Source: GoodLife Fitness

CEO urges Canadians to show support for those affected by autism spectrum disorder

[London, ON]— GoodLife Fitness will illuminate its Home Office building in blue lights this Sunday, April 2, as part of the ‘Light it Up Blue’ campaign to mark World Autism Awareness Day.

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Palm Beach Daily News

 

Mayor Gail Coniglio said it was a "failure to communicate."

Town Councilwoman Bobbie Lindsay said a mistake was made.

Councilwoman Julie Araskog said, however, that Town Manager Tom Bradford overstepped his authority and acted contrary to a council directive.

And the other council members all said at a tense meeting on Thursday that they understood what they were voting on when the council on Feb. 14 unanimously approved a $33,088 contract for preconstruction work for a new Seaview Park recreation center.

However interpreted, Bradford's decision to commit the town to pay one-third of the $33,088 -- if and when the center gets built -- will stand, even though council members were told by town staff members before voting that Hedrick Brothers Construction would be paid with a "100 percent donation" from the Friends of Recreation fundraising group.

Council President Richard Kleid said Thursday that under Robert's Rules of Order, the opportunity to reconsider the vote has passed. The council could set aside Robert's Rules for a motion to reconsider, he said. But all council members and Coniglio agreed it would be unwise to set that precedent.

Araskog had requested the matter be placed on Thursday's agenda after she and the other officials learned, in a March 17 email from Bradford, that he interpreted the town to be responsible for one-third of the $33,088 contract cost. Bradford explained that under a previously established agreement between the town and the Mandel Foundation, which has agreed to help pay for the new center, each of three parties pay one-third of all costs that fall within the project budget.

Bradford said Thursday that, after the Feb. 14 vote, he received a letter from Michael Ainslie, representing Friends of Recreation, asking him to sign a letter acknowledging that the group's donation would be counted toward the project budget, meaning Friends of Recreation would be obligated for one-third of the $33,088 if the center is built. The town and Mandel would each be responsible for one-third as well.

Araskog said she would never have voted to authorize Bradford to sign the contract if she had been told the town was obligated to share in the cost.

Araskog said that under the Town Charter, "contracts are to be made according to the guidance of the Town Council."

"Tom's email said it was 'the fair thing to do,' not what the council voted," Araskog said. "I don't believe he has this authority... what was most important was our intention up here, and what was stated to the public."

Lindsay said she too voted for the resolution with the understanding that Friends of Recreation was responsible for the $33,088.

"I did not have the understanding of the rest of my colleagues," Lindsay said, referring to Kleid, Danielle Moore and Margaret Zeidman. "I assumed, erroneously I believe now, that it was a donation."

Araskog said Ainslie, Deputy Town Manager Jay Boodheshwar and Recreation Director Beth Zickar all assured her at a Feb. 16 meeting that the $33,088 payment to Hedrick was being covered in full by the Friends of Recreation donation.

The town received a check from Friends of Recreation for $33,088 on Feb. 17; Ainslie said in an interview Thursday that Friends of Recreation covered the entire preconstruction contract amount.

The council has not made its final vote on the center. If it decides not to build it, Friends of Recreation will absorb the entire $33,088 expense and the town will have paid nothing, Ainslie said.

But if the council decides to build the center, the town, the Mandel Foundation and Friends of Recreation will each be obligated to pay one-third of the total $11.1 million project cost, including $33,088 for preconstruction services, Ainslie said. In that case, Friends of Recreation's $33,088 check will be treated as an advance payment toward its $3.7 million share, he said.

Ainslie said he and Boodheshwar explained all of that to Araskog at the Feb. 16 meeting.

-- wkelly@ pbdailynews.com

Credit: William Kelly Daily News Staff Writer

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Copyright 2017 News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

GREENSBORO - A law most legislators did not like, let alone embrace, might be innocuous enough to bring college sports championships back to North Carolina.

Definitely maybe.

"Sports are coming back," Gov. Roy Cooper said in a speech Thursday announcing that he had signed House Bill 142 into law.

The new law is a compromise that repealed and replaced House Bill 2, the "bathroom bill" enacted in March 2016 that the NCAA and ACC viewed as discriminatory against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Both sports organizations moved all neutral-site championship events out of North Carolina.

But hours after a long day of political wrangling in Raleigh, both the NCAA and ACC merely hinted that HB 142 could convince them to lift their boycotts.

HB 142 "allows the opportunity to reopen the discussion with the ACC Council of Presidents regarding neutral-site conference championships being held in the state," ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in an emailed statement.

"This discussion will take place in the near future, and following any decisions... announcements will be forthcoming," he said.

Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA, echoed Swofford's statement during his news conference in Phoenix in the run-up to the Final Four.

"(NCAA) committees have been waiting to see whether or not North Carolina was going to change their laws," Emmert said Thursday. "And then they have to wait and see whether or not the Board of Governors will determine whether or not this bill that was recently passed today is a sufficient change in the law for the board to feel comfortable going back to North Carolina."

The NCAA's board is scattered, Emmert said, but "in the next handful of days" it will find a time to meet. A decision is expected early next week.

"I'm personally very pleased that they have a bill to debate and discuss," Emmert said. "The politics of this in North Carolina are obviously very, very difficult. But they have passed a bill now and it will be a great opportunity for our board to sit and debate and discuss it."

Future events

A lot is at stake. The NCAA awards Division I, II and III sports championships in four-year cycles. All sites for the next cycle, which runs through the 2021-22 school year, will be announced April 18.

Unless the NCAA's boycott is lifted, North Carolina will get none.

Greensboro alone has bid on 53 NCAA championship events that amount to $118 million in economic impact, according to the Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"College championships are a big part of our culture in North Carolina. It's a big deal," said Kim Strable, the president of the Greensboro Sports Commission. "We want to compete and serve our citizens. A lot of people's jobs depend on tourism and the sports industry. We want to play - whether it's the NCAA or any other sports opportunity. We hang our hat on being Tournament Town. It's a destination for a lot of sports activities.... It means a great deal to us if an obstacle to what we do is removed."

For a year, HB 2 has been that obstacle. In September 2016, the NCAA and ACC pulled 17 championship events out of the state in response to the law.

Compromise

The compromise bill became law in large part because of a Thursday deadline set by the NCAA for the state to be eligible to host championships over the next five years.

Neither side of the political debate was pleased with the compromise law.

State Rep. Bert Jones, a Republican from Reidsville, suggested lowering the U.S. and North Carolina flags over the state Capitol to "fly the flag of a certain intercollegiate association and a white flag" over the building.

"What we are doing... stains the dignity of this body," Jones said.

Groups supporting LGBT rights panned the law, dubbing it "HB 2.0" on social media.

State Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Democrat from Greensboro, said she enjoys having basketball and other sports in North Carolina. But Harrison said she was troubled that the NCAA's boycott and deadline that drove HB 142 through the legislature.

"I don't think it's a good bill," she said, adding, "I think we're at the point where even a bad bill starts to sound moderate.... As much as I want to see a solution, this is one I can't support."

Jones and Harrison voted against HB 142. Both were in the minority.

A 'black eye'

In the end, HB 142 was a law likely passed for economic reasons.

HB 2 hurt. Just two weeks ago, the first- and second-round games of NCAA men's basketball tournament were played in Greenville, S.C., instead of the Greensboro Coliseum.

In the sports world, there's a lot riding on the new law, said Matt Brown, the coliseum's managing director.

"There are many wider-ranging impacts across other organizations that are important to us," Brown said. "The focus has traditionally been on ACC or NCAA, but we have other national championship concerns with groups such as USA Swimming and things of that nature. This could have a far greater impact of getting us back into the business we've been so successful in doing."

And the impact runs deeper than just dollars and cents.

"It's more a relief to me that there's been an effort to remove the black eye that our state has carried for the last year," Brown said. "North Carolina has always had a great national reputation for being a progressive state. To have this black mark against our name and carry it around for so long, it's been demeaning."

Contact Jeff Mills at (336) 373-7024, and follow @JeffMillsNR on Twitter.

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San Angelo Standard-Times (Texas)

 

As North Carolina lawmakers voted Thursday to revise that state's "bathroom bill," Texas Republicans pushing a similar measure said they are not backing away from their proposal.

"North Carolina appears to be replacing their original law with a new measure that is similar to our state's SB 6, the Texas Privacy Act," Republican state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, the author of the Texas proposal, said in a statement. She added it's "no surprise the Texas Privacy Act is seen as a thoughtful solution to protect everyone equally while allowing businesses to set their own policy."

North Carolina lawmakers on Thursday signed off on a revision to its "bathroom bill" - a controversial 2016 law regulating bathroom use that required people to use public bathrooms based on their "biological sex." A recent AP analysis indicated the measure would cost the state more a $3.76 billion price tag over a dozen years.

The North Carolina deal, quickly signed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, repeals the "biological sex" restrictions, which kept most transgender people from using public bathrooms that match their gender identity.

But the compromise between Cooper and Republican lawmakers still prohibits cities, government agencies and school districts from allowing transgender individuals to use public bathrooms based on gender identity, meaning bathroom regulations would be left to the state. It also enacts a three-year ban on the creation of local nondiscrimination ordinances that regulate private employment practices and public accommodations, including bathrooms.

The Texas proposal includes some of the original restrictions that North Carolina is now repealing. Kolkhorst's Senate Bill 6 would limit bathroom use in government buildings on the basis of "biological sex" rather than gender identity and would nix local anti-discrimination laws meant to allow transgender residents to use public bathrooms based on gender identity.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican who has championed the bathroom proposal, said Thursday that North Carolina revised its law "to focus on the same issues we addressed with Senate Bill 6."

"North Carolina has affirmed that only the state can regulate policies regarding public school and government building restrooms, showers and changing facilities," Patrick said in a statement.

While Republicans have pushed the legislation as a means to keep men out of women's bathrooms, the Texas proposal - like the North Carolina measure - has been criticized as discriminatory against transgender people. It has also drawn fierce opposition from members of the business community who fear it could lead to event cancellations similar to those North Carolina experienced.

Among those cancellations was the NCAA's decision to move seven 2016-17 championship games out of the state. The NCAA has at least eight events scheduled in Texas through 2019, including the 2018 Men's Final Four, which is slated to be held in San Antonio.

North Carolina reportedly moved toward a compromise on the legislation to avoid losing college sports championships through 2022. Arguing North Carolina lawmakers "panicked" over the deadline, Patrick rejected the notion of allowing the NCAA "dictate the states on policies."

"They can take away our basketball games," Patrick said during a Thursday morning radio interview on The Mark Davis Show. "I'm not going to let the NCAA run the state of Texas. This is absurd."

The NCAA has yet to weigh in on Texas' proposed "bathroom bill."

Meanwhile, tourism officials from big Texas cities have warned that the proposal could cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. Almost a week after Houston hosted Super Bowl LI, the NFL raised the prospect that SB 6 could impact future championship football games in Texas. And in a statement regarding Texas' proposal, the NBA has indicated it considers "a wide range of factors when making decisions about host locations for league-wide events like the All-Star Game; foremost among them is ensuring an environment where those who participate and attend are treated fairly and equally."

Pointing to the North Carolina vote, representatives for the Texas business community on Thursday indicated it should serve as another warning sign for Texas lawmakers.

"The turmoil of the past year, coupled with today's action by North Carolina lawmakers, should send a loud and clear message to our own Texas Legislature: reject Senate Bill 6, a discriminatory and unnecessary bill that does nothing to address safety," Texas Association of Business president Chris Wallace said in a statement.

Regardless of the North Carolina vote, the fate of the Texas "bathroom bill" - which has been approved by the state Senate - depends on the Texas House, where it's unlikely to gain much traction. House Speaker Joe Straus opposes the legislation and has decried it as "manufactured and unnecessary."

Straus has indicated the measure is headed to the State Affairs committee.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans - and engages with them - about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

HARRISBURG -- The foreman of the jury that convicted former Pennsylvania State University president Graham B. Spanier of child endangerment said Thursday that he believes the verdict was a "mistake" and that he was conflicted about not changing his vote and possibly forcing a mistrial.

Richard Black, a 78-year-old retired truck driver from Dauphin County, said he was the last holdout at the end of deliberations but has since made peace with the jury's decision last week.

Still, Black said that if he saw Spanier today, he'd say: "I'm sorry." He also said he wishes the once-prominent Penn State president had taken the stand and told his side of the story in the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

"I don't care how many mistakes you make in a lifetime … you have to reach a point somewhere where you can live with your mistake," Black said. "In this particular case, I can live with it -- even though I feel it was wrong -- because it was an honest endeavor. Twelve people sat in that room and hammered back and forth, and honestly did what they were asked to do."

His comments came during a lengthy interview in the state Capitol, during which Black began by saying he believed the jury's decision was correct but later acknowledged he had deep misgivings about it.

It's unclear whether his comments could impact or help Spanier's plans to appeal the verdict. Black didn't describe misconduct by the jury, but instead stuck to his personal views of the evidence in the case.

What is more certain: His words are likely to deepen the divide over the split verdict and what it means to the Penn State faithful.

After more than a day of deliberations, the Dauphin County panel of seven women and five men last Friday convicted Spanier, 68, of misdemeanor child endangerment for not taking steps to alert child-welfare authorities in 2001 after learning Sandusky had been caught showering with a boy after hours in a campus locker room.

The prosecution said several times during the trial that four more victims were sexually assaulted by Sandusky after that 2001 incident.

The jury acquitted Spanier of the more serious felony conspiracy and endangerment charges, and downgraded what had been a felony endangerment charge to a misdemeanor.

In the interview, Black said that after listening to the testimony and reviewing documentary evidence, he believed Spanier had not been given enough information by his underlings in 2001 to realize the gravity of the incident.

"I don't think Graham Spanier knew" that Sandusky had sexually assaulted the boy, he said. "They did not make him understand how serious a condition this might be."

In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this week, another juror, Victoria Navazio, said Spanier's own words in a 2001 email exchange amounted to some of the strongest evidence against him.

Only Spanier could have helped clear that up, Black said.

Before the trial, sources close to him indicated the longtime Penn State president was eager to take the stand and defend himself.

But after less-than-damning testimony from the two men expected to be star witnesses against him -- former athletic director Timothy Curley and vice president Gary Schultz -- Spanier's lawyers chose not to call him and instead argue that the prosecution failed to prove its case. Facing the same felony charges as Spanier, Curley and Schultz cut deals and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor endangerment count days before Spanier's trial began, and agreed to testify against Spanier.

Had Spanier taken the stand, Black said, the jury foreman said he would have remained a holdout during deliberations.

"Definitely," Black said when asked whether Spanier's testimony would have led him to hang the jury. "Because even with the way it was, I came that close."

A deadlocked jury could have led Judge John Boccabella to declare a mistrial.

Spanier's lawyer, Sam Silver, said Thursday he could not comment on the matter.

Though the verdict closed the remaining criminal case related to the Sandusky scandal, the fallout over who knew what and when at Penn State about Sandusky continues.

During his trial, the former university president was surrounded by supporters who have fiercely defended him and his actions since the scandal erupted in late 2011.

One of the most outspoken supporters has been Penn State trustee Al Lord, who told the Chronicle of Higher Education in an email this past weekend that he was "running out of sympathy" for "so-called" victims.

"Running out of sympathy for 35 yr old, so-called victims with 7 digit net worth," Lord said in the email to the Chronicle on Saturday. "Do not understand why they were so prominent in trial. As you learned, Graham Spanier never knew Sandusky abused anyone."

Juror: Ex-PSU president's own words showed he knew of Sandusky allegations

Former Penn State president guilty of endangering children in Sandusky case

On PSU campus, few notice Spanier conviction

Curley: 'I should have done more' to stop Sandusky

Second Mile CEO: Penn State claimed review of Sandusky shower claim found 'nothing inappropriate'

 

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USA TODAY

 

Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law Thursday a compromise bill to roll back HB2, the measure on bathroom access and discrimination that colored the state's image and sparked bickering among residents and political leaders after it was passed a little more than a year ago.

The compromise measure, approved earlier in the day by the state General Assembly, repeals the law but keeps some aspects of HB2 in place in a different form, disappointing LGBT rights groups who led much of the opposition to the bill and wanted a complete repeal.

But legislators supporting the bill approved Thursday said both sides had to compromise to remove the shadow HB2 casts over the state and end moves by the NCAA and some entertainers and corporations to avoid North Carolina. Cooper called the measure "the best deal that we could get."

"If we're going to move forward, we have to take it a step at a time," said Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake.

The bill passed the state Senate 32-16 and the House 70-48 with members of both parties split. Cooper, a Democrat, worked out the compromise with leaders of the Republican-dominated legislature.

Some legislators voted against the bill because they wanted to keep HB2 on the books. Others voted "no" because it falls short of a full repeal.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said Thursday evening at a Final Four news conference that the NCAA's board of governors have to determine over the course of the next few days whether the bill "was sufficient change in the law" and added that the NCAA "doesn't consider itself an entity that has any business telling a state what their laws should be." ACC commissioner John Swofford said the legislation creates an opportunity to "reopen the discussion with the ACC Council of Presidents regarding neutral site conference championships in North Carolina" and said the discussion "will take place in the near future."

Based on what the NCAA's board of governors outlined in September when it decided to relocate championship events from North Carolina, HB142 does not appear to meet the association's requirements on discriminatory measures.

The legislature adopted HB2 in March 2016 in response to a move by Charlotte City Council to ban discrimination against LGBT people in public accommodations and employment. HB2 said local governments could not take such actions and that people must use the bathroom or changing room that corresponds to the sex listed on their birth certificate, a provision that was especially troubling to transgender people.

In response, entertainers like Bruce Springsteen canceled plans to perform in the state and companies including PayPal reversed plans to expand in North Carolina. HB2 was a major issue in last year's gubernatorial campaign, in which Cooper narrowly unseated Republican Pat McCrory, who had signed HB2 the same day it passed the legislature.

There have been sporadic attempts to repeal the law over the past year. The NCAA is making decisions now over where tournaments and championships will be held over the next several years, a process that created more urgency for legislative action.

Cooper credited the NCAA's concerns with playing a major role in prompting Republican legislative leaders to act and said they might not have agreed to any changes otherwise. But he said more was at stake than sporting events in this college basketball-crazy state.

"House Bill 2 was wrong in and of itself," he said.

The NCAA moved some games in the early rounds of this year's men's basketball tournament out of North Carolina because of HB2. Its influence on the debate rankled HB2 backers, who said HB2 is necessary to keep men out of women's restrooms.

The compromise bill says state law will govern access to restrooms, showers and changing facilities built to accommodate more than one person, but it removes the HB2 language about who may use which restroom. It prevents local governments from regulating private employment practices or public accommodations until December 2020, when that provision will expire.

Cities and counties would then be able to enact non-discrimination ordinances if they choose.

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

OAK RIDGE - Excuse Jim Rogers if he feels a little like a teenager who just got his first credit card.

"The eighth lane is sweet," said Rogers, regatta chairman for the Oak Ridge Rowing Association.

The $598,000 project to add an eighth lane to the rowing venue at Melton Hill Lake, completed March 1, opens up a lot of options.

The water surface on the lake has long been recognized as among the best in the United States for rowing. The Tennessee Valley Authority controls water flow to the lake and, being surrounded by hills, the surface can be almost mirror-like at times.

Though Milton Hill has hosted numerous events through the years and serves as a training venue for a legion of college and club rowing teams, the venue has been held back on getting some major events because it hasn't offer eight lanes.

Rogers said bigger races like to have eight lanes available in order to use a seven-lane format with an eighth lane available for race support.

"(Before construction) We could run six-lanes all day, but the seventh was tricky," he said. "The construction allows us to run seven-lane progressions at all times."

Which means ORRA can now make much stronger bid for such events as the NCAA Championships, the Club Nationals and the US. Rowing Southeast Regional Championships. None of those races are coming to Oak Ridge this year, but perhaps one could the next or in 2019.

The big event this year is the USRowing Masters Nationals on Aug. 17-20. Melton Hill has been the venue for that event before, in 2004 and 2007. The eight-lane set-up will make it much better.

"We can now run full eight-lane progressions for the 1,000-meter Masters Spring course," Rogers said.

Other races that could use all of the lanes this year are the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Regatta on April 14-15 and the Dogwood Junior Championship Regatta on April 29-30.

Getting that lane wasn't easy. It required making a cut about 500-feet long into the shoreline on the Oak Ridge side of the lake.

Funding sources included the state of Tennessee, $250,000; Oak Ridge, $150,000; Tennessee tourism, $40,000; Oak Ridge Rowing Association; Explore Oak Ridge: and Visit Knoxville.

First Place Finish Inc. was awarded the contract in September 2016 and began work in mid-November.

Several hundred dump-truck loads of dirt needed to be removed, a retaining wall installed and gravel back filled. The last step was installing a greenway path and rail fencing.

The new lanes were installed in mid-February. The improved course is accessible to rowers including local clubs and visiting teams.

The first event of the rowing season, the Louisville Cardinal Invitational Regatta, was held March 10-12.

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The Daily News of Los Angeles

 

When the Kings and Vancouver Canucks hit the ice for two exhibition games in China in September, it will mark the NHL's first determined strides into the world's most populous country. The league, its players' union and Chinese sports officials made it official today in Beijing.

The Kings and Canucks will face off Sept. 21 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai and then again Sept. 23 at LeSports Center in Beijing, a pair of exhibitions dubbed the 2017 NHL China Games. The games will be the start of a long-term plan to plant the seeds of hockey in China.

The 2022 Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing.

"We look forward to our first games in China and to a variety of initiatives that will inspire generations of Chinese players and fans to enjoy our sport," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "We recognize the importance of helping China build a strong national hockey program and are committed to supporting that priority in every way possible."

Mathieu Schneider of the NHL Players Association, Kings business operations president Luc Robitaille, Canucks president of hockey operations Trevor Linden and a number of Chinese officials also were on hand for an on-ice news conference at LeSports Center.

Robitaille, a Hall of Fame player with the Kings, said in a statement it was "a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China." He also said, "Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in."

The Kings and Canucks, along with several other NHL teams, have held youth hockey camps in China in recent years. However, it will the Kings' first trip to Asia to play in a game, and the second for the Canucks.

The NHL has coveted China, and its 1.3 billion citizens, for years. But until now the league hasn't embraced it in the manner of the NBA. China's Yao Ming become a household name while with the Houston Rockets, before the NBA players participated in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

The Kings opened the 2007-08 regular season with two games against the Ducks at the O2 Arena in London. In addition, they began the 2011-12 regular season by playing the New York Rangers in Stockholm and then the Buffalo Sabres in Berlin.

The Ducks and Canucks played the NHL's first regular-season games outside of North America when they met for two games in Tokyo to start the 1997-98 season. The games served as a prelude to the NHL's entry into the Winter Olympics, which were held in Nagano, Japan, in 1998.

It remains to be seen if the NHL will send its players to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Bettman told a Canadian radio reporter last week to "assume we're not going." A definitive decision is expected as soon as Saturday.

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Copyright 2017 The Arizona Daily Star. All Rights Reserved.

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

 

A deal between the University of Arizona and the city of Tucson will keep Hi Corbett Field open for another generation of baseball fans.

Under the 25-year agreement, the UA will take over the day-to-day management of the baseball stadium, which was once the spring training home of the Colorado Rockies and Cleveland Indians.

The city will forgo the $262,000 in annual rent and the university will assume the maintenance of the aging facility and has pledged to invest more than $3 million into the stadium, where the Wildcats baseball team practices nearly year-round and plays its home games.

The UA will pay the city $10 per year in rent under the new lease and the city will also get 2 percent of food, beverage and merchandise sales at the stadium.

The Wildcats moved to Hi Corbett from the on-campus Kindall/Sancet Stadium at the start of the 2012 season, then promptly won the College World Series.

The Wildcats drew an average of 3,043 fans per game at Hi Corbett in 2016, the 19th-best total attendance mark in the country for NCAA Division I baseball teams and the top attendance for teams in the West region.

Suzy Mason, the UA's senior associate athletic director in charge of operations, said the UA will invest in new lights, stadium seating and batting cages, as well as other investments.

Hi Corbett is one of the NCAA's oldest facilities: It opened in 1927 and was host to a handful of semi-pro teams. The Indians began holding spring training there in 1946.

Mason said both the university and the city benefit from the new agreement.

"It's sort of a win-win for both sides," she said.

The university had already made some large investments in the property before the agreement, installing some new seating, a new electronic scoreboard as well as a new netting system. The latter removed several large columns that made it difficult for some fans to watch the game.

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, an avid San Francisco Giants fan, remembers spending many afternoons watching spring training games at Hi Corbett. "This is a great deal," Rothschild said.

 

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The Bismarck Tribune

 

GRAND FORKS (AP) - University of North Dakota athletic department officials said Wednesday that budget cuts ordered by the school president have forced them to eliminate three sports, including a women's hockey program loaded with Olympians.

The school also is dropping men's and women's swimming in order to meet UND President Mark Kennedy's directive to trim about $1.3 million out of athletics. The move is part of ongoing budget cuts due in large part to the state's bleak financial situation.

UND athletic director Brian Faison called it a sad day and said it's an ongoing challenge to find revenue sources.

"We've had records every year in fundraising, we've had records in ticket sales, we've had records in sponsorships, but we still can't get there," he said.

The women's hockey program, which began in 2002, reached the NCAA quarterfinals two straight years when twin sisters and U.S. Olympians Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux played for the team. Eight UND players represented three countries in the 2014 Olympics.

Women's hockey coach Brian Idalski declined to comment Wednesday, saying he would be busy for several days taking care of players and recruits.

Katie Million, commissioner of the women's league of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, said the announcement was "excruciatingly sad" for UND, the WCHA and the sport of women's hockey.

The two swimming programs were powerhouses at the Division II level, each winning more than 20 conference titles from the mid-80s through 2008, when the school moved to Division I athletics.

The move leaves UND athletics with 17 or 18 programs, depending on whether an effort to save men's golf is successful.

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Sarasota Herald Tribune (Florida)

 

NORTH PORT - The North Port City Commission decided Wednesday to seek a more versatile option than a 50-meter competition swimming pool for an aquatic center at Butler Park.

Instead, the board unanimously voted to ask consultant Kimley-Horn and Associates to design an aquatic center similar to one built in Rogers, Arkansas, that features a 25-yard pool that would be suitable for most high school and college swim meets. As part of that trade-off, the water park would feature more elaborate recreational features, including water slides and a lazy river.

The decision represents a course change from January, when the same board reaffirmed its desire to build a 50-meter pool and lazy river at the park, adjacent to the Morgan Family Community Center.

At that time, the 50-meter pool was envisioned as an economic driver that would attract college and perhaps international swim meets and spur hotel development and - because of its size - be considered a regional project that would qualify for tourism development funds.

Since then, commissioners realized that most local tourism money will likely be dedicated to spring training baseball, and international competitions were a longshot at best.

And once they saw Kimley-Horn's projection that a 50-meter pool and lazy river would likely cost $9 million, sticker shock was a factor, too.

"We went from a $5.6 million pool to $9 million with today's construction costs," Mayor Linda Yates noted.

The city has about $2.3 million budgeted for the Butler Park pool project. That money comes primarily from the local one-cent sales tax. Park impact fees may also be used to help pay for a new pool. As part of its vote to authorize the consultants to bring back a design concept, the board asked staff to identify other possible funding sources.

"If you can decide to move forward soon, I think a $10 million budget will get you a good balanced facility," said Mark Hatchel, vice president and senior aquatic planner at Kimley-Horn.

City Commissioner Chris Hanks, who moved to North Port from Arkansas, brought up the Rogers Aquatics Center as a successful, heavily used park that brought in visitors from several nearby counties.

"My purpose is showing what you can do in a limited space," said Hanks, who noted that the Rogers park was designed on less land than North Port has available at Butler Park.

Hatchel said the park in Rogers is the type of facility that could draw people from within 100 miles - provided similar facilities aren't closer.

Instead of a 25-yard by 50-meter pool, the Butler Park facility would house what's referred to as a stretch 25-yard pool, roughly 25 yards by 42 yards, with a bulkhead that would divide a portion of the pool for cool down lanes or other use. The pool would still feature one-meter and three-meter diving boards.

The facility would also include a lazy river, water slides, a children's pool, shaded rest areas, and a concession stand/bathroom facility - the size and scope of each will be decided by budget constraints.

Kimley-Horn will work on a potential facility that would cost between $10 to $12 million for the board to consider as it seeks a facility that Yates said would be "competitive for our schools but recreational."

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Star-News (Wilmington, NC)

 

CHAPEL HILL-- North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham has stopped trying to project when the NCAA case tied to the school s multi-year academic scandal will reach a conclusion.

That's because procedural hurdles, delays, even the NCAA's struggle to settle on charges have the case crawling through the governing body's infractions system. In the meantime, the Tar Heels basketball program keeps rolling along; North Carolina is making its second straight trip to college basketball's biggest stage at the Final Four, taking on Oregon in Phoenix.

As I've mentioned numerous times, I've been inaccurate on estimating a timeline, Cunningham said in an interview with The Associated Press, And I think it would be inappropriate to try to estimate a timeline now.

The Tar Heels (31-7) will arrive in Phoenix with the buzz of beating Kentucky, riding Luke Maye's last-second shot into a record 20th Final Four a year after losing to Villanova on a final-play 3-pointer in the title game.

They don't focus on the academic case that continues to linger in the background, one tied to irregularities in an academic department and leading to five broad-based charges against the school that include lack of institutional control. It grew as an offshoot of a 2010 probe into the football probe, meaning the current basketball players and athletes across campus, for that matter were years away from arriving in Chapel Hill when it began.

The subject will likely be a topic of conversation in Arizona, particularly during NCAA President Mark Emmert's scheduled news conference on Thursday.

The case has gone on for a long time, Cunningham said. We are continuing to move through the process. And I can t comment on the specifics of the case, but certainly everyone would like to bring it to closure.

The NCAA reopened its investigation in summer 2014 and first charged UNC in a Notice of Allegations (NOA) filed in May 2015 . It then revised the charges in a second version last April, and then changed them again in a third version filed in December .

Considering the school gets 90 days to respond followed by the NCAA enforcement staff getting 60 days of its own, each NOA adds roughly five months to the process assuming there are no hiccups.

And there's currently yet another delay.

North Carolina and the NCAA work on a new schedule for the school to file its response to the third Notice of Allegations. That comes as the attorney for a woman at the center of the scandal said he is working to set up an interview after she had previously refused to speak with investigators.

It s unclear exactly how long the latest delay will be, but it's an illustration of why the case is stuck in a similar position as last year.

I know the public and the media may want this case to go fast, but this is a very serious and significant case, said Michael L. Buckner, a Florida-based attorney who has worked on infractions cases. For me doing this on a day-to-day basis, I applaud the NCAA and the university for being very deliberate, because this can impact UNC's championships. It can impact future student-athletes. It could impact the university's reputation.

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Copyright 2017 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Lombard Park District soon will break ground on a roughly $9.2 million project to build a recreation center on the former Fairwood School site at the southwest corner of Madison Meadow Park.

Park commissioners on Tuesday night approved 19 different bids totaling about $6.4 million for construction of the 38,000-square-foot, two-story building. The rest of the money for the project will pay for architectural fees, furniture, equipment and other expenses.

"I'm really excited to be here and a part of this," Commissioner Sarah Richardt said after the vote. "It's really a nice feeling to do good work."

Commissioner Greg Ludwig said he's excited about the project because the district finally will have its own gymnasium space.

"It's been 90 years in the waiting," Ludwig said.

Park officials said the plan is to start construction next month and finish the work by the end of June 2018.

The recreation center will house two full-size gymnasiums and an elevated running track. The first floor will include offices and two large multipurpose rooms. The second floor will have a 4,800-square-foot fitness center and locker rooms.

Group exercise classes, such as yoga, Pilates and Zumba, will be held in the facility, along with basketball, volleyball, pickleball and other sports leagues and programs. The fitness center is expected to hold 25 to 30 pieces of cardio equipment and seven to 10 weight machines, along with free weights.

The park district did a land swap with Lombard Elementary District 44 to acquire the 5.8-acre property where the center will be built. As part of the deal, the school district demolished the former Fairwood School building.

In exchange, District 44 was given 5.8 acres of park land next to Park View Elementary School. The park district also built a new playground for the school.

"It worked out great for both sides," Executive Director Paul Friedrichs said. "Now they have property north of one of their school buildings. If they ever need to expand, they have that property to do that."

The park district project will not require a tax increase, officials said, and will be funded by reserves, non-referendum bonds and money from future budgets.

Residents who responded to surveys in 2011 and 2013 supported a new indoor recreation facility, but not a tax increase.

The $9.2 million total cost for the project is about $1.6 million less than what park officials budgeted.

"It was a wonderful bidding environment," Friedrichs said. "We just caught everything at the right time."

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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

By most accounts, the WIAA got it right when it adopted an RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) to seed the state basketball tournaments this year.

Rating the teams on how they fared during the season for seeding purposes was much better than the archaic system of drawing names out of a hat.

The second year should be even better.

Lind-Ritzville/Sprague athletic director and football coach Greg Whitmore is the chairman of the WIAA's RPI committee. I asked him this week to give a letter grade for the first year.

"I'd give it a B," Whitmore said. "We were looking for a more accurate and transparent way to seed teams. Did we think it was perfect? No. We'll keep striving for an A."

The committee got together after the state tournaments to evaluate the first year. As expected, the committee made tweaks and those were passed on to the executive board.

The board ratified the changes at its March meeting two weekends ago.

This year, games played against out-of-state teams were considered to be against .500 teams - no matter the record of the opponent. Next year, those games will carry the same value as in-state games.

This year, the RPI was frozen at the end of the regular season. Next season, the rankings will include games through district tournaments.

Whitmore presented some interesting data to his committee. Of the 12 state champs crowned, six played in loser-out games on the first day at Spokane, Yakima and Tacoma. So including the games during the regional round the previous weekend, those state champs ended up playing an extra game.

Just one of the state champs in boys won a loser-out game and that came when Kentwood surged to the 4A title. In the girls, loser-out winners captured state titles in 4A, 3A, 2A, 1A and 2B.

"I know there were people that didn't like the fact you could lose as one of the top eight seeds and come back and win a state title," Whitmore said.

Just two teams that finished ranked No. 1 in the final RPI rankings - Bothell's girls and Clarkston's boys - failed to qualify for state.

Overall, Whitmore was pleased with how the first season turned out.

"We didn't think it was too bad and we're confident it'll be better (next year)," he said. "We'll continue to look at the formula as years go by."

Expanding the final fields from eight to 12 teams was well received.

"More kids got to experience a state tournament. That's what we wanted," Whitmore said.

The WIAA is open to adding an RPI system in football, boys and girls soccer, volleyball, baseball and softball. Whitmore said a survey was sent to athletic directors statewide seeking their suggestions on whether those sports should have an RPI seeding system as soon as next year.

Whitmore said the information will be presented to the board in late April.

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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

Republican leaders said late Wednesday that they have reached an agreement with Gov. Roy Cooper on repealing House Bill 2 but gave no details until a joint statement could be released later that evening.

No details had been released by 11 p.m.

"I support the House Bill 2 repeal compromise that will be introduced tomorrow," Cooper said in a statement Wednesday. "It's not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation."

The proposed committee substitution to HB 142 will be considered at 9:15 a.m. today, Senate leader Phil Berger said. The bill is in the Senate Rules Committee.

Legislators had been discussing proposals throughout the day and party leaders were negotiating with Cooper behind closed doors.

"It's been a very long day for all of us," House Speaker Tim Moore said.

The announcement followed a flurry of activity on repealing the law more commonly referred to as the "bathroom bill." Passed in a one-day special session last March, HB 2 limits LGBT nondiscrimination protections and requires transgender people to use public restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate.

The law already has prompted some businesses to halt expansions and some entertainers and sports organizations to cancel or move events, including the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte. An Associated Press analysis this week found that HB 2 already will cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years.

The NCAA already removed championship events this year from North Carolina. The group has said North Carolina sites also won't be considered for championship events from 2018 to 2022 "absent any change in the law." The NCAA said decisions for those events are being made starting this week and it will announce them in a few weeks.

Adding urgency, an NCAA source said Tuesday the state had two days to repeal the law or lose years of NCAA championship events.

Berger and Moore held a press conference Tuesday afternoon saying they had agreed in principle to a proposal by Cooper, but that he later denied making any deal. Cooper's office said issues still needed to be worked out, including a religious freedom provision that Democrats would not accept.

That night, Cooper met at the governor's mansion for more than two hours with Berger and Moore.

The News & Observer reported leaks appeared to reveal a compromise that would repeal HB 2, prevent cities from regulating bathrooms and locker rooms and prevent local governments from adopting anti-discrimination ordinances for three years. According to the newspaper, sources said House Republicans narrowly approved the compromise in a closed-door caucus, but in numbers that would require Democratic votes on the floor.

The Senate is expected to vote at 9:15 a.m. with the House to follow.

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Copyright 2017 Collier County Publishing Company
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Naples Daily News (Florida)

 

Exposure to secondhand smoke is harmful to all ages but especially kids, because they breathe more rapidly and absorb more pollutants.



If you must smoke, walk away from the Little League game.

Young lungs need to avoid secondhand smoke.

Tobacco Free Collier has joined forces with the Blue Zones Project to reduce kids' exposure to secondhand smoke at parks and ballfields operated around the county, said Robert Ostbye, the tobacco prevention specialist overseeing the program at the Florida Department of Health in Collier County.



The program has secured 150 signs that are being installed at parks that urge people to "please keep this area tobacco free" by not smoking or using electronic cigarettes where kids are playing.

The signs cost a little more than $2,300, and employees with the county's parks and recreation division are installing them around ballfields, splash pads, hard courts and playgrounds.

Since the Blue Zones Project was launched as a community initiative to improve residents' health, project leaders have been active with the tobacco free organization to establish short- and long-term tobacco policy objectives, Ostbye said.

"One of those original objectives was to establish voluntary smoke-free areas at county parks and recreation facilities," Ostbye said. "The opportunity to work with the county's parks and recreation department on these signs originated from a meeting between (the) county and Blue Zones Project staff."

County parks and recreation staff were on board to look at signs, and the project was a go, he said.

The Blue Zones Project of Southwest Florida was introduced to the region in 2015 based on the world travels of Dan Buettner, who identified communities where people share lifestyle traits and live to 100 or older. He wrote a New York Times best-seller outlining principles of longevity.

The community-wide undertaking involves voluntarily implementing health-focused changes in workplaces, schools, government entities, restaurants, grocery stores and physical settings so healthier choices are easier and become a way of life.

The signs can only ask people to please keep areas smoke-free around children in parks, because an outright smoking ban is outside the authority of local governments, he said.

On the other hand, private employers are increasingly prohibiting smoking on their grounds, and some employers decline to hire smokers.

Exposure to secondhand smoke is harmful to all ages but especially kids, because they breathe more rapidly and absorb more pollutants. More than 7,000 chemicals are found in secondhand smoke; at least 250 of those are toxic and 70 of them can cause cancer, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Kids exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to have under-developed lungs and suffer more bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia, the CDC says.

Secondhand smoke can trigger asthma attacks in children, and they are prone to more ear infections and fluid buildup requiring ear tubes to drain the fluid.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says children of smokers have a harder time getting well from colds and tend to miss more school.

Over the long term, children of smokers are more likely to develop the habit themselves, the pediatrics group reports.

Funding for the signs came from the state's tobacco settlement with the major tobacco companies reached in 1997, with Florida voters deciding in 2007 to establish Tobacco Free Florida to educate residents about the widespread harms of tobacco use.

Tobacco Free Collier receives $183,000 a year from the settlement to fund a variety of prevention, to operate a youth anti-tobacco campaign and for tobacco cessation tools.

Here are some tips for parents to protect their children from secondhand smoke:

Do not allow anyone to smoke anywhere in or near your home.

Do not allow anyone to smoke in your car, even with a window down.

Make sure your children's day care centers and schools are tobacco-free.

If your state still allows smoking in public areas, look for restaurants and other places that do not allow smoking. "No-smoking sections" do not protect you and your family from secondhand smoke.

Exposure to secondhand smoke is harmful to all ages but especially kids, because they breathe more rapidly and absorb more pollutants.

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Courtesy: Collier County "Please don't smoke" signs are going up in Collier County parks to protect kids from secondhand smoke.
 
March 30, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

Amid controversy surrounding allegations of recruiting violations, Boynton Beach head football coach Errick Lowe has resigned from the position, according to multiple sources.

Lowe informed his players in a meeting Tuesday night he was resigning from a job he has held for two seasons, according to a video made available to The Post.

In the video, Lowe and Boynton Beach staffers addressed a group of players about the resignation.

Lowe said in the video, "I'm pissed off. I'm very pissed off, so you probably won't see me tomorrow.... I'm not going to be on the sideline with you all."

Another staffer said off-camera, "I know this was a very hard decision for coach. He cares about every one of you guys."

A third staffer is heard to say, "Coach Lowe just came in here and made an announcement that he resigned."

Boynton Beach administrators could not be reached for comment.

The Boynton Beach football program also is being investigated by the state's Office of Inspector General over questions raised about fundraising for the team, as reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

A former football coach at Lake Worth and Park Vista, Lowe was hired in March 2015 to coach Boynton Beach and led the Tigers to a combined 10-10 record and one playoff appearance.

Boynton Beach finished 6-4 last season and advanced to the Class 6A regional quarterfinals.

As The Post reported exclusively March 20, Lowe and his staff have been accused by former defensive coordinator Korey Banks of improperly contacting players in an effort to lure them to Boynton Beach.

According to Florida High School Athletic Association bylaws, representatives of a school's athletic interests are forbidden from direct or indirect contact -- whether in person or through written or electronic communication -- with a student or any member of the student's family in an effort to pressure or entice the student to attend a different school for the purpose of playing sports.

Banks claims Lowe and his assistants improperly recruited more than a dozen players to Boynton last season, promising them the opportunity to play for a winning team and earn college scholarships.

"Do you think they would have gone to the playoffs with no (influx of) talent?" Banks asked of the Tigers, who made the playoffs after going 4-6 in 2015 and missing the postseason. "How did they go to the playoffs out of the blue like that? They're recruiting kids all the time. I have text messages. This is what they do."

Banks shared text messages with The Post that appear to show conversations among Boynton coaches in which they discuss their efforts to lure players to the Tigers program.

Boynton Beach did not comment on Banks' allegations against its football program.

Banks was let go from his head-coaching position at Santaluces -- a role he held for just six weeks -- after Boynton Beach made similar allegations against him late last year. Boynton filed documents to the FHSAA claiming that Banks had contacted 10 to 15 Boynton players in attempts to bring them with him to Santaluces, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Banks denied the allegations.

Meanwhile, the FHSAA continues to review an allegation made against the Tigers football program. There is no "active investigation," an FHSAA spokesperson says, but the group did reach out to Boynton Beach administrators following the publication of The Post's story.

Lowe spent nine seasons as Lake Worth's head coach from 2004-12 and also coached wide receivers at Park Vista for two seasons.

jwagner@pbpost.com Twitter: @JRWagner5

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

CHICAGO - Some Kentucky basketball fans allegedly went beyond posting criticism of an NCAA official on social media.

John Higgins, who officiated Kentucky's loss to North Carolina in the Elite Eight on Sunday, met with police Tuesday after he received death threats, according to an ESPN report.

The threats were made by people repeatedly calling his company's office and home and his company's Facebook page was bombarded with false reviews and messages.

The Wildcats were whistled for 19 fouls against North Carolina, including two each on four starters in the first half. That drew comments from Kentucky coach John Calipari during the post-game press conference and players were asked about it in the locker room.

"It was kind of tick-tacky, I thought, especially on our end," Kentucky senior Derek Willis said, "But, I mean, you see how the game is going to be called like that and you just try to make adjustments or whatever. I don't know. Stuff happens. I definitely had two stupid fouls. I wasn't thinking."

Higgins declined to speak to ESPN but is scheduled to officiate a game in the Final Four this weekend.

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Copyright 2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Atlanta Falcons officials expect an update within seven to 10 days on the construction timeline for Mercedes-Benz Stadium -- which should determine whether the retractable roof will be completed in time for the downtown stadium's scheduled opening.

Issues with the complex roof already have delayed the opening twice, first pushing back the target from March 1 to June 1 and then pushing it back further to July 30, and appear to threaten another delay.

In a statement provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Steve Cannon, CEO of Falcons parent company AMB Group, said the organization hasn't changed the July 30 opening date at this point but is "working through the construction timelines."

"No announced event dates have been changed, and work is moving forward at a rapid pace," Cannon said. "Many areas of the building are finished, and others are nearing completion. We are routinely working through the construction timelines with our partners, and with any building this size, scope and complexity, adjustments to construction timelines are expected."

The possibility of further such "adjustments" raises many questions, including whether the Falcons could play in the stadium before the roof is operable or whether they might have to play elsewhere.

Brett Jewkes, AMB Group's senior vice president and chief communications officer, declined to speculate on such questions, saying the project schedule will be updated in seven to 10 days.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium's first scheduled event is an Atlanta United soccer match on July 30, followed by two more soccer matches in August and two Chickfil-A Kickoff college football games in early September: Alabama vs. Florida State on Sept. 2 and Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee on Sept. 4. Dates for Falcons home games are expected to be announced nextmonth bythe NFL, along with the rest of the league's 2017 schedule.

The earlier delays caused Atlanta United to schedule the first eight home matches of its inaugural season at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium. It isn't known if Tech could accommodate matches after July.

One obvious candidate to host football games if the new $1.5 billion stadium isn't ready would be the Georgia Dome, which officially closed after a Monster Jam trucks show March 5 amid plans to demolish it this summer.

A spokeswoman for the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which operated the Dome and on whose campus the new stadium is being built, said preparations for demolition have begun, such as removing the turf. But "until the Dome is demolished, it could be utilized," Jennifer LeMaster said Wednesday.

GWCCA Executive Director Frank Poe said in a statement that the state agency "has recently been made aware that construction sequencing related to Mercedes-Benz Stadium's retractable roof is currently being evaluated."

Echoing the timetable provided by the Falcons, Poe said GWCCA officials "anticipate having an update on the project schedule in the next seven to 10 days."

The new stadium's roof, the first of its kind, consists of eight petals, each to be installed in four pieces. The roof is designed to open or close in about eight minutes with what architects have described as a "camera lens-like" effect. A 58-foot-tall, halo-shaped video board will hang from the circumference of the roof opening, encircling the field.

The GWCCA's latest project status report, dated Feb. 28, did not address the stadium's completion date. The report said "the midsection of the petals on the operable roof are currently being erected" and that installation would continue over the next 30 days on the "operable petal tracks."

When the first delay was disclosed last year, Falcons and Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank said: "It's a complex building. Particularly, the steel is complicated, the roof is complicated, the halo scoreboard is complicated."

 

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Copyright 2017 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

For Lisa Borders, as she heads into the 21st WNBA season and her second as league president, there's one way to measure success.

With the changing way fans consume sports content, it depends a bit on the website numbers (which were up last season) and TV ratings (also up).

But more important than that?

"Full arenas is when we've made it," she said. "You want to see in any business some continuity. We have 12 teams in 12 different markets. So you would like to see a full arena for every game. That's what success looks like."

According to the WNBA's attendance numbers, the league has a long way to go when it comes to that. Attendance in 2016 hit its highest numbers since 2011, averaging 7,655.

There were other successes, too, in Borders' first year: Viewership was up on ESPN and ESPN2, and the league, she said, parlayed what was an excellent Finals series into better TV coverage. The Los Angeles Sparks defeated the Minnesota Lynx in five games. It was the first title for Candace Parker, one of the league's biggest stars.

"What they have offered to do and we have invited them to do is put on more games and try to give us a destination date and time. So they will do that to the best of their ability," she said. "Obviously, there's other sports going on ESPN, but we will work with them closely -- we would have done that anyways -- but the Finals will put a fine point on that this is some really exciting sports content that they will want to have on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC."

Borders was hired in February 2016 after a chance meeting with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver at a Duke alumni event. A longtime fan and an engineer behind bringing a franchise to Atlanta, she cornered him and demanded a progress report for the league. It was a question that came six months after Silver said he thought the league should have been more popular than it was at that point.

"His question was, 'If you think you're so smart, why don't you come help?'" she said. "And I thought, surely, he's joking. He said to me, 'Call me on Monday.' It was a Friday. I said, 'OK.'

"So I took the card, put it in my purse. Monday morning I came to work, I put the card on my desk. I forgot to call him. He didn't forget to call me. He started calling and texting, and he did that every day until I said yes."

It's possible to forget to call Adam Silver back? Or was she wary of the job?

"I really forgot to call him," she said.

Beyond the challenges of making a basketball league succeed in a crowded market, Borders faces a unique challenge as the head of a women's league: stereotypes and Internet trolls determined to make it fail.

Instead of trying to change their minds, she uses something she learned when she integrated her junior high school and was called racial slurs from the seventh grade until she graduated: filtering out the noise to focus on what matters.

"There's always five or 10% of people, they happen to be using this little tool called the Internet, but they're no louder than the 90% of the people that want us to succeed.

"So I'd rather listen to the people that want us to succeed and completely tune out the 10% who are the laggards who just don't get us. I don't need 100% of the people; if I can get a sustainable majority, I'm good.

"We're all good."

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USA TODAY

 

College basketball has two coaches earning more than $7million in the same season for the first time since USA TODAY Sports began tracking coaches' compensation.

Rick Pitino of Louisville and John Calipari of Kentucky are above $7.4 million in USA TODAY Sports' annual survey of the compensation paid to coaches whose schools participated in the 68-team NCAA tournament.

Calipari is making more than $7.1 million in basic compensation from the university, Pitino nearly $5.1million. Pitino's non-university amount included $2.25million he received under a personal services contract with Adidas, the shoe and apparel company that outfits Louisville's teams.

Duke's Mike Krzyzewski has been credited with more than $7million three times in recent years on the private school's federal tax records, but those filings involve a separate way of reporting compensation figures.

Though Calipari now makes more from his school on an annual basis than the best-paid football coaches, Michigan's Jim Harbaugh and Alabama's Nick Saban, football coaches are better paid on the whole. At least 36 were making more than $3million this school year. Including coaches whose teams didn't make the tournament, less than half that number were at that level in basketball. USA TODAY Sports began tracking basketball salaries annually in 2010.

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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

As Gonzaga University prepares to make its first Final Four appearance, university officials also are celebrating a host of off-the-court successes.

Enrollment has reached 7,500 students, nearly doubling over the past 20 years. More students want to attend Gonzaga. Undergraduate applications rose nearly 300 percent during that time, and applicants' college test scores keep climbing.

University budgets are growing along with the school's endowment, which topped $212 million. New buildings are under construction on campus.

Much of the growth is directly or indirectly tied to the success of the men's basketball team, which first advanced to the Elite Eight in an improbable run in 1999 under former coach Dan Monson. It was the beginning of the Zags' long-running success and branding.

"Basketball has certainly been a major factor these 20 years in terms of people's awareness of the university," GU President Thayne McCulloh said. And, "we've certainly not missed the opportunity to capitalize on the success of the team and the appearance they've had on the national stage."

Publicity about the Zags helps raise awareness of the 130-year-old Spokane university. McCulloh thinks of the team as the portal that guides the public into learning more about Gonzaga and its academic programs.

"It invites people to look at us more closely," he said. "It allows people to think about the opportunities they might have as students if they attended Gonzaga."

Over the past two decades, university leaders also have worked to increase financial aid and develop new programs for an emerging workforce.

"I think it's fair to say there have been many initiatives," McCulloh said. "Our view is that they've all worked together."

Along with a larger student body, Gonzaga has grown more ethnically and racially diverse over the past two decades. Undergraduate students who are people of color have grown from 12.4 percent to 24.9 percent of the student population.

The university's annual budget grew nearly 300 percent to $283 million over the past 20 years. The number of full-time faculty increased by 55 percent.

In addition, "the success of the basketball program has played a significant role in our ability to raise funds," McCulloh said.

Some of the fundraising is evident in the university's athletic buildings, such as the 6,000-seat McCarthey Athletic Center, which opened in 2004 with a major donation from brothers Phil and Tom McCarthey.

"We saw a bit of a sleeping giant," Phil McCarthey, a GU alum, said in a 2013 interview. "We saw a bit of an opportunity. We had the vision, not that the basketball team could be No. 1, but that it could be better."

Other major gifts followed. Since 2004, benefactor gifts have allowed the university to launch 12 major building projects.

In 2016, Gonzaga opened the $24 million Volkar Center for Athletic Achievement. It was named after a Coeur d'Alene couple, Pat and Sandy Volkar, who moved to North Idaho in 2011 and instantly became GU fans.

For other donors, "the story of their generosity began with athletics," but their interest in Gonzaga branched into other areas outside of sports, McCulloh said.

Gonzaga launched its largest fundraising campaign in 2015, with a goal of raising $250 million. So far, the university has raised $240 million from 34,000 donors.

A $55 million gift came from the estate of Myrtle Woldson, one of Spokane's most-noted philanthropists. She wanted to fund student scholarships to bridge the affordability gap for talented students from middle- and lower-income families.

Spokane's ownership in the Zags continues to grow.

About 315,000 residents of the Spokane and Coeur d'Alene area are expected to watch Saturday's Final Four game, when the Zags take on South Carolina. That's a conservative estimate from KREM, the local CBS affiliate broadcasting the game.

"Our hope is that Gonzaga's success is experienced by the people of Spokane," McCulloh said. "Gonzaga and Spokane have grown up together. Their histories are intertwined.... We hope it brings recognition and attention to Spokane and the many wonderful aspects of this community."

Contact the writer:

(509)459-5466

beckyk@spokesman.com

 

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Copyright 2017 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Now in his 60s, former college swimmer Gleed Toombes is still an active guy. He swims at Steiner Aquatic Center and swings a racket at the Eccles Tennis Center -- both near his house on Sunnyside Avenue.

But in more than two decades of living in his neighborhood, Toombes has watched the University of Utah creep closer and closer to his doorstep. The school expanded the football stadium in the late '90s, bringing more game-day traffic to his street. The U. more recently has built new, bigger football facilities on Guardsman Way, and its newest proposal -- to expand the baseball practice field on Guardsman into a full-fledged stadium -- has him on guard, to say the least.

"It's been a little bit of a virus, expanding the campus south," he said. "I'm tired of it."

Utah athletics is in the early stages of a plan to bring the baseball team to campus, building out the practice field with seating and other amenities to create a game-ready atmosphere. The team currently rents Smith's Ballpark for home games, and players ferry equipment back and forth between campus and the field.

The Utes revealed study results at a community forum on Tuesday, which evaluated five sites but settled on the original Guardsman Way location as the best option. The estimated $7.5 million project requires the university to buy a sliver of land from Salt Lake City -- a somewhat slanted property measuring 33 feet wide and and 439 feet long. It would be needed to shift the diamond slightly east to make room for seating and move the left-field fence to a regulation distance. But that parcel is currently within Sunnyside Park, meaning the deal will require more negotiations between the university and city to get it done.

It's early in the process, but District 6 Councilman Charlie Luke said he's skeptical of the university's plan, which in his view asks for open space but offers little to the city in return.

"Once you build on it, it's basically gone as open space," Luke said. "Instead of having the city bend over backward to accommodate this stadium, I would be open to seeing something viable and valuable in the community -- something to make it right. I haven't seen anything to that effect yet."

The property the Utes need is small. It would back up close against a softball field in Sunnyside, but the university argues the steep slope of the area already makes it a little-used segment of the park.

The Utes presented two stadium construction options: one if the university is able to acquire the land, and one more angled into the current university-owned parcel if they aren't able to expand. The second design would be closer to the street on Guardsman Way, and foul balls might spray more toward cars and pedestrians. It's clear the university would like to build their first version.

"At the end of the day, we want to shoot for what's best for our team, our university, the fans and the community," Utah athletic director Chris Hill said. "We want to be good neighbors, and make sure we're listening to what makes sense."

It will be a lengthy process for the university to acquire the land, which would have to be rezoned -- requiring public hearings and other hurdles before the Utes could break ground. Donors are believed to be lined up for the stadium, but getting the land is seen as the biggest hurdle.

Luke said he's met with Hill several times. Hill lives in the neighborhood, so he understands how residents could be affected, and he's sensitive to that concern.

In the meantime, residents along Sunnyside Avenue and in the Yalecrest neighborhood shared skepticism at Tuesday's forum that the university has the best interests of the community at heart.

"We're all glad the university is successful, but as they expand, they take on more open space," said Steve Alder, who lives on Sunnyside Avenue. "If you've been around a little bit, you know you have to fight to preserve these areas, because you're not going to give them back."

kgoon@sltrib.com Twitter: @kylegoon

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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Spokane Public School administrators declined to renew Ferris High School football coach Jim Sharkey's coaching contract Tuesday.

Sharkey was accused of exposing himself to players at a leadership camp last summer.

He is being investigated by the school district and the sheriff's office in Shoshone County, Idaho, where the camp was held.

Sharkey denies the allegations. He's coached the Ferris Saxons since 2006 and won a state championship in 2010. In 2016, he went 5-5.

At least three football players claimed that while Sharkey was grilling hot dogs and hamburgers at the camp along the Coeur d'Alene River near Cataldo, Idaho, he turned toward them with his exposed penis inside a hot dog bun.

The students said Sharkey told them something similar to: "You think that is a big dog - take a look at this," according to a Spokane Public Schools investigation listing multiple versions of the same quote.

School district spokesman Kevin Morrison said he couldn't speak directly to why the district chose not to renew Sharkey's contract saying only "the district has decided to move in a different direction."

Sharkey also teaches fitness, health and leadership classes at Ferris. He remains on paid administrative leave from that position, Morrison said.

In 2016-17, Sharkey made $96,754 between his teaching contract and other district pay, such as bonuses and stipends. His coaching contract was worth $7,085. Coaching contracts are renewed annually.

Sharkey declined to comment for this story.

The coaching job will be advertised internally until Friday. On Friday, the job opening will be posted publicly.

Jenny Rose, the president of the Spokane Education Association, said coaching contracts are overseen by the union. However, because it's a year-to-year contract, the union only gets directly involved with a contract renewal if the coach asks for union representation. The union doesn't represent an employee if the employee has hired an attorney.

Rose couldn't say whether or not the union is representing Sharkey, citing confidentiality rules.

Dave McKenna, Gonzaga Prep's head football coach, said filling a coaching spot this late in the year could be difficult. McKenna, who has coached at Gonzaga Prep since 2008, said he was hired in the beginning of February.

"I know it's almost April," he said. "It's tough."

Contact the writer:

(509) 459-5417

elif@spokesman.com

 

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Copyright 2017 Star Tribune
All Rights Reserved

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

Nearly 100 people gathered Tuesday to celebrate the groundbreaking for the Phillips Community Aquatics Center in south Minneapolis after years of fundraising and sometimes contentious debate.

The $7 million construction project is expected to be completed by the end of this year and open for use by early 2018. The Minneapolis Park Board said it is the first step in reducing drowning deaths in communities of color.

"It's about water safety," said Park Board Member Scott Vreeland, whose district includes the Phillips neighborhood. "It's about teaching kids and adults how to swim."

According to federal statistics, children of color are at the highest risk of drowning.

The center, located at 2323 11th Av. S., will be the Park Board's only indoor public pool in Minneapolis. The project will include refurbishing a six-lane pool for competitive swimming, plus the addition of a fitness center, four-lane teaching pool and family locker rooms. The aquatics center will also offer gender-specific swimming lessons.

Refurbishing and reopening the pool has been a point of debate for years as the Park Board, Minneapolis Public Schools, neighbors and swimming groups tried to work out financing.

Money for the project is coming from a variety of sources, including state bonds and Minneapolis Public Schools, which each contributed $1.75 million. And as late as last week, Minneapolis Swims secured $270,000 through the Minneapolis Foundation - given by an anonymous donor - to cover the cost of the fitness center, yoga room and renovation of the existing locker rooms.

"This became a personal mission for me, after one of my sons saved a young boy from drowning at Lake Harriet, and being puzzled by the fact that the boy couldn't swim or even dog-paddle," said Denny Bennett, board president for Minneapolis Swims, the group that lobbied to open the pool.

The community center will remain open during construction but the west entrance of the building will be closed from June until September.

Faiza Mahamud · 612-673-4203

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Copyright 2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

The water feature beyond center field was in operation. The nameplates were in place above many players' lockers in the clubhouse. And the field cried out for a baseball game.

The Braves opened SunTrust Park for a behind-the-scenes media tour Tuesday, three days before the ballpark will be opened to season-ticket holders for an exhibition game Friday against the New York Yankees and 2½ weeks before the April 14 regular-season home opener against the San Diego Padres.

"If the season started tonight, we could do it," Braves Chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk said at the start of the tour. "That's the degree of readiness we're in right now."

But McGuirk said Friday's exhibition game, with about 20,000 fans expected in the 41,000-seat stadium, will be a good test.

"We want to try everything out," he said. "There will be some adjustments in the two weeks until the opening day, of course."

Many features of SunTrust Park are well-known by now, such as the cantilever design that pushes some seats closer to the field, the three-level Chop House restaurant beyond right field and the large canopy that will provide some cover from sun and rain. But here are glimpses of other areas, some not previously seen:

Braves clubhouse With a pool table in the middle of the room, nine flat-screen televisions, rich wood walls and plush sofas and chairs, the Braves' 3,000-squarefoot clubhouse bears no resemblance to the spartan locker rooms of decades ago.

Lining the walls are 42 large lockers, many already assigned to players.

"I call them, like, individual player condominiums," Braves Vice Chairman John Schuerholz said. "They have special lighting. They have special wiring for electronic gear. It will be, literally, (the players') little home away from home.

"This is all a byproduct of input from the players," Schuerholz said. "We did considerable one-on-ones with them to find out what it is they want in their clubhouse and we built it that way.... These chairs and these couches and these televisions and all of the things that will go on in here is a way to help them relax and be calm and cool and collected before the games start and go out and play good baseball."

Across the upper portion of the back wall of the clubhouse, there's a reminder of the team's history and goal: an image of the World Series trophy and, in large bold type, "1995 WORLD CHAMPIONS."

The water feature The display in the "batter's eye" area just beyond the center-field wall likely will be one of the stadium's most telegenic elements.

The area includes four large evergreen trees (green giant arborvitae), smaller plantings, boulders, two ponds and a waterfall. Water falls off a ledge from the upper pond into the lower pond. A fountain shoots streams of water 50 feet into the air, toward the main video board, from the upper pond.

The feature figures to have a role in celebrating home runs, wins and the like.

The Braves took inspiration from a similar setup in the same area of the Colorado Rockies' Coors Field, one of many MLB stadiums from which features were borrowed.

"There are so many pieces of this stadium which are taken directly out of other stadiums' success factors and incorporated all around," McGuirk said.

Monument Garden

Unlike Turner Field, Sun-Trust Park doesn't have a stand-alone Braves museum. But a well-appointed space in the main concourse behind home plate, Monument Garden, will display many highlights of franchise history.

The key portion of the space was curtained off from view Tuesday -- the spot where the new Hank Aaron statue will be unveiled at a fundraiser tonight. Behind the statue will be a sculpture made of 755 baseball bats in honor of Aaron's career home-run total. A video screen will play an Aaron biography.

Monument Garden also features a collection of Braves jerseys through the decades, various trophies and an interactive exhibit on the team's retired numbers.

A "memorable moments" exhibit includes Sid Bream's knee brace. When fans approach it, audio will play of Skip Caray's call of when Bream slid home with the run that sent the Braves to the 1992 World Series.

Other artifacts of franchise history are spread throughout the ballpark. For example, the bat and ball from Aaron's 715th home run, which broke Babe Ruth's long-standing career record in 1974,are in the Hank Aaron Terrace above left field.

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Copyright 2017 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

Raiders fans in Oakland have now lost their team twice to relocation.

SAN DIEGO The Beach Chapel church in San Diego County recently posted a spiritual message about the dear departed San Diego Chargers: "God will never forsake you - unlike the Chargers" said the church's small roadside billboard in Encinitas, Calif.

More than two months after the team announced its relocation to Los Angeles, it's a sign of the soreness still swirling in this sunny Southern California community, the Chargers' home of 56 years.

NFL fans are fuming, just like they have been in St. Louis, where the Rams played for 21 years before leaving last year for L.A. The NFL approved a plan Monday for the Raiders to move to a $1.9 billion stadium in Las Vegas in 2020 - after more than 44 years in Oakland.

Add it all up, and that's 121 years of fan loyalty, all rudely rejected in the last 15 months. But that kind of market also is partly why Major League Soccer might be eager to help San Diego and St. Louis forget the NFL, at least until the next round of NFL stadium leverage drama sparks up in the next 10 to 15 years, as some sports economists predict.

"The NFL likes having a few hungry cities without teams to give existing teams more leverage in negotiating stadium deals with their home cities," Stanford economist Roger Noll told USA TODAY Sports. "In the 2020s, several NFL teams are likely to ask for new or renovated stadiums, and the presence of other cities that might try to lure them improves a team's bargaining position."

NFL expansion isn't on the agenda, but the relocation game might not be over. Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Jacksonville are among those with relatively older stadiums and team leases expiring by 2030. If another NFL team is looking for a new $2 billion stadium - and if several non-NFL cities are interested in getting a team - Noll wryly predicts at least one city will bite at the NFL's bait to offer public subsidies.

The high bid "will not be zero dollars," he said.

In the meantime, the proposed MLS plans in St. Louis and San Diego could recast their identities without the NFL. If successful, they might even help buck a trend in which the six previous metro areas deserted by the NFL later provided enough enticements to get the mighty league to return. The question is how much St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland might be willing to pay to play along with the NFL next time, if anything.

LOST AND FOUND NFL CITIES

Since 1982, the six cities abandoned by NFL teams regained a team, always with better stadiums than the last NFL team there had and often with more public money. Houston, Cleveland, Baltimore and St. Louis built stadiums with the help of public money after being ditched by the Oilers, Browns, Colts and Cardinals. To attract the Raiders back to Oakland in 1995, the city and county put up $200 million in bonds to help renovate Oakland Coliseum.

"After losing their estranged NFL teams, frustrated former NFL mid-markets have systematically overpaid in stadium subsidies several times over what they had offered to pay before their breakup with the fickle and footloose NFL cartel," Vanderbilt University sports economist John Vrooman wrote in an email.

After 21 years without an NFL team in L.A., the return of the Rams worked out differently - with a $2.6 billion stadium plan that will be privately financed and shared by the Rams and Chargers. Both left for this lucrative new venue after failing to get acceptable, publicly subsidized upgrades in their old markets.

The stadium plan in L.A. didn't need public money, the Chargers said, because of the enormous size and corporate wealth of the L.A. market supporting it - along with funding from Rams owner Stan Kroenke, one of the league's richest owners.

L.A. is an outlier in that respect, quite unlike the much smaller Las Vegas market, which was willing to pitch in a record $750 million in public funds for a 65,000-seat domed stadium to lure the Raiders.

"Smaller NFL cities will continue to provide subsidies," Noll predicts, even though he and other economists have warned that public subsidies for stadiums are bad deals for taxpayers.

Despite the financial downside, city leaders and fans often have been willing to fork over public subsidies for these stadiums because of the popularity of the NFL. On the other hand, there are signs that forsaken cities have had enough and are moving on.

FUTBOL INSTEAD?

In San Diego, 56% of voters in November rejected a hotel tax increase to help fund a $1.8 billion convention center and stadium for the Chargers. Two months later, the Chargers said they were leaving for L.A. Less than two weeks after that, an investment group announced a proposal to redevelop the site of the Chargers' home, 50-year-old Qualcomm Stadium. The group hopes to lure an MLS expansion team to "SoccerCity" with a privately funded $200 million stadium that seats about 30,000.

The plan requires "not a penny of taxpayer dollars," said Nick Stone, who is helping lead the effort with the firm FS Investors.

Likewise, in St. Louis, an investment group also hopes to land an MLS expansion team with a stadium seating 22,000.

Both soccer stadium plans still face hurdles. On April 4, voters in St. Louis will decide whether to approve $60 million in public funding for the stadium, which could cost $200 million overall. After that, city leaders - or voters - in San Diego could determine the fate of the soccer stadium project, which might also house the San Diego State football program, a top-25 team last season.

The San Diego soccer plan would leave room for an NFL stadium to be built on the site as well, but only if there's a commitment for that within five years. If there are no NFL takers by then, the space likely would be dedicated to housing.

One example of a city recovering after the loss of a major league team is Seattle, which was abandoned by the NBA Super-Sonics in 2008. In 2009, an MLS expansion team, the Sounders, began play there and sold out 22,000 season tickets.

"Markets where there were pro sports teams that left are very intriguing," San Jose Earthquakes President Dave Kaval told USA TODAY Sports.

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Copyright 2017 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

The latest round of NFL stadium drama began in 2013, when the owner of the St. Louis Rams bought 60 acres of prime real estate near Los Angeles International Airport.

What happened next was like a high-stakes game of musical chairs -- three teams trying for two spots in the Los Angeles area. By the time the music stopped Monday, three cities were left standing empty-handed: St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland.

But who really won in the end? And is the NFL better off as a business after three teams recently decided to relocate to other cities?

A look at the winners, losers and future rounds of NFL market intrigue, according to experts consulted by USA TODAY Sports.

Why did this happen?

Why else? Money. The NFL shares most of its total revenue between 32 teams, but each franchise gets to keep local revenue from stadium-driven sales, such as that coming from luxury boxes and sponsorships. This creates a huge incentive for teams to keep improving their stadium situations and turn them into bigger magnets of corporate wealth.

"A team can be significantly more profitable simply based on its stadium," said Marc Ganis, a sports consultant who has worked with NFL owners and helped the Raiders and Rams relocate to Oakland and St. Louis, respectively, in 1995.

St. Louis officials wanted to put up $400 million in taxpayer money to help build a new $1.1billion stadium for the Rams. But it wasn't enough for team owner Stan Kroenke, who had dreams of much bigger returns in Los Angeles, where he is building a privately financed $2.6 billion stadium that looks to be the envy of the league.

This new NFL Taj Mahal will be shared by the Rams and Chargers, who decided in January they had no better alternative and couldn't afford to stay in their 50-year-old stadium in San Diego. Similarly, the Raiders soon will leave behind an Oakland stadium that opened in 1966. Monday, NFL owners approved the Raiders' move to a new $1.9 billion stadium in Las Vegas in 2020.

Is it good for the league?

It's too early to tell. Last year, the NFL traded the nation's No. 21 television market in the USA -- St. Louis -- for the nation's second-biggest market: Los Angeles, which didn't have an NFL team from 1995 until 2016.

By itself, that's a smart business move. But the tradeoff got more complicated. The Chargers this year are leaving the nation's No. 28 market -- San Diego -- to become the second team in Los Angeles.

And now the Oakland Raiders are trading part of the nation's No. 6 market -- the Bay Area -- for a Las Vegas market that ranks among the bottom five in the league with 758,000 TV homes, according to Nielsen.

"The expectation is that the NFL is much better off moving the Rams to L.A., somewhat worse off moving the Chargers to L.A., and worse off with the Raiders in Las Vegas," Stanford economist Roger Noll told USA TODAY Sports. "But this is not the whole story, because the moves of the Chargers and Raiders have considerable uncertainty. Either could go seriously bad."

In Las Vegas, the Raiders stadium plan is banking on tourists to help make it work. But would tourists rather watch the NFL for free on giant TVs in the casino sportsbooks or pay $100 for a ticket at the stadium? In Los Angeles, the last time that market had two NFL teams, in 1994, they ranked 24th and 28th out of 28 teams in attendance.

In the long run, it's not good for any business to turn its backs on customers who supported it for decades.

"The end of the result will be concentrating two teams in the L.A. market, which has not necessarily shown great strength for the NFL in the past," Ganis said. "We'll see what happens when the new stadium opens (in 2019). That could be the game changer."

Who are winners, losers?

Only Kroenke got what he wanted all along. The Chargers and Raiders were denied by the NFL last year in a joint bid to move to Los Angeles with a separate shared-stadium plan. Several months later, San Diego voters rejected a new Chargers stadium plan that would have increased hotel taxes to help pay for it.

On the other hand, none of the three teams really lost in the end, because each expects to be better off in its new home than it was in its old city. In Las Vegas, the Raiders are even getting a record $750million in taxpayer money for stadium construction. In Oakland, the city said no to public funds for a new Raiders stadium.

"(Kroenke) does come out well on this, but it's a very large cost," Ganis said. "He's putting up a lot of money and a lot of risk for the potential upside."

The real losers were fans in the abandoned cities, which supported those teams for a combined 121 years: 56 years for the Chargers in San Diego, 44 years for the Raiders in Oakland and 21 years for the Rams in St. Louis.

"I mostly just feel sorry for the fans," said Kitty Ratcliffe, president of the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission, which operates the dome where the Rams played. "There are people in this community whose loyalty got crushed by an owner who never cared for them the way they cared for the team."

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Copyright 2017 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

Jessica Howard, a USA Gymnastics Hall of Famer, told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday that the culture of USA Gymnastics has been about "money and medals" more than about the well-being of its athletes.

Olympic medalist Jamie Dantzscher, who also spoke at the hearing on sexual abuse of young athletes, tearfully testified that a former USA Gymnastics team doctor began molesting her when she was 12, representing it as medical treatment, and that the abuse even occurred in the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, where she won a bronze medal.

"I thought I was the only one," Dantzscher said. "I was disbelieved and even criticized by some in the gymnastics community for bringing this disturbing issue to light. Now I know I am not alone. More than 100 women have come forward and shared stories that are shockingly similar to mine."

The Indianapolis Star, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, has reported more than 360 cases in which gymnasts have accused coaches of sexual transgressions over 20 years. More than 80 gymnasts have alleged sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, who was the national team physician from 1996 to 2015. Nassar is in custody in Michigan and faces local, state and federal charges related to criminal sexual conduct and child pornography. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is co-sponsor of a bill that would make it a crime for national governing bodies -- there are 47 under the Olympic umbrella -- to fail to report child sexual abuse allegations promptly to law enforcement or child welfare authorities. She and 16 others are co-sponsors of the proposed bipartisan bill, which would also extend the statute of limitations in such cases.

Rick Adams, who represented the U.S. Olympic Committee, said his organization is in favor of the proposed bill. "The abuse should have been detected, it should have been prevented and it should have been promptly reported," he said. "The Olympic community failed and must do better."

Adams said the USOC's recently launched U.S. Center for SafeSport would provide an independent system for reporting and investigating abuse allegations and a searchable database for banned and suspended coaches. Only about eight national governing bodies publish such a list now, according to a quick review of their websites. The sort of database that Adams spoke of would help to prevent coaches who are banned in one sport from going undetected to another.

Adams also said he believes officials of USA Gymnastics "should have known" about Nassar, who is alleged to have sexually abused gymnasts across decades.

"We recognize the difficulty of stepping forward to share your stories," Adams said to the former gymnasts, "and it is our obligation to build on your courage and bravery to make real and lasting changes."

USA Gymnastics did not send a representative to testify, for which senators criticized the organization severely. USA Gymnastics sent a statement in which it said it favored the proposed bill and that it is conducting an independent review of its policies to find ways to strengthen them.

Steve Penny, the organization's CEO, resigned this month. Dantzscher said that was a baby step and more officials of USA Gymnastics need to go.

Dantzscher and Howard, along with former gymnast Jeanette Antolin, shared their stories publicly on 60 Minutes in February.

Dantzscher was a member of the 2000 team that won a bronze medal in the Sydney Olympics. Howard was a three-time national champion in rhythmic gymnastics, winning the title in 1999, 2000 and 2001.

Antolin attended the hearing and spoke at a news conference afterward, discussing how she was sexually abused by her first gymnastics coach. She praised the proposed bill, which she said would give young athletes a voice when "for so long it felt like we had no voice."

Dantzscher and Antolin filed lawsuits against Nassar and USA Gymnastics as Jane Doe plaintiffs before they appeared on 60 Minutes. Dantzscher's lawsuit, filed in September, alleges Nassar would "digitally penetrate Plaintiff's vagina in order to adjust her bones. This 'intravaginal adjustment' was done without gloves, lubricant, and/or a chaperone" and was done for Nassar's sexual gratification.

Dantscher and Howard testified that Nassar told them he was performing medical treatments.

Dominique Moceanu, who won gold in the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, testified that she was never sexually assaulted but that she suffered verbal and emotional abuse during her time with USA Gymnastics. She said there is urgent need to reform the organization.

Eric Olsen, commonwealth's attorney in Stafford County, Va., said mandatory reporting of any allegations of child sexual abuse is a good step.

"Abuses aren't going to report themselves," he said.

Howard said after she retired from competition she served time on the USA Gymnastics board of directors and that she pushed for more protection for children.

But, she said, meetings revolved around money and medals.

"When a sexual abuse case came up during my time on the board," she said, "the concern was about the reputation of the coach, not the accusation of the athlete."

Brady reported from Washington.

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USA TODAY

 

Members of the U.S. women's national hockey team agreed to a four-year contract with USA Hockey on Tuesday night to avert a threatened boycott of the IIHF World Championship in Plymouth, Mich.

The players will make about $70,000 each year, though they could make more than $100,000 in Olympic years if they win gold.

The breakdown includes USA Hockey creating an annual fund of $950,000 to be divided among the 23 players, two people with knowledge of the agreement who are not authorized to release the numbers told USA TODAY Sports. The range for the fund in 2017 is $850,000 to $950,000.

The deal also ensures each player will receive $2,000 a month during the life of the deal -- the maximum players get in direct financial support from the U.S. Olympic Committee. Players earn between $750 to $2,000 from the USOC, meaning USA Hockey has agreed to make up the difference.

The players could reach into the six figures in Olympic years with medal bonuses paid by the USOC. For example, the gold medal winners receive $37,500, the silver winners $22,500 and the bronze winners $15,000.

In addition, the women's players will receive the same accommodations as men's players for the world championship.

In their former deal, players received $1,000 a month from USA Hockey for the six months leading up to the Olympics and nothing during the non-Olympic years.

The deal includes the formation of a Women's High Performance Advisory Group that will contain former and current members of the women's national team. This group will offer advice in helping USA Hockey advance girls and women's hockey.

"I think what we fought for over the last few weeks was something that transcended sports," Team USA forward Hilary Knight, who will be playing in her ninth world championship, told USA TODAY Sports. "This empowered women all over the world -- and not only those involved in sports.

"I think after the world championship is done and all this settles down, we will be able to look back and be able to say, 'We did this. This is our legacy.' Obviously, this isn't just our legacy alone. The group that came before us laid the foundation. It's really a remarkable time to be a woman in sports."

The Americans will hold a practice at 3:15 p.m. ET Thursday in Plymouth and will open their title defense with a game against Canada on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at USA Hockey Arena.

The U.S. women have won seven of the last nine world championships.

"This is a very successful outcome, and very good for the future of USA Hockey and our women's athletes and women's hockey in the United States," USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean told USA TODAY Sports.

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Copyright 2017 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

CLEVELAND - A jury has sided with the Cleveland Indians in the lawsuit brought by a fan who was partially blinded by a foul ball during a game.

Keith Rawlins, of Rochester, New York, will get no money after jurors found the team was not responsible for Rawlins' injuries during the July 20, 2012, incident at Progressive Field.

The jury announced its verdict late Friday, after a day of deliberating and four days of testimony in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Daniel Gaul's courtroom.

Lawyers for Rawlins could not be reached for comment.

Todd Hicks, a Char-don-based civil attorney who represented the Indians, said he was pleased with the jury's decision in the case the team argued could have had wide-ranging implications for baseball teams and parks around the country.

Rawlins took his then-15-year-old daughter to the game against the Baltimore Orioles and sat along the left field line in the stadium's lower bowl. With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Rawlins claimed the park's ushers ordered fans to empty the section he was in and several others before a post-game fireworks show.

Rawlins said that he and several other fans stood up and walked up the aisle. As he had his back turned, he heard the crack of a baseball bat connecting with a pitch. He turned toward the field just as a line-drive foul ball struck him in the face.

The impact broke several bones and left him blind in his left eye, court records say. The ball was traveling about 95 miles per hour, according to court records.

Doctors who treated Rawlins testified that he may need future surgeries and could possibly need a prosthetic eye. The vision loss left Rawlins unable to perform his job as a tool and die machinist, his lawyers said.

Major League Baseball has long held, and courts have agreed, that fans assume the risk of being hit by objects like baseballs or broken bats as part of going to a game.

But Rawlins argued that the usher's order caused him to turn his back to the field during play, going above and beyond the normal amount of risk.

The Indians denied that the usher actually "evacuated" the section during the game. They called five other fans from the section who testified at trial that the ushers did not clear the section before the end of the game. The team also pointed to a deposition in which they said Rawlins said that the usher "stared him down" from the aisle, and Rawlins took that stare as an order to evacuate his section, according to court records.

The team also argued that, even if the usher did actually order the section removed, a verdict in Rawlin's favor would open the teams' up to a flood of lawsuits by fans who are hit by balls while ordering from beer, hot dogs or popcorn vendors during the game.

Rawlins filed the lawsuit in November 2013, and Gaul granted summary judgment in favor of the team. Rawlins appealed Gaul's decision, and the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals overturned the decision. The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the decision to let Rawlins' lawsuit move forward.

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Copyright 2017 Las Vegas Sun
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Las Vegas Sun
 

The Raiders are all ours, and in the understatement of the century, that's a reason to celebrate.

Like many other locals I'm not a fan of Raider Nation. But, also like many locals, I sure love Las Vegas. So, when residents wonder if it's possible to root for both their favorite NFL team -- the Pittsburgh Steelers here -- and the Raiders at the same time, there's a simple answer: Why not?

NFL owners on Monday approved the Raiders' relocation from Oakland to begin play in the 2020 season at the $1.9 billion domed stadium that is using $750 million in public funding through a small increase in the hotel tax. That's great money spent -- we've been taking money off visitors for years, after all.

You won't find me wearing silver and black makeup on Sundays and pretending to frighten the opposing team while cheering from the famed black hole. But, from a distance, I hope they win.

I hope the franchise is prosperous to the tune of residents having a better life, everyone from ticket takers to hotel workers who rely on tips to feed their families. I hope the Raiders win games because a winning franchise makes everyone feel better about themselves and the city they call home.

This is our city -- mine, yours, and now, Mark Davis' Raiders. If I learned anything about the people here from spending my entire life in Southern Nevada, it's that we take care of our own. If you are representing us, we want you to succeed.

The perception that Las Vegas is a town controlled by gambling is outdated. Monday, with the NFL's approval of the Raiders setting up shop here, the opposite view was finally validated. Remember, the NFL despised Las Vegas so much as recently as two years ago that it forbade Tony Romo to speak at a fantasy football convention on the Strip.

Sure, gambling is still prevalent. And without gambling the city would crumble. But there is also world-class shopping, shows, fine dining and great entertainment. Gambling, which is so regulated in the modern-day Las Vegas that NFL owners didn't blink, isn't the No. 1 option for many visitors.

We've grown up, Las Vegas. We've grown up together. Now, it's time to grow with the Raiders.

While we still have the small-town feel from my childhood in the 1980s and early '90s, we've slowly transformed into a major metro capable of joining other cities in this elite fraternity. Think about: 32 cities have NFL teams, including us. Unreal.

We are bursting at the seams with 2 million residents and projections of more to come. Imagine how the city will look in 10 years with the Raiders as one of the cornerstones? What about in 20 years? Imagine a Super Bowl being hosted here (has to happen, right?), or a Raiders Super Bowl championship parade on the Strip.

The possibilities are endless, and that's exciting.

There are many of us native Las Vegans whose pride for the 702 is unmatched. It's a great place to call home, raise a family and spend a Saturday night. We have churches, parks and a strong sense of community. We would take the shirt off our back to take care of one of our own and want nothing in return except the satisfaction that Las Vegas was a better place.

Monday was a day to feel good about us because Las Vegas' credibility reached an unexpected level. The NFL, finally, loved us back. Now, it's time to love the Raiders.

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Copyright 2017 Star Tribune
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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

Tyler McKean checks the weather first thing each morning, and when the temperature rises, so does his stress level.

Warm weather means fewer aspiring skiers and snowboarders signing up for lessons in St. Paul parks, where McKean manages winter recreation. In parks across the metro, fewer people rent equipment and buy ski trail passes. The lack of snow and cold leads to a drop in participation at parks that costs cities and counties thousands of dollars.

And makes for a dreary season without winter sports.

"It's part of what makes winter in Minnesota enjoyable and tolerable," McKean said of skiing.

Some cities and counties are trying to counter nature by making their own snow. Others are seeking alternative ways to boost revenue through other winter recreation options - like fat-tire biking - in the face of climate change and abbreviated snow seasons.

"We're always thinking of plan B," said Beth Landahl, parks visitor services manager in Dakota County.

Meanwhile, determined skiers like St. Paul resident John Kendrick seek snow where they can find it, often crowding man-made loops in Bloomington, Maple Grove and Minneapolis. He uses different skis for poor conditions and treks farther to find snow.

To continue his hobby, "being flexible, being adaptable" is necessary, he said.

The past three years have been particularly short ski seasons, even for agencies like Three Rivers Park District that produce artificial snow.

The low snow seasons have been "pretty dismal," Ramsey County Parks and Recreation Director Jon Oyanagi said.

Ramsey County's ski trails were open 41 days on average over the past three years - compared to 101 days in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. And during the short time frame when the trails were officially open there were likely only a few good weeks to ski, Oyanagi said.

Revenue from ski and snowshoe rentals dropped from $11,308 in the 2013 season to $1,903 this past season, according to Ramsey County. In 2013, the county also netted $4,500 from adult and youth programs, like ski lessons. It has not been able to offer those programs the past two seasons.

In a snowy year like 2013, Dakota County makes $50,000 selling ski passes.

"That obviously decreases quite significantly when we don't have any snow," Landahl said, and the revenue dropped to about $20,000 this season.

Dakota County also had to cancel its "Trails by Candlelight" night ski event for the third year in a row. In the past, people had paid $10 each to prticipate in the popular event.

The south suburban park system added fat-tire biking and encouraged winter hiking when skiing and snowshoeing weren't possible. But the cycle of thawing and freezing this winter made conditions too icy even for hiking, Landahl said.

In Minneapolis, Loppet Foundation adventures director Anthony Taylor had to be creative to run 11 ski programs in elementary schools. The warm weather forced him to move outdoor activities into school gyms, where he has kids do yoga and other exercises to improve their balance. Instead of eight to 10 weeks of outdoor practice before the kids' first race, they got three or four.

"Historically, we groomed trails and playgrounds near the schools," he said, but "you need natural snow for that."

The Loppet Foundation, which took over winter recreation management in Minneapolis parks this season, has new snow-making equipment at Theodore Wirth Park. But they must wait until the temperature drops to 20 degrees Fahrenheit or below to start using it. This year, that was weeks later than anticipated, Loppet Foundation Executive Director John Munger said.

"You play the cards you're dealt every year," he said.

Golf vs. cross country skiing

In St. Paul, where all the cross-country ski trails are on golf courses, that's meant a short ski season. The city doesn't plan to add snow-making equipment, which would jeopardize its ability to start offering golf when the weather warms, McKean said.

But for Three Rivers Park District, other communities' quandaries have been a boon. The agency has earned, on average, $626,626 annually the past three years from cross-country ski rentals and fees. In 2012 and 2013, it earned an average $388,474.

"Our manufactured snow has really mitigated the ebb and flow," Associate Superintendent Tom McDowell said, even with shorter downhill and cross-country ski seasons the past few years.

Other park systems, including Dakota County, are now looking into snow-making. Ramsey County has been in talks with high school ski teams and a local ski club for a decade to try to add snow-making equipment at Battle Creek Regional Park, but it isn't cheap.

Ramsey County and other stakeholders would cover $2 million of the cost, Oyanagi said, but they are also hoping the Legislature will put $2 million toward the project in next year's bonding bill.

In the meantime, high school ski teams pack into Wirth Park on snowless days - a crowding Taylor said intimidates new skiers. And in St. Paul, McKean must continue to call schools and tell them the city's trails are not up to snuff for a ski meet.

He's gotten used to feeling like "that jerk at the city," McKean said. Over the past three years, more races have been canceled than held in St. Paul.

Jessie Van Berkel · 612-673-4649

Faiza Mahamud · 612-673-4203

Winter recreation is down at metro area parks since the last snowy winter in 2013.

87: Days of cross-country ski operations at Three Rivers Park District this season.

126: Days of cross-country ski operations at Three Rivers Park District in 2013.

618: Participants in St. Paul ski programs this season.

910: Participants in St. Paul ski programs in 2013.

$1,903: Ramsey County revenue from winter equipment rentals this season.

$11,308: Ramsey County revenue from winter equipment rentals in 2013.

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Copyright 2017 The Bismarck Tribune, a division of Lee Enterprises
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The Bismarck Tribune

 

GRAND FORKS - University of North Dakota coaches and athletes are quietly fretting this week about the future of their programs.

UND is expected to announce cuts to athletics teams this week - though no specific announcement date had been set as of Monday afternoon, according to UND spokesman Peter Johnson.

UND is in the midst of campuswide, state-mandated budget cuts due to a drop in funding from the state.

UND President Mark Kennedy asked the athletic department to cut $1.3 million out of its budget.

Athletics programs have been operating for more than a year now wondering if their teams were going to be cut.

Last April, just three days after UND won a men's hockey national championship, it announced that it was cutting baseball and men's golf. It later revived men's golf as long as it hits certain fundraising goals.

Then, in August, Kennedy formed a committee in August to re-examine all aspects of the athletics program, including the number of sports sponsored.

After a two-month process, the committee recommended keeping all 20 sports and Kennedy accepted that recommendation, saying it was the only time in his tenure that they would consider sports.

But three months later, Kennedy opened the door again to cutting sports because of a gloomy revenue forecast from the state.

Kennedy told the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee in October that UND was committed to keeping 12 sports - men's and women's hockey, men's and women's basketball, football, men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field, men's and women's cross-country, and volleyball.

It is unlikely that UND would cut a Big Sky Conference core sport - which covers everything except men's and women's hockey, men's and women's swimming and diving, men's golf, women's soccer and softball.

The Big Sky says UND never asked if it could cut a core sport for its final year in the league.

"While such conversation has never taken place, it is a Conference requirement for all full members to participate in all core sports," Big Sky associate commissioner Ron Loghry said in an interview.. "To fail to do so - even in its final year in the Conference - could render all UND teams ineligible for Conference championships."

UND will move to the Summit League for all sports except hockey and football in 2018.

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Copyright 2017 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.
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The New York Post

 

Frazzled residents of an Upper East Side luxury condo say the Equinox gym that shares their building is driving them nuts, claiming the sounds of people working out have been plaguing homeowners for nearly a year and a half, according to a new lawsuit.

Board members of Barbizon/63 Condominium say the East 63rd S treet gym has routinely ignored residents' complaints that they can hear exercisers blasting music or "dropping or throwing weights" as high up as the fifth floor, according to the Manhattan Supreme Court complaint.

"It's like living above a dance club," griped a woman who refused to give her name but said she lived on one of the lower floors.

"You would think an old building like this would have thicker walls and floors, but that's not the case. So what ends up happening is you hear this nonstop stream of loud music and thump, thump, thumping of the bass."

The woman said she could even distinguish the dropping of a weight from the "whirring" of cardio machines - though the "white noise" of the machines had become less troublesome over time.

"Often, you'll hear a much louder thumping and you know someone has just dropped a 300-pound set of dumbbells on the floor," she said.

Building representatives claim they first approached the gym's staff in November 2015 and asked that they either curb the noise or reinforce the unit, which the court papers say the gym "initially" agreed to do.

However, nothing changed, and residents could still hear "members and trainers regularly and continuously bounce heavy medicine balls on the floors and walls of the gym," creating racket that reached 63 decibels - the auditory equivalent of a vacuum cleaner - four floors up.

Units sell for as much as $15 million in the 23-floor prewar building. The suit claims the branch is in violation of both the building by-laws and New York City Noise Code.

The condo off Lexington Avenue, once the legendary Barbizon Hotel for Women, is asking a judge to order the gym to quiet down or cough up $100,000.

An Equinox spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.

rfenton@nypost.com

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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

PITTSBURGH - As people with heart disease live longer, a new emphasis on physical activity will improve the quality of their lives, especially as they get into their 80s and 90s, according to a statement published Thursday by the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

How patients function is traditionally measured by how well the heart and lungs work to supply oxygen to the body's muscles during physical activity. But in older adults other factors are involved, said geriatric cardiologist Daniel E. Forman at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who chaired the panel that wrote the scientific statement.

"There are other things, like balance, strength, cognition and vision that really impact on function," Forman said. "This paper emphasizes that as cardiology providers, we have to think about functional outcomes."

A broader focus is called for, he said. "Longevity is relevant: People live 30 years longer than people did a century ago. There is now a whole set of challenges as part of their living to that age."

Pills can't do it all, Forman said, and in some patients they can even make physical activity difficult.

"The irony is, when giving someone beta blockers, it can really impair function. It slows the heart down," he said. In someone who is older, that can have an unintended effect. Loss of strength and disability after hospital stays is common in older patients with heart disease.

"We have to think about it holistically," said Forman, chair of geriatric cardiology at UPMC and director of cardiac rehabilitation at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. "It's a growing area. Issues of function, frailty - all of these complexities are very challenging to cardiologists."

There's a great need for more research involving older patients, said Srinivas Murali, medical director of Allegheny Health Network's Cardiovascular Institute.

"Much of the evidence we have in respect to treatment and procedures for people with heart disease have all been based on studies of people under the age of 75," he said. "Can you translate the evidence to older age groups? Obviously it is not very straightforward."

He said he would welcome new guidelines for the care of older patients from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.

The journal statement outlined three areas for health care professionals to consider as they treat older patients with heart disease: 1. the biological effects of aging on disease and non-disease factors that both lessen physical function; 2. methods of assessing function (and the importance to check them regularly); and 3. ways to improve physical function with exercise training.

Loss of muscle mass and strength with disease and age contributes to problems with balance and flexibility that older adults have, for example, and medications for multiple conditions can make that worse, the statement said. Heart disease is also associated with inflammation throughout the body that can add to the risk of cognitive decline and depression, and further impair a person's capacity for daily activities.

Both normal aging and disease are associated with low-level inflammation, which may be caused by changes within the body's cells and in the immune system. It increases risks of frailty, a condition that is generally characterized by unintentional weight loss, increased tiredness, increased muscle weakness, slower walking and lower levels of activity. When an older adult is frail, heart disease and functional reductions are usually worse.

"No matter who you are, you're not the same at 85 as you were at 45," Forman said.

The statement outlines the usefulness of various tests to assess an older patient's functioning in areas like strength, balance, frailty, cognition and physical activity.

"This notion of recovery or resiliency is changing in a fundamental, biological way," Forman said. Traditional cardiac tests that measure a patient's cardiorespiratory fitness may not be enough. Older adults may be frail, as well as have orthopedic or neurological conditions that get in the way of being able to exercise and build up aerobic strength, according to the statement.

The journal statement outlines different approaches to improve function for patients with coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke and peripheral artery disease. When appropriate, cardiac rehabilitation is encouraged.

"Among older-age patients, the more frail they are, the more risk they have for complications and bad outcomes," Murali said. "Addressing frailty in these patients is important - good nutrition, physical therapy, building strength, restoring balance, improving their gait. We overlay that with cardiac rehabilitation to improve their functional capacity."

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Copyright 2017 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

SALT LAKE CITY - When it comes to expanding Rice-Eccles Stadium, Utah athletics director Chris Hill acknowledged there's a popular number being thrown around for the 45,807-seat venue.

"I think everybody wants a five in front of it," he said. "But that's why we need to be disciplined."

University of Utah officials announced Monday that a feasibility study will be conducted in regard to expanding the south end zone at the stadium. The announcement included plans for a market analysis, cost estimates and funding models.

"The study is a critical first step in determining a business plan that supports potential changes to the stadium's south side," it read.

Hill emphasized that a measured approach is being taken for a variety of reasons.

"We don't want to jump right away to a number of seats or whatever because the cost and the way to pay for it and the demand - they're all variables that need to be flushed out," he said.

University officials noted that the feasibility study will provide valuable data in evaluating things such as demand and potential revenue sources, including donations and increased ticket numbers.

"Understanding the market, costs and feasibility will help us better prepare for the future of the stadium," university President David W. Pershing said in the news release. "There's still much work to be done before taking steps toward renovation. We have to know if the market will support this kind of expansion."

The project involves more than the likelihood of additional seats. New locker rooms, equipment storage, hospitality and media rooms, as well as medical service space, could be part of an expansion. Additional considerations include fan interaction and concession space, loges and suites. Connecting the east and west concourses will also be studied.

"The infrastructure is one that has to happen for the football operations," Hill said. "So we know that is on a short timeline."

The reason for a thorough feasibility study with outside consultants and such, Hill explained, is to ensure it doesn't become a project based solely on somebody's opinion. Rather, a possible expansion must match different variables, such as demand and price points for the demand.

Utah football tickets have been a hot commodity in recent years. The average attendance last season was 46,506 - nearly exceeding the official capacity (thanks to standing-room tickets) by just under 800 per game.

Even so, the Utes were ninth in the Pac-12 in attendance - well behind front-runners USC (68,459), UCLA (67,458), Washington (64,589) and Oregon (54,677), but relatively close to Arizona (48,288), Arizona State (47,736), California (46,628) and Colorado (46,609). Stanford (44,142), Oregon State (37,622) and Washington State (31,675) brought up the rear.

According to a CBSsports.com report, Football Bowl Subdivision attendance fell for the sixth consecutive season. The average per game was 43,106 in 2016.

The Utes, thus, are bucking the trend. Hill noted that Utah's attendance and interest have accompanied the success that head coach Kyle Whittingham and the players have experienced.

"There's a lot of variables," said Hill, who added the great atmosphere at Rice-Eccles provides quite a home-field advantage.

"We just don't want to lose that," he said in terms of potential stadium expansion.

Hill said that anyone who sees the stadium knows what needs to be done to the facility. It's just the magnitude of it that needs to be decided.

"We want to make sure we have a financial plan that doesn't bankrupt the department as what's happened with other stadiums because people kind of get starry- eyed maybe and go from there," he continued. "This is a major project and we want to make sure we do it the right way and have data to back up what we're doing, not just opinions."

Utah has sold out every game at Rice-Eccles Stadium since the season-opener in 2010, a run of 38 consecutive contests. Season-ticket renewals are at 98 percent.

"It's great to hear that the process has begun for an expansion to Rice-Eccles Stadium. The expansion study, which will take into account new locker rooms, medical support areas, additional seating and other amenities to enhance the student-athlete and fan experience in Rice-Eccles Stadium, is a big step in the right direction," Whittingham said in an issued statement.

"Facility improvements are critical for our recruiting, and this will add to our ongoing efforts to have national- caliber facilities across the board, and we are grateful to the administration for exploring the options."

Hill is also excited about the announcement. He already received a telephone call from a fan wishing to buy eight more season tickets on the 50-yard line, a request he found a bit humorous considering expansion is set for the south end zone.

Such seats, Hill noted, are different than they were five years ago with the rise of luxury areas and other improvements. He expressed excitement that end-zone seating is more popular and fan-friendly.

That said, Hill doesn't have a number of new seats in mind.

"I think that's the exact problem that's in people's minds. Let's jump right to the size of a stadium and then they're really just guessing," Hill said. "And with the trend nationally, I think people want us to be different - which we just might be."

The Utes, he continued, have had a big jump in the number of Power-5 teams coming to Salt Lake City. Interest has risen and therefore the feasibility study is warranted.

"Long-term is a key. Because this is a very long-term project," Hill said. "We want to zero in on what the right number is. I don't have any conceived notion of that."

The approach is something Hill appreciates. Although funding will come from revenue generation by athletics, it's a university effort. Hill said everyone is making sure to "lock arms and do the right thing."

Robin Burr, who was named the university's chief design and construction officer in January, is heading the effort.

No timetable has been set for the project, pending results of the feasibility study. Hill said the committee hasn't really gotten started yet.

"Athletics will obviously be very involved, but we want to make sure as a university - getting all the input from constituent groups - that we make a very informed decision," Hill said. "All decisions are not 100 percent sure, but this is one where we can get closer. Every decision is a risk, but we want to limit this one because it's such a long-term deal and such an expensive proposition."

Email: dirk@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Spokane's second climbing gym, the Bloc Yard Bouldering Gym, will open 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The bouldering-only gym was set to open in early March, but the city permitting process delayed the process, said co-owner Adam Healy.

"We will be letting people climb here tomorrow," Healy said.

Although the gym will open to the public Tuesday, the grand opening is scheduled for April 15. Membership prices will be discounted up until the April 15 opening, Healy said.

The Bloc Yard Bouldering Gym, at 233 E. Lyons, is housed in a 10,000-square-foot building and will offer 4,500 square feet of climbing surface. It will feature walls for advanced, intermediate and beginning climbers. The gym hopes to have between 180 and 200 new routes every six weeks.

The gym be Spokane's second climbing gym. Unlike Wild Walls, which opened in 1995, the Bloc Yard will only offer bouldering.

Indoor climbing is an increasingly popular sport, and business venture. Last year, 27 new gyms opened in the U.S., representing a 7 percent increase. Since 2012, the climbing gym industry has grown on an of average 9 percent per year, according to the industry magazine Climbing Business Journal.

Contact the writer:

(509) 459-5417

elif@spokesman.com

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Copyright 2017 The Buffalo News
All Rights Reserved

The Buffalo News (New York)

 

PHOENIX - A year ago, the NFL was making a strong push for the Buffalo Bills to build a new stadium.

The league's position appears to have softened greatly since then.

According to a high-ranking NFL source, the league now believes that Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula are doing the right thing by taking their time before committing to a move from New Era Field. Although the Bills and the NFL would contribute to the cost of building a new stadium, public money would also be involved.

"They want the team to have some success before asking for things," the source told The Buffalo News on Monday during the NFL's annual meeting at the Arizona Biltmore.

The Bills have missed the playoffs for the past 17 seasons.

The source also said the Pegulas told the league they're still early in the process of establishing themselves as owners of the Bills and understanding the dynamics of the franchise's relationship with the community. They bought the team from the trust of late owner Ralph C. Wilson in October 2014.

"That's smart," the source said.

The News has requested a conversation with the owners this week.

Last year, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, executives at the league office, and owners of other NFL teams said they believed the Bills had an urgent need for a new stadium. They considered it vital to the club's ability to compete in a climate where other teams are able to realize the financial benefits of having newer facilities.

One source went as far as to describe New Era Field as one of the "three worst stadiums in the league," along with those in Oakland and San Diego.

On Monday, NFL owners approved, by a vote of 31-1, the Raiders' move to Las Vegas, where they eventually will play in a new stadium.

The San Diego Chargers have moved to Los Angeles and will eventually share a new, state-of-the-art stadium with the Rams, who moved from St. Louis back to L.A. before the 2016 season.

One of the natural questions emanating from NFL owners voting their approval Monday of the Raiders' move from Oakland to Las Vegas is whether it sends any sort of message to another team, such as the Buffalo Bills, with an outdated stadium.

The league's and the Raiders' inability to work out an agreement with the City of Oakland to build a satisfactory replacement for the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum was at the heart of the team finding a better deal in a new location.

However, shortly after the announcement of the Raiders' move, NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman said that there was no reason for Bills fans to read anything into its overwhelming approval as it pertains to their team's long-term future in Western New York.

"This certainly is not intended to send any message and I don't believe anyone should take any message in it," Grubman told reporters at the league's annual meeting at the Arizona Biltmore.

"Buffalo's fans are legendary and (are) ranked right up there with the greatest fans in the NFL. Ownership there is evaluating their options and those options are very long-term in nature.

"I don't want to speak for them, but I think you can see, by virtue of the fact that they're not waiting and have done work on the stadium already, that they care about their fans and they care about Buffalo."

John Mara, of the New York Giants, was among the NFL owners at last year's league meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., urging the Bills to get moving on the construction of a new stadium.

"It gets tougher and tougher to compete when all these new stadiums are going up and (the Bills are) going to be at a disadvantage, I think, somewhat competitively unless they get one," Mara told The News. "We'd all like to see them get a new building."

That comment, among others, sparked strong pushback from Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, who challenged the league to prove that the Bills were at a financial disadvantage by playing in their current stadium.

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Copyright 2017 Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
All Rights Reserved

Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

An independent commission tasked with examining Title IX policies at the University of Tennessee met with faculty, staff and students behind closed doors Monday at the Knoxville campus.

The visit by the Title IX Commission is part of a review process initiated by UT President Joe DiPietro in the aftermath of a $2.48 million lawsuit settled by the university last summer over allegations of fostering a "hostile sexual environment" on campus.

"I think it's important," said Kylie Ronnow, a sophomore who attended the Title IX "listening session," which was closed to the public. "The main concern I heard was making sure everybody gets equal treatment and then also the alcohol, consent and what really is consent. Those were sort of the overall topics."

The roughly hour-long session included the four attorneys who make up the commission getting feedback from faculty, staff and students.

Because the commission was hired by UT's president rather than appointed by the board of trustees, its meetings are not subject to open meetings laws, according to the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, unless the commission would choose to do so in order to gain public feedback. Monday's listening session was billed in a campus newsletter as an opportunity to gain feedback from the campus community, but was not open to the general public.

A public report on the findings of the commission is expected to be released later this spring.

Paige Shimer, another UT student who attended Monday's session, said afterwards there was a lot of discussion about issues related to sexual assault, alcohol policy and relationship violence, and how students can apply that information to their daily lives.

Shimer also said she has personally experienced stalking and has gone through the process of reporting it on campus.

"My situation is fairly settled at this point, but I feel better knowing it's been talked about," she said. "Stalking in particular isn't often talked about either on this campus or in general, and the laws and policies are very unclear on it. I think being able to get out here today and say, 'Hey, this is an issue,' is really helpful."

Members of the commission include: Washington, D.C., attorney Stanley Brand; Elizabeth Conklin, University of Connecticut Title IX coordinator and Office of Institutional Equity associate vice president; Janet Judge, Sports Law Associates president; and Nashville-area attorney Bill Morelli. All declined to comment after Monday's session.

The federal Title IX lawsuit settled in July accused UT of mishandling sexual assault cases, especially accusations against student-athletes, but the university admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement.

In addition to a list of "Title IX enhancements" to be implemented by the university, the settlement also resulted in the creation of seven positions to provide education on the issue of sexual assaults, including two in athletics.

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Copyright 2017 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A juror who voted to convict Penn State's former president of child endangerment said that the defendant's own words in a 2001 email amounted to some of the strongest evidence against him.

Victoria Navazio said Monday that an email from Graham Spanier to former co-defendants Gary Schultz and Tim Curley showed that he knew children were at risk.

Spanier approved a plan on how to deal with a report that assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was showering with a boy in a team facility. In the email, he told the other two administrators that the "only downside" would be if Sandusky did not respond properly "and then we become vulnerable for not having reported it."

"How else can you take that, other than they knew they should have been reporting it" to the then-Department of Public Welfare, said Navazio, three days after voting with 11 other jurors to convict the 68-year-old Spanier of a single misdemeanor count. He was acquitted of conspiracy and a second child endangerment count.

"Obviously he knew children were at risk for something," she said. "He knew there was a problem."

Spanier has said he had no inkling that the 2001 complaint by assistant coach Mike McQueary to Curley, Schultz, and former head football coach Joe Paterno was about a sexual attack on a child, as McQueary has repeatedly testified was the case. Spanier has said it was characterized as horseplay.

"This whole crap about 'horseplay' -- they apparently were comfortable using the word horseplay for some reason," Navazio said. "But at the same time you can't say it was horseplay, but everybody says how serious it was."

Navazio, a Harrisburg resident who works in the software field, has a bachelor's degree from Penn State-Harrisburg, said she had not followed the Sandusky child molestation scandal in recent years.

She said jurors were divided early on during the roughly 13 hours of deliberations, including some who favored full acquittal and others who wanted to convict on all three counts.

"It was actually heavily debated," she said. "Each charge was, I think I want to say, dissected down to the elements. And each element was discussed actually intently and quite seriously."

Schultz, the school's former vice president, and Curley, the former athletic director, both pleaded guilty on March 13 to misdemeanor child endangerment and testified for the prosecution. All three await sentencing. Spanier's lawyer has vowed to appeal.

Navazio said neither Curley nor Schultz struck her as credible on the stand.

Curley, she said, "seemed like the center of the breakdown of everything. He was the one that most procrastinated doing anything. He was the one that seemed to water down the report the most."

Jurors acquitted Spanier of the conspiracy charge out of a feeling that there was conspiring among the three administrators, but there wasn't evidence that the goal was to put children at risk, she said. Prosecutors say four of the eight young men who testified at Sandusky's trial that he had abused them, were abused after the incident McQueary witnessed.

"It didn't feel like they were conspiring to endanger children," Navazio said. "They were conspiring to protect Penn State."

Other jurors who were contacted by The Associated Press either deferred comment or declined to comment on the case.

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Copyright 2017 Ventura County Star
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Ventura County Star (California)

 

Images of students holding ropes tied around the necks of black men. Shouts of "Build a wall!" at a volleyball game. Baseball team jerseys altered to spell out a slur against African-Americans.

Recent hate incidents at Ventura County high schools have raised fear, anger and anxiety among students, parents and teachers and pushed school leaders into crisis intervention mode.

The incidents are playing out against a backdrop of threats to Jewish community centers around the country and hate acts against Muslim centers and mosques.

Although it's unclear if there has been an increase in hate incidents in schools, the Southern Poverty Law Center found in an online survey after the November election that verbal harassment, the use of slurs and derogatory language and incidents involving swastikas, Nazi salutes and Confederate flags are on the upswing throughout the country.

Some say President Donald Trump's election has emboldened this behavior.

"It's always been there, but people are more comfortable being racist in public because of the political climate, and we're more focused on it because of everything that's going on," said Veronica Valadez, a lecturer in Chicano studies at CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo.

The attention is also sparking some much-needed discussion, she said.

"We can finally talk about it," Valadez said. "Before, there was a lot of denial."

Talking about it is what Nordhoff High School Principal Greg Bayless had in mind when he asked his English and history teachers last week to discuss in their classrooms the historical, social and ethical issues surrounding the use of "the most hurtful, disrespectful and indefensible racial epithet in our language and culture."

The directive came after two junior varsity baseball players altered their jerseys to spell out a racial slur about African-Americans. He told his teachers that if the topic arose in the classroom independently "do not ignore or dismiss it." Nordhoff's student body is 60 percent white, 34 percent Latino and 1.3 percent African-American.

Related: HS Baseball Team's Racial Slur Stunt Nearly Cost Season

"If we do not have a strong empathy muscle well developed, we can't see the world through other people's eyes and we will do things that hurt other people," Bayless said in an interview last week. "So one of our jobs in education is to create the kind of adults we want to live with, and those are the kind of adults who see the world through others' perspectives."

Sarah Scott, a 17-year-old senior at the Ojai high school, said she and her classmates engaged in spirited, inclusive debates during classes last week that opened the door to a better understanding of other views and beliefs.

"I found that there are a lot of different interpretations about why this situation happened, but I think everyone can agree that it's not just Nordhoff, or it's not just Ojai or not just Ventura County," she said. "It's an epidemic in our country and it's an issue with our generation."

The two students who manipulated their jerseys and a third who took a picture and posted it online were removed from the team and head coach Sean Strben resigned, although he wasn't involved in the incident.

Devon Page, 18, a member of the baseball team, said he was confused when he heard what had happened.

"I got angry at the kids who did it and I started talking to them and I told them how disgusted I was with what they did," Page said. "And not only with what they did on a humanities level but also the impact it had on the team. Now we're facing a baseball season being ended because of a humanitarian issue that wasn't even committed by us. And I felt really hurt by that."

Bayless allowed Nordhoff's baseball season to continue after he met with the players and none of them tried to justify or make excuses for their teammates' behavior, he said.

Senior Alexis Garcia, 18, is Latino and drives from Oxnard every day to attend Nordhoff. He said he hasn't experienced any discrimination on campus, but he is grateful the topic is out in the open.

"This incident blew up a lot bigger and a lot quicker than it could have," he said. "But I'm really glad that it did. It's bringing awareness."

Putting the results of those discussions into practice is what Trudy Tuttle Arriaga recommends in her book "Opening Doors," a guide for educators on how to bring "cultural proficiency" into everything they do from holding fundraisers to disciplining students to hiring faculty.

Arriaga, who was superintendent of the Ventura Unified School District for 14 years, is traveling around the country, speaking to school districts about those ideas.

"Throughout the nation, what educators are saying is, 'We need this now more than ever,'" Arriaga said.

She said the campus incidents reflect what children and teenagers are seeing around them.

"On a political, national level, I don't care where you are on the spectrum, you certainly have seen activities that promote acts of hate and acts of violence and disrespectful language," she said. "I can't believe anyone is shocked or surprised this is escalating.

"Yelling things like 'Build a wall!' at a game or taking pictures of themselves with despicable and harmful images - who do they learn their behaviors from? Adults."

The activity at Nordhoff comes after at least one player on Simi Valley High's junior varsity boys volleyball team shouted "Build a wall!" during a varsity match at Pacifica High School in Oxnard.

Trump made building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border a cornerstone of his election campaign and the chant was frequently heard at his rallies.

The Simi Valley High player stopped when the coach intervened, and the superintendent called the head of Pacifica's district the next day to apologize.

"It's a reminder of what students of color deal with on a daily basis," said Superintendent Penny DeLeon of the Oxnard Union High School District. "Our students handled it with grace. It could have exploded, but it didn't."

A majority, 92 percent, of students who attend Pacifica are Latino and many were already stressed by the federal government's move to crack down on immigration, DeLeon said.

"There was a rash of anxiety within the community," she said.

"We had forums on campus where students were able to say how they felt. They were able to have open conversations about what was happening in the community and in the nation."

Dean May, the principal of Simi Valley High School, which is 57 percent white, 29 percent Latino and 0.8 percent African-American, said teachers at his school often take time in their lesson planning to "celebrate cultural differences and teach students that this is one of the strengths of our nation."

"As leaders on campus, educators should always take advantage of teachable moments to point out to students when they are being insensitive to others, and to help them correct their mistakes along the way," May said by email.

A similar incident occurred four years ago when several students from Camarillo High School chanted "USA, USA" during a championship basketball game against arch rival Rio Mesa High School. Some witnesses said the students, who were sporting American flag bandannas, pointed to Rio Mesa fans. At that time, the enrollment at Rio Mesa was 67 percent Latino; Camarillo High's was 46 percent white and 38 percent Latino.

The yell in Oxnard follows a January incident at Buena High School in Ventura, where two students sent a tweet showing themselves holding ropes around the necks of two black men. One of the students in the digitally altered photos wore a T-shirt displaying a Confederate flag. Buena is 51 percent Latino, 40 percent white and 1.3 percent African-American.

Since then, the district has been working with community groups to develop programs and bring speakers to schools to teach students about "how everyone in our community has importance and all are included," Interim Superintendent Joe Richards Jr. said.

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Copyright 2017 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

Mark Davis insists he has no fear.

Shortly after NFL owners formally approved another franchise relocation Monday -- the third in 14 months -- sending Davis' Oakland Raiders to Sin City, he was reminded about the backlash brewing back home.

On top of intense debate over whether fans will pay to see a team with one foot out the door, Davis' home address has been plastered all over the Internet. It makes me wonder whether he needs to beef up his personal security.

"No concern," the Raiders owner told USA TODAY Sports as he hustled to the next meeting. "That's part of life."

Davis pretty much had to make this move in one sense, given the landscape for the business of the NFL and the frustrating but fruitless years of trying to strike a deal to remain in Oakland. Davis expects that in the coming days he will publicly detail his reasons for the move to the die-hards in Oakland.

Good luck with that.

Regardless of how he explains it, it will be tough to convince some fans in the Bay Area that he could not have held out longer. They are hot, bothered and angry, the latest group of jilted fans whose team is moving away for greener (as in money) pastures.

Ronnie Lott, the Hall of Famer who is part of an investment group that fell short in striking a stay-at-home deal, told USA TODAY Sports last week: "It's going to get ugly. In San Diego, they were upset to lose the Chargers. People in Oakland will be mad."

Yet the Raiders, whose $1.9 billion domed stadium in Las Vegas isn't projected to be ready until 2020, will be staying in Oakland a little longer. The team has annual leases that extend through the 2018 season, and Davis said getting another for 2019 is also possible.

What a long, lame-duck window that surely some might view as a slap in the face to Oakland. Just move, baby? Not so fast.

"If fans would like us to stay there, we'd love to be there for that," Davis said in reference to the upcoming seasons. "I'd like to bring a championship back to Oakland."

Like a farewell gift? This will be so awkward, and just when the Raiders have been rebuilt into a viable Super Bowl contender after more than a decade of futility.

Consider how the Chargers responded after deciding to join the Rams as the second team in Los Angeles. They will play for two years at a temporary home at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., rather than remain in San Diego while their stadium is built. Apparently, owner Dean Spanos realized it would have only increased the strain -- and probably drained ticket sales, too -- to stay.

The Rams, likewise, knew it wasn't an option to stay in St. Louis after striking their L.A. deal.

What makes the Raiders different? As one NFL owner told me Monday: "It can work for them where it wouldn't work for others. The Raiders have such a unique fan base."

They undoubtedly are one of the NFL's most passionate national draws. I'd put the Raiders in a group with the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers when it comes to taking over a visiting stadium. The term "Raider Nation" comes with much substance.

One reason the franchise will succeed in Las Vegas, as Davis has suggested, is because of its proximity to California, where Raiders fans are ubiquitous.

"A lot of people we know are down with the move," said Raul Jaramillo, a Los Angeles native residing in Phoenix, who was among a small group of Raiders fans who showed up at the swanky resort where NFL owners are meeting this week.

"It's closer for us."

Jaramillo was living in L.A. when the Raiders moved back to Oakland in 1995, so he understands the bitterness and anger. He said he wouldn't wear the "Las Vegas Raiders" T-shirt he sported Monday in Oakland because it would be a slap in the face to fans there.

However, we're going to see just how loyal the Oakland base of Raider Nation will be. In the meantime, the Raiders have the weirdness looming of at least two more years in Oaktown -- possibly three if they don't spend 2019 in San Diego, sharing the 49ers stadium in Santa Clara or going to Vegas early.

As Jamarillo put it, "It's like divorcing your wife and she lives with you for two years while dating someone else."

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Copyright 2017 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Phoenix -- Invoking his father Al's name, and copying what the Hall of Fame owner did with the Raiders, Mark Davis is moving the franchise out of Oakland.

NFL owners approved the Raiders' move to Las Vegas 31-1 at the league meetings Monday. Miami was the lone dissenter.

"My father used to say the greatness of the Raiders is in the future," Davis said. "This gives us the ability to achieve that."

The vote was a foregone conclusion after the league and Raiders were not satisfied with Oakland's proposals for a new stadium, and Las Vegas stepped up with $750 million in public money. Bank of America also is giving Davis a $650 million loan, further helping to persuade owners to allow the third team relocation in just over a year.

The Rams moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles in 2016, and in January the Chargers relocated from San Diego to LA.

"You know our goal is to have 32 stable franchises for each team and the league," Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We work very hard and never want to see the relocation of a franchise. We worked tirelessly over the last nine months or so on a solution. We needed to provide certainties and stability for the Raiders and the league."

The Raiders, whose relocation fee of approximately $350 million is less than the $650 million the Rams and Chargers paid, likely will play two or three more years in the Bay Area before their $1.7 billion stadium near the Las Vegas Strip is ready.

"I wouldn't use the term lame duck," Davis insisted. "We're still the Raiders and we represent Raider Nation.

"There will be disappointed fans and it's important for me to talk to them to explain why and how."

Las Vegas, long taboo to the NFL because of its legalized gambling, also is getting an NHL team this fall, the Golden Knights.

From ABRenderings of Proposed $1.9B Las Vegas Raiders Stadium

"Today will forever change the landscape of Las Vegas and UNLV football," said Steve Sisolak, chairman of the Clark County Commission and a former member of a panel appointed by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval to study the stadium tax funding plan. "I couldn't be more excited for the fans and residents of Clark County as we move forward with the Raiders and the Rebels."

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and a group trying to keep the team in Oakland, made a last-ditch presentation to the NFL last week. But that letter was "filled with uncertainty," according to Goodell.

Monday, she asked owners to delay the vote, wanting to give her city a chance to negotiate with a small group of owners to complete a stadium deal at the Coliseum site.

"Never that we know of has the NFL voted to displace a team from its established market when there is a fully financed option before them with all the issues addressed," Schaaf said in a statement. "I'd be remiss if I didn't do everything in my power to make the case for Oakland up until the very end."

Schaaf said the city presented a $1.3 billion plan for a stadium that would be ready by 2021. She said the existing Coliseum would be demolished by 2024, with the Oakland Athletics baseball team either moving to a new stadium at the Coliseum site or somewhere else in the city.

But the presence of the A's in that sports complex was particularly troubling to the NFL, Goodell said.

"We understand the Raiders' need for a new stadium," A's President Dave Kaval said. "Oakland is an incredible sports town and we would be sorry to see them leave. We commend the city's and county's efforts to keep the Raiders in Oakland. The mayor and her team have worked incredibly hard to save the franchise.

"We are focused on, and excited about, our efforts to build a new ballpark in Oakland and look forward to announcing a location this year."

The Raiders' move became more certain this month when Bank of America offered the loan. That replaced the same amount the Raiders lost when the league balked at having casino owner Sheldon Adelson involved and he was dropped from the team's plans.

Davis on Monday thanked Adelson for his "vision and leadership," saying the entire deal might not have happened without him.

Leaving the Bay Area is not something new with the Raiders, who played in Los Angeles from 1982-94 before heading back to Oakland. Davis was passed over last year in an attempt to move to a stadium in the LA area that would have been jointly financed with the Chargers. Instead, the owners approved the Rams' relocation and gave the Chargers an option to join them, which they exercised this winter.

Now, it's off to the desert for the Raiders. Well, in a few years.

"The opportunity to build a world-class stadium in the entertainment capital of the world," Davis said, "is a significant step toward achieving that greatness."

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Copyright 2017 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Washington -- Sixteen U.S. senators wrote a letter to USA Hockey's executive director Monday over their concerns about the treatment of the women's national team.

Players have threatened to boycott the upcoming world championships over a wage dispute. The senators, all Democrats, urged David Ogrean to resolve the matter and ensure the team receives "equitable resources." They cited the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act.

USA Hockey's board of directors meets Monday, and players said Sunday night they hope there's a deal.

The senators, all Democrats, joined a chorus of support that includes unions representing players from the NHL, NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball. Those organizations said over the weekend they stood with the women's team and criticized USA Hockey for attempting to find replacement players.

Prominent NHL agent Allan Walsh tweeted Sunday, "Word circulating among NHL players that American players will refuse to play in men's World Championships in solidarity with the women."

Zach Bogosian, an American-born Buffalo Sabres defenseman, went to high school with U.S. captain Meghan Duggan. He tweeted his support and said he hopes the dispute is resolved.

The U.S. is the defending champion at the International Ice Hockey Women's World Championship, which begins Friday in Plymouth, Michigan.

In negotiations over the past 15 months, players have asked for a four-year contract that pays them outside the six-month Olympic period. The senators' letter notes the $6,000 that players earn around the Olympics and USA Hockey's $3.5 million annual spending on the men's national team development program and other discrepancies.

"These elite athletes indeed deserve fairness and respect, and we hope you will be a leader on this issue as women continue to push for equality in athletics," the senators wrote.

In a statement Sunday night, players said they hoped USA Hockey would approve terms discussed during a meeting last week. They said the agreement has the "potential to be a game changer for everyone."

The letter was signed by: Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Patty Murray of Washington, Dianne Feinstein of California, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Thomas Carper of Delaware, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Robert Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

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Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Lace up those sneakers. Exercise - specifically high-intensity interval training - slows down the aging process.

A new study published in the journal Cell Metabolism noted that any kind of exercise is better than none, but it's the high-intensity interval training that does best in reversing age-related changes at the cellular level. Though this works for people of all ages, it seems to offer more benefits to older people.

HIIT, as it is commonly known, requires short bursts of intense aerobic activity, intermixed with longer stretch of moderate exercise. Participating in this kind of training encourages cells to make more proteins to fuel the energy producing cellular mechanism. This, in turn, arrests the aging process.

The study found that younger people participating in HIIT showed a 49 percent increase in mitochondrial capacity and the older group saw a 69 percent. (Mitochondria are the cells' powerhouses, responsible for producing the molecule that transports chemical energy within cells.)

"Based on everything we know, there's no substitute for these exercise programs when it comes to delaying the aging process," Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, senior author of the study and a diabetes researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told Medical News. "These things we are seeing cannot be done by any medicine."

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, used two sets of volunteers: the younger set ranged in age from 18 to 30 and the older ranged in age between 65 and 80.

The researchers found that strength training was most effective for building muscle mass and for improving strength - important because both qualities decline with age - but the group that participated in HIIT earned the best results at the cellular level. HIIT seemed to reverse the age-related decline in both mitochondrial function and muscle-building proteins.

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USA TODAY

 

Sean Doolittle understands the concern.

The veteran Oakland Athletics reliever, asked about the new, collectively bargained Major League Baseball rule that prohibits the long-standing tradition of forcing rookies to dress as women for a late-season road trip, stressed that he does not think ballplayers ever meant to marginalize any fans in the practice. But, Doolittle said, if the increased social media attention around the annual rite of passage alienated fans, there's no good reason to keep it going.

"It has always been one of those sacred clubhouse rituals," Doolittle said. "With the nature of media now and the transparency that comes with social media, that stuff gets a lot more publicity. And while it's meant in good fun, we also have to be aware of what it looks like to other people.

"And if other people say they're offended by it, who are we to say what you're allowed to be offended by or what you're not allowed to be offended by?"

To hear it from players, forcing rookies to dress as women was never meant to humiliate them, only to humble them. Many maintain fond memories of the experience: Wearing, say, a cheerleader costume on the team flight helped them feel like they were paying their dues and part of the team. Seniority carries a lot of weight in a big-league clubhouse, and for some, dress-up day marked an obvious and important step toward veteran status.

"I didn't think it was a bad thing," said Mike Trout, who dressed as Lady Gaga for a road trip in 2011. "I really looked forward to it, to doing stuff like that. Coming up, we all did it. It was good for the guys just to feel that, if we're messing around with them, you know, it just makes them feel like part of the group. Obviously the dresses and stuff makes people uncomfortable, but we were trying to accept guys into the group. It's gone now."

"I think in this world we live in, we've gotten way too damn sensitive about some things," veteran major league slugger Aubrey Huff said. "I had to dress up twice: once as a Hooters girl, once as a fairy. I had no problem with it. It was a form of acceptance, you know? It was a fun thing to do, and we all felt like, 'Hey man, we're in the big leagues. This is awesome!'"

The new rule, part of an anti-hazing and anti-bullying supplement to the league's workplace code of conduct, does not prevent teams from putting young players in costumes for travel. But while men dressed as women, for better or worse, has been culturally coded as funny for centuries -- from Shakespeare to Kids in the Hall and beyond -- dressing a rookie as a woman to demonstrate his lesser status in the clubhouse can be read to imply that people who wear dresses are lesser.

Former major league outfielder Billy Bean, the sport's ambassador for inclusion since 2014, explained the reasons for the new policy. It's not about protecting rookie players as much as it is about ensuring an inclusive culture for fans and preventing parroted traditions in younger and more impressionable groups.

"There was never a moment when we were going to try to eliminate it," Bean said. "I understand that it's part of the process in your journey as a big-league player, but the point of what we wanted to introduce during the CBA was making sure that the players understand that when kids that do look up to them, they see a hazing tradition as part of the process, so those examples are then relayed down to environments -- high school sports, college sports -- where they are unsupervised.

"We didn't want to eliminate it, but if you're making images that are disparaging to women, to the LGBT community, to people of different religious faiths, that gets translated and altered in other environments and sends a message that baseball does not want to send anymore. We have a high responsibility, being the sport of Jackie Robinson, and, for us, it was just about building a greater awareness, a better understanding and a challenge to each club to be as respectful of those parameters as they can."

Not every player welcomed the perceived obligation. Huff remembered a teammate outright refusing to wear the costume left in his locker after a game and the repercussions of that refusal.

"He threw a temper tantrum," Huff said of the teammate, whose name he did not share. "One of the veteran guys came up to him, tried to calm him down, got in his face, and it actually became a big altercation. The guy threw a trash can across the locker room, and at that point it was, 'OK, he doesn't have to wear it.' But from that point on, he lost all credibility in the locker room. Nobody spoke with him. It's a bonding experience, and if you're not going to bond with your teammates, as silly as it may be, you just weren't accepted."

"I don't dress up as a woman regularly, so it's not something I enjoyed," said Oakland Athletics outfielder Rajai Davis, who endured the ritual twice. "But it's something that, you had no choice, so you just do what you have got to do.

"It is necessary? I think maybe it got a little out of hand. But as far as keeping guys hungry, sometimes you don't want guys to feel entitled, and that's kind of a humbling experience. For some guys, they just can't take that. It's definitely a humbling thing: 'OK, you made it to the big leagues, now humble yourself.' But I suppose there's a thin line between what's necessary and what's a little overboard, a little over the top."

While many players were unclear on the particulars of the rule -- which, again, does not prevent teams from dressing rookies in costume, only from dressing rookies in certain costumes -- those familiar did not seem terribly concerned.

Bean cited the example of the 2016 New York Yankees, who dressed the group of young players nicknamed "the Baby Bombers" as actual babies, as an example of the tradition reimagined in a less controversial way.

"That's how you bring the attention in a positive light, as opposed to guys being shamed into wearing something that is obviously denigrating towards women or to people of other faiths or different cultures," Bean said. "It's making us a little more accountable."

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USA TODAY

 

Last-ditch efforts by Oakland leaders to keep the Raiders from moving to Las Vegas haven't moved the ball with the NFL.

In a letter to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who publicly released additional details Friday of a plan the NFL deemed unworkable months ago, Commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated that key issues with the Oakland proposal remained unresolved. NFL owners will consider the Raiders' relocation application at the league meeting that began Sunday in Phoenix.

"Despite all of these efforts, ours and yours, we have not yet identified a viable solution," Goodell wrote. "It is disappointing to me and our clubs to have come to that conclusion."

A vote could come as soon as Monday on the plan for a nearly $2 billion stadium project in Las Vegas. Momentum has been growing for approval since Bank of America stepped up as the Raiders' new financing partner. Twenty-four of 32 owners would need to approve the move.

Related: Raiders File Paperwork to Relocate to Las Vegas

The full text of Goodell's letter to Schaaf, sent late Friday, is below.

Dear Mayor Schaaf:

We have had an opportunity to review the material your office released today regarding a stadium project in Oakland for the Raiders.

Before addressing the substance of the material, I want to personally thank you for your leadership and for the time and effort you have devoted to addressing the Raiders' stadium needs and to keeping Oakland as an NFL community. As you have said more than once, the unquestioned need to replace the current stadium has been hampered by a long record of unrealistic and unkept promises that has complicated your efforts and constrained your options. I know from my own discussions with you, as well as those that have involved our staffs, that you and your team have made every effort to be accessible, creative, and diligent in exploring alternatives. I am grateful to you for doing so, and our member clubs are as well.

I particularly want to thank you for meeting on two occasions with our Finance and Stadium Committees, and much of our executive staff, most recently at our committee meetings on March6. Those two committees consist of 18 owners and have devoted considerable time and attention to the Raiders. They will be presenting their analysis and recommendations to the full membership next week. Your presentations to those committees, as well as the many discussions between our staffs, have been valuable in giving us an understanding of the opportunity available to the Raiders in Oakland.

The material that we reviewed earlier today confirms certain information that had previously been communicated orally, such as a willingness to bring bank financing to a stadium project, and a proposed valuation of the land at the Coliseum site. It also confirms that key issues that we have identified as threshold considerations are simply not resolvable in a reasonable time. In that respect, the information sent today does not present a proposal that is clear and specific, actionable in a reasonable timeframe, and free of major contingencies.

In making this assessment, we recognize and accept the core negotiating principles that you have articulated as being appropriate to your community. A significant number of NFL clubs play in stadiums that have little or no public financial support (including the stadium being built in Los Angeles). We have long accepted your position that no public funds are available for stadium construction in Oakland. We also accept that you do not wish to exercise (and may not be able to exercise) the contractual termination rights related to the A's.

We have been prepared for nearly two years to work on finding a solution based on access to land at a certain cost, without constraints on the location of the stadium or timing of construction, and clarity on overall development. However, at this date, there remains no certainty regarding how the site will be fully developed, or the specific and contractually-defined nature of the participation by Fortress or other parties. In addition, the long-term nature of the commitment to the A's remains a significant complication and the resolution of that issue remains unknown. Other significant uncertainties, which we have previously identified, remain unaddressed.

We had hoped that the past two years would have allowed both of us to develop a viable project in Oakland. You have provided valuable leadership; for our part, our clubs have repeatedly delayed any relocation by the Raiders and committed an additional $100million in NFL financial support (for a total of $300million) to a stadium project in Oakland. We have had regular communications with you, your staff, and more recently with Mr.(Ronnie) Lott and his colleagues. And of course, many of our owners have met with you directly, as noted earlier.

Despite all of these efforts, ours and yours, we have not yet identified a viable solution. It is disappointing to me and our clubs to have come to that conclusion.

At our upcoming meeting, the clubs will consider the Raiders' application to move to Las Vegas. A key part of that discussion will be a thorough review of our collective efforts in Oakland. I will contact you promptly regarding any decisions made next week.

Thank you again for your leadership and for the material of earlier today.

Sincerely,

Roger Goodell

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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

CONWAY - After spending nearly three decades in the world of high finance, Coastal Carolina football coach Joe Moglia approaches just about every new challenge from the perspective of a chief executive officer.

When Moglia was hired at Coastal Carolina in 2011, he heard rumors that the school's administration and boosters were interested in moving the program from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

The Chanticleers, who fielded their first football team in 2003, became an elite program at the FCS level competing in the Big South Conference alongside teams like Charleston Southern, which several months ago saw its head coach Jamey Chadwell and recruiting coordinator Willy Korn leave to join Moglia's staff.

Moglia, who previously served as CEO of TD Ameritrade - one of the world's largest discount brokerage firms - at first was lukewarm to the idea of moving up to FBS. His concerns were based on the business principle of supply and demand.

"I've always felt like the market will tell you when it's time to move on or in this case move up to FBS," said Moglia, whose team will wrap up spring practice on April 8 with its spring game. "To me, if we had standing-room-only crowds for two or three years and a huge demand for tickets, then that's an obvious time for us to raise our hands and say this is something that we'd like to do."

Over the past three years, the Chanticleers drew near sellout crowds to Brooks Stadium, the on-campus facility that seats about 9,000. Still, the school was well shy of the 15,000 minimum attendance requirement set by the NCAA for FCS teams. From 2014-16, Coastal Carolina averaged 8,647 fans per home game.

But when the Sun Belt Conference approached Coastal Carolina in 2014 about joining its league, it was an opportunity the school couldn't pass up, Moglia said.

"I think it was always something that the board thought about," Moglia said. "When I got here, I'll admit I thought about it, too, but I wasn't sure the time was right. When we made the move, it was the Sun Belt that approached us about the opportunity of joining the league and I felt, the board felt, the president felt, like we couldn't pass on it."

The Chanticleers officially joined the Sun Belt last summer in all sports except football. After spending last year in football limbo, playing an independent schedule that featured both FCS and FBS opponents - Coastal Carolina will make its FBS debut on Sept. 2 against the University of Massachusetts at Brooks Stadium.

The two-year transition from FCS to FBS has not been without growing pains, but Moglia is confident the program is ready to make the jump to the highest level of collegiate football.

"We wouldn't be making this move if we didn't think we could be competitive," he said.

The Bottom Line

Fielding a collegiate football program at any level is an expensive endeavor. The costs associated with scholarships for players, coaching salaries, traveling, recruiting, along with building and maintaining facilities are enormous.

Despite having a program already in place, Coastal Carolina is finding out the jump from FCS to FBS won't be cheap.

At the FCS level, schools can offer as many as 63 full-scholarships, but the coach has the discretion to give partial scholarships in order to have more players on the team.

That number jumps to 85 scholarships at the FBS level and all of those have to be full scholarships. The average cost of attendance at Coastal Carolina is $22,500 for in-state students and about $36,000 for out-of-state students.

Conservatively, the additional 22 scholarships will run nearly $650,000 more per season for the Chanticleers. Moglia views the added costs as a good long-term investment in the program.

"It's the cost of doing business," he said.

Along with the increase in scholarships, the school will also pour $32 million into Brooks Stadium to bring it up to the minimum attendance requirement for FBS. The school broke ground on the two-part stadium expansion last week.

The initial phase of the expansion, which will be completed by the season opener against UMass, will increase the capacity to about 15,000. The project will include adding seats to both corners of the end zone nearest the field house, expanding the sections closest to the field on both sides toward the scoreboard and expanding the upper deck on the east side (press box side) to match the length on the lower deck.

The second phase will give Brooks Stadium a capacity of at least 20,000 and includes adding luxury suites and an upper deck to the west side as well as additional features such as new entrances.

From ABCoastal Carolina Breaks Ground for Stadium Expansion

Getting the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education to sign off on the expansion wasn't easy for the school's administration. The commission, which regulates capital construction at state universities, rejected the school's first plan, which would have cost $38 million and boosted the capacity to 21,000.

The school finally got approval for the plan and reduced the price tag to the current $32 million figure.

The costs associated with traveling in the Sun Belt - a league that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the plains of Texas and into the foothills in Idaho - will be significantly more than when Coastal played in the Big South, where most road games involved relatively short bus rides.

Opening doors

When the decision was made to join the Sun Belt Conference, Moglia and his coaching staff immediately hit the recruiting trail looking for players that could compete at a higher level.

Moglia said it'll take a couple of years for the Chanticleers to reach the 85-scholarship limit. This year, he figures the team will field about 72 scholarship players.

"Where will be at a disadvantage is that the NCAA doesn't allow you just to get to 85 scholarship players in one season. As you lose kids from graduation or by attrition, you can only bring in 25 players in each recruiting class," Moglia said. "So, right now, we'll probably have 71 or 72 scholarship players next year. I don't want to max out on the 85 number just to have 85 scholarship kids unless they are the kids we want in our program. It's up to us to catch up."

While the type of player Coastal Carolina is recruiting has changed, Moglia said his style of recruiting has not. His recruiting pitch still involves his philosophy of B.A.M. (Be A Man) and L.A.F. (Life After Football). The two programs emphasize personal responsibility and a player's life after his career is over.

"We try to look at what advantages we have over other schools and other programs and B.A.M and Life After Football give us an advantage," Moglia said. "We're the only football program that takes 30 minutes out of our practice schedule to focus on personal responsibility and giving our players the tools to succeed after they finish playing football."

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Star-News (Wilmington, NC)

 

Newly released legal bills show UNC s costs related to the long-running academic-athletic scandal are approaching $18 million.

From mid-2015 to near the end of last year, UNC said Friday that it has spent another $5.6 million on legal costs for the NCAA investigation, three lawsuits by former athletes who say they were harmed by the scandal and document reviews for two public records requests. UNC had previously spent roughly $12 million on legal, investigative and public relations costs related to the scandal involving classes that had no instruction and provided high grades for papers regardless of quality.

The largest recipient of the $5.6 million was the Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom law firm. Based in New York, it received more than $2 million. The firm had been assisting with the NCAA case, but roughly a year ago, had to back out because of a conflict, UNC officials said. The university is now using the Sidley Austin law firm and has paid it $508,000 through the first six months of 2016.

Bond, Schoeneck & King, a law firm with headquarters in Syracuse, N.Y., that specializes in NCAA matters, received $1.3 million from August 2015 to December 2016.

UNC also spent another $1.8 million to review, redact and then release public records requested by The News & Observer and The Daily Tar Heel, which is the student newspaper. The firm that UNC paid to conduct the most extensive investigation into the scandal, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, received $159,000 of that amount for producing records for UNC, and the rest went to unidentified parties. The requests were for the roughly 1.7 million records UNC provided to Cadwalader for its investigation, which was led by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein, a partner in the firm.

UNC officials say none of the money to pay the bills is coming from tuition or state appropriations.

The legal bills are likely to continue for many months. Two of the athlete lawsuits await a decision in a federal court in Winston-Salem. U.S. District Judge Loretta C. Biggs held a hearing nearly a year ago to determine whether the cases should proceed to discovery, but has yet to issue a ruling.

Meanwhile, the NCAA s case against UNC, which includes major allegations of lack of institutional control and unethical conduct, was delayed again last week after one of the creators of the bogus classes, Deborah Crowder, an office manager for the African studies department, said in an affidavit that they were legitimate. She had not agreed to previous interview requests by the NCAA, but is now tentatively consenting to be interviewed.

The bogus classes lasted 18 years and involved more than 3,100 students, roughly half of them athletes, Wainstein s investigation found. The scandal is often cited in the national debate about the educations athletes receive in exchange for performing on the field or court.

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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

From hiking, to kayaking, to mountain biking, to trail running, to just slipping out to take the dog for a walk, one doesn't have to look far to see a significant portion of Richmonders on the move and living an active lifestyle.

It is easy to view these individuals as just that, individuals exercising or recreating, but in fact, the cumulative effect of active living can have a tremendous impact on communities, said Jon Lugbill, executive director of Sports Backers, a local organization whose aim it is is to make Richmond the most physically active community in the nation.

"People who are physically active 150 minutes per week live longer, have a greatly decreased chance of getting Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, have greatly reduced incidents of depression and are more productive at work or school," Lugbill said. "A community full of active people means a more vibrant community, increased economic productivity, a more desirable place to raise a family and a better climate to start a business."

Not long ago, Lugbill was looking for conferences Sports Backers' employees could attend that were focused on active living. Surprisingly, the options were limited, so, rather than be deterred, Sports Backers decided to start its own conference on active living. The idea to host the Movement Makers National Active Living Summit made perfect sense considering Richmond's growing reputation as an outdoor and active city.

The summit will take place May 17-19 in the days leading up to Dominion Riverrock, the nation's largest outdoor sports and music festival, and will host an impressive list of speakers from around the country, including Richard Louv, author of "Last Child in the Woods," which addresses the importance of getting children outdoors, and James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit dedicated to increasing play opportunities for all children.

Lugbill noted people from across the country already are signing up. He expects a significant number of local participants as well.

"We hope Movement Makers becomes the gathering spot for leaders in the active city movement from across the country," Lugbill said. "We hope that the thought leaders in the active city movement will help Movement Makers become the place to share (their) best practices and assist communities throughout the country and impact more people through improved active living programs, services and infrastructure."

The summit includes presentations on active living such as inspiring physical activity in children and schools, how to build active living into your local zoning regulations, and how to build bikeways and paths in rural and suburban areas.

Of course, participants won't just sit and listen. The summit includes opportunities for walks through Richmond's open spaces and parks as well as group bike rides, runs and fitness classes. Those in attendance also are encouraged to take part in some of the activities associated with Dominion Riverrock, such as the environmental film festival and the Filthy 5k Mud Run.

Those who are unable to attend the entire summit are encouraged to sign up for add-ons on May 19, including the workplace well-being and physical activity event or the event creation workshop.

"Movement Makers provides a way for Richmond area leaders to learn how to impact the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of our friends and neighbors throughout our community by implementing active living best practices. Together, we can build a more equitable, healthy, vibrant community through active living," Lugbill said.

 

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Copyright 2017 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

SALT LAKE CITY -- Steve Kerr always was the most reasonable guy in the room. The Golden State Warriors' head coach seemed even more so when he told reporters he would be willing to take a pay cut in order to reduce the number of NBA games.

"I wouldn't be opposed to it," he said prior to a game last week, "even at the expense to my own salary, but it's something that everyone would have to agree to. I think even just going down to 75 games, I think that would make a dramatic difference in schedule. Now I don't see that happening because there is money at stake for everybody."

Otherwise, great idea.

Kerr's suggestion of cutting the schedule by almost 10 percent, or seven games, is apparently something he can afford, but he might be the only one. Some of the richest people on earth - as well as the regular people - would have a big problem with that.

Playing time has become the story of the year in the NBA. That's because teams have been sitting stars at an unprecedented rate. And they're not apologizing. Last week, Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue rested stars LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. That was a week after the Spurs and Warriors met in a crucial pairing, yet each sat several stars.

At the same time all this was happening, NBA commissioner Michael Silver was firing off a letter to league owners, warning against losing credibility with fans and sponsors, who pay high prices for tickets. Silver went on to say the league meetings on April 6 will feature major discussion on the topic, and there will be "significant penalties" for teams that ignore rules.

Everyone knows the NBA schedule is brutal and nobody wants to see playoffs with top players injured. So the obvious fix is to shorten the season. Kerr could lose approximately $427,000 of his $5 million salary if seven games were shaved. For James, that would equal about $2.64 million in reduction. He can afford it, with a $31 million salary.

Or can he?

It would seem obvious multimillionaire players could afford pay cuts to preserve their bodies, but they often can't. The famed Sports Illustrated story of 2009 said 60 percent of NBA players go bankrupt within five years of retirement. They spend huge sums on cars, homes and luxury items, but also on child support, alimony and expenses for friends. Soon they're in bankruptcy court.

The old saying about spending what you make was never truer than in professional sports.

Haunting stories like the one of former player Robert Swift - broke, evicted and living with his parents - occur regularly. Charles Barkley gambled away $10 million, Eddie Curry took out a loan at 85 percent interest, Antoine Walker supported 70 people, and Shaquille O'Neal tipped a waiter $4,000, according to various reports.

But even if players did agree to earn less, the other problem is the TV networks. They, too, would earn less if they broadcast fewer games. Consequently, so could a production assistant at TNT, or the public relations chief for the Wizards. Team or network employees, living in expensive cities, could pay the highest price if there were reductions. Those people don't start out with millions.

Meanwhile, executives such as Cleveland general manager David Griffin are unapologetic about resting players, saying the end justifies the means. Fresher legs in April could mean a deeper playoff run.

One solution to a shorter season and less revenue would be to simply raise ticket prices and arena signage rates. Wonderful. Fewer games but higher prices. That would go over like a case of hives.

Despite an unprecedented amount of money in the league's new TV arrangement, the NBA may yet conclude what almost every other business in America has already faced: You can't work less and get paid the same. Any kid with an allowance can verify that.

The sad part is that peripheral people would get no more time off, but maybe a smaller paycheck for their trouble. Blowing millions and claiming poverty is one thing, but working for a regular salary, every day, is something else. They're not taking care of their images, they're just taking care of their kids.

Email: rock@deseretnews.com

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Sunday Telegram (Massachusetts)

 

Guilford Tennis Center's 12 traditional courts in Rockford, a sea of faded green and blue marked by patchwork lines, await their long-overdue makeover this summer.

One, though, looks perfect. And, upon closer inspection, different. Because it is.

The Rockford Park District laid a plastic court over one of its deteriorating courts at Guilford. It is an experiment; officials want to see how the surface made by Flex Court Athletics is received before weighing it as an option to replace other courts around town.

"They were originally in LaSalle-Peru but manufactured now in Rockford," said Laurie Anderson, the Park District's operational director. "We made a sponsorship partnership for a greatly discounted price. They wanted to have a product featured in their hometown. We're thinking this could be an option for our neighborhood tennis courts and wanted to get player feedback."

The court is made of square plastic tiles. Each tile has a pattern of 16 squares by 16 squares, and the court inside the lines is 92 blue tiles long and 52 tiles wide with many more tiles, in green, outside the lines.

The biggest selling point for the Flex Court is it lasts and lasts - and lasts. Freeport installed three plastic courts at Krape Park 20 years ago and they still look brand new.

"The average court, you are redoing it every five to 10 years," said Freeport High School boys tennis coach Ed Schradermeier. "They've done no patch work with those courts. The tiles tend to move, so you just slide them over each year."

If those were traditional courts, Freeport might have had to replace them twice already. That's expensive. Jack Carey, Freeport Park District's executive director,

said it cost $340,000 to replace four traditional courts at Reed Park two years ago.

"The cost savings is tremendous," Carey said. "Tennis courts are not an easy fix. If you can find an alternative that extends the life of the courts, you have to take a serious look at it."

The worry is that serious tennis players won't like it.

"A lot of the better players say they don't want to play on it, but I personally have never had a problem with it," said Schradermeier, who is a nine-time Freeport city tennis champion. "Clay courts are different. Indoor courts that are real fast are a little different. Everything is a little different.

"We put competitive matches on those courts over the years and they play out the same way. The person who should win usually wins."

The courts come in various colors and can also be used for other purposes, such as getting surfaces painted with a 3-point line for basketball.

"I know players have mixed feelings on plastic courts, but with updated technology since the Freeport ones have been put in, it was worth trying," Anderson said. "It may be the solution for some players, but for others probably not.

"We want to get feedback on it. It might not be for the highest level of competitive play, but it certainly is a possible solution for recreational tennis to be played and for kids to be introduced to the sport."

Matt Trowbridge: 815-987-1383;

mtrowbridge@rrstar.com; @matttrowbridge

 

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March 26, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2017 Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

They should give it back. The NCAA, I mean. They should give the banner back.

They gave back Joe Paterno's wins, didn't they?

They let Duke keep its tainted Final Fours.

So the NCAA should let Memphis hang the Final Four banner it won in 2008, but which is now stashed in a locked closet in the athletic office building, even though the NCAA couldn't prove Memphis did anything wrong.

Seriously. The NCAA proved nothing, nada, zippo.

But down came the banner because the NCAA wanted it down. Because if you're at a school like Memphis, with a coach like John Calipari, sometimes that's enough.

I bring all this up as Calipari tries to win yet another Final Four banner by leading his Kentucky Wildcats past the North Carolina Tar Heels at FedExForum on Sunday.

Earlier in the week, when I asked Calipari if he had given any thought to whether the Memphis banner should still be hanging, he said, "I haven't, but I would say there's nothing that can take away what the run was about for all of us, including the city."

Which is true, of course, and what every coach and fan says about vacated victories. Nothing can take away the memories of UCLA's vacated Final Four appearance in 1980, or the memories of Memphis's vacated Final Four appearance in 1985, or the memories of of Michigan's Final Four appearances in 1992 and 1993, or the memories of Ohio State's Final Four appearance in 1999.

But there is a critical difference between all those cases and the case against Memphis in 2008. And the difference is that the NCAA never established - and never actually cared to establish - that Memphis did anything wrong.

Indeed, Derrick Rose was cleared to play by the NCAA Clearinghouse. They said he was good to go.

"All these kids go through a review, for academics and then amateurism, it's both," said Calipari, when interviewed for the upcoming 30 for 30 film One and Not Done. "He went through it, and was cleared. And we played him."

So that was that, right?

Except in the fall of Rose's only year at Memphis, allegations began to surface that he may not have taken his SAT. Whereupon the university launched an investigation of Rose - including a personal interview -- and was "unable to substantiate the allegations of academic improprieties."

Simultaneously, the Educational Testing Service - which administers the SAT - launched its own investigation and sent Rose a letter on March 17 and on April 10 of 2008, requesting additional information about the test. On March 17, Memphis was headed to Little Rock to play in the NCAA Tournament. On April 10, Memphis was three days beyond its loss to Kansas in the national championship game.

Rose didn't respond to the inquiries. The Educational Testing Service canceled his scores. On that basis alone, the NCAA stripped Memphis of its Final Four appearance and its wins.

The NCAA expressly ruled that it did not need to determine whether Rose actually took the test. Nor did it matter that Memphis may have done nothing wrong.

"It is not about what they did or didn't do," said one committee member, according to the hearing transcript.

So even thought there was no finding that Rose didn't take the test, even though there was no finding that the university was involved in anything untoward, the banner had to come down.

How?

Through the magic of "strict liability," a legal concept which seems to mean, "You're Memphis and John Calipari, not Duke and Mike Krzyzewski."

To be clear: I don't for a moment think Rose took that SAT. Nor do I think Calipari was oblivious to what went down. Rose was the best player he had ever recruited - the key to his national championship hopes - and Rose had already failed to get a qualifying score three times. It was May 2007. This was Rose's last shot. He decided to take the test in Detroit, home of legendary operator William Wesley, instead of his hometown of Chicago. You think Calipari didn't have a hand in all that?

So you can rationalize the NCAA decision as a sort of rough justice which, in fact, I have done before. But I was wrong. Mere suspicions shouldn't justify NCAA punishments. There has to be proof. And the absence of proof in the Rose case is further demonstration that the NCAA's system of punishment is at best inconsistent, and at worst slanted against certain coaches and schools.

None of this is breaking news, of course. Look at the seemingly perpetual North Carolina case. Or look at the NCAA's historic unwillingness to vacate any actual NCAA basketball championships, as opposed to appearances in the Final Four.

I guess we can call that convenient liability. As opposed to strict liability. Or negotiated liability, which is what Penn State football ultimately got.

The NCAA originally vacated 111 of Joe Paterno's wins in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Then it un-vacated them as part of a settlement in 2015. None of the facts of the case had changed, of course. But Paterno went from being the winningest coach in college football, to the second-winningest coach, to the winningest coach again.

So it's possible to revisit decisions. At least, if you're one of the chosen or litigious few. As for Memphis, I certainly never expect it to happen, but the NCAA should give that banner back.

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Copyright 2017 Collier County Publishing Company
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Naples Daily News (Florida)

 

The slew of upgrades to Collier County's park system is set to continue Tuesday.



Collier County commissioners will be asked to approve a $10 million deal to build swimming pools at Eagle Lakes Community Park in East Naples.

The same day, they'll be asked to:

Spend $2 million to convert two grass soccer fields in North Naples to artificial turf.

Approve a potential financing plan for a proposed sports complex that could cost $60 million to $80 million.

Commissioners, meanwhile, still need to decide how they're going to pay for a new $60 million regional park near Golden Gate Estates expected to open in early 2020.

Add it up and Collier County could spend more than $150 million on new parks and park features in the next couple of years - enough to run the entire county government for about five months.

The spurt is due, in part, to a bottleneck of projects that were held up during the recession but are now ready to go forward.

Commissioners also have made a shift in strategy, to invest more in sports tourism. To draw more soccer, football and lacrosse tournaments here and get those hundreds or thousands of parents and athletes to stay in local hotels, the county needs more fields, supporters say.

The five county commissioners already have voted to consider raising the county's bed tax from 4 percent to 5 percent to pay for a new sports complex.

A potential financing plan that will be presented Tuesday indicates the tax hike would raise about $5.2 million a year, enough to pay down the annual debt to cover the cost of up to an $80 million loan.

'We had to catch up'

Parks, in general, have been the slowest service to recover from the recession, said Commissioner Donna Fiala.

"We had a lot of infrastructure we had to catch up on, and had to focus on the most important things like water, wastewater and roads," Fiala said.

"But now we're getting back to the things people enjoy out of life," she said. "It took longer than I would have hoped."

Swimming pools

The swimming pools at Eagle Lakes have been planned for more than five years but delayed by funding issues.

If approved, construction will take about a year to complete.

The work will include adding a lap pool that could be used for competitions and practices of nearby high school and middle school teams, as well as exercise or therapy classes and open swims.

A separate pool will be open for families and swim lessons, as well as wading pool and splash area for toddlers and waterslides.

"This is going to be a great family gathering place," Fiala said. "It's going to make so many families and swim teams happy."

Park near Estates

The planned regional park near Golden Gate Estates also has been planned for years. It was first designed in 2006 but tabled after impact fees dried up when housing construction came to a standstill.

The 150-acre park will be built in two phases at a cost of about $30 million per phase. The first phase is being designed and tentatively is expected to open in early 2020.

By the time construction on the first phase begins in 2019, the county expects to be about $12.6 million short of the total tab. Commissioners then will have to decide whether they want to take out a short-term loan to pay for the construction or build the park piecemeal as money becomes available each year.

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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

Back in the early 1990s, ankle braces were starting to pop up more often on sports courts and playing fields. This was due to improved designs that made their use less expensive than taping an athlete's ankle.

Today, ankle braces are everywhere and available in many designs, even sport-specific. Whatever the design, the goal of these braces is to prevent injury or offer support after an injury.

"Using ankle braces to prevent ankle injuries is becoming more common, and I'm often asked by coaches, parents and athletes if wearing an ankle brace is worthwhile," said Kurt Jacobson, a Mayo Clinic Health System licensed athletic trainer. "Current research indicates ankle brace use in high school-aged athletes lowers the incidence of acute ankle injuries, but not the severity. Ankle braces are not shown to reduce the severity of ankle, knee or other lower-extremity injuries."

Ankle ligaments, muscle and tendon units, and the bones of the ankle, create the internal supports to keep your ankle safe. These internal supports are important links from your foot to your hip, allowing for ideal performance.

Ankle braces serve as the external supports to limit certain motions, such as plantar flexion/inversion (movement at the ankle joint that points the foot downward away from the leg and turns the foot inward), and provide awareness of where your ankle joint is in space.

For maximum effectiveness, ankle braces should fit comfortably in the shoes you wear during an activity, which also helps with brace use compliance, Jacobson said.

"After experiencing an ankle injury, it's important to consider rehabilitation as part of your treatment plan," Jacobson added. "Often, when an athlete is still having ankle pain or isn't back to full function, it's because he or she hasn't allowed for enough time to properly heal."

After an ankle injury, Jacobson explained, your provider may recommend rehabilitation services. He said balance, range of motion, strength and endurance are important therapy and training factors that rehabilitation providers specialize in for recovery.

Performing exercises as directed helps ensure a safe return to activity and lessens the likelihood for reinjury.

"Keep in mind, wearing an ankle brace is not a cure-all or 100 percent guarantee against injuries," Jacobson said. "Making an educated decision with your health care provider will help you determine if wearing an ankle brace is right for you."

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March 23, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

The $35 million Johnson Center update is one step closer to reality -- indoor track, rock climbing wall and all.

University of New Mexico has selected the design team to guide the recreation center's expansion and renovation, and said construction should begin next year, with a goal of completing the work by the end of 2019.

The project marks the 60-yearold facility's first major upgrade since 2000, said Kevin Stevenson, strategic planner in the president's office at UNM.

Albuquerque-based FBT Architects and the St. Louis, Mo.-headquartered firm Hastings + Chivetta Architects will team up on the design. The project will revamp the southern portion of the 297,000-square-foot facility and extend it another 60,000 square feet.

UNM has nearly completed the list of amenities it will add and Stevenson said it will include many of the ideas supplied by the campus community. That will likely mean an indoor track, a rock climbing/bouldering wall and a "multi-activity court" that groups could use for "indoor soccer or field hockey -- probably 1,000 other things," he said. The project should also double the space available for weight and cardio training.

UNM considers it the first phase of what could ultimately be a three-phase overhaul of Johnson and is currently working on a master plan for the venue. The school does not have a timeline or funding in place for the future phases, but Stevenson said long-term planning today will help create a more cohesive finished product, unlike its current state.

"There's been a handful of different additions (over the years) that were all done in a very haphazard way; nothing that was done ever built on the step before it or had the next step in mind," he said.

The school will pay for this phase with $35 million from a UNM institutional bond.

The Johnson Center upgrade is the second-largest project in UNM's current $180 million wave of capital projects.

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Copyright 2017 The Bismarck Tribune, a division of Lee Enterprises
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The Bismarck Tribune

 

CHICAGO (AP) - The International Olympic Committee and hockey's governing body will have to make concessions before the NHL sends the world's best players to the Winter Games in South Korea next year, commissioner Gary Bettman said on Friday.

"As things stand today, you should assume we're not going," he said.

Bettman made it clear at a breakfast with Chicago business leaders that league owners don't want to stop their season for three weeks again and put their stars at risk of injury without what they consider a tangible return. The reluctance is not new, but the NHL has participated in every Winter Olympics since 1998.

"If nothing changes, I don't see anybody participating," Bettman said. "If somebody proposes something that's pragmatic, that's radically different, that gets the attention of the clubs where they say, 'You know what, we don't like going, but on balance it's worth it because of this,' we'll have to look at it again."

He said the league has no timetable to resolve the dispute. The head of the International Ice Hockey Federation, Rene Fasel, said Thursday he needs to know by the end of April.

Asked exactly what the league would need, Bettman said: "I don't know. It's something I would have to go back to the clubs on because the clubs are overwhelmingly negative on the subject."

Besides the three-week layoff and the possible injuries stemming from a condensed schedule, Bettman mentioned the expense of sending players to the Olympics. The IIHF came up with the $10 million necessary after the IOC indicated it would not cover the cost as it did in the past, including $14 million for the 2014 Winter Games.

"The league isn't anti-Olympics," Bettman said. "We've been to five of them. The problem is the clubs are anti-disruption to the season. To disappear for almost three weeks in February when there's no football, no baseball, there's only basketball and us. To do it where there's no programming for the NHL Network, for NHL.com, for all of our social media platforms - we just disappear."

He added: "I can't tell you that there's been any tangible benefit, particularly here in North America, of doing it. We are shut out by the Olympics."

NHL Players Association Executive Director Don Fehr said players want to participate. He sees a chance for the NHL to build its fan base in Asia, where the next two Winter Olympics will be held.

While the league isn't particularly interested in marketing in South Korea, it does have its eyes on China and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, where Bettman is scheduled to be next week. Fasel said it may be "difficult" for the league to count on going to China in 2022 if it skips South Korea.

"If that's the IOC's and IIHF's position, that's their position," Bettman said. "I'm not going to get into a public debate with them. They're entitled to take whatever position they want."

The league could also be in for a showdown with players if an Olympic break is not scheduled next season. Washington Capitals and Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin has vowed to go, and he might not be the only one.

"We'll deal with that at the appropriate time if it comes to that," Bettman said.

For now, he's not slamming the door on the Olympics. But unless concessions are made, he expects the world's best players to suit up for the teams that sign their checks - not their countries.

"If somebody has something they want to tell us, we'll listen until there's a deadline," Bettman said. "If nobody says anything to us that will change the thinking of the teams, then nothing will happen."

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March 25, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2017 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

HARRISBURG — Graham B. Spanier, the former Pennsylvania State University president once considered one of the nation's most prominent college leaders, was convicted Friday of endangering children by failing to act on signs that Jerry Sandusky was a serial sex predator.

After nearly 12 hours of deliberation, a Dauphin County jury of seven women and five men found Spanier guilty of a misdemeanor count of endangerment. He was acquitted of a second endangerment count, as well as a felony conspiracy charge.

Still, the guilty verdict was a stunning blow to Spanier, 68, who had long proclaimed his innocence, and to his supporters, who had fiercely defended him and accused prosecutors of overreaching and unfairly staining the university. Many, including Spanier's wife, Sandra, a Penn State English professor, and his son were in the courtroom to hear the verdict.

Spanier didn't appear to react when it was announced and declined to comment later. His lawyer promised an appeal.

The long-awaited trial seemed an opportunity to settle once and for all an unresolved issue that for more than five years divided the Penn State community about its most damaging scandal: whether university leaders deserved blame for not recognizing or stopping Sandusky's assaults on children.

Prosecutors said that despite knowing about a 1998 police investigation into a claim that Sandusky showered with a boy, Spanier agreed in 2001 with then-athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz not to report a similar claim from assistant coach Mike McQueary: that he saw Sandusky assault a young boy in a campus locker-room shower after hours.

That inaction, prosecutors argued, was one step that enabled Sandusky to sexually abuse at least four more children in the years to come.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who this year took over the office that spent nearly a decade investigating and prosecuting the Sandusky case, said the verdict showed no one is above the law.

"There are zero excuses when it comes to failing to report the abuse of children to authorities," he said.

Spanier remains free on bail pending sentencing. His lawyer, Sam Silver, said they were heartened by the jury's acquittal on the two counts and would challenge its decision on the third. That count had originally been a felony, but jurors downgraded it to a misdemeanor after determining that it didn't reflect a pattern of conduct over time. They did, however, find his action or inaction in 2001 ultimately endangered other children, specifically those Sandusky later abused.

For that, he could go to prison. The statutory maximum is five years, but with no criminal history, Spanier could argue for probation.

The verdict meant similar misdemeanor convictions for all three defendants, who for years battled the charges in court. Schultz and Curley pleaded guilty last week.

Related: Curley, Schultz Plead Guilty in Sandusky Case

In a statement after the verdict, Penn State's administration said its thoughts were with Sandusky's victims and pledged heightened vigilance going forward.

"In the view of the jury, with respect to Spanier, and by their own admission, as to Curley and Schultz, these former leaders fell short," the statement read. "And while we cannot undo the past, we have re-dedicated ourselves and our university to act always with the highest integrity, in affirming the shared values of our community."

Emails show that the three men knew Sandusky, a longtime assistant to head football coach Joe Paterno, had been investigated by university police in 1998. They first decided to report the 2001 incident to child-welfare authorities, but then changed that plan. Instead, they agreed to talk to Sandusky, bar him from bringing boys on campus, and share the report with the president of Second Mile, the charity Sandusky started for vulnerable children.

One of Sandusky's victims told jurors this week that Sandusky assaulted him in a campus shower in 2002.

Both Schultz and Curley also testified, although a prosecutor told jurors in her closing argument that they were not the government's star witnesses.

"This has always been a trial about children, their well-being and welfare," said Deputy Attorney General Laura Ditka, who prosecuted the case along with Patrick Schulte.

After Schultz and Curley failed to strongly implicate him -- Curley testified that he couldn't recall details of some conversations about Sandusky, and both men said they didn't realize at the time Sandusky was abusing children -- Spanier opted not to take the witness stand.

His lawyers argued that the government didn't present any evidence that Spanier knew Sandusky was a child sex abuser or that the university president knowingly conspired to cover up a crime.

Spanier, who rose to national prominence as Penn State's leader for 16 years, has maintained that he acted appropriately in 2001 based on the information he had at the time. He contends he was told by his lieutenants that Sandusky's behavior with the boy in the shower amounted to "horseplay."

After the verdict, longtime Spanier friend Gary Glynn left the courtroom with a grim expression. "Disappointed," he said, declining to comment further.

Glynn, a retired investment manager from New York, had said earlier in the day that no matter the verdict, his faith in Spanier would not be shaken. "I just know if he had any idea what was going on, he would have put a stop to it," he said.

The decision signaled what could be end to criminal proceedings, which began in 2011 when Sandusky was indicted for abusing children on and off Penn State's campus, and Schultz and Curley charged with conspiring to cover up his crimes.

Spanier and Paterno were forced from their jobs. A year later in 2012, Spanier was charged with the same crimes as Curley and Schultz. After years of legal wrangling and appeals, the case against Spanier was whittled to child endangerment and conspiracy.

The case deeply divided the Penn State community and its board of trustees. Eight of nine alumni-elected trustees on the 38-member board -- who have supported Spanier and have been critical of the university's handling of the matter -- attended the trial.

"I'm incredulous at the verdict," trustee Al Lord said. "Not one victim attached Graham to this, and they still managed to come out with a guilty verdict."

Trustee Bill Oldsey said a conviction could have huge ramifications for higher education administrations, who deal with sensitive matters all the time.

"This is going to be like a shot fired around the world," he said. "If people of Graham's caliber will continue to aspire to lead the great universities of this country, then we have to make sure in this age of accountability that there are protections from being wrongly accused."

But he said he was pleased that Spanier was acquitted of conspiracy. "A jury of your peers and my peers found that no, there was no such conspiracy," he said.

Elsewhere, reactions were mixed. State Rep. Mark Rozzi (D., Berks) called Friday's conviction "a slap on the wrist" that also would leave some victims feeling disappointed that Spanier was acquitted of conspiracy.

"I'm sure that there's a lot of Penn State victims out there today that are disappointed and believe that more of a cover-up was done," said Rozzi, who has been an advocate for sex-abuse victims in the legislature. "They were probably hoping for more."

On Penn State's campus, the verdict seemed to have little impact. More than five years have passed since the scandal broke; few if any current students were around to recall it.

At the student union on Friday, many sat quietly unaware of the verdict -- or even the case. Asked how closely he had been following Spanier's trial, 19-year-old Justin Jarvis, a Virginia native, gave a blank stare.

"I've never even heard of that guy," he said.

Staff writers Maria Panaritis and Erin McCarthy contributed to this article.

On PSU campus, few notice Spanier conviction

Curley: 'I should have done more' to stop Sandusky

Second Mile CEO: Penn State claimed review of Sandusky shower claim found 'nothing inappropriate'

Spanier trial could shed light on Penn State's culpability

Top deputies, Second Mile chief to testify against ex-PSU president Spanier at trial

 

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March 25, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

After Norfolk State scored twice in the 10th inning to beat Richmond 10-8 on Wednesday, Spiders coach Tracy Woodson held his customary meeting with his players down Pitt Field's left-field line to discuss what's coming up, which was a more exciting topic than what has happened.

Richmond is 7-13 heading into a three-game series that starts today at Dayton. That's the opening of A-10 competition for UR.

"A new season starts Friday, and those are the first words I told them just now," said Woodson.

The Spiders have allowed eight or more runs nine times. UR pitchers have walked 111 batters in 178 innings and have hit 20 batters. Even when Richmond's pitchers have worked ahead in the count, they've often failed to finish the job with quality offerings, Woodson said.

"We've got to clean that up," he said of the pitching.

There is another issue, one that's limited UR since mid-February's opening day, that the Spiders would like to have cleaned up. Richmond announced Feb. 17 that secondary violations of NCAA rules impacted the eligibility of five players without identifying the players, who were suspended, or the infractions.

Several sources told The Times-Dispatch that all five players were penalized for their involvement with fantasy football. NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes from participating "in any sports wagering activity... (including) pools or fantasy leagues in which an entry fee is required."

The sources said the fantasy football involvement was reported to the NCAA, which contacted Richmond. The whistle-blower's identity is unknown to the sources, and UR representatives have said since the Feb. 17 school release that Richmond athletics personnel would offer no elaboration on the subject.

According to the NCAA, "Resolving a case of alleged violations includes distinct phases of fact gathering, review and appeal.... All infractions related matters before the (Committee on Infractions) are confidential."

Among the suspended players are right-hander Keenan Bartlett, a junior whom Baseball America recognized in the preseason as the A-10's third-best professional prospect, and senior infielder/designated hitter Kurtis Brown, a first team all-A-10 choice last season.

The five players remain suspended as Richmond awaits resolution by the NCAA. After the loss to Norfolk State, Woodson was asked if he could assess how the suspensions affected the Spiders through the first five weeks of their schedule.

"I definitely could. I can't talk about it," he said. Woodson added, "With what's going on, we're playing a lot of young guys, and we're making young mistakes. In the long run, it's going to make us better. But it's just difficult when you're not winning games."

The Spiders travel to Dayton hoping to string together solid pitching performances and deliver more timely hits. That, they can control. The return date of the suspended players, they cannot.

"To us, the conference is what's really important," said junior first baseman Kyle Adams. "So whatever has gone on in terms of the nonconference schedule is over now, and it's time for us to move forward and focus on the conference."

joconnor@timesdispatch.com(804) 649-6233@RTDjohnoconnor

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March 24, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2017 News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

"Last year, the NCAA Board of Governors relocated NCAA championships scheduled in North Carolina because of the cumulative impact HB 2 had on local communities' ability to assure a safe, healthy, discrimination-free atmosphere for all those watching and participating in our events.

"Absent any change in the law, our position remains the same regarding hosting current or future events in the state.

"As the state knows, next week our various sports committees will begin making championships site selections for 2018-2022 based upon bids received from across the country. Once the sites are selected by the committee, those decisions are final and an announcement of all sites will be made on April 18."

GREENSBORO - On the one-year anniversary of House Bill 2 becoming the law of the land in North Carolina, the NCAA sent the state a note on Twitter.

It wasn't a happy little greeting card.

It was a reminder that the state stands to lose its chance to host any neutral-site NCAA championships from now through the 2021-22 school year.

A reminder that came one week after first- and second-round games of the NCAA men's basketball tournament were played in Greenville, S.C., instead of Greensboro, after the NCAA moved its games out of North Carolina because of HB 2.

"Absent any change in the law, our position remains the same regarding hosting current or future events in the state," the NCAA statement read. "As the state knows, next week our various sports committees will begin making championships site selections for 2018-2022 based upon bids received from across the country. Once the sites are selected by the committee, those decisions are final and an announcement of all sites will be made on April 18."

That's a little more than three weeks away.

But there's a chance time has already run out. Kim Strable, the president of the Greensboro Sports Commission, said the NCAA is almost certainly "doing the last of its due diligence" in the bid process, double-checking details such as whether venues and hotels remain available at the sites with winning bids.

"We're definitely in the 11th hour," Strable said. "And I think we have been for some time. Frankly, I'm a little surprised they haven't pulled the trigger already. They clearly have people watching what's happening in North Carolina... and there's just a trickle of discussion going on. There doesn't seem to be any sense of urgency."

In September 2016, the NCAA pulled seven championship events out of North Carolina in response to HB 2, a law the NCAA views as discriminating against LGBT people.

The law requires transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms in public buildings that correspond to the gender on their birth certificates. It also prevents local governments from enacting their own anti-discrimination rules that include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Hours after the NCAA statement Thursday, N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican, told The News & Observer of Raleigh that HB 2 was discussed at length during two days of GOP caucus meetings.

"We're taking whatever time is necessary," Moore told the newspaper. "We're not going to move forward until a majority of the caucus is prepared to do something."

Moore said he's looking for "pretty good assurances" that changes to HB 2 would end boycotts.

"A lot of companies and other entities that initially signed onto these bans... are having a little bit of buyer's remorse," Moore told the newspaper, "and are themselves looking for a way to get out of this mess."

The NCAA likely isn't one of them. The organization withheld its neutral-site championships from South Carolina for more than 10 years while the Confederate battle flag flew on the Statehouse grounds. The flag came down in 2015.

"Those of us in sports, we're not crying wolf," Strable said. "We know for certain this will happen. The NCAA is not playing. It's not an idle threat. And I can't imagine a scenario where they would walk something back.

"People are naive about that. This is a big country with a lot of great venues. The NCAA is not hurting for places to plant their championships," he said. "Yes, they like being here. We know it and they know it.... But they've got a lot of other options."

If the boycott continues, Greensboro has plenty to lose. The city has submitted bids for a number of future college championships.

The NCAA accepts site proposals for its Division I, II and III championships in four-year cycles. Bids, which included a nondiscrimination questionnaire, were submitted during the summer of 2016.

Greensboro bid on 53 NCAA championship events "that amount to $118 million in economic impact," said Henri Fourrier, the president of the Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Results of those bids will be announced April 18. But the decisions will likely be made in the next few days.

Contact Jeff Mills at (336) 373-7024, and follow @JeffMillsNR on Twitter.

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Ventura County Star (California)

 

New and revamped leagues, new opportunities for some schools and a new set of complaints for others.

The Northern Area is back in the releaguing business. The 48 Ventura County high schools approved their next regional league structure Thursday that offers up dramatic changes, unbridled optimism and, perhaps, cause for appeals.

Area principals and administrators, meeting at Oxnard High, accomplished all that by winnowing a list of 42 initial proposals to one plan that gained approval with 35 of 48 votes in the final tally. This next two-year league cycle begins in the fall of 2018.

The highlights, for plan No. 5 authored by the Tri-County Athletic Association, include:

A beefed-up Pacific View League that adds longtime Channel League entries Ventura and Buena highs to its membership.

The end of the Marmonte, Camino and Canyon football association. Instead, they become separate leagues augmented by new members Grace Brethren and Bishop Diego.

A new league for Hueneme but not for Channel Islands. Hueneme joins a new still unnamed league that includes Santa Paula, Fillmore, Carpinteria, Nordhoff, Malibu and, for football only, Santa Clara. Channel Islands remains in the Pacific View League.

A new league for Agoura, which moves into the Coastal Canyon League from the Marmonte League.

Football, as usual, remains the key element for most Northern Area schools. Ahead is a whole new look for the Marmonte, Camino and Canyon teams.

The Marmonte League, for football only, features Westlake, Oaks Christian, Newbury Park and Calabasas. The Camino League will include St. Bonaventure, Camarillo, Thousand Oaks, Moorpark and Grace Brethren.

Competing in the Canyon League will be Oak Park, Royal, Simi Valley, Agoura and Bishop Diego.

The new plan is official, yet tentative. Appeals to the CIF-SS releaguing committee, executive council and general membership are a possibility.

Who's happy and who is not? Reactions were widespread.

Both Ventura and Buena have mixed emotions about joining the Pacific View League and ending their long association with the Channel League.

"It's bittersweet," said Ventura Athletic Director Dave Hess. "We've had long relationships with the Santa Barbara schools, and we get along great with their administrators and coaches.

"At the same time, there are a lot of opportunities for us in joining the Pacific View League. Competitively it's a good fit and from a geography standpoint; we're a lot closer."

Buena athletic director Craig Williams also sees the advantages.

"We've enjoyed our association with the Channel League, but we're moving into a league we're very familiar with. We already play those schools in many of our non-league games, and the distance is a plus. We no longer will be getting back to school at 10:30 after coming back from Santa Barbara."

Pacific View League schools seem pleased with their new rivals.

"We're all happy with it," Rio Mesa Athletic Director Chris Ruffinelli said. "We always want the best competitive equity possible, and we have that by adding those two schools. Travel-wise, it makes sense, and we like the idea of becoming something different from a five-team league. Scheduling is no longer much of a problem."

The happiest school at meeting's end was Hueneme, which suddenly can blossom into a league strong boy in its new digs.

"We're mainly looking at the opportunity to be competitive in all sports," said Hueneme Athletic Director Pablo Gallegos. "It's great for our players, our coaches and our school. It's awfully difficult to build up your athletic programs when there's not much chance you can even make the playoffs.

"Now we have those opportunities."

Santa Paula Athletic Director Danny Guzman said his school's new league will be a boon for its members.

"It's something we've been working at getting done for the past two years," he said. "We're a little tired of moving up and down (in the TCAA). We like the teams we're playing and we like the competitive equity. It's very exciting for us."

Many of the area's strongest football programs will find themselves with new dance partners beginning in the fall of 2018 campaign.

Grace Brethren athletic director R,J. Blackwell said the school has no problems moving up in class for football. The school remains in the TCAA in all other sports.

"We fine with it," he said. "Coach (Josh) Henderson has done a great job building up our program, and we'll appreciate playing the stronger competition."

Other schools were not so happy.

Neither Newbury Park nor Thousand Oaks were pleased with their placements - the Panthers in the Marmonte League and Thousand Oaks in the Camino League. Appeals might be forthcoming.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

The childhood sports trophy, as innocent and ubiquitous a memento of American youth as yearbooks and baby photos, recently has become the focus of a battle as nasty and intense as any NFL rivalry.

For years and with increasing volume, radio talk show hosts and others have traced many of the nation's social ills to the custom of presenting "participation trophies" to every youngster on every team, regardless of accomplishment.

On the other side of this cultural debate, many childhood experts cite research that shows such acknowledgments can produce better grades, better self-esteem, more well-rounded adults.

Author and journalist Ashley Merryman inflamed the debate in a New York Times op-ed piece in 2013.

"When children make mistakes, our job should not be to spin those losses into decorated victories," she wrote. "Instead, our job is to help kids overcome setbacks, to help them see that progress over time is more important than a particular win or loss, and to help them graciously congratulate the child who succeeded when they failed. To do that, we need to refuse all the meaningless plastic and tin destined for landfills. We have to stop letting the Trophy-Industrial Complex run our childrens' lives."

Meanwhile, companies that make and distribute the awards - like Philadelphia's Spike's Trophies - have had to function in the civic cross fire.

"I'm very weary of . . . flippant and preconceived attitudes on the subject," Keith Baldwin, the president of Spike's, which has its headquarters in the Northeast, said this week.

To emphasize the potential positive aspects of such awards, Baldwin, 58, pointed to those he'd received for completing a half-marathon and triathlon a few years ago.

"I didn't win or place in the top 10, or even the top 100," he said. "I finished, I 'participated.' I received an inexpensive medal for both events. This so-called participation award represented a personal accomplishment. I trained for a year, lost 40 pounds to get in shape, and did my absolute best.

"Those two medals mean a lot to me. I'll never win a gold in the Olympics, just like some of these young kids will never win a World Series or World Cup or even their local league championship. The medals are a memento of hard work that I'm proud of. I actually have them displayed in my home with all the family photos of kids' graduations and weddings."

Believing that others have similar stories, Spike's recently solicited them from customers as part of its "What's Your Trophy Moment?" ad campaign. In one, former Eagle Ken Dunek proudly displays a Pop Warner trophy he received as an 11-year-old.

"It was a big deal," Dunek said.

According to Forbes, trophies are a $2 billion annual business in the U.S. and Canada. Until recently, perhaps driven by the "participation" trend that some believe dates back to the 1970s, sales had been increasing dramatically, up 500 percent over four decades, according to the magazine.

Baldwin, who has been in the business for more than 40 years, said that a slight dip in sales, which began in 2008, was unrelated to the ongoing stigmatization of the awards.

"It has more to do," he said, "with Baby Boomers getting older, less disposable income in the middle class, technology and the internet."

Founded by Myer "Spike" Shandleman in 1929, Spike's company has long been intertwined with Philadelphia's sports scene. For several years, it sponsored a successful basketball team in the Sonny Hill League. Recently, at its Grant Avenue building, it's opened a gallery of Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame memorabilia. And since 2015, a "City of Champions" mural has adorned a wall there.

But consolidation - the company was purchased by REP Inc. in 1990 - and that decline in sales forced Spike's to diversify. The company now now has a division that produces braille signage for local institutions like Drexel and Children's Hospital. They make promotional items and sportswear for Geno's Steaks. They create corporate awards.

"We aren't in the trophy business anymore, although trophies is a part of it, we're in the personalization and relationship business," Baldwin said.

The average trophy in 2017 is nowhere near as elaborate or as costly as those that Spike's produced for Philadelphia champions in its early days. But, Baldwin insists, they're no less cherished.

"Whenever I'm asked about the recent negative publicity, I always ask a few questions," he said. "I ask, 'Did you ever receive an award? Do you remember it? Do you remember what it felt like to be recognized?'

"More times than not, they remember and they also remember the time, the place and the positive feelings they had."

ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

HARRISBURG -- Graham B. Spanier and two of his top lieutenants at Pennsylvania State University agreed on a plan 16 years ago that ultimately allowed child sex predator Jerry Sandusky to roam free for a decade, leaving "a sea of carnage" in his wake, a prosecutor told jurors Thursday.

"All they cared about was their own self-interest," Deputy Attorney General Laura Ditka said.

Spanier's lawyer countered that after years of investigation, prosecutors were unable to produce a shred of evidence that the longtime university president knew Sandusky had been sexually assaulting boys and that he failed to act on it or stop anyone else from doing so.

"Not a single witness said these men did nothing" when they learned Sandusky had been showering with boys, lawyer Sam Silver said. "They took the matter seriously.... They didn't just laugh this off. And they did take action."

Those were the conflicting messages to jurors in closing statements at Dauphin County Courthouse as Spanier's weeklong trial on conspiracy and endangerment charges hurtled toward an end.

During almost six hours of deliberations Thursday, the seven women and five men on the jury twice returned to the courtroom to ask Judge John Boccabella to define and clarify elements of the alleged crime and the law. Around 8 p.m., he dismissed them for the night and ordered them to resume deliberations Friday morning.

They got the case because the defense team rested Thursday morning without calling a single witness, including the 68-year-old Spanier, who has long publicly proclaimed his innocence. Instead, his lawyers argued to jurors that the prosecution had failed to prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Silver urged jurors to consider the testimony of Gary Schultz and Tim Curley, the former Penn State administrators. Each on Wednesday testified that he regretted not acting at the time to more fully investigate or report Sandusky's interaction with children, but neither did much on the witness stand to bolster the prosecution's contention that they plotted with Spanier to conceal Sandusky's misconduct.

"[Ditka's] witnesses made the defense case," Silver told jurors.

Curley and Schultz struck deals last week with prosecutors, each agreeing to plead guilty to a single count of endangerment, and both have maintained that they did not know Sandusky was sexually assaulting children.

Ditka disputed Silver's description of the men as "star witnesses" and their importance to the case. She told the jury she thought Curley -- who repeatedly said he did not recall details of meetings he had back then to discuss Sandusky's conduct -- was "untruthful" 90 percent of the time on the witness stand. Schultz, she said, was better but "not great."

"They are criminals. They are co-conspirators," Ditka said.

Her real star witnesses, Ditka said, were Mike McQueary, the former assistant football coach who reported seeing Sandusky sexually assault a boy in the locker-room shower in 2001, and the one victim who testified this week that Sandusky assaulted him in a shower in the same campus building in 2002.

He was one of at least four victims assaulted by Sandusky after 2001, when Spanier and the two others decided not to alert the authorities, Ditka said.

"Their plan resulted in a sea of carnage," she argued.

And she suggested that Curley, Schultz, and Spanier would not have been calling weekend meetings and consulting with the university's lawyer if they believed that Sandusky was only engaged in "horseplay" with boys in the shower.

"Use your common sense. They knew exactly what it was," she said.

Silver said his client conspired with no one to endanger children. The one thing that all witnesses were clear about, he said, is that none of them had evidence that Spanier at any time knew Sandusky was sexually assaulting children.

After the 2001 incident, the men agreed to ban Sandusky from bringing children into campus facilities -- though that ban was not enforced -- to urge Sandusky to undergo counseling, and to alert Second Mile, Sandusky's charity for at-risk children, about the shower incident.

Silver told the jurors that agreeing to a plan of action on a report that none of the men believed involved a crime does not constitute a violation of the law.

"This case involves a judgment call," he said.

Curley: 'I should have done more' to stop Sandusky

Second Mile CEO: Penn State claimed review of Sandusky shower claim found 'nothing inappropriate'

Spanier trial could shed light on Penn State's culpability

Sandusky case stunner: Ex-Penn State officials plead guilty, Spanier to face trial alone

 

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Copyright 2017 The Post and Courier
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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

Some longtime Park Circle residents are feeling nostalgic about the Attaway-Heinsohn Stadium on the North Charleston High School campus, which is set to be torn down to make way for a technical training center.

North Charleston City Councilman Bob King, who represents the area, said "there's a lot of sentiment about keeping it at North Charleston High School. That stadium has been there a long time."

The Charleston County School District plans to tear down the 1940s-era stadium for its $43.7 million North Charleston Center for Advanced Studies. The center will offer technical training, such as auto repair, cosmetology and culinary arts, for students in all five North Area high schools.

The district also plans to build a new $14.2 million shared athletic stadium that will serve those same high schools: North Charleston, Stall, Academic Magnet, School of the Arts and Garrett Academy of Technology. But it hasn't found a site for it.

County voters approved the plan for the stadium and the new center in 2014. The school district already has a Center for Academic Excellence in Mount Pleasant and plans to build regional centers in West Ashley and North Charleston.

On Saturday, the school district is holding a community meeting on the Center for Advanced Studies from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at North Charleston High School, 1087 E. Montague Ave.

Allison Wind, leader of the Children and Family Ministry at Charleston United Methodist Church in Park Circle, said members of her church haven't had a formal discussion on the plan. But many members are longtime Park Circle residents who think the stadium is important to their neighborhood.

"If the community pushed back on the plan," she said, "I could see where our church might support them."

She said a lot of people could be upset when the ramifications of the plan sink in, "not mad but sad."

Last fall, a group from her church stepped up to support North Charleston High's football team, which plays its games in the Attaway-Heinsohn Stadium.

The team's support and morale were pretty low last year, she said, with only about 100 people showing up to watch the games. So members of her congregation organized tailgates for each of the six home games.

"Park Circle is one of those communities that really values its upbringing," Wind said. "It will be a big deal if it's torn down."

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey has said he supports the plans for the new stadium and the Center for Advanced Studies.

King said he thinks the school district should consider other alternatives, such as housing the center at North Charleston High School, which now is under-used. If the district has to build a new, larger stadium, it could be done on the site of the old stadium.

School board member Cindy Bohn Coats, who lives in North Charleston, said the 2014 referendum shows the public wants both the regional stadium and the Center for Advanced Studies.

She said it doesn't make sense to build a regional stadium on the North Charleston High campus because the site is too small - and it wouldn't be fair to the other schools.

She also doubted whether it would be a good idea to house the new technical training center in North Charleston High. While the school is under-used, its enrollment numbers are creeping up, she said. This fall, 513 students were enrolled, up from 426 in 2015. A decade ago, 1,250 students went there.

She said she expects the school to continue improving and attracting more students until it's thriving once again.

"This needs to be fair for everyone," she said.

North Charleston High School cheerleaders fire up the crowd at Cougar tailgate in August. 

 

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Copyright 2017 Colorado Springs Gazette LLC Mar 23, 2017

The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

 



LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Arkansas lawmakers voted Thursday to exempt college sporting events from a new state law that greatly expands where concealed handguns are allowed, moving quickly to address concerns about the sweeping gun rights measure leading to armed spectators at stadiums and arenas.

The Arkansas Senate voted 22-10 to add the exemption to a new state law that Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed Wednesday allowing concealed handguns at colleges, government buildings, some bars and even the state Capitol. It allows people with concealed handgun licenses to carry in the locations if they complete eight hours of active-shooter training.

The change , which now heads to the House, also would exempt the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the state hospital from the gun rights expansion.

The law as-is would let guns into Razorback Stadium while umbrellas remain banned. The lawmaker who called for the sports exemption noted that there's already police and security on hand for stadium and arena events.

"It's one of those areas where I don't think the value offsets the risk," Republican Sen. Jim Hendren, the Senate majority leader, said before the vote. "There's alcohol, there's people getting excited and so probably I think most people agree that maybe this is one of those areas we ought to think about before we expand the privileges."

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USA TODAY

 

Every NFL fan has seen an exciting game disrupted in a familiar way: a commercial break, then a kickoff, then... another commercial break.

Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn't like it, either.

"It drives me crazy," Goodell told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday. "We call those 'double-ups.' They actually occurred 27% of the time (on kickoffs last season). And that's still too high for us."

In the coming days, the league will roll out its plans for not only revamping the commercial structure within TV broadcasts but also tweaking in-game timing, replay reviews and more -- the product of experimentation and research the NFL took directly to fans before last season to find out what they liked and disliked, both in the stadium and on the couch.

Goodell said the changes aren't tied to a pre-election TV ratings dip last season. But he acknowledged the expiration of the TV deals in 2022 amid a changing media landscape is "top of mind for us on the broader picture" as the league continues to seek the best way to deliver a valuable commodity: three hours of content many viewers still consume live.

Beginning with the upcoming season, there will be subtle changes to the timing of the games themselves, including standardizing the start of the clock after a player goes out of bounds and the duration of halftime. A play clock will be instituted after extra points (and perhaps after touchdowns, though that's still under discussion). A vote is expected at the league meetings next week on a centralized replay system in which referees review plays on tablets, rather than sideline monitors, and provide input to officiating headquarters in New York, where the final call would be made.

There will be changes to TV broadcasts, including less frequent but slightly longer commercial breaks -- a standard pattern of four per quarter (rather than five, six, five and five), each extended from 1:50 to 2:20. (The NFL's research shows fans notice fewer breaks, not how long they are, Goodell said.) Networks will be allowed to break during replay reviews. At times, a double box allowing viewers to see inside the stadium while an ad plays, or a sponsored break featuring one brand, could replace standard commercials. Some in-game promotion for NFL and partner initiatives will be replaced by more analysis, highlights and other content.

"We have seen commercialization maybe creep into the game in areas that we don't think is appropriate," Goodell said, "and we're going to work with our network partners to try to pull that back, to make sure that we can create that compelling experience for our fans."

Other changes -- including a potential vote to eliminate coaches challenges after or late into a commercial break (another issue Goodell said frustrates him) and an actual reduction of ads and promotions -- remain under consideration as well.

The goal isn't to shorten games, though Goodell estimated the changes might shave five minutes off contests that lasted an average of 3:07:08 last season (down from 3:08:18 in 2015).

"What we're looking to do is take that downtime out, which is not entertaining," Goodell said. "And in our research, we had biofeedback, so we could see what they were watching, and you could tell when they're not as interested in what's happening in the broadcast.

"In today's day and age, we have to give our fans every reason to watch what's happening, find what they see on television and in the stadium as compelling. Don't give them a reason to turn away."

Other frequent targets of fan angst also are being addressed. Goodell confirmed the NFL intends to begin hiring some of the 17 full-time officials permitted under its labor deal. He expects the league "will be loosening up the celebration rules to allow the players a little more expression of their enthusiasm," though the competition committee continues to study that issue, as USA TODAY Sports reported last month, and discussions likely will extend beyond the next meeting.

Further changes to commercials, timing and other areas are likely in coming seasons, Goodell said. As it does with everything, the NFL will roll out changes incrementally, gauge impact and determine what to do next.

As for those obnoxious double-ups, Goodell says the goal is to eliminate them, though significantly reducing them by reducing the number of breaks would be a good first step.

"You're always going to be re-evaluating these areas and trying to say, 'What do we do better here?'" Goodell said. "Whether it's in our officiating mechanics, whether it's in our commercial mechanics and how we work with our TV partners, what we do in our stadiums -- all those things are going to continue to be high priorities for us."

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Copyright 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

A drone hovers, filming the action. Cyclists race past, rocketing around a giant track. It's a Thursday night in Los Angeles, and I've been invited to witness a product purported to be substantial for the future of the sport.

The venue is the VELO Sports Center and its 250-meter indoor wood racing track. The company is LEOMO Inc., an upstart selling what it calls the "next frontier of wearable technology."

LEOMO believes the next step in athlete data is something called motion analysis. At a high level, this term refers to the assessment of body movements to build and display data for improving efficiency during sport.

The company's debut device, called the TYPE-R, is a multipart package with a handlebar-mounted touch screen and five small sensors. Gyroscopes and accelerometers measure a wearer's motion and form, giving real-time feedback on foot position, leg angle, pedaling "dead spots," and pelvic tilt on a bike seat.

At the racetrack, after a demonstration, I configured the kit to go for a ride. Like little tiles with LEDs in the corners, the sensors affix to your shoes, each knee and the lower back. Bluetooth syncs the sensors wirelessly to the handlebar-mounted main unit. Readouts roll across the display in real time.

Multiple fields and swipe-able screens provide data in percentages and degrees. Ostensibly, a rider can gauge performance with a glance at the handlebar-mounted unit, adjusting for efficiency as he or she rides.

All metrics are saved. You download it later, spotting issues in form, discerning trends in your motion, good and bad. LEOMO believes the data on motion - heretofore unavailable beyond lab settings and complex mechanisms - will change how cyclists refine technique, improve fitness and prevent injury.

Early adopters will be tasked to decipher motion data somewhat on their own. This is a new field. Unlike heart rate, watts and other physical metrics, there is scant research or consensus on optimal pelvic tilt, "leg angular range," and other data points the LEOMO units offer.

The company is working to demystify the output. Indeed, the product announcement coincided with an ancillary launch of a research body called the Institute of Motion Analysis.

LEOMO plans to sell its first units to coaches who work with elite and professional riders. The TYPE-R will cost $399 for this crowd.

In the end, LEOMO is making a big bet. But the company is well-funded, and it has hired top cycling coaches and has a multitude of coders and engineers on staff.

Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.

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Copyright 2017 CMG Corporate Services, Inc. on behalf of itself and the Newspapers Mar 23, 2017

Palm Beach Daily News

 


The look of the new Palm Beach recreation center is almost complete.

The Architectural Commission voted 4-3 Wednesday to approve the design of the building on a condition that the architect trade the locations of the fitness center and staff offices. Architect Nelo Freijomel was directed to return to the commission next month with an updated plan and examples of materials such as tile, stucco and paint color.

The approval paves the way for the Town Council to review the design and variance requests.

This was Freijomel's fourth time seeking architectural approval for the project at 340 Seaview Ave. The most significant change made since last month's meeting was eliminating an entrance tower on the south side of the building and making the tower at the north entrance more prominent.

"On the Seaview entry tower... we pulled it further north towards the front and extended the breezeway connecting it back to the main entrance," Freijomel said.

Alternate Commissioner John David Corey said the new colonnade "gives you a real sense of arrival."

"I think that space will be a gathering place," he said. "It serves a nice purpose."

Freijomel also added a clock to the north tower. Most commissioners liked it, but one did not.

"It's such a cliche to fall upon a clock for the tower," member Alex Ives said. "I wish there was something else we could come up with."

Freijomel said the clock serves a purpose as it will be visible from the playing field, tennis courts and playground.

Other changes included better screening of the mechanical equipment, slight modifications to window proportions and an improved connection between the after-school room and game room.

Fitness center

Commissioners suggested last month that the fitness center be moved, but it was not in the plan presented Wednesday.

The design has the 1,800-square-foot fitness center on the north side of the building and administrative space on the south side facing the outdoor multipurpose field. Many commissioners said that these should be switched.

Commissioner Michael Small said staff shouldn't get the "prime space."

"We shouldn't give the impression that the center is being built for the self-advertisement of the staff," he said. "This strikes me completely wrong. It's as if a condo manager is telling the building that he wants to occupy the penthouse so he can have a better view of what's going on."

Freijomel said he studied the switch but it "posed several challenges," including the loss of space for machines and storage. But, he said, he would follow the direction to change the floor plan and interior layout.

Public presence

Commissioners Richard Sammons and Bob Vila asked Freijomel to also work on the center's "presence."

"It has lost its public presence," said Sammons, noting the tower feature is meaningless unless taller. "We've reduced it in size but also in stature. I just wish the building was not as timid as if not to offend anyone."

Vila also suggested Freijomel perhaps raise the tower and make the entrance arch from the parking lot more visible.

"One of the problems that I have with the whole building is that it doesn't call attention to itself," Vila said. "It's not letting itself be shown. It looks like an extension of the school. I want to have something tell me as I'm driving east on Royal Palm (Way) that there's a rec center there that I can go to."

Members Ives, Small and Maisie Grace voted against conditional approval.

Recreation Director Beth Zickar said a positive vote from the council would give "final approval" to the rec center project. She wasn't sure if the project would go before the Town Council in April or May. The town hopes to begin construction this summer.

-- akopf@ pbdailynews.com Twitter: @aleesekopf

A commissioner suggested the architect raise the tower and make the entrance arch from the parking lot more visible.

 

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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

The Peabody will serve North Carolina-themed cupcakes, cookies and cocktails and is angling for head coach Roy Williams to reprise his 2009 appearance as honorary duckmaster.

Downtown's Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza are the official media hotels, although on-air talent will enjoy posher digs at The Peabody.

Fans, teams and big-time sport's entourage have booked Downtown's 4,000-plus hotel rooms solid for Sweet 16 men's basketball games at FedExForum Friday and Sunday. The event is expected to pump more than $5 million into the Memphis economy on what would otherwise be an off-season weekend.

"It has the potential of being the most demanded room night event that we've seen in years, including the Beale Street Music Festival," said Wayne Tabor, general manager of the Holiday Inn and president of the Memphis hotel association.

With basketball bluebloods North Carolina, Kentucky and UCLA coming to town for the South Regional, plus two-time Final Four runner-up Butler, "You've got four teams with basketball history, and it's a Final Four feel," said Tabor.

"This is probably as big as it will ever get for us with the NCAA," Tabor added, since FedExForum isn't big enough for a Final Four.

Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau president Kevin Kane estimated at least 11,000 out-of-town visitors will saturate Downtown. Latecomers will settle for hotels in East Memphis and other outlying areas. The Memphis region has more than 23,000 hotel rooms, and about two-thirds are filled on a typical night.

"It's going to be huge for us," Kane said. "We're very excited. We're the only region that has all four top seeds intact. It's going to be one of the strongest basketball weekends we've ever had in the history of our city."

Kane has been working with the NCAA since last year to organize accommodations for fans, teams and media.

There's a pecking order for teams and hotels, Kane said. The University of North Carolina Tar Heels are at The Peabody; Kentucky Wildcats, The Westin Memphis Beale Street; UCLA Bruins, DoubleTree by Hilton Memphis Downtown; and Butler Bulldogs, Sheraton Memphis Downtown, Kane said.

"The No. 1 seed always gets The Peabody," said Doug Browne, president of Peabody Hotels & Resorts. The Peabody is known as the South's Grand Hotel and was recently tabbed No. 2 on Southern Living's "The South's Top 10 Hotels 2017."

"Our lobby is always the place to see and be seen," said Browne. "We're expecting it to be very, very busy, from Thursday to Sunday."

North Carolina stayed at the 450-room hotel during its last appearance in a Memphis regional, on its way to a national championship. "In 2009, when North Carolina was in the Sweet 16, Roy Williams was honorary duckmaster," presiding over the hotel's iconic marching ducks, Browne said. "He actually had fun doing it."

The hotel reached out to North Carolina to see about an encore after the Tarheels punched their ticket to Memphis, Browne said.

Hotels and restaurants throughout Downtown were gearing up early this week for the onslaught of fans.

NCAA Regional Final posters graced the lobby of the DoubleTree Wednesday morning. "The economic impact from an event like the Sweet 16 is a very big driver for us," said Matt Sutherland, general manager of the 280-room hotel. "We're thrilled to have the event in our city and to be a host."

Tabor at the Holiday Inn said the hotel would be adding staff, front desk, bellmen, food and beverage and housekeeping, to care for guests. "I could sell 200 more rooms easy," Tabor said. "I've got 192 rooms."

Patrick Reilly, co-owner with his wife Deni of The Majestic Grille, said, "We're expecting a huge impact, especially with Kentucky and UNC. We'll be Kentucky fans just for this week. The phone has absolutely been ringing. There's a lot going on anyway, like 'Riverdance' at The Orpheum. It's just going to bring a boatload more people Downtown."

There's also the national exposure from sports news coverage and when CBS shows iconic Memphis scenes during cutaways from the action.

"The going ad rate for the NCAA tournament is about $1.2 million per 30 seconds, which with all of the hometown or skyline shots and mentions during each game, Memphis is easily getting tens of millions of dollars in exposure," said Lori Turner-Wilson, co-founder and chief executive of RedRover, a Memphis sales and marketing strategy firm.

"Plus, exposure of this magnitude inevitably influences more tourists, employees, even businesses to consider Memphis in the long run," Turner-Wilson continued.

"They get to see our skyline, the amazing view of Downtown from the Mississippi River, and a bustling Beale Street - ideally enough to pique their interest to explore further into the authenticity and soul that makes Memphis one of a kind. It's hard to put a price tag on just how valuable it can be for a city," she said.

 

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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

GREENSBORO - The Inner City Classic is coming back to the Gate City.

The Metropolitan Junior Baseball League announced Wednesday that Greensboro will host the organization 's 27th annual signature event at city Parks & Rec baseball diamonds July 14-18.

Greensboro last hosted the Inner City Classic in 2009 and 2010. The city was chosen this year over another finalist, Dodgertown at Vero Beach, Fla.

"I've traveled to these events all over the country," MJBL executive director Bill Forrester said Wednesday at the Leonard Rec Center. "I've been to places like Las Vegas, Dallas, Orlando, Chicago. Well, when I saw Barber Park, I've never seen anything that can duplicate that (venue) for 12-and-under baseball."

The MJBL was born in 1966 in Richmond, Va., during the segregation era in the South, when African-American children had limited access to organized baseball. It's grown over the years and now has chapters in 17 states, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.

Participation in the annual Inner City Classic varies. The round-robin, pool-play tournaments in age groups for children 19 and younger have drawn as many as 80 teams and as few as 35.

Each team pays an entry fee of $400, a bargain by travel-ball standards.

Contact Jeff Mills at (336) 373-7024, and follow @JeffMillsNR on Twitter.

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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

St. Bonaventure University on Wednesday announced the addition of a men's lacrosse program, which will begin play in the 2018-19 season.

The team does not yet have a coach or a conference to play in - the Atlantic 10 currently sponsors only women's lacrosse - but athletic director Tim Kenney said in a release that the school will be active in seeking both. The Bonnies have fielded a women's team since 2000.

"Lacrosse is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States, and it is already one of the most popular sports in Canada," Kenney said. "We have a successful club team and significant interest in adding the sport at the varsity level as well. Also, the men's program will complement our women's lacrosse program well and give us another sport that I believe can be very competitive."

Men's lacrosse will be the 17th Division I sport at the Franciscan university. St. Bonaventure added men's and women's outdoor track this year.

Canisius is the only Big 4 school that currently funds men's lacrosse; UB and Niagara have club teams. The Griffs advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2008 and 2012.

Sixty-nine schools are competing in Division I men's lacrosse this season. Kenney said the addition of the team is a "strategic decision that recognizes an opportunity for our department and for the university."

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Copyright 2017 The E.W. Scripps Company
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Abilene Reporter-News (Texas)

 

 


For the most part, the new pitch-count rule instituted by the University Interscholastic League for this baseball season shouldn't be much of an issue for high school coaches.

Unless, that is, a team finds itself in an extremely long game.

That was the case Friday as Keller Fossil Ridge outlasted Keller Timber Creek 9-4 in a 14-inning marathon that took four hours to play and saw the teams use seven pitchers who combined to throw more than 400 pitches.

The new rule, which was adopted in October, limits a pitcher to 110 pitches in a game. Any pitcher with more than 85 pitches in a game must have four days rest before returning to the mound.

When Fossil Ridge visited Abilene High in a showdown for sole possession of first place in the District 3-6A standings, only Dylan Neuse was ineligible to take the mound for the Panthers. Neuse, who played shortstop against AHS, threw 92 pitches in 72/3 innings on Friday. Fossil Ridge's starter against Timber Creek, Justin Gordon, threw 56 pitches over 41/3 innings, while Jesse Martin needed 37 pitches to get through two innings for the win. Neither was used Tuesday against the Eagles.

"It's not like I would have thrown that kid (Neuse) anyway," Panthers coach Doug Dulany said after Abilene High's 6-5 victory at Blackburn Field. "He was not available, but we would not have thrown him (Tuesday. The rule) really hasn't affected us much."

Dulany said the rule puts more emphasis on pitching depth, but said "probably 10" players on Fossil Ridge's 19-man roster have pitched before. Abilene High coach Ryan Lewis said it was a similar situation with the Eagles.

Related: Pitch Count Rules Find Broad Support


"That's a lot of what tournament season is about, finding a lot of arms," Lewis said. "Then you find out your best five or so.

"If you're getting blown out with the pitch-count rule now and you know you're playing three days later, you may not throw your (top) dude. You may say, 'Let's get a guy out there that can eat up some innings.'"

Dulany said one way to handle situations like his team faced is to establish who is a Tuesday starter or Friday starter once district play begins.

"That's kind of how we've always done it," he said. "Unless you've got three really good dudes, most teams just do have a Tuesday guy and a Friday guy. Then you've got certain guys that close out games."

Lewis said the key for coaches is to be aware of which pitchers will be eligible for each game.

"I just go in there and and make sure I know who's available," he said. "Who do I have? Who can throw? After that, I don't care. I'm going to play that game and worry about the next game later. If I've got a chance to win this one, I'm going to win this one.

"You've got your idea, but sometimes it's like Mike Tyson said, 'Everybody's got an idea until they get punched in the mouth.'"

Dulany said most coaches stay up to date on how many pitches a pitcher has thrown. The rule simply delineates when a change must be made.

"Really, when you get down to it, most coaches take care of their kids, anyway," Dulany said. "Pitch count and all that, they need to worry about that more in the summer than in the UIL. Most high school coaches do a great job of watching their kids and they care for their kids, where sometimes you get guys in their summer tournaments that are trying to win tournaments and overthrow guys.

"Texas high school coaches are really good. They take care of their kids."

A loophole in the rule allowed Abilene High starter Andrew Bennett to finish a complete game on Tuesday. If a pitcher hits the 110-pitch limit during an at-bat, he is allowed to finish that at-bat before coming out.

Bennett was at 108 pitches when Fossil Ridge's R.J. White stepped in with two outs in the seventh and needed four more pitches to end the game.

The Panthers had the tying run at third base when the game ended, and Lewis said the Eagles had a pitcher warmed up if White had reached base.

"We had John Esparza ready and he was fixing to go," Lewis said. "I trust anybody we throw out there."

"Really, when you get down to it, most coaches take care of their kids, anyway."

Doug Dulany

Panthers coach

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Times Record News (Wichita Falls, Texas)

 

Luke O'Brien hated life, walking around with more anger than a 5-year-old should carry.

His mom was dead, he said. "She died in a fire," he would tell the teachers he encountered at the Wichita Falls YMCA. And he especially hated firefighters.

"Luke hated firemen," Noel Filer, mission advancement director for the YMCA, told those gathered for the annual fundraising campaign dinner Tuesday night, "because he thought the firemen didn't save his mother."

That certainly was not the case, but try telling that to a 5-year-old.

No child should carry that much anger -- a world of grief -- at such a young age. The staff wanted to reach Luke, reach deep into that grief and find a happy Luke that surely rested inside.

Thanks to the fundraising efforts of the YMCA, the nonprofit agency provided Luke and his widowed father, Michael, with free counseling, and within a few months, Luke transformed into a child no longer on the verge of being kicked out of after-school care.

"(Luke) came to my office the other day," Filer said Wednesday, "and he's a very happy little boy. He's ALL boy - very busy and inquisitive, but has a healthy sense of exploring and doing. Made my heart happy."

Another YMCA effort made Luke even happier, and ended his hatred for firefighters. Deemed Luke Day, Wichita Falls firefighers at Station 8 recently rolled out the red carpet to the young boy, giving him a tour of their facility, letting him work the water hose, treating him to a fire station meal and a rest in the bunk room.

Luke was angry no more. "And now he wants to be a firefighter," Filer said.

YMCA programs run the spectrum, from Zumba to gymnastics, to baseball and basketball. A program that transforms the heart of a child may not be listed as such in the program, but those opportunities are there. The fundraising, said Brandon Brown, YMCA president and CEO, "ensures that no child is turned away because of an inability to pay."

Another unique opportunity showcased at Tuesday's dinner featured the class created by Gymnastics Director Joe Cronin for those "special" children who might not otherwise find themselves tumbling and flipping. Cronin described a program that embraces children like tiny Josephine Roohr, born with spina bifida and paralyzed from the hips down. Cronin runs the YMCA's entire gymnastics program that added competitive feats to their regimen.

The 2017 Partners with Youth Annual Campaign aims to reach at least the same number of children as 2016, when donations helped more than 12,000 "neighbors, families and children access YMCA programs to improve their spirit, mind and body," the event flier stated.

"We conduct this Annual Youth Campaign every year because there's lots of good, hard-working parents in our community who just can't afford the full rate for many programs," Filer said. "Some of them are essential to family life, like our Early Childhood Education program. We take care of infants to 5-year-olds so parents are able to go to their jobs. We also pick up school age children after school and engage them in a great After School program until parents get off work. Those programs directly affect family life and help hundreds in our community."

To donate to the campaign:

1. Donate online at www.ymcawf.org

2. Drop off a check to any YMCA Branch

3. Mail check to:

YMCA of Wichita Falls

1010 9th Street

Wichita Falls, TX 76301

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Copyright 2017 Ventura County Star
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Ventura County Star (California)

 

The incident where three members of Nordhoff High's varsity baseball team "manipulated" their jerseys to spell out a racial slur nearly led to the cancellation of the team's season, Principal Greg Bayless said Wednesday.

Only after meeting with remaining Rangers players last Friday did Bayless feel comfortable in green-lighting the remainder of Nordhoff's schedule.

"I needed to make sure they understood the gravity of what had happened," Bayless said. "I needed to know just how widespread was this problem. I found they were deeply saddened and disgusted by the incident and I found them to be very sober about the whole situation.

"That's important to me because as we move forward they are representing all of Nordhoff High and what this school is about."

Three Nordhoff players were "immediately removed from the team," Bayless said, after he learned that they had used their team jerseys to spell out a racial slur that he called "the worst, most hateful and disrespectful racial slur that exists in our culture" in a letter to parents. According to a letter sent to teachers, the racial slur was the n-word, a derogatory reference to African-Americans.

From ABSchool District Cancels Games over Alleged Racial Slurs


Bayless stressed that the three players were not merely suspended from the team. "They were removed. They will not be coming back," he said.

The three students now face additional school disciplinary action in the wake of the incident, but Bayless said he can't disclose what that entails.

The incident has mandated a shakeup of the Nordhoff program.

Even before he learned of the racial slur, Bayless said there were red flags raised about the baseball program. "There were issues and concerns of less than appropriate commitment and morale with the baseball team," he said.

Bayless stressed that head coach Sean Strben was not involved in the racial incident, but chose to resign to allow the program to take "a new course and a new direction."

"He offered his resignation, and I accepted," Bayless said.

The Nordhoff principal had immediately suspended all team activities after learning of the final incident. A game vs. Westlake on Saturday was canceled as were team practices at all levels.

Now the program moves forward with new coaches and what the principal hopes will be a new focus. Bayless met with players and coaches Tuesday night and changes are in place.

"We're doing a program reset," he said. "New coaches at every level. Practices will be restructured to combine all levels and provide appropriate direction."

Lance Wiggins, the school's football coach and baseball assistant, becomes the interim head baseball coach for the remainder of the season.

"We trust Lance Wiggins and what he brings to the team," Bayless said.

Rick Carreon becomes the head junior varsity coach, and the school intends to hire a former player and school graduate to assist at the JV level.

The impact will also be felt by the entire student population.

Bayless has instructed his Humanities teachers in English and history to discuss the baseball program's troubles in each and all of their classes.

"Every student at Nordhoff High takes an English and history class," Bayless said. "We felt that by bringing this up in their classrooms, all students will be involved in the discussions."

Bayless added that he believes in the integrity of his students.

"I don't think what these three students did reflects the beliefs and thinking of our other 700 students," Bayless said. "I don't think that what happened here is consistent with the values of our school and our students. I'm comfortable in what our school represents."

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

Former University of Alabama receiver Antonio "A.C." Carter alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday against Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin that Kiffin deceived him to secure a prospect, USA TODAY Sports confirmed.

Carter said he was promised the assistant strength and conditioning coach job at FAU after the former Tennessee coach was hired by the school in December to curry favor with a family friend who ultimately signed with the Owls, according to SEC Country. Carter ultimately wasn't hired by FAU "due to two prior minor misdemeanor criminal charges."

Court records obtained by USA TODAY Sports show at least four arrests, all misdemeanors.

Carter was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia by Tallahassee (Fla.) police in March 2010. He was arrested in November 2010 on a failure to appear on the drug charge. He also had to two arrests for operating a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked license in 2014, one in May of that year by the Florida Highway Patrol and the other by Florida State University police in November.

Cater took pleas in each case and avoided jail time.

Stacey Padgett, a supervisor at the Shelby County (Ala.) clerk's office where the case was filed, said more details about the case would be made public once Kiffin is served with the lawsuit.

Messages left with FAU's athletic department were not immediately returned.

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

NASHVILLE - A bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee would fly in the face of the gun policies of nearly every major sporting venue in Tennessee, potentially pitting the Legislature against some of the state's most popular sports teams.


All major sporting venues across the state prohibit weapons inside those facilities, but the Senate committee passed a bill that would allow off-duty police officers and sheriff's deputies to carry their weapons in those facilities if they notify the stadium in advance.

Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, is sponsoring the legislation in the Senate and said the measure is "common sense."

Specifically, the bill would prevent any law enforcement officer with a ticket from being denied entry, and the owner or operator of the facility can require notification, which would have to be posted at the facility

More than once, committee members said there could be occasions where the off-duty officers encounter people they have arrested previously, saying in those instances it would be good for them to be armed.

Nissan Stadium and Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Neyland Stadium in Knoxville and the FedEx Forum in Memphis all prohibit weapons inside the venue and don't make clear if there are already exceptions for off-duty law enforcement officers. Finley Stadium in Chattanooga also prohibits weapons.

Metro Nashville owns Nissan Stadium and Bridgestone. Requests for comment from Metro government weren't immediately returned. The NFL bans guns at all NFL games.

The measure passed the committee on a party line vote, 7-2, with the two Democrats on the committee voting against the measure. Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, D-Memphis, said his problem with the bill was more with ticketed events at private residences, where the homeowner might not want guns in their home.

From ABWash. Reps Work to End Stadium Gun Ban

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Copyright 2017 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

It is a reality of sports that there is punishment for protest and has been for a long time.

Muhammad Ali had the best years of his career sawed off after voicing opposition to the Vietnam War. Tommie Smith and John Carlos could scarcely find work after raising their fists at the Mexico City Olympics.

Presently, in the National Football League, Colin Kaepernick can't find a quarterback job while less-credentialed signal-callers have multimillion-dollar contracts waved in their direction.

And in soccer, with the U.S. men's team due to take on Honduras in World Cup qualifying Friday at Avaya Stadium, any player who refuses to stand for the national anthem for that or any subsequent game will be subject to sanction.

What exact form that punishment would take is unknown, and U.S. Soccer is not saying, but the governing body took the unprecedented step recently of making it mandatory that players stand for The Star-Spangled Banner.

"100%," versatile defender Geoff Cameron said Wednesday, when asked if he supported the edict. "I think when you put on the national team jersey, you are representing the country. I agree that you should stand for the national anthem."

Those thoughts were echoed by former national team star and Fox Sports analyst Alexi Lalas. During a telephone interview with USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday, Lalas pointed to a recent televised segment in which he supported U.S. Soccer.

"Damn right, I am going to stand, I am going to put my hand over my heart and I am going to sing," Lalas said. "I believe that all U.S. national team players should be required to do that. Just because we live in the land of the free doesn't mean we are free to do anything we want to."

It is a complicated issue. It is easy to argue that an individual suiting up for his or her country, rather than a professional or collegiate team, faces a greater responsibility.

Others will claim that to exercise the right of expressive freedom is a truly American trait and that stopping or discouraging peaceful discontent is unfairly restrictive.

Cameron's viewpoint was not universally shared by his colleagues. When asked about it, several squad members had mixed emotions ahead of a vital game for the men's team, which lost its opening two matches and sits at the bottom of the CONCACAF final qualifying pool.

The U.S. Soccer ruling stems specifically from the actions of women's national team player Megan Rapinoe, an outspoken and fearless advocate for human rights and equality, who knelt while the anthem was played ahead of two exhibition games in September.

Cameron has previously said he would be "furious" if he saw a teammate decline to stand for the anthem. However, his friend and U.S. colleague Alejandro Bedoya had a somewhat different viewpoint.

"For me, it is a personal preference, it is a quiet protest," Bedoya told USA TODAY Sports. "Nobody is disturbing anybody, nobody is breaking anything or damaging anything.

"I wouldn't do it, but if somebody else felt the need... they should be able to do it to back up their claims for whatever they feel is being suppressed or whatever community they're trying to support. It's their choice, but for me I'm not going to go either way and say you shouldn't do this and shouldn't do that."

Forward Jozy Altidore said that while he did not take issue with the U.S. Soccer stipulation, neither would he complain if a teammate wished to protest. Midfielder Sacha Kljestan described the matter as a "double-edged sword" and said that, while he would always stand for the anthem, "the right to protest is a big right that every American should have."

Perhaps the most puzzling part of the new rule is that its implementation has created a discussion where there was none before. Protest relating to the anthem has never been an issue for the U.S. men, with no recorded incidents dating back more than 130 years.

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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

Gatlinburg, Tenn., police detective Rodney Burns, the only adult still facing charges in connection with the Ooltewah High School rape case, continued to argue Wednesday that his case should be dismissed.

Burns faces two counts of aggravated perjury in connection with his February 2016 testimony in the case. The offense is a class D felony that carries a sentence of between two and four years in prison.

Burns and his attorneys Stephen Greer and Bryan Delius appeared Wednesday before Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz. The attorneys argued the charges should be dismissed because the alleged perjurious statements were made in a court without the proper jurisdiction and the statements didn't affect the outcome of the hearing.

Greer said that, to be charged with aggravated perjury, the statements in question must have bearing on the decision made in the case.

"What Mr. Burns is alleged to have testified to falsely could not conceivably have a bearing on the issues that were being decided by the juvenile court in that case," Greer said. "Therefore his testimony, even if you assume it was false, is not material to that proceeding."

Last February, Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look into Burns' testimony during the preliminary hearing of the three former Ooltewah High School employees charged with failing to report child sexual abuse. The TBI concluded in May that Burns gave untruthful testimony. According to the May grand jury indictment, Burns "unlawfully and with intent to deceive" made two false statements under oath during that testimony.

Burns testified last February "there was no rape or torture, no screams of anguish." But previously he wrote in police reports that someone told him "the victim yelled out in pain" and another person said "he could hear [the victim] yelling when they had attacked," according to the indictment.

The indictment also states Burns didn't testify truthfully when he said he called authorities to report the incident on Christmas Eve. Later in the same testimony he contradicted himself, saying calling that particular authority was not "within the parameters of what we report."

During Wednesday's hearing, Pinkston said the statements Burns made about alerting authorities about the attack and the victim's screams were important to the February 2016 hearing, as it impacted what information the adults had about the situation.

Greenholtz ruled against Greer's motion to dismiss the case, and he said that issue should be taken up during the trial.

Delius then argued the case should be dismissed because Hamilton County Juvenile Court did not have jurisdiction to hold the preliminary hearing, arguing the proceedings should have taken place in Hamilton County General Sessions Court.

"The Juvenile Court is a court of exclusive jurisdiction for only those things the Legislature has given them authority over," Delius said. "... the court did not have jurisdiction to try an adult criminal case."

Despite the charge of failure to report child sexual abuse being listed in the juvenile code section, the matter should have taken place in criminal court, he said.

Pinkston responded that the "murkiness or ambiguity" of the state's statutes dealing with reporting of child abuse and child sexual abuse made it appropriate for Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw to hold the preliminary hearing.

Greenholtz asked Pinkston to file a response to Delius' motion on the matter before he made a decision whether to dismiss.

In previous hearings, Burns argued Pinkston should not be allowed to prosecute his case because of a conflict of interest. But in October Greenholtz ruled Pinkston can remain on the case.

Greenholtz decided in January to grant Burns' request for an interlocutory appeal, which allows Burns to ask the Tennessee Court of Appeals to look into the judge's decision.

Greenholtz said Wednesday that, to his knowledge, the Court of Appeals has not made any progress in the matter.

If the higher court chooses not to reverse Greenholtz's decision, a jury trial is scheduled to begin June 27.

****

Three adults were charged with failure to report child sexual abuse in connection with the pool-cue rape of a freshman Ooltewah basketball player, but the charges against each were dismissed.

Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole dismissed the charges against Ooltewah High School's head basketball coach, Andre "Tank" Montgomery, in December.</a> Poole said that under the state statute, Montgomery was not required to report that incident of sexual abuse to authorities.

He interpreted the statute regarding the reporting of child sexual abuse to say that adults only have the legal obligation to report the abuse of a minor between the ages of 13 and 17 if it is committed by a member of the child's household. Since the charges involved the victim's teammates, Poole said, Montgomery was not legally obliged to report the abuse.

Poole reminded the courtroom at the time that someone cannot be charged based on their moral obligation to do something, but the court must make its decision based on the law.

Since that ruling, local lawmakers are working to rewrite the statute, requiring adults to report all child abuse cases, and clarifying where and how abuse should be reported.

Pinkston previously filed charges of failure to report child sexual abuse against former Ooltewah High School volunteer assistant coach Karl Williams and the school's former athletic director, Allard "Jesse" Nayadley.

The charges against Williams were dropped in May. And two weeks before that, Nayadley accepted pretrial diversion, meaning he agreed to skip a grand jury review, and the charges will be erased if he completes 10 hours of community service, attends a course on reporting abuse and is well-behaved.

Three former Ooltewah High School players were convicted in connection with the rape that occurred during the team's trip to Gatlinburg to compete in a basketball tournament more than a year ago.

Contact staff writer Kendi A. Rainwater at krainwater@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @kendi_and.

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March 23, 2017
 
 
 

 

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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

 

A group of Collierville High School parents and students came to the town's school board meeting Tuesday and said the system favors boys' sports over girls' sports in financing.

School superintendent John Aitken said the system will look into the matter. "We will reach back out. We work with people. We take their concerns seriously."

The complaint highlights the culture of competitive sports and extracurricular activities in Collierville, where it's not uncommon for parents to pay hundreds of dollars for their children to play. Competitive cheerleading can cost $4,000 per year or more.

Parental booster clubs also raise money to sponsor out-of-town trips and other expenses.

About 15 girls in maroon Collierville High sports uniforms, along with some accompanying adults, watched as 23-year-old Paige Eubank went to the front of the room to address school board members.

She said girls' teams have a harder time raising money because their teams are smaller, which may be due to higher fees charged to parents. "And also because they're just not supported as much by the community," she said.

From ABCalifornia High School Hit with Title IX Suit

She said she graduated from the high school in 2011 and played softball and that she was speaking on behalf of her younger sister Sydney, a current high school student and participant in soccer and softball.

Their father, Jay Eubank, 54, then told board members that the school system appeared out of compliance with Title IX, a federal law that requires equity in male and female sports.

"These student leaders, these athletes want to ensure that we have excellence in academics, arts and athletics. And we cannot do that if we are not in compliance with the law."

He said the boys' teams are getting better practice areas and marquee time slots for their games. He also said booster club money should be distributed equitably by law. "If the funding discrepancies are not addressed, we will probably end up with non-compliant facilities at the new school," he said, referring to the big new high school under construction.

At $300 per year, football costs less than other sports, but a list of school fees approved last year doesn't show a clear pattern of girls' sports costing more than boys' sports. For instance, the annual fees for soccer and basketball are the same for boys and girls. Softball, a girls' sport, costs $1,200, while baseball, a similar boys' sport, costs $1,600.

Eubank said later that the law doesn't compare sport to sport - girls' basketball to boys' basketball, for instance. "The law considers the totality of the programs. And so when you look at football being $300 and any girls' sport costing more than that, they would call that inequality."

He also said sports team budgets vary dramatically.

After the Eubanks made their statements, they left with the group of parents and students, and the board continued regular business.

Reach reporter Daniel Connolly at 529-5296, daniel.connolly@commercialappeal.com, or on Twitter at @danielconnolly.

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Naples Daily News (Florida)

 

At 5-foot-2, groundskeeper George Toma stands four and a half inches shorter than his golden rake. But the man, 88, looms large in sports.

Toma has guided the grounds crew at all 51 Super Bowls. He has installed and maintained fields for the NFL in London, Barcelona, Tokyo and Mexico City among others cities worldwide.

Toma casts a legacy in Lee County, too.

During the 1970s and '80s at Terry Park in Fort Myers, Toma maintained the fields while working for the Kansas City Royals.

For the past 17 spring training seasons, with no plans to stop, Toma has worked for Lee County and the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium. Former Lee County director of parks and recreation John Yarbrough met Toma during his Royals tenure at Terry Park and found an opportunity to bring him back as an independent contractor in 2000.

"To me, it meant that our workers, our ground maintenance staff, would be working with a legend. The legend," Yarbrough said. "The professionalism that he has, you can't get that anywhere. He's forgotten more than anybody knows. He's been at the Super Bowl longer than anybody in the NFL.

"I think the opportunity to surround our staff with that kind of knowledge and experience is priceless."

Lee County pays Toma $7,800 for six weeks of many 12-hour days, which amounts to about $15 an hour or $1,300 a week.

The average Lee County groundskeeper makes $1,280.28, bi-weekly, about $31,200 a year.

The Minnesota Twins pay for Toma's spring training lodging, although he spends more time tending the fields than at a nearby hotel.

"People think I'm a millionaire," said Toma, who spends most of the year in Westwood, Kansas, not far from Kansas City, Missouri, where he cuts the lawns of his senior citizen neighbors during the summertime for free.

He said he never made more than $50,000 a year when working full-time for the Kansas City Royals.

"That's my own fault," Toma said. "I should have stuck up for myself. If I had never worked for the NFL, I never would have made things work for my family."

Being underpaid might be Toma's only regret. He encouraged his three sons to abide by his motto of "And then some," a saying he cultivated to put forth additional effort in his endless pursuit of perfection.

Now there's more than one Toma on the Lee County grounds crew. His oldest son, Chip Toma, 66, accepted a full-time job last summer at CenturyLink Sports Complex. He's in charge of Field Three on the minor league side and helps his dad during the big-league Twins games, when all hands are on deck.

"He wants that minor-league field to be a field like it is in the big leagues," George Toma said of Chip.

Rick Toma, 52, is the chief operating officer of The Money Source, Inc., a bank specializing in mortgages. Ryan Toma, 33, works as a pilot for Delta Airlines.

All three sons have served on Super Bowl crews with their dad at various times.

"Oh no, I don't think any of us will retire per se," Rick Toma said. "There's such enjoyment in it. For some folks, if there's not enjoyment, they watch the clock. When you love what you do, time is not an element at all."

Toma reports for duty in Fort Myers about 10 days after the Super Bowl. He departs after the last spring training game has been played. He doesn't delegate much, either.

"I guess the secret to a long life is you get a nail board and walk the infield all the time," said Jim Steeg, who for 26 years worked for the NFL as an executive vice president, supervising the Super Bowl. Although Steeg, 66, is 22 years younger than Toma, George and Chip Toma considered Steeg a father figure.

"The group that works with him, they're a different type of people," Steeg said. "They're non-stop workers. They're the guys who put 16, 18 hours into a day. George is obviously the first to get there and the last to leave. There's not a job that happens with this that he doesn't do himself. If you're talking about dragging the infield or whatever, he's going to be out there doing it himself.

"I think a lot of people admire that."

From ABTurf Impressions


Groundskeepers across Major League Baseball, the NFL and even in auto racing, such as the crews at the Daytona Speedway, revere George Toma, the trunk of a groundskeeper's tree that has grown many branches.

"Everyone gravitates to him, because he works so hard," said Jim Leyland, a longtime major league and current manager of Team USA during the World Baseball Classic. He has known Toma since 1982. "If he was the groundskeeper, you never had to worry about the field. You knew it was going to be perfect."

Boston Red Sox head groundskeeper David Mellor, 53, said Toma has been a mentor and friend for 35 years.

"My dream was to make it to the majors as a player," Mellor said. "A month after I got out of college, I was hit by a car. Not only was my leg crushed, I thought my dreams were crushed. So my family urged me to find a career I would love to do.

"During a lot of that recovery, I thought about what I loved to do. I grew up taking care of people's lawns, and I loved baseball. I wrote a letter to every major league groundskeeper."

Only five wrote back to Mellor. Toma's letter arrived first. It was handwritten and 16 pages long, dated Thanksgiving Day of that year. Mellor treasures the letter. He has worked for the Brewers, Angels, Giants, Green Bay Packers and now the Red Sox at Fenway Park, meaning Toma's influence has spread to those teams as well.

"I have the utmost respect for him," Mellor said. "He has an amazing spirit and he has been an amazing force for what he brought to our profession."

Chip Toma looks like a near clone of his father, standing maybe an inch taller and having taken a near-identical career route. He worked for the NFL for a quarter of a century. He once installed a soccer field at the request of soccer legend Pele in Brazil. Chip Toma moved with his girlfriend to North Fort Myers last year with the intention to retire. That didn't last long.

"The only way I could be happier is if I could open up a cantina on a Caribbean island," Chip Toma said.

Chip Toma said he was beyond thrilled to work again alongside his father, nicknamed the "sod god" or, preferably, the "Nitty Gritty Dirt Man."

George Toma said he had no plans to quit working for the Twins. Brian Dozier, the team's second baseman, found that comforting.

"He really takes a lot of pride in our field," Dozier said. "If I were to do a blind George or no-George test, I don't know if I could. But I do know that when he's out there, I don't worry about anything."

Lee County groundskeepers

George Toma, 88, has passed along 76 years of working knowledge as a groundskeeper to Lee County employees over the past 17 spring training seasons. Here's a roster of the full-time Lee Co. groundskeepers, as provided by Lee County:

JetBlue Park: Emory Mandala, Bobby Allen, Nathan Gluck, Raul Tambunga, Flavio Arreola Cornejo, Will Rodgers, Aric Coffee, Eric Rubio, Randal Goist, Antonio Rodriguez

CenturyLink Sports Complex: Aaron Geary, Josh Landals, Pat Roemer, Chad Yoder, Jeff Mansell, Evan Smith, Chip Toma, Josh Brooks, John Mele, P.J. Boutwell, Terry Slawson

City of Palms Park: Juan Aranda, Matthew Lapierre, Mike Phillips, Zach Ayotte, Dolan Bechtol

Others: Kyle Katzenmeyer, Brian Kinney, Billy Macphee, Brady Marshall, Cory Rodgers, Evan Smith, John Steinman, Mike Tambunga, Ronald Thomas, Raymond Thompson

George Toma's résumé and highlights

Personal: Born Feb. 2, 1929; Married to Donna, children Chip Toma, Lee County grounds crew member; Rick Toma, chief operating officer of The Money Source, Inc., Ryan Toma, pilot for Delta Airlines

Baseball affiliations: 1942-2017; 1942 Wilkes Barre Barons; 1948-50 worked with Emil Bossard in Driver, Virginia, Marietta and Daytona, Florida; 1954 Wilkes Barre Barons; 1955 Buffalo, Triple-A team for Detroit Tigers; 1956 Charleston, West Virginia for Detroit Tigers; 1957 Kansas City Athletics; 1969 Kansas City Royals; 1999 Nashua Pride, Atlantic League Baseball; 2001 Newark Bears of Atlantic League; 2000-2017 Minnesota Twins spring training in Lee County

Football: 1963-2017: Kansas City Chiefs, 1966 chosen to prepare first Super Bowl field at Los Angeles Coliseum, a tradition ongoing through Super Bowl 51 in Houston, Texas; 37 Pro Bowl games, 26 in Hawaii; natural and artificial turf consultant for the NFL; worked American Bowl games beginning in 1985 in London, Tokyo, Berlin, Barcelona, Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico

Olympics: 1984 and 1996; Los Angeles Olympic venues for track, soccer and field hockey; Turf field in Atlanta in 1996, laid 13,500 yards of sod in 24 hours with 12 hours of sod bed preparation

World Cup Soccer: 1994; all nine venues of American venues fields, including Soldier Field in Chicago

Other: Has worked at numerous other fields. His autobiography, "The Nitty Gritty Dirt Man," is available on amazon.


 
March 22, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2017 The Arizona Daily Star. All Rights Reserved.

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

 

The woman accusing former Arizona Wildcats running back Orlando Bradford of domestic violence has filed a notice of claim against the University of Arizona.

She is seeking a $1 million settlement from the UA and the Arizona Board of Regents, its governing organization, for failing to stop Bradford's alleged violent behavior.

Bradford was arrested in September after the victim and a second woman accused him of assault. He was charged with three felony counts of domestic violence kidnapping, seven counts of felony aggravated assault and five misdemeanor counts of intentional assault.

Bradford's trial is set to begin in August in Pima County Superior Court. He was dismissed from the football team on the day of his arrest.

A notice of claim filed on behalf of the woman by her attorneys further described violent acts allegedly committed by Bradford. The Star does not usually identify alleged victims of domestic violence.

The pair met through the woman's work as a photographer and began a romantic relationship in December 2015, the document said. On at least four occasions in January 2016, she said Bradford allegedly grabbed, strangled and kicked her.

Between then and Bradford's arrest in 2016, she says he assaulted her several more times, causing injuries such as a concussion, the notice of claim alleged. Some of the incidents were allegedly witnessed by members of the Arizona Wildcats football team, it says.

The woman alleged that the UA athletic department knew of Bradford's violent behavior toward her and another female athlete who had previously been in a romantic relationship with him, but did not take appropriate action.

Despite being aware, the UA "allowed him to continue to play on the football team, be present on campus as a student, and upon information and belief, did not take appropriate action to restrain his violent and assaultive behavior," the claim alleged.

 

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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

INDIANAPOLIS - Rick Pitino watched in amazement as the Michigan Wolverines made 11 second-half 3-pointers, many from well beyond the arc.

The first comparison that came to mind was the Golden State Warriors.

"The amazing thing to me is you look at the size of the players that Michigan has, and they shoot it like backcourt players. That's what's really coming on," Pitino said last weekend in Indianapolis, where the Cardinals were eliminated by Michigan. "I made a concentrated effort this past year in our recruiting to recruit bigs who could shoot because we don't have bigs who can shoot now."

Pitino can find the NBA's influence on just about any college game.

The shot clock has been shortened, the 3-pointer has been embraced and everyone from 5-foot-6 Keon Johnson of Winthrop to 6-10 Moe Wagner of Michigan seems comfortable shooting from long range. Scoring is up, defenses are being stretched thin and coaches are trying to adapt to change by recruiting bigger, better shooters and fewer true centers.

College basketball has its own version of small ball going these days.

The Wolverines are not small by any means, but all five starters and each of their top six scorers are capable 3-point shooters.

Disbelievers can rewind Friday's 92-91, first-round victory over Oklahoma State, the game that caught Pitino's attention. The Cardinals did a solid job in Sunday's second-round game giving up only six 3s, though Wagner's deep shot helped send Michigan to the Sweet 16 for Thursday's Midwest Regional showdown against Oregon.

Style is only part of the ongoing change.

Two years ago, the NCAA approved a 30-second shot clock and followed the NBA's lead by using timeouts called within close proximity of a media timeout as the scheduled stop. It also stripped a second-half timeout from teams.

The numbers reveal just how much and how fast things have changed.

Through the first two rounds of this year's tournament, teams are averaging 74.22 points per game . If that average is maintained through the next four rounds, it would be the highest tourney scoring average since 1993 (74.31) and a 6.45-point per team increase over the 2015 average (67.77 ppg).

Last year, the first with the new shot clock, teams averaged 71.85 points in tourney play.

"I like it," said Michigan coach John Beilein, whose head coaching career began before the shot clock or the 3-point line existed in college. "I think it would be very hard to play if you didn't have shooters, though, because everybody would plug in there, and you wouldn't have anybody open."

High-scoring offenses are only part of the equation.

Pitino believes defenses are starting to add NBA staples, too. Instead of using traps and pressure to force turnovers, he said, many teams are simply trying to take precious seconds off the shot clock with "soft pressure," a notion he advocated during two stints as an NBA coach.

Analytics, which Brad Stevens used heavily during his coaching tenure at Butler, has become a bigger part of the college game, too, and other changes could be on the horizon.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

HARRISBURG -- In nearly six years of dissection and discussion, no single incident has illustrated Jerry Sandusky's crimes like the oft-repeated account of how assistant football coach Mike McQueary walked into a campus locker room in 2001 and saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in a shower.

But on Tuesday, the former head of Sandusky's charity for vulnerable children testified that Pennsylvania State University's athletic director at the time, Tim Curley, had assured him that the claim had been discredited.

"He told me it had been investigated and nothing inappropriate was found," Jack Raykovitz, the former president and CEO of Second Mile, told jurors.

Raykovitz's testimony came near the end of the first full day of trial for Graham B. Spanier, the longtime Penn State president accused of endangering children and conspiring to cover up Sandusky's crimes.

More than any other, Raykovitz's testimony amounted to a new disclosure in the case. Unlike many other witnesses, he had never before been required to publicly testify about his knowledge of Sandusky's misconduct. And longtime critics of the prosecution -- as well as defenders of Spanier -- have often asserted that the Second Mile, the defunct charity where Sandusky groomed many of his victims, has long escaped scrutiny it deserved in the scandal.

It came on a day that opened with a prosecutor suggesting to jurors that inaction or indifference by Spanier and two others -- Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz, both now government witnesses -- allowed a sex predator to thrive.

"The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for men to do nothing," said Deputy Attorney General Patrick Schulte. "Evil thrives when men do nothing."

Spanier's lawyer, in turn, countered that his client never conspired with anyone but rather was being wrongfully prosecuted for "a judgment call" based on sparse information he got from others.

Much of the day was spent using witnesses to educate jurors on what by now are the familiar facts of the case:

Former university police chief Tom Harmon and detective Ronald Schreffler gave accounts of their 1998 investigation into an allegation that Sandusky had showered with a different young boy. Harmon acknowledged on cross-examination that he never discussed the incident with Spanier, and that no one from the university interfered with the investigation, which ultimately ended without charges.

McQueary described for jurors what he saw in the locker-room shower in 2001 and how awkward it was to report it to head coach Joe Paterno.

"It's Coach. He's like a grandpa. He's revered. You just don't talk about that with Coach Paterno," McQueary testified.

His father, John J. McQueary, then told jurors that Schultz had promised him Penn State officials would look into the report by his son. The elder McQueary also said Schultz told him "we've heard rumblings" about similar encounters involving Sandusky but that "each time, we came up empty-handed."

Prosecutors contend that Spanier, Schultz, and Curley simply chose not to report McQueary's claim to child welfare authorities. Both Schultz, 67, and Curley, 62, admitted as much when they pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment charges last week, leaving Spanier, 68, as the sole defendant.

Raykovitz was called to bolster that contention. In his testimony, he said Curley told him one day in March 2001 that someone -- whom he did not identify -- reported being "uncomfortable" after seeing Sandusky in the shower with a boy, but that an ensuing investigation uncovered no wrongdoing.

Raykovitz, a psychologist, said he wasn't told Sandusky and the boy were naked or that McQueary saw skin-to-skin contact and heard "rhythmic slapping sounds," as prosecutor Laura Ditka described it. Raykovitz testified he was told the boy had been a teenager.

Curley did not disclose what agency had investigated the incident and Raykovitz, on cross-examination, acknowledged he didn't ask. He also conceded he didn't ask Curley if the child involved was a Second Mile participant.

Curley, he said, told him of the administrators' intended plan to bar Sandusky from bringing children into Penn State's facilities. Raykovitz said he asked Sandusky about it and the former defensive coordinator told him he was "confused" and thought the ban only applied to the Lasch football building.

"Does that mean not even Rec Hall?" Raykovitz said Sandusky asked him.

Raykovitz said he told Sandusky to check with Curley and clear up the confusion. He testified that he also advised Sandusky to no longer shower in the nude with boys, given concerns about child sexual abuse nationally.

"I told him to wear trunks," Raykovitz said.

Curley and Schultz are expected to testify as early as Wednesday.

The prosecutor told jurors that Schultz will testify he is "very regretful" of the decision not to report McQueary's claim to the Department of Public Welfare, which the three men in an email exchange had originally planned to do.

"We messed up," is what Schultz is going to say, according to Schulte.

Their plan changed after Curley discussed it with Paterno, the prosecutor said, without elaborating.

The men decided they would bar Sandusky from bringing youths on campus, but that never happened, Schulte said. And, he said, Sandusky continued to sexually assault boys in Penn State's showers, including a "John Doe" who will testify later in the week.

"The showers at Penn State continued to be Jerry Sandusky's sanctuary for child molestation," Schulte said.

Spanier's lawyer said the longtime president had no direct contact with McQueary and relied on information from the others. No one told Spanier they saw Sandusky having sex with a child, Sam Silver told jurors, and there's no evidence he attempted to stop anyone from reporting Sandusky or that he conspired to cover up crimes.

"This was far from criminal conspiracy," he said.

Spanier, who is also expected to take the stand in his own defense, appeared calm during the proceedings, greeting supporters who came to the courtroom, including Penn State trustee Al Lord.

Jury selection to begin in Penn State ex-president's trial

2 ex-officials set to testify against ex-Penn State leader

Spanier trial could shed light on Penn State's culpability

Penn State trustee Al Lord is on McCord's FBI tapes

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March 22, 2017
 
 
 

 

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

The Boyertown Area School District was sued Tuesday by a high school student and his parents who say his "bodily privacy" was violated when he saw a transgender student -- identified as female in the filing -- undressing in the locker room as he also was changing.

Two conservative faith-based organizations, Alliance Defending Freedom and Independence Law Center, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. It claims the Berks County school district did not notify parents or students that it was allowing transgender students at Boyertown Area High School to use restrooms and locker rooms matching their chosen gender identity. Rather, the suit charges, the district "secretly opened" its sex-specific restrooms and locker rooms to students of the opposite sex.

According to the filing, the student complained to school officials, who informed him that students who "subjectively identify themselves as the opposite sex" can choose which locker room they use. When the student twice asked school officials to protect his privacy, he was told he must "tolerate" it and make changing with students of the opposite sex as "natural" as can be, the suit said.

The student and his parents were not identified.

Boyertown administrators issued a statement saying they had not received the complaint and had no comment.

Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, better known as GLSEN, which supports LGBT students, said nondiscrimination law provides a simple remedy to the situation: The student who felt uncomfortable should be given a separate accommodation. "This does not need to be made into a litigious issue," she said.

However, the Trump administration's rollback of Obama-era guidelines on transgender-student rights, Byard said, is "providing messages to these groups that they have license to discriminate."

In a statement, Independence Law Center chief counsel Randall Wenger said: "No school should rob any student of his legally protected personal privacy. We trust that our children won't be forced into emotionally vulnerable situations like this when they are in the care of our schools because it's a school's duty to protect and respect the bodily privacy and dignity of all students. In this case, school officials are clearly ignoring that duty."

In an interview after a news conference in Center City on Tuesday afternoon, Wenger said the case could affect many other school districts.

"If the Boyertown Area School District is violating our client's rights, other school districts in Pennsylvania are violating their students' rights," he said.

The suit against the Boyertown district claims sexual harassment under Title IX, a federal law; violation of the fundamental right to bodily privacy under the U.S. Constitution; and violation of a state privacy law.

Last month, a federal judge ruled in favor of three Pennsylvania transgender students who sued their school district over a bathroom-choice policy they say violated their civil rights.

The ruling granted a preliminary injunction to the students at Pine-Richland School District near Pittsburgh and effectively ensured they will be able to use the bathroom corresponding with their chosen gender identity as their case proceeds through the courts.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., has filed other lawsuits that it says protect religious liberty, including issues of abortion rights and gay marriage. The group, whose website says it was founded in 1994 by 30 Christian leaders to defend religious liberty before it was "too late," was recently added to the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups. Its leaders and affiliated lawyers, the center said, have "regularly demonized LGBT people, falsely linking them to pedophilia, calling them 'evil' and a threat to children and society, and blaming them for the 'persecution of devout Christians.' "

The Harrisburg-based Independence Law Center says it defends human life at all stages and the right to freely exercise religion.

Related: 

Discriminatory transgender bathroom bills should be flushed away

Trump's transgender directive unlikely to reverse policies in Pa., NJ schools

Haverford Twp. activists press school board for transgender student policy

South Jersey school board rejects transgender policy

 

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March 22, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2017 Newsday, Inc.

Newsday (New York)

 

Glen Cove officials say a series of youth baseball tournaments to be played in the city's memorial stadium later this year could pump thousands of dollars into parks facility improvements and bring in thousands of visitors.

The Glen Cove City Council on Thursday night unanimously voted to authorize Mayor Reginald Spinello to enter into a revenue-sharing agreement with Tournament City LLC, a Rockland County company that manages tournaments.

Under the terms of a draft agreement with the firm, the city would receive 35 percent of the revenue from the tournaments and Tournament City would receive the rest.

Tom Hopke, a youth programs adviser to the mayor and co-owner of the Long Island Tigers baseball club, said that with at least 10 tournaments planned for this year, the city would gain $50,000 to $60,000, with greater amounts in future years if the number of tournaments increases.

The games would be played at John Maccarone Memorial Stadium, which features eight baseball fields of different sizes, tailored to different age groups. Parks and recreation director Darcy Belyea said money from the tournaments could be used for improvements to the fields. In addition, city officials are discussing whether to build new fields nearby, and if that occurs, revenue could be used for that project, she said.

Tournament City co-owner Joe Clemente, who has helped manage tournaments in New York and New Jersey for the past decade, said he chose Glen Cove as a new tournament site because of its location and amenities.

Some tournament sites are somewhat isolated, giving families of players - many of whom travel long distances - little to do besides watch games, he said. But Glen Cove has beaches, marinas and summer concerts, is a short drive from other Long Island attractions such as Bayville Adventure Park, and is within driving distance of New York City and the Hamptons.

"We wanted a destination venue where people can come and almost use it as a vacation, too," he said.

That approach also will help local businesses, Spinello said.

"These are people that need a place to stay, that need a place to eat, that need a place to buy sundries, that are really going to get a good look at our community and all of the things we have to offer," the mayor told council members.

Clemente said the 10 to 15 tournaments in Glen Cove this year will be held from June through the fall. As many as 24 may be scheduled next year. Some will be new tournaments; others will be existing tournaments moved from elsewhere, he said. Most will be qualifying tournaments for regional or national competitions and average 32 to 48 teams, each with 15 players, Clemente said. Most players will be ages 9 to 18.

Belyea said the tournaments will not displace current city programs. The fields - available only for use by permit - are unused much of the time.

JOHN MACCARONE MEMORIAL STADIUM

- Eight baseball fields of different sizes tailored to different age groups.

- Fields can be reconfigured for other sports, including football and soccer.

- The first fields at the site were constructed in 1947. The park was expanded several times, most recently in 1997.

- City officials are discussing building additional fields nearby.

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Newsday (New York)

 

Suffolk County Community College officials are scrambling for funding after bids for a new $16.75 million expo-sports-health complex on the eastern campus came in $4 million over budget.

Louis Petrizzo, college general counsel, said the lowest of the seven bids, opened a month ago, came in at $20.96 million. College officials are looking to trim the size of the proposed 40,214-square-foot building and are asking county and state officials to fund the unexpected increase in the project, for which costs are split 50-50 between county and state.

Time is critical because Suffolk must authorize its share of the extra cost before the college can approach state lawmakers about including additional funding in the new state budget, which must be adopted by April 1.

College officials say they have asked County Executive Steve Bellone for an emergency resolution for Tuesday's county legislature meeting.

The proposed complex includes a gymnasium, basketball court, pool, facilities for strength training and aerobics and some classrooms.

"We did a lot of time trying to figure out why" bids came in over budget, Petrizzo said. "It seems it was the pickup in the economy, a lack of skilled labor locally, the bullishness in the marketplace and the tremendous amount of building going on in New York City."

Bellone has yet to commit to back the higher cost. "Due to the significant increase . . . we are doing our due diligence, and asking the appropriate questions before making a decision," said Vanessa Baird-Streeter, Bellone's spokeswoman.

Ben Zwirn, college director of legislative affairs, said that to reduce costs the school has cut 4,700 square feet from the building in part by reducing its height and the size of the gymnasium. Officials also are considering the possibility of using less costly materials.

Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) said he supports a resolution for additional funding for the project. "It's a critical asset for the East End communities," he said.

State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), higher education committee chairman, also said he will press for inclusion of the extra funding in the state budget.

"It's a great facility - one that will be very much used on the East End," he said. "It's a shame that it went $4 million over, but we've got to deal with reality. . . . The county should put up its share and the state will match it."

Legis. Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) questioned the spending in light of county fiscal problems and the fact that enrollments are down at the college and local high schools.

"I have serious problems with this," said Trotta, arguing that the project should be scaled back to fit the original budget. "We can't spend another dollar we don't have."

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USA TODAY

 

There's well-meaning, and then there's meddling.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's letter to owners, urging them to get more involved in the decision to rest key players and warning of "significant penalties" for teams that flout league rules, will do little to stem the growing problem and might only create new ones.

Coaches and general managers are entrusted to decide what is best for their players and teams, and asking owners to overrule them puts everyone in dangerous territory. So, too, the possibility of pitting owners against each other when a fan base is incensed that all it saw of LeBron James was his suit game.

But the time to address it was before the new TV contract that added 21 nationally televised games started this season. Not now, when there's only a month left in the regular season and being ready for the playoffs is the priority.

No one is questioning that the NBA has to find a way to manage the physical demands of an 82-game schedule and the interests of the fans and networks paying for it. Research has shown a link between fatigue and injury, and ESPN's Kevin Pelton found that, since 1978, teams that lost the NBA Finals suffered 21/2 more injuries to key players than the teams that won.

Wearable technology has made the decisions on when to rest someone all the more clear-cut, giving teams sophisticated and detailed data on fatigue levels, sleep patterns and reaction rates for each player.

But the NBA is in the entertainment business, and those watching -- be they in the arena or at home -- want to see the big names.

"I just have to think about what my job is," Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr told ESPN.com this month. "My priority is my players' health and being ready for the playoffs. That's my job."

It was one thing for James to get the occasional night off or Kerr to rest Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson at the end of a long road trip. But when the Cavaliers sat James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love for Saturday night's game on ABC a week after Kerr gave Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguoudala the night off of another ABC game, it became too much for Silver, who just last month at the All-Star Game had preached understanding.

"Decisions of this kind do not merely implicate issues of player health and team performance on the court; they also can affect fans and business partners, impact our reputation, and damage the perception of our game," Silver states in the memo, first reported by ESPN on Monday night and later obtained by USA TODAY Sports.

"With so much at stake, it is simply not acceptable for Governors to be uninvolved or to defer decision-making authority on these matters to others in their organizations."

It is not as if this is a problem that snuck up on Silver or the NBA. Players have been complaining about this for years, and former commissioner David Stern once fined San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich for sitting his stars.

The NBA has acknowledged the issue, limiting back-to-backs and all but doing away with four games in five nights. It will go a step further next season, starting one week early to space games out further.

But the NBA also should consider protecting the teams that play on Saturday's ABC games. The weekday TNT games, too, for that matter. Just as NFL schedule-makers build in allowances for teams that play in London or on Thursday night, the NBA needs to ensure teams playing Saturday night are not doing so after an extended road trip.

When Kerr sat his players, the Warriors were playing their second game in two nights and fifth in seven days. All but one had been on the road. Not seeing Golden State's stars might not have been a good look. But neither would have been seeing them when they're exhausted and out of gas.

Silver is right to want to find a solution to the NBA's scheduling problem. He's just picking the wrong time, and the wrong way, to do it.

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USA TODAY

 

A San Francisco gym slated to open this fall will encourage clients to use cannabis as part of their fitness routine.

Power Plant Fitness clients will have the option to bring their own cannabis or order edibles, the gym's preferred form of cannabis, while they are at the gym. A delivery service will bring desired edibles to the gym within 15 minutes after clients place orders, owner Jim McAlpine told USA TODAY. Adult-use, recreational marijuana is legal in California, but only dispensaries can sell it. Using marijuana in public is banned. The gym will have a designated space for those inhaling marijuana.

The gym, which advertises itself as the world's first cannabis gym, touts using the drug for pain, focus and meditation.

McAlpine, who is already hosting Power Plant boot camps, wants people to know this isn't going to be "a stoner gym." While cannabis use is welcome, the focus is on fitness, he said.

"For the people that it affects the right way, cannabis can make working out fun," McAlpine said.

McAlpine said personally, cannabis helps him control his weight and focus during workouts.

When clients join the gym, McAlpine said they will complete a cannabis performance assessment. That means staff will assess clients during a sober workout and a workout after using cannabis.

McAlpine, who also founded the 420 Games, said he anticipates at least half of the clients won't be a good fit for cannabis-influenced workouts.

"This isn't something where we are telling someone to do this," McAlpine said. "It's an option to consider."

Dr. Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, said the option is dangerous.

"I worry that the philosophy of the country is going towards health, happiness, smoke weed," Krakower said. "You are glorifying weed and saying it's this agent that's going to cure everything. I don't think that's going to be the case."

He said that message can be especially damaging to children and young adults.

"Ingesting compounds at a younger age... 19 and 20 years old, brains are still forming," he said. "I worry that they could be exposed to something that could be potentially negative to them."

Cannabis in adolescence and young adulthood has been linked to developing psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia. Marijuana smoke can also cause respiratory problems, elevated heart rate and mental illness, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports. But, cannabis research is hazy.

Dr. Sue Sisley, who has conducted FDA-approved clinical trails on cannabis and recently served on a panel at SXSW with McAlpine, said doctors have to be skeptical.

"We've never been exposed to the idea of cannabis as medicine," Sisley said.

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USA TODAY

 

As he bounced off the floor the other night in Tulsa, celebrating a berth in the Sweet 16, Baylor athletics director Mack Rhoades paused for a moment.

"We needed this," he said -- and then he was gone, headed for the tunnel, stopping only for hugs and high-fives. But a few moments later, in a corridor beneath the arena, Rhoades and others acknowledged the meaning was more than the typical March narrative.

The sexual assault scandal that has enveloped Baylor led to the ouster last summer of the school's president and athletics director -- and most notably, football coach Art Briles -- and might indicate systemic issues that go beyond athletics to the university as a whole.

It also seemingly has no end. New allegations keep emerging in lawsuit filings. Two newly hired football staff members were fired in recent weeks for transgressions unrelated to the initial scandal but which were seen by some as further indication of an endemic culture problem.

In the face of all that, the basketball team's success provided a rare positive moment -- or at least, a respite -- for its fans. Baylor (27-7), No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament's East Region, beat Southern California on Sunday to advance to the Sweet 16. The Bears will face No. 7 South Carolina on Friday at Madison Square Garden. And they're carrying more than the banner of a basketball team.

"We want to put Baylor in a good light," coach Scott Drew said. "We want to make our fans and Baylor Nation excited, to give them something to cheer about. We control what we can control, and that's our effort and how we conduct ourselves and the way we represent the school."

No one involved in Drew's program has been implicated in any of the allegations. But they know any conversation about the scandal is tricky and that every discussion must begin with an acknowledgment: "I love my school as much as anybody," sophomore guard Jake Lindsey said. "But (one) victim of sexual assault at Baylor or anywhere is one too many."

'We just play basketball'

They're not under the illusion that they'll change the school's tarnished image by winning games. Lindsey and his teammates know all too well that anyone and everyone associated with Baylor has been tainted. All season, they routinely encountered vitriol from opposing fans at road games -- chants of "No means no! No means no!" at West Virginia, posters with messages such as "Countdown to the next rape" at other places, and so on.

"You go on the road, and people chant stuff about us that isn't true," said Lindsey, shaking his head. "That's someone's daughter you're talking about."

Lindsey suggested an exercise. Go to Twitter and search "Baylor." Or just check the mentions from the official men's basketball handle (@BaylorMBB).

"You'll see some Twitter robots just retweeting stuff," he said. "You'll see people commenting on the game. But you'll see just hateful (stuff), just people casting stuff on the young guys like us. We just play basketball. You've got to block it out, because you're a competitor and a winner. But why does it have to be that way? Why can't the focus be on the victims instead of painting us in that light?"

Maybe, some think, that's a small price and Baylor's reputation is in tatters for good reason. But these basketball players in the fluorescent yellow uniforms had nothing to do with any of it.

"That's not who we are," said senior guard Ishmail Wainright -- even as he knows that, for some, there's no separating the good guys from the bad or basketball from what is largely football's scandal.

The Baylor women's team -- a perennial national powerhouse -- might be on a similar path through the postseason, though the comments last month by their coach are problematic. Kim Mulkey took the microphone at the Baylor women's last home game and defiantly suggested if anyone said they wouldn't send a daughter to Baylor, "you knock them right in the face," and went on to say Baylor's problems "are no different than the problems at any other school in America."

She later apologized, several times.

But there's not much benefit of the doubt left for anyone associated with Baylor. For many, Mulkey's words showed Baylor still doesn't get it, that officials and others affiliated with the school have a persecution complex rather than appropriate remorse over a deep and wide scandal.

Drew, by contrast, is an eternal optimist who's bubbly to the point of being effervescent. An example: Before Baylor took the floor Sunday for its Round of 32 game against USC, he zipped into the Kansas locker room to congratulate the Big 12 rivals for advancing to the Sweet 16. "Good luck, you guys! Get 'em next week!" Then he turned and ran out, headed for the court and Baylor's impending tip-off.

He says his players have handled criticism well -- even when it shouldn't have been directed at them.

"I know what our guys are like, and I know what they care about," Drew said. "They love Baylor, and they want to represent it the right way."

Said Rhoades, "They've handled it every step of the way with class. I'm proud of them. These kids have had to endure a lot. They've done nothing but the right stuff -- and off the court as well."

Chasing school history

On the court, they've played some of the best basketball in school history.

The Bears shot from unranked in the preseason to No. 1, then earned a No. 3 seed. They are long and athletic and play with a freewheeling verve. And now they're in the Sweet 16 -- and as the highest remaining seed in the East Region, they have a great shot at going even further.

"I think we needed it," said Rhoades, who left Missouri for Baylor last summer, pledging to help bring change. "Our university needed it. Our kids, these players that have done things the right way since they've been here. So it's a proud moment for Baylor, and it feels good, mainly for our kids but also for our university and our fans."

Lindsey, a finance major from Houston who is the son of former Baylor player and current Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey, recognizes the oddity, even incongruity, of the idea that a run through the NCAA tournament means much in the larger Baylor picture.

"Winning carries a great feeling," he said. "It's weird, because, in a perfect world, winning would be irrelevant from a reputation of a school. But it's not a perfect world. To think that maybe someone gets a better image of Baylor because we won a few games, or maybe they don't say anything vile, or maybe it just impacts somebody, I mean, that's worth any sacrifice. But it's crazy."

Lindsey also knows it isn't going away anytime soon.

If the Bears escape New York this week, beating South Carolina and then either Florida or Wisconsin to reach the Final Four for the first time in program history, their arrival in Arizona will essentially be accompanied by the debut of a two-hour documentary about the school's other terrible scandal, the 2003 murder of a basketball player by a teammate and the attempted cover-up by former coach Dave Bliss.

The Showtime documentary is to be released March 31. Its title: Disgraced.

And as it dredges up history, it will inevitably refocus attention on more recent events.

"We can't control it," Lindsey said. "I just hope we continue to be about the right things. I've been a Christian my whole life, and I've never prayed so much. That's not saying prayer is equivalent to morality, but there are good things happening (at Baylor). Lives are being changed. People are being helped. It's just hard to overcome a national perception.

"All we can do is handle things the right way and say the right things."

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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Hundreds of people file through the doors of the 23rd Street Brewery for lunch and dinner every day, most bound together by their unrequited love of ales, IPAs and the Kansas Jayhawks.

A glance at the menu confirms they're among friends: There's the "Crimson Phog," an Irish-style red ale, and "Rock Chalk Raspberry Wheat," while food choices include the "Danny Manning Marsala Chicken" and "The Bill Self," a mac-and-cheese dish topped with buffalo chicken tenders.

But as the Jayhawks prepare to play in nearby Kansas City on Thursday for a spot in the Elite Eight, not every conversation has to do with how the team has played.

Many have to do with the behavior of players around campus, particularly star freshman Josh Jackson, who is likely in his final games before making NBA millions. Not only is Jackson a crucial part of a team with national title aspirations, he has also been part of three off-court issues that haunt the Jayhawks - including one case where he threatened to beat a woman who tossed a drink a teammate, then caused more than $1,000 in damage to her car.

The legal woes have caused a divide among one of the most tightknit fan bases in college sports, one side choosing unequivocally to support Jayhawks coach Bill Self and his players, the other struggling reconcile the unsavory headlines with the success.

"I love KU basketball. I love the players and the team," said Matt Llewellyn, who owns and operates 23rd Street Brewery. "I want to think positive things. I don't want to think negatively about them."

Yet even Llewellyn acknowledges his disappointment in some of the recent news.

The flood began in early December, when forward Carlton Bragg Jr. was charged with misdemeanor battery, only to be exonerated later by video evidence.

Things became much more serious about eight days later, when local police said they were investigating a reported rape at McCarthy Hall - the $12 million dormitory next to Allen Fieldhouse built primarily to house members of the men's basketball team. No suspects have been identified and no charges filed, but five players have been listed as witnesses, including Jackson and star guard Frank Mason III.

During the investigation, drug paraphernalia was found belonging to Bragg, and the sophomore was briefly suspended. That case was settled last month when Bragg was granted diversion.

The case that's been making the most headlines, though, involves an altercation outside a Lawrence bar in early December. Women's basketball player McKenzie Calvert is accused of throwing a drink at sophomore guard Lagerald Vick, and their dispute continued into the parking lot, where Jackson allegedly kicked in her taillight and caused other damage.

An affidavit released last week states Jackson threatened to "beat" the woman, prompting many - particularly on social media - to cast judgment on both sides of the dispute.

"We live in a society where everything is done in 140 characters, and headlines, and there's been a lot of misleading headlines," said Bob Fescoe, who hosts a sports-talk radio program in Kansas City and spent part of his show discussing the case earlier this week.

"Especially here, there are a lot of divided fans - you have Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State fans, and they're not budging," Fescoe said. "If you believe something happened, you're staying on that side of it, and if you don't, then you're staying on that side of it."

Jackson was suspended for the Jayhawks' Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal for what Self called "an accumulation" of incidents, and they promptly lost to TCU in a major upset.

Jackson returned to put up flashy numbers in lopsided NCAA Tournament wins over UC-Davis and Michigan State , helping his draft status. If he's bothered by the legal issues, he's not showing on the court.

It's not easy to have your name across the ticker each and every day," Self said, pointing out that most of Jackson's trouble happened months ago and that discipline has long been handed out.

"I don't think it should be motivation," the coach added, "but I also don't think it should be an excuse or a distraction. It's just sometimes families go through stuff and you got to put blinders on and go at the job at hand, and I think they've found their basketball court as their safe haven."

The issues that have dogged the Jayhawks have created an us-against-the-world mentality.

"Josh is a great kid. We all love him," said Mason, the team's senior leader. "We just tell him to focus on the things that he can take care of, and that's exactly what he does."

Legacies matters at Kansas, a program founded by James Naismith, the game's inventor, and where Phog Allen, Dean Smith and Larry Brown made their names. Five national championship banners hang in the rafters at one end of Allen Fieldhouse.

What will the legacy of this year's team be?

Fans who proudly proclaim "In Bill we trust!" will no doubt remember it for Jackson, Mason and an NCAA Tournament run that could conclude at the Final Four.

Other fans and many outside the program will recall a season sullied by behavior that cast the program in disparaging light.

"I can separate the two. I can separate the two totally," Llewellyn said, taking a break in his 23rd Street kitchen. "They're expected to go to the Final Four. But getting there is hard. God knows, we should have a lot more Final Fours under our belt. So I think the fact that they're in the Sweet 16, they accomplished what they need to accomplish for me to be satisfied with the season."

 

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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

San Diego -- Two buses pulled up in front of one of this city's signature Italian restaurants Tuesday afternoon and San Diego State football players and coaches piled out.

It had been an uneventful 11-mile trip from campus. The Aztecs posed for a team picture under the Little Italy street sign and then headed out into the historic downtown neighborhood to hang out with the locals, play some Bocce ball and eat.

After reading that Jim Harbaugh's Michigan Wolverines will take a nine-day trip to Rome next month, paid for by an anonymous booster, SDSU coach Rocky Long met with his staff to figure out what they could do on their much more moderate budget.

"I said, 'Well, we can't take our guys to Italy. We'll take them to Little Italy," Long said.

So they planned a trip to what was once the center of San Diego's tuna fishing industry and is now a gentrified neighborhood that celebrates its Italian heritage.

Long wouldn't come out and say it, but the Aztecs' cross-town jaunt was a tongue-in-cheek poke at what Michigan is able to do.

"I just thought it was a great idea, and I'd love to take our team to Italy, too, but we can't afford that kind of stuff," Long said. "Only a few people in the world can afford to take 200 people on an expense-paid, nine-day vacation.

"Obviously it's the haves and haves nots," said Long, who has led the Aztecs to consecutive Mountain West titles and a bowl game in each of his six seasons. "It's an interesting deal, because then everybody wonders why you don't beat them."

Long figured going to Little Italy would be a fun alternative to another spring practice.

"Most of them are going to get to see a part of San Diego they've never seen before," he said. "They'll have a good time and realize what a neat place San Diego is. It has all the stuff we don't have to get on an airplane for. We get to do it right here. And then they're always good for a free meal."

Long read that Harbaugh plans to take his team to South Africa and Japan in future years, so he's planned trips to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, formerly known as the Wild Animal Park, and the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.

"It gives our team something to do and learn something about San Diego that most of them don't know," Long said "Our local guys do, but most of the other ones don't."

Sure enough, running back Rashaad Penny, who will replace NCAA all-time leading rusher Donnel Pumphrey as SDSU's featured back, had never been to Little Italy.

"I think this is a great thing for our team, just for us to bond together and get the final days of spring ball over with," Penny said. "Coming down to Little Italy is awesome and I think the head coach did a great job."

Penny chuckled when asked if the trip was a subliminal jab at Michigan, which will practice three times while in Rome.

"I mean, this is probably better than Italy," he said. "We don't have to spend as much. We're having fun anyway. It's definitely new scenery for some of us. It's kind of new to us. It's a different culture and I'm glad we're coming down here to learn it."

Long was asked if he'd take the Aztecs to Ocean Beach, the eclectic seaside neighborhood where he lives.

Could happen, because Long read that New Zealand is on Harbaugh's list of places to take the Wolverines.

"If he goes to New Zealand, we've got a New Zealand restaurant in Ocean Beach," Long cracked.

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The Bismarck Tribune

 

GRAND FORKS -- Michigan Tech students began arriving four hours before the start of the game.

The line stretched down a long hallway, around the corner to the right and another long hallway, around the corner to the left and another hallway, through a doorway, down a spiral staircase, around another corner and through another doorway.

They packed John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.

They went crazy when Michigan Tech beat Bowling Green in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association championship game.

Coach Mel Pearson even instructed security to open the doors by the penalty box, so the students could storm the ice.

They did.

It was an unforgettable scene for those in Houghton, Mich., this weekend -- something that should be the goal of all college hockey championship events.

The old plan of having the event at a big neutral facility wasn't working for the WCHA under college hockey's great realignment.

The WCHA made a change -- and in Year 1, at least, it was a home run.

Will other teams follow their lead?

The Big Ten will for sure.

After four seasons of sparse crowd at its conference tournament in the Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild, and Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings, the Big Ten has opted to bring it back to campus.

Atlantic Hockey saw its championship game played in front of 650 people on Saturday night in Rochester, N.Y. It may be time for Atlantic Hockey to bring their tournament to campus sites.

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference, meanwhile, has to ponder what to do with the future of its tournament.

It could keep it at the Target Center, which will have major renovations by the time the 2018 NCHC Frozen Faceoff is held there. Minneapolis has numerous food, drink and hotel options near the arena.

It could move to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, because the WCHA and Big Ten are gone. The Xcel Center provides one of the finest hockey arenas in North America, but food, drink and hotel options are more limited.

While the Xcel option appears to be the most attractive to fans, many are probably associating the Xcel Center with the old WCHA Final Five, which routinely drew crowds of 18,00-plus. That won't happen in the new college hockey landscape.

Or, the third option, the NCHC could follow the WCHA's lead and bring it back to campus sites.

Scheduling flights or trips on a week's notice can be problematic -- and it may not have the Frozen Four-type of feel in a neutral venue.

But it could be insurance for a league that appears dependent on North Dakota's success, as attendance would be sparse in the instance that UND does not make the Frozen Faceoff.

The NCHC isn't hurting as bad for attendance as the Big Ten or WCHA in its neutral-venue playoff championship, but what happened in Houghton on Saturday has to at least raise some eyebrows.

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Sarasota Herald Tribune (Florida)

 

BRADENTON - Similar to most students at Manatee High, Abi Walsh spent most of her Friday nights during the fall sitting inside Hawkins Stadium and watching the school's tradition-soaked football team.

There was one wrinkle: Walsh was there because she played in the marching band. She knew nothing about football.

"I've always wanted to learn more about football," Walsh said. "I watched the games, but I'd never understand them."

There Walsh was last Thursday, however, pulling in the game-winning two-point conversion to help the Hurricanes score an 8-6 win over rival Southeast High.

Manatee County is making its first foray into flag football this spring. Walsh is one of the girls who decided it to give it a try.

"It's awesome coming into a sport where you know nothing and just learning so much about it," said Walsh, a senior. "I'm soaking up the experience."

The School District of Manatee County hopes more girls follow suit. Flag football is the district's pitch to help stay in compliance of Title IX, always a chore because football participation is so robust. Complicating matters is that competitive cheerleading, one of the county's most popular girls sports, isn't recognized for purposes of Title IX.

So after noticing the popularity of powderpuff football, and fielding calls from parents and student-athletes, Jason Montgomery figured flag football was the perfect choice for offering girls another athletic option.

"We knew we had the interest," said Montgomery, the county's supervisor of athletics. "It was a natural fit."

The Florida High School Athletic Association has been crowning champions in flag football since 2003 and added a second classification last spring. None of Manatee County's public schools will be in the running for a title this year, though. All six are competing as independents and will play each other twice, resulting in a 10-game schedule.

This was the district's choice, Montgomery said - staying within the county cuts down on travel costs while giving officials a chance to gauge how much interest there is for flag football.

If there is enough, Montgomery said the county may enter district play next year. Early indicators are good - three of the schools have enough participants to field varsity and junior-varsity teams.

"We want to see if we're actually attracting kids that weren't involved in spring athletics to add another event," Montgomery said. "I don't mind cross-over athletes, but at the end of the day, what we're trying to do is get kids to come out who don't compete in spring athletics."

Flag football is 7-on-7. Each player wears a belt equipped with three flags - two on each side and one on the back - and everyone on the field is an eligible receiver. Walsh, for example, played center before sprinting into the end zone to make her big catch last Thursday.

Quarters are 12 minutes in length and, with the exception of the final two minutes of each half, are played under a running clock.

The field is divided into four 20-yard zones, and teams are awarded a fresh set of downs each time they enter a new zone. Touchdowns are worth six points, though teams have the option of tacking on one, two or three points after scoring, depending on the hash they choose to start from.

Southeast's groundkeepers forgot the variety of point-after attempts prior to last Thursday's game, leaving Daniel Bradshaw, the school's athletic director, to add the lines roughly two hours before kickoff.

"It's a new culture for everybody," said Manatee coach Mike Alderson. "Some of the girls knew a lot, and some of the girls, it was their first time playing a sport. We had to start, I wouldn't say from the ground up, but from a basic level and move ourselves forward. I think our girls have improved tremendously."

Last week marked the first slate of the games and the schools will play on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the spring. Now that more girls have seen flag football up close, Bradshaw thinks more will want to participate.

Southeast had 16 players on its roster Thursday while Manatee had 14.

"Because it's new, there were some girls unsure," Bradshaw said. "I think as we go forward, the numbers will grow a lot. I would even expect that when we come back from spring break I'm going to have some girls asking, 'Can I join?' "

Montgomery said he is still evaluating whether the teams will compete in districts next spring. That scenario could prove tricky - Charlotte and Sarasota counties don't offer varsity flag football, and since Manatee County's schools vary in size, the teams will likely have to find district competition in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties and increase travel costs.

One thing is for sure, though, in Manatee County, flag football is here to stay.

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Copyright 2017 News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- First things first. This is a really cool city, and I can't wait to come back.

There are only a handful of places on this earth where I would consider living, and this is one of them.

But...

We weren't in Greenville last weekend looking for a house. Thousands of people were in the upstate of South Carolina to watch the NCAA men's basketball tournament 190 miles from where it was supposed to be.

Greensboro.

It was taken from us because of a political issue that ran counter to good taste and civility. Greenville's good fortune came at our expense. So when we arrived at Bon Secours Wellness Arena early Sunday afternoon and saw protesters' Confederate flags waving in a state infamous for its refusal to take the flag off its statehouse grounds, well, let's just say the NCAA had some explaining to do.

The explanation came in the form of a statement, which sounded a bit like a cop-out.

"Freedom-of-speech activities on public property in areas surrounding the arena are managed by the city of Greenville, and we are supportive of the city's efforts," said Dan Gavitt, the NCAA senior vice president of basketball.

What he didn't say was, "We're sorry, Greensboro. We didn't anticipate this."

The NCAA is holding up its announcement of future tournament sites, giving North Carolina more time to repeal HB 2. It's looking like that's unlikely. Greensboro was to have been the host of the first- and second-round games that ended up in Greenville, a gesture by the NCAA that North Carolina needed to learn a lesson and that South Carolina had already learned its lesson.

Which we now know it hasn't.

The demonstrators who showed up Sunday weren't basketball fans. They weren't all from South Carolina. They weren't all white, either, believe it or not.

But the symbolism of the same flag that cost the state 15 years of NCAA sanctions was as stark as the comments from the demonstrators and far more powerful than the NCAA's weak response.

"We wanted to show the NCAA that we're still here," Hunter Meadows, one of the demonstrators, told The Associated Press.

Say what you will about the right to demonstrate or the right to free speech or the NCAA's right to make a stand wherever it deems necessary, but North Carolina is getting ready to lose six years of tournaments over a law that restricts something no one in this state has ever seen happen and something that can't be policed anyway.

The NCAA's stance on these issues isn't even consistent. Did anyone notice that the first and second rounds of the women's NCAA tournament included games in Durham? Does anyone remember that during the 15 years of sanctions against South Carolina that NCAA baseball tournament games were still played there?

The tournaments moved out of North Carolina were "neutral-site" events, not on-campus events that the host school "earned."

"The NCAA council of presidents didn't want to punish the institutions," an ACC spokesperson said.

The ACC, meanwhile, has followed the NCAA's precedent. The league, for example, moved neutral-site football, men's basketball and women's basketball championship events out of the state but left on campuses championships such as wrestling at N.C. State and fencing at Duke.

So what we have here is a failure to communicate the message. In theory, North Carolina has made its stand on the side of HB 2, though most citizens of North Carolina have no voice in the matter. In theory, South Carolina made its stand when it removed the flag from the statehouse grounds after Dylann Roof killed nine African-Americans in Charleston in 2015. But not all the citizens of South Carolina agree with the state's decision, as we saw Sunday.

Greenville itself is not to blame. Even though several demonstrators acknowledge that they were "invited" to protest, the vast majority of people were horrified at the display. It would've been appropriate for the NCAA to reflect that reaction instead of its tepid response.

The NCAA needs a better explanation of why North Carolina is being singled out, why certain events are deemed different and how in the world it thinks this is going to change anything. Obviously, little has changed in South Carolina.

The NCAA comes off looking confused or hypocritical. Neither is a good look for a sanctioning body that's now in the punishment business.

The next four-year block of tournament sites will be announced April 18, and it looks almost certain that North Carolina will be closed out of the process in just a matter of days.

But if South Carolina is awarded tournaments after what we saw this past weekend, the NCAA will have even more explaining to do.

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

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Copyright 2017 The Buffalo News
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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

NIAGARA FALLS - One union official envisions an arena with up to 10,000 seats - something with ice and hardwood.

A county legislator wonders what kind minor league sports team or concerts might be drawn to a new multi-use facility in the Falls.

One wants it downtown, while the other thinks it could be anywhere in the city.

A study expected to be approved in a few months and completed by October would provide the details state and local officials will need to evaluate the notion of a new convention center and arena in Niagara Falls.

"I think it's a great idea, and I'm for the study," said Majority Leader Randy R. Bradt, R-North Tonawanda. "We need to find out the details."

Niagara County's Economic Development Department plans to release a request for proposals for a feasibility study on Wednesday, said Christian W. Peck, the county's public information officer.

Richard Palladino, business manager of Laborers Local 91, envisions a wide variety of events at a facility with 5,000 to 10,000 seats.

"I would like to see something with ice, something with hardwood, so it can be versatile," Palladino said.

County Legislator Jason A. Zona, D-Niagara Falls, said he would like to see a seating capacity of at least 8,000 in a facility that could be used for sports, concerts and other special events.

"What kind of minor league sports would Niagara Falls attract? We need to get a professional answer," Zona said.

Boxing or mixed martial arts events also could be booked into such an arena, Zona said.

Niagara County, the City of Niagara Falls and New York State each agreed to pay $50,000 for the study.

The county estimated the total cost at $150,000, Peck said. But Zona and Palladino said they think it can be done for considerably less.

The County Legislature is expected to pass procedural measures at its meeting today, , such as accepting the money from the city and the state.

Bradt doesn't expect any problems passing the measures.

The Legislature appropriated its $50,000 share unanimously.

A convention center was constructed in Niagara Falls in 1973, but as time went on the facility was used less frequently. Eventually, it was turned over to the Seneca Nation of Indians, which converted it into the Seneca Niagara Casino in 2002.

Palladino said he wants a new multi-use facility located in downtown Niagara Falls, where Niagara Falls Redevelopment owns large areas of vacant land surrounding the Senecas' casino and hotel.

"If the study says that would be the best location, I would definitely be in favor of that," Palladino said.

Niagara Falls needs something to bring visitors to the new hotels, especially in the colder months, he said.

"There has to be something more than what's happening now," Palladino said. "We're going to lose some of these hotels, because they can't do it 12 months a year. They'll be OK for six (months)."

"It's not specifically for downtown Niagara Falls," Zona said. "It could land anywhere in the city."

The request for proposals for a feasibility study will ask consulting firms to respond within 30 days and to produce a report in four or five months, Zona said.

Among the questions to be answered would be who would own a new facility.

"Generally, these are public projects, because arenas usually aren't money makers," Zona said.

If a new facility is built in Niagara Falls, it's likely a private company would be hired to manage it, he said.

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Copyright 2017 The Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.
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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

Maybe there's a need for a sticker affixed to every helmet, from peewee ball to the NFL, bearing the words, "Football can be hazardous to your brain long after you stop playing."

Can't assume everybody already knows that. Every parent. Every grandparent. Every 10-year-old boy who stands in front of a mirror in full football pads and uniform, growling and posing and admiring the incredible hulk who is looking back, a dream figure who will never get hurt, never grow old.

It's hypocritical of me to call for a reduction in the inherent violence of the game, not unless I have an accompanying revulsion for the roar of a sold-out stadium, or decide to stop making a living with stories that highlight the battering-ram glory of a goal-line stand.

On a day like Monday, however, when the news breaks that some of the game's greatest names are suffering severe neurological disorders, it makes you stop and stare at reality for a change.

Gale Sayers, a running back so spectacular that he made the Pro Football Hall of Fame after playing just 68 games for the Chicago Bears, has been diagnosed with dementia. He barely spoke during a recent seven-hour visit to his home and his family by Kansas City Star columnist Vahe Gregorian. Sayers is 73 and his wife believes the problems with memory loss and judgment began in his mid-60s.

Also new to the public consciousness is Dwight Clark's announcement that he has ALS, the devastatingly degenerative nerve disorder often known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Clark is the former Pro Bowl receiver who teamed with Joe Montana on "The Catch," a landmark playoff touchdown that started San Francisco toward a string of Super Bowl titles. He is 60 and says he suspects that football is the cause of his dire diagnosis.

"I don't know for sure," Clark wrote on social media, and it truly is not easy making direct connections.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in 2016 that as many as 15,000 people have ALS in this country, men and women, and that the onset of the disease commonly is between the ages of 55 and 75.

During the long court case and accompanying negotiations that led to the NFL Concussion Settlement, however, the league itself estimated that roughly three out of 10 living retirees from the league will be eligible for compensation.

The settlement doesn't just specify CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a degenerative brain condition that led players to sue the league and was the focus of the 2015 film "Concussion." There also are payments for treatment of early to moderate dementia, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and ALS.

It's a start. Where it ends is the next question.

Since the game was invented, retired football players have found it difficult to get out of bed because of bum knees and hips and backs. Everybody knew that was part of the deal, and it didn't stop the game from growing in popularity and participation.

For that matter, it's been almost five years since a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health showed that pro football players are at a risk for Alzheimer's and ALS that is four times greater than for the general public.

What we know, what we don't know, it's all pretty scary, but not enough to change the game's overall momentum, from "Friday Night Lights" to "Monday Night Football."

What's different, if anything, about beloved stars like Sayers and Clark is the added glare of their names in the headlines, and the 1-2 punch of reading those names in this cruel context.

In the Kansas City Star story, Sayers is reported by his wife to be physically strong and doing regular workouts with a trainer. It's his mind that can no longer stay up.

Clark, on the other hand, writes of losing strength in his hands and his legs and his abdomen and his back. He understands it will get worse, much worse, but vows "to fight like hell and live every day to the fullest."

Susan Spencer-Wendel, the Palm Beach Post reporter who died at 47 nearly three years ago, tackled her ALS with the same attitude and wrote a beautiful book about it. She wasn't a linebacker, but no pro football player ever was tougher.

I'm thinking, based on all of this, that it won't be so cute to see grade-school boys playing tackle football this year at the park where my wife and I walk. Touch football could teach them the rules and the teamwork benefits for a bit longer, right?

Until they're able to read and process all the information that's out there.

Until they're equipped to help Dad and Mom reach a decision on football that's much tougher than it used to be, and at finding a youth or school coach who gets it.

dgeorge@pbpost.com Twitter: @Dave_GeorgePBP

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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

A former Boynton Beach High School assistant football coach was turned down for a job at Santaluces High because of allegations of recruiting players. That assistant now is accusing Boynton of the same thing: recruiting players.

"It's my turn to talk about the truth," Korey Banks told The Palm Beach Post. "(Boynton Beach High School is) bringing allegations on me for recruiting, but they're still calling kids."

While the Florida High School Athletic Association forbids recruiting, allegations of recruiting misconduct have been going on for years among schools. But it is rare for a coach to make such explosive allegations publicly, and by naming coaches and schools.

The saga began Dec. 13 when Banks was hired away from Boynton Beach to become the head football coach at his alma mater, Santaluces.

But by Jan. 19, the former standout defensive back who went on to play college and professional football was out of a job.

Santaluces withdrew its offer after learning of allegations raised by Boynton Beach that Banks, who served as Boynton's defensive coordinator last season, tried to lure players to Santaluces while he still was a Boynton assistant.

Boynton Beach High School filed documents to the FHSAA claiming that Banks contacted 10 to 15 Boynton players, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which first reported the allegations. Many Boynton school officials said they expected those players to follow Banks to Santaluces, according to the paper.

According to FHSAA bylaws, representatives of a school's athletic interests are forbidden from direct or indirect contact -- whether in person or through written or electronic communication -- with a student or any member of the student's family in an effort to pressure or entice him or her to attend a different school for the purpose of playing sports.

It is difficult to prove recruiting misconduct. According to a 2011 Post story, at least 16 written complaints about recruiting were pursued by the FHSAA, but only two cases resulted in penalties against Palm Beach County high schools from 2007 to early 2011.

Banks said he decided to speak to The Palm Beach Post to clear his name. In doing so, he also accused members of Boynton Beach's coaching staff of doing the very thing they allege he did: improperly contacting players in an effort to recruit them to play for the Tigers.

Banks told the Post he did not file a complaint with the FHSAA because the process to do so is cumbersome.

"I have to go through hundreds of steps to prove somebody wrong," he said. "At the end of the day, look at the facts."

The FHSAA may well be taking that step.

The organization confirmed earlier this month it had received an allegation regarding the Boynton Beach football program and that it is in the process of reviewing it. The school is not under investigation, per se, an FHSAA spokesperson said. The spokesperson would not say what the allegations were about, and Boynton Beach officials declined to comment on this story, citing the FHSAA review.

"It left a bitter taste in my mouth," Banks said of being hired and then fired by Santaluces, as well as the accusations made against him by coaches he once worked closely with. "Certain people get privileges in this game that don't even deserve them. I didn't get them."

' Right choice' at first

Initially, Banks was eager to take over at Santaluces. And the Chiefs were eager to have him after their football team went 0-10 this past year and 5-25 over the previous three seasons.

"After interviewing five strong candidates, we decided that Korey was the right choice," the school said in a statement after he was hired. "We couldn't look past the fact that Korey played and graduated from Santaluces."

But the bloom wore off quickly.

Banks said he was told by Santaluces administrators to keep his hiring quiet from Boynton Beach coaches -- he remained on the Boynton campus as a substitute teacher -- and he was fine with that.

"Let them be the first to announce it," he said.

Despite repeated attempts by the Post, Santaluces officials couldn't be reached for comment.

But Boynton players and coaches found out. And they weren't happy about being left in the dark.

At first, "I had to tell people I didn't get the (Santaluces) job," Banks said. "I guess they took it as I lied to them. They saw me talking to kids at the school, which I do all the time, with everybody, not just athletes. I have teenage boys. I can relate to them. They all want to talk, and it can be about whatever."

Boynton Beach coaches considered those conversations improper, and, as the Sun-Sentinel reported, they presented a number of recruiting allegations to the FHSAA, which in turn left it up to Santaluces to investigate.

His coaching offer was withdrawn a short time later, and the school hired longtime area coach Brian Coe on Jan. 27. Banks never held a practice at Santaluces and conducted just one team meeting.

Banks -- who attended Mississippi State University, was on the Miami Dolphins' practice squad and later spent 10 seasons in the Canadian Football League -- said he never tried to recruit any Boynton Beach players to come to Santaluces.

"What kid is going to want to come to an 0-10 team?" he asked. "If I'm that good, I'll take the credit."

Several Boynton Beach players, speaking under the condition of anonymity, expressed support for their former coach, saying he wouldn't steer a player to another school.

"Coach Banks would never do that," said one, a senior.

"Coach Banks knows everybody," another player added. "He wasn't necessarily recruiting them to Santaluces."

Accusations by accused

Banks claims Boynton Beach head football coach Errick Lowe and his assistants improperly recruited more than a dozen players to Boynton last season, promising them the opportunity to play for a winning team and earn college scholarships.

According to the FHSAA, student-athletes can transfer from one public school to another outside their attendance boundary for a variety of reasons, with choice program opportunities being the most common. Student-athletes also can receive exemptions for other district-approved reasons.

A Boynton Beach official said the school could not comment on any allegations while its football program is under FHSAA review.

"Do you think they would have gone to the playoffs with no (influx of) talent?" Banks asked of the Tigers, who finished 6-4 last season and made the playoffs after going 4-6 in 2015 and missing the postseason. "How did they go to the playoffs out of the blue like that? They're recruiting kids all the time. I have text messages. This is what they do."

Banks' text messages -- copies of which he provided to the Post -- appear to show conversations among Boynton coaches in which they discuss their efforts to lure players to the Tigers program.

Banks said he was included in those conversations but rarely contributed to them.

"I didn't comment because they would group-text over 70 to 80 times a day," he said.

The texts also appear to reveal that coaches contacted players directly. Of the three players mentioned in the texts, two played last season for a south county school and the other for a school in central county. Messages to those players seeking comment were not returned, while the athletic director for one of the schools did not comment when reached.

"I talk to (player's name withheld) today, and he says he want to come, but we have to talk to dad or his brother," read one text, in reference to one of the south county players.

"Working on (name withheld) from (central country school)," read another text. "He thinks he won't be eligible if he leaves."

All three players stayed at their schools last season.

But some did not.

One Tigers player, a senior who previously played at another central county school, confirms he was lured to Boynton Beach with the promise of playing for a winning team.

The player, speaking to the Post under the condition of anonymity, said he had multiple conversations with Lowe during youth football practices in Boynton Beach and decided to transfer for his senior year.

The experience was a disappointing one, the player said, and he has since returned to his original school.

"Coach Lowe said Boynton was going to have the best season, and he wanted me to come play for him," the player said. "He wanted my cousin to come also. He kept asking me to tell him to come."

He later added, "He sold me a dream."

Banks said he was aware of the conversations between Boynton coaches and potential transfer players but chose not to speak out because he didn't want to be perceived as a whistleblower. He also said he didn't find anything wrong with a player switching schools if it led to scholarship offers.

"At the end of the day, I don't care if a kid leaves me or not, as long as the kid gets to college," he said. "That's all I care about. I don't care if that kid is going to play at Boca High School, as long as he gets to college. That's all I'm in it for. I don't get paid any money."

Banks said he did not attempt to recruit any players while on the Boynton Beach staff despite being included on the coaches' text chain.

"I never talked to any of those kids," he said. "I knew I wasn't going to be at Boynton High School for long. That was just to help out the city. I could have gone to six or seven different high schools. I just chose Boynton High School."

Banks said Lowe continues to illegally recruit football players.

One of them, a sophomore for the Tigers last season, received numerous calls from Boynton Beach coaches despite his wish to play for another south county school next year, the boy's mother told the Post.

The boy attends a private school in Broward County that doesn't have a football team, which means he can play sports for a school within his home boundaries. Boynton Beach High is not within those boundaries, the mother said. She went on to say that no one at Boynton asked about the legality of her son playing for the Tigers last year despite the family being zoned for a different south county school.

On top of that, the mother said, even though her son told school officials that he didn't want to return to Boynton Beach, Tigers coaches continued to contact him.

A month ago, the athlete's mother emailed a letter to Boynton Beach administrators, in which she told the school's football coaches to stop contacting her son.

"For the past two weeks, all the coaches have been calling him, and I find that very disrespectful," she said in the letter, a copy of which Banks provided to the Post.

The school stopped calling after the letter was received, the mother said. She said her son now is weighing where -- and whether -- he will play football next season.

jwagner@pbpost.com Twitter: @JRWagner5

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Anderson Independent-Mail (South Carolina)

 

 


The Clemson athletic department's announcement of adding varsity softball as early as 2020 was met with a common response: finally.

"I don't want to say 'It's about time,' but truly it is," said former Pendleton High School and current Anderson University softball coach Tommy Hewitt. "With the ACC and our area, it's going to be a huge boost for softball.

"I wish it was sooner, but 2020 is better than not adding it at all."

The idea of a Clemson softball team is nothing new. Proposals stretch back as far as former Tigers athletic director Bobby Robinson's tenure (1985-2002).

Former longtime Clemson administrator Bill D'Andrea said softball was in the conversation when the school started its rowing program in 1998.

"As much softball as is played in this state, I think Clemson can be very, very successful by adding that sport," said D'Andrea, the current Anderson University athletic director.

For Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich, it's one less query he has to field now.

"Since I arrived at Clemson in late 2012, the most common question I've received from our fans, supporters and young women throughout the state has been, 'Are you going to add softball?'" Radakovich said, "and I'm happy to now have a definitive answer."

A change in the college sports atmosphere helped clear a path for softball at Clemson, and what's next for the program is plenty of planning before the finished product.

Why now?

An ESPN-sponsored linear ACC Network is certainly a big factor.

The Clemson softball target date of February 2020 is line with the first season ACC softball will air on a conference television network, and that was noted as much in the university's statement announcing softball as a substitute for women's diving.

The sport's addition started gaining traction in the last 18-24 months while the school was evaluating all of its sports in light of the television deal, said Clemson associate athletic director Joe Galbraith.

Last August in an interview with the Independent-Mail, Radakovich said a move for softball wasn't "imminent."

The intersection of economics and championships played a role.

Women's diving has competed on its own since the 2011-12 season, when Clemson ended its men's diving and both men's and women's swimming programs. Keeping women's diving aligned the school with federal Title IX regulations that spell out required balance between men's and women's sports offerings, but since swimming and diving are scored together, an ACC championship was out of the picture.

Adding women's swimming again was considered, per a university statement, but ruled out for "financial, facility, participation and geographic considerations."

Clemson enters a competitive conference for softball, which boosts to 13 teams thanks to the Tigers and the addition of Duke in 2018. Florida State has won 14 ACC championships since 1992, but Virginia Tech did grab back-to-back titles in its third and fourth ACC campaigns.

One area softball coach says building a program will be a challenge, and she hopes the right resources will be afforded.

"I believe... that this is a money-ACC network-driven decision," said Wren softball coach Lynn Hicks, "and not that they really want to put the effort or funds in the sport... I am truly a Tiger fan and hope they are doing this for the right reason. It will be tough and bringing in transfers, and (junior college) players will be key in early going.

"I hope our area players are given the chance."

What's next?

Clemson's first task is finding a stadium site and working the proper channels for approvals and fundraising when that's established.

The athletic department has a panel set up to decide on the location, which Galbraith said is currently being considered among about a half-dozen locations.

Football-game parking - or the elimination of it - is a consideration, but how the stadium impacts student traffic and its relation to other athletic facilities play a role as well.

From there, Clemson will determine the timing in hiring a coach and support staff, which will largely rely on the recruiting calendar.

Up Interstate 85, another ACC program is about three years ahead of Clemson's road.

Duke associate athletic director Todd Mesibov said finding the right location for a softball stadium was a "pretty involved" process, while finding the right coach made a significant difference.

The Blue Devils announced their softball program in December 2013 but didn't hire former Michigan standout Marissa Young as coach until July 2015.

"One of the things we really talked about to candidates for the job is that we wanted that person to really be able to come in and build his or her program," Mesibov said. "She's been in the process of building it all from scratch and has done a great job. For us, that was the best thing we've done, being able to have her come and drive the train."

Duke's softball stadium construction started in May 2016 and will be completed later this summer.

Less than a year out from first pitch, Duke has a roster of six freshmen plus a sophomore transfer and will have a full team by the fall semester.

Mesibov says seeing the stadium construction has been a rewarding sign of the work put in, which Clemson is just starting.

"We had a number of Duke softball shirts - that and some drawings were sort of the only tangible evidence that we were really going to do this," Mesibov said. "To be able to walk through the construction with (players) now and the actual building and - 'This is where the cage is going to be' and 'This is where home plate is going to be' - has really been a great joy to see them come alive with the excitement."

Follow Brandon Rink on Twitter @BRink_AIM.

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Abilene Reporter-News (Texas)

 

Abilene Independent School District trustees approved spending up to $900,000 to replace the flooring and seating inside the competition gyms at both Abilene and Cooper high schools during Monday's school board meeting.

A pair of new administrators also were hired by trustees Monday.

Citing the gym renovations as a need for all students, as physical education classes use the facilities on a regular basis, Associate Superintendent for Operations Scott McLean said the money will come from the remaining proceeds in the school bond program approved by voters in November 2013.

As such, he said, the work will be focused on modernizing the space and providing better safety to the students.

"All of these things... are consistent with the things we were trying to achieve in the 2013 bond program," McLean said.

Trustees selected, at McLean's recommendation, Newman Sports Flooring to remove, level out and replace the wood flooring at the schools, while Worthington Contract Furniture was chosen to provide bleachers.

McLean said about $2.5 million was saved over the course of the bond program, though about $4 million was saved at the high schools alone.

So administrators decided to reinvest the savings at the high school level back into those two schools and developed through conversations multiple projects the district can address. The gym floor is just one piece of the overall puzzle AISD leaders hope to complete with the excess funds.

Executive Director of Athletics Phil Blue explained why a new gym floor became a need, as opposed to a desire.

"As best I can tell, the Abilene High main gym floor is original to the building," he said. "So, it's about 50 years old. Now, when these floors are installed, they're insured for about 30 years. And they coat the wood in protective (coating), but they recommend taking it down to the wood every 10 years. After four or five times, there really isn't any wood left. It does show its age."

He said Cooper's floor is in better condition, but there are parts that have been damaged significantly due to flooding or other problems since the floor was installed.

Officials said the gym completion target is the middle of August, which would force volleyball competitions at both schools to find new homes to start their respective seasons, McLean said.

In addition to the gymnasiums, McLean, Blue and Executive Director of Fine Arts Jay Lester also identified other aspects that need to be addressed. Locker rooms for girls sports such as softball and soccer, as well as an orchestra room for Abilene High School musicians, were identified as projects that could be addressed in future board meetings.

In other school board news, trustees approved the hiring of Kimberly Brumley to serve as executive director of curriculum and instruction and Chuck Griffin as assistant athletic director.

Brumley, who joins the district after serving in Corpus Christi ISD since 2006, will oversee the development and implementation of classroom instruction throughout the district. Griffin, current offensive coordinator at Georgetown High School, will provide assistance to Blue in developing coaches and implementing the overall plan for how the district approaches its athletic programs.

While Brumley is a new face to this part of Texas, Griffin is familiar with the city. He is a 2001 graduate of Hardin-Simmons University's physical education master's degree program.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Two former Pennsylvania State University officials who struck plea deals with prosecutors and the one-time head of Jerry Sandusky's children's charity are among the witnesses expected to testify against ex-university president Graham B. Spanier when his child endangerment trial begins Tuesday.

While selecting a jury Monday, Deputy Attorney General Laura Ditka named Tim Curley, Penn State's former athletic director, and ex-university vice president Gary Schultz on a list of people whose testimony she planned to present to the panel of seven women and five men chosen to hear the case.

Her witness list also included Jack Raykovitz, longtime head of the Second Mile, the now-defunct nonprofit for troubled youths from which Sandusky chose most of his victims.

None of the three men has previously testified publicly. Their testimony, which comes nearly five years after Sandusky was convicted of the serial sexual abuse of 10 boys, promises to shed new light on what culpability both institutions might have in enabling the former assistant coach's crimes.

Related: Curley, Schultz Plead Guilty in Sandusky Case

Their stints on the witness stand are also anticipated by large swaths of the Penn State fan base, who for years have complained that the university and iconic former football coach Joe Paterno have been unfairly blamed for Sandusky's predatory behavior while authorities overlooked the role Second Mile officials may have played.

Spanier, 68, has frequently denied the allegation that he put children at risk by failing to adequately respond to an abuse complaint involving Sandusky 15 years ago.

But he said little Monday as he arrived at the Dauphin County Courthouse, flanked by his lawyers. He offered only a pinched smile in response to questions from reporters asking how he was feeling about his chances in court, and spent most of the day cloistered in Senior Judge John A. Boccabella's chambers with attorneys for both sides.

The former university president faces three felony counts tied to his handling of a report in 2001 that Sandusky, then retired, molested a boy in a Penn State locker-room shower. Prosecutors contend that by failing to alert authorities or child welfare investigators about the complaint, Spanier and his subordinates allowed Sandusky to continue abusing children.

Curley and Schultz had been expected to stand trial alongside Spanier until their surprise guilty pleas last week to one misdemeanor count each of child endangerment.

Spanier rejected a similar deal, friends of the former president have said, and intends to testify in his own defense.

Since Sandusky's arrest in 2011, the former president has insisted in interviews and letters to Penn State trustees that he was never made aware of the severity of the 2001 allegation by Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant working with the football program, who is also expected to testify against Spanier this week.

McQueary maintains that after witnessing Sandusky's shower assault, he made clear to Paterno, Curley, and Schultz that what he saw was ";way over the line and extremely sexual"; &ndash; a claim later backed up by Paterno himself, when he told a grand jury that McQueary described an encounter that involved ";fondling"; and was of ";a sexual nature.";

But in their own 2011 grand jury testimony, Curley and Schultz maintained that McQueary failed to convey the seriousness of the incident, leaving both under the impression that he had merely witnessed questionable ";horseplay."; They also testified that was how they later described the incident to Spanier.

Prosecutors in Spanier's case say they have evidence to suggest otherwise, including emails from 2001 in which Spanier, Curley, and Schultz at least considered reporting the incident to police.

They rejected the idea, opting instead to bar Sandusky from bringing children on campus, and urge him to submit to counseling. They also informed the Second Mile of the allegations.

Prosecutors contend that the men had even more reason to be suspicious of Sandusky due to an even earlier complaint involving the assistant coach's showering with young boys.

Penn State police investigated those allegations in 1998 but no charges were filed. Emails from the period suggest that Spanier was included in discussions on the progress of that probe.

University trustees ousted Spanier and Paterno from their jobs in the days after Sandusky's arrest. Paterno died months later from lung cancer.

Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence in a state prison in Somerset County.

Spanier trial could shed light on Penn State's culpability

Sandusky case stunner: Ex-Penn State officials plead guilty, Spanier to face trial alone

Jay Paterno seeks seat on PSU board

Judge rejects appeal requests by Penn State defendants

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

ATHENS -- When it comes to spending and football facilities, Jon Stinchcomb is in a unique position. As a former Georgia player, he knows what the team needs and wants. As a current member of Georgia's athletic board, he has a vote on how and what money is spent.

Over the past month, Stinchcomb has voted for a project that will cost the school and donors $63 million. He's also had numerous conversations with friends and donors about what more needs to be done.

And what the plan is. And if there isn't one, what it should be.

"Even for your big-money donors, it's not: 'We don't want to spend the money.' It's 'Let's make sure we're spending it in the right places and that it's part of an overarching, big-picture approach that keeps us competitive,' " Stinchcomb said. "And included in that is:Help me understand what we're doing with the

reserve (funds) and what's our approach to that."

Based on conversations with several donors, most of whom did not want to be identified, there is a concern whether Georgia is spending enough to keep up in the SEC and national facilities arms race. But the overarching concern is whether there is a master plan, or whether the school is simply playing whack-a-mole, moving deliberately from one project to the next.

"There's a lot of frustration with the current administration and the athletic department and their use of capital that has so enthusiastically been donated," said Ryan Scates, a corporate attorney in Atlanta who as a student was on UGA's athletic board during the 2012-13 school year. "UGA isn't known for being a reactionary, second-rate institution. It's one of the best schools in the South. So to see us get outpaced by Clemson and Alabama and Auburn, in terms of (athletics facilities), it's not because we're at a disadvantage because of resources."

Georgia's administration, with Athletic Director Greg McGarity as the point man, has defended itself by pointing to what is being spent now in facilities:

|Three major projects since 2010 centered on football, totaling around $121 million. That began with a $31 million renovation to the Butts-Mehre building, followed by the $30.2 million just-completed indoor facility and now$63 million committed to the Sanford Stadium renovations. That will include new locker rooms and a recruiting area.

|Just over $21 million committed this year alone for other projects, including Stegeman Coliseum's getting a long-awaited center-hanging scoreboard.

This all indicates spending has increased in recent years and not just on facilities. Football staff salaries went up significantly, for instance.

But some are concerned that the school is only playing catch-up with these latest projects and that more work is needed. Georgia's weight room, built in 2011, has quickly become among the smallest in the SEC. Programs like Florida and South Carolina are putting together master plans to build new facilities. Tennessee, Arkansas and others have executed ambitious facilities plans over the past few years.

"This may not be in line with other sentiments, but the indoor facility, we were playing catch-up," said Stinchcomb, a UGA offensive tackle from 1999-2002 who went on to play in the NFL. "We were the last in our conference (building an indoor facility) with something that can be deemed a necessity. Not just recruiting; this isn't for looks. This is functionality. My personal feeling is we should never be in that situation again. The University of Georgia has too good of a fan base, too good of an athletic department and we're in too good of a financial situation to be last in areas of need -- not just want, but in need.

"That was catch-up. Now you look at the improvements for the stadium, some of those fall in line with where we were at with the indoor facility. We haven't had a true locker room at Sanford Stadium ever. It was an open room with no lockers. It was that way when I played there, when my brother (Matt) played there in the '90s. Those are not racing ahead and blazing new trails. That's playing catch-up."

UGA officials have confirmed that the athletic department has just over $77 million in reserve funds, including about $45 million listed in the most recent treasurer's book and $32 million invested in the UGA foundation set aside for "general support" of athletics.

School officials defend that allocation, saying there needs be some protection in case the flow of donated money stops. That is also why the school is fundraising for the major projects: Since donors answered the call for the indoor facility, the school is now seeking $53 million from donors for the $63 million Sanford Stadium project.

How will that go? Stinchcomb said fans want to give, and they support the school. They just want a "clarification and understanding as they write these sizable checks" where previous donations have gone to and "how this fits in a much bigger picture."

"When people ask me, because I'm a board member, the approach is not: We don't want to give," Stinchcomb said. "It's: Help me understand where we are with the reserve, what our plan is with the reserve and how that coincides with the raising for this project, specifically of $53 million."

The stadium project announcement set off many fans who were concerned about the state of the facility's restrooms and concourses. McGarity answered by "expediting" work on those items in time for next season, at a cost of $950,000.

Scott Mooney, who lives in Greenville, S.C., said he and his family have been season-ticket holders for five years. They had complained in the past about the concessions and restrooms, and while the "expedited" work on the restrooms was good to hear, his greater concern was the concessions area, which he found too bottled up.

Mooney said he worried that the administration takes the fans for granted, "given all the money that is pouring into UGA athletics." He said he's reconsidering his season-ticket purchase, especially given the (slight) increase in ticket prices and the required donation to secure them.

"And they are sitting on $30 million-plus in rainy day funds? I just don't get it," Mooney said.

Scates, the former athletic board member, said he donates to the athletic department and has season tickets. He said he and fellow donors he's spoken to want to see a master plan develop or they'll reconsider their donating.

"UGA has no reason not to be the premier athletic department in the Southeast. We have the donor support necessary; we have the population necessary in the state;we have the athletic talent in the state," Scates said. "And it seems to be increasingly clear that the one thing we're lacking is groundbreaking thinking."

The desire, according to donors, is not to go randomly into the arms race and waste money. Ultimately, according to Stinchcomb, everyone wants the same thing.

"What we want to do is put our football team in the best position to compete and provide the facilities and resources that they need to be champions," Stinchcomb said.

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Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA)

 

Viewing art and doing yoga are both meditative experiences. Put them together, as two area museums are doing, and you take both activities to a new level.

At The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, visitors are invited to practice yoga on their own, while the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland offers a group class.

Five yoga mats have been available during public hours at The Westmoreland since January. Mats are located in a mobile storage unit in the Post-1950s gallery for easy access. There is no fee to use them.

"The sign on the storage unit for the mats reads, "˜Take Five "" Use these mats to relax, meditate and contemplate in our galleries,' " says Claire Ertl, director of marketing and public relations. "We also have movable chairs located in the galleries for visitors to use, to place where they like to take in the art.

"Our visitors and staff have been putting them to use, both to practice some yoga and also just to view the art from a different perspective."

The idea for providing the mats grew out of staff brainstorming sessions used to develop new ideas and projects for the museum, Ertl says.

The Carnegie's weekly drop-in yoga class meets from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursdays.

"They're designed to be energizing, to get you ready for the weekend," says media relations manager Jonathan Gaugler. "They're staged in one of our most beautiful spaces, usually the Hall of Sculpture."

The 18-and-over yoga classes started as part of a wellness series with individual sessions featuring movement and meditative exercises, Gaugler says. They proved so popular that they became a regularly scheduled event.

"People really responded to doing yoga amid all the art," Gaugler says.

Fee per session is $10, $5 for students. A 10-session pass is $75, $50 for students. Attendees do not pay museum admission and must bring their own mats.

A musician from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is scheduled to play at the last session of each month, at least through midsummer, Gaugler says, although the date may change due to musician availability.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750 or smcmarlin@tribweb.com

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New Haven Register (Connecticut)

 



DERBY>> A pair of architects have scored the task of giving the school district's athletic complex a major-league facelift.

Two separate committees working on the project -- the Athletic Complex Building Committee and the Field House and Baseball Field Building Committee -- both recently voted to bring the two architect firms onboard.

The Athletic Complex Building Committee selected a New Britain firm, Kaestle Boos Associates Inc., which designed the minor league stadium that formerly housed the New Britain Rock Cats and the current home of the Bees. The firm, in business for more than 50 years, is the designer behind many statewide renovation projects, including the Palace Theater in Waterbury, Naugatuck High School and its athletic complex, Greenwich Academy's athletic field and West Hartford Veterans Memorial.

"I think everyone was impressed with their experience, past projects and their understanding of the scope of our project," said City Treasurer/Committee Chairman Keith McLiverty.

Kaestle Boos will serve as project manager, overseeing the design and construction of an artificial turf football field, multi-purpose field and 8-lane rubberized track at the Leo F. Ryan Sports Complex on Chatfield Street.

Derby received $2.9 million in funding from the state Bond Commission for the project.

A second architect, Peter de Bretteville of Hamden, was selected by the Field House and Baseball Field Committee to design and oversee construction of another major component of the overall athletic complex makeover, though it's being treated as a separate project.

A new baseball field and state-of-the-art field house is being privately funded thanks to a more than $2 million donation from Joan Payden, founder, CEO and president of Los Angeles-based international investment firm Payden & Rygel.

Payden made the donation in memory of her father, J.R. Payden, a Derby High School class of 1915 valedictorian who played baseball here, graduated from Yale University and served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps Aviation Division and became a fighter pilot for the Royal Flying Corps in England.

Payden hand-picked de Bretteville, who has more than 40 years' experience and has designed renovations ranging from the historic Stonington library to Athens College in Greece, to design the baseball field/fieldhouse project.

The existing high school baseball field, which is not regulation size, has to be relocated in order to make way for the artificial turf field and track. The field currently is located next to the football field at the Ryan Complex and is slated to be relocated to where the existing girls' softball field is. The softball field is slated to move nearby to either the high school campus on Nutmeg Avenue near the existing Little League field or near the new artificial turf field.

School and city officials assured concerned coaches, student athletes, parents and others the renovations and relocations, while requiring some temporary shuffling around, will not hurt any of the existing sports programs.

Superintendent of Schools Matthew Conway had called Payden's donation a "game changer," especially because the initial project utilizing the state funding had to scrap the fieldhouse.

Credit: By Jean Falbo-Sosnovich, jean.sos@snet.net

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Copyright 2017 The Arizona Daily Star. All Rights Reserved.

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)


Fitbits and other wrist-worn fitness devices promise to keep track of your heart rate, but new research suggests they are less accurate than thought during certain exercises.

"If you need to know your heart rate with accuracy when exercising -- either because you are training for a marathon or have safe heart rate limits set by your doctor, perhaps due to coronary artery disease, heart failure or other heart conditions -- wrist-worn monitors are less accurate than the standard chest strap," study author Dr. Marc Gillinov said in an American College of Cardiology news release.

The heart rates on the wrist-worn devices were compared to those from a continuous 4-lead electrocardiogram (EKG) and a chest strap monitor. Like an EKG, the chest strap measures electrical activity of the heart.

Depending on the type of activity, the wrist devices were up to 34 beats a minute off. The wrist trackers could either overestimate or underestimate heart rate, Gillinov said. He's a heart valve research, thoracic and cardiovascular surgery expert at the Cleveland Clinic.

The study included 50 volunteers. Their average age was 38. They tested popular wrist-worn fitness trackers, including the Apple Watch, Fitbit Blaze, Garmin Forerunner 235, and TomTom Spark Cardio.

The volunteers' heart rates were recorded at rest and after light, moderate and vigorous exercise on a treadmill, stationary bike and elliptical trainer. All of them exercised for 18 minutes.

The chest strap monitor closely matched the readings from the EKG, which is the gold standard for measuring heart rate.

And the wrist-worn devices were fairly accurate when a person was at rest.

Most wrist devices gave acceptable readings during treadmill activity, but were fairly inaccurate while bicycling or using the elliptical, the study revealed.

Fitbit's maker took issue with the findings.

"We stand behind our heart-tracking technology. Fitbit trackers are not intended to be medical devices," Fitbit said in a statement. "Unlike chest straps, wrist-based trackers fit conveniently and comfortably into everyday life, providing continuous heart rate for up to several days without recharging."

The San Francisco-based company added that internal studies involving 60 volunteers showed the device has an average error of 6 percent or less for measuring a person's heartbeat. And the Fitbit was tested against devices like the chest strap during walking, running, biking, using the elliptical and more, the company added.

Of all the wrist devices tested, the Apple watch seemed to fare the best. It performed well during bicycling and on elliptical machines without arm levels. The Apple watch's heart rate monitor was only noticeably inaccurate compared to the chest strap when used on an elliptical machine with arm levers, the researchers said.

Why might there be inaccuracies?

Wrist-worn devices use optical sensing, or light, to measure blood flow, the researchers said.

"It's not measuring what the heart does, but rather blood flow -- basically the volume of blood in the tissue," Gillinov explained.

Wrist-worn devices also introduce many more variables that can result in incorrect readings, including insufficient contact with the skin due to sweating, poor fit or skin color, he said.

"Even though all these wrist-worn monitors work by the same general principles, there is considerable variation among them," he said.

"Overall, they were most accurate when someone was using the treadmill at low intensity and worst when exercising on the elliptical at high intensity," Gillinov added.

The study is to be presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, in Washington, D.C. Findings presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Learn more

The American Heart Association explains target heart rates at www.heart.org

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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

Could the Virginia Beacharena one day be the home of an NBA team?

It's not out of the question.

"It doesn't look great for Virginia Beach to land an NBA team, but it wouldn't be impossible," said longtime NBA writer Chris Tomasson, formerly of the Akron Beacon Journal and the Rocky Mountain News.

"Remember that in 1987, a sports columnist wrote, 'The only franchise Charlotte will receive is one with golden arches.' And Charlotte then landed the Hornets," Tomasson said.

Another person to ask was a well-known NBA writer for ESPN who on his Twitter profile lists his location as "an arena, hotel or airplane."

"I have not heard anything about Virginia Beach," Brian Windhorst said. "There are relatively new franchises - Oklahoma City, Memphis and New Orleans - so I wouldn't say it's impossible in a market of that size. But I haven't heard anything in that regard."

So what would it take for Virginia Beach to become associated with the Association?

"The first thing a city needs is a new, revenue-guaranteeing arena and corporate sponsors assuring a season ticket base," Windhorst said. "Not plans. Not promises. Earth movers and rising steel."

Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms, during his State of the City address Wednesday, announced the city had approved the loan commitment Beach-based developer United States Management delivered for the proposed $220 million, 18,000-seat sports and entertainment arena.

If the developer closes on the bank loans in the next six months, after so many plans and promises, earth will move and steel will rise, with the arena expected to be ready in 2019.

"The second thing they need is an ownership group that would be willing to put up the expansion fee," Windhorst said. "It's impossible to project what that fee would be. The last two NBA teams sold for $2 billion (the Los Angeles Clippers, in 2014) and $850 million (the Atlanta Hawks, in 2015). So likely in between there.

"Those two things are very hard to achieve. Right now, no city is known to have both. Seattle has an ownership group but has failed to secure an arena. However, they are now trying with all private money.

"(NBA Commissioner) Adam Silver has twice hinted the NBA is studying the concept of Mexico City. But there isn't a known ownership group."

Then there is Louisville. Three separate investor groups are interested in bringing an NBA team to Kentucky, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

"Louisville also has been mentioned as a possibility," Tomasson said. "However, I might be inclined to put Virginia Beach ahead of that city. In Kentucky, college basketball is king, and any NBA team would be No. 3 in popularity behind the Kentucky Wildcats and Louisville Cardinals.

"In Virginia, that's not an issue."

Commonwealth sports fans root for a number of different teams. Maybe one Virginia pro team would unite them.

"The NBA generally has a lot of success going to so-called 'one-horse towns,' cities in which the NBA becomes the only major pro sports team in town," Tomasson said.

Less than five years ago, the Sacramento Kings flirted with Virginia Beach.

"The problem now is that there really isn't a strong candidate to move among NBA teams," Tomasson said.

The other option is expansion.

"If the NBA were to expand to two teams, though, I'm not sure if Virginia Beach would even be one of the top two candidates," Tomasson said.

Seattle is the front-runner, with Las Vegas right behind, he said.

The Virginia Beach developer plans to build the largest arena in the state, but $300 million doesn't buy what it used to.

"The arena that just opened in Sacramento cost $550 million, and the arena being built in Milwaukee is projected at $525 million," Windhorst said. "That's why I thought $300 million was a little low for a state-of-the-art facility."

The website for ESG Companies, parent company of USM, says, "Although USM and its partners have determined that the arena will be financially viable without an NBA or NHL team, the facility will be constructed with the upgrade capabilities to attract a professional sports franchise in the future."

The Virginia Beach arena team visited Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb., during the planning process in 2014 to look at a facility "of the same scope and size," USM President and CEO Andrea Kilmer said at the time.

"I would say the arena in Lincoln is not an NBA-level arena," Windhorst said this past weekend. "It's a wonderful college arena. It's not constructed to squeeze revenue from every corner."

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Pittsburgh Tribune Review

 

Pitt will hire Eastern Michigan athletic director Heather Lyke to replace Scott Barnes, ESPN.com reported Sunday night.

Lyke, who grew up in Canton, Ohio, has been athletic director at Eastern Michigan since 2013 after spending 15 years at Ohio State in several administrative positions, including senior associate athletic director.

A University of Michigan graduate where she lettered in softball, Lyke also was assistant athletic director for compliance at the University of Cincinnati and an enforcement intern with the NCAA.

At Eastern Michigan, Lyke oversees 21 fully funded varsity sports. She is the first woman to hold the full-time athletic director position at EMU and will be the first at Pitt.

"Heather Lyke is the right person at the right time with outstanding skills, talent, enthusiasm and experience to lead Eastern Michigan to great success," Eastern Michigan President Susan Martin said when Lyke was hired four years ago.

In 2015, she received a contract extension through July 21, 2020, that included her original annual salary of $245,000, The Ann Arbor News reported. She also was eligible for $103,000 in possible bonuses.

During the fall semester of 2016, Eastern Michigan student-athletes achieved the highest term GPA (3.238) and cumulative GPA (3.266) in school history, including 46 with a 4.0. Five teams set program records for GPA, including football, which secured the university's first bowl invitation in 29 years.

Capital upgrades during her tenure include completion of the rowing boathouse, improvements at softball's Varsity Field, a new Daktronics scoreboard, new football turf field and new basketball and volleyball practice courts. In 2014, she led the Mid-American Conference as chair of its Cost of Attendance Task Force.

During her 1 1/2 decades at Ohio State, she oversaw 10 of the school's 36 athletic programs and supervised 31 full-time coaches and staff.

In addition to her Bachelor's of Science in Education at Michigan, Lyke earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Akron School of Law. She has been a member of the Ohio Bar since 1995.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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Copyright 2017 Richmond Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

The postseason Petri Dish tournament, otherwise known as the NIT, is headed our way.

Tonight, at the University of Richmond, the Spiders will serve as hosts to Oakland University, from Rochester, Mich., in a second-round game.

Hard as it might be to imagine now, the NIT 's importance and impact once was equal to, if not greater than, the NCAA tournament.

As the NCAA grew in magnitude and popularity, the NIT suffered a comparable decline. At one point, it was almost slap-dash, making matchups practically on the fly, giving the appearance the goal was to get the schools with the largest fan bases to New York and Madison Square Garden for the semifinals and championship.

Now, the NCAA owns the NIT. It's legitimacy is not questioned. And its purpose is not just to give teams left out of the NCAA tournament a second chance, but also to help improve college basketball.

The NIT regularly serves as a test tube for new rules.

This year, the tournament is a laboratory for resetting team fouls to zero every 10 minutes of game time and eliminating the one-and-one situation. Instead, upon the fifth team foul within that 10-minute period, a player gets two foul shots.

The NCAA also is experimenting with a shot-clock setting that could be crucial to players and coaches, but probably won't be noticed by fans.

The NIT is an excellent testing ground for potential rule changes. And if new rules are to be tested, there are a few others I'd like to see in the mix.

1. Give players six fouls before they are disqualified instead of five.

The argument against this is the game will devolve into little more than a wrestling match, and some players will foul with even greater impunity. Perhaps. But we need to learn if that will be the case.

The argument for this is teams shouldn't be crippled when a significant player picks up his second foul in the first half, perhaps on a 50-50 call or a touch foul, and he's pulled from the game by his coach or his third foul early in the second half.

No better example exists than the Spiders. T.J. Cline is their biggest starter at 6-feet-9. But he's not a powerful, low-post player. He's a highly skilled wing player who, by necessity, Richmond must use as an interior defender.

Almost everything the Spiders do on offense goes through Cline. And he's in a vulnerable position regarding fouls when he has to guard low-post players.

If he had an extra foul to give, several Richmond losses this season might have been victories, and Richmond might be in the NCAA tournament instead of the NIT.

A number of teams, in and out of the power conferences, can ill-afford to lose one significant player. A six-foul rule might make things more equitable across all levels of college basketball.

2. Play four, 10-minute quarters instead of two 20-minute halves.

If the team fouls are going to be reset to zero at the 9:59 mark of each half, why not just go ahead and divide the game into four quarters?

At least this way everyone would remember the team-foul slate is clean.

Coaches would have a built-in break for strategy adjustments. They might even use fewer timeouts. Television still could find a way to get its four timeouts in per half.

The argument can be made the game flows better with 20-minute halves instead of four quarters. But high schools, women's college basketball, the WNBA and NBA play four quarters. Let's find out how the men's game would be affected by the format.

3. Use timeouts to advance the ball.

In the final minute of each half, allow the offensive team calling a timeout after an opponent has scored to inbound the ball from midcourt instead of along its baseline.

Sure, this takes away the eternal highlight film of Duke vs. Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA tournament and the full-court pass that enabled Northwestern to beat Michigan this season.

That there are so few such moments is an indication of the nearly insurmountable odds teams face in the final seconds.

However, this rule might dramatically alter the game and unfairly penalize teams that successfully work for the final shot.

The NIT could provide the road to find out.

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Copyright 2017 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

The New York Post

 

A well-heeled Long Island town is in the midst of its very own "Trojans War" - over the firing of a beloved high school baseball coach who some supporters say is the victim of whiny parents whose kids didn't get much playing time.

At the center of the controversy is Rich Smith, who coached the Garden City Trojans for 50 years until he was axed in June.

"I have to believe it's a bunch of crybaby parents," outraged mom Lisa McCadden told The Post.

Smith, 74, began as an assistant coach for the high school team back in 1967 and was promoted to head coach six years later. He is so well regarded that more than 13,600 people have signed an online petition urging his reinstatement, with many of them saying he fell victim to kids miffed over sitting out games.

"Just because some spoiled brat who has gotten [his] way ever since conception has hurt [feelings] and cries about not being on the field playing should put on their big-girl panties/big-boy undies and learn a lesson," one signer wrote on thepetitionsite.com earlier this month.

Now, in an age-discrimination lawsuit filed last week in Brooklyn federal court, Smith is asking that the town's school district, superintendent and athletic directors compensate him for lost wages and emotional trauma over his firing.

District athletic director Dawn Cerrone cooked up a case against him near the end of last year's school year, his lawsuit claims.

Current and former baseball players were pulled out of classes, sat down in the auditorium and told to write negative letters about Smith, the suit claims.

The district then issued a public statement saying the coach's contract was not being renewed due to "extreme and unusual circumstances," Smith says.

Efforts to reach Smith, Cerrone and district superintendent Robert Feirsen were not successful Saturday.

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Copyright 2017 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Greenville, S.C. · A small group of protesters flew a large Confederate flag from the top of a parking garage next to the arena hosting two men's NCAA Tournament games.

The group arrived Sunday morning, raising the flag from the back of a pickup truck . They planned to stay throughout the games and be on grounds as fans arrived at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

Greenville police had the group move the truck about 50 feet away, citing safety concerns if the flag tipped.

Protesters said they wanted to make their presence known to the NCAA. The governing body lifted its ban against South Carolina holding championships in 2015.

By the early afternoon there were about a dozen protesters, many carrying Confederate flags, across the street from the arena's main entrance.

NCAA executive Dan Gavitt said in a statement the organization would not permit symbols compromising a safe environment on venue property the tournament controls. Other areas are under the city's jurisdiction, and the NCAA back the city's efforts to manage actions concerning freedom of speech.

This regional has dealt with politically charged events the past six months. The NCAA originally placed the games in Greensboro, North Carolina. But it removed them from the state over its HB2 bill, which limits protections offered to LGBT people and relocating to Greenville.

In 2002, the NAACP held a march in downtown Greenville to protest the state flying the flag on Statehouse grounds during the NCAA regionals at the arena.

Sunday's games featured North Carolina against Arkansas and Duke against South Carolina.

South Carolina was unable to host NCAA predetermined championships because of the organization's ban, which began in 2001. The NCAA regional in 2002 was allowed to remain in the state. That led the NAACP and others to turn out for a march to the arena steps in support of taking down the flag.

The issue was settled in 2015 after the massacre of nine black Charleston church goers by Dylann Roof, who was seen in pictures with the Confederate flag. State lawmakers voted to remove the flag in July 2015 and the NCAA lifted its sanctions. Roof was convicted of multiple murder counts and sentenced to death.

Hunter Meadows of Blue Ridge said the protesters did not think it fair that all Confederate flag supporters were blamed for Roof's actions.

"I didn't feel it was right when the flag came down," said Meadows, who said his ancestors fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. "We wanted to show the NCAA that we're still here."

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Copyright 2017 Bangor Daily News

Bangor Daily News (Maine)

 

One byproduct of the steadily shrinking enrollments of Maine public high schools and the recent addition of a fifth class for basketball has been an easing of boundaries among the state's athletic conferences.

As leagues that once were limited to schools from a single class now represent four or even five classes, in some cases, the need has intensified for cooperation among conferences in an effort to develop regular-season schedules for athletic programs of similar enrollments.

Examples of that increased teamwork include the basketball schedules of the four Class AA schools in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference: Bangor, Edward Little of Auburn, Lewiston and Oxford Hills of South Paris. Each fills out its schedules with as many as six games against schools they likely will face at tournament time from the Southwestern Maine Activities Association based in York and Cumberland counties.

Most schools in the Downeast Athletic Conference that encompasses Washington County and easternmost Hancock County now have dual membership in either the Aroostook League or Penobscot Valley Conference.

The two largest leagues in the northern two-thirds of the state, the PVC and the KVAC, are talking about developing cross-conference matchups in several sports -- perhaps as soon as this fall.

"We're trying to improve scheduling for teams to make it more competitive for everyone," Mark Babin, athletic administrator at Nokomis Regional High School of Newport and KVAC president, said.

Conference officials have talked before about helping each other out in individual sports such as basketball and field hockey, and the concept was raised again at a recent athletic directors advisory meeting.

Follow-up talks regarding specific sports are planned with basketball, field hockey, soccer and wrestling likely to be addressed first.

Ten of the 14 schools in Class B North field hockey last fall were from the KVAC while only four were from the PVC. So while the KVAC teams played full Class B schedules, PVC "B" schools turned to its league's Class C programs to generate a full, 14-game slate of regular-season contests.

"With just (four) 'B' schools we get hurt because we're playing a 'C' schedule," Bunky Dow, activities director at Mount Desert Island High School of Bar Harbor and chair of the Maine Principals' Association classification committee, said. "That's not good, so hopefully what we're talking about in scheduling out of conference will help alleviate that problem."

In Class B North basketball this winter, 13 of the 17 schools were from the PVC/Big East Conference compared to just four from the KVAC. There were only three KVAC teams among the 13 schools in Class C South.

That left KVAC "B" North basketball programs scheduling some Class A opponents while the league's Class B South schools added "A" foes and/or contests against teams from the more southerly based Western Maine Conference.

"We're trying to help those teams get a better schedule and the PVC would like some help with some other sports like field hockey," said Babin, who added, "everything is on the table."

Two priorities for the KVAC and PVC as league officials consider cross-conference scheduling are maintaining the traditions of their respective conferences and ensuring quality schedules for their most remote schools.

"One of the things we have to tread lightly on is making sure we maintain the integrity of our leagues because our leagues do some wonderful things for kids," Babin said. "We also need to protect the outlying schools in all the leagues so none of those schools get passed over on scheduling."

KVAC and PVC encompass wide geographic regions. The KVAC ranges north to south from as Bangor to Brunswick and east to west from Belfast to South Paris. The PVC stretches north to south from Caribou to Deer Isle-Stonington and east to west from Calais to Greenville.

"I wouldn't mind playing Belfast and Oceanside (of Rockland-Thomaston)," Dow said. "We've got to take care of our league people first but if the option's there, why not play? I think it helps because from what I've heard everybody wants to play competitive schedules against teams they're going to face in the playoffs.

"I think it's a win-win for everybody involved as long as everyone is taken care of and nobody's left out."

Conference schedules for the next two-year cycle won't be formalized until after the MPA completes its biennial reclassification of all varsity teams in all sports in April.

That means some cross-conference scheduling between the PVC and KVAC could be implemented as soon as this fall.

"It's exciting, it really is," Babin said. "There are a lot of good rivalries that could come back and some good competition.

"Why shouldn't Nokomis play Foxcroft in field hockey? They're one of the closest schools to us and we're both in Class B, but right now we don't play them."

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Copyright 2017 The Post and Courier
All Rights Reserved

Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

 

GREENVILLE - The manual that NCAA Tournament host sites are given before March Madness begins is 280 pages long. It details everything from how many inches certain tables should be to which drinking cups are permitted on the floor to exactly how certain graphics are supposed to look.

More often than he would like to admit, Furman athletic director Mike Buddie has jolted awake at 3 a.m., his mind racing through the night as he makes sure all of his bases are covered.

"It's waking up thinking, 'Oh my gosh, do we have 204 seats for the media or 210?' The little things," Buddie said. "Just making sure that we don't drop the ball on something that's important."

In any other year under most any other circumstances, Buddie would have had 2½ to 3 years to prepare. Cities bid well in advance for the opportunity to host a men's basketball NCAA Tournament regional, and are accepted or declined years before the actual event.

Furman and the Southern Conference - serving as co-hosts for this weekend's Greenville Regional - had less than five months.

In September, the NCAA decided to pull all tournament games out of the state of North Carolina in a stance against the so-called bathroom bill (HB2 law), which requires transgender individuals to use the restroom that matches their sex on their birth certificate. With first- and second-round games scheduled to be played in Greensboro, N.C., the NCAA reopened the bidding for host cities a month later. Greenville placed a bid.

Banned for more than a decade from hosting major NCAA championship events because of the Confederate battle flag's presence on the Statehouse grounds in Columbia, the men's basketball tournament returned to the Palmetto State this year for the first time since 2002. South Carolina became eligible to place a bid after the flag was officially removed from the Statehouse in July 2015, just weeks after the shooting deaths of nine black people by a self-avowed white supremacist at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church.

"I just think it's huge after 15 years of not even being eligible to bid on an event like this," Buddie said of the opportunity to host an NCAA regional. "South Carolina has always been a destination state. It's a state that's inclusive and welcoming to visitors, so for the upstate it's just fantastic.

"We often call Greenville one of the best-kept secrets, and it's an opportunity for fans and employees of eight universities - from Marquette to Texas Southern to Troy - to have an opportunity hopefully to step foot in our town for the first time and come away really impressed. It's just kind of an opportunity to showcase what I think is a pretty special community on a national stage."

Indeed, all eyes turned to Greenville this weekend both from a political standpoint and from a position of pure competition. With the ACC's Duke and North Carolina playing at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, along with SEC members South Carolina and Arkansas, a ticket to the Greenville Regional was the hottest and most expensive among all of its counterparts.

If a South Carolina city was going to earn the right to host, Columbia would have almost definitively been the natural choice after the games were yanked from North Carolina, but the city did not put in a bid for two reasons:

When a city hosts a regional, its hotels are required to have three private meeting rooms of at least 1,200 square feet each for all eight teams participating - so 24 meeting rooms total. One of the largest hotels in Columbia - so big that it could have hosted two of those eight teams - was completely full and the city did not want to ask guests to reschedule their plans on such short notice. Additionally, the South Carolina women's basketball team has been so dominant that it was almost a certainty that Dawn Staley's team would earn the right to open NCAA play at home - also this weekend.

Columbia has already submitted a bid to host a regional in 2019, 2020, 2021 or 2022 at Colonial Life Arena, which holds 18,000 people. Greenville has done the same to hold it at Bon Secours Wellness Arena again, which holds 15,951. The NCAA will announce future sites on April 18.

"The most exciting day was when we found we had the opportunity to even bid on events," said Scott Powers, executive director of Experience Columbia SC Sports, who officially put in the bids. "All the communities throughout the state that do what I do, bring sporting events in, are pretty close. We're all a part of the South Carolina Sports Alliance and we all have some of the similar issues and difficulties, and obviously one of those was not being able to bid on NCAA events. That really was probably the most exciting day I've had since I've been here. I took this job knowing that we couldn't bid on events 12-and-a-half years ago."

From a legislative perspective, most state representatives agreed the tournament was a positive thing for South Carolina. But the way in which the state got it - in part because of the flag removal - was a more polarizing subject.

House Minority Leader Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, said having the South Carolina men's basketball team get a de-facto home game is the direct outcome of a plan put in motion when the Confederate battle flag was removed from the Statehouse grounds.

"Who could have imagined that it would be so easy to see the benefits of doing the right thing as watching the Gamecocks play in Greenville?" said Rutherford, who received his law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law. "It was only made possible because South Carolina did the right thing and North Carolina did not. And because of that we've benefited."

But Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, was upset that the line between politics and sports was blurred.

"I have a problem with the NCAA trying to dictate politics in any sport at any level," said Pitts, who voted against removing the Confederate flag. "If you want to look at the flag debate, there was good and bad that came. There were tensions that came out of the flag debate that took us in a wrong direction.

"Positives? The economic boom coming from this is definitely one of them that you can't argue with."

More than 42,000 tickets were expected to be sold over all three sessions of the regional, and VisitGreenvilleSC projected 6,300 hotel rooms would be purchased between teams, coaches, media and fans. The city of Greenville is expected to bring in more than $3.6 million for the weekend.

For his part, Buddie is optimistic this weekend's event will convince the NCAA that Greenville deserves to host tournaments in the future.

"I was hopeful and I remain hopeful that when they announce the future dates, that South Carolina will get some," Buddie said. "I would have never guessed that we would have been hosting in the spring of 2017. Of course it took unusual circumstances for that to happen, but we're excited nonetheless."

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Copyright 2017 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

SALT LAKE CITY - Instead of a goaltending call, two points and the ability to continue riding the momentum Northwestern had built in battling back from a 22-point deficit, Chris Collins and the Wildcats got an apology from the officials.

Within minutes of Gonzaga's 79-73 victory over Northwestern at Vivint Arena, a statement was released by the NCAA addressing the mistake that caused Collins to get tagged with a technical with just under five minutes to play.

"I think we were down 22, cut it to five, should have been three I guess with the statement from the NCAA," Collins said after the game. "Not sure what all that means. All I know is I'm flying home, but it's nice. Thank you for the statement; appreciate it."

The statement said that with 4:57 remaining, officials missed a "rules violation when a Gonzaga defender put his arm through the rim to block a shot.... Replays showed the Gonzaga defender violated this rule, which should have resulted in a scored basket by Northwestern."

Judging from the crowd's reaction, the officials might be the only people who missed the play. Collins watched the defender's hand, draped in the net, make the defensive stop on the shot from Dererk Pardon, and he was livid.

"Subsequently, with 4:54 remaining in the game, and based on bench decorum rules outlined in the rules book, a technical foul was assessed to Northwestern head coach Chris Collins for coming onto the floor to argue the non call while the ball was in play," the statement said.

Collins discussed the mistake and his technical, which Bulldogs guard Nigel Williams-Goss made to extend Gonzaga's lead to 65-58, in the postgame press conference.

"They made the calls," he said. "It is what it is. They issued a statement. I appreciate the apology. It makes me feel great."

ALKINS PLAYS INJURED, EARNS KEY STEAL: Freshman guard Rawle Alkins, who had a critical steal down the stretch and bolstered the Arizona defense, was going for a rebound when he dislocated a finger on his right hand.

"My hand was swollen," he said. "And my right hand was like a left hand. I came off the court and I was just scared. I thought it was a serious injury, and then they popped it back in."

He watched his team fall 10 points behind Saint Mary's as trainers examined his hand.

"I told the trainer to do whatever it took to get back on the court," Alkins said. "They did an X-ray and luckily it was a minor fracture. I told them I would still play, and I just ran back out on the court and told (coach) I was ready to play. He put me back in."

Coach Sean Miller did so and said that if Alkins had not returned to the game, the Wildcats may not be headed to the Sweet 16.

"I don't know if we would have had enough to win," Miller said. "It would be one tough kid to pop your finger back midway through the first half, come out on your shooting hand and play the rest of the game."

A NOD TO THE LOUDEST FANS: Northwestern sophomore forward Vic Law was the last player to leave the court after Saturday's loss.

"In all these games, I feel like Northwestern has had the most fans," Law said of what he was thinking in those postgame moments. "We've had the best atmosphere of the teams. And when you get all your famous alumni to come back and support you, when you get all the previous teams to come back and watch the games, I just feel like the fans were so special and that they were right in the game with us. I think as much as we deserved this, the fans were flying out here and giving us as much love as they did deserve just as much credit as we do."

EMAIL: adonaldson@deseretnews.com

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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Spokane school officials have suspended Ferris High School football coach Jim Sharkey as they investigate claims he exposed himself to players at a leadership camp last summer and then lied to cover it up.

Sharkey, who also teaches fitness and leadership at the school, strongly denies the allegations. His suspension is with pay.

The camp last August was hosted and attended by Bobby Brett on about 1,000 acres he and his family own along the Coeur d'Alene River near Cataldo, Idaho.

A couple of weeks after the camp, a Ferris player came forward and said that while Sharkey was grilling, he turned with his exposed penis inside a hot dog bun. Sharkey said, "You think that is a big dog - take a look at this," according to school records that listed multiple different versions of the same quote.

While the coach got a written reprimand and was allowed to coach this past fall, school officials placed him on administrative leave Feb. 1 after more players claimed to have seen the hot dog incident and other students brought up separate incidents of questionable behavior by the 11-year teacher and coach.

Sharkey, 50, and school officials have declined to talk about what happened at the camp as rumors circulated. School officials acknowledged the investigation Friday after releasing public documents requested by The Spokesman-Review.

Sharkey called the allegations false and denied in interviews and in writing to school officials that the hot dog incident took place. He vowed that he will fight to try to clear his name to protect what he considers his dream job.

"They have not given me a timeline," said Sharkey, referring to the investigation. "But they have been specific that I can't comment on anything until the investigation is done. When this is done, I'll be happy to talk about my teaching and coaching affairs."

Brett, who is the majority owner of the Spokane Indians and Spokane Chiefs, said he remembers hosting about 43 Ferris players last summer, including Sharkey and assistant coach Erick Cheadle. He said he never saw any inappropriate behavior.

"I've known Jim a long time. I know how he interacts with kids," Brett said. "When I heard what was going on, I was shocked and surprised. There were several adults around. I can't speak for everybody, but I did not see anything."

According to mostly handwritten notes provided by Spokane Public Schools, Brett, his brother John "JB" Brett, JB Brett's son and a ranch hand had already left the area where the hot dog incident took place.

The heavily redacted records mostly came from Mary Templeton, who is the district's director of certified personnel. They indicate that Templeton and Ferris Principal Ken Schutz questioned Sharkey about the hot dog incident on Aug. 31 after the first player came forward.

Sharkey explained that he had taken the players to Brett's property, as he has for several years, as part of a leadership exercise. The kids camped in tents, swam in the river and worked to remove downed limbs on the property.

When Templeton read the allegation that Sharkey exposed himself, her notes indicate that Sharkey called it "a complete lie" and "absolutely false."

Sharkey also denied that he and Cheadle, the assistant coach, were drinking at the camp. But he did say the players saw other adults, including the Bretts, who were drinking at one of the dinners.

Asked by Templeton why someone would make the allegations, Sharkey replied: "Maybe they want me fired."

In her written finding on Sept. 13, Templeton wrote that she was "unable to substantiate" the allegations that he had been drinking or exposed himself to students.

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

As a result, she issued Sharkey a written warning.

Sharkey was then allowed to coach the Ferris Saxons, who finished 5-5 this past football season. But after the campaign, the allegations came roaring back - and a few more were added.

The records show more students came forward to say they witnessed the hot dog incident. A girl also complained that Sharkey called her a "puck slut" or "puck bunny," because she was friends with Spokane Chiefs hockey players, most of whom attend Ferris.

Another football player also alleged that he knew of "four or five" times that players would gang up and dog pile a player on his birthday and they would shove their fingers up the player's anus, something the players called "juicing." The player also made it clear that no coaches or adults were around during those incidents.

The names of the players and parents who lodged the complaints were redacted. Efforts to reach players' parents and assistant coach Cheadle for this story were unsuccessful.

Armed with this new information, Templeton called Sharkey in for a "name clearing" meeting on Jan. 31.

Sharkey agreed that he had said many of the alleged comments, including calling one student a "dipshit." He also confirmed that he shopped for U2 concert tickets on his computer during class.

Templeton noted that Sharkey laughed when asked if he called a girl a "puck bunny." But Sharkey said Friday he didn't laugh, but instead was exasperated. In the notes, Sharkey said the comment was "not meant to be inappropriate."

"I think some of this stuff is taken out of context, but I did say these things," Sharkey said.

But Templeton wrote that she believed Sharkey was not being truthful about the hot dog incident.

"I asked you before if you had exposed yourself at camp and you told me you did not," she wrote. "Now I am hearing from several students that you did, indeed, expose yourself."

Sharkey noted that question was previously asked and answered in the Aug. 31 meeting.

"You already investigated that, and I signed a paper," he said. "How many students said I exposed myself?"

Templeton replied: "Several."

"Oh come on, how many?" Sharkey asked. Templeton later answered: "I have three students reporting you did."

As for the allegation of players "juicing" other players on their birthdays, Sharkey denied that as well.

"I would not allow this. No way," according to the notes. "You better have dates and times of the juicing - if you say 10-15 times - you just better be able to tell me exactly when, who."

But Templeton was not convinced.

"I am concerned enough about what I am hearing that I am going to place you on administrative leave with pay," she wrote.

Sharkey vowed to fight the allegations.

"This is a witch hunt," Sharkey said in the notes. "I do a lot for this school. It is going to be difficult to replace me at this time.

"This is my life - this is all I do."

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Copyright 2017 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

Abuse of painkillers such as Vicodin is driven by a system in which concern for profits competes with concern for players, the writer says.

The NFL can't treat players for pain just by aligning their chakras, everyone understands that. But there is simply no legitimate rationale for some of the league's crude, expedient and abusive drug practices revealed in court filings obtained by The Washington Post. Medicine in the league is a matter of competing pressures and opposing priorities, and until those conflicts are resolved, the league will continue to be at risk of looking like drug lords.

The NFL likes to pretend that its drug problems are all in the past, a relic of the wild 1960s, and that we're in the "health and safety era" now. But material from the NFL's own doctors and trainers, submitted by lawyers for 1,800 players suing the league, reveal that the problem is in fact persistent. Everyone from Commissioner Roger Goodell to owners to assistant trainers knows this, just as they know that the chronic painkiller abuse is driven by a compromised medical system in which concern for profits competes with concern for players.

Obviously, the players have to be part of the solution, too. But here's the thing: They have the least power in this equation, because of the unguaranteed structure of so many of their contracts and the pressure to play to get paid. They trust their doctors to take good care of them. Just as you trust yours. You might think you need 20 Vicodin to do your work. That doesn't mean your doctor should give it to you.

It's understandable that NFL doctors and trainers might have difficulty sorting out what's best for an injured player worried about losing his roster spot. But some of the worst material in the lawsuit turns on evidence of deception, whether NFL teams willfully hid the risks, side effects and toll of their painkiller practices from players intentionally, not just negligently, to hurry them back on the field for the sake of business. Federal court Judge William Alsup remarked on this in a ruling he made in July, when he rejected the NFL's request to dismiss the case:

"When asked about side effects of medications, club doctors and trainers responded, 'none,' 'don't worry about them,' 'not much,' 'they are good for you,' or, in the case of injections, 'maybe some bruising,' " Alsup wrote. "These answers misrepresented the actual health dangers posed by these drugs."

There is no provision in any collective bargaining nor employment contract that covers such conduct. Players did not sign up for this. Ex-players still in their 30s are complaining of kidney and liver damage. Young men in their early 20s are consuming the same number of painkillers as elderly people with chronic arthritis. In 2011, according to a team memo cited in the suit, the New York Jets went through 1,564 doses of Vicodin and 1,178 doses of Toradol. Do the rough math. It's a 20-week season, and there are 53 men on a roster.

And none of this is counting the pills that were never written down.

Sensational as some of the drug logs and memos contained in the lawsuit are, it's what's not in the record that's most disturbing. For years, I've heard from workers' compensation lawyers who say NFL teams systematically undercut claims by withholding drug and injury notations from players' medical records. But I'd never seen firm evidence to back up that contention, until now.

The suit reveals a survey of medical records from 745 players used by clubs in workers' compensation claims. Of those, 164 had no records at all. To repeat: no records at all. Another 196 contained no mention of any drugs. None. A total of 64 mentioned drugs - but not dosages. And 321 mentioned only some dosages.

Now, either the NFL's doctors and trainers are so incompetent they can't write, or this is a scheme.

The NFL's shoddy record-keeping doesn't just potentially deprive players of fair injury compensation. It potentially injures them further. Put yourself in the position of a former player who is in renal failure even though he's not yet 40, with no history of kidney disease in his family. He's being treated by a specialist and has complications such as high blood pressure and violent headaches. It would seem important - even critical - to have reliable records of his treatment in the NFL.

The NFL long has been urged to make some fundamental changes that would relieve medical conflicts of interest and improve players' long-term health. Congress has held hearings on the subject. A 2008 congressional Research Report observed that it was unclear whether "it's the patient-doctor relationship or the doctor-owner relationship" that matters.

Just last month, a Harvard study recommended that players' physicians should not be in direct pay of teams, nor report directly to team execs. Rather they should forward a "Player Health Report." This is nothing but good moral-medical sense.

Everyone knows what other changes should be made, too. Expanding roster sizes and providing more guarantees in contracts would reduce pressure on physicians to heavily medicate and rush players back to the field - and on players to compete hurt and drugged. All of these things would allow players time to heal and doctors room to explore safer alternatives to painkiller overuse. But, of course, they require owners to give up some of their $14 billion in annual revenue, and control.

The league did itself no favors with its denial of the concussion crisis and has struggled ever since to redefine itself as proactive and responsible to its audience. The painkiller lawsuit similarly exposes it.

Once again, the league lingers behind the times, hypocritically shaming players with penalties for smoking pot, while allegedly fostering an opioid problem on par with heroin. The league wants us to believe that this is the era of "health and safety." It won't be until it makes the changes that put player health before profits.

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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

Trails at the County Farm, the opening of three preserves, and perhaps a happy ending for Rich Fork are in sight.

After a year of turmoil in which the Guilford County Commissioners, the Guilford County Parks and Recreation Department and the volunteer Parks and Recreation Commission were frequently at odds with the public - and sometimes each other - this year is beginning with a flurry of positive activity.

Three open-space preserves will open in April, a new trail is being constructed at the Guilford County Farm and preliminary plans for the Rich Fork Preserve are getting positive reviews.

Last week's meeting of the Parks and Recreation Commission was its most substantive in months.

Plans for both trails and farmstead preservation at Rich Fork Preserve are proceeding on parallel tracks.

People on both sides of last year's controversy about whether mountain biking should be allowed there are working with Parks and Recreation staff to come up with a plan that provides mountain bikers with recreational opportunities without infringing on the rights of nearby homeowners.

A preliminary trail plan completed by KCI Associates has been flagged on the property, and both groups have walked the proposed routes in recent weeks to provide feedback and suggest improvements, County Property Manager Robert McNiece said.

"I think we've made tremendous progress in dealing with some of the concerns that some of the adjoining property owners had and also some of the concerns that the bike folks had," McNiece said.

A primary, multi-use trail will run from the YMCA at the northern end of the preserve to Northwood School on the southern end. This trail will be 6 to 8 feet wide, with a fine gravel surface. A Hedgecock loop trail will encircle the historic farm buildings on the property.

Many of the existing "spaghetti trails" created by mountain bikers will be closed. The proposed single-track mountain bike trail will consist of an inner and outer loop, featuring elevation changes but no straight downhill runs.

"KCI reduced the interaction with the multiple trailheads coming together, so safety is much better under their plan," said John Gladstone, acting supervisor of passive parks and the county farm. "And we were able to stay out of the wetlands to lessen the environmental impact. They're trying to utilize what is there - what is healthy, what is safe and environmentally friendly. They took out what is not...and added on new trails."

Though concerns remain with line-of-sight from mountain-bike trails to private homes, adjoining property owners who have walked the trails are pleased with the overall plan.

"They've done a good job laying out the scope of the park, taking into account wishes of bikers, walkers, environmentalists," Herb Goins said at a recent meeting of the Rich Fork Preserve Committee.

Goins lives on Carolyndon Drive, adjacent to an area in the preserve where mountain bikers routinely had trespassed. "In my opinion, it's a pretty good plan," he said.

The preservation group that had opposed mountain biking in the preserve has focused its attention on saving the property's historic farmstead, which includes a farmhouse built around 1900. Now formally known as Friends of Rich Fork Preserve/Hedgecock Farm, the group is working with Preservation Greensboro Executive Director Benjamin Briggs and the High Point Preservation Society on a plan to manage the historic properties.

The plan calls for "mothballing," or minimal stabilization, of most of the remaining farm buildings, said Marie Poteat, who is a member of both the Friends group and the Parks and Recreation Commission. Pending a final vote, the High Point Preservation Society would join with the Friends to stabilize the buildings, raise money to maintain them and provide liability insurance.

"There is no budget for funding, from the county's perspective, to do this sort of preservation or take on these buildings," McNiece said. "This group is very passionate about keeping these buildings, and they're willing to take full responsibility for the buildings, from providing liability insurance to figuring out fundraising."

The farm buildings would remain the property of Guilford County but would be managed by the group in the same way that Forsyth County manages Triad Park and the city of Burlington manages Guilford-Mackintosh Park.

Work on three other open-space preserves is nearing fruition.

Grand openings are scheduled at 9 a.m. April 28 at the Saferight and McCandless Woods preserves near Southern High School, and April 21 at the Company Mill Preserve adjacent to Hagan-Stone Park.

Instead of being cut by machine, which many in the trail community found objectionable, the trails at Company Mill were built by hand. Volunteers from AmeriCorps contributed $39,000 in labor to the Company Mill trails, said Matt Wallace, program manager for passive parks and trails.

The Guilford County Farm is benefiting from help from volunteers with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST). That group built a 1.5-mile trail that bisects the farm and connects to the MST in Alamance County. The group already has devoted 750 hours to trail-building there, with plans to add a 2.5-mile loop trail by summer.

"They have done a really nice job," Wallace said. "It's one of the gems at this point."

County Commissioner Alan Branson, who sits on the Parks and Recreation Commission, asked its members to explore other ideas for turning the County Farm into a recreational destination now that it is no longer used as a prison. The land could also accommodate fishing, horseback riding and camping, as well as events such as tractor pulls, Branson said.

The County Farm's popular greenhouse operation continues, with a Plant and Honey Sale scheduled for April 1. In addition to honey and flowers, there will be vegetable plants, including squash, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Wallace also is turning the Park Finder search engine on the county's website into a mobile app that lets users search for park destinations based on activities and amenities. The app shows users which ones are closer and links to maps of how to get there.

After a year of frustration and stalled efforts, it is heartening to see the county parks staff, the parks commission and the public working together more effectively, infused with a renewed sense of energy.

Pending the blessing of county commissioners, this could mean a happy ending not only for the Rich Fork Preserve, but for all the parks and preserves in Guilford County.

Contact Susan Ladd at (336) 373-7006 or susan.ladd@greensboro.com, or follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/susankladd or on Twitter at @susanladdNR.

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Copyright 2017 Journal Register Co.

New Haven Register (Connecticut)

 

Je'nan Hayes played all season on her Montgomery County, Maryland, high school basketball team without incident. But when she showed up for a regional final game this month, she was benched when a referee invoked a seldom-enforced rule requiring her to have documentation for wearing a hijab, part of her Muslim faith. Understandably, she broke down in tears.

A hijab is also the reason that Samira Achbita was fired from her job as a receptionist for a security- services firm in Belgium. She told the company, for which she had already worked for three years, that she wanted to start wearing a headscarf at work, but her bosses refused to allow it, saying there was an "unwritten" rule against it. She started wearing one anyway, and the day before the company turned the unwritten rule into a written one, Achbita was fired. The European Union's highest court this week turned aside her complaint of religious discrimination.

We are shaking our heads at this foolishness. What on earth was that referee thinking in insisting - against the entreaties of the girl's basketball coach to use common sense - that she needed a signed waiver to prove her head covering was for religious reasons? Doesn't that firm in Belgium recognize the harm of judging the value of a person by what they wear? And why didn't the European Court of Justice give voice to the need for tolerance in the workplace?

It is of some comfort that Maryland school athletic officials didn't even try to defend the events of March 3 that stranded Je'Nan on the bench. Sheepish about the rigid reading of the rulebook, they agreed the girl should have been allowed to play. It is of comfort, too, that Dutch voters on Wednesday did not elevate their most intolerant party into a position of power. But these are struggles that will not be ended with one election or one court case.

There are situations when rules about what can be worn make sense, for safety or security reasons. But banning headscarves, which the European Court of Justice seemed to greenlight as long as they aren't singled out from other religious garb, serves no purpose other than to separate and penalize. That is harmful not only to the individual being singled out but also to society at large, which is better served by inclusiveness.

Courtesy of The Washington Post

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Copyright 2017 The Arizona Daily Star. All Rights Reserved.

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

 



The University of Arizona is proposing a new fee to support its athletics programs and facilities as part of the school's tuition proposal for the 2017-2018 year.

The university is also proposing a 1 percent tuition increase for incoming students next school year, whether they're Arizona residents or not.

The new proposed athletics fee is the latest iteration of a proposal for a $200 annual fee that then-UA athletics director Greg Byrne made last year to help fund about $150 million in improvements to Arizona stadium.

That proposal was dropped after the university faced backlash, especially from graduate and professional students.

This year's proposal sets the athletics fee at $100 for incoming undergraduate students and $50 for incoming graduate students, who could opt out of paying the fee, according to the UA.

The fee, which would support athletics facilities and operations, would allow undergraduate students to attend all sports games for free except men's football and men's basketball, UA spokesman Chris Sigurdson said. Graduate students who choose to pay the fee can attend all games other than men's basketball. The money collected through the fee will not be used for coaches' salaries.

As for the tuition proposal, more than 90 percent of current undergraduates would not see an increase, said Sigurdson. Existing undergraduate students who are enrolled in a tuition-guarantee program have a frozen tuition rate for four years.

Tuition and fees for new in-state undergraduate students would rise $351 from $11,769 to $12,228 a year under the proposal. New nonresident undergraduate students would pay an additional $691, bringing the total cost to $35,658 a year.

For new graduate students entering in the fall, the increase is $365 if they are Arizona residents and $563 if they are not.

Other proposed fee increases for new students for the 2017-2018 school year include:

A $125 increase in the health and recreation fee, which brings the new amount to $425;A $55 increase in the information-technology and library fee for a new total of $535 and;A $70 increase in student-services fee to $150.

The combinations of increases in fees, including the athletic fees, would bring in about $3.5 million in additional revenue to the UA.

Public comments

Members of the public are invited to provide comment on March 28 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the UA's College of Education, Room 102, and at the Sierra Vista campus in the academic technology building, Room B153.

Tuition proposals by the state's three public universities, including Arizona State and Northern Arizona universities, will be voted on at a Board of Regents meeting at the UA on April 6.

Credit: Yoohyun Jung Arizona Daily Star

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Copyright 2017 The Commercial Appeal, Inc.
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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. - In a city where investment bankers and coal magnates pay $10,000 or more for University of Kentucky men's basketball season tickets, head coach of the Wildcats has long been a high-pressure job with rich financial rewards.

In 2006, former Kentucky coach Tubby Smith, now at the University of Memphis, made $2.6 million. In the decade that followed, as Kentucky athletics earnings climbed from $68 million to $132 million, pay for the leader of its flagship team skyrocketed. In 2016, John Calipari made $8.6 million, an amount Kentucky officials justify as fair market value for a coach whose team will generate tens of millions of dollars.

But as more money has surged into Kentucky athletics, records show, Calipari isn't the only coach cashing in, as the athletes remain amateurs. From 2006 to 2016, pay for Kentucky's track and field coach climbed from $108,000 to $429,000; men's tennis coach pay jumped from $122,000 to $230,000; and gymnastics coach pay rose from $112,000 to $252,000.

Every coach made more than the school's average full-professor's salary. In a phenomenon playing out across the country, salaries are soaring for coaches of lower-profile college sports largely subsidized by lucrative football and men's basketball, whose annual national tournament opened Tuesday.

At the University of Kansas, men's golf coach pay jumped from $84,000 to $201,000 over the past decade. At the University of Virginia, pay for the women's volleyball coach rose from $94,000 to $221,000. And at West Virginia University, men's soccer coach pay jumped from $66,000 to $188,000. (All 2006 figures in this story have been adjusted for inflation.)

Pay for these coaches still seems paltry when compared with the massive sums going to men's basketball and football coaches. In 2016, Calipari made more in three weeks than Wildcats track and field Coach Edrick Floreal made all year.

But a 298 percent pay increase for the same job - Kentucky track and field coach - is startling when compared with what happened in the rest of the economy between 2006 and 2016, a time span that includes a deep recession. Median pay for the average American worker increased 0.7 percent, and even the highest-paid workers - those making more than 95 percent of the rest of America - saw pay rise only 13 percent, according to Elise Gould, senior economist with the Economic Policy Institute.

"You have to recognize that everything crashed in 2008," said Gould, referring to the financial crisis that year.

In athletic departments at Kentucky and other schools - particularly in the five wealthiest collegiate conferences - it's almost as if the recession didn't happen.

To officials in these sports - known in college athletics circles as "nonrevenue" or "Olympic" sports - the recent salary surge is finally creating decent pay for important jobs.

"I certainly don't think anyone's overpaid; I think the salary has risen for that position," said Sam Seemes, chief executive of the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. "If these schools weren't bringing in the revenue that they are, the coaches wouldn't be making as much money.... In the United States, the companies that do the best pay more. It's just fundamental."

These "companies," however, are nonprofit athletic departments largely funded by two teams: men's basketball and football. Because of the way television and media rights contracts are negotiated and paid, it's difficult to determine precisely how much Kentucky athletics revenue in 2016 was attributable to basketball and football. A look at ticket sales, though, offers a glimpse Kentucky officials acknowledge is indicative of the entire department's bottom line.

In 2016, Kentucky's men's basketball generated $19.5 million in ticket sales, and football generated $16.4 million. The other 20 varsity sports - combined - grossed about $1.3 million.

"It's a system that takes money that should be rightfully going to athletes, many of whom are minorities from underprivileged backgrounds, and reallocates it to coaches and athletic directors, many of whom are middle-aged white men.... How can you call that just?" said Andy Schwarz, an economist who has consulted for several lawsuits against the NCAA and college conferences.

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart, whose salary rose from $480,000 to $695,000 in a decade, said the raises he has paid out reflect the market for good coaches in each of those sports.

"I get a bit disheartened when I find people who keep trying to find the bad in what we do," said Barnhart. "I'm not a lawyer, I'm not an economist, I don't know all of those pieces, but I know that what we do is good."

"If these schools weren't bringing in the revenue that they are, the coaches wouldn't be making as much money."

Sam Seemes

chief executive of the U.S. Track and Field

and Cross Country Coaches Association

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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

The University of Memphis' new board of trustees voted Friday to allow university president M. David Rudd to pursue and finalize alternate financing for the construction of the football program's indoor practice facility, one of the last steps before construction can begin.

Rudd said the motion, which was unanimously approved by the board's eight members, was all the university needed to keep the facility on track for a late-April groundbreaking.

"For us, it's the final piece," athletic director Tom Bowen added. "That's really the last piece. So that's exciting."

Bowen said a groundbreaking date will be finalized next week.

Memphis has been raising money for the construction of an indoor football practice facility for more than five years, most recently as part of its "Time to Shine" capital campaign. The university kicked off the public phase of the campaign in Aug. 2015, having raised 60 percent of its fundraising goal of $40 million to build new practice facilities for both the football and basketball programs. Memphis announced at the time that it would begin constructing both facilities later that fall.

In the 18 months since, the university has broken ground on the new basketball facility but construction of the football facility has been delayed, to the frustration of Tiger fans.

In an interview with The Commercial Appeal in January, Rudd said the university had raised approximately $37 million toward its goal.

"Part of the challenge though, is that some of those gifts are essentially what we refer to as backloaded, which means that they are gifts that won't pay off for another 10 years, may not pay off for another 15 years, and so the challenge becomes the cash flow," Rudd said then. "So we have to have an adequate cash flow and the fundraising to pay for it."

Meanwhile, Memphis was also in the process of exiting the Tennessee Board of Regents system and transitioning to its own independent board of trustees, which met for the first time Friday. So instead of continuing to seek approval from the statewide supervisory board to complete financing, he made his request to the newly formed eight-member board at Memphis.

"The motion was for me to move forward in finalizing the financing," Rudd explained Friday. "We'll have a groundbreaking at the end of April. This allows me to sign the letter of intent, go back to the state building commission, and finalize that process and build the facility."

Rudd said in January that it will take approximately 10-12 months to complete construction of the indoor football facility, though work on the staff's office space and other related renovations may last a few months longer.

The board's vote came a day after the Tigers opened spring ball at the Billy J. Murphy Athletic Complex, thereby kicking off the second season of Mike Norvell's tenure as head coach. The Tigers finished 8-5 last season and will return nine offensive starters, including rising senior quarterback Riley Ferguson and wide receiver Anthony Miller in 2017.

Bowen said the board's approval Friday was a formality and simply allows he and his staff to remain on schedule.

"We haven't diverted from anything we're doing," Bowen said. "We're still on our late-April date for groundbreaking."

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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Little by little, big data is coming to baseball at the minor league level.

As much as ever, however, the extent to which minor league players develop will depend on the way coaches interpret and impart the information at their fingertips.

"You have more information coming in, both from the data perspective and from a scouting and evaluation standpoint," Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett said. "It gives you a better starting point with how to help players improve."

"You'd better know what to look for," Triple A Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said. "It's one thing to have the information. If you don't know what you're looking at or what to key on - and how to match it with the individual - it doesn't matter."

Player development takes on increased importance at a time when the Red Sox have decimated their farm system with trades for Chris Sale, Craig Kimbrel and other complementary parts. They've dealt away many of the young players who might have sailed through the minor leagues on talent alone.

The quest of Crockett and his minor league coaches now is to cultivate what is left, to develop youngsters who don't show up on prospect lists into big league regulars.

To hit or miss with a prospect, after all, is to swing the balance sheet by enormous sums of money.

Had Will Middlebrooks or Garin Cecchini panned out at third base, for example, the Red Sox might never have given Pablo Sandoval $95 million.

Had Henry Owens or Anthony Ranaudo panned out as starting pitchers, the Red Sox might not have given David Price $217 million or traded Anderson Espinoza for Drew Pomeranz. Had Jackie Bradley Jr. established himself a year or two earlier than he did, the $72.5 million Rusney Castillo disaster might have been avoided.

On the flip side, it was the development of youngsters Travis Shaw and Mauricio Dubon from lightly regarded prospects into legitimate assets that allowed the Red Sox to trade for Tyler Thornburg rather than paying market value for a free-agent reliever.

The development of Rafael Devers or Jason Groome, two of the best prospects left in the Boston system, could have the same cost or savings. So too could the emergence of a young player who might be considered a more fringy talent.

Like the other 29 teams, the Red Sox now are working to determine how best to use the reservoir of data now at their disposal.

Pitch-tracking technology has been part of minor league evaluation for years. His spin rate is what separated soft-tossing lefty Robby Scott from his peers, for example.

Analysts at the recent Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston forecast that it won't be long until Statcast-type systems show up in minor league stadiums as well. Only cost stands in the way.

"It may not be next year or in five years, but eventually we'll see player-tracking technology become affordable enough where it's down in the minors," said Harry Pavlidis, the founder of Pitch Info.

But while Crockett and Boles might discuss spin rate about pitchers - and soon might discuss launch angle for hitters - it's still rare that they discuss such concepts with players. The youth of the players with whom they're working leads minor-league coaches to simplify their terminology as much as they can.

Even minor league coaches don't actually see PitchF/x data all that much.

"I could say 'launch angle' to one player, and they'd be just fine with it," Boles said. "Then you say 'launch angle' to another player, and they're screwing themselves into the ground with a max-effort swing."

What minor league coaches want to do is utilize the information available to help players optimize strengths and address weaknesses.

"You have to be careful with the terminology you use with players," Boles added. "We have to deal with the human element. We are on the field with these guys. If you start using big terminology, there are some guys who can handle it, but there are other guys where you have to watch it a little bit. Keeping it simple is not a bad thing."

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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

Some basketball fans were surprised to see Buffalo parking rates doubled or more for the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament Thursday.

"Is this for the whole weekend?" a motorist asked a vendor of a Scott Street parking lot that was charging $50.

It was for one day.

The fan drove away.

Basketball fans paid anywhere from $20 to $50 a day to park Thursday near KeyBank Center. Parking lots on Scott Street charged $50, including one lot that is owned by The Buffalo News but leased by a parking lot operator. A lot at the corner of Scott and Michigan lowered the price tohttps://www.athleticbusiness.com/administrator/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&layout=edit&id=26234# $30 before the first game and by 4:40 p.m. had lowered it to $15. Other lots on Scott dropped the fee to $40 after noon and to $20 by 2 p.m.

For those who didn't mind walking a little farther, city-owned ramps such as One Seneca Tower were charging $10 for the day. And Allpro Parking charged $8 for a lot at the foot of Pearl Street, said Richard Serra of AllPro.

Many fans going to the game said they paid $20 to $30. The price was about what Stan Pustulka of Kenmore expected when he paid $30 to park off Michigan Avenue near the Thruway.

"Probably the going rate, I would think. This is $50 down here," he said, pointing to a lot, "and this is $25, but it looks like they're all full."

Parking is largely supply and demand, and operators of lots say the prices are driven by the market.

In downtown Milwaukee, where construction has reduced the number of parking spots, WISN 12 News reported finding spots going for $50 until 6:30 p.m. or $100 for the day at Milwaukee Area Technical College, near the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

And in Orlando, motorists could reserve a space in advance at some parking areas near the Amway Center, where NCAA tournament games were also being played. Prices ranged from $22 to $44, according to Parkwhiz.com.

Serra said drivers can reserve spots every day at Allpro lots through its website, allproparking.com. He said his lots charged the usual fee they charge for events, with a maximum of $25 for the lots closer to the center.

"We were very, very busy, we had to double our crew today," he said.

Jim Sandoro, who owns a number of lots near KeyBank Center, said he did not increase the price at his lots, which charged a maximum of $20.

"We probably did not even pay for the plowing," he said. He said he had to pay to plow the lots and for extra people to work. "But we're happy to provide the space, because people wouldn't have had places to park."

Some lots closest to KeyBank Center were full at least a half hour before tipoff of the first game between Notre Dame and Princeton.

"We paid $25 at the KeyBank Center lot," said Mike Bonham of Toronto.

He and his buddy Jeff Gerstl were in town "to see some good basketball," Gerstl said. They weren't fazed by the price.

Some area residents knew where to park for less.

"We parked on Seneca Street," said Jason Howard of Hamburg.

He and Spencer Sticek, also of Hamburg, did not mind walking a few more blocks in the cold after paying $20 to park. "I think we expected it," Pustulka said.

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

An attorney representing two Hardin Valley Academy baseball coaches under investigation by state and local authorities called allegations that the coaches mistreated players "blatantly false."

"On behalf of these fine young coaches, we would demand that the record be set straight insofar as these false allegations which are being advanced by a singular disgruntled parent with a singular, venomous agenda," attorney M. Jeffrey Whitt of Whitt, Cooper, Trant & Hedrick said in an email late Wednesday to the USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee.

Whitt said head coach Joe Michalski and assistant Zach Luther had retained his firm earlier Wednesday. Both were placed on paid leave from their coaching duties by the school system after a parent complained that they had intentionally and repeatedly hit players with pitches during practice.

Luther was placed on leave with pay on March 13 and Michalski on March 15. Both are continuing their teaching duties at the school, said school spokeswoman Carly Harrington. The Department of Children's Services and the Knox County Sheriff's Office have opened an investigation into the incident.

Whitt on Thursday argued that the players were hit with rubber balls during a common practice drill.

"Every coach will tell you it's a legitimate drill," Whitt said. "But it's not child abuse. We've got to get this thing completed as soon as we can."

Whitt said the coaches and attorneys will meet with Department of Children's Services officials. Some parents and players have already met with state officials voluntarily to express support for Michalski and Luther, he said.

This is the third time Michalski has been placed on leave or suspended by the school district after previously being investigated for injuries to another player during practice two years ago and for a public intoxication arrest in February 2014, according to documents in his personnel file obtained through a USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee public records request.

The Tennessee Department of Children's Services opened its investigation on March 10 into the latest allegations, according to spokesman Rob Johnson. He declined to say who filed the complaint, but it came one day after the practice where Sheri Super, the mother of junior shortstop Ryder Green, said her son and others were hit with baseballs.

Knox County Sheriff's spokeswoman Martha Dooley declined to discuss the nature of that agency's investigation.

Video of the practice taken from the bleachers and provided to the USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee by Super appears to show a coach striking players in the batter's box with pitches repeatedly.

Related: Baseball Coach Investigated for Pitching at Players

According to Super, the players were forced to stand in the batter's box while Luther, a former University of Tennessee player, threw the pitches and Michalski watched from first base during the drill. A photo provided by Super of a player's back shows red marks on his lower left side.

Other parents who have complained about Michalski's behavior include Ken Neely, the father of former Hardin Valley pitcher and current University of Tennessee player Will Neely.

Will Neely was treated for second-degree burns on his hands two years ago after Michalski forced players to perform bear crawls on the hot blacktop track, according to his father. The injury cost Neely the opportunity to compete in a showcase in New York, his father said.

Michalski was investigated by the school system, placed on leave from his coaching duties and ultimately suspended for four games during the 2014-15 season. Michalski told school district officials that the injuries were not burns, but caused by friction on the track surface, according to a letter from then-Superintendent Jim McIntyre outlining his suspension.

"Your poor judgment during baseball drills caused injury to a student athlete, which is (a) violation of Knox County Board of Education Policy BK, Civility Code," McIntyre wrote, also barring Michalski from attending any of the games during his suspension.

The doctor who treated Neely's hands also filed a complaint with DCS, according to his father. Johnson of DCS would not comment on the earlier investigation.

"It's very clear that he has shown some bad judgment over the years on several different things," Ken Neely said.

In February 2014, Michalski was given a written reprimand and placed on three days of administrative leave without pay after he was charged with public intoxication. The charge was dismissed after payment of court costs, according to a Feb. 18, 2014, letter from McIntyre in his personnel file.

At least six other parents said they sent letters to the school district and later provided them to the USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee.

"My son has been in this baseball program for four years and to this day has never been physically or verbally abused by any of the coaching staff," wrote Tonya and Sammy Johnson. "We think they are terrific coaches and they want our boys to succeed in the classroom and on the field."

Added parents Michael and Rebecca Cash: "My main problem with all this is the abuse claims. If I was aware of all (these) long-standing forms of abuse on my son, there is no way I would sit and let it continue. This leads me to believe this is nothing more than a witch hunt because they do not agree with his coaching. If they were so concerned about their child watching the drill, I am sure they would have stopped it immediately."

Carson-Newman University head baseball coach Tom Griffen wrote in an email to the USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee that while the philosophy on whether to take a hit from a pitch or avoid it in a game may differ between coaches, the drill is still very common.

"When it comes to the drill in question, getting hit by the pitch, I have worked/trained/practiced this for 27 years," Griffen wrote. "We do it in our youth camps to train (players on) how to protect yourself (from) a ball coming at you.

"I understand that some coaches on all levels use the hit by pitch mindset to get on base... Whatever your philosophy of the 'hit by pitch' is as a coach, it has to be done in training. How to turn to avoid being hit on the knee, elbow and chin."

Donna Cronwell, whose son played baseball for Hardin Valley between 2010 and 2013 under a previous coach, said Thursday that extreme coaching methods have long been a problem in the program. Michalski was an assistant during her son's time as an outfielder and utility player for the team.

Cornwell said she tried several times to reach out to school administrators about the treatment of players by coaches, but was stymied.

"I'm sure whatever Michalski is doing now, it was OK'd and condoned by the administration," she said. "And if he's doing this kind of abusive stuff, he's learned it from past coaches. It's condoned. It's always been condoned."

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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

NORFOLK

The college football arms race spiraled out of control long ago. Flush with TV money, Power 5 schools have rushed to build 5-star training facilities that look more like Marriott hotels than places where football players sweat and train.

Oregon opened a $68 million football training center three years ago with ventilated lockers from Germany, Brazilian wood floors and a barber shop with imported Italian lounge chairs.

Central Florida is raising money for a new facility that includes a lazy river in which players would use inner tubes to slowly float through the building.

Clemson recently unveiled a new $55 million facility that, at 143,000 square feet, is more than half as big as the 22-story Norfolk Southern Tower.

The facility includes 1.5 acres of outdoor luxury: Five fire pits, a 9-hole miniature golf course, basketball court, Wiffle Ball diamond and 20-foot TV screen. Inside, there's a movie theater and laser tag course.

Power 5 schools will tell you this is just the price of remaining competitive, but the obscene waste of money on luxury features is one of the most troubling aspects of college sports.

In late 2014, the Washington Post determined that the Power 5 schools spent $772 million annually on athletic facilities. That's simply too much.(tncms-asset)f0291138-0a90-11e7-b14b-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)

All of this was on my mind as Old Dominion associate athletic director Rick French recently gave me a tour of the school's new, expanded football training center.

I was blown away by how much bang ODU got for its buck. The 17,000-square-foot addition to the existing L.R. Hill Sports Complex is modest in size, and at $4.5 million, cost as well.

Yet, it gives the football program everything it needs for its players to get stronger and better.

Curiously, ODU has done little to promote the opening of its new facility. No press releases, no ribbon-cutting ceremony.

For whatever reason, ODU officials refused to answer routine questions I asked via email, such as the costs for outfitting the facility with furniture and when the football staff and players would move in (they did so this week, I learned via Twitter).

Regardless of the curious silence, this was the first significant upgrade to facilities the school has made since announcing in 2012 that the Monarchs were moving to the Football Bowl Subdivision. That makes it kind of a big deal.

More help is on the way, too. The General Assembly recently approved a $55 million makeover of Foreman Field that should be ready in 2019.

The expansion of the L.R. Hill Complex, built in 2008, has long been needed. Since ODU moved up, the complex has been bursting at the seams. The roster went from about 85 players to 115, and some guys have at times had to double up in lockers.

ODU also added to its staff, and interns are forced to work in makeshift desks in hallways. Assistant recruiting coordinator Jay Haeseker sits at the receptionist's desk in the football complex.

ODU's weight room was cramped. The new weight room is nearly twice as large, at 11,000 square feet, and has all of the latest gadgetry. Several new offices will open, which should get those interns out of the hallway.

There is also a partial second story to the weight room, called a "dynamic cardio area," where dozens of cardio workout machines and stair steppers will operate. There's also enough room to do indoor sprints.

Perhaps most important, the new facility will ease the burden of providing academic counseling to athletes. There is no place at the L.R. Hill Complex for players to receive academic tutoring, so they make the five-minute walk to the Jim Jarrett administrative building, which has been overcrowded since ODU began playing football.

ODU will turn its old football weight room into a meeting room/study hall area that will allow athletes in other sports some breathing room.

A lot of thought went into the colors and amenities. Blue and grey are everywhere. The coaches' locker room, which has space for 29 people to dress, includes an area large enough for the staff to meet. The walls are dry-erase, meaning you can sketch out plays on the wall, and there's a large-screen TV to view practice video.

There is a "shake room" adjacent to the weight room, where dozens of food processors will be lined up and churn out blended nutritional supplements .

"All of the latest advancements in sports science have been incorporated into this facility," French said.

There are no fire pits, no place for the Monarchs to play laser tag. But keeping costs in line was paramount. Conference USA provides hardly any TV money and Virginia state law discourages schools from using student fees to build new facilities.

With limited options, the school spent frugally, yet has provided coach Bobby Wilder with what he needs to keep the Monarchs competitive.

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USA TODAY

 

A 5 p.m. ET deadline on Thursday set by USA Hockey expired. The women's national hockey team's threatened boycott of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships didn't.

Two-time Olympian Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson told USA TODAY Sports that none of the 23 players on the roster came off their vow to skip the world championships as they seek better wages and other support from USA Hockey. USA Hockey had established the deadline earlier Thursday ahead of the tournament, set to begin at month's end.

"I don't think any of us even flinched," Lamoureux-Davidson said. "We saw this as a formality."

John Langel, the lawyer representing the players, told USA TODAY Sports that there has been no communication with USA Hockey since the players went public Wednesday morning with their intention to forgo the world championships if USA Hockey didn't increase their compensation.

"I thought they would have sat down and talked so we could make some meaningful progress," Lamoureux-Davidson said. "They just put a press release out, set this deadline, and now will go out and try to field a team."

Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday that the USA will present a team for the world championships in Plymouth, Mich., although it's not clear who will be on that squad.

Lamoureux-Davidson said that won't be easy since the national team members have been in touch with their potential replacements.

"We have the support of NCAA coaches and the NWHL (National Women's Hockey League)," she said. "I think they are going to have a hard time finding players who want to represent the U.S."

The women and USA Hockey are so far apart in negotiations that they can't even agree on how much financial support the players are currently receiving from the governing body.

Players say they receive $1,000 a month for six months from USA Hockey before an Olympic Games, and USA Hockey officials say core players receive $3,000 a month. USA Hockey's figure includes $2,000 a month that comes from the U.S. Olympic Committee's Direct Athlete Support program. Some athletes receive only $700 from that program.

The two sides haven't said how far apart they are in negotiations. At the 2014 Olympics, USA Hockey officials say the U.S. women had the potential to earn $53,000. But that total included the USOC training stipend and projected USA winning the gold medal and receiving a bonus of $25,000 from the USOC. USA won the silver and received $15,000.

U.S. players point out that the vast majority of their financial support comes from the USOC, not USA Hockey, which they view as a lack of commitment to women's hockey. That's a charge that USA Hockey officials vehemently deny.

"We have taken their interests seriously and put up a more substantial stipend and package on the table coming up to the Olympic year," Ogrean said this week.

Now, USA Hockey officials say they are offering a deal that would allow players the opportunity to pocket $85,000 if they win the gold medal.

But a chunk of that increase comes from the fact that the USOC has raised the gold medal bonus to $37,500. The silver pays $22,500 and the bronze is worth $15,000 now.

Again, players don't count the USOC bonuses, or the Direct Athlete Support, as being part of what USA Hockey is offering.

By comparison, in 2016, USA Swimming gave star Katie Ledecky $75,000 for each gold in addition to the $25,000 that she received from the USOC for each gold.

Another major issue is the fact that the women's hockey players are looking for some financial support to help them stay in the sport in non-Olympic years. USA Hockey won't go there.

"We've never had athletes as employees, male, female, sled or anyone else," Ogrean said. "That's a line we don't want to cross, and we don't think it's our charge or responsibility to do that."

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USA TODAY

 

The president and CEO of USA Gymnastics resigned Thursday, one week after officials within the U.S. Olympic Committee called for his departure as a result of the governing body's handling of a widening sexual abuse scandal.

Steve Penny, who led the federation since 2005, had been facing increased criticism since August for not doing enough to protect gymnasts from sexual abuse or responding to allegations against coaches appropriately or quickly enough.

"The Board believes this change in leadership will help USA Gymnastics face its current challenges and implement solutions to move the organization forward in promoting a safe environment for its athletes at all levels," USA Gymnastics chairman Paul Parilla said in a statement.

The Indianapolis Star, part of the USA TODAY Network, has reported more than 360 cases in which gymnasts have accused coaches of sexual transgressions over 20 years.

More than 80 gymnasts have alleged sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, who was the national team physician from 1996 to 2015.

Nassar faces three state charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person younger than 13 in Michigan and two federal charges related to child pornography.

Late last month, Nassar was arraigned in Ingham County (Mich.) on 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and 14 lesser included alternative charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from his 20 years at Michigan State.

The school is being sued by at least 40 women and girls. USA Gymnastics faces at least four lawsuits, three of which name Penny as a defendant.

"It has been heartbreaking to learn of instances of abuse and it sickens me that young athletes would be exploited in such a manner," Penny said in a statement issued by USA Gymnastics. "My decision to step aside as CEO is solely to support the best interests of USA Gymnastics at this time."

On March, 8, USA TODAY Sports reported, citing two U.S. Olympic officials, that a group within the USOC was seeking Penny's resignation.

USA Gymnastics responded with a statement attributed to Parilla, officers Jay Binder and Bitsy Kelley and Mary Lou Retton, the first U.S. woman to win the Olympic all-around title, in which they supported Penny.

They praised Penny as "among the strongest advocates for our athletes," saying he had strengthened the federation's policies and reported suspected abuse to law enforcement authorities himself.

USOC chairman Larry Probst released a statement Thursday addressing Penny's departure: "Today's announcement will hopefully allow USA Gymnastics to shift its attention to the future with a secure environment for its athletes and continued success in competition."

USA Gymnastics is also awaiting review of its policies and procedures by Deborah Daniels, a former federal prosecutor.

"USA Gymnastics and the entire gymnastics community must work together to focus on keeping athletes safe," Parilla said Thursday.

"We believe Ms. Daniels' recommendations will identify areas where we can strengthen and refine how we handle sexual misconduct as an organization, expand our efforts to educate the entire community, including parents and athletes, about what to watch for and what to do if they suspect abuse is happening."

Results of Daniels' review are expected in the second quarter. But the USOC wanted more immediate action.

On March 9, its board met and reached what Probst called a "consensus point of view," though he and CEO Scott Blackmun declined to share it publicly until USA Gymnastics responded. The USOC did not immediately issue a reaction.

The USOC had no power to fire Penny. But it could have withheld funding to the federation or, in the most extreme case, decertified it as the sport's national governing body.

Asked why the USOC wanted Penny out while other heads of federations with abuse scandals had been allowed to stay on, Blackmun said, "The whole subject of sexual assault and safe sport has obviously been getting a significant amount of increased coverage.

"Obviously the center point of that right now is around USA Gymnastics. We felt it was appropriate to talk about the subject of safe sport broadly and it's certainly difficult to do without a specific discussion around gymnastics."

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LNP (Lancaster, PA)

 

Penn State has a plan.

If/when that plan comes to full fruition, the northeast sector of the vast University Park campus will be an athletic village of sleek structures of brick and glass with sweeping roofs and state-of-the-art amenities for the athletes and coaches of 31 intercollegiate programs.

The plan was released Monday morning, and discussed in a presentation open to the public and media Monday afternoon. The artist's conceptions were cool - renovated Beaver Stadium looked great in a brick-and-sandstone suit - in a futuristic way, like images of a proposed colony on Mars.

Twenty-three buildings will be involved, including a "Center of Excellence,'' where most of athletic administration, training and nutrition, sports science and seven varsity teams will be headquartered.

Also, eventually, new: a home for the All-Sports Museum, basketball practice facility, cross country team house, golf clubhouse and indoor practice facility, Olympic sport training center, outdoor track and facility and a parking garage to replace some of the spaces gobbled up by all this construction.

Major renovations are coming for the Nittany Lion Softball Park, Bryce Jordan Center (where the goal is "a more intimate basketball atmosphere''), the field hockey complex, Lasch Football Building, lacrosse field and both golf courses.

Wow.

The operative word above is "eventually."

Related: Beaver Stadium Renovation Delayed for Other Projects

It's a 20-year plan. Even if it becomes a total reality, by the time it's finished, James Franklin will likely be in his late 60s, and This Space might be covering senior-tour shuffleboard.

Speaking of This Space, it was naive/cynical enough to assume that the roughly six-month delay in unveiling this plan was because the school was struggling to come up with the money, or at least a concrete plan for raising it.

Turns out, none of it is funded. That financial piece of the plan is only now at, in Athletic Director Sandy Barbour's words, the "philanthropy feasibility study'' stage.

"It's an aspirational plan,'' Barbour said Monday. "Ultimately, we'll build what we can pay for.''

This is not to suggest that the assembly and unveiling of this lavish plan was a waste of time. Just figuring out where everything can and will go, doing the square-footage math and thinking in detail about the engineering and logistics of it all are sizable steps to fruition.

Think of the details. Cost overruns. Building codes and other red tape. Continuing to run a university while all the work is going on and on and on. The mind boggles.

Surely the money is going to be an issue. Per the plan, it will come from private giving, along with "public-private partnerships.'' Only in the case of the indoor tennis and aquatic facilities, which will be partly recreational for the entire student body, will fees be assessed of Penn State students, Barbour said.

The first stage alone - the Center of Excellence, the indoor tennis center and natatorium, and upgrades to the soccer stadium - will cost an estimated $120 million.

The extensive planned renovation of Beaver Stadium by itself will surely cost much more than that, and won't begin before 2023.

We're dealing here with one of the two great pillars of college sports that the media can't touch, and that thus remains mostly mysterious: fundraising.

(The other is admissions.)

Penn State's athletic department famously claims to fund itself, without government or general-fund money.

This might be the ultimate test of that.

In Barbour's previous AD job, at Cal, the school eliminated four sports because of what was widely termed "poor budget management.''

Also at Cal, she was the driving force behind the construction of a football training facility and renovation of the football stadium, for which the financing plan collapsed. The University ended up taking drastic measures to manage its debt.

Barbour seems sharp and tough and engaging. The Cal experience could be a useful one.

Joe Paterno is estimated to have been the driving force behind $2 billion in giving to Penn State, but that was university-wide, not just for athletics, and took place over nearly a half-century.

If the university has a current figure to line up behind like JoePa, I'm not aware of it.

Will the endless Sandusky scandal litigation, in the news again this week, hurt? Will winning the Big Ten and going to the Rose Bowl help?

We only have 20 years of waiting to find out.

@MikeGrossLNP.

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Chicago Daily Herald

 

Football helmet manufacturer Riddell said today that it is expanding its headquarters and testing facility and relocating from Rosemont to Des Plaines.

The company signed a lease for a 27,000-square-foot office and lab space at 1700 W. Higgins Road. "The new space is larger to accommodate growth. It also allows us to build-to-suit the office space and testing lab," said Riddell spokeswoman Erin Griffin.

The company will vacate its existing building and move its 58 employees about a half mile down the road to its new six-story office space by July 1.

Part of the move to Des Plaines involves expanding its equipment testing facility, Griffin said. The new space will include a testing lab and connected work space to advance the design and development of football headgear, protective equipment and head impact monitoring technology, the company said.

Riddell - which often takes two to three years to develop, make and test a new helmet - is moving forward with high-tech, more expensive gear.

Riddell considered several areas for its relocation and found the Des Plaines market was best for employees and visitors because of its close access to Chicago and O'Hare International Airport, said Jon Springer, executive vice president of CBRE, who represented Riddell on the deal, along with Paul Diederich and Andrew Kaplan.

Riddell's relationship with football goes back to 1929, when John T. Riddell started the company after he was head football coach at Evanston High School. The company first made cleats and later made the first plastic helmets and shoulder pads.

Dan Arment is now president & CEO of Riddell and its parent company, BRG Sports. 

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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

Volleyball players in the Richmond area can look forward to having a new indoor venue next year.

The Richmond Volleyball Club, which has more than 3,000 members, is planning to move into a 50,000-square-foot volleyball facility that the Chesterfield County Economic Development Authority plans to build in the Stonebridge development just off Midlothian Turnpike.

Chesterfield County officials and the Richmond Volleyball Club are planning to announce details of the project at a news conference today.

The new facility will be located at 200 Karl Linn Drive in Stonebridge, a mixed-used development that is part of the former Cloverleaf Mall property. It is expected to open by January and will have eight volleyball courts.

The Chesterfield Economic Development Authority plans to lease the facility to RVC. The building project, estimated to cost about $7 million, must be approved by the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors.

In addition to RVC, the Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation Department plans to use about 5,000 square feet of the building for community programs and events such as fitness classes, particularly for older adults.

RVC currently occupies two facilities in Henrico County. It owns a building on Byrdhill Road with its offices and 12 courts in about 74,000 square feet. That facility will remain open. The new facility in Chesterfield will replace a building the RVC leases on Westmoreland Street, which has six courts and about 24,000 square feet.

"This location in Chesterfield will be the first time that we have had a building that was built to suit our needs - built for volleyball," said Darcy Carroll, executive director of the volleyball club. "This will be more ideal for our purposes." The facility will not have spectator stands, but it will have room for spectators near the courts, Carroll said.

"We have been growing," she said of RVC, a nonprofit group founded in 1981. About 400 people participate in RVC's daily adult leagues and its junior development programs, which serve children and young adults ages 3 to 18.

The group also hosts tournaments that draw teams from outside the Richmond region, including the combined Boys' East Coast Championships and Girls' South Atlantic Championships.

"This is a huge addition to our inventory of sports facilities" in the Richmond region, said Jack Berry, president and CEO of Richmond Region Tourism. That inventory of sports facilities includes soccer, field hockey, baseball, softball, swimming and basketball, among other sports, which together attract tens of thousands of visitors to the region every year for state, regional and national events.

"It all computes to heads in beds," Berry said, referring to hotel stays in the area.

"The secret of sports tourism is to have first-class facilities," he said.

Carroll said RVC started looking for potential sites in Chesterfield three years ago.

"The facility in Chesterfield will have a lot more space around the courts for spectators," she said. "It will be a much nicer facility for the junior tournaments that we hold, and we believe it will be a better experience for everyone, while allowing us to grow."

"The last several years we have been expanding our developmental programs, which is for younger kids and kids who have not played volleyball before," she said. "We are proud that a lot of our athletes are able to pursue volleyball in college. In some cases, they had not considered going to college, and this opened a door for them."

The 50-acre Cloverleaf Mall property was acquired by the Chesterfield Economic Development Authority in 2008. The EDA entered into a partnership with Charlotte, N.C.-based development company Crosland Southeast to redevelop the property in phases.

It now has one of the largest Kroger Marketplace stores on the East Coast, a Boyd Homes' luxury apartment community and other retail stores as part of the Shops at Stonebridge.

In December, Stonebridge was acquired by McLean-based S2 Capital Partners LLC, which plans to continue retail development on the property.

jblackwell@timesdispatch.com

(804) 775-8123

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Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

The Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission has chosen Charleston architectural and engineering firm ZMM to study a proposal to build a multi-million dollar sports complex at Shawnee Park, in Dunbar.

The commission voted unanimously to go with ZMM during its regular meeting Wednesday.

"They'll be looking at what our need actually is, how many fields we actually need, is it feasible to put it there and replace the golf course, how many people can we expect, Parks Director Jeff Hutchinson said.

ZMM was one of two companies that put in bids to do the feasibility study, Hutchinson said. Bids from ZMM and the other company, Minnesota-based CSL, were within $100 of each other, he said. The board decided to go with the local company.

"They know our market better, Hutchinson said. "They've done this type of work in our community before... the board felt comfortable with the fact that they've done this type of thing before in our community, not necessarily with the soccer fields and the ballfields, but with other recreational facilities.

The bid was for $43,000, but Hutchinson said the cost will be adjusted to reflect that an aquatic center was taken out of consideration. Hutchinson said another group approached Parks with the idea of building the aquatic center.

Hutchinson said the board expects to have the study completed by late summer or early fall.

The Kanawha County Commission agreed at its Feb. 16 meeting to fund the study of the sports complex proposal. Commissioner Ben Salango said at the time that the complex could have six collegiate-size turf soccer/lacrosse fields, six to eight baseball/softball fields and, possibly, a track. Salango said the complex could host games for travel teams in the region and would be an economic driver for the area.

Not everyone is happy about the proposed sports complex, though. About seven women representing the Carbide Ladies Golf League came to the meeting to voice their concern that the sports complex would require closing the park's nine-hole golf course. The league uses the golf course every week from April through September, President Pamela Campe said after the meeting.

The league, made up of Union Carbide retirees and their spouses, is mostly people in their 60s, 70s and 80s, Campe said. Representatives of the league told park board members that they use the course at Shawnee because it's relatively flat, it's centrally located and there are golf carts available, unlike the Coonskin Park course.

A Carbide men's league also uses the field, Campe said.

She said that if the golf course is gone, some of the women would stop golfing altogether and some would have to travel farther to play.

Commission Chairman Allen Tackett told the golfers that plans for the proposed complex are not definite and there will be more opportunities for public comment about the proposed project.

In other business:

-The chief of the parks police department said the department has hired an officer. Soda machines at Coonskin Park have been broken into lately, the police chief also said.

-The parks commission voted to let Girl Scout Troop 4891 install a "buddy bench at Coonskin's playground. The bench is a place where a child can sit to signal to other children that they're in need of a friend to play with, Hutchinson said. The Scouts are doing the project to get their bronze award, Hutchinson said.

-The commission agreed to have an appraisal done of about 75 acres of land near the former Sandy Brae Golf Club, which the county used to own, Hutchinson said. After the golf course was sold, an assessment showed that the county owned another portion of the land that it didn't know about, Hutchinson.

"There's a piece up there that we didn't know we owned because it hadn't been assessed, he said after the meeting. "We've got to have it appraised and the property lines marked.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1240 or follow @LorikerseyWV on Twitter.

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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

 

Africentric girls basketball coach Will McKinney, who received a one-game suspension for criticizing officials after a regional victory over Mount Blanchard Riverdale on March 8, said the officiating crew's failure to eject a fan sitting in the Riverdale student section for making pig calls when his players were shooting free throws led to his outburst.

After the Nubians won 85-46 at Lexington High School, McKinney said the officials were racially insensitive to his team, which is made up of African-Americans. One official was black.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association suspended McKinney one game and Africentric was fined an undisclosed amount.

The pig calls drew subdued laughter from some Riverdale students the first time but were ignored thereafter.

"I heard it, our players heard it and our fans heard it, so the officials had to hear it," McKinney said. "When my kids come to me and say they are having issues, my thing is how come nobody is doing anything about it? If someone yells something from the stands and the officials hear it, they should say, 'Hold it, that person right there has got to leave.' I want to see games policed a lot better."

McKinney has exchanged emails with OHSAA assistant commissioner Jerry Snodgrass about "racial relations between blacks and whites that sometimes become tense during games."

McKinney said he would like to see a committee comprising coaches, officials, administrators and OHSAA officials be formed to discuss the situation.

"I'm not saying the officials during that game were racially motivated -- no, no, no, no, no -- but that it was about (their not) handling the environment," he said.

McKinney praised the officials who worked Africentric's 60-31 victory over Archbold in the regional final Saturday at Lexington. He watched from the stands.

"The situation was great -- the best-officiated game I've seen all year -- and it wasn't great because of a coincidence," he said. "We had officials from the Ohio High School Athletic Association there, and I'm sure a supervisor of officials was there."

mznidar@dispatch.com

@MarkZnidar

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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Whether you're looking for tickets to root on the Zags, Oregon Ducks or another favorite team, be aware of ticket scams.

The Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest offers these tips to sidestep scammers trying to take advantage of NCAA Tournament fans:

Eliminate the competition. Use the official NCAA website for a secure place to buy tickets. Fans also have the ability to securely buy tickets from other fans that can't make the game with the NCAA Ticket Exchange.

Play smart. Before deciding to purchase tickets on other sites, make sure to research the seller at bbb.org. Secure, legal sites include StubHub.com, SeatGeek and BBB Accredited business Vivid Seats for second-hand purchases. These sites guarantee a secure transaction.

Read your travel package. Just because a travel package has "NCAA Tournament" in the name doesn't mean it includes tickets. Do not assume tickets are included.

Research away game hotels and locations. Dishonest businesses may advertise that they are close to the stadium or "walking distance" when in fact they require car rentals or taxis.

Support the team store. Buy merchandise directly from the team website or official stadium vendors.

Avoid pop-ups while making brackets. Don't fall for the trick when ads ask to download malware or type in a password. Exit any type of ad or pop-up while typing in teams on any website.

Defense wins championships. Pay with a credit card to get protection if scammed. The credit card company can help obtain a refund if the tickets are fake.

Put a method to the madness. Be cautious of extreme discount ticket prices. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said a revenue stream is needed to fund repairs at Bosse Field, but he opposes a tax levy for that purpose.

The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp., owner of the 102-year-old baseball park, has advocated a levy of 0.005 cents tax per $100 assessed value. Legislative action is required for the EVSC to impose the levy. It was included in legislation that passed the Indiana House on Feb. 27.

The levy could be used for projects at other historic structures, such as the Old Courthouse, according to the EVSC.

Vanderburgh County Council President John Montrastelle signed a letter to local lawmakers in support of the tax levy. Winnecke, though, said he will soon propose an alternative funding source.

Winnecke did not elaborate on Wednesday. Although revenue from the Jacobsville Tax Increment Finance District might be one possibility. City leaders have said the Jacobsville TIF will be used to retire as much as $18 million in construction bonds on the North Main Street renovation, which is to finish later this year.

Winnecke said the increases in water and sewer rates city residents will face over the next several years make him want to look at other choices for Bosse Field.

"I think we have a viable option that the community would support because it would help Bosse Field, and it would not represent an increase in taxes," Winnecke said. "Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we can nail this thing down, and I've communicated that to the stakeholders."

Bosse Field since 1995 has been home to the Evansville Otters, a professional baseball club in the independent Frontier League. It hosts some annual high school baseball games and other events, such as the SWIRCA Beer Fest fundraiser.

The ballpark, which opened in 1915, is in need of a new electrical system, lights and a roof, EVSC Superintendent David Smith has said.

Those upgrades would cost more than $1.5 million. The 0.005 tax levy, depending on countywide assessed value in a given year, would generate about $300,000, Smith said.

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Abilene Reporter-News (Texas)

 

The city of Abilene's new aquatics center is on pace, said Wayne Lisenbee, capital improvements program director, the facility set to open in June, if not earlier.

The project is somewhat at the mercy of the weather because of its outdoor nature, Lisenbee said.

"We're on schedule at this point and we're shooting for Memorial Day, but as soon as I tell someone 'sure,' we're going to get a big rain event," he said. "We're pushing for late May, but I'm not making any promises."

When completed, the new $6.6 million aquatics center will consist of a full renovation of Rose Park Pool, giving way to a modern water recreation facility.

Voters approved the center as part of a 2015 bond program that totaled $80.7 million, a package of improvements including streets, fire and police facilities, sidewalks, airport improvements, 'splash pads' throughout the community and more.

"The bond election approved $6 million, and we had to get some additional funding to add to that to finish off the project," Lisenbee said.

A leisure pool, a lazy river, a pair of water slides, a party pavilion, a covered patio, and a new bathhouse are the primary features, with the whole project designed to provide space for added features in the future.

"The leisure pool will have a beach entry, which (means) it just gradually slopes down into the pool," he said. "So it goes from zero depth to down I believe four, four and a half feet. And there's plenty of room for people to get in there and do aerobics or any kind of water exercise that they might want to do."

The beach entry area will be water features for small children and toddlers to play in, Lisenbee said.

The lazy river will sport a capacity of 250 people, who can either swim or tube. Slide structures will be about three stories tall, one a body slide, the other a tube slide, the latter entering the lazy river.

There will be a height requirement of 48 inches to use the slides, Lisenbee said.

A concession stand will be available. There is a possibility food trucks will be allowed to come inside and serve, Lisenbee said.

Admission prices for adults have not been solidified yet, he said, though a common suggestion is in the $6-7 range.

The aquatic center project has been "incredibly fun to work on," Lisenbee said.

"At the stage right now we have the pools in the ground, (they've) formed up and taken shape," he said. "They've started doing the tile and drain work. The buildings are up, and we should start roofing next week. And then, at the end of this month, you should start seeing our big slide structure going vertical."

The purpose of the aquatics facility is not to create a sprawling water park such as Hurricane Harbor, Lisenbee said.

"This is going to be a family aquatic center where families can come enjoy the water and have a good day, but it is not going to be Schlitterbahn, that is not the intent," he said, referring to the famous park in New Braunfels.

As part of the bond, the city opened two new splash pads last year at Scarborough and Stevenson Park. Two more are scheduled to open in 2018 at Sears Park on Ambler and Redbud Park on the city's south side.

The original pad will remain at Nelson Park, by the Abilene Zoo.

"We're going to have a lot of water options for people to take advantage of," Lisenbee said.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

STATE COLLEGE - As he crossed Boston's busy Commonwealth Avenue the afternoon of Aug. 25, 2010, Joe Battista somehow detected his cellphone's beep amid the midday urban hum.

Battista, the longtime coach of Penn State's club hockey team, then spearheading the school's fruitless efforts to build an arena and upgrade to Division I, had just visited Boston University's facilities.

At tour's end, he shook the meaty hand of his famous guide, Mike Eruzione, and wistfully told the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team's captain that perhaps one day Penn State would experience its own "Miracle on Ice."

Minutes later, checking his phone in the middle of the busy thoroughfare, he was stunned to see that the miracle had happened.

"Just signed agreement," read a text from Terry Pegula, a wealthy PSU alumnus. "Great day for hockey in Happy Valley!"

With those two terse sentences, Penn State hockey, which had existed in near-anonymity as a club sport since 1971, was catapulted into the big time.

Pegula, a natural-gas developer from Carbondale, had just signed off on an $88 million contribution to his alma mater. The gift, which soon grew to $102 million, would not only allow Penn State to add men's and women's varsity hockey but to construct a campus arena, the last and largest hurdle in its long journey to Division I.

Now, only seven years later, as Penn State prepares for both the Big Ten tournament opener Thursday night with Michigan and a likely NCAA tournament appearance, that transition can be judged a spectacular success.

Pegula's name adorns an arena whose glass facade shines like a jewel near the Bryce Jordan Center. Hockey tickets are tougher gets than those for football. The 5,782-seat arena has been filled to 104 percent capacity this season and the men's team's sellout string stands at 58 games.

In just their fifth Division I season, fourth in the Big Ten, coach Guy Gadowsky's Nittany Lions are 21-11-2 and ranked 15th. And, while their stay was as brief as it was astonishing, they were in mid-January the No. 1 team in the nation.

"Maybe that No. 1 ranking was premature," said Battista, who as a coach and fund-raiser was the main mover in the transition. "But who cares? It certainly didn't hurt recruiting or interest."

Gadowsky's ability to find players and, more important, to persuade them to come to a school with little hockey tradition has been a key factor, as has the arena and the passionate, noisy fans who fill it.

But the most essential element in Penn State hockey's rapid ascent was Pegula's checkbook.

"We always believed hockey would be incredibly successful here," Battista said this week, "but there were so many barriers. The only way it was going to happen was with that kind of gift from the Pegulas.

"Not everybody was thrilled about it. There was an awful lot of pushback. People were jealous that a gift of this magnitude was going to an athletic program, to hockey."

'What will it take?'

An old dream began to glisten with new possibility one night in the fall of 2005, just as Battista, in the last of 20 seasons as Penn State's coach, was about to sit down to dinner with his family.

Someone named Terry Pegula was on the phone.

"He says, 'I don't know if you remember me. My son came to your hockey camps,' " Battista recalled. "Then he said, 'Why aren't we playing Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin?' "

The coach reeled off a litany of reasons - budget constraints, Title IX issues, the lack of an adequate arena - before Pegula cut him off.

"I'm in town now," he said. "Do you know Kelly's Steakhouse in Boalsburg? Be there in 15 minutes and I'll buy you dinner."

Then he hung up.

A graduate of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Science, Pegula had turned a $7,500 loan from family members into a gas-drilling enterprise that he would sell in 2010 for $4.7 billion.

At Kelly's, the two men greeted each other. Battista ordered a filet mignon. Before it arrived, the hockey-mad Pegula had moved the point of the meeting to the front burner.

"He said, 'What will it take?' " Battista recalled. "I thought I'd make it a short conversation, so I said $50 million. He leans back, puts his hand on his chin, and says, 'I can help you with that.' "

It would be five more years - years of frantic activity and deep disappointment, of jealousy and optimism - before that promise became a reality.

Pennsylvania was no hockey wilderness. Interest in the sport had exploded with the NHL's 1967 expansion to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. At one point, with minor-league teams in places such as Johnstown, Reading, Erie, and Hershey, Pennsylvania had more pro hockey teams than any other state.

But the intercollegiate athletics arms race grew so extreme that by the late 1990s it was clear Penn State wasn't going to add hockey without a major contribution.

That unexpectedly became a possibility when fracking opened up a huge vein of natural gas in the Marcellus Formation - the heart of which was in northwest Pennsylvania.

Suddenly, Pegula and other entrepreneurs in the state were billionaires and on the radar of Penn State's fund-raisers.

"The development people knew Terry and had contacted him," said Battista, "but I don't think they understood his passion for hockey."

When Pegula's interests and intentions became clear, an advisory panel - Battista and four associate ADs - began exploring a Division I transition. A new arena was its major priority so, with Pegula's generous promise as its foundation, administrators planned a new facility that would open the Division I door.

Then in 2008 the optimism abruptly ended. A stock-market crash had forced Pegula to reassess his philanthropy.

"That was the most heartbreaking moment," Battista recalled. "Everything was off the table. Nobody was giving away $100 million."

The economy recovered, and on Sept. 17, 2010, 23 days after Battista's text message, Penn State announced that Terry and Kim Pegula were donating $88 million for men's and women's varsity hockey and a campus arena.

The timing was good. Had the gift been negotiated a year later, it could have been snuffed out by the 2011 Jerry Sandusky child-sex scandal.

"We were getting ready to break ground when that happened," said Battista. "It was a difficult time for everybody. But those of us involved in this project can be proud that we still got it done. Pegula became a shining light during the most difficult time in the school's history."

Once the arena was underway, Penn State searched for a coach. Utilizing 30 different criteria, they interviewed dozens of candidates.

Gadowsky, a 44-year-old Western Canadian then coaching at Princeton, quickly moved to the head of the pack.

Pegula, by then the owner of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, met with Gadowsky in a Wells Fargo Center box before a 2011 Sabres-Flyers game. (Since then, Pegula has bought the NFL's Buffalo Bills.)

"He nailed the interview," Battista said. "After they'd talked for 20 minutes, Kim Pegula came up to me and said, 'Guy's our guy.' "

Gadowsky brought not just hockey and leadership skills to the job but an ability to connect with students, alumni, administrators and, most important, recruits.

"One of Pegula's visions was that this building would be a catalyst for youth hockey in this area," Gadowsky said. "But having said that, we weren't yet at the point where we could take the best Pennsylvania kids and compete against the Minnesota Gophers or Michigan Wolverines.

"We knew other schools were telling our recruits they'd be crazy to go somewhere to get killed for four or five years," Gadowsky added. "We needed players who weren't afraid of that challenge, who actually embraced it."

Gadowsky's first team played at the club level. Then came a year as an NCAA independent. In the three seasons since Big Ten play began in 2012-13, his Nittany Lions improved steadily, 8-26-2, 18-15-4, and 21-13-4, respectively.

At first, he went with a mix of leftover club players and Canadian kids other schools had overlooked. Then he began making inroads in Canada, where players often commit to schools as young as 14.

His 2016-17 roster contains five Pennsylvanians - including three from suburban Philadelphia - but also eight Canadians, two Russians, and a Finn.

Dylan Richard, a senior forward from Alberta, was playing junior hockey there when PSU assistant Keith Fisher approached. Richard came for a visit and, although it was just a skeleton, Pegula Arena's promise sold him.

"Our junior team was so successful that it was weird to commit to a program where people said we weren't going to win," said Richard. "I was looking at pretty good programs, but it was a special opportunity to come here and build a program in a top-notch facility. I'm so happy I did. Look at what we've built."

ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com

@philafitz

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

MURFREESBORO - An agreement allowing athletes from Martin Luther King to play football at Pearl-Cohn was discussed at length Wednesday before the TSSAA's Legislative Council voted to deny a request to alter the state's co-op program.

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association allows member schools to have a cooperative program if one of the schools has not had that sport for the past five years.

The agenda item, submitted by McKenzie High in West Tennessee, asked that the enrollments for all schools that co-ops be added together and a 1.8 multiplier then be added when determining classification.

Pearl-Cohn's enrollment is at 643. M.L. King has an enrollment of 961, but does not offer football. The Firebirds voluntarily played up a class the past four years, participating in Class 4A. They plan on being Class 3A for the next four-year cycle.

The Firebirds reached the Class 4A semifinals last season.

"When you are looking at numbers, there is no way you can tell how many of those student-athletes had an impact," TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress said. "We think (the co-op program) is great because it's increasing our participation numbers."

At issue with the council was documentation presented by the TSSAA that showed there were 31 athletes from M.L. King eligible for Pearl-Cohn's 2016 football team.

However, Pearl-Cohn coach Tony Brunetti said that number is skewed. He said during the season it was probably closer to 21. He later added that he had a large senior class from M.L. King, graduating about 10 players.

"The thing is, that's not consistent every year," Brunetti said. "You might get 13. You might get five."

There are 109 co-op programs approved by the TSSAA for the 2016-17 school year.

Legislative Council member Art Crook, the Station Camp principal, said passing legislation to alter the cooperative policy isn't easy as some schools only have a couple athletes that use the program.

"You don't want to come in and make an overall sweeping decision," Crook said. "I guess I didn't realize until I looked at the information how many schools in the state of Tennessee that co-op. And they are at all different sizes."

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

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

Two Hardin Valley Academy baseball coaches are under investigation by state and local authorities after they were accused of intentionally and repeatedly hitting players with pitches during a practice last week.

Head coach Joe Michalski and assistant coach Zach Luther have been placed on paid leave from their coaching duties by the school system, according to schools spokeswoman Carly Harrington. Both are continuing their teaching roles at the school, she said.

This is the third time Michalski has been placed on leave or suspended by the school district after previously being investigated for injuries to another player during practice two years ago and for a public intoxication arrest in February 2014, according to documents in his personnel file obtained through a USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee public records request.

The Tennessee Department of Children's Services opened an investigation on March 10 into the latest allegations, according to spokesman Rob Johnson. He declined to say who filed the complaint, but it came one day after the practice where Sheri Super, the mother of junior shortstop Ryder Green, said her son and others were hit with baseballs.

The Knox County Sheriff's Office also has opened an investigation, according to spokeswoman Martha Dooley. She declined to discuss the nature of the investigation.

Michalski and Luther did not respond to email requests for comment.

Video of the practice taken from the bleachers and provided to the USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee by Super appears to show a coach striking players in the batter's box with pitches repeatedly.

According to Super, the players were forced to stand in the batter's box while Luther threw the pitches and Michalski watched from first base during the drill. A photo provided by Super of a player's back shows red marks on his lower left side.

The drill was prompted by a player who stepped out of the batter's box during a March 8 scrimmage against Webb School to avoid being hit by a pitch, according to Super. No one was allowed to leave the batter's box during practice until they were hit by a pitch, Super said.

"What makes me angry is that my son has had two concussions since May of last year," Super said. "What if they would have accidentally hit him the head? At that point, we are talking about double vision and cognitive functioning, not whether he has a career playing at Vanderbilt."

Green has committed to play baseball for Vanderbilt University in 2018.

Super also alleged in a letter dated March 10 to the school principals and interim Superintendent Buzz Thomas that Michalski has "used intimidation" including "bullying, pejorative name-calling, public humiliation and now physical abuse while coaching the baseball team."

In a time line she provided to the USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee, Super pointed to a string of incidents dating back to February 2015. She accuses Michalski of pressuring an injured player to pitch against advice from a trainer in March 2016, holding players on the field 40 minutes after a 9-2 win against Riverdale High School in April and yelling at players during tryouts in August for encouraging each other for good plays.

"I am not alone in my concerns," Super wrote in her letter. "There are many parents who feel as strongly as I do that Joe Michalski and Zach Luther should be removed from their coaching positions. At the end of the day, these are children aged 14-18 who are being exposed to emotional and physical abuse and something finally needs to be done."

Other parents who have complained about Michalski's behavior include Ken Neely, the father of former Hardin Valley pitcher and current University of Tennessee player Will Neely.

Will Neely was treated for second-degree burns on his hands two years ago after Michalski forced players to perform bear crawls on the hot blacktop track, according to his father. The injury cost Neely the opportunity to compete in a showcase in New York, his father said.

Michalski was investigated by the school system, placed on leave from his coaching duties and ultimately suspended for four games during the 2014-15 season. Michalski told school district officials that the injuries were not burns, but caused by friction on the track surface, according to a letter from then-Superintendent Jim McIntyre outlining his suspension.

"Your poor judgment during baseball drills caused injury to a student athlete, which is (a) violation of Knox County Board of Education Policy BK, Civility Code," McIntyre wrote, also barring Michalski from attending any of the games during his suspension.

The doctor who treated Neely's hands also filed a complaint with the DCS, according to Neely's father. Johnson of DCS would not comment on the earlier investigation.

"It's very clear that he has shown some bad judgment over the years on several different things," Ken Neely said.

DCS "did interview my wife and she voiced her opinion that she would like to see him step down as head coach," he said. "Of course that didn't happen and the administration at Hardin Valley kind of brushed it off and let him keep his job even though some of the other things he had also done showed that he didn't have any character."

In February 2014, Michalski was given a written reprimand and placed on three days of administrative leave without pay after he was charged with public intoxication. The charge was dismissed after payment of court costs, according to a Feb. 18, 2014, letter from McIntyre in his personnel file.

Other parents on Wednesday expressed their support for the coaches, including writing letters to the superintendent and visiting with DCS officials. Players allowed DCS to evaluate them for injuries, according to Shane Parks, whose son Drew is a senior infielder and pitcher.

"There isn't any mental or child abuse going on at practice," Parks said. "This is a mama trying to get a coach fired, and we don't appreciate it right here before the season."

Parks said the ball used in the drill was not a regulation baseball but a hard rubber ball used for drills.

"It is intended for this specific kind of drill," he said. "High schools and colleges around the country are known to teach this drill - not that everyone accepts it. But we don't have an issue with it and (the coach) was not trying to abuse my son."

At least two other parents said they sent letters to the school district and later provided them to the USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee.

"I ask my sons every day about practice, direct conversations with coaches, how coaches direct and interact with the team, and I've never heard anything from them that makes me concerned as a parent," wrote Bob Leo, who has one son on the team and another who graduated in 2015.

"Are they hard on them? Yes - all good coaches are hard on players at times. Do they like it all the time? No, but I can honestly say that my kids have all benefited from their time under the coaches, teachers and administrators at HVA."

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Newsday (New York)

 

BUFFALO - In the midst of this era of radical change, when the Ivy League has finally held a conference tournament and Princeton has ditched its signature patterned offense, some things do remain the same. Princeton's players arrived here for the NCAA Tournament and promptly had to take mid-term exams.

The Ivy League is still the Ivy League.

"We have two (conference) rooms in the hotel, and one room is for studying," said coach Mitch Henderson, a Princeton graduate who once ran continuous back-door screens for Pete Carril. "Half the team was in there at 8 a.m. This is what we do."

Spencer Weisz had to meet a proctor for a 4:30 p.m. exam after practice and a news conference Wednesday. "Certainly it's tough," Weisz said, "but at the end of the day, that's what we signed up for. Coming to Princeton University, we know we have to balance academics as well as athletics."

Weisz did add, however, about the hours between Wednesday afternoon and the 12:15 p.m. tip for the first game Thursday: "Most of the studying will be of Notre Dame and the scouting report."

The odd part about that is that neither Princeton nor Notre Dame probably had to pull an all-nighter to discern the other's schemes. There might not be two more similar teams squaring off in the first round. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said, "Right after the selection show, I said, 'It's like guarding ourselves.' They don't turn it over, we don't turn it over. They don't miss free throws, we don't miss free throws. They can shoot it from the arc and they know how to play and who they are. A coach very familiar with them said to me, 'They're smart and they're tough, like you.' "

There also is the familiarity involving Princeton guard Devin Cannady, who is from Mishawaka, Indiana, six miles from the Notre Dame campus. V.J. Beachem of the Irish is one of his closest friends. "I play summer basketball with these guys, I live right down the road," said Cannady, who did an eight-week study program in Tanzania last summer.

One way in which they differ is their most recent route. Notre Dame lost in the final of the Atlantic Coast Tournament, the granddaddy of all conference postseason events. Princeton won the inaugural Ivy League Tournament, after university presidents decided to try to test the waters by having a four-team competition - becoming the last conference in the country to hold a tournament.

It could have been a nightmare for the Tigers, given that they had gone 14-0 in league play. They could have been the first to see it all go down the drain with one bad game at the Palestra, the home court of Penn, their first-round opponent. But Princeton won that game in overtime, beat Yale in the final and here it is, without Carril's old "cut and pass and pass some more" approach.

"Locally and within the league, we fought the stigma of the Princeton offense. It's gone for us," Henderson said, reflecting on what caused him to break with tradition: "If we were going to beat the very best teams on our schedule, we needed to be a little less guardable, less predictable, more flowing." He added that assistant coach Kerry Kittles, who went to two NBA Finals with the Nets, said, "This is the modern game."

It's the homework assignments that are still old school. Guard Myles Stephens said Wednesday morning, "I had a midterm today. I got it rescheduled to after the game."

 

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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

VIRGINIA BEACH -- Mayor Will Sessoms said Wednesday that the City Council agreed with the arena developers on a financing plan to build a $220 million sports and entertainment venue near the Oceanfront.

"Game on," he said.

United States Management, the developer of a proposed 18,000-seat arena, submitted a loan commitment letter before its March 8 deadline that outlined a plan to borrow $150 million and contribute $70 million in equity.

Sessoms announced at his State of the City speech that there is "a real possibility now" of hosting part of the NCAA basketball tournament.

"Picture March Madness two years from now," he said. "Wouldn't it be amazing to have that happening right across the street at our new Virginia Beach arena?"

The council met with City Attorney Mark Stiles in closed session Tuesday night, and he told members that the financing is in line with the deal that was approved in December 2015, according to a Facebook post from John Moss. The council agreed with Stiles' assessment, which means it would not require a new vote.

"See you at the ground breaking this fall," Moss wrote.

Before that can happen, though, the developers must close on the loan that they've presented to the city.

The original plan council members approved more than a year ago involved $170 million in loans and $40 million in equity. There were public concerns about the Chinese bank involved, and closing on the deal was difficult because of language and distance constraints, said USM President Andrea Kilmer.

In October, USM wanted a Chicago-based bank to finance the deal, but council members ultimately rejected it because the loan amount of $240 million was deemed too risky.

This time around, JP Morgan will be the main lender.

"We heard the public when they said they don't want an international lender," Kilmer said Tuesday.

USM has until Sept. 7 to close on the loan, but Kilmer said it could be done by late spring.

Although the arena will be privately owned, the developers will receive up to $476 million over 33 years with 1 percentage point of the city's lodging tax, construction tax incentives and tax revenue generated by the arena. The city will also be shelling out $76.5 million in hotel and discretionary taxes for infrastructure in the area.

Sessoms touted the new financial plan and subsequent agreement with the city as "a very good deal." Other council members agreed.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for not only tourists to come in, but residents to enjoy a new amenity at the beach," Bobby Dyer said.

Kilmer said she's happy that the project is "out of the political limelight" now that the council has approved the deal.

"We're glad the ball is in our court to get this done," she said, adding the arena could open in 2019.

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Copyright 2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

In an attempt to improve the experience of those attending Atlanta United's games at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium, several changes will be made from the inaugural home game two weeks ago for Saturday's game against Chicago.

In the game against the New York Red Bulls on March 5, a few of the more than 55,000 who attended reported lines longer than 30 minutes to get into the stadium and wait times of an hour to purchase food or drinks.

Though the contract between Atlanta United and the Georgia Tech Athletic Association dictates Tech decides staffing for security, vendors, etc., it has directed all questions to Atlanta United.

The MLS expansion team said the number of hawkers inside the stadium will more than double, with as many as 10 more portable food and beverage locations throughout the stadium. Outside of the stadium, food choices will now include Sonny's, Twisted Taco, Smash Burger and Chick-fil-A, among others.

The cutoff for alcohol sales will be moved from the 65-minute mark to the 75-minute mark with an undisclosed amount of locations added in an attempt to decrease the wait time in lines. Tech will reserve the right to change the cutoff time. Additionally, the number of pourers and will increase by 50 percent. Atlanta United declined to say exactly how many will be added.

The team and Tech also targeted ways to improve how quickly people can get into the stadium. The number of staff at gates will increase by an unannounced amount. There will be more signs at Gates 7, 8 and 9, which is where the team said there was the most congestion two weeks ago. The traffic should be reduced by the capacity of the stadium being reduced from 55,000 to 45,000 because of construction in the northern end of the stadium. Additionally, Atlanta United reminds those attending to have their tickets on their phones ready to show the ushers as they near the gates, and that there is a clear bag policy.

Lastly, after some in attendance used a homophobic chant during goal kicks in the previous game, Atlanta United has offered an alternate suggestion that's an homage to the Atlanta rap group, Outkast. The team asks that supporters shout "Hey" as the goalkeeper approaches the ball, and "Ya," as he kicks the ball. "Hey Ya!" is a popular song by Outkast. A team spokeswoman said the chant originated with the team's supporters.

The team has seven more games at Bobby Dodd Stadium before it moves into Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which it will open against Orlando City on July 30.

Goalkeeper to national team: Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan and Lawrenceville's Walker Zimmerman were called up to the U.S. men's national soccer team Wednesday for coming World Cup qualifiers.

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Copyright 2017 Boston Herald Inc.
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The Boston Herald

 

"Pokemon Go" spurred millions of people to collect virtual monsters through the smartphone app and got many of them up and walking.

A small study by Duke Health of Durham, N.C., suggests the game might have had a health benefit for doing just that. Some users added thousands of steps a day, suggesting that it's possible to design fun ways to increase physical activity.

"Lack of enjoyment and lack of time are the most common reasons for not being physically active," said lead author Hanzhang Xu, a Ph.D. student at Duke University School of Nursing. "So incorporating physical activity into the gameplay on mobile devices could provide an alternative way to promote physical activity."

The Duke team recruited 167 iPhone users who had played "Pokemon Go" in July 2016, according to a release from the university. The researchers designed an online survey and asked participants to provide screenshots of their daily steps reported by the iPhone Health app between June 15 and July 31, 2016. Researchers then compared their daily steps before and after playing "Pokemon Go."

Researchers found that participants were twice as likely to reach 10,000 steps per day after playing the game than they were before they began playing. Before playing "Pokemon Go," the participants reached 10,000 steps about 15.3 percent of the time. After beginning to play the game, they reached 10,000 steps about 27.5 percent.

The findings were encouraging among participants who had low activity levels or were overweight before playing "Pokemon Go," with these players adding nearly 3,000 steps a day after playing the game.

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Anderson Independent-Mail (South Carolina)

 

One chapter in Clemson University athletics is coming to close while a long-awaited one is just beginning.

Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich announced Tuesday that varsity softball will be added as early as 2020, but with that addition, the school's women's diving program has completed its last season on campus.

"We've evaluated our sport offerings over the past few years and believe this is our best path forward," Radakovich said, according to a news release.

The 2020 target date is in line with the advent of a linear ACC Network coming in 2019, which would feature Clemson softball along with 12 other member schools that spring. The swap in programs also keeps the university in line with federal Title IX requirements regarding male and female athlete participation.

Clemson women's diving competed on its own since the discontinuation of the swimming and men's diving programs after the 2011-12 season. Clemson was the only ACC school to feature diving apart from swimming, sports which are scored together in competition.

Program-best top-four finishes in the 2017 ACC Diving platform finals from freshman Freida Lim and senior Danielle Reitsma were among the standout performances of the final season.

"I want to express our gratitude to coach Leslie Hasselbach-Adams and the young women in our program for the way they've represented our university and competed with integrity and class," Radakovich said.

The fifth-year AD said the status of a Clemson softball program was one of the most common questions he's received.

"I think it's long overdue," said J.L. Mann softball coach Tammy Pace. "To add that other Division I power school is huge for our state."

"It is really a good thing for our local athletes, and I think will help the sport of softball continue to grow," said Crescent's Gary Adams.

"I can't believe an ACC school of that caliber didn't have (softball) before now, but I also understand," said Jennifer Kruk, coach of back-to-back North Carolina Class 3-A champion Enka High. "It's going to cost a pretty penny to build a stadium and do everything the right way."

Clemson was current Pendleton High softball coach Valerie Ayers' dream school growing up, but the absence of a program there gave her a decision she's happy other young athletes won't have to make in the future.

"There are so many extremely talented student-athletes across the state that are now going to be able to pursue their dream of being both a college softball player and a Clemson Tiger, instead of having to settle for just one of the two," the Clemson graduate said. "I expect to see big things in the future for Clemson softball."

The move adds another aspect to the Palmetto State rivalry with South Carolina, which has made four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Gamecocks coach Beverly Smith welcomed the opportunity for athletes, coaches and fans alike.

"It's great for the sport of softball to add another softball team," Smith said. "(To) give women the opportunity to play at a high level is fantastic. As far as the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry, it's paramount. It's exciting.

"I'm excited for our student-athletes and our fans that they can now enjoy the rivalry in softball."

Clemson's announcement of the addition noted a projection of the sport costing more than diving. The proposed target for approval for facilities and coaches from the Board of Trustees and state officials is described to come "as quickly as possible" with IPTAY fundraising to help.

"There's a lot to be done between now and the first pitch, including construction of a softball stadium and hiring coaches and support personnel, but I know there's excitement around Clemson and throughout our state for the launch of this program," Radakovich said.

Dan Hope, Lake Morris and Andrew Pearson contributed.

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Copyright 2017 The E.W. Scripps Company
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Abilene Reporter-News (Texas)

 

AUSTIN - The most divisive issue so far of the 2017 legislative session won preliminary passage in the Texas Senate on Tuesday, placing it one step away from being sent to the House, where its future remains uncertain.

Senators in the Republican-dominated upper chamber were solid in their support of Senate Bill 6, nicknamed the "bathroom bill" because it would limit the restroom options of transgender people. They were joined by one Democrat, Brownsville's Eddie Lucio.

The bill's author, Brenham Republican Lois Kolkhorst, fended off sometimes hostile questions from Democrats and beat back efforts to make it more accommodating to people who are transitioning from one gender to another. She rejected several assertions that transgender people would be marginalized by the bill and that she was needlessly extending the reach of state government.

"I don't in any way think we are going to have the policing of bathrooms or restrooms," Kolkhorst said during debate on the bill that lasted nearly five hours.

Kolkhorst's legislation is among the top priorities of the Senate's presiding officer, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who since last year has said it is needed to protect the privacy of women. But the bill, which still requires one more Senate vote before being sent to the House, only applies to multistall restrooms in buildings operated by governments and public schools and colleges.

The bill would not dictate restroom policy for private businesses and it would allow private entities that rent government buildings for their own use to also set their own policies on restroom use.

The bill would, however, prevent local governments from setting restroom policies that allow opposite-gender use.

House Speaker Joe Straus, a business-minded Republican from San Antonio, has criticized the bill as a distraction from more important legislation. And last week, he called reporters off the House floor during a routine session to restate that he is "not a fan" of SB 6.

During Tuesday's debate, several Democratic senators argued that people transitioning from one gender to another have an extraordinarily high suicide rate and often struggle for acceptance from family, friends and coworkers.

Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, said pushing the bill might contribute to the isolation of transgender people and perhaps even contribute to suicide. Kolkhorst, whose bill is expected to come up for its final Senate vote Wednesday, replied that she sympathizes with the transgender community's struggle and has prayed for guidance as she moved her bill through the legislative mill. She said that trying to balance the needs of people transitioning from one gender to another with the privacy concerns of others is complex and difficult.

Garcia disagreed, noting as have other critics of the bill, that transgender people have used public restrooms without issue for generations.

"This is complicated... because you made it complicated," Garcia told Kolkhorst.

In restrooms where the bill, if enacted, would apply, use of the facility would be restricted according to the gender printed on someone's birth certificate. That means that even if someone had gone through the medical procedures to change genders - and had the physical characteristics to match the new gender - the person still would have to use restroom associated with that person's gender at birth.

Kolkhorst noted that people can petition the courts to have their birth certificates amended. But Garcia said that of the estimated 125,000 transgender Texans, only 500 have navigated the legal requirements to make such a changeThe bill has the support of several social conservative organizations, including Texas Values, the Texas Pastors Council, the Texas Eagle Forum and Empower Texas. The influential Texas Association of Business has been the most outspoken critic of the bill, saying that SB 6 would label Texas as an intolerant place to visit and do business.

"We're disappointed the Texas Senate would choose to pass discriminatory legislation like Senate Bill 6, despite clear indications that its passage will have an economic impact in Texas," said Chris Wallace, president of the business group. "TAB remains committed to fighting and defending the Texas economy against bills that discriminate and run counter to Texas values."

Senate Republicans, however, said the bill was very much in keeping with Texas values. Like other Republicans, Sen. Bob Hall, who represents a district north and east of Dallas, pointed out that there is no law on the books in Texas that keeps men out of women's restrooms and women out of men's.

"The question is really not the transgender person but the person who is a pervert," Hall said.

But Democrat Jose Rodriguez, of El Paso, brushed aside such suggestions.

"A lot of it is a lack of understanding of the transgender community," Rodriguez said. "A lot of it is about fear."

Staff writer Beatriz Alvarado contributed to this report.

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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)
 

WORCESTER - The weather outside was frightful, but inside the DCU Center on Tuesday afternoon, the talk was of jungle gyms.

Convention-goers at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Recreation and Park Association forged ahead with their event despite a snowstorm, and served notice that sunnier days lie ahead.

"It will be spring, eventually," said Colin Drury, East Longmeadow's town recreation director, the incoming president of the professional organization for the state's parks and recreation officials.

However, a vendor displaying battery-powered rockets for science summer camps noted, "It doesn't look like it today.

"It's coming down sideways," said Coleman Lunt, area manager for Wicked Cool for Kids, a Stoneham business that runs science and technology summer programs for recreation departments.

Outside the DCU Center at midday Tuesday, the snow and wind combined to create white-out conditions.

Inside, a vendor tossed a Frisbee while Burlington recreation director Brendan Egan pedaled a tricycle around the ballroom.

"We're a fun group," said Linda Berger, outgoing president of the 130-member Massachusetts Recreation and Parks Association.

The organization went ahead with its annual convention despite the storm that caused the Massachusetts high-school basketball tournament scheduled at the arena the same day to be postponed.

"We're powering through," said Ms. Berger, recreation director in Sharon. "We're in the business of making sure people are having a good time."

Said Mr. Drury: "You go with the flow. You never know what's going to happen in recreation, so we do have the right people in the room. The power can go out, the vendors can get stuck in the snow, the speakers can have their flights canceled, and it doesn't matter."

Convention organizers had encouraged attendees to arrive the day before and stay at the nearby Hilton Garden Inn. The weather kept some vendors away. Ms. Berger said conventioneers planned to attend a social Tuesday night at the DCU Center.

The power outage that turned out the lights in downtown Worcester on Tuesday was felt at the DCU Center. The convention center went dark for 20 seconds but then the generators kicked in, said Damon Wilson, sales representative for Perfect Parties USA, a Peabody company that provides inflatables, sumo suits and human-bowling games for recreation department events.

While the overhead lights were on, the floor power was off, which was why his Giant Lite Brite wasn't working at that moment, Mr. Wilson said.

Charlene Vera, representing Victor Stanley Inc., a manufacturer of park benches and litter receptacles, came up Sunday from Maryland for the event. "It's part of the job," she said of working at a convention in a snowstorm. "You gotta do what you gotta do."

The challenge, Ms. Vera said, would come at the end of the day after packing her convention display materials back into a big carrying case. How to lug the cumbersome case from the hall back to the hotel through the snow? "That's what we've got to figure out," she said with a shrug.

 

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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

'Are the physicians looking out for the health of the players, or are they just trying to keep them on the field?" That was the question posed by a leading medical ethicist in light of allegations that team doctors for the National Football League engaged in questionable, and possibly illegal, use of prescription drugs to manage player pain.

It is not a new question; it's also been asked in connection with the league's lagging response to concussions and other injuries suffered by players.

That the subject is still being raised exposes the fundamental problem with how NFL players are treated: Doctors who decide whether a player is healthy enough to play are employed by teams that have a stake in the game.

A review by The Washington Post's Rick Maese of sealed court documents in a federal lawsuit against NFL teams by former players painted a disturbing picture of the use of powerful painkillers and anti-inflammatories.

The account included descriptions of teams violating federal prescription drug laws, disregarding guidance about controlled substances from the Drug Enforcement Administration and giving medication to players without telling them what they were getting.

A spokesman for the NFL dismissed the allegations as "meritless." NFL teams and their medical staffs, Brian McCarthy told The Post, "continue to put the health and safety of our players first, providing all NFL players with the highest quality medical care. Any claim or suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong."

So why did only 47 of 100 players who were surveyed by the Associated Press say they thought the league's clubs, coaches and team doctors have the athletes' best interests at heart?

Even more damning were the results of a two-year player health study by researchers from Harvard University, which found "an undeniable conflict of interest" in the league's current system.

"The intersection of club doctors' dual obligations creates significant legal and ethical quandaries that can threaten player health," according to the 493-page report released in November.

The Harvard report noted that players and teams have a shared interest in health, but there are areas when those interests diverge, such as when a player wants to return to play from an injury more quickly than recommended in order to avoid termination of his contract.

No matter how principled or well-intentioned the doctor, researchers wrote, there is an inherent conflict of interest in serving two masters.

Among the report's recommendations were separating medical teams that provide care for players from staff who evaluate players for business purposes, and banning doctors who treat players from reporting to team management or coaches.

The NFL recognized the value of independent medical judgment when it insisted that unaffiliated neurotrauma specialists be stationed at all games to approve the return of any player who has suffered a concussion.

The recent disclosures of alleged abuses should prompt the league to accept the need for further reforms.

- The Washington Post

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

Scandal-plagued Baylor dismissed its associate director for football operations about a month after he was hired, USA TODAY Sports confirmed late Monday night.

DeMarkco Butler was hired Feb. 15 by new head football coach Matt Rhule, who was tasked with righting a football program that had several players linked to sexual and domestic assaults. KWTX-TV, the CBS affiliate in Waco, Texas, reported that Butler was fired for sending inappropriate texts to a teenager.

"DeMarkco Butler is no longer employed by Baylor University," Baylor athletics department spokesperson David Kaye said in an iMessage to USA TODAY Sports. "As a personnel matter, we have no further comment."

The person who allegedly received the texts from Butler - whose Twitter timeline was stocked with several bible verses - is considered an adult under Texas law, according to KWTX-TV.

Butler, 28, is the second staffer dismissed from Rhule's new staff. Brandon Washington, an assistant strength and conditioning coach, was fired after an arrest as part of a prostitution sting at a Waco hotel in February.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

Police in Montgomery County are looking into a series of fights that erupted on the ice during a high school hockey game.

A video, which contains adult language, was shot during the third period of Thursday's Flyers Cup Class 2A quarterfinal game at Hatfield Ice between Central Bucks West and Ridley High Schools. It showed players from both teams engaged in numerous fights as the officials tried to break them apart. Fans jeered and shouted from the stands, where pushing and shoving were observed, the Delaware County Daily Times reported.

The newspaper reported that Hatfield Township police were called to the scene and were investigating. Ridley vs cv west pic.twitter.com/9yVGgfHmn5 -- Jason Peters (@jasonp014) March 10, 2017

Ridley forfeited the game, giving West, which was leading, 7-1, the victory.

"It wasn't your standard hockey infraction," Bob Philipps, a West parent, told the Bucks County Courier Times on Monday. "I still can't find the words to describe what happened that night on the ice."

Philipps said his son Shawn, the West captain, was treated at a hospital for a fractured nose and a cut around his left eye that needed five stitches.

Another teammate suffered a concussion, Philipps told the paper.This is DISGUSTING @ Ridley. Police Launch Investigation After School Hockey Game Ends With On-Ice Brawl https://t.co/lYn1s3WdfW&mdash; Mike Miller (@iM_ILLer) March 11, 2017

West defeats Ridley 7-1. West played well and hard and clean. It's unfortunate that we had to be part of the end of that game. We move on.&mdash; CB West Ice Hockey (@buckspucks) March 10, 2017

On Friday, Ridley hockey club president Mike Dolan apologized in a statement to the West team, coaches, and parents, and the Ridley community. He said the team had taken steps to make sure nothing like it would happen again.

"The Ridley hockey program views the actions of some of our players in the hockey game against Central Bucks West last night as 'indefensible,' " Dolan said. "We are disgusted and appalled with the decisions of our players, and in no way condone their actions."

No word was available from police on whether criminal charges would be filed.

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Copyright 2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

The taxpayers of Cobb County are now on the hook to the Braves for an extra $14 million of transportation and infrastructure improvements the team said the county owed.

Commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday, exactly one month before the first pitch at SunTrust Park, to pay the team but didn't know where they'd get the money.

The commission plans to figure out later how to pay for the projects, some of which the team has already completed. The Braves hadn't given the county a deadline, but commissioners promised prompt payment.

This vote puts to rest a contract dispute between the two entities set to bring professional baseball to Cobb County.

"We retain our reputation as an unblemished partner that when we say we're going to do something, we do it," Chairman Mike Boyce said at the meeting.

This $14 million tab dates back to some of the initial stadium discussions nearly four years ago. The Braves -- valued last year at $1.18 billion -- argued that the county had agreed to spend $14 million on transportation improvements.

County officials tried to argue that it had already covered the commitment -- and then some.

As reported in January by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cobb's transportation chief said the county had spent more than $69 million on work near the new ballpark. That was more than the county's fair share, said South Cobb Commissioner Lisa Cupid, the lone dissenter Tuesday.

The agreement at issue was vague and didn't break down what projects were being done and who was paying for them.

For instance, a list of projects from Sept. 28 didn't mention the more than $4 million in stormwater improvements that appeared on the list approved by commissioners Tuesday.

That approved list includes a $2.2 million credit, leaving $11.7 million the county owes the Braves.

The breakdown goes back to the controversy around the team's move to Cobb and allegations that then chairman Tim Lee had made closed-door deals without approval from the commission or residents.

When Boyce took office in January, the status of the $14 million was "totally unknown," he said after Tuesday's meeting.

It took six weeks to figure out what had been promised to the Braves, he said. Once that was done, Boyce said he tried to bring the discussion out in the open and before the commission. "This is the process I thought we were doing all along, and we never did it," said Boyce, who ran his campaign against Lee on transparency.

Lee has moved on to the Habersham County Chamber of Commerce. When asked about the project list Tuesday, Lee said he didn't know about the $14 million, didn't have a comment and hung up.

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LNP (Lancaster, PA)

 

The surprise mid-March snowstorm has created some havoc with the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association's basketball and swimming championships.

The second round of the state basketball tournament, which still features a handful of area teams and was slated to be held tonight and Wednesday night, has been pushed back to Thursday.

And the PIAA swimming championships, slated to draw swimmers from across the state to Bucknell University in Lewisburg and originally scheduled to begin on Wednesday, will now run from Thursday through Sunday and feature a compressed schedule.

Hoops changes

PIAA officials got ahead of the weather system on Monday and avoided a situation in which postponements might have happened piecemeal.

In addition to moving all of today's and Wednesday's games to Thursday, officials announced that all quarterfinals will now be played on Saturday.

"You don't want to put a basketball game above student safety and the safety of the people who are traveling to the game," Hempfield athletic director Steve Polonus said Monday. "That wouldn't make sense. So we have to keep things in perspective here.

"You have to look at it when it comes to travel. And are the sidewalks cleared? Are the parking lots cleared? Can you get game help in? Those are things the host sites have to consider."

Here are the updated schedules for the local teams that are still alive in the playoffs:

Boys Class 3A: Lancaster Mennonite vs. Hughesville at Martz Hall, Pottsville, Thursday, 5 p.m.

Boys Class 6A: Hempfield vs. Williamsport at Martz Hall, Pottsville, Thursday, 8 p.m.

Girls Class 1A: Lebanon Catholic vs. Faith Christian at Tulpehocken, Thursday, 6 p.m.

Girls Class 1A: Linden Hall vs. Pottsville Nativity BVM at Tulpehocken, Thursday 7:30 p.m.

Girls Class 4A: Lancaster Catholic vs. Forest Hills at Chambersburg, Thursday, 6 p.m.

Girls Class 4A: Northern Lebanon vs. Mifflinburg at Shamokin, Thursday, 6 p.m.

There could, of course, still be travel issues on Thursday and beyond. With the revised Thursday-Saturday schedule, the PIAA retains the additional option of playing all second-round games Friday and all quarterfinals on Saturday, if necessary.

The state semifinals are set to begin on Monday.

Locally, L-L League basketball officials have announced the postponement of the boys and girls all-star games, which were set for Thursday at Hempfield.

Those games will be pushed back to March 23, also at Hempfield, with the girls game at 6:30 p.m. and the boys game to follow at 8 p.m.

Swimming changes

The four-day state meet will now begin on Thursday afternoon at Bucknell and follow a compressed schedule.

Class 2A swimmers will compete on Thursday and Friday, with the Class 3A championships being held on Saturday and Sunday. Diving will now be held March 25 and 26 at Bucknell.

The biggest change is the elimination of the preliminary heats. Swimmers will now compete in only one, timed round before the presentation of medals to the top eight finishers.

In the traditional format, swimmers would compete in morning prelims before the top 16 finishers returned in the evening for the consolation and final heats.

Girls will swim before the boys on all four days, with the meet starting at 4 p.m. on Thursday and ending with the boys swimming from 7:30-10 p.m.

Competition will run from 3:15 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, while swimmers will be in the pool from 10:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Sunday.

Fifty-one area swimmers have qualified for the PIAA championships.

LNP sports reporters Diana Pugliese, Jeff Reinhart and John Walk contributed to this story.

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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

While competing in the National Invitation Tournament, the University of Richmond for the second time in three years will be part of the vanguard experimenting with rules changes.

The Spiders (20-12) play at Alabama (19-14) tonight in the NIT (9:15, ESPN2), and the 32-team tournament will operate without one-and-one situations at the free throw line. To start each of four, 10-minute segments, team foul totals will reset to zero. In each segment, fouls committed beyond the first four carry two-shot penalties.

Standard rules call for a team to shoot one-and-one after its opponent commits seven team fouls in a half. Two free throws are attempted after a team commits its 10th foul of the half.

The modification will be studied by NCAA rules makers, and they will try to determine whether it accelerates pace, eliminating free throws by discouraging fouls. Also, the shot clock will be reset to 20 seconds instead of 30 seconds when the ball is inbounded in the frontcourt.

Richmond played three NIT games in 2015 with an experimental shot clock of 30 seconds, which became the rule last season. The standard in 2015 and before was 35 seconds.

Experimental rules used in Tuscaloosa, Ala., are unlikely to challenge the Spiders as much as Alabama's overall height. UR has one starter taller than 6-foot-4, and each of the Crimson Tide's starters is 6-5 or taller.

"I think there are certain things that really make that a challenge for us, and certain things that give us a bit of an advantage," Richmond coach Chris Mooney said.

The Spiders have played with a small lineup since an accelerated heart rate shut down 6-9 freshman Grant Golden in mid-December. Alabama's stats suggest a defense-first approach. The Crimson Tide allow an average of 64.5 points.

"Even just following some of the scores from the (Southeastern Conference) tournament, they're a team that likely prides itself on defense," Mooney said.

The Spiders defeated George Washington 70-67 in the A-10 tournament quarterfinals on Friday night in Pittsburgh, then were eliminated 87-77 by VCU in overtime in a Saturday semifinal.

Mooney recognized that loss to VCU as "very hard," but added that at Alabama, "I think our guys will be enthusiastic and excited to play."

Alabama met A-10 members Dayton and Saint Louis a week apart in November, losing to the visiting Flyers 77-72 and beating the Billikens 62-57 in Las Vegas.

"We'll look at those (games), but that was such a long time ago," Mooney said.

joconnor@timesdispatch.com(804) 649-6233@RTDjohnoconnor

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Star-News (Wilmington, NC)

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Two former Penn State administrators accused of covering up child sexual abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky pleaded guilty to reduced charges Monday, more than five years after the scandal rocked the university and led to the downfall of football coach Joe Paterno.

Tim Curley, a 62-year-old former athletic director, and Gary Schultz, 67, a one-time vice president, could get up to five years in prison for misdemeanor child endangerment. No sentencing date was set.

They struck a deal in which prosecutors dropped three felony charges of child endangerment and conspiracy that carried up to seven years each.

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier, 68, was also charged in the scandal, and the case against him appears to be moving forward, with jury selection set for next week. His lawyers and the lead prosecutor had no comment.

The three administrators handled a 2001 complaint by a graduate assistant who said he saw Sandusky, a retired member of the coaching staff, sexually abusing a boy in a team shower. They failed in their legal duty by not reporting the matter to police or child welfare authorities, prosecutors said.

As a result, prosecutors said, Sandusky went on to abuse more boys, one of them in the Penn State showers.

Sandusky was not arrested until a decade later. He was convicted in 2012 of molesting 10 boys and is serving 30 to 60 years behind bars.

Shortly after Sandusky s arrest, Paterno was fired over his handling of the matter. Paterno, one of the winningest coaches in college football history, died of lung cancer a few months later at 85. He was never charged with a crime.

A report commissioned by the university and conducted by former FBI Director Louis Freeh concluded that the beloved coach and the three others hushed up the allegations against Sandusky for fear of bad publicity.

Robert J. Donatoni, a past president of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said state sentencing guidelines indicate the defendants could get probation or a jail term of several months.

Kristen Houser of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape expressed concern that the defendants might be let off easy.

It s nice to have accountability, that s important, she said, but the possibility of such a low level of punishment in the end does not seem to fit the very high level of disruption and harm and trauma that have been experienced, first and foremost, by the victims.

Penn State s costs related to the Sandusky scandal are approaching a quarter-billion dollars.

That includes a recent $12 million verdict in the whistleblower and defamation case brought by Mike McQueary, the former graduate coaching assistant whose testimony helped convict Sandusky.

The university has also paid $93 million in settlements with 33 people who claimed they were sexually abused by Sandusky. In addition, Penn State was fined $48 million by the NCAA.

The NCAA imposed other heavy sanctions against the football program, cutting scholarships, barring the team from postseason play and stripping Penn State and Paterno of 112 victories dating to 1998. The NCAA later eased its penalties and restored the wins.

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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

Before the Kroeker-Petrosyan Fencing Center opened on the Memphis University School campus, the fencing team had to transport and set up their equipment for each practice in Todd-Snowden Gymnasium or the Dining Hall. The new 4,100-square-foot center, located on the lower level of the McCaughan Science Center, features eight grounded metal fencing strips with international-caliber scoring equipment suspended from the ceiling, storage space for the team's gear, and even a flat-screen TV - typically playing fencing competitions.

"We are no longer nomads," junior Jacob Webb said during a dedication ceremony Feb. 28. "We can now concentrate on winning more championships."

Coach Brad Kroeker, who has been coaching the MUS varsity team for eight years and the club team since 2004, said the center is unequaled in the Mid-South, noting that it was a hot topic among high school coaches at the recent Junior National Fencing Championships in Kansas City. Comparable facilities are as far away as Stanford University, he said. "We are truly in a class with the best!"

The center was made possible through the generosity of Bita and Jim Webb and their son, Jacob, a fencer since seventh grade.

"After I attended the first fencing practice, I knew I had found a sport that fit me, and now I look forward to fencing in college and beyond," Jacob said.

MUS has been a leader in fencing in Tennessee, capturing four consecutive state titles (2012-2015). By hosting local and regional tournaments at the center, Kroeker said, MUS will help elevate the sport throughout the region.

At the dedication, Headmaster Ellis Haguewood thanked the Webbs for underwriting the project and naming the center in honor of Kroeker and Coach Sergey Petrosyan. "I have the very greatest admiration and respect for these men professionally and personally. They understand the mission of MUS and the place of their sport in supporting that mission. They have an excellent knowledge of the sport, and they are influential in the lives of their students each day."

Haguewood thanked Brett Grinder (MUS Class of 1991), chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee of the Board of Trustees, and the work of his construction company, Grinder, Taber & Grinder. "Project manager Jonathan Hastings and his team have done a superb job of transforming this area into a first-rate fencing center," he said.

In his closing remarks, Jacob Webb expressed appreciation to the coaches for their encouragement and instruction, not only in fencing but also in character development. "They say, 'Fence as hard as you are able on the strip to win, but leave any animosity behind when the match is over,'" he said.

"My greatest hope is that this world-class fencing facility will be enjoyed by many future classes so they can benefit from the gifts I have been blessed with from MUS and our fine fencing coaches."

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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

RALEIGH - Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper urged lawmakers gathered Monday night to repeal the state's "bathroom bill" very soon, saying the law is "the dark cloud hanging over our state of promise" by harming North Carolina's economy and reputation.

Delivering his first State of the State speech as governor to the Republican-controlled legislature, Cooper almost immediately addressed the law known as House Bill 2, which limits LGBT rights and the restrooms transgender people can use in schools and other government buildings.

Cooper, the attorney general for the past 16 years, narrowly defeated GOP Gov. Pat McCrory last fall with a platform that emphasized McCrory's support for HB 2. He said people are sick of the law and wondering whether "this heavy anchor weighing us down" will be cut away.

"The law has damaged our state," Cooper told House and Senate members gathered in the House chamber for the biennial gubernatorial speech. "The legislature must erase this law from our books. It drains the energy from what should be our work for the people of this state."

Cooper and GOP legislators also have been entangled over what to do about the law, which has caused some businesses and sporting events to spurn North Carolina in the name of fighting discrimination, leading to moving last month's NBA All-Star game out of Charlotte and NCAA championships from the state this academic year.

Compromises have crumbled since December. Pressure has increased to find a solution before the NCAA soon decides whether to remove North Carolina locations from a bid to host championship events through 2022.

Cooper wants a complete HB 2 repeal, but Republicans say some additional restrictions are necessary.

"Pass a compromise repeal that works to eliminate discrimination and brings back jobs, sports and entertainment and I will sign it - as long as it truly gets the job done," he said. "Let's do it this week. It's time to move on."

Area legislators reacted to Cooper's remarks along party lines, with Democrats finding much to praise in the lofty goals he touted and in what they saw as the olive branches he extended to the other side of the aisle.

But Republicans said Cooper's first State of the State address left much to be desired, with state Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) calling the governor "the Left's new champion" and labeling Cooper's vision for North Carolina's future "a mirage."

"What the press undoubtedly will praise as a return to the Golden Age is in reality a step back to out-of-control spending, back to high taxes, back to blindly throwing money at an education bureaucracy that fails to put students first," Berger said in giving the GOP's formal response.

State Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Greensboro) said "there were no surprises" in Cooper's remarks, but pledged to work with the governor "despite our differences."

"We won't agree on every issue, but there are areas where we can find common ground," Hardister said. "Some of these areas include public education, criminal justice reform and building a strong infrastructure."

State Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Greensboro) appreciated Cooper's "efforts to reach out where there are areas of common ground" on such topics as improving the education system, "jump-starting the economy" and bettering the average resident's quality of life.

She noted several areas such as extending broadband internet service into rural areas that drew applause from members of both parties. But she also applauded the governor for tackling the uncomfortable subject of House Bill 2 directly in the early moments of his speech.

"Clearly, this is a sensitive subject for Republicans," Harrison said.

State Rep. Cecil Brockman (D-High Point) praised the governor's "promising and optimistic vision for North Carolina."

"His priorities of repealing HB 2, raising teacher pay and bringing jobs to the state are something that both parties should be able to agree on," Brockman said.

Cooper addressed a General Assembly that has fought him in court and in public since he was declared the winner in early December. Just before he took office Jan. 1, GOP legislators passed laws that stripped Cooper of his powers, including Senate confirmation of his Cabinet. Cooper sued over the laws and the litigation is pending.

Although his budget proposal released two weeks ago has been panned by GOP senators as bloated, Cooper focused on some initiatives in it that Republicans seemed to like in principle.

They include higher teacher pay, the revival of a college loan forgiveness program for aspiring teachers and legislation to combat the state's growing opioid addiction problem.

He reinforced his earlier announced goals to make North Carolina a top-10 leader among states in pre-K participation, high school graduation rates and the percentage of adults with higher education degrees.

"We have to measure our progress and hold ourselves accountable," he said.

He pushed his effort for community college scholarships and to revive a program providing forgivable loans for college students who agree to become teachers.

While the state economy has been recovering since the Great Recession, Cooper said there are still problems for regular North Carolina residents.

"I want North Carolinians to be better educated, healthier and have more money in their pockets," Cooper said, adding that financially "too many people feel stuck in the middle" and "feel left behind by a system that isn't listening to them and an economy that isn't rewarding them for their hard work."

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The Washington Times

 

How dare she mess with the NCAA tournament and the cherry blossoms.

That's Stella, as in Stella the double-fisted winter storm that's threatening to punch her way from the Plains eastward before moving into Maine.

It seems the last laugh isn't on those of you who took the word of prognosticator Shipoke Sheena over trusty-dusty Punxsutawney Phil. After all, Sheena is merely a dog in groundhog's clothing while Phil is the real deal. Phil saw his shadow on Feb. 2 (remember?), predicting six more weeks of winterlike weather.

Now along comes Stella - or, more acutely, STELLA!!! (The storm that's forecast to deliver a blow the mid-Atlantic and move straight on to New England is worthy of my best Marlon Brando impression.)

As with any winter storm, Stella's whipping skirt tails are expected to disrupt our daily routines, including happy hour. However, she's also going to disrupt our planned activities - and why not. As the humorous insider saying goes, "If you want to see God laugh, tell him your plans."

The cherry blossoms are in bloom again. The first four NCAA match-ups begin Tuesday, and the first dance to the Division I championship tips off on Thursday in Buffalo, New York, where snow and below-zero temps are winter staples.

"There's concern about the Buffalo site," Mark Hollis, chairman of the NCAA Division I men's basketball committee, said Sunday. "The process is, we're trying to get everyone in earlier. We're maneuvering with our travel agents to make that happen for teams and officials."

The schools' students and fans need to get to those games safely, too.

You do not, of course, have to be a hoops fan to appreciate his concern for safety. Travel agents for Jane and John HittheroadJack are on the lookout for warmer climates and, with spring break around the corner, they and their college-age dependents are looking for a break.

Fortunately, airlines learned over the weekend that Stella could get her groove on. Airlines already have canceled more than 4,000 flights.

The really good news is that the airlines also have granted waivers, but please - please - check with your carrier because there are stipulations.

As for the cherry blossoms, chalk it up to trying to fool Mother Nature, who granted a warmer-than-usual winter that led National Park Service predictors to push the peak-bloom dates to Tuesday through Friday. Then, Stella blew that down. Now, the peak date changed to Sunday through March 22.

Perhaps Punxsutawney Phil read the "Old Farmers Almanac" before venturing out for his prediction. The Almanac, established in 1792, offered a head's up. Its prediction was "March 12-20: Periods of rain and snow, cold."

And so it is.

⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com

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