make it a seismically safe environment. The west side of the stadium was most impacted - about 60 percent of the stadium was renovated - and the renovation included greater access like wider concourses, updated restrooms, restoration of the stadium's historic facade, a modern press box and three club levels.

Other key features: A dense forest of pine trees lines the east side of the stadium, with a view of the San Francisco Bay Area to the west. The stadium was modeled after the Colosseum in Rome.

Autzen Stadium, Oregon

Seating capacity: 54,000

Most recent stadium update: The east end zone scoreboard received an update, including a digital screen, in 2014. The sideline wall graphics were also updated, as was the sound system, and a section for food trucks became available on the north side of the stadium.

Other key features: A $90 million renovation prior to the 2002 season added 12,000 seats and 32 luxury boxes on the stadium's south side, as well as the Club at Autzen, a 10,000-square-foot entertainment center. There are luxury suites on both the north and south sides as well. A 33-by-83-foot high-definition LED scoreboard was added in 2008.

Arizona Stadium, Arizona

Seating capacity: 53,646

Most recent stadium update: In 2013, the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility on the north end of the stadium, which added 60 four-person loges, 300 additional club seats, the upscale Sands Club and houses the football offices as well as the Arizona locker room.

Other key features: The scoreboard in the south end zone was installed in 1999 and updated since, while there have been sound system updates twice in the past decade. The Ring of Fame along the west side of the stadium honors names of previous Wildcat greats. The four-story skybox features 319 loge seats on the first level, 13 suites on the second level and a President's Box and 10 suites on the third level, with the media center on the fourth floor.

Sun Devil Stadium,

Arizona State

Seating capacity: 53,599

Most recent stadium update: The Student-Athlete Facility was completed in 2017, bringing with it a state-of-the-art weight room, new locker room with a barbershop and a player's lounge with TVs and several gaming options. There is also new club-level seating and a 113-by-48 video board in the north end zone, the eighth- largest nationally. The capacity of the stadium was 65,870 before the renovations and now seats 53,599, according to the Arizona Republic.

Other key features: The Carson Student Athlete Center in the south end of the stadium houses all 21 varsity sports at Arizona State. The stadium also features a three-story, 60,000-square-foot press box and skybox, with two levels of suites (30 on each level) and topped by the press box and eight additional suites on the top level.

Stanford Stadium,

Stanford

Seating capacity: 50,424

Most recent stadium update: While Stanford Stadium upgraded its scoreboards with high-definition video boards in 2013, the real significant event came in 2005 when the school's board approved demolishing the original stadium and reconstructing it in time for the 2006 season. The seating capacity was reduced from 85,000 to a little over 50,000. The new facility removed the track along the outside of the football field, and was a dual-deck concrete stadium in comparison to the nearly enclosed bowl that the structure had originally been.

Other key features: Whether the old Stanford Stadium or the new, the facility has been home to several historic event. Stanford hosted the Pac-12 championship game at the stadium in 2012, beating UCLA 27-24, before it moved to a neutral site in 2014. Also, Stanford Stadium was the site of the Super Bowl in 1985 and hosted men's and women's World Cup soccer games in the 1990s.

Folsom Field, Colorado

Seating capacity: 50,183

Most recent stadium update: The Champions Center and Indoor Practice Facility were completed in 2016, adding a Touchdown Club room and Touchdown Club seats and loge boxes in the north bleachers and the Champions Club in the northeast corner of the end zone. A Rooftop Terrace also allows fans to take in scenic views of the Rocky Mountain foothills.

Other key features: A $42 million renovation project on the east side increased the stadium to its current capacity. The field was natural grass until 1971, when it was replaced by AstroTurf. Of note, Saturday's contest between Utah and Colorado will be the 500th game at Folsom Field.

Rice-Eccles Stadium, Utah

Seating capacity: 45,807

Most recent stadium update: The Utes unveiled a new video board and sound system in 2016. The video board is 122 feet wide by 64 feet tall and contains 2.6 million pixels while costing $13.5 million.

Other key features: The playing field is a FieldTurf surface, with the latest version of this surface installed at Rice-Eccles in September 2015. The stadium played host to the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. The Utes replaced their aging Rice Stadium in the mid-1990s, nearly tearing down the entire stadium in 1997 and rebuilding a concrete, steel and glass structure in time for the 1998 season. The only part that remained from the original stadium was the south end zone bleachers. Construction costs totaled $50 million.

Reser Stadium,

Oregon State

Seating capacity: 43,154

Most recent stadium update: A ribbon board was added in 2018 to the facade on the east side and runs the length of the stadium. Also, a 13,000-square-foot area known as The Terrace was opened in the north end zone and provides fans with upgraded food options and a reserved plush chair-back seat.

Other key features: The Valley Football Center, opened in 1990 and most recently expanded in 2017, is nearly 100,000 square feet in the north end of the stadium and houses the football offices, an upgraded players lounge and the OSU Athletics Hall of Fame while also allowing fans a chance to watch the game from the north end zone during games.

Martin Stadium, Washington State

Seating capacity: 32,952

Most recent stadium update: A $61 million project brought a football operations building to the stadium and was completed in summer 2014. The facility operates as a home to the football team, including football offices, locker room, weight room and a recruiting room.

Other key features: The school approved an $80 million project in 2011 to add premium suites and club seats to the stadium. A new video board was also installed and ready for the 2014 season.

EMAIL: bjudd@deseretnews.com

TWITTER: brandonljudd

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Copyright 2018 News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

The legacy of Jim Valvano lives on at N.C. State.

Valvano, the former State coach and athletics director, died of cancer more than 25 years ago, but in the minds of Wolfpack fans and basketball fans all over North Carolina, it all seems so poignant and so fresh.

The life and his death were a drama unlike anything anyone has ever seen. His rise and his fall were like a work of fiction, a fantastic tale of triumph and tribulation. He was and is the soul of N.C. State itself.

And now the arena where the history of college basketball was born and bred in this state will bear his name. Reynolds Coliseum will once again be rechristened.

Kay Yow Court at James T. Valvano Arena at William Neal Reynolds Coliseum will be dedicated in a ceremony Dec. 5. before State's annual Heritage Game against Western Carolina.

It's a long name and it comes with a gift of $5 million from "a group of generous supporters" as a part of a $35 million Reynolds renovation project within the school's $1.6 billion capital gains campaign, according to a news release.

"Coach Valvano captured the hearts of Wolfpack fans with his coaching success and dynamic personality," said Debbie Yow, State's AD and the sister of Hall of Fame women's basketball coach Kay Yow. "Thanks to a small group of N.C. State alums, we can further memorialize his contributions through this naming opportunity in his beloved Reynolds Coliseum."

It took all these years for State to come up with a fitting way to honor its fallen coach. It took all these years for State to come to grips with the entire story of Valvano. The final days of his career were soiled by allegations, some proven by an NCAA investigation, and some so galling in circumstance that they took down Valvano and cast State's basketball program into an era of darkness that it has really never fully recovered from.

The sadness of his final days on earth are what we try to hold on to now, his courage in the face of incurable cancer, his speeches delivered on the floor at Reynolds and on the stage of the ESPY awards reverberating through the years.

"Don't give up," he told us. "Don't ever give up."

The V Foundation, formed in honor of Valvano in 1993, has now awarded more than $200 million in cancer research grants.

He has become larger in death than he ever was in life, which is saying something because he was as big a personality this state has ever seen, part basketball coach and part salesman, part sports legend and part circus director.

Valvano streaked across this state like a burning comet, and he burned out completely before our very eyes.

It's hard to describe what it was like watching the 1983 NCAA Tournament with State already in a magical run from the regular season through the ACC Tournament that year. Taking a senior-laden team that included no stars but a roster filled with characters as interesting as their coach, Valvano taught his players how to cut down nets in practice then cried as he watched them cut down the nets in Albuquerque.

That team took this state and the entire sport of college basketball on a ride that still entertains all these years later. It was, in the eyes of many of us who made our careers out of watching sports, the most incredible sports story we ever witnessed.

And it made the fall from grace all the more precipitous.

A book cover from a flawed account of Valvano's program started an investigation that resulted in the NCAA, the UNC Board of Governors, the State Bureau of Investigation and the school itself poring over N.C. State players' grades and activities, revealing corruption from players selling tickets and shoes to players admitting to accepting cash, and in two dramatic allegations, of shaving points.

The charges landed State on probation and eventually cost Valvano his career. There are those who believe it cost him his life. The cancer came quickly and it spread ruthlessly, and it took Valvano, at 47, from us on April 28, 1993.

All these years later, it's his smile and his laugh, his soaring stories and his remarkable ability to amuse that we remember. It isn't the fall that we hold to in memory but the meteoric rise to prominence that made him a household name and put this state back on the college basketball map, where it remains to this day at the very top of the game.

His is a complicated tale. And there's no waxing over the details.

But we'll meet in the arena where it all went down in three weeks and celebrate. He was one of us, after all.

Jim Valvano took us all on a thrill ride no one here will ever forget.

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

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Copyright 2018 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
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The Philadelphia Daily News

 

BILL FINNERAN, who donated enough to his beloved alma mater that Villanova's renovated and sparkling Pavilion is now named for him, had to improvise his halftime remarks at Wednesday's official opening night for the arena.

Speaking to a stunned Main Line full house inside the Finneran Pavilion, Finneran the man concluded with, "If you're lucky, you're seeing the worst game you're going to see."

This one is going to hold up for awhile, going into history with the worst defeats of the Jay Wright era.

The bigger questions are:

  • Was the disaster a sign of 'Nova struggles destined to linger?
  • How many opposing guards will find a first step that Villanova won't be equipped to stop?
  • How many teams, once they get that step, will find such obvious and easy paths to the hoop?
  • How long will it take Villanova's talented freshmen to understand defensive rotations?
  • How many defenses will throw all their efforts at Phil Booth and Eric Paschall to see if that shuts Villanova down?
  • Does Wright give more responsibilities to his newer guys? (He tried that, by the way. Didn't work).

Forget the final score, the one that mattered was 44-17 - how things stood at halftime. TKO. The final number wasn't much prettier, 73-46.

"I was just hoping we wouldn't have to give the trophy back," a Villanova staffer said after this rematch of the 2018 NCAA title game.

Yes, Villanova will always have the 2016 and '18 titles. You can't say those banners have nothing to do with this team, just that it might be best to forget them for a little while.

"We've just got too many pieces, running guys in and out, not as organized as we need to be," Wright said.

Except that all the substituting didn't cause this one. Villanova's starters got jumped. There's no obvious fix just by shortening a rotation.

You want stats? Michigan scored 25 points off Villanova turnovers. Villanova scored 1 point off a Michigan turnover.

How about how Villanova had a 60-40 ratio of turnovers to made baskets - 21 to 14.

Wright started five returning vets. At halftime, the five had combined for five field goals. Michigan's Charles Matthews had seven.

The defending NCAA champs and defending NCAA runner-ups both had lost a lot. This wasn't acase where the Michigan seemed to have the better offensive hand coming in. Defensively, yes. But in their previous game against Holy Cross, the Wolverines were no offensive juggernaut, scoring only 56.

So if you saw this coming, well, you're lying.

"I didn't think it would be like this, but I thought we could be down,'' Wright said at his news conference.

No, who saw Paschall leading Villanova with 10 points, Booth adding 9, nobody else scoring more than 5? You can't blame the freshmen for those five veteran starters putting up 14 turnovers to just 8 field goals.

You can agree with Wright when he says his new guys will understand how they must pay attention to detail more now that they've been hit like this.

"You try not to do that," Wright said of teaching through losing in such ugly fashion.

"I'll give people credit, they didn't boo," said a radio producer packing up afterward.

Some wondered why this heavyweight game was in this building instead of downtown, and the answer seemed obvious - that Villanova was offering something for the big donors who had paid to spruce up the place, adding enough lipstick that the old building does not look bad at all. In fact, the lobby, a homage to the history of Villa-nova's program, looks spectacular.

Walking past all the photos of all the greats back out to Ithan Avenue, the departing crowd knew they'd seen a little history of their own. Finneran had it right. They won't see much of anything worse in here. Don't bother looking for a plaque.

"Whatever the final score was, it wasn't that close, Wright said. Of his own players, Villanova's coach added, "They know that. You play in that game, you know that."

+mjensen@phillynews.com

"@jensenoffcampus

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

 

MEXICO CITY — The NFL's decision to move the regular-season game between Kansas City and the Los Angeles Rams because of poor conditions to the turf at Azteca Stadium left many Mexicans disappointed, angered and wondering how it will affect the relationship with the league.

After consulting with the players association and local officials, the NFL determined the conditions did not meet the standards for playability and moved the game to the Los Angeles Coliseum. The Rams and Chiefs, both 9-1, will meet Monday night in a much-anticipated game between the top teams in each conference.

Based solely on records, the game was going to be the best matchup ever played outside the United States.

But Mexico blew it.

"Colossal shame" was the headline of the sports newspaper Record. "The league takes away the best game of the season due to the lousy state of the field that Estadio Azteca was not able to fix.."

Azteca officials changed the playing surface from natural grass to a hybrid in May, but the turf hasn't been ideal for several months due to its intense use. Since July 21, America and Cruz Azul, the two Liga MX teams that share the stadium, have played 23 games in the stadium, and the women's professional team from America has played seven games there.

The stadium also hosted two concerts by Shakira on Oct. 11 and 12, and another one from music channel Telehit on Nov. 7 that left the field in its worst condition in years.

"I feel devastated, angered and ashamed, all of that together," said former NFL kicker Raul Allegre, who is Mexican and works as an analyst for ESPN Deportes. "I'm still trying to figure out how small minds were so irresponsible in the preparations for a game of this magnitude.... This is a great event not only for the sport but for the country, and it is inconceivable how it was taken so lightly."

According to an NFL study released last year, the game between Oakland and Houston in 2016 generated a $45 million impact on the local economy. The Mexican government said that last year's game between the Raiders and New England topped that number.

"Our fans in Mexico are among the most passionate, dedicated NFL fans anywhere in the world," said Mark Waller, the league's executive vice president of International. "We share the disappointment of not being able to play this game as planned in Mexico City,"

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

Exercise is known to have countless health benefits, both physical and mental, but new research shows it can also be an effective tool in helping people prevent relapse of drug use.

Researchers at the University of Illinois sought to understand the chemical changes that occur in the brain for drug users that participate in an exercise regimen.

An estimated 2.1 million people in the U.S. have a drug-use disorder, with the majority of those suffering from opioid addiction.

Health officials have identified that one of the key elements to helping curb the opioid epidemic is to further understand the biological changes that occur with drug use and how people are predisposed to addiction.

In a study published in the journal ACS Omega in October, the scientists found that mice withdrawing from cocaine and placed in a cage with running wheels, were less likely to use the drug again compared to mice that didn't have the running wheels.

"One factor that can lead to relapse, even in recovered drug abusers, is re-exposure to drug-related cues (e.g., drug paraphernalia, places where drugs were taken or people drugs were taken with), which can trigger powerful feelings of craving," the authors wrote in the report.

"Finding interventions that help extinguish the cravings induced by drug-paired cues is a critical step for designing more effective rehabilitation treatments."

To simulate the experience of a specific drug environment for mice, researchers placed the rodents in chambers with a distinctive floor texture and gave them cocaine injections over four days.

The mice were then moved to a different chamber for 30 days, some with a running wheel and some without.

When the mice were reintroduced to the cocaine-associated environment, the running mice showed a "reduced preference" for the environment. The researchers further evaluated levels of specific chemicals in the mice that are associated with brain signaling, including peptides and actin, a protein involved in learning and memory and is implicated in drug-seeking behavior, the authors wrote.

The running mice had higher levels of hemoglobin-derived peptides while the sedentary mice had decreased levels of peptides derived from actin.

Monitoring peptide changes can help identify biomarkers for drug dependence and relapse, the authors wrote.

"Our findings identify novel molecular correlates of both drug cue exposure and intervention to extinguish the learned associations in two specific brain regions critical to the drug dependence and relapse."

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Copyright 2018 Orange County Register
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Orange County Register (California)

 

Orange County's public schools made a decision: Why let the private schools have all the signing day fun?

It used to be that on the first day of a letter of intent signing period the big private schools were the only Orange County high schools to have signing day ceremonies. Private schools long have understood they are competing to attract kids to their campuses. Promoting the success of their athletic programs, including showing how many of their athletes were getting college athletic scholarships, has long been a way for private schools to advertise what they have to offer.

A few years ago county public schools starting waking up. They figured out that they, too, should take advantage of this free publicity afforded by the newspapers, websites and social media.

On Wednesday, the first day of the letter of intent signing period for basketball and many other sports, public and private schools had signing day celebrations in their gyms or at other campus facilities. They flooded Twitter and Instagram with photos of smiling kids, wearing sweatshirts or caps bearing the names of their college destinations, signing the letters or, in many cases, copies of the actual letters that would be emailed or faxed to the colleges and universities.

And they sent their photos and signees lists to us. They know we'll publicize this stuff at very reasonable rates.

Villa Park did not wait until Wednesday's 7:30 a.m. signing celebration to seek the publicity. Villa Park athletic director Tom Fox sent us the list of his school's signees Tuesday.

"We're constantly looking for situations where we can shine a light on what we do here at Villa Park High School," said Fox, who spent the signing ceremony in the school gym maneuvering about to snap as many photos as possible to post later. "We've built a program here so that kids don't have to go around the block, as I say, to another school."

The school "around the block," as Fox says, is Orange Lutheran of the big, bad Trinity League.

"We have everything you need here, athletically and academically, to get kids to the next level," Fox said.

San Clemente is one of the better public schools in Orange County when it comes to promoting its athletic programs. San Clemente football coach Jaime Ortiz is active on Twitter with his #OneTownOneTeam and highlights of former San Clemente quarterback Sam Darnold and every gorgeous beach sunset he can post.

Not far from San Clemente are Trinity League schools JSerra and Santa Margarita. Just up the 5 freeway is Mission Viejo, a public school that is a frequent destination of transferring athletes.

San Clemente athletic director Jon Hamro said, sure, all of the promotion is done with specific goals in mind.

"No. 1, we're trying to keep our kids," Hamro said. "The end game of signing a letter of intent, well, we feel that we can give kids as good of an opportunity for that as they can get at any other school. We want to make sure we're letting people know the great things we do here."

San Clemente, Villa Park, Edison, Capistrano Valley and Mission Viejo were among the first schools who understood how to use signing day for publicity just as Orange County's private schools have been doing for years. On Wednesday, OC Varsity got signing day lists and photos from more schools than ever.

Kids and their parents (especially their parents) are shopping for high schools. The smart high schools saw Wednesday like companies see the Super Bowl - an opportunity for great advertising, but a lot cheaper than a 30-second Super Bowl ad.

"We have to build programs that make us a worthy school of choice," Fox said. "We're competing for kids."

sfryer@scng.com @SteveFryer on Twitter

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

Call this payback for the International Olympic Committee's decades of greed and deceit.

Once a prize that cities on every continent fought over, so blinded were they by the promise of civic and infrastructure improvements, the Olympics are now being recognized for the economy-busting boondoggle they are. Calgary on Tuesday joined Sapporo, Japan; Sion, Switzerland; and Graz, Austria, in saying "thanks, but no thanks" for the right to throw the IOC a lavish party in February 2026, and there's a good possibility bids in Italy and Stockholm could soon follow.

This isn't a 2026 oddity, either. More cities (eight) dropped out of the bidding for the 2022 and 2024 Olympics than stayed in (four). Several others took themselves out of the running before the official process began.

And, really, who can blame them? The graft and corruption that was part and parcel of Rio 2016 has worsened Brazil's economic collapse. Meanwhile, the Olympic park is a graveyard of crumbling venues and the waterways that were supposed to be cleaned up remain cesspools.

The flame was barely out at the Pyeongchang Games in February when civic leaders suggested they might have to raze some venues because they couldn't be repurposed and there wasn't money to pay for the upkeep of empty buildings. Never mind the environmental damage done to build a ski venue that lasted only as long as the Olympics did.

Oh, the IOC talks a good game, saying it's serious about reform so that no city again spends itself into oblivion.

"I can tell you for '26, we are ruthless on this: Don't even consider building a venue if there is not a 50-year legacy plan," Christophe Dubi, executive director of the Olympic Games, told The Associated Press in September.

But Tokyo's preparation for the Summer Games in 2020 reveals the lie in that. Tokyo was supposed to restore economic sanity to the Olympics. By using several venues left from the 1964 Games and keeping its plan compact, organizers initially said it would cost $7 billion to host the 2020 Olympics.

Compared with the $13 billion the Rio Summer Olympics cost and the whopping $50 billion price tag for Sochi, Tokyo would be a bargain!

Then came the changes. This venue wouldn't work and this sport had to be moved and this arena had to be built. Now the venues are sprawled across the metropolitan area, some as far as an hour away, and a Japanese government report estimates the tab for Tokyo 2020 will exceed $25 billion.

With 18 months still to go before the Games begin, who knows how much higher it will climb.

"I think that people had enough of the establishment telling us what to do, what to think," Sean Chu, a Calgary councilman and fierce opponent of a 2026 bid, told The Calgary Herald on Tuesday night after 56 percent of voters said they did not want the city to bid for the Winter Olympics.

"They tell you to spend millions, billions, it's good for you."

Hear that IOC? Yes, it's bid organizers and civic leaders who dream up these plans so grandiose they make a 5-year-old's letter to Santa look spartan. But the IOC is supposed to be the adult in the room, and it has shown no interest in reining in these fanciful projects.

Why should it? The IOC isn't the one footing the bill. So long as IOC members have five-star hotels to rest their heads, cars to whisk them to venues, Michelin star-quality food in the "IOC family" lounges and per diems that can go as high as $900, they don't really care about pesky things such as budget overruns and taxes on the populace.

Maybe a few see the storm clouds on the horizon. The rest are either so arrogant or oblivious they believe there's always going to be a city -- or an autocrat -- willing to take their sucker bet.

But the payoff for hosting an Olympics is, too often, fool's gold. The Calgary referendum is the latest sign that cities are getting wise to the IOC's games.

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

 

The city of Dayton has reopened its largest indoor pool after shutting it down a year ago for repairs and upgrades.

The Dabney Pool at Dayton's Northwest Recreation Center closed in November 2017 for a $1.4 million renovation project. The pool reopened earlier this month.

Built in the late 1970s, Dabney Pool had age-related issues like leaks that were costing the city money.

Leaks are a problem because the pool needs to be refilled with water, which requires chemicals and treatment, said Lamonte Hall Jr., interim division manager of the Dayton Convention Center.

"The pool needed some work," said Hall, who previously was city's the recreation program coordinator.

The pool's lining, plumbing, gutters, ladders, railings and diving board have been replaced, officials say.

The pool's concrete deck, which was cracked and crumbling, has been replaced with a "rec-deck" that is textured, which makes it safer and easier to clean, Hall said.

Though the city removed the pool's high dive, it also made upgrades like adding a 10-foot climbing wall on the side of the pool. Other changes included: Addition of overhead LED lights, renovation of locker rooms and offering of aqua bikes for cycling exercises in the water.

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Copyright 2018 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah board of trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an $80 million nonstate revenue bond to upgrade and expand Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The trustees' approval comes as the U.S. Olympic Committee prepares to visit 2002 Winter Games venues today, among them the stadium, which was the site of the Games' opening and closing ceremonies.

Committee members are conducting site visits as part of the process for selecting an American city to bid for a future Winter Games. On Monday, Reno-Tahoe, one of Salt Lake City's competitors to host another Winter Games, dropped out of the running.

A luncheon at the stadium with Gov. Gary Herbert and Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski is on the tour schedule.

A press conference by university officials is scheduled earlier in the day to unveil details of the stadium expansion plans.

Utah State Board of Regents will consider the U.'s amended campus master plan, which includes the stadium upgrade, later this week. The regents will consider the stadium expansion bond at that time.

The stadium's current capacity is approximately 45,800, although it held 47,825 people for a football game against the University of Michigan in 2015, according to Wikipedia. It is one of the smaller stadiums among the Pac-12's universities.

The expansion would bring the capacity to over 51,000 seats and include suites, loge and terrace seating, said Mark Harlan, U. athletic director.

"We are completely sold out of all of our premium seats as we sit today, so that will really allow us to bring that kind of client into the stadium," he said.

Harlan added: "Of course were going to put everyone back that's also in the south end zone."

Planning for the south end zone upgrade was well underway when Harlan joined the university as athletic director in July, he said.

Under former U. Athletic Director Chris Hill, consultants were hired to determine support for the expansion and identify products that would work well with the upgrade.

Harlan said there are two overriding concerns with the project: that it not hurt the university financially and that the U. football program continue its sellout streak.

"It's a sense of pride and something other universities would pray for," he said.

Financial projections indicate the project is on solid ground, he said.

Assuming even a 55 percent "sell-through" of tickets to events hosted at the stadium, "We break even on the project," he said. The actual sell-through rate is anticipated to be substantially higher.

"If all goes right, and we expect very confidently it will, we can pay this all off in 14 years," he said.

The project will also be supported by $35 million in private giving, according to Harlan.

The project will include improvements in dressing facilities that are sorely needed, he added.

"We'll be able to run our games in a PAC-12 manner," Harlan said.

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com

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Copyright 2018 News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

A new bowl game with a tie-in to the Sun Belt Conference is coming to the Grand Strand.

The Myrtle Beach Bowl, which will be affiliated with the Sun Belt, Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference, will join the roster of bowl games for ESPN Events.

"The Sun Belt Conference and our football coaches and student-athletes are looking forward to being part of this new game beginning in 2020," said Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson. "I know our fans will enjoy traveling to one of the country's best tourist destinations."

The Sun Belt currently has ties to the following five bowls: R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Dollar General Bowl, Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, AutoNation Cure Bowl and the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. All of the conference's bowl contracts expire following 2019.

Appalachian State has made three straight trips to Alabama for bowl games. The Mountaineers won two straight Camellia Bowls in Montgomery, Ala., in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and shut out Toledo in the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, Ala., in 2017.

Brooks Stadium at Coastal Carolina University will be the site of the Myrtle Beach Bowl, which will be televised on an ESPN network.

"We are honored to be a part of history in establishing the first bowl game in the state of South Carolina," said Matt Hogue, vice president for Intercollegiate Athletics at Coastal Carolina University. "The brand impact for our University from this game and the excitement of college football during the bowl season will be immeasurable and represents another example of how important sports tourism is to the promotion of our region."

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

 

Clemson University spent $14.8million on employee travel for the 2018 fiscal year, a $1.5 million increase over 2017, according to an annual report released Monday.

Clemson was the highest spending agency in the state for travel. The University of South Carolina came in second at $10.6 million.

"At a time when South Carolina has the ninth-highest college tuition in the nation — and ever-increasing student fees — all of our public colleges and universities would be wise to rein in any avoidable expenses," state comptroller Richard Eckstrom said in a press release. "Especially as they lobby for increased public funding, they should commit to the best stewardship possible of the tax dollars they receive."

In all, colleges and universities accounted for 69.4 percent of the total state travel spending of $81.4 million. Of the 35 schools, 18 cut their travel expenditures while 17 increased their travel spending.

Among the top 25 spenders at Clemson, 14 were athletic coaches. Brent Venables spent $171,891 on out-of-state travel for the year, making him the Clemson employee with the highest tab for the third year in a row.

The athletics travel spending is entirely self-funded through athletics revenues, not taxpayer dollars, said Joe Galbraith, Clemson's associate vice president for strategic communications.

Others on the list included seven professors and Clemson President Jim Clements, whose travel totaled $79,460.

"In the last fiscal year, Clemson University raised $157 million in private donations (a record for the fifth-consecutive year), eclipsed $140 million in research grants (a record high) and competed in the NCAA Sweet 16 and College Football Playoff (for the fourth-consecutive year)," Galbraith said in a statement. "Most of the travel expenses incurred by Clemson employees contributed directly to these successes."

For the 2018 fiscal year, Clemson's athletics program brought in $121.4 million in revenue and had $104.4 million in expenditures.

Clemson travel spending by year:

FY 18 $14,812,346

FY 17 $13,319,090

FY 16 $ 13,712,954

FY 15 $ 13,484,780

FY 14 $ 12,967,744

FY 13 $ 12,360,379

Top 5 Clemson employees by travel spending:

Brent Venables: $174,133 (including both in-state and out-of-state)

Todd Bates: $173,299

Tony Elliott: $122,613

Brandon Streeter: $113,524

Michael Reed: $107,792


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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

Due to poor field conditions at Mexico City's Estadio Azteca, Monday night's game between the Chiefs and Rams will be relocated to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the NFL announced Tuesday.

"The decision is based on the determination — in consultation with the NFLPA and following a meeting and field inspection this afternoon by NFL and club field experts as well as local and independent outside experts — that the playing field at Estadio Azteca does not meet NFL standards for playability and consistency and will not meet those standards by next Monday," the league said in a statement.

The stadium had recently hosted a concert as well as a heavy slate of soccer matches that had caused significant damage to a hybrid surface of both synthetic and natural grass that was installed this year.

"We have worked extensively with our partners at Estadio Azteca for months in preparation for this game," NFL executive vice president of international Mark Waller said in a statement. "Until very recently, we had no major concerns. But the combination of a difficult rainy season and a heavy multi-event calendar of events at the stadium have resulted in significant damage to the field that presents unnecessary risks to player safety and makes it unsuitable to host an NFL game. As a result, we have determined that moving the game is the right decision, and one that we needed to announce now in order to allow our teams and fans to make alternate arrangements."

The league said details on reimbursement procedures will be forthcoming for all of the fans who made travel plans to attend the game.

Every time the NFL plays in international stadiums, the league mandates that the home team keep its stadium available as a contingency. Because the Chiefs-Rams game counts as a Los Angeles home contest in its schedule, it was moved there rather than to Kansas City.

This news comes just hours after ESPN reported that several players from both teams were strongly considering sitting out the game because of the field conditions.

The Rams and Chiefs are both 9-1, and concerns about the health and safety of their players could have cast a negative light on the game had the decision been made to keep the game at Estadio Azteca.

"It's not fair to risk our health," a prominent player told ESPN.

The contest will also mark the first time since 1979 that the Rams will play host to a Monday night game in the Coliseum.

Despite the quick turnaround for the Rams to organize the logistics of the game, the team will reward first responders who have been called to action in the past week. Last Wednesday, a gunman opened fire and killed 12 people at a shooting in a bar in Thousand Oaks, just 4 miles from where the Rams train. And throughout the weekend, firefighters have been battling widespread the Woolsey Fire in Ventura and Los Angeles County.

"The Rams will be providing thousands of complimentary tickets to first responders who are bravely protecting the greater Los Angeles community, as well as people who have been impacted by our community's recent tragedies," the Rams wrote in an article posted on their website.

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

 

Henrico County and the YMCA of Greater Richmond announced plans Tuesday to build a indoor swimming facility in a North Laburnum Avenue corridor that's been the target of public development over the last decade.

The county is planning to finance the entire cost of an $8 million, 20,000-square-foot aquatics center that will include an eight-lane, 25-yard pool; an instructional pool; a family spray area; and a waterslide. The center is expected to be completed by 2020.

The YMCA of Greater Richmond operates 17 facilities throughout the region. It will be responsible for building, managing and operating the new facility neighboring the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, a county health department building and the new Fairfield Area Library, which is under construction and scheduled to open next fall.

"We are thrilled to partner with the YMCA of Greater Richmond to make this dream a reality," Board of Supervisors Chairman Frank Thornton stated in a release.

"The Henrico Aquatics Center — like the new Fairfield Area Library across the street — will be a wonderful addition to the Laburnum corridor, promoting exercise, good health and endless fun for the entire community."

The Board of Supervisors earlier this year asked for county officials to work with a business partner to prioritize the development of a new indoor swimming pool in the county.

Tim Joyce, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Richmond, said the nonprofit also will partner with the county school division to develop educational programs.

"The Y believes that is something every child should be given access — no matter their ZIP code or financial situation," Joyce said. "This project is an extension of the Y's continued commitment to accessibility, opportunity, equity and inclusion."

csuarez@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6178

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

 

High school signing day — or more correctly, the first day of the traditional early signing period — arrives Wednesday with a notable change for most sports.

The change? There is no more early signing period for every sport except football and basketball.

Instead, Wednesday starts a continuous open signing window that runs all the way through the rest of the academic year. It doesn't end until roughly the start of the next school year, Aug. 1, 2019.

Basketball retains the early signing period, Nov. 14-21, and its regular period, April 17-May 15.

Football, which added a three-day early period last year in December, retains that window, Dec. 19-21, and its regular period, which starts Feb. 6 and runs various lengths based on college level.

"I think it'll impact different schools differently," said Fort Myers High School athletic director Carl McAloose, who has been athletic director at FGCU, Florida SouthWestern State College and elsewhere.

"(Some athletes) may wait later now. But people are so excited to sign that they're going to sign on the first day, in most cases. I'm not sure the impact is that big a deal."

2018-2019 National Letter of Intent signing dates

D1 basketball (early period): Nov. 14-Nov. 21, 2018

D1 basketball (regular period): April 17-May 15, 2019

D1 football (early period): Dec. 19-21, 2018

D1 football (regular period): Feb. 6-April 1, 2019

D2 football (regular period): Feb. 6-Aug. 1, 2019

D1, D2 football (mid-year junior college transfers): Dec. 19, 2018-Jan. 15, 2019

D1, D2 sports except football and basketball: Nov. 14, 2018-Aug. 1, 2019

The first day of the early period usually sees vast swaths of high school seniors officially put their names to their verbal commitments to various colleges.

Even with the changes, many schools in Southwest Florida are having signing ceremonies Wednesday.

"The programs are always going to try to get you," said Frank Turco, athletic director at Canterbury, which holds one signing ceremony for all its athletes in the spring. "They want you to sign."

The changes may ease some of the sense of urgency on athletes to make a choice and sign in the early period, knowing the signing window is now open throughout the year.

Colleges, however, aren't known for leaving offers on the table for extended periods.

"It'll give kids more opportunity to wait and see if there's a better opportunity," Turco said. "Some schools over-recruit and under-deliver. They might be able to hold on for a kid that plays a particular position. You're not just another number to them."

"The kids that didn't get the big-time scholarship now will have a little more time," McAloose said. "A coach might come back in a month or so and say something came open."

Given the nature of recruiting and signings, each case will remain unique.

Follow @NewsPressSeth on Twitter.

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC

Newsday (New York)

 

Residents of Spangle Drive spoke out at the North Babylon Board of Education meeting Tuesday night against newly constructed athletic bleachers and a press box at the high school that are higher and wider than the prior set of seating and, they say, now tower over their residential backyards.

Residents are worried that attendees at the school games will throw garbage onto their property, and they say there is even the danger of them falling into the backyards.

"It's a liability. It's an eyesore," said Chris Cannella, 42, who has lived in his Spangle Drive home for 15 years. He noted the bleachers loom over his backyard and that the old bleachers barely topped his fence, which is 6 feet tall.

"When there is an accident on our property, you guys are going to be called in.... This is a liability," he said at the meeting, which was held at Robert Moses Middle School.

Cannella asked the board to issue a stop-work order until the issue is worked out.

School officials said Tuesday the work is about 98 percent complete.

Resident John Seaman, 67, asked if the board considered parking overflow and said the setback of the bleachers is just 5 feet from the property line.

"Where do you expect 2,000 people to park - on our block?" Seaman said. "Our property is being devalued and who compensates us for that?"

North Babylon Superintendent Glen Eschbach said all plans were subject to public review and that the district has scheduled a building committee meeting for Dec. 18, when the concerns will be discussed. He also said board members visited the construction site.

"Hopefully we will get a lot done and have a lot of answers to your questions," school board president Daniel Caroleo said, noting the December meeting will be open to the public.

North Babylon school district officials said in a statement issued earlier this month that details of the project were shared with the community and were approved by the state Education Department. The bleachers, on the field's home side, are part of a $69 million school bond issue for infrastructure upgrades that voters approved in December in a vote of 872-499.

"Following the community-approved bond vote, the district began construction on a multitude of projects as scheduled and communicated with residents via public presentations, written communications and photo/video productions," Eschbach said in the statement. "Throughout this process, we continue to update the community on the progress of construction through the district's website and at open meetings. Under the guidance of professional architects and contractors, all construction projects are being completed exactly as planned, designed and presented to the community and with approval from the state Education Department."

Some residents also said the district had issued a robocall targeting the residents of Spangle Drive. The Spangle Drive residents said they had been accused in the robocall of making threatening calls to district officials.

School officials said Tuesday they could not discuss it as there is an ongoing investigation.

Resident Denise DeMatteo, 69, said she had supported the bond, but she did not understand why the bleachers and press box had to be built so high. She asked the board to consider moving the bleachers to the other side of the field.

"I don't even live there and I think it's an eyesore," she said.

Overall improvements are to be done over four to five years. Construction started this past summer on the $9.5 million athletic fields project, which includes improvements to football, baseball and soccer fields, as well as tennis courts and track and field areas.

Home football games are being played at the middle school this fall.

School officials said that in addition to the athletic field upgrades, the bond issue will pay for improvements to infrastructure and classrooms at each of the 4,700-student system's seven schools.

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

The father of former Ohio State receiver Trevon Grimes says former Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith called him the N-word during an altercation at practice in 2017, according to a report published this week by the digital television network Stadium.

Multiple Ohio State football players past and present quickly posted Tweets defending coach Urban Meyer and the article's implication that he covered up the incident, and Meyer said legal action is being considered in response.

Johnnie Dixon, Parris Campbell and Austin Mack are all Ohio State receivers who played for Smith.

Former Buckeye captain Josh Perry also defended Meyer on social media.

So did fellow former linebacker Darron Lee, among others.

Grimes, a 2017 top-100 recruit from Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas who transferred to Florida in January, refused to comment in the story. Zach Smith, who was fired in August after publication of the existence of a domestic protection order obtained by former wife against him, said in the report, "I've never said that word (N-word) in my entire life. I've never been in a fight with a player in my life. Never. That never happened."

Eli Goins, a former Ohio State receiver, said he witnessed an incident between Smith and Grimes in practice but that he did not hear Smith use a racial slur.

According to the article, the incident between Smith and Trevon Grimes is what led him to transfer, contradicting the widely publicized reason: He needed to be closer to his mother, Leah, who had been diagnosed with cancer. That situation was a factor in Grimes' being granted an NCAA waiver allowing him to play right away this fall rather than sit out a year.

Leah Grimes also declined to be interviewed for the story and apparently obtained legal representation as a result of continued efforts by the reporter to reach her.

She also released a statement asking her health to be kept out of the story and indicating neither she nor Trevon have anything to do with his father.

The claim was first reported this week by Brett McMurphy, a former national reporter at ESPN and CBS Sports who now works for startup digital television network Stadium.

Ohio State president Dr. Michael Drake and director of athletics Gene Smith issued strongly worded statements defending Meyer and condemning the report.

"The Ohio State University unequivocally and vehemently disputes the unfounded allegations by Brett McMurphy," Drake said. "Any allegations of racism are outrageous and false. The university told McMurphy that we have found no evidence to support these allegations.

"Reporting in this manner is irresponsible, inflammatory and a severe invasion of privacy of a student athlete and his family as well as a baseless personal attack on Coach Meyer. It is regrettable that McMurphy and his employer would use such poor judgment in running this inaccurate story."

Gene Smith (no relation to Zach Smith) called the accusations "unequivocally false."

"Urban Meyer embraces diversity and would absolutely never support an environment of racism," Smith said. "It simply isn't tolerated here. And as an African-American, football player and collegiate administrator, I personally can say that our coaches, student-athletes and support staff know there is no place for any such behavior within our programs, at The Ohio State University or anywhere."

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Copyright 2018 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

Workers jacked up a part of the Miller Park roof Monday and removed one of the bogies — the powerful engines used to open and close the massive structure.

The work is part of a $900,000 project that combines routine maintenance with an investigation into an odd "clicking" sound coming from one of the bearings on the bogie.

The clicking could be heard every time the enormous roof was moved, and the stadium district and Milwaukee Brewers decided it was time to replace the bogie and determine what was causing the noise.

"They wanted a chance to better diagnose and understand the issue," said Mike Duckett, executive director of the Southeastern Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District, the public body that oversees the stadium.

"The bearing has been 'clicking' for about a year now — more noticeable in warmer weather. We do not believe the 'clicking' is anything significant."

Removal of the bogie was a daylong undertaking. The engine was taken apart into two large pieces. A crane then lifted the machinery off the track and lowered it 120 feet down to the plaza outside the left field wall.

Two lifts were required — one portion of the engine weighs 32 tons and another, the engine's drivetrain, weighs 34 tons, The second lift was completed by about 3 p.m.

The bogies are the crucial workhorses of the Miller Park roof, the most important feature of the 17-year-old stadium.

The balky bearing is one of 80 such pieces of equipment that ensure smooth operation of the 12,000-ton roof. There are eight bearings on each of the 10 bogies used to move the five roof panels.

This is the first in-depth work performed on the bogies since they were all replaced in 2006.

Duckett said engineers were confident that the noisy bogie wasn't an indication of a more widespread issue with the roof machinery.

The portion of the bogie with the suspect bearing will be trucked to Falk Corp. near the stadium in the Menomonee Valley. The bearing will be replaced and the old one will be taken apart to determine the source of the noise, Duckett said.

The roof project was originally estimated to cost $1 million, but bids came in closer to $900,000, Duckett said.

The work will be paid through a reserve fund maintained by the stadium district. The stadium district and the Brewers each contribute to the fund, which will have about $15 million by the end of 2018.

Other routine and preventative maintenance will be done while the equipment is on the site, Duckett said. Two other bearings that help bear the weight of the roof will be replaced and other postseason maintenance will be completed.

The entire project should take between seven and 10 days.

The roof has scored at the box office for the team, which is drawing some 1 million additional fans per year, on average, compared with County Stadium. Last year, nearly 2.6 million fans attended Brewers games and that number neared 3 million for the just-completed season and playoff run.

Construction costs and debt for Miller Park was paid for with a 0.1 percent sales tax in the five-county area. The tax is expected to end in either late 2019 or early 2020.

The bogie bearing project is not expected to affect the sales tax sunset date, Duckett said.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
All Rights Reserved

The Washington Times

 

The NHL announced Monday it has reached a tentative $18.9 million settlement with more than 300 ex-players over a lawsuit claiming the league didn't do enough to protect players from concussions.

"The NHL does not acknowledge any liability for any of Plaintiffs' claims in these cases," a press release said. "However, the parties agree that the settlement is a fair and reasonable resolution and that it is in the parties' respective best interests to receive the benefits of the settlement and to avoid the burden, risk and expense of further litigation."

Ten former players first brought a class-action lawsuit against the league in 2013, which eventually became known as "In re: National Hockey League Players' Concussion Injury Litigation."

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said the litigation "doesn't have merit" and that there is not yet a proven link between blows to the head and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

In 2013, the NFL paid out $765 million to ex-players to settle similar lawsuits brought against them. A dollar amount in the NHL's case was not immediately available.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

Less than a third of Americans, and only one in five teenagers, meet new physical fitness guidelines issued by the federal government Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

The guidelines, which officials said could be easily achieved by most, recommend the same level of exercise as the original standards released in 2008 but without the expectation that the physical activity occur in 10-minute blocks.

They call on adults to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and two sessions of muscle-strengthening activity each week. Children ages 6 through 17 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity a day and three sessions of muscle-strengthening a week.

Moderate-intensity activity includes walking briskly, riding a bike on level ground and playing doubles tennis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Muscle-strengthening activity includes lifting weights, "heavy gardening," such as shoveling, and yoga.

Cardiologist William Kraus, a Duke University medical school professor who served on the advisory committee for the guidelines, said the 10-minute block was removed because it could have discouraged some people who didn't have that much time. He noted that parking farther from entrances and taking the stairs count as exercise.

Some people might have thought, "If I can't do 10 minutes, it won't count, so why should I do it?" he said.

The guidelines emphasize decreasing sitting time for adults. Children younger than 6 years old were included for the first time.

The guidelines and related reports, published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, say the failure to meet the recommended levels of aerobic physical activity leads to nearly $117 billion in annual health care costs and 10 percent of all premature deaths.

Assistant Health Secretary Brett Giroir called the guidelines "truly a call for action."

Much more is known about the benefits of exercise since the guidelines were first released 10 years ago, Giroir said. Back then, he said, HHS knew only that exercise helped reduce the incidence of breast and colon cancers. Now, it is known to help protect against six other cancers, including stomach and esophageal cancer.

It helps reduce anxiety, blood pressure and Alzheimer's disease and improve brain function and learning.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order in February to develop a national strategy to expand opportunities for kids to participate in youth sports, encourage regular physical activity and active play, and promote good nutrition. HHS plans to fund community programs that increase sports participation in the "coming months."

Jim Baugh, who founded the nonprofit fitness advocacy group PHIT America, said that even the dire picture painted in the federal reports may be too optimistic. He said he wishes there was more focus on what schools - which regularly eliminate physical fitness in favor of teaching time - could do to address the problem.

"They're showing how bad America is, but it may be even worse," said Baugh, a former president of Wilson Sporting Goods. "The inactivity pandemic is getting worse, especially for low-income Americans and kids."

Russell Pate, a professor in the University of South Carolina's exercise science department who was on the advisory committee, also said schools need to take action.

The guidelines urge schools and colleges to offer physical education, after-school sports, public access to school facilities after school, expanded intramural sports and other opportunities for campus recreation. Pate said he's "very hopeful" such actions will be "widely adopted over the next decade."

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

The conclusion is not foregone. Oh, that's not what you're reading. That's not what you're hearing.

Purdue football coach Jeff Brohm to Louisville? No-brainer. Going to happen. Matter of time. That's what you read. That's what you hear.

And if this were another time, and if that were another man, then yes — foregone conclusion. Because in another time, a time not so long ago, Purdue football was a job to leave. And football coaches often do what football coaches do, preaching loyalty while their agent is on the phone, listening to offers.

But this is not that time, Purdue is not that job, and Brohm is not that man.

Listen, none of this is to say: He's staying at Purdue. Especially not with that job open, the Louisville job, the one job in America where you really couldn't blame Brohm for leaving Purdue, even after just two years, to take it. He grew up in Louisville. He played at Louisville. Coached there. Recruits there. Has family there. Still owns his old house there.

And Brohm didn't exactly squash the Louisville talk at his weekly news conference Monday, when he acknowledged that he's "heard the noise just like everyone else.... It's important for me to not comment on any speculation. Right now, I have a job to do.... I'm going to stay focused on that. I'm very appreciative of the job I have right now."

The job you have... right now?

Those words, this whole story, are a nightmare scenario for Purdue fans. They have suffered for so long with this football program, neglected by an administration that wouldn't invest in it, forcing the Boilermakers to erode inside fading facilities under bargain hires such as Danny Hope. Only in 2013, when they hired Kent State's Darrell Hazell, did the Boilermakers join the rest of the Big Ten and pay a seven-figure salary to its football coach... who went 9-33 overall, 3-24 in the conference.

Perceptions die hard. Purdue is not that job anymore, and hasn't been since Mike Bobinski became athletics director on Aug. 9, 2016, and fired Hazell less than 21/2 months later. To get Bobinski out of Georgia Tech, Purdue had to assure him the school was ready to invest in its football program. Because for so long, after a glorious tradition that included Bob Griese and Leroy Keyes and Drew Brees, "the cradle of quarterbacks" and all that, Purdue football had no commitment and no money, not even lights for Ross-Ade Stadium.

Look now at this program on the ascent. But don't look up there for too long — those lights might hurt your eyes. Yes, Ross-Ade has permanent lighting now. More is coming, too, much more.

And Purdue's $65 million football facility still smells of fresh paint, the school's first major investment in the program — while a major arms race was escalating around college football — since the $10.3 million Mollenkopf Athletic Center opened in 1990.

Those are elements the world can see. Behind the scenes, Purdue has increased its budgets in areas unseen by fans: recruiting staff, strength and conditioning coaches, assistant salary pool, the video and graphic communications that provide the bells and whistles noticed by recruits.

Brohm is in the first year of a seven-year, $29 million contract the school renegotiated with him after last season. His $3.8 million salary this season ranks in the upper quadrant of the NCAA (27th nationally, according to USA TODAY's coaches salary database) and in the middle of the Big Ten (eighth, more than state flagship schools Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maryland and Indiana).

And recruiting? It's going better than anyone could have dreamed. After scraping together the Big Ten's 14th-ranked recruiting class of 2017 in his first few months on the job, Brohm pushed Purdue's ranking to 11th in the league in 2018, and the Boilermakers sit fifth in 2019.

This is sustainable, what Brohm is building, his first team going 7-6 and winning a bowl game and his second team sitting at 5-5 (4-3 Big Ten), that 41-10 disaster Saturday at Minnesota notwithstanding. Purdue beat No. 2 Ohio State this season, then beat No. 16 Iowa.

But is it believable, that Jeff Brohm would turn down Louisville to stay at Purdue? Not in Louisville, where the media peppered athletics director Vince Tyra with Brohm references at the Sunday news conference where he was announcing the firing of Bobby Petrino.

There are reasons, as I've already written here, that Brohm would want to be at Louisville. But there are reasons to avoid the job at this moment, one huge one in particular: Louisville football is a dumpster fire. The team is being blown out on the field and losing recruits off it, and the athletics department is in the middle of turmoil amid an NCAA investigation into former coach Rick Pitino's basketball program and the loss of school sugar daddy John Schnatter, the Papa John's founder whose financial support for the school (and name on the stadium) were removed after his use of a racial epithet this year.

Meanwhile, Purdue is stable. Bobinski and President Mitch Daniels offer a strong, united front in the administration, and for most coaches, that ranks higher than you can possibly imagine.

Brohm said this year: "I want recruits around the country, especially in the state of Indiana, to know I'm going to be here. I want to do this thing. I want to make a difference here. I want to recruit guys that want to come in and make a difference and put Purdue on the map."

He meant those words then, I promise you that, but the Louisville job — his dream job — wasn't open. But now that it popped open, is Brohm still "going to be here"? Thought I told you earlier: I don't know that. But I do know this:

The conclusion is not foregone, not just because of who Jeff Brohm is, but also because of what Purdue football has become.

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

PULLMAN — Kind, sensitive, intelligent, dedicated and beautiful were among the adjectives family members, friends and coaches used to describe Lauren McCluskey late Sunday afternoon.

They were among the hundreds of mourners who turned out to remember the 21-year-old University of Utah track and field athlete and Pullman High School graduate during her celebration of life at the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Event Center in Pullman. McCluskey was shot and killed by her former boyfriend last month on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Jill McCluskey, Lauren's mother, said her daughter was special from the beginning.

"She was driven, smart, athletically gifted and beautiful," said Jill, who stood next to her husband, Matt. "She was hard-working and resilient."

She said she told her daughter her sensitive nature and empathy were her superpowers.

"These abilities allowed her to really see people and show kindness to them," Jill said.

She said she is proud of how her daughter lived her life.

"Every day right now is painful for us because I know I can't pick up the phone and call you," Jill said. "I can't go on mom jogs with you when you come home from college."

She said she was looking forward to seeing Lauren's beautiful life unfold.

"I will let your light shine through me every day with kindness, empathy and inclusion and work toward that," Jill said. "And I encourage everyone else to let her light shine through you in the same way."

A large photo of McCluskey, her blue PHS letterman jacket, red Utah jacket and other memorabilia were displayed near the front of the stage Sunday.

Some of McCluskey's friends reflected on her love for singing, dancing, animals — especially cats — and even her joy in unplanned trips to Target.

A friend said one of the greatest nights of her life was the night before McCluskey died. It was filled with singing and dancing, she said.

Another friend said her favorite thing about McCluskey was her laugh, noting she would laugh with her whole body and without a care in the world. She said the two would laugh themselves to sleep often.

Others noted her great success as an athlete and a student.

"Lauren set high goals and expectations for herself and was always willing to work hard to meet them," a family friend said. "She was surely destined to do great things in this world."

Another family friend said McCluskey was drawn to deeper things in life, like philosophy, ethics and writing.

"She brought only good to this world," she said.

One of McCluskey's former Utah teammates said McCluskey was reserved when it came to speaking about herself, but she always wanted to know more about others.

"She had such a fun personality that would light up everyone around her," the teammate said.

She said McCluskey was dedicated to school, athletics, her faith and friends.

"Lauren was a teammate that everyone loves to have," the teammate said. "She was always dependable. She was almost always early — sometimes a little too early — but that just made her Lauren."

Utah track and field coach Kyle Kepler used terms like genuine, sweet, respected and coachable to describe McCluskey. He said she had a relentless determination to improve and achieve excellence each and every day.

"She was always a great teammate," Kepler said. "She always led by example and she cared about everyone every single day. Lauren was most definitely the person who looked in the mirror and asked, 'How can I be a better person today than I was yesterday?' And then she went out and tried to find that answer every day."

University of Utah President Ruth Watkins said McCluskey was exactly the type of student who makes any university campus vibrant.

She said it was an honor to posthumously award a communication degree to McCluskey.

Watkins said a scholarship fund established in McCluskey's name has collected more than enough money to be endowed already — nearly $50,000 and counting, with contributions from all over the world. Watkins said the university will be able to provide the first scholarships in McCluskey's name next fall.

"Lauren will always be remembered at the University of Utah," Watkins said.

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Copyright 2018 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
All Rights Reserved

The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

The Palestra was built for basketball. Balls bouncing, sneakers squeaking, bands playing, and fans roaring are its soundtrack.

The simple, majestic structure opened its doors 91 years ago and close to 10,000 fans, the largest basketball crowd ever at the time, watched Penn beat Yale. Since then the Palestra has hosted thousands of contests, hundreds of nail biters — Ivy League, Big 5, Catholic League, Public League, PIAA, A-10, NBA. Wilt, Kobe, and Lebron played there. Roy Williams, Tom Izzo, and Gregg Popovich are three of the many famous coaches who've brought their teams to the Palestra to experience it.

Although it is now home to more than basketball, the Palestra is a showcase for the game it was built for. It has perfect sight lines from every seat. The rows are raked so you sit above the court and not away from it. The sound engulfs you. A few thousand fans with a college band can clear your sinuses. Sell out the building, and it pulses with excitement and will leave your ears ringing.

The Palestra has its own lifeblood, history, mystique, ghosts — choose your own magic word. Over the hundreds of games I've seen there, the Palestra has pissed me off, cheered me up, made me light-headed, caused me to momentarily, literally lose my mind. At its worst, it's fun. At its best, it's cathartic.

The late P.A. announcer John McAdams proclaimed it "college basketball's most historic gym." These days it's referred to as "the Cathedral of College Basketball."

Now, the cathedral is being desecrated.

I'm not a basketball Luddite. The timeout contests with students costumed in giant coffee cups can be amusing. The new video scoreboard offers replays, highlights, and classic Palestra moments. The flashing lights during the team introduction are NBA-silly, but the students and players seem to like it.

But at the Palestra, the game and the court should be sacrosanct. That's why the Penn administration's decision to sell naming rights to the Palestra court this season is so disappointing, so tone deaf to the arena's place in basketball history. Penn has an endowment of nearly $14 billion and yet felt the need to take endowment pocket change to draw a mustache on the Mona Lisa? To quote former Eagle Ricky Watters: "For who? For what?"

The Palestra is a "cathedral," a historic asset, not a brothel. No one needs to drink from the Starbucks Communion Cup at the Capital One Basilica.

It's all part of a disturbing trend. A couple years ago, Penn decided that more on-court hype and canned DJ music, in place of the Penn Band, would make the Palestra more like — every other arena. The administration said the goal was to appeal to students, but the Palestra doesn't need that nonsense, just as it never needed "Who Let the Dogs Out?" to fire up the crowd. When you have one of the nation's most unique basketball experiences, that should be the selling point.

Besides, it doesn't work. As a friend said, "The 76ers played canned music for years, and the Wells Fargo Center was half empty. They filled the place when they started winning."

Penn's basketball teams are winning — the men are the defending Ivy League champs, and the women, with three Ivy titles in the past five years, are enjoying an unprecedented run of success. Promote that — the players, the game, and the history — not a financial services firm that slapped its logo on hallowed ground.

The Palestra was built for basketball. Appreciate its greatness.

Howard Gensler is one of the authors of the book "Pride of the Palestra" and was one of the curators of the Palestra Museum, which lines the building's halls.

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Copyright 2018 Sun Journal Nov 12, 2018

Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)

 

LEWISTON — A universally accessible playground, allowing children of all abilities to play alongside one another, is finally getting the ribbon-cutting treatment Wednesday at Marcotte Park.

For state Sen. Nate Libby of Lewiston, who's been one of the lead advocates and fundraisers for the project, the playground represents a unique milestone for Maine, but also an exciting opportunity for his family.

In September, as crews were breaking ground on the project, the City Council approved naming the playground Jude's Place at Marcotte Park in honor of Libby's son Jude, who has cerebral palsy.

"My family is over the moon excited for this project to conclude and be open to all kids to play," Nate Libby said Monday. "There's been enormous support from community members and community organizations."

It will be Maine's first public universally-accessible playground, meaning it's fully wheelchair-accessible, among other features.

The ribbon-cutting will take place at 11 a.m., with remarks from Libby and Lewiston Mayor Shane Bouchard.

When the project got off the ground in 2012, it received funding from California-based Shane's Inspiration, a nonprofit organization that helps build playgrounds that are accessible to all children, regardless of their physical ability.

According to the city, the transformation of Marcotte Park was a complete renovation, including different grades, landscape, surface material, and play equipment. To make it universally accessible, the site has a specially designed layout, including a rubberized playground surface and 19 pieces of play equipment.

Marcotte Park is the triangle plot east of the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, where Jefferson, Caron and Birch streets meet.

Libby said he began fundraising for the project with help from city officials after the project had been foundering for a few years. Working closely with Lewiston Community Relations Coordinator Dot Perham-Whittier, the project raised several thousand dollars in private donations and grants.

"Wednesday will be the culmination of all that work," Libby said, recognizing the dozens of individual contributions and local organizations that made the difference. "It's kind of a big deal, and it's hard to believe."

Others on board with the project include Lewiston Public Schools, Sandcastle Clinical and Educational Services, Promise Early Education Center (Head Start), The Margaret Murphy Center for Children, and Healthy Androscoggin.

Libby said he plans to bring Jude to the ribbon-cutting. He said Jude has attended Pine Tree Camp in Rome, where there is also a universally-accessible playground. He said it Jude's first experience with one, and served as inspiration for advocating for the public playground in Lewiston.

Along with private donations, the city also secured roughly $400,000 in Community Development Block Grant money on top of a $30,000 National Recreation & Parks Association/Walt Disney grant.

"This playground has been dear to my heart ever since I received the Shane's contest promotional postcard in 2011," Perham-Whittier said. "It's been exciting to see people step forward to keep the dream alive and never give up until we became the first-in-Maine universally accessible playground."

Throughout the fall, Gorrill Palmer & Gordon Contracting Inc., with help from Lewiston Public Works, has been doing the construction.

Also scheduled to speak Wednesday are Marnie Norris from Shane's Inspiration, Christine Adler from Promise Early Education and Lewiston Superintendent of Schools Bill Webster.

According to the city, Norris will collaborate with the Lewiston School Department to help incorporate playground-related learning to promote "all children, regardless of abilities, playing together."

According to Perham-Whittier, more than 16 percent of the roughly 5,500 students enrolled in Lewiston schools are children with special needs.

arice@sunjournal.com

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

JACKSON, MISS.A high school football player in Mississippi died after he broke two vertebrae in his neck.

Jeremiah Williams was injured when he tried to make a tackle during a game on Nov. 2, WJTV reported.

Williams, who played defensive back, broke the C1 and C4 vertebrae, WJTV reported.

Friends still can't believe what happened.

"When he got hit and went down I just thought he was automatically going to get back up," classmate Erick Simmons told WJTV. "Because of the type of player he is. He's just so tough."

Williams was rushed to an area hospital, but almost a week after his injuries, he was taken off a ventilator and died Friday, WAPT reported.

Sunday, the community came out to hold a candlelight vigil in Williams' memory on the same football field where he was hurt.

To help pay for the week-long treatment, a GoFundMe account has been set up, WAPT reported.

Organizers wanted to raise $10,000 but nearly $49,000 has been donated over seven days.

"We know his family is going to have a mountain of medical bills," Errick Simmons, Greenville's Mayor, told WJTV. "He was on the ventilator for a week and he was in ICU."

The mayor also declared Thursday Jeremiah Williams Day. Three of the town's McDonald's restaurants will donate 20% of the sales that day to the family to help pay medical bills, WJTV reported.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

Living in Alabama and having committed to the Crimson Tide affords quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa a heightened status over elite recruits who decided to go elsewhere.

"People here are die-hard for 'Bama football," Tagovailoa said.

The admiration for Tagovailoa is even greater because he's the brother of Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who led Alabama in the national title game last season.

Still, Taulia learned during a road game this season that racism is no respecter of person, family or affiliation. Once Taulia had his Thompson High School (Alabaster, Alabama) team firmly in control in the second half, he said he heard racist remarks hurled at him and his teammates from the home team's stands.

"It's crazy that the person felt comfortable enough to say things in a crowd in public," he said. "I'm not naive. I know there are racist people, but still."

Taulia's experience was just one in a string of, at the very least, racially insensitive incidents that have surfaced at high school football games across the country this fall.

"Racism is very much alive," said Jordan Clark, a four-star cornerback from University Lab High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

If the wide-ranging spree of incidents are any indication, the culprits are ditching covert for overt.

At halftime of the game Nov. 2 between Georgia high schools Brookwood and DeKalb Lakeside, Brookwood band members were supposed to spell out the word "Broncos" but instead spelled out the word "coon." In a letter to students and parents, Brookwood Principal William Bo Ford Jr. apologized for the "completely unacceptable racial term."

In California in September, Santa Ana High Principal Jeff Bishop said he saw posters reading "We Love White" and "Build the Wall" during the school's football game at Aliso Niguel (Aliso Viejo). Bishop also said he heard Aliso Niguel students say, "It's not a great day to be Mexican now, is it?" Santa Ana's student population is 99 percent Hispanic, while Aliso Niguel's student population is predominantly white.

In Ohio in October, the Mansfield High football team found a box of bananas in their locker room when they arrived to play at Ashland, according to the Mansfield News Journal. Mansfield, which has a predominantly African-American student population, also reportedly had bananas thrown at them, and a person in the stands was dressed as a banana. An Ashland school statement said the cross country team, which uses the locker room, leaves uneaten fruit in the locker room so it doesn't go to waste.

Daniel Drezner, a professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said instances such as these "are more noticeable" because of the current political climate.

"There are two ways to look at it," Drezner said. "One way is that it's always been a problem, it's just that we're beginning to notice it now. That's where (President Donald) Trump's variety of examples of bigotry on display has suddenly made us more sensitized to these sorts of things happening.

"The other possibility is that Trump emboldens this type of behavior. I think it will get better because, eventually, Trump will move from the stage. Everyone who tries to act like him winds up paying a far higher price than he does because everyone else is not the president."

The targets of racism, however, are shaken. U'Kari Baker, a highly recruited wide receiver at Central High in Louisville, is outgoing and approachable, the type of person who can strike up a conversation with a total stranger. "Not being cocky or anything like that, but people just like me," Baker said. "I just naturally get along with people."

So he was dumbfounded last month when a group of students at nearby Ballard High passed around a watermelon while taunting Baker and the rest of the predominantly African-American team.

"I couldn't believe it," Baker said. "I still can't. It's hard to put into words, really. I'm a 17-year-old black teenager and I had never experienced racism before. It's hard to believe this still is going on in 2018."

Oxford (Alabama) High center Clay Webb said he's "heard the N-word" said to his teammates by opposing players "in a couple different games, and I'm always shocked."

"Those people are just stupid," said Webb, ranked No. 18 in USA TODAY's Chosen 25 recruiting rankings. "I'm white, and it bothers me, too. Usually, on the next couple of plays, those guys get rocked."

Ballard High tried to handle its situation diplomatically. In a letter sent to parents, Principal Jason Neuss addressed the watermelon incident, calling it "inappropriate" and "insensitive" and reached out to Central Principal Raymond Green.

Baker said he was "on the fence" about the apology from Neuss because the school's administration "didn't pass around the watermelon," students did. "I wish we could've had a conversation with some of those students," he said. "Just so they could hear how that impacted us and we could talk things out."

For that to happen, authority figures must know about incidents. Reporting can be spotty.

National Federation of State High School Associations Director of Sports and Sports Medicine Bob Colgate said he has "not heard anything or had any of our state associations bring that to my attention."

"That's not to say things may not be happening," Colgate said. "Each state has different sportsmanship policies and guidelines. If it gets to the point where an individual is ejected from the game, then the state association's ejection policy comes into play."

In Alabama an ejection is accompanied by a $300 fine the school must pay to the state association. The player is required to take a refresher course in a sportsmanship program, which every athlete is required to complete before competing.

"We have not had any schools report racial problems," AHSAA spokesman Ron Ingram said. "If it came before us, we would address it. We would appreciate it if schools would let us know."

Reported or not, racist comments and symbols shock and sting. Central running back Mykah Williams said that seeing the bananas in the locker room was "an eye-opener."

"This was the stuff my grandparents were dealing with in the 1950s," Williams said. "Now I am. I thought we were better than that."

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Copyright 2018 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

BYU may win an appeal of the NCAA's committee on infractions' decision to vacate as many as 47 games that Nick Emery participated in while receiving improper benefits. Or not.

But the damage is done. A big chink in BYU's historical plate of armor has been tarnished by this incident no matter who is to blame. BYU is now on probation for two years and loses a scholarship during that time, plus some recruiting restrictions and a fine. Vacating 47 wins is another argument entirely.

Although in BYU's official statement released Friday the university vehemently asserts it knew nothing of Emery receiving $12,000 in benefits over a two-year period, the school probably should have. Schools should not have to be in the babysitting business with their athletes, but, unfortunately, that is exactly what is needed if current NCAA rules are to be met.

Maintaining control is headlights on high beam all the time.

Head basketball coach Dave Rose has a staff of half a dozen full-time folks interacting with 13 scholarship players. Then there are administrators directly assigned to oversee the program. That's a great ratio of players to professionals to oversee what is happening with boosters.

Yet, things broke down, we are told. Even to the point where a booster can gain access to a locker and place in some coin.

In 2006, BYU asked national championship volleyball coach Tom Peterson to resign in an infractions case. Peterson declared he did everything in his power to oversee his program and obey the rules and have things approved and cleared by compliance people. In that case, he was fired.

It may be a different situation completely, but it was a precedent. This BYU basketball story dwarfs the black eye attention in comparison to that volleyball news. Dave Rose received a contract extension days before this NCAA thing broke.

Most schools in the country have boosters getting very cozy with athletes, and it is hard to control. The rumors of bonus money, signing cash, cars, electronic gifts, trips, golf, meals, stuff from clothing stores given to college athletes are absolutely the culture of what has become college sports' dirty little secret. I'd wager no school is immune, not even the Cougars, as proven in the Emery case.

I have a relative who is a high school coach, and one of his players returned from a trip to an SEC school where its players talked about the cash they got. When he returned home and mentioned it to his parents, they told him, "We don't talk about that."

ESPN's Jay Bilas calls these NCAA rules limiting player benefits a total joke. As for vacating 47 wins, Bilas told ESPN 960 BYU should just change their record book to losses handed opponents and nothing really changes. "It is really kind of a dumb penalty," he said.

BYU knows at least one booster in this Emery case extremely well. They've accepted his donations and provided close contact and access. Those associations are dangerous and can lead to serial infractions. The NCAA recommended BYU cut off that access.

What has the nation snickering is that BYU got tagged for a player being taken to Harry Potter World and having access to a Volkswagen, among other things. In comparison with what other schools' athletes get, it does bring a smile.

Wrote Barstool Sports college basketball blogger who calls himself Reas about BYU this weekend: "Big time college players are getting way better stuff than this. This just shows how dumb the NCAA is. The way they punish a school, pulling a scholarship, just costs a future player a chance for a scholarship. Obviously, I think vacating wins is the dumbest, but pulling scholarships seems to be the most hypocritical rule the NCAA hands out. Let's punish someone three years from now because of someone else! Amateurism!"

Former BYU athletic director Rondo Fehlberg, a former oil lawyer in Houston with international business acumen is shocked by the NCAA decision and penalty recommended.

"The punishment — based on ample similar infractions and punishments imposed by the NCAA COI — does not fit the crime," he told me over the weekend.

"On the side of institutional responsibility, BYU's coaches knew who and what Nick was and how he could be susceptible to the flattery of a booster. On the booster side, no university can assume that any booster is beyond the immature and selfish behavior on display here. So there must be culpability consistent with BYU's negligence and inattention to duty.

"But in any court of law or official inquiry, there is a vast difference between negligence and scienter (a fancy legal term for actual knowledge of wrong-doing or culpability, not just inattention to duty).

"BYU was negligent — sloppy and inattentive. But BYU was not cheating, or aiding and abetting, or trying to cover up or hide anything. To my knowledge, there is no precedent for such a severe and harsh institutional penalty as forfeiture of two years of wins, as mandated here — and there are ample similar cases involving high-profile programs and blue-chip athletes who has been far more maligned with rules."

Fehlberg said the NCAA penalty for BYU is tantamount to a major slap down, albeit for a defined, limited duration.

There are some major decisions coming down on some blueblood programs where an FBI investigation has indicated tens of thousands of dollars were given to athletes, coaches, parents, and other contacts to direct where a player would go.

Fehlberg asks, "Where does COI go from here to those cases when they have clear evidence of lack of institutional control, as has often been the case?"

He's got a point. If BYU gets this for a self-reported infraction, what will the NCAA recommend for blatant corruption of its rules by schools and their employees who had knowledge and facilitated money exchanges?

It has to be a nuclear option, right?

EMAIL: dharmon@deseretnews.com

TWITTER: Harmonwrites

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Copyright 2018 The Arizona Daily Star Nov 11, 2018

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

 

The prevalence of sexual misconduct and domestic violence in the UA's athletic department is more clear now following the release of public records by the university and statements made in court by one of its attorneys.

Athletes make up just 1.1 percent of the student population at the UA, but occupy a much larger share of Title IX complaints. However, the limited amount of information available makes it difficult to fully grasp the severity of sexual misconduct problems in the UA athletic department.

Eighty UA students were investigated for code of conduct violations involving sexual misconduct in a five-year span, between the 2012-13 school year and the 2016-17 school year, according to information released by the university through a public records request.

Of those 80 students, 39 were found "responsible" and sanctioned. The office that oversees such complaints says "responsible" parties are "more likely than not" to have committed the alleged violations.

The UA would not say how many of the students were athletes, nor how many total complaints were filed on campus during that span.

However, an attorney for the university said in court last month that there were 13 allegations of sexual misconduct and three allegations of domestic violence made against people involved in the UA athletic department during a six-year span that began on Jan. 1, 2012. Of those 16 allegations, 15 were made against athletes. One was made against a department employee. The attorney did not say how many were judged "responsible."

Title IX is a federal law ensuring gender equity on campus by protecting students from sexual assault, harassment and domestic and dating violence. The UA's Title IX policies and procedures have come under fire in the wake of two high-profile cases — one involving a Wildcats football player, and the other involving a longtime assistant track and field coach. Both are currently serving prison sentences for domestic violence.

UA president Robert C. Robbins hired a prominent California attorney to review and modify the university's policies on gender equity last spring. Earlier this month, the university named a former South Tucson judge as its full-time Title IX director.

Arizona numbers are indicative of a national trend, according to ESPN. Athletes in Power 5 conferences are nearly three times more likely to be implicated in sexual misconduct violations than nonathletes, according to ESPN; 6.3 percent of all complaints made on Power 5 conference campuses included an athlete as the person accused of wrongdoing.

The UA declined to comment on the courtroom revelation. The UA hasn't released any details on specific cases, and said the information shared by the attorneys stems from a "legal dispute about information provided in response to a judicial order," university spokesman Chris Sigurdson wrote in an email.

"(The information) should not be relied on as a public disclosure," Sigurdson said. "In any case, we are still prohibited from discussing individual student conduct cases because of the federal requirements for student confidentiality."

Statistics, interpretations vary

ESPN's lengthy investigation into sexual misconduct in college athletics, released last week, came with multiple charts and even more footnotes. Finding an apples-to-apples comparison across campuses — or even conferences — was nearly impossible.

ESPN requested Title IX reports from all Power 5 conference schools covering a six-year span starting in 2012. It asked for allegations of sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, sexual coercion, stalking or retaliation.

Many of the schools declined to provide the information, and others — like the UA — provided limited or different information.

Michigan self-reported 1,039 complaints campuswide during the six-year span. Washington State reported 417, and Arizona State listed 297. The UA responded with a chart showing 87 students campuswide had been implicated in code of conduct violations involving sexual misconduct, and that 46 were found "responsible."

It did not provide the number of students implicated in domestic and dating violence reports. The UA declined requests from both the Star and ESPN for that information.

There's another reason why the UA's self-reported numbers appear low, according to an expert: Not all complaints lead to code of conduct violations. Some complaints simply don't rise to the level of a conduct violation, even if the information provided is true. Some complaining students are also discouraged from moving forward with the reporting process, said Alexandra Tracy-Ramirez, an attorney who used to work as a Title IX investigator at the UA.

Complainants "may feel intimidated or for whatever other reason don't want to continue to provide more information," Tracy-Ramirez said. "From that point on, maybe there isn't a conduct charge — but that doesn't mean that there wasn't a legitimate basis for the complaint to be brought in the first place. It just means it doesn't result in a conduct charge."

The UA offers an alternative dispute resolution process in which students can seek mediation rather than face charges, Tracy-Ramirez said. Those complaints would also not be included in the data the UA provided to the Star and ESPN .

"None of this is to say that they're hiding things," Tracy-Ramirez said. "That number may be accurate, given the very limited piece of information they've provided, but there's a whole lot more information they could have provided and for whatever reason chose not to."

Tracy-Ramirez said she believes UA officials when they say they don't know how many athletes are the subject of Title IX complaints. But there's no reason the school can't track student demographics, Tracy-Ramirez said, noting that more data could lead to better outcomes.

"I'm hopeful that things are changing and I hate to say this, but if people don't want to do the right thing for the right reason, then we have to give them other reasons to do the right thing," Tracy-Ramirez said.

"If that is a fear of bad publicity, if that's a fear of lawsuits or federal oversight — whatever it is, if we can appeal to that, then there's a better chance that we'll see some better outcomes for people."

Legal issues abound

The UA is embroiled in three separate lawsuits that allege violence by athletes or athletic department employees and a lack of response by UA officials.

Last year, former Wildcats football player Orlando Bradford was sentenced to five years in prison after he admitted to choking two ex-girlfriends. The UA fired football coach Rich Rodriguez in January after his assistant filed a claim with the school alleging years of sexual harassment. And in March, former UA assistant track coach Craig Carter was convicted of aggravated assault in connection with a 2015 attack on a student-athlete with whom Carter was involved in a sexual relationship. Carter, like Bradford, is in prison.

A UA attorney revealed the number of Wildcat athletes accused of Title IX violations involving sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence during a hearing for one of two federal lawsuits the university is facing. The suit was filed by Bradford's ex-girlfriend, who says the UA knew about his violent past and did little to protect her. Athletic department officials received notice months before Bradford's September 2016 arrest that he was a danger to women, according to campus police reports, but failed to take steps to prevent him from hurting anyone else.

During an Oct. 15 hearing, attorneys for one of Bradford's victims broke down those Title IX numbers by complaint type. UA attorneys said at the hearing that eight members of the football program — not including Bradford — were named in Title IX complaints during a six-year span starting Jan. 1, 2012. One was accused of domestic violence, four were accused of sexual assault and three were accused of sexual harassment in the Title IX complaints, the attorney said in court.

Additionally, the UA's attorneys acknowledged for the first time that two football players were expelled from school and a third was suspended following an allegation of gang rape.

At the end of the hearing, the judge ordered that the UA 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."

Sigurdson, the UA spokesman, declined to comment on the university lawyers' comments in court.

Legal billings in the state-funded Craig Carter civil case

Former UA assistant track coach Craig Carter is serving a five year prison sentence for assaulting a student-athlete with whom he was involved in a sexual relationship. Carter was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault in March, but the state of Arizona continues to pay to defend him in a civil lawsuit filed by his victim.

Months after Carter's arrest, the woman filed a lawsuit against Carter and the UA, saying the power dynamic took away her ability to consent and the school failed to protect her from repeated rapes by her former coach.

Because Carter was a state employee at the time of the incident, the state is required to pay for his defense in the civil lawsuit, according to the Arizona Department of Administration.

To date, the civil defense of Carter and the UA has cost taxpayers nearly $2.1 million dollars, with no end to the case in sight.

As of September 30, Carter's attorneys at the Tucson firm Munger Chadwick had billed $1.25 million in legal fees to the state. From Sept. 1 through 30 alone, the firm billed $76,572 dollars.

The UA's attorneys at Rusing, Lopez and Lizardi have billed $$718,343 through October 15, with $247,071 of those expenses coming in the last two months.

Attorneys for former UA athletic director Greg Byrne, who was initially named as a defendant in the suit but has since been dropped, billed the state $86,674 for work performed in his defense.

The Star asked the ADOA for information about all previous cases in which the state has continued to pay for the civil defense of a person convicted of a related crime, but no records were produced.

"ADOA Risk Management's claims database is not designed to query the specific data requested; therefore, ADOA Risk Management is unable to extract the information to fulfill these requests," public information liaison Teleia Galaviz told the Star.

The Star also requested information about the highest dollar amount ADOA has spent to defend a current or former state employee, but that information was also not available.

 

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Copyright 2018 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

Being a special athlete isn't strictly about scoring baskets or catching touchdown passes.

It also can be any student-athlete who knows how to provide an assist off the field.

High school sports not only provide students with a chance to learn lessons and traits that will help them later in life, but it also gives them a chance to become leaders and make an impact in their communities.

That is the kind of student-athlete the I AM SPORT Award wants to celebrate.

Are you an athlete who is doing positive things in the community?

Do you know a student-athlete who is a making a positive impact?

You might be just the person who gets recognized for that work at the Journal Sentinel High School Sports Awards Show on May 7 at the Pabst Theater.

We are now accepting nominations for the award for students in southeast Wisconsin.

The submission deadline is 8 a.m. Jan. 21. After the nomination period closes, readers will vote on the winner from Jan. 22 to March 5.

The three nominees with the most votes will be invited to attend the awards show. The winner will be announced during the event.

Nominations can be submitted at sportsawards.jsonline.com/#contests.

So what kind of athlete are we looking for?

Last year's winner, Richard Smith of Hartford, volunteered as a flag football and youth basketball coach.

The 2017 winner, Morgan Rymer of Catholic Memorial, was acknowledged for her work with the TOPS soccer program that gives kids with cognitive or physical needs the chance to play sports.

For more information on the Journal Sentinel Awards Show go to sportsawards.jsonline.com

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Copyright 2018 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
All Rights Reserved

The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

As his helmet collided violently with his opponent's shoulder, Luke Kuechly looked like a life-size bobble-head doll. In an instant, the Carolina Panthers' star linebacker suffered yet another concussion. His season, and perhaps career, was in jeopardy.

A few weeks earlier, Kuechly had begun wearing an experimental collar around his neck designed to protect his brain from within. The device, known as the Q-Collar and previously sold as NeuroShield, is designed to mimic the woodpecker's method of injury protection by keeping more blood inside the skull to create a "bubble wrap" effect around the brain.

So, why didn't this nature-inspired safety equipment, which Kuechly apparently still wears, prevent his 2017 concussion?

As a physiologist and sports medicine researcher, I study how the body responds to exercise and other stressors. I also study ways to prevent and treat sports injuries. As the public learns more about the potential long-term dangers of contact sports, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), parents, athletes, and sports organizations are desperate to find a quick fix to the concussion crisis. Unfortunately, Ido not think there is an easy solution to make inherently high-risk sports safe.

Back in 2014, a friend told me about a study that found NFL players were 20 percent to 30 percent less likely to sustain a concussion in games played at "higher" altitudes. The researchers theorized that higher altitude caused a slight swelling in the brain, and consequently increased brain volume.

This "tighter fit" inside the skull would reduce brain "slosh" during impacts to reduce the likelihood of concussions. Since higher altitude seemed to protect the brain, they argued, it would be beneficial to replicate this "tighter fit." The authors proposed this could be achieved by applying slight pressure on the neck's jugular veins to trap a bit more blood inside the brain. A few years earlier, a member of their research team filed a patent for such a device - a jugular compression collar.

While those less familiar with physiology may have been persuaded by this fascinating-sounding explanation, my fellow researcher Gerald Zavorsky and I thought this idea was scientifically implausible. Most important, the study defined "higher altitude" as anything above a meager 600 feet above sea level - way too low to have any effect on brain volume.

Essentially, our brain volume stays remarkably constant at high altitude, even when we may feel short of breath or light-headed. In the "Mile High City" of Denver, which houses the highest NFL stadium in the country at 5,280 feet above sea level, you would be hard-pressed to experience even a minuscule swelling in the brain. However, at much higher elevations, there is actually an increased likelihood for brain swelling that causes a life-threatening emergency called high altitude cerebral edema.

If altitude does not cause a protective increase in brain volume, then why were concussions reduced in NFL games played at greater than 600 feet above sea level? To answer this question, we examined the same publicly available NFL data set. The original study looked at data from two combined seasons (2012 and 2013), but we analyzed a few additional years. We confirmed that concussion rate was indeed statistically reduced at "higher" altitudes during the 2013 season, but not in the 2012 season. We dug deeper and found no connection between altitude and concussions in the 2014 or 2015 seasons. A separate study in college athletes showed concussions were even more likely at "higher" altitude.

Since the effect wasn't consistent and repeatability is a major problem in all of science, we suspected the original linkages were due to random chance - a mathematical artifact of using a huge data set of nearly 1,500 gridiron giants literally butting heads with one another on a weekly basis. If that was the case, we might expect that something completely arbitrary to also be associated with a reduced risk of concussion. And, indeed, our analysis demonstrated that is true. It turns out that NFL teams with animal logos, such as the Miami Dolphins, also had a 20 percent to 30 percent reduced risk of concussion compared with teams without animal logos, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, regardless of game altitude.

Based on our analysis, we concluded that random chance, not physiological response, explains why concussions were less likely at altitudes above 600 feet. Thus, an altitude-mimicking collar seems unjustified for preventing concussions.

Supposedly, the Q-Collar also replicates how woodpeckers naturally protect themselves from headaches. According to company information, woodpeckers compress their jugular vein using their neck muscles to induce "tighter fit" and reduce brain "slosh." While this amazing-sounding mechanism is often presented as a fact, it does not seem to be mentioned anywhere in over a century of scientific studies examining woodpeckers.

I thoroughly examined all of the woodpecker papers I could find, and then tracked down all of their references, and repeated the process. I discovered ornithology papers from the 1700s through cutting-edge engineering models of woodpecker biomechanics, but none mentioned jugular compression. Thus, it is not surprising that the company does not cite any scientific references to woodpecker literature.

Even if this mechanism does exist and has been somehow overlooked by woodpecker researchers, evolution gave the woodpecker numerous unique protective adaptations. I teamed up with a woodpecker researcher and published a summary of these mechanisms in October. These include a specialized skull bone structure and a shock-absorbing beak. Woodpeckers even use very specific postures and movements to brace themselves, which helps to dissipate force away from their brains. We concluded that these multiple protective mechanisms work in harmony, which cannot be replicated by simply pushing on one's jugular vein.

New research suggests that woodpeckers may indeed experience brain injuries similar to those seen in humans. Regardless, the physics of woodpecker drumming are quite different than that of sports concussions, which generally happen with unpredictable timing, and involve considerable head rotation. Despite its intuitive appeal, I believe that a woodpecker-mimicking collar is more pseudoscience than innovation.

As my colleagues and I have been debunking the scientific rationale for the Q-Collar, research examining the Q-Collar seems to have shifted from reducing the risk of concussions, or distinct events following a single hit, to a less tangible goal of reducing brain damage from repeated subconcussive impacts.

New research claims evidence of benefit, based on MRI data. As one article stated in 2016, the collar "may have provided a protective effect against brain microstructural changes after repetitive head impacts." An article published in October from a small study showed that the brains of female soccer players who wore collars for a season seemingly showed no brain damage. Those who did not wear the collar did show small changes in some areas of their brain.

However, some other researchers have expressed concerns over the small numbers of subjects and the high dropout rates in similar studies about the collar. Some physicians have concluded that this evidence is not enough to suggest that it does protect the brain from injury and current promotional campaigns are "potentially misleading." I also remain skeptical of these findings, since the clinical utility of this particular type of MRI data remains unclear, especially in relation to long-term health.

As the company aims for FDA approval and looks beyond sports applications, I fear that long-term brain health is being placed in equipment justified by misunderstandings of physiology, coincidental relationships, and yes, even what I've concluded are incorrect claims about woodpeckers and other animals.

Some may argue that even if it does not work, there is no harm in adding an extra layer of protection. However, I believe this is a dangerous attitude. When athletes feel they are more protected, they have a false sense of extra safety and play more aggressively. This may actually increase risk of injury.

As Luke Kuechly and others can attest, even innovative-sounding equipment cannot stop concussions in contact sports. Unfortunately, we may not know if longterm brain damage can actually be limited by new technologies until it is too late.

 

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

As preparations continue for Super Bowl LIII, now 12 weeks away, NFL officials consider downtown Atlanta an unusually convenient canvas for the spectacle.

The Feb. 3 game and the major events leading to it will be held within short walking distance of one another — the game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Super Bowl Experience (a nine-day indoor football theme park) in the Georgia World Congress Center, Super Bowl Live (a six-day series of free concerts and other activities) in Centennial Olympic Park and Super Bowl Opening Night (formerly called Media Day) in State Farm Arena.

An addition to the lineup was announced this week: the first Super Bowl Music Fest, a ticketed event in State Farm Arena(formerly known as Philips Arena)on the three nights before the game.

"What's really exciting about Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta is the confinement of this campus," Jon Barker, NFL vice president of event operations and production, said during a recent visit here. "To be able to have the stadium, Super Bowl Experience, Opening Night and Super Bowl Live all together in one epicenter is unusual for us.

"It (would be) a tremendous asset to any Super Bowl. It puts us in a really unique spot to plan and execute a very successful event."

The layout will be different than for recent Super Bowls.

In Houston two seasons ago, the game was played at NRG Stadium, located about eight miles from the major lead-up events, which were held in downtown Houston. For last season's Super Bowl in Minneapolis, "Opening Night" was held at an arena in neighboring St.Paul, Minn.

The 2014 Super Bowl was played in East Rutherford, N.J., with some major ancillary events in New York; the 2015 Super Bowl was played in Glendale, Ariz., with some events in Phoenix; and the 2016 Super Bowl was in Santa Clara, Calif., with many of the lead-up attractions in San Francisco.

Atlanta's collection of downtown venues and hotels always is part of the city's pitch when it pursues major sports events, including last season's College Football Playoff championship game and the 2020 college basketball Final Four.

Thathasbecomeanimportant selling point because marquee sports events increasingly feature multiple days of activities in advance of the competition. The Super Bowl's buildup, though, is perhaps the longest.

Super Bowl commercials

Avocados and car mats will be among the products featured on TV commercials during Super Bowl LIII.

Avocados from Mexico will air a Super Bowl commercial for the fifth consecutive year, as will car-mat maker WeatherTech for the sixth consecutive year, according to AdAge.

Those reportedly are the first companies to confirm their plans for Super Bowl ads. The game will be televised by CBS.

Who will be here? The New Orleans Saints

handed the Los Angeles Rams their first loss of the season last weekend, but the Rams remain the favorite to win Super Bowl LIII at 4/1 odds, followed by the New England Patriots at 9/2, according to Vegas Insider. The Rams were 3/1 before the loss in New Orleans.

Sports Illustrated's "Monday Morning Quarterback" NFL power rankings moved the Saints to No. 1 after they beat the Rams for their seventh consecutive win. The Saints are the fifth different team to hold the No. 1 spot in the poll this season.

 

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

When New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez strode to the plate, Greg Murrey rose to do what thousands of other fans were doing at Turner Field: lustily boo the controversial superstar.

But Murrey never had the chance. From his second-row seat in the upper deck, the 60-year-old grandfather lost his balance, toppling forward through the front-row seats. Then he tumbled over a 30-inch-high guardrail and fell to the lower level about 40 feet below.Murrey was dead on arrival at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Murrey's family filed a lawsuit two years ago, contending his death on Aug. 29, 2015, could have been avoided.

The Braves and Major League Baseball knew that fans seated near railings were at risk because several fans had fallen at other ballparks with similar railings, according to allegations in recent court filings. The suit, brought by Murrey's widow and their two children, names both the team and MLB as responsible for not raising the railings at Turner Field.

The court papers indicate that members of the Braves' own security staff had expressed concerns about the height of the railings at Turner Field. And the motions include newly disclosed testimony by Texas Rangers executives explaining why they raised the height of their guardrails in 2011 to 42 inches tall after a fan fell to his death at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

"(Y)ou go to the upper deck and those angles are really steep so people can view the field," Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Fame pitcher who became president of the Rangers organization, said in a deposition last year for the Murreys' lawsuit. "And are they safe? If I was up there with my grandkids I'd be very nervous because kids will be kids and somebody gets excited and they run down and lean over the rail."

The Murreys have asked MLB to require ballparks to raise railings or install fall-prevention netting to prevent other deaths, the family's attorneys, Michael Neff and Mike Caplan, said in a statement. "MLB has chosen not to take action. It is the family's hope that MLB and the Braves will listen to a jury."

Neither the Braves nor MLB would answer questions about the litigation or Murrey's fall. "(They) do not feel it is appropriate to comment to the press about this pending litigation," Doug Scribner, a lawyer representing both parties, said.

In pretrial testimony filed with the court, former Braves president John Schuerholz defended the safety of Turner Field's railings, noting they were above the minimum height required by building codes.

"We know that ours at Turner Field have done the job for us until this, this unique circumstance with Mr. Murrey," Schuerholz said. "And so we didn't feel like we were wrong. We felt like we were doing things correctly."

At the Braves'new stadium in Cobb County, SunTrust Park, the height of the upper deck railings is 36 inches, according to court filings.

In their statement, Neff and Caplan said the Braves and MLB could have taken action to protect fans, just as they did in 2016 when netting behind home plate was extended to protect spectators from being seriously injured by foul balls and broken bats entering the stands. At that time, the Braves faced a lawsuit filed on behalf of a 6-year-old girl whose skull was shattered by a foul ball at Turner Field.

A review of the mountainous court filings so far in the Murrey case indicates the Braves are taking a similar line-in-the-sand approach to the Murrey suit that they employed in the netting litigation, until they settled that case for an undisclosed sum last year.

Longtime fan liked his upper-deck seats

Greg Murrey, who was called "Ace," split season tickets with a friend and had been sitting in the upper deck seats in Section 401 behind home plate for years. A Roswell insurance executive, he liked the seats because they were relatively inexpensive and had a great view of the field, his widow, Laura Murrey, said in a pretrial deposition.

Greg Murrey loved the Braves and was such a passionate baseball fan he collected hundreds of signed baseballs, photos and pennants, she said.

Whenhestooduptoheckle Rodriguez at the Braves-Yankees game, Murrey hyperventilated, causing him to fall forward, medical experts determined.

When questioning Laura Murrey, a lawyer representing the Braves and MLB repeatedly asked her about her late husband's drinking habits. Toxicology reports showed that when he died Greg Murrey had a blood-alcohol content of 0.104, which is above the legal limit of 0.08 for adults to drive.

Laura Murrey testified that people sitting next to her husband told her he did not appear to be inebriated. It's also the Braves' policy to prohibit the sale of alcoholic beveragestoanyonewhoappears visibly intoxicated.

Other arguments aside, however, the crux of the litigation is whether the 30-inch-high railing along the upper deck at Turner Field was tall enough to ensure fan safety. According to court documents, MLB has advised teams that guardrails can be as low as 26 inches — the minimum height set decades ago under the International Building Code.

But that standard, adopted to ensure a clear view for spectators, is outdated and no longer applies to baseball stadiums, motions filed on behalf of the Murrey family contend. The family says the Braves should have followed the lead of the Texas Rangers, which raised its guardrails after two accidents occurred at their stadium when fans fell over the railing — one of them dying from the fall.

'Protect our fans from themselves'

During the 2010 season, Tyler Morris tumbled over a railing while trying to catch a foul ball at Rangers stadium. He survived the 30-foot fall but suffered a skull fracture.

On July 7, 2011, Shannon Stone, a 39-year-old firefighter, "flipped over the 30 1/2-inch rail while trying to catch a foul ball tossed to him by outfielder Josh Hamilton," court motions say. Stone died after crashing 20 feet to the concrete flooring below with his young son Cooper looking on.

Just weeks after Stone's death, the Rangers decided to raise its guardrails after determining a person's center of gravity, which is typically around the waistline, is about 39 inches high.According to court filings, research by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration dating back to 1976 found that a railing of 42 inches in height would be above the center of gravity of 95 percent of adults.

Before the 2012 season, the Rangers spent $1.1 million to erect the new 42-inch railings.

In his September 2017 deposition for the Murrey lawsuit, Nolan Ryan said raising the heights of the rails was the right thing to do.

"I think that was the natural response when you see something like that happen twice," Ryan said. "... I just felt that we probably need to protect our fans from themselves."

Fans, who are bigger today than when the 26-inch minimum code was adopted, can also collapse from the heat exhaustion or trip while walking down an aisle, Ryan said. And fans are more "overzealous" these days when trying to catch foul balls.

"Youseepeopledothingsto get a baseball that you wonder why they want to injure themselves like that over a$10 baseball," Ryan said. "But I think it's just the response of being at the game and being a fan."

'I hope our specs are not similar to theirs'

MLB was well aware of the Rangers' decision to raise its guardrails higher than required by current building codes, a newly disclosed MLB email shows.

"(The Rangers' work) has convinced them that the height required by these codes is inadequate to guarantee the safety of fans who are engaged in activities at their seat locations other than simply sitting," John McHale, the league's chief information officer, wrote to executive vice president Rob Manfred, who is now MLB's commissioner, shortly after the Rangers' decision.

In 2012, the Rangers received the National Center for Spectator and Sports and Safety award for its response to Shannon Stone's fatal fall. The team was nominated for the award by MLB, a court filing says.

The Braves were also aware of the railing issues at the Rangers' stadium.

On July 7, 2010, Atlanta Police Lt. Randell Robinson, who worked the Turner Field security detail, emailed a news story about Tyler Morris'fall at the Rangers stadium to Larry Bowman, then the Braves' vice president of stadium operations.

Apparently unaware there was only a slight difference in the height of the rails at Turner Field and Rangers stadium, Robinson emailed Bowman: "I hope our specs are not similar to theirs."

In response, Bowman appeared to say he had foreseen such a tragedy. "When I visited their ballpark well before the first fall I commented on how low their rails were," he replied.

"Oooooooo," Robinson wrote back. "Not good."

To which Bowman replied, "My psycho, oops, I mean psychic powers at work."

Bowman, who no longer works for the Braves, declined to comment on the email exchange.

In their statement, lawyers Neff and Caplan said safety studies have shown for four decades that a 42-inch guardrail is the minimum height required to prevent falls and unnecessary deaths.

"Even though the Braves and MLB knew that numerous fans had fallen over low rails, neither took action to protect fans in Atlanta," they said. "They did not raise the railing height at Turner Field, they did not install safety netting to catch anyone who might fall and they did not make any other efforts to ensure a safe condition in the upper deck."

Georgia State University took control of Turner Field in January 2017, and the 30-inch railings remain the same height at what's now named Georgia State Stadium. The university decided not to raise them after its design consultant said the railings met existing safety and International Building Code requirements, Ramesh Vakamudi, GSU's vice president for facilities management, said.

GSU does not allow spectators access to the upper deck at football home games because not enough people attend. But the school did open up the upper deck for the stadium's inaugural concert — the well-attended Foo Fighters show in April.

 

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2018 Portland Newspapers Nov 11, 2018

Portland Press Herald

 

OAKLAND — Shaking visibly and on the verge of tears, Kaitlyn Berthiaume did what came naturally. She found her mom.

"I have no idea how I did it," the Messalonskee High School senior said. "I honestly have no idea. I guess I love the sport so much I was willing to stick with it no matter what. I just sucked it up and went out there and did it anyway."

Berthiaume wasn't only a member of the Messalonskee cheerleading team this fall; Berthiaume was the cheerleading team at Messalonskee. The 18-year-old from Oakland garnered attention locally and nationally for her inspiring story, as unique as it is unlikely.

In a sport featuring camaraderie, teamwork and precise synchronization of specific move sets, Berthiaume enjoyed none of those things. Instead, she was the lone participant in cheerleading at Messalonskee for the entire fall season, standing alone in full uniform and belting out the words and actions of dozens of cheers at each Messalonskee varsity football game in September and October.

'I KNOW IT'S HAPPENING'

She was, understandably, nervous — particularly on the opening night of the season in Augusta, standing in front of hundreds of spectators — when the Eagles played at Cony High School.

"At first nobody really noticed me. I got to the first game and people were like, 'Wait a minute. She wasn't kidding; there's only one of them.' " Berthiaume said. "I was really nervous. I'd stand there and my coach would say, 'Go do a cheer.' I was like, 'I'm scared,' but she said, 'Go do one.' "

No kind of visualization — like imagining empty bleachers or pretending nobody was watching — would work for Berthiaume.

"I am not the person that can imagine something. I see it, and I cannot trick my mind that it's not happening," she said. "I know it's happening. I would stare at my mom a lot when I got really nervous. I would stare at my mom or my best friend and not look at anyone else."

Though Messalonskee's cheering numbers were down a bit this fall, Berthiaume wasn't the only person who showed up for the first day of preseason practices in August. A half-dozen girls tried out for the team — half of whom were academically ineligible and the other half of whom decided that it would require more effort than they'd hoped, according to Messalonskee's first-year head coach Mila Couture.

That left only Berthiaume, who has been a member of the school's cheer team since her freshman year — during both the fall and winter seasons. So Couture was the coach of a team of one, and Berthiaume practiced five to six days per week, mornings and evenings.

"Katie decided, a little bit reluctantly and with some encouragement, that she still wanted to do it," Couture said. "The biggest thing for us as coaches was just keeping her spirits up so it wasn't so nerve-wracking for her."

PACKAGES OF ENCOURAGEMENT

The high school environment can be cruel, and Berthiaume did hear a few snide comments from the Messalonskee student body. One of the school's football players, whom she would not identify, called her "annoying." The other negative attention came from a few social media commenters in other parts of the country who called what she was doing "stupid," she said.

Largely, though, Berthiaume and the staff at Messalonskee said the support for her one-person team was better than anyone could have imagined.

"I would say that 99.5 percent of what I heard was positive about Kaitlyn," Messalonskee athletic director Chad Foye said. "Things like, 'It takes a lot of guts to do what she's doing.' That's the stuff I heard 10 times more than the negative. It's great what she's doing, how she stuck with it. It was something nobody wanted to do or couldn't do because of other commitments, but she went out there and stuck with it. That's pretty impressive."

Others agreed.

Berthiaume received packages of encouragement in the mail from high school teams in Florida and from the George Washington University cheer team. Even the New England Patriots cheerleaders contacted her via Instagram to thank her for being an inspiration, Berthiaume said.

Earlier this month, Berthiaume was invited to a statewide cheer coaches meeting, where she was told that she would be heading to Walt Disney World in Florida in February for a four-day stay as a VIP guest of the National Cheerleading Association at a national competition.

"It's been beneficial for Katie, but also for our youth," said Annie Dobos, president of Messalonskee Youth Cheering. "Yeah, she's the only one — but she has the power, will and determination to do something she loves and stand out there by herself and really own it."

A ROLE MODEL

Once a week, middle school cheerleaders would join Berthiaume at practice. Each Wednesday, instead of stretching, running, working out and practicing moves on her own, Berthiaume would get the chance to do the same with the future of the sport at Messalonskee.

"It was nice to have somebody to talk to," Berthiaume said.

She likely won't have to worry about that in the winter. Couture said that she had 15 students attend an informational meeting about the winter cheering season recently, more than enough for Messalonskee to field a full team and compete in conference and regional meets in January.

"I think others have seen what she's done," Couture said. "I've seen tremendous growth in her as a person, in her confidence. She's truly become the cheerleader for us."

With more than 50 participants in the youth program at Messalonskee, spread from grades pre-kindergarten through eight, the future appears stable for the school's cheer team.

Dobos sees the significance beyond Berthiaume's one-woman act becoming just a quirky human interest story.

"I tell my younger athletes constantly that one person can make a difference," Dobos said. "We're looking at them on a team of 10 to 15 athletes, but I still let them know that every one of them is significant. Whether you're on a whole team or one person on a team, everybody has a role and you are important."

BACK INTO THE AIR

Berthiaume is looking ahead to the winter season and having teammates again, for certain.

She misses being able to do stunts — the flips and leaps and tosses into the air that mark cheerleading routines — and considers herself a "flyer" first. She'd like to have others to "giggle with" about the things you can bond over only with peers.

And while she hesitates before affirming that she gladly would endure another season as a single cheerleader on a team, she does know one thing.

"I always knew I was going to do it. Deep down inside, I knew it, even if it was just me," Berthiaume said. "It was definitely hard. I remember my freshman year, I was this little shy thing and I kept to myself and my friends. Now I'm out here doing this by myself.

"This was about finding myself and not allowing people to drag me down."

Instead, she's hoping people are flinging her into the air this winter.

Travis Barrett can be contacted at 621-5621 or at:

tbarrett@centralmaine.com

Twitter: TBarrettGWC

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC

Newsday (New York)

 

The timing was bad and the situation was messy.

That was Kim Wyant's gut reaction when she received a call from Janice Quinn in September 2015. Quinn, NYU's senior associate director of athletics, told her that the men's soccer coach had just quit one game into the season because of a family illness. They wanted her to take over the team. Immediately.

Wyant, then a volunteer assistant on the NYU women's team, was torn. A former national team player who spent 20 years coaching soccer at various levels, Wyant now was trying to dial it back a bit to spend more time with her young daughters.

"There were probably more reasons to turn down the job than take it," said Wyant, a Garden City resident. "It was scary. It was daunting. It was messy. I thought there's a lot of stuff I might be stepping into which is unknown, but I can't let this opportunity go by because I would regret it."

Three years later, Wyant has few regrets. This weekend, the program she took over will be playing in the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time in eight years. In Saturday's first-round game, NYU played Haverford to a 1-1 draw and advanced on penalty kicks, 5-4. NYU will face Montclair State on Sunday.

You can't always dictate when opportunity knocks. You just need to be ready when it does. Wyant was, and as a result, she is the only woman coaching a men's soccer team on any level of NCAA play, according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

Wyant is one of a very small but growing percentage of women coaching NCAA men's teams. Though it generally is accepted that men can coach women's sports, women are just now beginning to land jobs coaching men's teams.

According to statistics gathered and published by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES), 6.2 percent of Division III men's teams had female head coaches in 2016-17. At the same time, 55.6 percent of the coaches of Division III women's teams were men. The disparity was even worse in Division I, in which only 4.6 percent of men's teams were coached by women and almost 60 percent of women's teams were coached by men.

These, of course, were not the statistics NYU was thinking about when the job was offered to Wyant.

"First and foremost, we hired Kim because of what she could offer as a coach, a professional and a leader," NYU athletic director Chris Bledsoe said. "She also happened to be an extremely accomplished athlete, which was great. That she also happened to be a woman was interesting and made for a good story, but it wasn't why we hired her."

It's not really a surprise that Wyant, 54, would take on such a challenge, given that she has been a pioneer her entire career.

Wyant, a goalkeeper for the University of Central Florida, played in the first NCAA women's national championship game in 1982. Two years later, she was selected to play on the first U.S. women's team, and in 1985, she was the goalkeeper for its inaugural match against Italy. When a national women's league called the W-League formed in the mid-1990s, Wyant played in the first championship game for the Long Island Lady Riders, now known as the Rough Riders.

"There have been a lot of firsts in my career, which I'm grateful for, but I think it's just 'cause I'm really old," Wyant said with a laugh.

When Wyant took over NYU's team in 2015, she said she knew the names of six of its players. She had one practice with the team before coaching her first game. The seniors on this year's team were freshmen when she took over the reins of the club, and they have seen it transform from a program on the verge of having to cancel its season when they lost their coach to one that has posted three straight winning seasons and entered the NCAA Tournament with a 12-4-1 record.

Senior team captain Niko Patrk said he briefly thought about switching schools when Joe Behan, the coach who recruited him, suddenly resigned. He liked NYU, however, and decided to give Wyant a chance.

"It was very hectic. There was a degree of uncertainty," Patrk said. "Her track record was impressive. I think we did a good job of keeping open minds. I think there was a curiosity of what it would be like [to have a woman coach]. It's definitely something different, but not too different. A sport is a sport."

Patrk said being a part of the team's stabilization and turnaround has taught him a lot of life lessons. He credited Wyant's leadership ability and aggressive recruiting for the team's improvement.

Freshman defender Pablo Vargas said Wyant basically followed him around the country in her effort to get him to commit to NYU.

"She came to all my showcase games," Vargas said. "I already knew people on the team, and she was really interested. I'm glad I took the chance because we've had a really great season."

In her first year, Wyant sometimes was cognizant of being the only woman at recruiting showcases, but now it's something she rarely thinks about.

"A lot of people want to talk about the fact I'm a female coach," she said. "I'm happy to talk about that and I'm proud about that, but it's the challenge of taking over a team one game into a season that really drew me in . . . Coaching is my passion and my career."

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC

Newsday (New York)

 

Men's lacrosse players at the New York Institute of Technology displayed "subtle" declines in memory and slower cognitive reactions last season because of repeated hits to the head, raising questions about the impact of such blows even if a player isn't diagnosed with a concussion, according to a new study.

Researchers at NYIT in Old Westbury tracked 10 players through the school's 18-game season last spring to monitor how their brain functions may have changed. They wore mouthguards embedded with sensors that recorded the force of the impacts during practices and games.

The players, all of whom agreed to share their test results with Newsday, said they did not feel any noticeable difference in their memory or reaction times, but the study showed that all were affected. The test results showed "subtle changes" and players wouldn't recognize the shifts in memory or reaction time, said Dr. Hallie Zwibel, director of NYIT's Center for Sports Medicine, which conducted the research. Past studies have shown that players are likely to return to their baseline levels after a period of rest.

"That's why these research studies are important, because we can't just rely on our athletes saying, 'Hey, you know my memory is not being as good as usual,'" Zwibel said. "It's these subtle differences we're picking up. But maybe it's these subtle differences that can cause significant problems long-term." The key "finding from our research was that both verbal and visual memory - which are two different aspects of our cognitive process - declined . . . from baseline at both midseason and postseason," Zwibel said.

Men's college lacrosse is a contact sport in which players wear hard-shell helmets with face masks, chin straps, mouthguards, shoulder pads, elbow guards and padded gloves. Players use sticks with nets that help catch, pass and shoot a hard rubber ball. The sticks also are used to check opponents and try to knock the ball out of an opponent's netting.

Zwibel said the NYIT study is one of the first to look primarily at collegiate men's lacrosse.

Head trauma studies have shifted away from concussions and toward trying to understand subconcussive hits - any impact that does not result in a concussion - in the years since a landmark 2010 study by Purdue University researchers. That study of high school football players was the first to show that hits to the head in practices and games that do not cause concussions still result in changes to a person's brain activity over time.

Eric Nauman, one of the lead researchers in the 2010 Purdue study, said NYIT's findings "make perfect sense" and are consistent with Purdue's studies on subconcussive impacts in other sports, most notably football and soccer.

"That's exactly what we would expect to see," said Thomas Talavage, Nauman's research partner at Purdue.

The purpose of studying subconcussive hits is to figure out when players' brains need a rest. Even without the diagnosis of a concussion, they can impact a player's performance on the field or in the classroom.

"A few inches or milliseconds on reaction time means winning or losing," Zwibel said. "More important is the academic impact [on the players]. Taking a difficult exam at less than 100 percent is far from ideal."

The long-term effects of subconcussive hits over a season is "at the forefront of where concussions research is going," Zwibel said.

"We know repetitive head injuries with or without concussions is a potential problem and can cause issues," Zwibel said. "But how much is too much?"

Blaine Hoshizaki, director of the University of Ottawa's Neurotrauma Impact Science Laboratory, said research studies are now focusing on subconcussive hits because those are a far more telling metric for head trauma damage than actual concussions. He said NYIT's findings are "not a surprise to us at all."

"The evidence and the literature supports exactly this," he said, "and that is these low-level impacts are creating changes, physical changes to the brain tissue, which are basically injured neurons." NYIT athletic director Dan Velez said the athletic department agreed to let the lacrosse players take part in the study to further understanding of head trauma and see if there's anything that can be done to help prevent injuries.

"You think of a concussion and you think of the big hit, but you don't think about all the little hits that keep coming, and how those start to add up," Velez said. "If I look into the future, what do we want from this? I'd like to see technology take over."

Dr. Matthew Heller, NYIT's team physician who oversaw the study, hopes the findings will help toward developing a test that shows when a player has suffered too much head trauma and is at a greater risk of a concussion.

"Is there something we can see before this athlete gets a concussion that can guide us where we need to go as far as preventing?" Heller said. "Do we need to give someone an extra day off after a game? Two days off?"

NYIT coach Bill Dunn said these studies are important to make the game safer and help the sport grow.

"I'm not looking for kids to not play the sport anymore," Dunn said. "There has to be a way to protect them more than the equipment they are wearing."

Gathering information

The NYIT players wore sensors called accelerometers that measure the gravitational force - acceleration and weight - of an impact. The sensors recorded any impact of at least five G-forces, which is the equivalent of what people experience on a roller coaster.

Players took hourlong tests that measured their memory, balance and reaction times before the season began, at the midway point and after the season was over.

The players' balance was tested by having them stand in different positions with their eyes closed, such as on one leg, and counting how many times they need to reset. Their memory was tested by asking them to repeat a random order of words. And their reaction times were gauged using iPads. Players were instructed, for example, to press a button when a dot appeared on a screen. Other times they had to touch the screen whenever the name of a color appeared in a matching font - the word green in green font.

The average number of hits of at least five G-forces for the 10 players was 507. The highest number was 1,726, while the lowest was four. Heller attributes the wide range in impacts to the amount of playing time a player received. Lenny Innamorato, 19, of West Babylon, was the player who had 1,726 impacts of at least five G-forces. Of that total, 14 were more than 80 G-forces, which researchers said is considered the threshold of where concussions are most likely to occur. Zwibel said an example of an 80 G-force hit is a 40-mph car crash.

Innamorato said he was surprised to learn he sustained that many hits to the head. Although he said he probably received the most playing time of the group, he didn't have a sense of how many hits he absorbed.

Innamorato said that when he took the cognitive test at the end of the season, he thought he performed every exercise just as quickly as he did before and during the season.

"I don't feel any different," he said. "But I guess numbers don't lie."

Heller said while Innamorato took the most hits of the group, his memory decline ranked in the middle. "Some of your teammates took less hits but there was more of a decline in their memory," Heller said. One player in the study suffered a suspected concussion.

Besnick Dalipi, 19, of Westbury, said he was hit in the back of his head during a practice. The impact of the surprise hit knocked him to the ground. He knew when he got up he wasn't right.

"When I stood up I felt out of it," he said. "I felt slow, kind of dizzy. I was like, 'Whoa.' It was like I was a different person."

He missed about two weeks of practice before returning.

Dalipi's accelerometer registered 348 impacts of at least five G-forces, including five hits of at least 80 G-forces. He said he's certain that the hit that led to his suspected concussion was one of those five major head impacts.

Before the season, Dalipi said he was looking forward to taking part in the study because "I personally want to learn about myself, how much trauma is going through my brain as I take these hits."

After the season, he said he was "shocked" to learn his device registered 348 impacts. Dalipi said he doesn't plan to continue playing lacrosse, but not because of the experience with his suspected concussion. Instead, he wants to focus more on his studies as he prepares to become a teacher.

Further study

The researchers planned to study only the men's lacrosse team for one season, but Zwibel said the findings have spurred them to expand their research with more athletes for another year. The researchers decided to include women's soccer players this fall because that sport commonly has the highest concussion rates among women's sports, Zwibel said.

They plan to spend another season with the lacrosse team and are hopeful some of the 10 players will volunteer to continue to be a part of the study so they can see how their memory and reaction times change during another season. Athletic trainers are trained to look for big hits and to check on players afterward. But right now it's also up to the players to speak up.

Zwibel said the goal is to take that decision out of the players' hands. Sometimes the players don't feel any differently because of adrenaline, Zwibel said. And sometimes they simply don't want to stop playing.

Innamorato, the player who received 1,726 head impacts, admitted after the season he likely hid head injuries.

Asked if he felt any different throughout the season, he said, "Perfect. Fine the whole time."

Then he paused.

"There were a couple of times where I got hit, after a game I was a little doozy for a couple of days," Innamorato said. "But I was trying to play."

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The Philadelphia Daily News

 

In a reversal of policy, Rowan University will allow female student-athletes to practice in sports bras after an essay by a former women's cross-country runner prompted online outrage.

University president Ali A. Houshmand said in a statement Friday that the athletic department had a long-standing "verbal" protocol requiring that all athletes wear shirts, even during practice, "as a matter of keeping a level of standards throughout its men's and women's programs."

That protocol was questioned this week by Gina Capone, a second-year student and a former member of the women's cross-country team who remains in close contact with some current student-athletes. In the piece, which was posted Thursday on the crowd-sourced website the Odyssey and had apparently amassed more than 110,000 page views by 4 p.m. Friday, Capone wrote that the cross-country team at Rowan — a public university based in Glassboro — is one of the only teams that isn't provided with a daily practice uniform.

She wrote that ameeting was held recently with the cross-country coach and the athletic director, "resulting in the verdict of the women on the team no longer being able to run in sports bras." In addition, she indicated that women on the team were told they were no longer allowed to run on the on-campus track and "were claimed to be distracting to the football players on the field during the same time."

Hundreds of people expressed outrage at the policy — including U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, who tweeted: "Really? This is 2018" — and talked online about a coordinated phone campaign and an online petition.

In an interview Friday, Capone said she believed that the athletic department, in enforcing such a policy, was implying that women running in sports bras were "asking for it," and that the school was perpetuating rape culture.

The team members "are just minding their own business and running and doing what they need to do," said Capone, 21, of Bordentown. "The football players are the last thing on their mind."

Brianna De la Cruz, a sophomore cross-country team member from Hillsborough, N.J., said female runners on the team had heard throughout the season that football program leaders felt their sports bras were inappropriate, and the women on the team were incensed late last week when they were told the garments were banned.

"They said that we were distracting," De la Cruz, 19, said. "We're pretty professional. We really get down to business. We are just following our workout."

In an email to students Friday, Houshmand said that while the verbal protocol regarding the requirement to wear shirts was "long-standing," it was recently explained to new staff, who then relayed the information to students who had been practicing all season in sports bras.

He said the Rowan administration didn't know the policy existed, but "met with the athletics department and promised immediately to develop a written policy that allows women athletes to wear sports-bra tops without shirts during practices," and will follow NCAA guidelines for uniforms during competition.

"The university recognizes that while the verbal policy attempted to set standards, it could be misunderstood and does not accommodate today's training practices across sports," Houshmand wrote. "We recognize this may stir debate within the university community and beyond."

De la Cruz called Friday's announcement a "half-victory," saying team members hadn't heard from officials regarding where they'll practice moving forward. Neither cross-country coach Derick Adamson nor football coach Jay Accorsi responded to a request for comment.

School spokesman Joe Cardona said the cross-country team wasn't told to work out elsewhere due to the women's attire, but rather to comply with a policy the school has long held that dictates teams use the venues one at a time.

In the past, the cross-country team used the Rowan stadium after the football team when it was doing track work. While there was some overlap, he said the teams largely stayed out of each other's way. Rather than practicing later, the cross-country coach has, on some occasions, made plans for the runners to use a track at Glassboro High School, he said.

But there was a situation several weeks ago when the cross-country team was unable to use the Glassboro High facility, so it practiced in Rowan's stadium while the football team was still there. Cardona said in an athletic department meeting several days later, football program leadership brought up the one-team-per-venue policy. In the same meeting, Cardona said they also brought up the verbal policy regarding wearing shirts.

Both complaints were relayed to student-athletes on the cross-country team at the same time, Cardona said, causing some to interpret them as related.

Claire Incantalupo, a fifth-year student-athlete who's on the track team and works out with the cross-country team, said she was relieved the sports bra policy was reversed, but as of Friday afternoon was still hoping for additional clarity on where the team would practice in the future.

"It doesn't take much to run track. All you need is clothes, sneakers, and a place," she said. "And they just took our place."

AOrso@phillynews.com, (215) 854-5507, @anna_orso

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

The Vernon Hills village board has agreed to move forward with demolition of the vacant Larry Laschen Community Center, but officials are balking at the potential cost of creating a passive park on the cleared site. With all the bells and whistles, including a pergola, water wall and abstract art, the park to be built after the building is gone could cost as much as $1.2 million, village officials were told. Even a stripped-down version would cost an estimated $575,000, and it was unclear when or if a park will be part of the big picture of the familiar property on Evergreen Drive just south of Route 45. Mayor Roger Byrne said the money could be used to pave streets.

"We just get a turf cover here and move on. C'mon," he said during a presentation and discussion Wednesday. Other village trustees suggested the project might be considered in phases over time, but there was no specific directive. "I do acknowledge your comments and concerns about what the price tag is," said David Brown, the village's public works director/engineer."That's why we have a budget process and we'll go though that discussion."

In late 2017, the village staff prepared general drawings for the site. Bids were sought this April and Dickson Design Studio Inc., of Algonquin, hired as the landscape architect to prepare preliminary designs. About 30 neighbors attended a recent information session. Dickson Design owner Sharon Dickson laid out the possibilities for the village board Wednesday during the informal committee of the whole session.

Among the main points: The space, just south of the village hall, would be an adult respite without playground equipment. The southern portion would be largely open, and as much vegetation as possible would be preserved. Suggested amenities included seating, walkways and other features with a central plaza. "It acts as a really nice transitional buffer between the more active public use of the village hall versus the passive use of the neighborhood and the houses to the south and southeast," she said. Dickson said the design was still in the conceptual stage.

"We haven't gone to construction documents. That would be up to the board," she said. Whether it goes that far is to be determined. However, the board directed the village staff to proceed with demolishing the building, preserving some of the existing trees and restoring the site with turf grass. The building is named for Larry Laschen, hired as police chief in 1973 and retired in 1998 as village manager. It opened in the late 1950s as the clubhouse for the Tally Ho Country Club and subsequently was used as the village hall, park district headquarters and community meeting place.

The building was closed permanently Jan. 1 because it would cost about $250,000 a year to keep it running and it was slated for demolition.

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Wauconda High School students were sent home early Thursday after a small electrical fire in a student locker room. Four school employees who were near the fire were examined by paramedics and one was taken to the hospital with symptoms that were not considered life-threatening. The employee was cleared and returned to work later in the day.

Superintendent Daniel Coles said the fire was discovered by two employees who were near the locker room and smelled smoke. Coles said the fire appeared to be coming from an overhead light. One employee sprayed it with a fire extinguisher, and the other pulled the fire alarm. The Wauconda Fire District was dispatched to the school at 9:57 a.m. By the time firefighters arrived, much of the fire had been dealt with by the employee with fire extinguisher, according to a news release issued by the fire district. Students and staff members were evacuated.

After the fire was out, they were allowed back in to the large competition gym on the west side of the school to get out of the cold. Coles said firefighters had to vent the smoke through one of the school's two cafeterias. Because they could not serve lunch, school officials decided to send students home early. "It would have been an extremely large hardship for 1,400 kids to have no lunch," Coles said.

Students were dismissed at around 11:30 a.m. The initial damage estimate from the fire is about $30,000. The personal items that were in the locker room will be cleaned before being returned to students, according to the fire district. The cause of the fire is still being investigated. Coles said a smoke mitigation company was at the school early in the afternoon. School will be in session today, Coles said.

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Copyright 2018 Star Tribune
All Rights Reserved

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

Marcus Carr, a guard for the Gophers men's basketball team who transferred from Pittsburgh in the spring, had his waiver request to play this season denied by the NCAA, sources told the Star Tribune on Wednesday.

Carr, who has three years of eligibility remaining, and the Gophers already have appealed the decision, a university spokesman said.

Major college transfers have to sit out one season unless their request is approved, per NCAA rules.

Carr added an emoji of a broken heart on Instagram and tweeted a statement about the waiver process Wednesday night.

"I went to Pitt to play for Coach [Kevin] Stallings and his staff," he wrote. "They recruited me, gained my trust and believed in me. They were fired after two years! It was a toxic environment and difficult situation for me personally. It took a major toll on me emotionally. I should not be punished for needing a change. The NCAA is overlooking my well-being and my mental health. These waivers and transfer rules need to change."

Stallings received a $10 million buyout and was replaced by Jeff Capel in late March, but Carr already had requested his release from scholarship to transfer.

The rejection came as a surprise to the Minnesota program, because other players around the country had received waiver approval to play this offseason. Gophers coach Richard Pitino seemed confident after Tuesday night's season opener, a 104-76 victory over Omaha at Williams Arena, that Carr's waiver would be granted.

"We're going to assume that something is going to happen soon," Pitino said after the game. "We're optimistic that he should get the waiver."

Pitino said the U's compliance department took care of its end of the waiver process, but didn't know if the holdup was on the Pitt side. When reached for comment, Pitt athletics officials supplied a statement to the Star Tribune: "Pitt has cooperated and submitted the requested information to the NCAA regarding Marcus Carr's waiver.... We wish Marcus all the best in his pursuit now and in the future."

If the appeal is also denied, Carr won't play this season and will join junior guard Payton Willis, a transfer from Vanderbilt, as potential difference-makers sitting on Pitino's bench.

"I came here because of the environment, coach, and I believe in this team," Carr said recently. "I believe they have a good chance to compete for a Big Ten title and make it to the NCAA tournament. If I'm not able to play this year, I just hope to get better, work on my craft and just get these guys better every day, because I want to see them succeed."

The Toronto native averaged 10 points, a team-high four assists and started 27 games for Pittsburgh last season. Carr also was an All-ACC academic team selection. He spent Tuesday night's opener on the bench not in uniform while he awaited word on his eligibility.

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

TOKYO — Attention Simone Biles: They're building a venue in Tokyo where you can add to the four Olympic gold medals you won in Rio de Janeiro. The 2020 Olympic gymnastics venue is halfway completed and should be finished by this time next year. On Wednesday, engineers raised a massive timber roof section, one of five curved sections that will top out the $180 million building, which designers describe as being shaped like a wooden bowl.

"Japan's wood culture will be communicated through the venue," architect Hidemichi Takahashi said through an interpreter. Wood has been traditionally used in Japanese housing, and religious shrines and temples. Each of the five wooden sections weighs 200 metric tons, or 440,000 pounds. Officials said the wood used in the roof is larch, a conifer in the pine family. The section raised on Wednesday was lifted from the ground at a glacial pace of about 3.5 inches per minute, so trying to see the movement was like watching clock hands barely move.

"By using wood instead of steel, the weight of the roof is cut in half," Takahashi said. The venue will also have timber seating "to give fans the feel of the warmth of wood," Takahashi added. Officials said all the wood in the venue is Japanese. There has been some controversy about the origin of wood used in the new Olympic Stadium, which is under construction in central Tokyo.

The gymnastics venue will seat about 12,000 and will be used for 10 years after the Olympics as a convention center by the Tokyo metropolitan government. After that, plans call for the building to be razed. The venue is located in the Tokyo Bay region in an area known as Ariake. The area will also have Olympic venues for tennis, volleyball, BMX and skateboarding. Located close by in the bay region are also venues for triathlon, marathon swimming, beach volleyball, swimming, water polo, archery, 3x3 basketball, sport climbing, hockey, equestrian, canoeing and rowing.

Olympic organizers and the International Olympic Committee have been criticized for leaving behind empty, unused venues in Rio de Janeiro — where Biles was among the stars of the games — and earlier this year at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Tokyo organizers are using a mix of new, old and temporary venues, hoping to avoid the stigma of creating white elephants.

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Copyright 2018 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

The popularity of yoga is booming in the United States — among children.

More than 8 percent of youngsters ages 4 to 17 — or 4.9 million — practiced yoga last year, up from about 3 percent in 2012, according to federal survey data published Thursday.

That's a lot of child's poses.

The report from the National Center for Health Statistics doesn't distinguish between kids who tried yoga just once in the previous 12 months and those who turned into yogis. Nor does it explain why they're practicing the ancient discipline of exercise, breathing, and meditation. But the upward trend fits with a complementary Center for Health Statistics report that found the percentage of adults who did yoga during the previous year jumped from 10 percent in 2012 to 14 percent in 2017.

"We didn't ask why or how or where," said coauthor Lindsey I. Black, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "But we do have anecdotal evidence that children are exposed to yoga in schools, gyms, studios, and through apps and the internet."

Virginia Caton, owner of Downward Dog Yoga & Dance studio in Richmond, Va., can attest to that, having seen steady growth in the number of schools and preschools that hire her to offer classes.

"Principals are seeing that the after-school programs they had before aren't working," Caton said. "They're looking for something that will calm the kids down. Of course, no child is going to do an hour-long vinyasa class; it's not like an adult yoga class. We integrate movement, sound, and dance."

Studio 34 on Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia does occasional introductory yoga classes for high school students. On Thursday, agroup of 12th graders was signed up to learn how to use yoga to release stress before a test, said studio co-owner and instructor Adrienne Dolberry.

"We don't have an established class, but we do special requests," she said. "We set up the mats, blankets, and blocks, and walk them through a very beginner-friendly class."

The federal health survey is conducted face-to-face in the homes of a representative sample of citizens. Parents or other guardians supply the information on children.

The 2012 questionnaire tried to delve into the costs and potential benefits of using a long list of complementary health approaches with children — not only yoga, but also qigong, tai chi, massage, acupuncture, biofeedback, Ayurveda, craniosacral therapy, Pilates, and more. Most of these were so unpopular that they were dropped from the 2015 questionnaire, Black said.

No surprise, the survey found yoga usage varies by sex: More than one in 10 girls practiced it, compared with one in 20 boys. Surprisingly, age didn't make much difference: 8 percent of kids ages 12 to 17 did yoga, compared to 8.7 percent of those ages 4 to 11.

The survey also found about 3.4 percent of children saw a chiropractor last year, virtually unchanged over the last five years. The percentage who meditated grew, from about 3 percent to more than 8 percent, but mediation was defined so broadly that it could reflect kids saying the "om" mantra during yoga.

mmccullough@phillynews.com

215-854-2720

@repopter

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

The University of Maryland has fired athletic trainers Wes Robinson and Steve Nordwall, who had been suspended since August due to their involvement in the events leading to Jordan McNair's death.

The Washington Times confirmed an initial report that the two trainers were out, as a spokesperson said, "the trainers that were previously on administrative leave are no longer employed" by Maryland. An initial report said that Nordwall's and Robinson's contracts were terminated Tuesday.

Nordwall was the department's director of athletic training, while Robinson was one of the football program's trainers.

An investigation into McNair's death led by a sports medicine consultant revealed that trainers did not immerse the 19-year-old player in cold water, a commonly known treatment for heatstroke, and that more than an hour had passed after McNair started exhibiting a need for help before anyone called 911.

An anonymous player told that investigation that Robinson told McNair to "drag his ass across the field" while the player suffered from heatstroke.

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents, along with recommending that the school retain coach DJ Durkin, also recommended they retain Robinson and Nordwall. Durkin was initially reinstated, but fired a day later.

Robinson and Nordwall were first suspended on Aug. 10, the same day former strength and conditioning coach Rick Court was also placed on leave. Court resigned and took a buyout that month, after his role in a reported culture of "fear and intimidation" was revealed in an ESPN article.

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Copyright 2018 Digital First Media
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The Daily News of Los Angeles

 

All Olympia Gymnastics Center, the world renown Hawthorne academy, recently finalized a $1 million settlement with World Championships silver medalist Mattie Larson, her attorney confirmed to the Southern County News Group.

The settlement stems from Larson's lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against AOGC and its directors Artur Akopya and Galina Marinova that alleged their treatment of Larson led to her being sexually abused by former U.S. Olympic and USA Gymnastics national team physician Larry Nassar. While Akopya and Marinova agreed to pay Larson $1 million in June, the deal was only recently completed.

The suit alleged All Olympia and Akopya and Marinova "fueled an abusive, harassing and degrading environment." That environment "allowed, concealed and promoted abusive behavior" by Nassar, former U.S. national team directors Bela and Martha Karolyi and USA Gymnastics. Specifically the suit alleged Akopya and Marinova "directed degrading, abusive, and harassing comments and actions towards" Larson.

AOGC is shutting down its Hawthorne location according to a Nov. 3 letter from Akopya and Marinova to AOGC gymnasts, parents and coaches. The closing and the Larson settlement mark a fall from grace for AOGC that few could have imagined in the early years of this decade.

AOGC gained global recognition with the emergence of Larson and later McKayla Maroney, the 2012 Olympic champion whose celebrity transcended the sport, only to now find itself near the center of the Nassar sexual abuse scandal that this week led the U.S. Olympic Committee to take the first step toward stripping USA Gymnastics of its national governing body status.

Akopya and Marinova did not respond to a request for comment.

The USOC's bid to revoke USA Gymnastics' NGB status and the AOGC case, however, are just two strands of a multi-layered scandal that is being played out in courtrooms and board rooms from coast to coast.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Indianapolis office on Tuesday refused to accept a subpeona requesting records in three-time Olympic champion Aly Raisman's lawsuit against the USOC, according to a person familiar with the case.

Even as USA Gymnastics faces decertification and potentially hundreds of millions in legal settlements and the FBI comes under increasing scrutiny for its potential role in the cover-up of Nassar's abuse, a number of high profile gymnastics coaches and officials continue to rally around the NGB and polarizing figures like Akopya and Marinova.

"It is a sad day when Southern California looses (sic) a gym that has been so instrumental for the development of gymnastics," Carol McIntyre, president of the So Cal Women's Gymnastics Coaches Association, wrote in an email Monday to the Southern California gymnastics community. "I can't imagine how devastating this is to Galina.

"... With USA Gymnastics being in the hot seat once again, Lets work together and show the pride and Class Southern California is famous for. We have always been the leaders of the country. Lets rise above the negative perception that has been bestowed on our beautiful sport by no fault of our own. Lets all remember we are competitive, but we are colleagues first. Athletes will come and go but we will all remain.

"Let's band together and show the country we will not buckle under the pressure. We will hold our heads high and continue to show this country and community true leadership."

McIntyre did not respond to a request for comment.

John Manly, an attorney for Larson and dozens of other survivors, said McIntyre's comments were "emblematic of the culture of USA Gymnastics where athletes come and go sort of like cattle and that's how they look at them. It's an abusive culture."

"People," Manly added, "don't pay a million dollars if they didn't do anything wrong."

The Justice Department's inspector general's office is investigating how the FBI handled the Nassar case.

Former USA Gymnastics chief executive Steve Penny consulted with W. "Jay" Abbott , the special agent in charge of the FBI's Indianapolis office as early as July 2015, a month after Penny was first informed of allegations that Nassar had sexually assaulted gymnast Maggie Nichols at a U.S. national team training camp at the Karolyi Ranch.

In a July 29, 2015 email to Abbott, Penny wrote "Below are two pieces of our communication strategy moving forward. We wanted to share them with you for your quick review to be sure they are consistent with FBI preferences. Please let us know if you concur with our messaging."

Then USA Gymnastics board chairman Paul Parilla, an Orange County attorney, and Scott Himsel, an attorney representing USA Gymnastics, were copied on the email.

Abbott replied to Penny later that day "certainly respond as you deem appropriate."

A day later Penny emailed Abbott again.

"I am so sorry to continue bothering you with this issue.... As you can see below, we have a very squirmy Dr. Nassar. Our biggest concern is how we contain him from sending shockwaves through the community. In our conversations with Scott, we are trying to make sure any correspondence with him is consistent with FBI protocol. Right now we are looking for a graceful way to end his service in such a manner that he does not 'chase the story.'"

Penny was forced to resign under pressure</a> from the USOC in March 2017. He was arrested last month after a Walker County, Texas grand jury indicted him on felony evidence tampering charges. The indictment alleges Penny was involved in the removal and destroying and/or hiding of medical records from the Karolyi Ranch in central Texas, the longtime training site of the U.S. women's national and Olympic team.

Both Penny and Amy White, the national team manager for USA Gymnastics acrobatic gymnastics program, have both indicated they will exercise their Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination in depositions related to Raisman's lawsuit against USA Gymnastics and the USOC. The suit is scheduled to go to trial in U.S. District Court in San Jose in February.

USA Gymnastics board of directors, under pressure from the organization's insurance carriers, has weighed filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Such a move could establish a bar date in which future claims against the organization could not be filed after a certain window. A Chapter 11 filing would also lead to an automatic stay on all proceedings and litigation, including discovery, against USA Gymnastics.

USA Gymnastics, which has tax exempt non-profit status, reported $34.47 million in revenue for the fiscal year 2016, according to filings with the Internal Revenue Service. The organization also reported $11.8 million in assets, $8.7 million in liabilities.

The National Gymnastics Foundation Inc., created to supported charitable and educational programs for USA Gymnastics, listed $16.27 million in assets in 2016 with only $788 in liabilities.

A Chapter 11 filing could also help the USA Gymnastics head off, at least temporarily, the USOC's decertification process.

"If I was USAG and I wanted to stop decertification by the USOC I would go (to bankruptcy court) because it prohibits you from proceeding," said attorney Jim Stang, who has written extensively on bankruptcy issues and served on the creditors committee in 13 child sexual abuse cases. "The bankruptcy court judge is like a traffic cop. Should I allow this decertification to continue? Or should I let it go for now or just stop it or keep the red light on? Is there something that can be worked out to keep USAG's value (to raise funds to pay creditors)? What is the value if USAG is decertified?"

Establishing a bar date under Chapter 11 would also give USA Gymnastics' insurance carriers "a tremendous amount of certainty," Stang said.

"You're going to get (in bankruptcy) court a deal that's hard to get in state court," he said.

The move could also enable the USOC as a related party to obtain a channeling injunction against future claims even without actually declaring bankruptcy itself.

Under this scenario the USOC would contribute to a settlement fund in exchange for being released from future claims.

Channeling injunctions have been issued in all 13 child sex abuse cases Stang has been involved with since 2004.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon filed for Chapter 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in July 2004 just hours before the scheduled start of a civil trial in which survivors who alleged they were sexually abused by a priest sought $160 million in damages. Other sexual abuse claims had already cost the archdiocese $53 million and its "major insurers have abandoned us," Portland Archbishop John G. Vlazny wrote at the time of the bankruptcy filing.

"The pot of gold is pretty much empty right now," Vlazny said

Michigan State reached a $500 million settlement with more than 300 of Nassar's survivors in May. Nassar was a longtime member of the university's sport medicine staff.

Under the terms of the settlement $425 million was paid to 332 known Nassar survivors with an additional $75 million placed in a trust fund for future claimants.

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

 

Two new restaurants are expected to open in the ground floor of a county-owned building in downtown Durham, but leaders need to make an exception to allow them to sell alcohol. Right now, alcohol sales are not allowed in properties owned by the county.

Some county commissioners would like that to change — and not just for those restaurants.

Durham County Administration Building II, which recently reopened after being renovated from the old courthouse into new offices, has space for two restaurants on East Main Street. The county is working with The Institute to recruit minority-owned and women-owned businesses to the space. Many restaurants serve alcohol as well as food, hence the need for an exception.

Commissioners discussed this week what other buildings the county owns that also should be allowed to serve alcohol, such as the Center for Senior Life and the Durham County Stadium.

Not allowing alcohol in county-owned buildings "has been an issue for Senior Life," said Commissioners Chairwoman Wendy Jacobs.

The Center for Senior Life on Rigsbee Avenue downtown is a nonprofit with programming on weekdays only. Jacobs said they should be able to rent it out on weekends for events that may serve wine and beer.

County Manager Wendell Davis told Jacobs the exception for County Administration Building II is about "accommodating commercial clients across the street — restaurants."

Davis said the issue has come up before about allowing alcohol in other county-owned buildings such as the Center for Senior Life.

"Certain liability concerns were raised, and we made a conscious decision not to go down that path," he said. "It's not a fair comparison: county-owned versus lease arrangement for these entities to provide alcohol."

Jacobs and Commissioner Ellen Reckhow said they'd like the policy examined.

"We co-own the convention center with the city, and of course alcohol is served there," Reckhow said. "The city owns DPAC, alcohol is served there."

Reckhow said Senior Life events may have gotten better attendance if wine and beer was allowed.

"I don't see why we can't look at it," she said.

Jacobs agreed.

"People are looking for affordable places to have personal events. It's a beautiful facility, [but] closed and empty on the weekends," Jacobs said. "People have been interested in renting the space."

She said if the event is a wedding, not being able to have beer and wine there is a barrier to rentals.

County Attorney Lowell Siler agreed to take another look at the policy. He said the county has also gotten requests for wine at fundraising events at other county-owned buildings, such as the Durham County Main Library downtown.

Commissioner James Hill said Durham County Stadium is another place they could consider allowing alcohol. He thinks the county lost hosting a Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship in part because of not serving beer. CIAA includes several HBCUs.

County staff will report back to commissioners about the issue at a future meeting.

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

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

 

The Franklin County Family YMCA at Smith Mountain Lake received a check for $9,625 from the Oktoberfest and 5K Trail Race/Walk at Westlake Towne Center on Oct. 13.

Participating in the check presentation were Ron Willard II, vice president of The Willard Companies; Kevin McAlexander, Franklin County Family YMCA CEO; Lauren Acker, SML YMCA branch director; Becky Rowe, YMCA volunteer; Phillip Pierce of Absolute Collision; Phil Hager with Phil Hager Insurance Agency; and Gretchen Tipps, marketing director of The Willard Companies.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

COLLEGE PARK — Matt Canada used variations of the word "focus" five times in one answer at his weekly press conference Tuesday. It was in response to being asked, point blank, if he's thought about potentially becoming a full-time head coach next year.

Canada's future may be a notable subplot in the Maryland saga, but his deflection of the question was emblematic of the uncertain future awaiting Terrapins football after the 2018 season.

Some people have begun to jump ship. Junior defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight announced on Monday that he will transfer, though Canada later clarified that Knight informed him of that decision in September. And Trey Rucker, a three-star recruit from Virginia, decommitted from Maryland Monday night, citing the "unfortunate state of the program" in a message on Twitter.

But with the apex of this season's controversy now behind them that being the university's decision to reinstate, then fire, DJ Durkin last week the Terrapins are working on finishing out the final three games of the regular season, while their fans work through conflicting feelings of how to support the team.

"It's obviously been a lot of noise outside the walls of the football house," senior defensive lineman Jesse Aniebonam said. "To me and to a lot of other guys, this has been a normal week. We're all trying to shift our focus on the right things and focus on the right things."

To recap: More than four months after offensive lineman Jordan McNair died of heatstroke that was improperly treated by the school's medical staff, the University System of Maryland responded to the findings of dual investigations first by reinstating Durkin from suspension on a Tuesday, then firing him on a Wednesday when faced with widespread outcry.

Aniebonam said Canada's message to the team the following Thursday morning was one of "tunnel vision."

"Just stick to the plan. Stay the course," he said.

Senior running back Ty Johnson similarly wanted to concentrate on the game.

"We don't really want to be distracted by everything's that gone on, because there's been a lot," Johnson said. "Like I said, it's just trying to play football and not have the whole world look at us in a negative light."

Prior to the scandal, the Terrapins had already struggled with drawing fans to Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium for games then keeping them in the stands for four quarters. Maryland has averaged the third-lowest attendance in the Big Ten since joining the conference in 2014.

This lagging support even came up in the independent commission's wide-ranging report on the program's culture, which was released in October. One anonymous player answered a question about the team's marketing by saying, "I believe we have the worst student section in all of college football (or at least the Big Ten)."

Amid talk on campus last week whether to boycott the football game or support the dozens of players who had no role in the controversy, 31,735 people attended Maryland's loss to Michigan State last Saturday. Capacity is 51,802.

"I'd say there's a lot of discussion and criticism being tossed around," Maryland freshman student Jack Mills said, "and less people are going to games or even enthusiastic at all about our football season as compared to past, maybe less turbulent years."

Some students have also questioned whether university president Wallace D. Loh needs to follow through with his announced decision to retire at the end of the school year.

"I don't know if he should've stepped down," Teddy Hennessy, a senior at Maryland, said. "I think he did the right thing in saying, 'Look, I'm gonna step down,' because the board of regents and all the upper people were saying, 'We want to keep Durkin and if you don't want him you can leave.'... I think it's cool he stood for what he believed in, but I don't know if he should've stepped down because I don't know if it's his fault."

In the meantime, while Canada declined to talk about either his future or whether any coaches have been in contact with Durkin since Oct. 31, he was more than happy to highlight his players' efforts to stay the course.

"Some days, somebody's up, another day he's down," Canada said. "And we got to grab the guy that's down and get him up and when you're down. That's what a team does. That is the story. I've said that multiple times: The story is these kids. The story is how awesome they are, how special they are, how much they're sticking together."

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Copyright 2018 Chattanooga Publishing Company
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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

One of the last major unrestored buildings on Chattanooga's flourishing Southside has found a new owner which plans to give the historic former YMCA building a multimillion-dollar makeover.

"The building is very special. It's very cool," said Roe Elam, development director of buyer Walk to Town Holdings, about the structure that was raised in 1929.

Elam said the Rock Hill, S.C., company plans to turn the four-story, 36,000-square-foot building into mixed-use space.

He said the group is finalizing concepts for the future use of the Spanish renaissance-style building, which is located at 1517 Mitchell Ave. The building has been empty for many years in the heart of the Southside about a block off East Main Street.

The group paid $2.75 million for the building to seller Jack Kruesi, a Chattanooga businessman who has owned the facility since 1999 and had partially renovated the structure.

Chad Wamack of NAI Charter Real Estate Corp. said Kruesi was looking for an entity to finish off the refurbishing of the building.

Wamack, who'd been working to sell the structure for more than a year and a half, said it attracted a lot of interest because of its history.

"A lot of local boys grew up there and are now men," he said. "They spent so much time there."

Wamack said the site, dubbed by many as "the Industrial Y Building," drew interest not just locally but nationally because of its character and past.

"It was a lightning rod of activity," he said.

Elam said likely several million dollars will be required to put the building back to use. Work is to start next summer and take at least a year, he said.

"It will be a big project for sure," Elam said.

He said the site has about 50 parking spaces, which helps make it attractive in the Southside.

"That's a luxury in that neighborhood," Elam said.

He said the building sits amid a thriving area and vibrant neighborhood.

"It's extremely unique," Elam said, citing its architectural features. "It just needs a little bit of attention to bring it back."

He said there are no plans to seek city incentives to redevelop the property.

Wamack said the structure is "truly a bomb shelter" with concrete floor and walls.

"There's very little wood," he said. "They don't build them like that anymore. There are a lot of challenges and a lot of opportunities."

Elam said Walk to Town Holdings is a new venture unrelated to Walk to Campus, which earlier this decade bought several rental properties near the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Already, Walk to Town has bought a couple of properties off East Third Street near Erlanger hospital, he said. Elam said the group is in the beginning stages of planning what to do with those properties.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Xponential Fitness, the parent of CycleBar and other brands, said it has acquired Pure Barre, a low-impact, intense total body workout company. Pure Barre, based in South Carolina, has suburban locations in Elmhurst, Geneva, Kildeer, Naperville, Wheaton and Willowbrook. Another location is opening in Vernon Hills this winter.

Monroe Capital LLC announced the purchase. As part of the transaction, LCatterton, which invested in Pure Barre in 2015, will contribute its investment into the acquisition. Founded in 2001 and with more than 517 studios, Pure Barre says its classes offer a workout that lifts your seat, tones your thighs, abs and arms, and burns fat in record-breaking time.

Founded in 2017, California-based Xponential specializes in the boutique fitness space — including Pilates, indoor cycling, stretch, rowing, dance and yoga. Xponential's portfolio of brands includes Club Pilates, CycleBar, StretchLab, Row House, AKT and Yoga Six. Monroe Capital is a private credit asset management firm specializing in direct lending and opportunistic private credit investing. 

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Copyright 2018 News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

Why are we not surprised?

Why is it so easy to believe that high school sports fans would taunt an opposing player about his father's death?

Why does that not seem impossibly mean-spirited and cruel, not to mention bold — especially in a public setting where coaches, parents and school officials are present?

And why do we see the headlines and naturally assume they could be true?

Because that seems to be the tenor of the time and place we're in now.

As the News & Record's Joe Sirera reported Tuesday, the incident in question allegedly occurred at a playoff soccer game in Durham on Nov. 1 between Page High School and Jordan High School. A Page parent has alleged that some resourceful Jordan students used social media to research the backgrounds of Page players for ammunition for their heckling.

What they came up with, the parent says, was information that one player's father — her late husband — had died in 2015 from colon cancer.

Nancy Winkler, whose son Eric is a senior goalkeeper for the Pirates, posted on Facebook on Saturday that the Jordan students chanted "Where's your dad?" at her son during the game, Sirera reported.

"I mean, honestly, I cried from Durham back to Greensboro because it just ripped open a scab," Nancy Winkler told WRAL-TV in Raleigh. "My husband suffered and he fought, fought, fought to stay here for these kids."

Said Eric Winkler of his father to WRAL: "It was pretty tough on me because he was my best friend. Growing up he was always there for me and to hear, 'Where's your dad at?' That's pretty hard to swallow. I play soccer to get rid of my problems."

Not only did the fans mention her husband, Michael, Nancy Winkler posted, but they also showered her son with vulgar references to his girlfriend, whose name she believes they also found on the internet.

Nor was her son the only Page player singled out for abuse. Winkler added on Facebook that the Jordan students heckled another player whose "father committed suicide amidst allegations of embezzlement." She wrote that they chanted, 'Where's the money?' "

Making matters worse, Winkler said in her post, the taunting continued after the soccer match had ended in a 2-0 Jordan victory.

Of course, these are only allegations. Some Jordan students and parents who attended the game said they didn't hear the taunts. But it's hard to believe that Winkler and her son would invent such a story out of thin air. Or that they would fold a teammate's tragedy into that narrative.

To be sure, athletes and fans and aren't unaccustomed to creative cruelty. The legendary Cameron Crazies at Duke are notorious for testing the boundaries of taste.

But finding humor in someone else's tragedy is going too far... isn't it?

You have to wonder if this says something about the age we're in. You have to wonder the role social media — which can be a breeding ground for bullying — has lowered standards of common decency. You have to wonder as well as what examples we adults are setting.

Finally, if even only a fraction of what has been alleged is true, one has to wonder what the grown-ups in attendance were doing as it played out. Covering their eyes and ears?

Officials at Jordan and the Durham Public Schools say they are investigating. The N.C. High School Athletic Association, the governing body, which lists respect as one of its eight core values, is considering what, if any, action to take. As it stands, there are no specified penalties for this kind of behavior. What a sad state of affairs that there would need to be.

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2018 Valley News Nov 7, 2018

Valley News; White River Junction, Vt.

 

Hanover — The New Hampshire Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the Hanover Planning Board improperly denied site plan approval for a 70,000-square-foot indoor practice facility proposed by Dartmouth College, all but clearing the way for construction.

The opinion reversed a 2017 Superior Court ruling that upheld the Planning Board's rejection of the project in December 2016. The college hopes to build the facility on land it owns in a field near other athletic facilities off South Park Street.

The trial court that upheld the Planning Board ruling had determined that the board had appropriately denied the application, in part out of concern for how much sunlight would be blocked from abutting homes.

In reversing that, the Supreme Court found that the Planning Board's deliberations indicated that the rejection actually was based on other, more subjective considerations.

"Our review of the record of the board's deliberative session supports Dartmouth's contention that the board unreasonably relied upon personal feelings and ad hoc decision-making in denying the college's application," the Supreme Court wrote in its 4-0 ruling issued on Tuesday.

The justices noted that Planning Board members must not rely on personal opinion for making decisions.

"(T)he planning board essentially decided that the (indoor practice facility) is: (1) too large and imposing, despite the project's compliance with Hanover's I-District zoning ordinances regulating a structure's height and size; (2) too close to the abutting neighborhood, despite the project's compliance with the unique setback and height restrictions imposed by its proximity to a residential neighborhood; and (3) not a harmonious or aesthetically pleasing fit with the development of the town and its environs, despite the fact that the (facility) constitutes a permitted use within a 'special district' that not only contemplates large warehouse and recreational facilities... but currently includes two indoor sports facilities of similar sizes," the court wrote.

The court said Dartmouth can build the estimated $17.5 million structure without further review from local boards provided the college complies with 21 conditions previously identified by Hanover's planning staff.

A court spokeswoman said the town has 10 days to file a motion for reconsideration.

Dartmouth College still has at least one step it must take before breaking ground, said Robert Houseman, Hanover's director of planning, zoning and codes.

"Based on my quick read of the decision, Dartmouth College will need to file a building permit and comply with the original draft conditions of approval in order to proceed with the project," he said via email.

Dartmouth College spokeswoman Diana Lawrence said the college is pleased with the ruling.

"We look forward to working with the town of Hanover and the Planning Board as we advance construction planning," she said via email.

The indoor practice facility has been described by officials in the athletics department as a key facility that will give Dartmouth teams the ability to practice in bad weather and provide flexibility to coaches for scheduling practices. It will offer 56,000 square feet of artificial turf practice space and allow Leverone Field House to be more available for use by club teams and the college's track squad.

Dartmouth College athletic director Harry Sheehy was delighted by the news.

"This is a great day for our dedicated student-athletes and coaches who work tirelessly to represent the college and the Upper Valley community with pride," Sheehy said in an emailed statement.

The practice facility will serve football, lacrosse, softball, baseball and soccer teams.

Not everyone was happy with the Supreme Court's decision. The proposal drew steadfast opposition from some residents of the Tyler Road neighborhood, who became parties to the court case and retained their own lawyer.

Several people spoke out at public meetings on the topic, including Gert Assmus, a retired professor who lives on Conant Road, which intersects with Tyler Road.

Reached on Tuesday, Assmus said he was not surprised by the decision.

"I realize the land belongs to the college," Assmus said. "I wish they were a little more sensitive to the residents of the town."

Assmus, who has lived in Hanover for decades, said he has watched once-desirable properties on Park Street suffer from large building developments. He fears his neighborhood will be next.

"Once these go in, people don't want to live right across (from them)," he said, noting that his biggest problem with the facility is its size.

In its ruling, the court noted that the abutting neighborhood had benefited over the years from the undeveloped portion of the college's property and had opposed any development there as a way to maintain a buffer of open space between the college's athletic complex and the residential area.

"Nonetheless, a planning board cannot use the site plan review process to require a landowner to dedicate its own property as open space for essentially public use without proper compensation," the court ruled.

Planning Board Chairwoman Judith Esmay, who cast the lone vote in favor of the project in December 2016, said the ruling speaks for itself.

At the time of the vote, Esmay said she "found nothing in our zoning ordinances or regulation that would permit me not to approve it."

Dartmouth submitted its application to construct the facility in March 2016. The building site is a college-owned field on the east side of a parcel off South Park Street that contains other athletic facilities, including Thompson Arena and an indoor tennis center.

After some neighbors expressed concern, the college made a number of revisions, including lighting changes and an adjustment to the roof line to lower the building's height profile.

When it rejected the college's application, the Planning Board cited three reasons: the proposal doesn't conform with the town's Master Plan; it would negatively affect abutters; and the indoor practice facility would not be a "harmonious and aesthetically pleasing development."

In appealing that ruling, the college argued that the standards used by the Planning Board were "vague, ambiguous and not proper standards by which to review a site plan application."

After Superior Court Judge Peter Bornstein upheld the Planning Board's decision in September 2017, Dartmouth appealed to the Supreme Court.

Messages left for the intervenors' attorney, David Rayment of Concord-based Cleveland, Waters and Bass, weren't returned.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com

 

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

The Illinois State women's basketball team will host North Dakota on Wednesday, Nov. 14 for the 2018-19 home opener and first ever Fansgiving night. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and those in attendance will also receive a free rally towel while supplies last. The rally towel will feature the women's basketball 2018-19 theme - #TogetherWeWill.

Redbird women's basketball will be partnering with The School Street Food Pantry and will be collecting canned food items throughout the course of the game. The School Street Food Pantry is led by a group of passionate Illinois State students that seek to end food insecurity, which is derived from the idea of not knowing where the next meal is coming. More than 45 percent of Illinois State University students face some uncertainty when it comes to meals.

"It is so important for us to give back, not only to the local community, but our student body as well," said Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Vice President, and women's basketball student-athlete, Frannie Corrigan. "We are thankful for the support we receive from the students and see this as an excellent opportunity to directly impact our campus."

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Copyright 2018 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

Bowie State University has suspended its marching band just days before a championship game while it investigates allegations of hazing.

The Maryland school and Fayetteville State University play for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association football title on Saturday in Salem, Virginia.

School officials sent a message to the campus Friday evening announcing the decision: "Bowie State University has become aware of serious allegations of hazing affecting the Symphony of Soul Band. In light of these allegations, the university has suspended all band activity effective immediately to ensure the continued safety of our students, pending further internal investigation.

Spokeswoman Damita Chambers said school officials would not comment further. The director of the band and members of the school's campus police office did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

The president of the student government association did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The historically black university in Bowie, Maryland, was founded in 1865. It is a public school, one of the campuses of the University System of Maryland. The Symphony of Soul is an important part of the school's culture and traditions, rallying fans at sporting events and battling bands from other historically black colleges and universities at contests. The Bowie State band performed at the Kennedy Center in March, and marched through Bowie as part of the school's homecoming celebrations in October.

The Symphony of Soul missed the last game of the season. A reporter for HBCU Gameday, which first reported the suspension, posted a video on social media of band members out of uniform in the stands, and players calling out, "Free S.O.S.!

A social media post said members of the band were petitioning to end the suspension.

Hazing has been a concern nationally, one that school officials and law enforcement have tried to counter — yet disturbing incidents keep occurring.

At Florida A&M University, the death of drum major Robert Champion in 2011 exposed the brutality and dangers of hazing rituals that were part of the band's culture. Champion was beaten after a game and found in a parking lot; he died soon afterward at a hospital. The death led to a change in leadership at the historically black university, and prison time for some of his former bandmates.

Several deaths tied to fraternity hazing last year led Greek organizations, universities, parents and lawmakers to devise efforts to change campus culture. Earlier this fall, four grieving families worked with associations representing more than 100 national fraternities and sororities, with a goal of combating hazing through tougher laws and education. Those efforts include personal, often tearful, appeals from parents to fraternity members to understand the impact bad decisions can have.

Last month, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed the Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law, named for a 19-year-old Pennsylvania State University student who died in 2017 after a fraternity pledging event. The law increases penalties for hazing and requires schools to have safeguards in place.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, five teens were charged with second-degree rape last week after allegations of hazing of junior varsity football players at Damascus High School. Four juvenile male victims were identified in the attack alleged to have taken place in the school's locker room after school.

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

News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

The football season came to an early end for two schools in Wilson County after a postgame fight on Thursday.

After the game between Fike and Hunt, a fight broke out as players shook hands on the field. Deputies and administrators from both sides attempted to break up the fight, and eventually deputies used pepper spray, according to a statement from Wilson County Schools.

School officials decided on Monday that both teams would forfeit their remaining games. Wilson County Schools posted a statement on its website Monday, signed by Superintendent Lane B. Mills; County Athletics Director Jimmy Tillman; both principals, Randy St. Clair at Fike and Eddie Doll from Hunt; both athletics directors, Tom Nelson at Fike and Jon Smith at Hunt; and both head coaches, Nelson and Keith Byrum.

The second paragraph of the release addresses the fight.

"The expectation of Wilson County Schools and the Wilson County Board of Education is that teams will play their hardest and exhibit excellent sportsmanship at all times, which means they play fair, respect the opponent and exhibit graciousness in winning or losing. Unfortunately, an opportunity to model sportsmanship to our community was missed on November 1 after the Fike High School and Hunt High School football game. While shaking hands at the conclusion of the game, a fight broke out between a few of the players on both teams. When coaches, administrators and law enforcement could not subdue the players, deputies with the Wilson County Sheriff's Office used pepper spray to end the altercation."

The statement confirms that the call to forfeit the season for both schools was a "unified decision." Both teams were in contention for the playoffs.

The school board notified the NCHSAA about the incident and will have to pay a $1,000 fine.

The release also addresses law enforcement having to intervene, stating "Given the magnitude of both the altercation and the measure law enforcement had to take to control the situation, there was no other option."

Last week four teams from the Charlotte area - East Mecklenburg, Hickory Ridge, Independence, and Rocky River - were banned from the postseason for fights.

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

News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

A Page High School parent has questioned chants made by students during a boys soccer playoff game in Durham on Nov. 1.

Jordan High School administrators in Durham will require all of their students to complete a sportsmanship class this month, but have not concluded that students at a playoff soccer game on Nov. 1 behaved maliciously toward Page players.

Chip Sudderth, the chief communications officer for Durham Public Schools, released a statement on Tuesday night after Jordan completed its investigation.

Among Jordan's conclusions:

Students did not verbally target two Page players whose fathers had died. Jordan admitted that some students chanted "Who's your daddy?" but "could not find evidence that any of those students involved were aware of the very personal tragedies."Some students did research and learned the names of Page's players, plus the names of one girlfriend and one player's sister, via social media and called goalkeeper Eric Winkler, one of the players whose father had died, by name. The statement said that a Jordan parent and assistant coach admonished the students for that during the game.Game officials and Jordan administrators did not see or hear any wrongdoing nor receive any reports at the game.Jordan principal Susan Taylor received a letter from a Page parent outlining allegations and responded to the parent on the same day.

Jordan coach D.J. Ferguson, after his team's 2-1 overtime loss at Reynolds on Tuesday night in Bermuda Run, said he couldn't comment on the investigation.

The full statement from Durham Public Schools:

"Following the playoff game against Page High School on November 1, Jordan High administrators were made aware of allegations that hurtful comments about personal tragedies were shouted from the student section at specific players during the game. Game officials and Jordan administrators did not observe these actions during the match, and no inappropriate behavior was reported to the athletic director or assistant principal on duty at the game. The next day Jordan principal Susan Taylor received a letter from a Page High parent detailing the allegations; Principal Taylor responded to the parent the same afternoon.

"After interviewing students, faculty members, parents and community members who were in the stands, Mrs. Taylor found that some Jordan students researched the team roster and social media ahead of the game, learning the names of players, one player's girlfriend and another's sister. At least two Jordan students and one former student followed Page players on social media. Some student section members called the goalie's name and made comments at another player, or called 'How is your sister/how is your girlfriend?' At least one Jordan parent and a Jordan assistant coach admonished the student section in response to those comments.

"Some student section members also shouted 'Who's your daddy?' during game play, but Principal Taylor's investigation could not find evidence that any of those students involved were aware of the very personal tragedies that two of the Page players had endured. Her review of group text messages among student spectators indicated that those students were not aware of the family losses.

"Principal Taylor's investigation was unable to find evidence of the most severe allegations, but also indicates that a refresher in good sportsmanship would be helpful for the entire student body. By Thanksgiving, all Jordan High School students will complete the sportsmanship class provided by the National Federation of High School Sports through grade level assemblies. The class will be led by the athletic director supported by team captains, coaches, and administrators.

"Should evidence become available that allows Jordan High administrators to identify specific students who targeted personal tragedies of Page soccer players, those identified students will receive school-level consequences."

Nancy Winkler, the mother of Eric Winkler, posted on Facebook on Saturday to say she had sent a letter to Jordan High School and to the Durham system's Board of Education saying "Eric was relentlessly attacked from the sideline during a soccer event in a way none of us were prepared for, and he wasn't the only one on our team." She described comments about Eric's girlfriend as "crude and vulgar" and yelled "where is your dad?" at the player.

"Another player's father committed suicide amidst allegations of embezzlement," Nancy Winkler wrote in the post. "These fans had researched this fact and shouted 'Where's the money?' multiple times at him as well."

Staff writer Joe Sirera contributed.

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
All Rights Reserved

The Washington Times

 

Michal Kempny doesn't remember taking an elbow to the left cheek in a Sept. 25 preseason game against the St. Louis Blues. He doesn't remember any part of his shift before the injury, either.

"I saw it on the video," the Washington Capitals' blueliner said after his recovery. "I don't remember the whole shift when it happened. I had a little bit blackout."

Kempny received a concussion on the play. Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo was suspended two preseason games and the regular season opener for the illegal elbowing, but he returned to the ice for St. Louis before Kempny recovered and made his season debut for Washington.

It was Kempny's first concussion, and he didn't know what to expect with the recovery time.

"It was a little bit (frustrating)," the Czech said. "But I had to listen to my doctors. I had probably three, four days I didn't do anything. And then I started to like work out and little bit, like, body weights."

Kempny is on a growing list of NHL players who already have had a concussion in the young season joining Penguins goalie Matt Murray, Ducks winger Ondrej Kase, Canucks star rookie Elias Pettersson and Blues center Oskar Sundqvist. Sundqvist was injured by the Capitals' Tom Wilson in a different Washington-St. Louis preseason game.

Football has long been at the center of the so-called "concussion debate" in both youth and professional sports, and soccer, too, is struggling to deal with the connection between heading the ball and brain injuries. But hockey's relationship with concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is also complicated, including the ongoing litigation between retired players and the NHL and a reticence to admit a link between CTE and blows to the head.

USA Today polled 29 top NHL players in the preseason and found a majority (21 players) had moderate or high levels of concern about concussions.

Those CTE concerns are increasingly shared at the professional level by athletes looking to protect their long-term health, and, at the amateur level, by multitudes of parents and coaches worried about the kids.

Football has responded by settling lawsuits, scrambling to improve training and equipment and going as far as fundamentally changing rules to try to eliminate the most violent collisions.

Hockey? Well, they're working on it.

Diagnostic challenges

Capitals defenseman and alternate captain Brooks Orpik remembers a concussion he had while playing at Boston College at the turn of the century. Again, he doesn't actually "remember" he has no memory of the injury or the moments before it.

The hit he took "probably looked terrible," he said, but the next day he felt no lingering effects.

"And then there's ones where you see guys just get little glancing blows that don't look like much and then they're out for a few months," Orpik said. "I think that's the scary part. It's not like a bone injury where it's four to six weeks and you can tell exactly the timeline. Everybody responds differently."

The 38-year-old has played hockey across a few generations now, and he's seen how care for these injuries has evolved. When he was hurt at Boston College, he said the prescribed treatment was "to do nothing and wait it out."

"Now, you make sure you get your neck treated right away," Orpik said. "I know a lot of times, myself and other guys I've played with, you get a concussion and then you're actually over the concussion, but you still think you have it because you have a cervical sprain or another neck injury that gives you the exact same symptoms as a concussion."

Much of Orpik's experience was echoed by Michael Stuart, the chief medical officer for USA Hockey, who also had three sons play in the NHL.

"Instead of complete physical and cognitive rest putting an athlete into a darkened room and making them lay in bed we'll now actually have a very brief period of rest, sometimes as short as 24 hours, and then we begin some exercise," he said. "As long as it doesn't exacerbate symptoms or make them worse, it's probably helpful actually to get them exercising a bit."

There is also risk for keeping players isolated in a dark room for too long, as the social withdrawal can lead to symptoms of depression.

Andrew Peterson, a neurologist and sports medicine director at the University of Iowa, said handling concussions in youth hockey can include logistical obstacles, like simply getting onto the rink where a player is down and conducting diagnostic tests in tight spaces.

"You're oftentimes doing it around the bench, a very cramped area with a very rowdy group of folks hanging out around you," Peterson said. "It's always been a challenge to get a good evaluation just because of the setting."

Because concussion symptoms can evolve over time, Stuart said, researchers are looking for more "objective" means of diagnosis.

"We're looking at biomarkers, which are not ready for prime time," Stuart said. "But it could be that saliva or blood could give us insights about concussion."

Courtroom fight

In 2013, the NFL paid out $765 million to settle lawsuits brought by retired players who claimed the league should have done more to educate them about concussion-related risks inherent in the sport.

That same year, former hockey players brought a similar lawsuit against the NHL. The difference, though, is that the NHL is still fighting its lawsuit five years later.

A judge ordered the league and the plaintiffs to enter mediation, but NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said as recently as September that he thinks the suit "doesn't have merit." (Attorneys representing the retired players did not respond to requests for comment.)

In the NFL, a health official acknowledged a link between head trauma and CTE in 2016, marking a sea change from the league's previous stance that the science was not there yet.

The NHL, though, has held out and Bettman still denies a link between blows to the head and CTE.

The two sides were interested in facing off in a set of trials in 2019, but more recently, TSN reported that they are moving closer to a settlement.

All of this is not to say the league hasn't gotten more serious about brain injury along with the rest of the sporting world. A rule that banned checks to the head from a lateral or blind-side position was passed in 2010 in an effort to reduce concussions, though an independent study soon found the rule did not have that desired effect.

In 2015, the NHL followed the NFL in introducing designated "concussion spotters" trained officials whose duty it is to watch games and identify players who may have suffered a head injury. The following year, the league updated its concussion protocol to include "central spotters" watching every game from NHL offices.

But the concussion spotter strategy has weathered some criticism for ceding certain situations, like headfirst crashes into the boards, back to team doctors.

It's also hard to track just how many concussions NHL players experience, because teams are not required by the league to publicly release injury news. Many clubs stick to vaguer "upper-body" and "lower-body" identifications, which would lump a concussion into the same category as a sprained wrist.

Strides forward

USA Hockey, the country's governing body for the sport in charge of fielding Olympic teams and developing grass-roots amateur programs, does not have an official stance one way or the other on a link to CTE, Stuart said.

The doctor added his opinion is that current research including Ann McKee's work studying brains of deceased football players has yielded "alarming" data that needs deeper inquiry.

"Repetitive concussions are definitely not good for the brain," Stuart said. "The exact cause-effect relationship to progressive neurodegenerative diseases like CTE is certainly very worrisome and needs further study. But we know that progressive neurodegenerative diseases happen to people that have never played sports."

The NHL and USA Hockey work together on several marketing and charitable partnerships, but they do not have influence on each other's policies. Dave Fischer, USA Hockey's senior director of communications, said how the NHL chooses to "go down the path" of addressing concussions is up to them.

USA Hockey has done its part to make the sport safer. In 2011, it raised the age level for body-checking to the 13- and 14-year-old group. It's instilled a mantra of "When in doubt, sit them out" for coaches to err on the side of caution when a player might be hurt. And during October, it collaborated with the Concussion Legacy Foundation to promote "Team Up, Speak Up" Week, an effort to teach young athletes to report concussion symptoms.

"In the sport of ice hockey, I think we've been proactive," Stuart said. "We've made a lot of strides. We have a long way to go, but we have rules in place that will hopefully eliminate a lot of the dangerous activities that can cause injuries in the brain and cervical spine."

In the meantime, NHL players like Kempny and Orpik accept that concussions are still part of the risk of playing hockey.

"Hit like that happens. Things like that happen," Kempny said. "It is what it is. Like I said, I had to deal with it and now I feel great."

"There's only so much (the league) can do," Orpik said, "... Some of that stuff, like the speed that we play at and as big as guys are, that unfortunately is gonna happen whether there's intention behind it or not."

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

It appears the 4-year-old mystery of the missing football raffle money from Eastern Washington University, including the investigation that led to felony theft charges against an associate athletic director, has been settled after a criminal trial was recently delayed this week for the 11th time.

According to court files, Associate Athletic Director Donald C. Ross, 64, has agreed to pay $4,182 in restitution, and several court officials said they have been informed that Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Casey Evans intends to dismiss the two felony second-degree theft charges that were filed against Ross in 2016.

Evans said "definitely there should be some action" soon in the case, but he said he could not comment further. Evans also wouldn't say whether Ross indicated any wrongdoing as part of the deal to pay the $4,182, which is within a few dollars of the amount alleged to have been stolen in the case.

EWU spokesman Dave Meany said university officials learned of the apparent case resolution when contacted by a reporter.

"We are going to have to evaluate what transpired and reserve comment," Meany said.

Ross has remained in his position, which includes oversight of NCAA compliance and other duties for the athletic department. The Eastern alumnus, who has been working in Cheney since 2007, made $67,100 in 2014. But he took a pay cut after the theft allegations were levied against him. He earned $64,500 in 2017, according to a state salary database.

"They did remove (Ross) from dealing with any finances," Meany said. "That was done immediately" after the money came up missing.

Reached at work Tuesday, Ross declined to comment about why he agreed to pay the restitution or any other aspect of the case before ending the phone call.

Ross, who once helped run the athletic department's fundraisers, was the last person seen with the proceeds from 50-50 raffles held in conjunction with EWU football games on Oct. 4 and Oct. 18, 2014, according to court files.

The school began an investigation after employees discovered that two deposits, one for $2,007 and another for $2,252, never made it into the EWU Foundation bank account.

When investigators asked Ross where he delivered the missing deposits, he gave varying accounts before saying "I don't know," court records state.

"I walked the money downstairs and gave it to Justin or maybe left it in Christina's office since she was not there," Ross said, according to the documents.

"Is 'I don't know' a reasonable answer for someone with your job and duties?" a detective asked Ross, according to court documents.

"I don't know," Ross again answered.

In court filings, Evans, the deputy prosecutor, noted Ross kept changing his story about what he did with the money.

"His first explanation was that he left the money on Oct. 20, 2014, with the female employees upstairs," Evans wrote in 2017. "After the female employees denied that he had done so, Mr. Ross changed his story to say that he left the money with Mr. Graffe or on Ms. Blum's chair.

"And when it was determined that neither Mr. Graffe nor Ms. Blum received the money, Mr. Ross indicated that he did not remember what he had done with it."

Ross' attorney, Dean Chuang, did not return a message seeking comment Tuesday. But in court records, Chuang argued that prosecutors didn't have enough evidence and previously asked a judge to dismiss the charges.

"In this case, the fact that Mr. Ross was the last person seen with money does not constitute theft," Chuang wrote in 2017. "There was no admission from Mr. Ross that he took the money or that he gave the money to someone else or he left the money for someone to pick up.

"The missing money was never found. At the very least, Mr. Ross' actions were negligent, not criminal."

The total amount of the missing money was $4,259. Court records, signed by Superior Court Judge Michael Price, do not indicate how the attorneys determined the restitution amount of $4,182.

 

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

The vision for a new downtown stadium isn't shared by most Spokane voters.

In an advisory vote Tuesday night, voters said by an almost 2-to-1 margin to build a new stadium on the existing site of Joe Albi Stadium — not on the north bank of the Spokane River.

Minutes after the vote was announced, Mayor David Condon said he foresees a "beautiful complex that will be a regional draw" at the Albi site. Condon had been a proponent of the downtown site for a stadium.

The tally was 65.2 percent in favor of the Albi site and 34.8 percent in favor of downtown.

"It's unfortunate that the (downtown) stadium isn't doing any better than it is," said Mike Livingston, who led the efforts for a downtown stadium.

The vote isn't binding on the Spokane Public Schools board, but it may be difficult to disregard such a one-sided vote.

With the larger bond on its way to passage Tuesday night, one thing is certain: 67-year-old Albi Stadium will be demolished.

Should the school board brush aside the advisory vote and build downtown anyway, a middle school would be built on the old stadium site, while six new playing fields would be added to the Merkel Complex.

If the new stadium is built at the Albi site, the new middle school would be constructed south of the stadium and no new playing fields would be added.

The stadium is budgeted to cost $31 million out of the $495 million bond.

The stadium issue was clouded by several questions in the run-up to the election.

The biggest was parking, though the district assured voters it would still be free for all high school events.

Another uncertainty was whether a new parking garage would be needed to offset the land occupied by a stadium. But a recent study indicated existing parking would be sufficient for all but the largest arena events.

 

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Copyright 2018 The Evansville Courier Co.
All Rights Reserved

Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

INDIANAPOLIS — Fire everybody. If you were working for USA Gymnastics as of Monday afternoon, sorry, no need to report to work. Because you're fired. All of you.

In a perfect world, that's how this decertification of USA Gymnastics would go. Alas, the world is not perfect, not close to perfect, and in the case of that rotten sinkhole at 132 E. Washington St. in Indianapolis, it's terribly flawed by adults who let down kids and then kept doing it and doing it and doing it until more than 500 girls were saying they'd been abused by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar — and the United States Olympic Committee on Monday was announcing something it should have announced months ago: USA Gymnastics is no longer the national governing body of U.S. gymnastics.



Which is a step, but not the final step. No, there is a next step, and it looks like this: The USOC sending bureaucrats and human resources officials and maybe even sheriff's deputies to guide every single employee out of the USA Gymnastics' offices at 132 E. Washington St. Here's a box. Pack it up and get the hell out.

Harsh? Oh absolutely what I'm saying is harsh, maybe even too harsh, but enough's enough. The only people with any guts or integrity in this entire process have been the gymnasts themselves, young and abused and just ferocious. The adults at USA Gymnastics, starting with the CEO who was indicted on charges of tampering with evidence, didn't do enough to stop this from happening even as reports of sexual abuse in gyms all over the country mounted and records were kept and complaints logged and still another girl and another and another were sent into an office with Larry Nassar, who closed the door and did as he pleased.

Sometimes, the only answer is cleaning house. What I'm suggesting, some people would say, is throwing out the baby with the bathwater. And here is where I'd say that is incorrect. I'm not suggesting anything.

Throw out the bathwater, and every single USA Gymnastics employee with it. Look, haven't we spent enough time wondering about who knew what, and when did they know it? Former CEO Steve Penny was arrested Oct. 17 on charges of ordering the removal of evidence from the Karolyi Ranch in Texas, where Nassar abused many of his victims.

USA Gymnastics' director of sports medicine services for its gymnastics, Debbie Van Horn, was indicted in June on charges of second-degree sexual assault of a child; she was occasionally in the room with Nassar when he was abusing gymnasts, and for whatever reason — ignorance? — she didn't stop it.

Additionally, insanely, USA Gymnastics actually hired as interim CEO a member of the law firm who provided "false excuses," IndyStar reported in May, for Nassar's absence at major gymnastics events in 2015. The law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, which employed Mary Bono, lied about Nassar's absence because that beat the alternative: telling the truth, that USA Gymnastics' superstar doctor was under investigation for molesting gymnasts in his care.

In a statement to IndyStar in October, the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors defended the selection of Bono as interim CEO on the grounds that she really didn't have much to do with the firm's handling of USA Gymnastics. It's not like she was the counsel of record, the statement said, as if that made her hiring palatable. The statement ended before the board could insist that Mary Bono was so out of the loop, she couldn't even spell the word "gymnastics."

Does the arrest of Penny, the indictment of Van Horn and the departure of Bono imply that every single person employed by USA Gymnastics has done something wrong? No, not at all. All of the people who have been charged deny wrongdoing. Like I said, throwing everybody out of the offices at 132 E. Washington would be harsh, overly so in some cases, but the only way to proceed after so many things went so horribly wrong for so terribly long within the organization. The only way to take USA Gymnastics seriously, ever again, is with a complete reboot.

Start by moving the USA Gymnastics offices out of 132 E. Washington St. Prime real estate it may be, there on the cusp of Monument Circle, but it's a haunted house now. Get out, have everyone employed there leave with their belongings in a box and their resumes updated, and then change the name of the whole organization. Because "USA Gymnastics" is an obscenity.

Find IndyStar columnist Gregg Doyel on Twitter: @GreggDoyelStar or at facebook.com/gregg.doyel.

Gregg Doyel, Columnist, Indianapolis Star

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2018 Portland Newspapers Nov 7, 2018

Portland Press Herald

 

Greely High's football team has been celebrated for doing a lot with a little.

But next year's varsity roster is expected to be even smaller than this year's band of 22 Rangers. Administrators, coaches and booster members in Cumberland said they have to start looking at options — including joining forces with another school on a cooperative team or opting for eight-man football.

The dilemma of maintaining a football program is not unique to Greely. The Maine Principals' Association is weighing introduction of eight-man football next fall to help programs struggling to maintain sufficient roster sizes. The MPA has no minimum standard for rosters, but recommends having at least 20 players.

As presently proposed, eight-man football would be available for schools with enrollment of fewer than 350 students. Greely has 638, according to the MPA.

"I think it's going to be a stretch to come up with a program as we know it today," said David Higgins, the varsity football coach at Greely for 10 years. "I just don't see where they're going to get the players."

A meeting will be held Tuesday at the high school to discuss options for next season, said Steve Carey, president of the Greely Football Boosters. Carey said there are no plans to eliminate football, in part because the number of tackle football players at the elementary-school level is stable.

"We're determined to make sure our kids have the opportunity to play football, not just next year but for the next six, seven years," Carey said.

Greely Athletic Director David Shapiro added: "Any student-athletes that want to play football next year, we're going to find a way to make that happen."

Greely finished the 2018 season 5-5 in Class B South. The Rangers won a playoff game for the fourth straight season, beating Biddeford before being eliminated Saturday by top-seeded Kennebunk, 42-8. Greely played most of the season dressing less than 20 players for games and will graduate 10 seniors.

"Of those 10 seniors, seven started on one side of the ball and eight on the other side," Higgins said.

This fall, seventh- and eighth-graders played for the first time on a team combined with Yarmouth players. Four Greely eighth-graders played on the team, Carey said. The program has adequate numbers among younger age groups, he said, including 18 players on the sixth-grade tackle team.

In October, the MPA football committee generated a draft for reclassification. It includes a new four-class system for 11-man football, an eight-man league for schools with fewer than 350 students, and the elimination of the Class E developmental league.

As proposed, 11-man football would have a 10-team statewide Class AA for the nine largest schools plus Cheverus; 10-team North and South divisions in Class A (650-950 students) and Class B (470-650); and a seven-team Class C South and an eight-team Class C North for schools between 350-469 students. The 13 smallest football programs are in the eight-man class, though it is likely some would apply to remain 11-man teams.

Portland, Windham, South Portland and Massabesic would shift to A South, along with six current Class B teams.

"It's very much a draft right now," said Susan Robbins, a member of the football committee and Yarmouth's athletic director.

The football committee's next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 29.

Eight-man football "is going to happen," said South Portland Athletic Administrator Todd Livingston. The question is how many schools want to play eight-man, and if that group includes larger schools like Greely.

"Is it 12 schools or 20 schools?" Livingston asked, adding that re-alignment can't be done effectively "until you know who's going to form co-ops or eight-man teams."

Under the plan, Greely would be placed in the proposed Class B South, which would be very similar to the current Class C South.

Yarmouth is another southern Maine school that could be looking at eight-man or forming a co-op, said Robbins.

Robbins said Yarmouth will graduate 12 of its current 31 players. Jason Veilleux, who resigned as Yarmouth's varsity coach last week because he is moving to the Bridgton area, said he doesn't expect more than three current eighth graders to play.

"I personally think eight-man would be perfect for Yarmouth," Veilleux said.

Shapiro and Robbins said they have not discussed the idea of a Yarmouth-Greely co-operative. That combination would likely push the team into a higher classification. Shapiro said any co-operative would need to be with a nearby school "and that means Falmouth, Yarmouth or maybe Gray-New Gloucester."

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or: scraig@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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Copyright 2018 Star Tribune
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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

A Washington County motorist has been charged with several crimes in a road rage incident where he allegedly drove within inches of Olympic champion skier Jessie Diggins during a training session along a rural stretch of road near her Afton home.

George G. Frost, 37, of St. Marys Point, was charged Friday in District Court with misdemeanor counts of assault, reckless driving, careless driving, disorderly conduct and nuisance on a public roadway in connection with his encounter with Diggins and training partner Kris Hansen on Oct. 28.

"The very unfortunate incident this past weekend is completely unacceptable behavior and we have zero tolerance for this type of aggressive, threatening, and dangerous behavior," City Administrator Ron Moorse said in a statement Friday.

Frost, who was charged by summons, has not returned messages seeking his response to the allegations. He has a court hearing scheduled for Dec. 11.

Reacting to the news of charges being filed, Diggins said, "This is a great reminder for everyone to be mindful of safety and be kind to each other."

Moorse said it's "fortunate this time that it involved two adults who knew what to do and handled it as best as could be expected. But... we have to recognize that this could just as easily have happened to the younger people, junior and senior high students, who also train here."

Diggins said in a blog post last week that she and Hansen, her Stillwater High School coach, were roller-skiing single file and left plenty of room for any approaching vehicle when an SUV "buzzed us so close that I was rocked sideways from the wind."

In an interview last week with the Star Tribune, Diggins said Frost "could have killed us.... You can't take it back, a moment of road rage."

What unfolded on westbound 15th Street S. roughly a third of the way into a 3¼-hour workout, the 27-year-old cross-country gold medalist wrote on her blog, was "the most incredible display of aggressive bullying and 'I'm bigger than you and I'm in [an] SUV so I'm going to harass you' that I've ever seen in person."

Diggins said that after the SUV passed them, it stopped on the straight stretch of road with a hill ahead in the distance.

"We tried to ski by him, he kept driving on the right side of the road so that we were forced to the middle of the road," she continued. "When we sped up, he sped up. When we slowed down, he came to a stop, blocking us from getting back to the side of the road.

"I knocked on the window a few times shouting that he was going to get us killed, and he flipped me the finger and turned the music up."

Diggins wrote that "if that guy had been 6 inches closer to us, we would be in the hospital or dead."

Hansen said Monday that more important than Frost being charged "is that the driver was made aware of the risk he caused to us as legitimate road users."

The criminal complaint against Frost echoed Diggins' account of the encounter and also includes him denying that he drove too close to the roller-skiers.

However, he also explained to a sheriff's deputy that he was upset with them for roller-skiing in the road because when he was a kid law enforcement "harassed [him] for skateboarding in the area," the charges read.

Frost acknowledged giving Diggins and Hansen the middle finger during the incident, thinking they were men.

Star Tribune staff writer Rachel Blount contributed to this report.

Paul Walsh · 612-673-4482

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

 

Radford has suspended sophomore point guard Carlik Jones, junior guard Travis Fields and junior center Devonnte Holland for Tuesday's game for failing to meet team standards, RU coach Mike Jones said in a news release. They have not been suspended beyond the season opener, the coach said in a text message. Fields had already been held out of last week's exhibition game against Washington and Lee for not meeting team standards.

Fields and Carlik Jones were each charged on April 4 by Radford City Police with one misdemeanor count of underage possession or purchase of alcohol, according to Radford General District Court records. The date of the offense was April 1. The case was continued on May 24. The two performed community service, according to their attorney, Beverly Davis, and the charges were dismissed on Aug. 23. Holland was not involved with the case, said Davis.

Fields was charged on Oct. 11 by Radford City Police with one misdemeanor count of having an open container of alcohol, according to court records. The date of the offense was Oct. 6. The case was continued on Oct. 25 and will be reviewed on April 25.

Davis & Elkins is anNCAA Division II school that went 7-19 last season. The Senators have been picked 11th out of 13 teams in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll.... This game counts as part of Radford's regular-season record, but it is only an exhibition game for Davis & Elkins and will not count on that team's record.

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Utah's ongoing Olympic vibe just got a little stronger.

On Tuesday, the Utah Sports Commission announced that USA Climbing, the national governing body for the sport that will make its Olympic debut at the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo is relocating its headquarters from Boulder, Colo., to Salt Lake City. The sports commission partnered with USA Climbing to help facilitate the move.

According to USA Climbing CEO Marc Norman, the organization is aiming at the new industry development in Salt Lake City's Granary District as its new full-time home.

"With a strong climbing heritage, unrivaled access to indoor and outdoor climbing statewide, and a thriving business community, Salt Lake City is a great choice," Norman said in a news release. "Once established, we look to create a national training center, where our national team athletes can regularly train to compete at the highest levels internationally."

USA Climbing becomes the third national governing body to make Utah its home base, alongside U.S. Ski & Snowboard (Park City) and U.S. Speedskating (Kearns).

"Relocating another national governing body of sport like USA Climbing to Utah is a big win," Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said. "It will allow us to have some of the world's best climbing athletes train here and call Utah home and we will also be a hub for the hosting of many major climbing events as well."

Founded in 1998, USA Climbing is growing at a rapid rate. According to the release, its growing at an average rate of 32 percent per year in participation. The organization also sanctions over 350 competitions each year, including national championships in various disciplines such as adaptive, bouldering, collegiate, speed and sport. USA Climbing oversees the U.S. senior and youth national team pools for climbers who compete in World Cup and World Championship events.

Speed climbing, bouldering and lead climbing will be the three brand new disciplines at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Speed climbing pits two climbers against one another climbing a fixed route on a 15-meter wall. Bouldering features climbers scaling a number of fixed routes on a 4-meter wall against the clock and lead climbing will pit athletes attempting to climb as high as possible on a wall measuring over 15-meter tall within a fixed time.

At the Olympics in 2020, climbers will compete in all three disciplines with the medal outcomes being determined by the combined results.

Once the move becomes permanent, Utah will look to host several national and international climbing competitions. Utah has been a regular stop for various ski, snowboard and speedskating World Cups and World Championship events since the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. In recent years, Utah has hosted tournaments and Olympic Trials for several summer events, including weightlifting, fencing and Taekwondo.

"The presence of USA Climbing in our community allows us to continue to help position the state as a leader in the international sports industry and to further focus on sports development as a key component of Utah's promotional and economic-development strategy," said Jeff Robbins, president of the Utah Sports Commission.

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

SANTA FE — At least one New Mexico state legislator thinks the New Mexico Lottery Authority went out of bounds when it authorized a new sports lottery game.

Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, says tying sports betting into a lottery game makes it illegal. "My view is that if the lottery moves forward with sports betting, that's illegal," he said. "This is them going rogue like they have gone with the 'Play at the Pump.' They never had the authority to do that." In 2015 and 2016, the state Legislature rejected a New Mexico Lottery proposal that would have allowed people to play a lottery game while pumping gas.

Last week, the lottery board voted unanimously in favor of a new sports-related lottery game, which could debut in four to six months.

Final details of the game are still being worked out, but lottery officials say it will be similar to a parlay wager where players would have to correctly pick the outcomes of at least three sporting events to win.

On Monday, the Journal published an op-ed piece by Guy C. Clark, chairman of Stop Predatory Gambling New Mexico. Clark says that allowing a sports lottery game would violate state law because New Mexico has not legalized sports betting.

He also maintains that Santa Ana Star Casino has been operating in violation of federal law since Oct. 16, when it opened a sports book allowing people to wager on major professional sports and collegiate sporting events, except those that involve college sports teams from New Mexico.

"The lottery board is suggesting that since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Protection Act (PASPA) in the suit initiated by the NCAA against the State of New Jersey, that the court waved a magic wand and made sports betting legal throughout the United States. No such thing happened," Clark wrote.

"The court basically ruled that the federal government does not have the authority to determine state law regarding sports betting, but that the states are responsible for deciding whether or not to legalize sports betting. Sports betting has not been legalized in New Mexico, which makes a lottery game which features sports betting illegal under state law."

Rep. Harper agrees.

"When the Supreme Court ruled, it did not change any laws in New Mexico," he said. "So why the lottery thinks it can do sports betting now again shows we have a rogue lottery in our state."

Harper said he plans to write a letter to the Attorney General's Office asking for an opinion on the question.

But when it opened its sports book last month, Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel issued a news release touting itself as the first open sports book in New Mexico and citing the Supreme Court decision that it said overturned federal law prohibiting sports betting everywhere in the U.S., except Nevada.

"Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year through illegal sports books and shady overseas internet operations," John Cirrincione, Santa Ana Star's chief executive officer, said in the news release. "It is good to see that sports betting will be strictly regulated and brought out of the shadows around the country.... Our goal is to provide a more fun and entertaining gaming experience for our guests."

When asked about the legality of sports betting in New Mexico and whether the lottery board can institute a game that relies on the outcome of sporting events, a spokesman with the AG's office on Monday provided the Journal with a statement.

"The Office of the Attorney General is aware of both of these matters and will closely monitor New Mexico's tribal gaming compacts, as well as the lottery, and will work with the Legislature for proper statutory and regulatory oversight to require responsible gaming and enhanced integrity to create an even playing field for all," said David Carl, a spokesman for the AG's office.

Harper said he plans to introduce legislation that would make it "crystal clear" that the lottery can't expand gambling with approval from the Legislature.

Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas, D-Albuquerque, disagrees with Clark and Harper. He says the U.S. Supreme Court did legalize sports betting in New Mexico because the state uses the federal definition for Class III gambling, which includes sports betting.

"That opened the door," he said. "Even though in the compacts (with tribes with gambling operations) we don't use the term 'sports betting,' we apply the Class III definition, which does include the term."

He said that he would like to see more tribes in New Mexico follow Santa Ana's play of opening a sports book.

"Sports betting is great entertainment and I believe it will boost revenues," he said, adding that he felt the state could benefit from Texas gamblers.

Tribal casinos share a portion of their revenue with state government, based on "net win" from wagering on gambling machines like slots, not the net profit of the casinos.

Maestas said the question concerning the lottery game is more of a grey area, depending on whether the lottery game amounts to a game of chance or a game of skill.

The New Mexico Lottery said in a statement that the sports lottery game it plans to propose is covered under the New Mexico Lottery Act.

"The new sports lottery game, which is in the suite of online games, is a lottery game which is permissible under New Mexico law," it said, citing the statute, which says a lottery game must be "hooked up to a central computer via a telecommunications system through which a player selects a specified group of numbers or symbols out of a predetermined range of numbers or symbols and purchases a ticket bearing the player-selected numbers or symbols for eligibility in a drawing regularly scheduled in accordance with game rules."

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

In an effort to help instill a sense of sportsmanship and positive role modeling in the community's youth, Palatine Park District is hosting "Sportsmanship Is Respect," a workshop for coaches, parents and players. This free event will be offered from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at Cutting Hall Performing Arts Center, 150 E. Wood St., Palatine.

Tickets are free but must be reserved through the box office at cuttinghall.org. Speakers at this event include Dr. Robin Boggs Choquette from AMITA Health; Joe Scally, former Positive Coaching Alliance director of training; and Matt May, a special-education teacher at Palatine High School. Coaches, parents and players are invited to this discussion on the effects that playing sports has on mental growth in our youth, as well as the impact that sportsmanship has on the overall experience for participants of all ages and across all levels of athletic participation.

The presentation by the speakers will be followed by time for questions from the audience, and all ages are invited to attend. For information about the Sportsmanship is Respect event, contact Todd Ranum at (847) 496-6238 or tranum@palatineparks.org

About the speakers:

Dr. Robin Boggs Choquette earned a Doctorate of Clinical Psychology degree. She has trained in educational, community mental health, hospital and private practice settings and continues to train and enhance her expertise in the field of performance psychology. Her practice, Elite Performance Counseling, Inc., is a testament to her vision of building trustworthy and respectful relationships with her clients and community. Choquette works with individuals from preteen through older adulthood in individual psychotherapy, family therapy (including parenting strategies), couples therapy and skill seminars. In addition to her general psychological services, Choquette consults with a specialized emphasis on performance enhancement for athletes, musicians, artists, corporate executives and business leaders to help them reach peak performance in their professional and personal lives. She works with individuals, youth sporting teams, traveling clubs and organizations on the mental game of athletics. Choquette also serves as an account manager for AMITA Behavioral Health. Previously she served as the supervisor in the Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital PHP School Anxiety School, and worked in several of the outpatient programs, including Self Injury, Center for Addiction and Eating Disorders. Choquette co-authored "Successful Parenting Workbook."

Joe Scally is principal of The Law Offices of Joseph T. Scally in Downers Grove and was the director of Training for Positive Coaching Alliance from 2007 to 2010. With a master's degree in child psychology from DePaul University and a law degree from the University of Illinois, he has devoted the majority of his career to helping children and families improve their quality of life. Scally grew up in Chicago playing football, baseball, basketball, hockey and handball. He played linebacker on a Brother Rice High School team that achieved a number-one ranking in the state. Scally began coaching while he was in college at Notre Dame and has coached football, basketball, and soccer for more than 30 seasons. Much of his coaching has been with high school-aged club soccer players. He has coached for the Darien Dynamo, Downers Grove Roadrunners, and Bolingbrook Soccer clubs. He has also worked with the Westmont High School girls varsity and junior varsity teams. Scally was named Coach of the Year for the Bolingbrook Soccer Club in 2010. Scally has two daughters who have played a variety of sports including softball, volleyball, basketball, swimming, soccer, and cheerleading. Currently, his oldest daughter plays as a defender on her college soccer team. His youngest swims for her high school, coaches young swimmers on a local team, and boxes with a club. Scally, his wife and his daughters are avid fans of many teams and attend lots of sporting events. His work as a PCA trainer is one way he continues his lifelong commitment to enhancing the lives of children and families. He is able to utilize his knowledge of psychology and coaching to help coaches, parents, athletes andyouthsports organizations transformyouthsports by teaching life lessons and keeping sports fun and challenging.

Matt May has been the owner of TeamMSL Basketball since 2008. TeamMSL is a youth organization for local boys and girls in grades three through nine and serves more than 300 players per year focusing on fundamentals and the development of athletes. Since 2012, May has been the owner of NWFFL/Jim Schwantz Football Academy hosting developmental camps for boys and girls in grades two through eight focusing on the skills and development of athletes. May has 30 years' coaching experience in the Mid Suburban League at Palatine High School and 25 years' experience as a Palatine High School teacher. May holds a Masters in Education and Counseling and is the parent of four children ages 13, 11, 10, and 8. In 2005, May was awarded the Illinois High School Sportsmanship Award.

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

A brother-and-sister team are opening a yoga studio in downtown Elgin that will offer heated yoga and discounts for first responders, veterans and medical professionals. Kevin Castro, 24, and Evelyn Alba, 29, are the owners of Vida Yoga and Fitness at 50 S. Grove Ave., which will have a ribbon cutting and soft opening with food and refreshments 4 to 7 p.m. Friday. The business was issued a certificate of occupancy Monday; classes start Saturday.

The siblings are from Streamwood but say they always had a special connection to Elgin. Castro grew up playing with the Elgin Pumas Soccer Club and is a strength and conditioning coordinator for the team. Their uncle is a co-owner and director of operations for Intra Sports Complex in Elgin.

"We wanted to bring something for the community here in Elgin," Alba said. "We're right in the heart of downtown, so it's nice." Alba, who lives in Streamwood, will teach yoga classes and Castro will teach group fitness classes in the commercial space that has never been occupied. Castro lives above the studio in the Fountain Square condo building, where he moved about six months ago. Alba said she trained at TriBalance Yoga School in Schaumburg and taught until recently at Bloom Wellness Center in Bartlett.

The Elgin studio will offer hatha, vinyasa, restorative and yin yoga, and heated yoga classes will have a 90-degree temperature, she said. Castro said he graduated in 2013 from the National Personal Training Institute in Lisle. He expects his classes will have 10 to 12 people working with weights, squat racks, suspension training and more, he said. The siblings said their discount pricing is about supporting the community and being grateful to those who help others.

"We are both very loving, so that helped us in opening up the business," Alba said. "There are times when we argue, but we always come to an agreement. We love what we do." For more information visit vidayogaandfitness.com.

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Copyright 2018 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.
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The New York Post

 

Still feel groggy after setting your clock back last weekend? You're not alone. Experts say that the end of daylight saving time — and the curtain of darkness that falls at 4:30 p.m. every day — can wreak strange havoc on our bodies and minds for days after the fact.

"It's like a little bit of jet lag — just like flying to Chicago," Saul Rothenberg, Ph.D., a psychologist and sleep specialist in Connecticut and Long Island, tells The Post. Although he says some people aren't affected too badly by the "extra" hour of sleep, with symptoms limited to "general grogginess" or nothing at all, more sensitive types "may experience stomach issues like diarrhea."

The worst health risks of daylight saving time mostly occur in March: Heart attacks jump 25 percent the Monday after we "spring forward" and lose an hour of sleep, according to the American College of Cardiology.

Still, people with heart disease should know that sleep-cycle disruption of any kind can precipitate a rise in heart rate and blood pressure that can lead to a heart attack, says Dr. Benjamin Hirsh, director of preventive cardiology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, LI.

"The heart responds to routine," says Hirsh.

"Recent studies demonstrate that any disruption in the hormonal regulatory cycle," such as a change in sleeping patterns, "can be a trigger for heart attacks," he says.

Knowing these risks, why is daylight saving time still so widely practiced? Since the time change was first enacted in 1918, to allow more daylight for working hours and to conserve energy, its purported purpose has changed numerous times throughout its 100-year history. Today, it is seen by many to be outdated and inefficient, and some states, such as Arizona and Hawaii, don't follow it at all.

But a change of laws regulating daylight saving time may soon be on the way-too-dark horizon. Massachusetts and Maine have bills in their legislatures proposing to ditch the time change. Florida has passed a bill, but requires federal approval to change the policy. And on Tuesday, California will vote on the issue.

And New York could be next. Assemblyman Clyde Vanel, D-Queens, introduced a bill at the end of this year's legislative session — which he plans to reintroduce next year pending a successful re-election Tuesday — to create a task force that will study whether New York state should eliminate the time change completely.

He was inspired to see what our society would be like with more sunlight, especially in winter, after visiting Europe last year, where it didn't get dark until around 9:30 p.m.

"It would be interesting to see how eliminating the time change would affect mental health and productivity," Vanel says. He also consulted other assembly members from upstate farming areas. "I have some members from the agricultural parts of New York state that are interested in keeping the extended light hours."

Vanel says that he did some research on his own, but "no one had a good answer" about any of the issues surrounding daylight saving time. He hopes the task force can provide a report to the assembly, senate and governor within the next year.

"I don't imagine a New York where it's still light out at 10 p.m.," says Vanel. "But when it gets dark at 4 p.m., it's too early. We aren't vampires."

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

News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

GREENSBORO — Officials at Durham's Jordan High School say they are investigating allegations made by the mother of a Page boys soccer player that her son was taunted with chants about his deceased father during a playoff game Thursday night in Durham.

Nancy Winkler, whose son Eric is a senior goalkeeper for the Pirates, made a Facebook post at 4:22 p.m. Saturday. In the post, Winkler said she believes the students at Jordan targeted her son and another Page player based on information they learned from social media. Their taunts, she said, focused on family tragedies as students chanted "Where's your dad?" at her son during the game after peppering him with vulgar comments directed at his girlfriend, whose name they also had found on social media. Nancy Winkler's husband, Michael, died in 2015 after a lengthy battle with colon cancer.

Jordan's principal, Susan Stewart Taylor, and athletics director, Shelba Levins, released a statement Sunday.

"We are investigating the allegations of hurtful, personal statements made from spectators to members of the opposing team," the statement read. "The assistant principal, athletic director and other adults at the game were working to ensure a safe environment and were not aware of the reported behaviors at the time. The statements reported would be against the values of respect and sportsmanship that we uphold at Jordan High."

William "Chip" Sudderth, chief communications officer for Durham Public Schools, said Monday afternoon that "Principal Taylor is communicating with spectators who were in the stands at Thursday night's game and the investigation is continuing." Sudderth declined to make Taylor or Levins available to answer questions, and he did not say when he expected their investigation to be completed.

Page principal Erik Naglee issued a statement on the incident that read: "It is unfortunate and unacceptable that our student-athletes were subject to personal attacks during a recent soccer match. We expect our students to show good sportsmanship and fair play on and off the field, and we expect the same from our opponents. With that said, I'm proud of the strength of character our students showed that evening."

NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker issued a statement Monday saying the association "is aware of the allegations." Tucker added, "We expect better behavior from those in and around our member schools and are examining ways that NCHSAA expectations for players, coaches and particularly fans, can be better communicated and understood by those on the local level."

Efforts to reach Nancy Winkler on Monday were unsuccessful. But as of 4:45 p.m. Monday, her Facebook post about the incident had nearly 670 comments, nearly all supporting her family, and nearly 1,400 shares. But for the Winklers, the damage has been done.

"The loss of my husband... is by far the worst personal tragedy of our lives," Nancy Winkler wrote in her Facebook post. "That tragedy was exploited, and most concerning, used in a premeditated attack on (Eric) and our family in order to gain leverage in a soccer game."

She also said in her post that the Jordan students targeted another player whose "father committed suicide amidst allegations of embezzlement. These fans had researched this fact and shouted, 'Where's the money?' multiple times at him as well."

Page lost 2-0 to Jordan, which advanced to play Reynolds tonight in Winston-Salem in the second round of the playoffs. But the taunting didn't end after the game, Nancy Winkler said.

"When the game ended," she wrote in her Facebook post, "the verbal assault continued and escalated to an argument between my son and fans from Jordan. My older son, Jarod, who was also in attendance, proceeded to walk out onto the field and console and calm his brother. Jarod was then scolded by someone I presume was the athletic director and yelled at to 'get off the field.' "

Levins, Jordan's athletics director, has not addressed Nancy Winkler's allegations that she yelled at Jarod Winkler.

"I mean, honestly I cried from Durham back to Greensboro because it just ripped open a scab," Nancy Winkler told TV station WRAL in Raleigh. "My husband suffered and he fought, fought, fought to stay here for these kids."

"It was pretty tough on me because he was my best friend," Eric Winkler told WRAL. "Growing up he was always there for me and to hear, 'Where's your dad at?' That's pretty hard to swallow. I play socce