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The Bismarck Tribune

 

CINCINNATI (AP) - The Bengals are facing a backlash over their decision to draft running back Joe Mixon, who punched a woman in the face while at Oklahoma.

Cincinnati added to its reputation for embracing players with troubled histories when it took Mixon in the second round. Even before Mixon arrived in town on Saturday, the choice was getting panned.

WCPO-TV posted an editorial on Saturday afternoon saying the club had gone too far this time. The editorial urged fans to stop buying Bengals tickets and instead donate money to organizations that work to prevent violence against women.

Wearing a black Bengals polo shirt and a gold chain, Mixon got a warm reception at a fan event at Paul Brown Stadium. He knew there were mixed feelings out in the community.

"It's not really about winning anybody over," Mixon said in an interview. "I come here to work and to be the best teammate, the best person, and try to do whatever I can around the community and get everybody together."

Bengals owner Mike Brown has a fondness for trying to rehabilitate players with off-field problems, a trend that continues with their newest running back.

The club signed linebacker Vontaze Burfict after every team passed on him in the 2012 draft, and he wound up suspended by the NFL for illegal hits. Cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones was arrested again this offseason on misdemeanor charges, including assault for a confrontation at a downtown hotel.

After Jones' arrest, the team issued an apology for the cornerback's behavior . Video from the police cruiser showed him cursing police and saying he hopes one of the officers dies. Despite their apology, the Bengals chose to keep Jones anyway.

Mixon shares an agent with Jones and has talked to him once or twice.

"He's a good dude," Mixon said. "Coming over here, I'm sure he'll show me around."

Three months after Jones' arrest video was released by police, Bengals fans are watching a different video, the one showing Mixon punching Amelia Molitor in July 2014. The punch broke bones in her face and resulted in a one-year suspension at Oklahoma.

The local television station's editorial said it was "disgraceful" to draft Mixon, who also was suspended for a game last season over a confrontation with a parking attendant

"Enough is enough, Bengals," the editorial said. "We can excuse another season without winning a playoff game. We can't excuse drafting a player like Joe Mixon."

The choice was panned immediately by fans at the draft in Philadelphia, who booed when Bengals Hall of Fame tackle Anthony Munoz announced the selection .

The Bengals made Mixon available for interviews on Saturday, saying it would be the only chance to ask him about his past. Future interviews will be restricted by the club to football-related questions, part of the club's efforts to take the focus off Mixon's past conduct.

"He gets an opportunity to move forward and write his script from there on," coach Marvin Lewis said Friday night.

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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

VIRGINIA BEACH — Two hundred girls basketball teams from around the country are playing on 10 courts inside the Convention Center this weekend. If city leaders have their way, those teams could compete in a nearby field house within two years.

The City Council will vote May 9 on whether to set aside the first $4 million of a $40 million plan for the facility as part of the fiscal year 2018 budget.

The city plans to build a field house on land it owns near the Convention Center on 19th Street at the Oceanfront. The city would use public facility revenue bonds, which are issued by the Virginia Beach Development Authority. Taxes on restaurant meals, hotel rooms and amusements would be used to pay off the debt.

The city already has a field house on Landstown Centre Way in Princess Anne, but a recent study done for the city concluded that more space for traveling amateur teams is needed, and building it near the Oceanfront's stock of hotels would benefit the city the most.

The field house would cost $1.2 million a year to operate and maintain. It's not expected to make money, but it would bring in tourism dollars.

Indoor facilities attract events during the winter months, increasing overnight stays in Oceanfront hotels from October through April, when there tends to be fewer visitors.

If funded, the design would begin this summer. The 150,000-square-foot facility would have 10 to 12 basketball courts that could be converted into 20 to 24 volleyball courts.

Construction could be completed by summer 2019.

Several private companies have expressed interest in building and running the field house, including the arena developer, said Councilman John Uhrin, who represents the resort area.

"If we have a private operation to bring in out-of-town tournaments, operationally, it's a better deal for the city," Uhrin said.

The field house would be built at the same time as the planned 18,000-seat arena, and would ultimately form a "campus complex," with the Convention Center, Deputy City Manager Ron Williams said.

"The three together really do make a destination that is not just confined to the one event and the one facility," Williams said. "There's much more opportunity for leveraging those three assets together."

Parking options are still being analyzed as plans for the arena and the Dome site move forward, Williams said.

The Convention & Visitors Bureau envisions more conferences and national group meetings at the Convention Center, particularly if a headquarters hotel is built. The field house would attract traveling amateur sports teams and serve as a warm-up facility before games in the arena.

"The field house can be that extra space if we land a major college basketball tournament," Williams said.

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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

Ex-Baylor AD denies mishandling assault claim

A former athletics director for Baylor University denies that he failed to properly respond to sexual assault allegations against a football player.

Ian McCaw, now the AD at Liberty, defended himself in a court filing Friday against accusations by Jasmin Hernandez, who was raped by former player Tevin Elliott. Elliott was convicted in 2014 and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.

McCaw argues that after he notified former head football coach Art Briles of the allegations, Briles indefinitely suspended Elliott from the team.

A judge earlier this month ruled that Hernandez's lawsuit against the school can proceed to trial. She contends the university violated Title IX by disregarding multiple rape claims against Elliott.

From ABBaylor Produces Text Evidence; Briles Drops Libel Suit

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Copyright 2017 The Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.
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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

When the Florida High School Athletic Association voted to eliminate football districts for smaller schools and change the playoff structure for all schools last September, the decision was applauded by many area coaches.

The changes would give a fair shot to all teams, some said, as a new points system would determine most postseason qualifiers, as well as playoff seedings for teams in all classifications.

Points would be awarded using a variety of factors, including number of wins and strength of schedule.

"I think it's long overdue," Brian Dodds, coach of Class 8A Park Vista, told The Post last year. "The top teams would now get in the playoffs."

The new system also gives small schools -- those in Classes 1A-4A -- the flexibility to create suitable game schedules. Schools no longer would be bound to play required district games, and would have the freedom to schedule whoever they wanted.

"I think it's a good thing, because it kind of puts the power in the coaches' hands," Cardinal Newman coach Brian Pulaski said.

But Pulaski also acknowledges there have been some rough patches in filling the Class 3A Crusaders' 10-game schedule.

As a member of the 23-team Palm Beach County Athletic Conference, Cardinal Newman is guaranteed to get games. But as the only private school conference member -- and one of the few small schools -- the Crusaders most likely would be scheduled to play opponents from larger classifications, though the school hasn't shied away from those teams in the past.

"Some of the bigger schools in the county were willing to play us," Pulaski said. "Some weren't. Some of those that played us last year didn't want to schedule us going forward.

"Not being in a district, I wouldn't say it hurt us, but it's definitely challenging."

Other small schools have faced similar scheduling challenges.

Oxbridge Academy, a Class 3A school that is not a member of a conference, had to come up with 10 games on its own.

ThunderWolves coach Brendan Kent and his staff looked outside the tri-county area to find opponents for the 2017 season.

"We're doing some traveling," said Kent, who scheduled a road game with Class 6A Fort Myers this season, but had to agree to return there next year. The ThunderWolves also will play a team from Pennsylvania in Orlando. "We just had to be creative in how we go about our schedule.

"We were making calls for weeks, multiple times a day trying to get teams to come to us. We were willing to travel. It was a struggle."

For Pahokee coach Orson Walkes, it was worse.

Walkes, whose school is the only one from Palm Beach County in rural Class 1A, spent months trying to find teams of comparable size to place on the Blue Devils' schedule.

But he didn't have much luck.

Pahokee is tentatively set to play at least three Class 8A schools -- Seminole Ridge, Palm Beach Central and Vero Beach -- and could end up with several more once Palm Beach County Athletic Conference games are added.

"We're the only 1A team south of Orlando," said Walkes, who called the scheduling process "a nightmare." "So who are we supposed to be playing? Almost everybody on our regular-season schedule is somebody outside of our classification, and bigger than us."

Still, complaints to the FHSAA about scheduling have been rare, according to spokesman Kyle Niblett.

Of the 556 member schools that will play football this season, just a few have reached out to football administrator Frank Beasley with concerns.

"The handful of teams that have made known their challenges to us are the same programs that have traditionally had issues finding opponents in previous years before the new playoff system was implemented," Niblett said. "As we have done before, the FHSAA will continue to make every effort to assist our member schools."

Several small Palm Beach County schools did not need any help.

Two of them -- Class 3A Benjamin and King's Academy -- are members of the nine-member independent Southeastern Football Conference. The SFC is composed primarily of small, private schools.

As conference members, the Bucs and Lions get eight guaranteed games on their schedules.

"We only had to find two nonleague games, which we filled in less than three days," Lions coach Keith Allen said.

Class 3A St. John Paul II Academy didn't have trouble completing its schedule, either.

The Eagles don't compete in a conference, but were able to fill their schedule with teams they had played previously in FHSAA State Series or independent league competition.

This year, however, coach Jeff Dellenbach was particularly mindful of scheduling teams that would maximize the number of points his team could earn.

"We didn't really have a problem getting a full schedule," Dellenbach said. "The problem really lies in trying to figure out who you really should play, which makes it difficult.

"You've got to kind of know who every other team is going to have back. You want to play teams that you can compete against, but you've got to play enough teams that are going to have strong schedules and be good enough to get you points."

jwagner@pbpost.com Twitter: @JRWagner5

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Copyright 2017 Newsday, Inc.

Newsday (New York)

 

If not for a few inches, the Orioles' Manny Machado might have been hospitalized last Sunday. Or worse. Because once a 90-mph fastball leaves someone's hand, as it did from Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes in this case, there's no predicting the full extent of the damage when a body part is targeted.

But to truly appreciate the ludicrous nature of the payback episode involving Barnes and Machado — over an awkward slide into second base by Machado that was not meant to injure Dustin Pedroia — just rewind how the subsequent days played out.

Major League Baseball, as it regularly does in these incidents, reviewed the case and chose to penalize Barnes with a four-game suspension. OK, fine. The number of games tends to vary. The fastball missed Machado, miraculously ricocheting off his bat while steaming just behind his head. But the expectation was that Barnes would appeal the suspension — as pitchers routinely do, especially those who claim their innocence — and that it would be cut in half, or maybe have a game trimmed off. That's how the penalty-appeal process tends to function.

But Barnes, who was ejected from the game, didn't follow through with the appeal. Despite maintaining that the pitch "got away from me" after trying to "go up and in," Barnes simply accepted the punishment for a crime he insisted he did not commit.

This farcical dance has been going on for far too long in baseball, and given the high stakes for the players and MLB as a whole, putting a halt to the silly charade is long overdue.

HARM AND FOUL

What's the point of this continuing? Among the litany of baseball's "unwritten rules," the carte blanche to purposely drill someone with a baseball and unleash all the unintentional consequences of such an action — from a broken bone to a concussion to a more career-threatening injury — is ridiculous, really. Machado was extremely fortunate that ball missed his head. But let's take a look at where this all could have gone if it didn't.

Not only is Machado, a perennial MVP candidate and one of the sport's biggest names, knocked out of action by a serious injury, but it hurts the Orioles as a team, and by proxy the fans who enjoy watching him play — something MLB should care deeply about.

And what of the union? Is it tolerable to have Machado, less than two seasons from free agency, miss a large chunk of 2017 for something as stupid as retaliation? And this is all on top of worrying about the long-term health of a 24-year-old superstar.

Those are the macro concerns. But within the game itself, having Machado laid out by a Barnes purpose pitch could have cleared the benches, with the Orioles wanting to avenge their abused teammate. And if a fight ensues, who else winds up hurt? In trying to get their pound of flesh for Pedroia, the Red Sox could have set off a chain reaction that resulted in another of their own players getting injured — either in a brawl, or maybe nailed by an Orioles pitcher later in that game, or the next time the two teams meet.

That may sound like a worst-case extrapolation of the Barnes-Machado pitch, but it's definitely within the realm of possibility once somebody lights a fuse like this. The troublesome part of removing this eye-for-an-eye behavior, however, is how much it's woven into the fabric of the game.

PART OF THE GAME

After a 15-year playing career as a catcher and 11 more years as a manager, the Yankees' Joe Girardi has been witness to plenty of these episodes. He doesn't believe it should be legislated out of the game completely by harsher penalties, such as longer suspensions than the four-game ban that Barnes received.

"You have to be able to protect a player," Girardi said, referring to the notion of allowing those involved to police themselves. The crucial caveat being that "around the head is a no-no," he added.

Even with those safety guidelines, however, that can't prevent what almost happened with Barnes, who might have been trying to plunk Machado in a less dangerous spot, such as his hip or lower, and couldn't control throwing in that unfamiliar area.

Not every pitcher is comfortable deliberately aiming for a hitter's body. And that anxiety probably gets amplified under the pressure of teammates or maybe even a manager expecting retaliation.

One incident that comes to mind involved the Mets' Shawn Estes in 2002. He was faced with the task of exacting revenge on Roger Clemens for two crimes: putting Mike Piazza in the hospital with a 2000 beanball and then firing a splintered bat at him during that October's World Series.

Two years later, Estes was standing in the middle of a sold-out Shea Stadium, with the fans on their feet as Clemens walked to the plate and everyone in the building anticipating that the Rocket would get nailed.

But Estes missed him. The first pitch he threw sailed behind Clemens, about thigh-high. That brought a warning to both benches from umpire Wally Bell; Clemens tipped his cap and the storm seemingly had passed.

The Mets came away unsatisfied by Estes' whiff, even though he homered off Clemens in the Mets' 8-0 victory. While that would seem like the best revenge, there is something about the physical threat that appears to carry more weight in these conflicts.

And that's playing a dangerous game. There are only so many warning shots between serious injuries. Eventually, a purpose pitch aimed for a player's backside goes awry and breaks a wrist or elbow. Maybe worse.

In Girardi's mind, MLB has done a decent job of "cleaning up" the retaliatory attacks. And the Commissioner's Office has been vigilant about disciplinary action.

But there's no denying that all the parties involved got very lucky that nothing regrettable happened to Machado last Sunday at Camden Yards. Knowing that, baseball is better off working to prevent those scenarios in the future than staying with the status quo - and dealing with damage that, in some cases, might be irreparable.

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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

How do you get guys to take a yoga class? Market it as sports conditioning.

That's what Yoga Source did when it rolled out its first yoga series just for men this spring. The Carytown yoga studio put out a flier on its "sports conditioning for men" four-week series that started April 3.

And the guys showed up. Some of them were first-timers to yoga. Many admitted that the yoga-loving women in their lives talked them into it.

Matthew Pitera said his girlfriend persuaded him to try it.

"I'm not going to say I hate it," he said with a grin after finishing up the third session. He likes to play ice hockey, and he's a regular at the gym.

"They say you should change up your routine every three months or so....This is another way of doing that," Pitera said.

Peter Coleman, another participant in the specialty series, said he wouldn't have taken a yoga class when he was younger.

"I was more interested in skiing and surfing and more aggressive sports," he said. But those sports aren't realistic on a daily basis anymore.

"I knew there was yoga in my future," Coleman said.

Ironically, their instructor, Michael Evans, found yoga through his love of sports.

"I wanted to improve my golf game," Evans said. He started taking yoga about 12 years ago, and he took a liking to it. So much so, he's been teaching for four years now.

Evans jokes that he's not sure his golf game is much better than when he started, but his balance and flexibility have definitely improved.

This is Evans' first time teaching an all-male class.

"It's something I've always been interested in doing," he said. Although the number of men doing yoga worldwide is on the rise, men still represent just a fraction of the yoga population.

"The chanting and the Sanskrit is sometimes a turnoff," Evans said. The other deterrent is that men often lack flexibility, and they feel intimidated to try poses in front of women, whom they deem as more flexible.

Evans said this men-only class is a "stripped-down" version of a regular yoga class, in that he's taken out a lot of the parts that make men uncomfortable, and he's offered them alternative ways to do poses that require a lot of flexibility.

The first four-week series for men at Yoga Source ended last week. Another one starts Monday, May 1.

"Hopefully, when they move on from this, they'll feel free to go to a regular class," Evans said.

Tia Platte, co-owner of Yoga Source, said men are getting more acclimated to yoga.

"When we started here, we might have seen five men the whole month," she said. "Now, there are many more."

Older men, particularly, are coming to check out classes, Platte said. "They're curious," she said. "They know they need something, but they're not sure where to start."

She's hoping that offering the sports conditioning series will open the door to additional men who will see the benefits of yoga.

John Kemper, who was in the first series of classes, said he was glad he signed up because he felt good at the end of every class.

"My wife does it and she encouraged me to do this," he said. "I've seen what it's done for her."

As a teacher, Evans said he has enjoyed the all-male class environment.

"We can use language that we don't in other classes," he said with a laugh.

Maria Howard is a group exercise instructor for the YMCA of Greater Richmond and the University of Richmond Weinstein Center. Her column runs every other week in Sunday Flair.

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

Clinton High School's football program has been penalized by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association for allowing a student who was not enrolled at Clinton to participate in a spring scrimmage and practice with the team.

The violation was self-reported by Clinton shortly after its scrimmage against Maryville on April 13.

"As soon as I figured it out, I reported it to TSSAA," Clinton athletic director Brad Collette said. "It's on us. There is nobody to blame but ourselves."

The Dragons will impose a week with no practice from August 7 to 11 and reduce the number of football scrimmages from four to two.

The player moved into the Clinton's zone and was accepted into the school for the 2017-18 school year, but he decided to finish the school year at Anderson County.

Participating on the team while not being enrolled at the school violates TSSAA recruiting rules, meaning the player has been ruled ineligible to participate at Clinton for a minimum of one school year as part of the penalty. The administration will be given the opportunity to address the TSSAA Board of Control and ask for reinstatement upon request.

"I thought the penalty (against our program) was fair," Collette said. "It was a mistake on our part. It's not the TSSAA's fault. It's on us. The thing that concerns me the most is the (penalty against) the student-athlete - I hate it for him.

"The kid has never played football and doesn't have an athletic record. He just wanted to play football his senior year and our mistake has caused him to be punished."

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Copyright 2017 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

Data from digital fitness trackers combined with social network analyses reveal that one person's running habits can influence their friends' running habits.

Now here's a contagion that might not be so bad to encounter. A new analysis of the running habits of about 1.1 million people reveals that exercise is indeed contagious — though its communicability depends on who's spreading it.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, also reveal that certain relationships are better at spreading the running bug than others — and could have implications for the study of other social contagions, such as obesity and smoking.

In recent years, researchers in a wide range of fields — from economics and politics to medicine and computer science — have begun to investigate the ways in which many of our individual decisions affect the decisions of our peers, and how behavioral changes may spread through a social network.

"If behavioral contagions exist," the study authors wrote, "understanding how, when and to what extent they manifest in different behaviors will enable us to transition from independent intervention strategies to more effective interdependent interventions that incorporate individuals' social contexts into their treatments."

Creating health and other interventions that effectively could harness the social network to maximize their benefit would be a real game-changer, researchers say. But it's been difficult to draw conclusions from studies based on self-reporting surveys (where participants may not be fully honest or aware of their own behaviors) or laboratory experiments (which may not fully capture the real-life complexities of causal relationships within social networks).

So for this paper, Sinan Aral and Christos Nicolaides of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used fitness tracker data to study the running and activity habits of around 1.1 million people in an actual global social network. The runners had formed about 3.4 million social network ties; the researchers analyzed the 2.1 million or so ties for which they could pinpoint geographic location and weather information for both users. Over five years, these social media users ran a collective 350 million kilometers - and their runs were all automatically posted online for their friends to see, reducing the issues that come with self-reporting.

On the same day on average, an additional kilometer run by friends influences an individual to run an additional 0.3 kilometers. An additional kilometer per minute run by friends pushes a person to run an additional 0.3 kilometers per minute faster than usual. If those friends run an extra 10 minutes, that person is likely to run about three minutes longer than they would have. If those friends burn an extra 10 calories, that person will end up burning 3.5 more calories.

The effect is strongest on the same day and appears to diminish with time, the authors wrote.

So the scientists found that a runner's peers did influence him or her to run more — but they also discovered that not all users influenced their buddies equally. Individuals were more likely to be prodded to up their game by less-active peers than by more active ones. Men were influenced by the activity of both men and women, but women were influenced only by other women. Inconsistent runners influenced consistent runners far more than the other way around.

"Social comparisons may provide an explanation for these results," the study authors wrote. Social comparison theory, they added, "proposes that we self-evaluate by comparing ourselves to others."

But do we make upward comparisons to peers performing better than us, or downward comparisons to those performing worse? That's been a subject of debate, the researchers said.

"Comparisons to those ahead of us may motivate our own self-improvement, while comparisons to those behind us may create 'competitive behavior to protect one's superiority,' " they explained. "Our findings are consistent with both arguments, but the effects are much larger for downward comparisons than for upward comparisons."

So people who we think are our closest fitness "peers" — particularly those who we think are slightly lower on the totem pole relative to ourselves — are most likely to get us to push our limits.

There are possible explanations in the scientific literature for the gender divide too, the scientists added.

"For example, men report receiving and being more influenced by social support in their decision to adopt exercise behaviors, while women report being more motivated by self-regulation and individual planning," the study authors wrote. "Moreover, men may be more competitive and specifically more competitive with each other. Experimental evidence suggests that women perform less well in mixed gender competition than men, even though they perform equally well in non-competitive or single sex competitive settings."

The findings reveal how effective monitoring these real-time networks may be to help scientists design all kinds of interventions to minimize the spread of social ills and maximize the spread of social benefits.

"The granularity and precision with which fitness tracking devices record real-world health behaviors portends a sea change in our understanding of human behavior and social influence at scale," the study authors wrote. "Compared with prior studies, which relied on imprecise and frequently inaccurate self-reports, the potential for these kinds of data to extend our understanding of social behaviour in real-world settings is difficult to overstate."

It also highlights the fact that looking at "average" social influence may not be the most helpful indicator, especially when — as this study showed — influence on any given branch of a social network is not necessarily a two-way street.

"Different subsegments of the population react differently to social influence," the authors said. "Such differences suggest that policies tailored for different types of people in different subpopulations will be more effective than policies constructed with only average treatment effects in mind."

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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

"They just didn't listen." So said one gymnast allegedly molested by Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics doctor at the center of a sexual abuse scandal. Dr. Nassar also worked at Michigan State University — where multiple female athletes complained to officials about his so-called treatment, only to have the school shamelessly and shamefully ignore them.

USA Gymnastics has borne the brunt of the blame for Dr. Nassar's alleged exploits. But, as reporting by The Post's Will Hobson and the Lansing State Journal reveals, Michigan State shares responsibility for letting an alleged abuser reportedly carry on a decades-long criminal career. When athletes there told coaches and administrators that Dr. Nassar had massaged their buttocks and inserted his fingers, without gloves, into their vaginas, the officials told them they were misinterpreting the work of a medical superstar. A university Title IX investigation in 2014 cleared Dr. Nassar of wrongdoing.

Dr. Nassar worked with aspiring Olympians across the country, and a nationwide network of coaches and officials apparently let their athletes down again and again. But that bigger story should not obscure the appalling series of events that played out on Michigan State's campus, for which the school has no excuse. Authorities say Dr. Nassar was brazen in his abuse, to the point where, as FBI agents discovered during their investigation, he allegedly recorded video of himself groping underage girls in a pool.

Michigan State is undergoing internal reviews to figure out what went so terribly wrong on its watch. That's important, but equally important are structural reforms at Michigan State and colleges across the country to hold abusers accountable and prevent abuse from occurring in the first place. Michigan State's shortcomings underscore the importance of the Education Department's recent efforts to more carefully enforce Title IX, which governs how schools address sexual violence. Troublingly, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would not commit to continuing those efforts in her confirmation hearing.

"I have been told it is virtually impossible to stop a determined sexual predator and pedophile, that they will go to incomprehensible lengths to keep what they do in the shadows," Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon said at a meeting of trustees this month. But Dr. Nassar was not in the shadows. He and his behavior were on full display, for years, waiting for administrators to take action. They chose not to listen, and they chose not to see.

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The Daily News of Los Angeles

 



El Segundo city and school district officials got a helping paw from Los Angeles Kings mascot Bailey the lion Thursday at the groundbreaking of a $13.8 million state-of-the-art aquatics center.

The hockey team, which practices in town at the Toyota Sports Center, announced a $150,000 donation to help build the outdoor swimming complex on the site of the new Wiseburn High School, which opens this August.

At a ceremony overlooking the massive construction site attended by Olympic silver medalist Sippy Woodhead and a host of local officials, El Segundo Mayor Suzanne Fuentes said the future facility "epitomizes a great community partnership and is a testament to the dedication and perseverance of many community members."

Milestone groundbreaking

When it's completed in the next year, the pool complex at 201 N. Douglas Ave. will feature a 53.2-by-25-meter, 10-lane competition pool with two moveable bulkheads and an expanded shallow entry, a smaller four-lane teaching pool, stadium seating, lights and high-tech scoreboards.

It will be shared by the public and students from Wiseburn and El Segundo high schools - an arrangement that was the result of a 2013 settlement agreement between the city and the Wiseburn Unified School District.

The idea was to build something that would serve both students and the community at large because the city's 77-year-old Urho Saari Swim Stadium - or The Plunge - is in dire need of repairs.

"Originally, our city wasn't too excited about replacing a revenue-generating property with a non-revenue-generating school, however, Wiseburn and El Segundo were determined to take the opportunity to arrive at a winning solution for all involved," Fuentes said.

The ceremony marked the culmination of an ambitious three-week "Fill the Pool" fundraising campaign launched by South Bay Sports, Health and Recreation, a nonprofit led by developer and philanthropist Richard Lundquist.

The aquatics center is being financed with a three-way funding formula: the city is paying $1.8 million, Wiseburn is covering $6 million, and the nonprofit is coming up with the remaining $6 million.

Lundquist said Thursday the group is about 60 percent of the way there. The recent campaign raised almost half of its $500,000 goal, including the L.A. Kings donation, $20,000 from Chevron and a gift from Mike and Barbara Briney.

A pool for generations

In a statement, Kings COO Kelly Cheeseman thanked the city, school district and Lundquist "for leading the charge and providing the kids and families of the South Bay with another resource to stay fit and healthy. We look forward to our players, coaches and staff joining the South Bay community in using this state-of-the-art pool and facility."

Other major sponsors include Lundquist's Continental Development Corp., Kinecta Federal Credit Union, the Los Angeles Lakers Foundation, Skechers, Mar Ventures and Toyota Motor Sales.

"This is the beginning of realization of a dream this community has had for a long time, to build a really world-class facility," Lundquist said.

If his group exceeds the goal, it will pledge $1 million to $1.5 million to renovate the deteriorating Plunge, Lundquist said.

Israel Mora, president of the Wiseburn Unified School District Board of Trustees, called the facility a "testament to the power of collaboration" and said it will be "one of the most beautiful aquatics centers in Southern California."

Fuentes also thanked members of the local aquatics community, including those who spent years on committees and task forces to make the center a reality.

Even after the project was approved, they ran into a hurdle last year, when its price tag soared to $14.5 million. Designers were able to scale back plans and find ways to save money.

"The aquatics community's passion will be rewarded with the ability to help shape the next quarter-century of aquatics programs in El Segundo and the South Bay," Fuentes said.

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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

The Minnesota Senate unanimously voted Thursday to overhaul U.S. Bank Stadium's public watchdog panel, agreeing with previous House actions in the need for change at the new $1.1 billion building.

The House already has voted twice to restructure the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) and take tighter control of the agency's finances as well as its use of two publicly owned luxury suites.

But the bills passed by each chamber differ on key points that need to be resolved before a version can go to Gov. Mark Dayton's desk.

The issues: the size of the MSFA board, who gets to make the appointments, who gets to use the luxury suites, whether the state should keep both, the handling of reserve cash in the stadium operating funds and what sorts of rules should be in place for the other subsidized sports stadiums.

The five-member MSFA board became a target for reform after the Star Tribune revealed that MSFA members, including former Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen and former executive director Ted Mondale, were entertaining friends and family in the luxury suites that sell for $200,000 each for the Minnesota Vikings season.

The legislative auditor concluded an investigation in February, finding ethical problems with the leadership and encouraging greater oversight. Under public and legislative pressure, Kelm-Helgen and Mondale resigned from their positions.

Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz is serving as the interim chair - without pay. Lawyer Rick Evans was hired as the new executive director.

Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, sponsored the bill approved Thursday. Her version keeps the number of commissioners at five and continues to have the governor and the city of Minneapolis appoint them. But her bill would require Senate confirmation.

Rosen said she spent 45 minutes working with Dayton on the bill. That marks a change for the governor, who initially stood behind his appointee Kelm-Helgen and called media reports "sensationalized."

"We are waiting to see the final version from the Senate," Sam Fettig, Dayton's spokesman, said Thursday in a statement. "There are parts of each bill that we prefer. We look forward to working with conferees to find something we can all agree upon."

As for the suites, which can accommodate up to 36 people, the Senate bill requires the names of those who use them to be public. The bill also requires the suites be used for business purposes only and that stadium manager SMG have authority over who gets in for marketing purposes. When public officials attend, they must get approval from a public vote by the board.

Both bills limit the salaries of the paid staff. The executive director can make no more than 115 percent of the governor's salary, which is about $120,000. And the chair can make no more than half the director's salary. Kelm-Helgen and Mondale made nearly $300,000 combined.

But with time running out at the Legislature, the Senate bill would defer the complicated issue of who gets the suites long term. Even setting ground rules for charitable use or returning the suites to the Vikings would be tricky.

The House bill, sponsored by state Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, would address some of the issues sooner. She also would recapture some of the stadium's reserve revenue.

Most of those who used the suites have paid back the state. MSFA Commissioners Tony Sertich and Bill McCarthy have not.

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

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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

Last month, former NCAA Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference member Northern Kentucky University earned the Horizon League's automatic bid into the Division I men's basketball tournament in its first year of eligibility.

Meanwhile, the fan reaction from current GLVC member University of Southern Indiana was: That could be us someday.

Television deals and other factors continue to realign Division I conferences.

Recently, Wichita State left the Missouri Valley for greener pastures in the American Athletic. Its departure creates a trickle-down effect and the MVC could seek expansion beyond simply replacing the Shockers. Valparaiso (Horizon) and Murray State (Ohio Valley) have been speculated to be leading candidates, and then those conferences would need to find replacements.

USI will break ground in May on the first of a two-phase, $57 million renovation of the Physical Activities Center - supplying its basketball and volleyball programs with a state-of-the-art arena that seats 4,000. There are currently 69 Division I gyms that are smaller than that.

With all that said, is the university actively looking to follow in the footsteps of NKU and others that have made the jump? The answer right now remains: never say never, but it's not being discussed right now.

"Our main focus right now is taking the programs we have and putting them in a position to compete for NCAA championships on a more regular basis," USI Athletic Director Jon Mark Hall said. "We don't really talk Division I, but I do think once the new facility is finished then you can check off one thing that maybe we needed to get ourselves to a certain level."

Unquestionably, the renovation will help attract more recruits. Much like some decide if they'd rather play for a weak Division I or strong Division II program, that is also something that schools looking to make the jump up or step down consider.

The biggest challenge is funding - not just whether USI could compete in a conference like the Horizon or OVC. There is a hefty fee in applying to the NCAA for reclassification. Then, on average, schools would need to add about $3 million to its athletic budget to commit to making that leap.

USI's budget is in the middle of the pack in the GLVC and likely the same in Division II.

But the new PAC (which will be renamed) will be one box checked off if an opportunity presents itself.

"It's just one piece to the puzzle," Hall said. "If there is a time the leadership of this institution wanted to go play and compete at the Division I level then you'd have some facilities on campus that would be close to being ready to go."


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Copyright 2017 Newsday, Inc.


Newsday (New York)

 

Some residents in the Town of North Hempstead reacted angrily at a meeting Wednesday to the mounting cost of multimillion-dollar bids to renovate the aging pool at Clinton G. Martin Park in New Hyde Park.

Town officials expected to spend about $15 million on the project when they announced the pool face-lift last summer. Two companies chosen as finalists submitted bids of more than $19 million. At a meeting of the Lakeville Estates Civic Association, residents vented their frustrations at town leaders and said they oppose renovations that could cost up to $23 million if other items like a refurbished pool entrance, upgraded tennis courts and lighting, and a storage building for maintenance equipment are added to the plan.

The town council is expected to vote May 8 on those additions and the entire renovation plan.

"We're not going for $23 million," Jim McHugh of New Hyde Park told town officials. If the town pays a higher price, "people are going to think they had no choice in this matter," McHugh added.

At the two-hour meeting, town officials explained that the bids came in significantly higher than expected. Wyandanch-based Philip Ross Industries sent in a $19,035,000 estimate, and Gramercy Group of Wantagh submitted a $19,474,000 bid.

Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, who did not attend Wednesday's meeting, said Tuesday that the town faces two options: accept one of the bids or send the project out for rebidding. Bosworth noted that rebidding won't guarantee lower estimates would come forth and added that starting over would likely keep the pool closed for an additional summer.

Paying the higher price means residents and businesses in the New Hyde Park Special Park District would pay about $100 more in their annual tax bill.

New Hyde Park resident Shelley Taranto said she opposes rebidding the project and believes paying the high tax amount is worth having a renovated pool.

"I don't think you're going to get a lower price," Taranto said. "Things don't get less expensive."

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Copyright 2017 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

Former Pennsylvania State University president Graham B. Spanier, who was convictedof misdemeanor child endangerment in March for failing to act on reports that Jerry Sandusky abused children, will be sentenced in Dauphin County Court on June 2.

The statutory maximum for the crime is five years, but with no criminal history, Spanier could argue for probation.

Former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment, will be sentenced the same day.

Curley will go first at 10 a.m., followed by Schultz at 10:30 and Spanier at 11.

Related: Sandusky Case: Ex-Penn State President Spanier Guilty

The former Penn State officials were accused of conspiring to cover up Sandusky's sexual abuse of young boys. Curley and Schultz initially were charged in 2011, when Sandusky was arrested, and Spanier a year later. The men also faced conspiracy and perjury charges, but those were dropped. Spanier was acquitted of a second endangerment count, as well as a felony conspiracy charge.

Spanier's lawyers have said they will appeal the conviction.

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Copyright 2017 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

WILBERFORCE - One of the more controversial, polarizing - and, some say, mischaracterized - football players in the nation has joined the Central State Marauders and is vying for the starting quarterback job.

How the venture ultimately plays out will make the story of Trent Mays one of second chances or second guesses.

Five years ago, Mays - a budding 16-year-old star football player and wrestler and an honor student at Steubenville High School, the son and grandson of coaches and the younger brother of two sisters - was charged along with teammate Ma'lik Richmond of repeatedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl who was incapacitated by alcohol. The pair also documented the assault in text, photo and video on various forms of social media.

The incident, actually a six-hour ordeal until the girl awoke in a basement missing clothes, phone and earrings, but alongside Mays, Richmond and another boy, made national headlines for months because of the glorified culture of football in Steubenville - the town of 18,000 fills its 10,000-seat stadium and the Big Red, as the team is known, has won nine state titles - and the way the town divided over the assault and arrests that followed.

In March 2013, Mays, who like Richmond was tried as a juvenile, was adjudicated "delinquent beyond reasonable doubt," the juvenile equivalent of a guilty verdict.

For raping the unconscious girl using his fingers and disseminating pornographic photos of her, he was sentenced to two years at the Paint Creek Light House Youth Center

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine empaneled a special grand jury, specifically to see if coaches and other school personnel failed to report the incident even though they are required to do so by Ohio law.

As a result, the superintendent of schools (who resigned), an elementary school principal, two coaches and the school's IT director all faced multiple charges ranging from obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence to perjury.

When Mays was released in January 2015, he returned to another area high school but was not permitted to join its wrestling team. He did graduate with honors.

That fall he ended up at Hocking College, a struggling junior college in Nelsonville that had just started a football program as a way to invigorate the school and raise enrollment.

Hocking remains the only junior college in Ohio to have a football program and Mays was the starting quarterback for two seasons.

And sure enough the school got attention, though not always the kind it wanted.

"I got death threats and hate mail," coach Adolphus Matthews said. "We took a lot of crap from newspapers around the country. Papers from Salem, Ore., to St. Petersburg, Fla. just killed us."

There was some initial campus protest and complaint and a few football opponents took issue, as well.

"There were some teams we played last year - like, I believe, Nassau and Erie (both New York schools) - where a guy or two afterward said stuff like 'I'm not gonna shake your hand. You're a rapist.' Another guy stomped around and said, 'I'm gonna find him and whoop him.'

"Trent just shrugged his shoulders and kept walking."

As for the Harley-riding coach, he said he was not phased by the threats.

"Look, I'm probably the only gun-packing coach you're gonna find," Matthews laughed. "But then I'm the police chief here, too.

"I just completed my 32nd year as a cop. Before this I was a police officer outside of Sandusky. I've been on drug task forces, worked undercover and I was a SWAT team commander. I wasn't intimidated.

"I used to ride with guys I put in prison. But I never thought I was bigger or better than anybody else. And when those guys got out, I was one of the first to say, 'Hey, give 'em a shot.' I'd try to help them get a job. Everybody deserves a second chance.

"Now I didn't know Trent from Adam. He hadn't played football since he was a freshman in high school. They arrested him the first day of two-a-days as a sophomore.

"But I liked what I saw on our field and I told him, 'If you come in here and do your school work and do everything you're supposed to do, you'll be fine. But if you're gonna be an ass--, I'll be the first person to pack your crap up and throw you off my campus.'"

To prepare everyone, Hocking College president Betty Young wrote this in a campus-wide email:

"Second chances do not excuse or defend previous behavior. There are a lot of second-chance stories at every community college. Trenton's story is just one. His path will be challenging, but many of our students face challenges and they overcome them to reach success. It is up to him to determine what to do with this opportunity."

Classified as a Tier II (medium) sex offender, Mays must register once a year for a decade. He was not permitted to live on the Hocking College campus.

"We didn't have any issues with Trent," Matthews said. "He was very professional. The kids respected him and he became our team captain. I trusted him."

He said some of the detractors on campus even embraced Mays after a while.

"Central State is going to love the kid," Matthews said.

As for what the Marauders' brass is thinking, they're not saying - at least publicly.

Through a university spokesman, both Athletics Director Jahan Cul-breath and coach Cedric Pearl declined repeated requests for an interview on Mays becoming a Marauder.

Media kept at bay

Asked about the portrayal of his son by many since the incident, Bryan Mays declined to answer that question during a nearly 30-minute conversation the other evening:

"I don't want to get into that. Whatever I say, the answer will come out wrong. But if you're around him enough, you'll see what he's like."

Maybe so, but Central State refused to make him available for an interview for this column.

As a result, you're left to wonder if Trent Mays truly is the person his dad and his former coach see him to be or is he defined by the despicable actions on that August night in 2012 when a girl from just across the Ohio River in Weirton, W.Va. - herself an honors student and an athlete - was assaulted and continually debased by football players who knew she had too much to drink?

While many share the blame, the most punishment was meted out to Mays. Richmond got one year and others weren't charged.

After Mays' release from the juvenile facility, the girl's family told the Associated Press they hoped he and Richmond "maintain higher standards of morals and values as their rehabilitations continue."

During his two seasons at Hocking, Mays often sat and talked with him, Matthews said.

"He was like, 'I served my time. People don't understand that.' And I was like, 'No, they don't.'

"He was (a teenager) when it happened and I know that doesn't make it OK - he stuck his fingers where they should not have been - but I saw another side of him.

"And when my wife came to visit, he was not what she expected. She said, 'This kid has come a long way.' She liked him.

"She said, 'The papers got it all wrong... I think.'"

Enrolled in January

Other schools - including the University of Dayton and Wright State - have dealt with and played athletes accused of sexual assaults.

UD basketball player Matt Kavanaugh was suspended from school for a year after police said he was a suspect in an assault of a 17-year-old female student. Flyers player Dyshawn Pierre was suspended from school for a semester after he was accused of sexually assaulting a female athlete at the school. The Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office declined to press charges in each case citing insufficient evidence.

Marvin Rodgers played basketball at Wright State after he was expelled from West Virginia University when he pleaded guilty to molesting a female student there. He was given five years' probation.

Three years ago three Oregon basketball players were charged with sexually assaulting a female student at a party. For one of them, Brandon Austin, it was his second assault charge. He had left Providence for the same reason. Yet, each of the three Oregon players ended up transferring and playing elsewhere.

Two Vanderbilt football players were charged with aggravated rape two years ago, with one transferring to Lane College and the other to Alcorn State.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Zach Mettenberger was kicked off the University of Georgia team after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor sexual battery charges. He played at two more colleges before joining the NFL.

Two years ago the SEC and the Big 12 initiated policies of not accepting athletes with histories of domestic or sexual violence. While it could be a moral stance, it might be for liability issues, as well.

Georgia and Arizona State both paid out high six-figure settlements after one of their athletes committed a sexual assault and proved to be a repeat offender.

Matthews said much of the furor died down at Hocking once Mays started going to classes and playing football. He said it was about people getting to know him.

In that inaugural Hocking season, Mays - a solidly-built freshman with a hard-nosed running style - averaged 202.9 yards of offense per game (including 76.2 rushing). Last season he averaged 262.6 yards (219 passing) and had 16 touchdowns. Matthews said "some schools in Alabama, Texas and New Mexico were really high on him, but I knew he didn't want to go that far from home."

Mays' dad said someone familiar with the CSU program made the initial connection for them:

"Trent wanted to transfer out (of Hocking) in midyear so he could go into spring ball with a team. My father is about 75 and he and Trent have a special connection. He wanted Trent to stay close so he could see him."

The Hocking president sent a letter of recommendation to CSU and then came a visit.

"We went over on Christmas break and Coach Pearl was really honest with him," Bryan Mays said. "The assistant athletics director was there and so was the strength coach and after listening to them, it's where we ended up."

Mays enrolled at CSU in January and he's now battling returning starter Lavon Meeks and senior Mikiel Clemons for the starting job. In the second quarter of last Saturday's spring game, Mays threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Martell Clark.

"They'll see what we did," Matthews said. "He didn't say a lot, but he commanded respect with his play. He's one of those guys whose actions speak louder than his words."

In the past, actions have gotten him cheers and trouble.

How it plays out now will make this a story of second chances or second guesses.

Contact this reporter at tarchdeacon@coxohio.com

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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

Amid a dispute over an unsanctioned team using county basketball courts without permission, Ringgold Youth Sports Association's president handed his key to the facility to Catoosa County on Thursday.

Earl Epps, head of the nonprofit, said some parents complained to the parks and recreation department because of the North Georgia Thunder, his "all-stars" travel team. Technically, the team is not part of the Ringgold Youth Sports Association, but Thunder players also participate in the organization.

Competing for the Thunder costs extra money. Epps said he hosts twice-yearly tournaments for the Thunder at the county-owned Poplar Springs Gym, using the proceeds to pay players' travel expenses. That is where the conflict emerged.

Epps did not get specific permission to host those tournaments, and County Attorney Chad Young said profiting from the use of the public gym would be at odds with the Georgia Constitution. Even for something as mundane as youth sports, making money off your work there would be a violation of the Gratuities Clause, he said.

Young said county employees began looking into the issue about a month ago, when some parents involved with the RYSA complained.

"I don't know if [Epps] is running a private league or not," he said. "I haven't done any of the investigation. But if he or anyone else was trying to run a private league, that is not proper."

Epps said the dispute got out of control -- fast.

"It's a bunch of disgruntled parents," he said, "and they're hurting other people's parents."

But he did not dispute that he's technically running two separate leagues out of the gym, saying, "The only connection is, it's the same kids."

The RYSA is funded by parents and donations, including a grant from Catoosa County, according to the organization's IRS 990 tax return. From 2015-16, the RYSA received $424,000 in contributions and donations and spent $336,000.

Last May, Epps and some RYSA parents attended a Catoosa County Commission meeting and asked for a key so they could get into have the gym whenever they wanted. Epps said his league runs basketball throughout the year. Going through the county for each gym trip meant a county employee would have to come with them to monitor their use of the building.

"I'm a grown man," Epps said. "I'm the president of our association. I don't need to pay a high school kid $10 an hour to watch our practices."

He said the commissioners agreed he should have a key, though they never actually voted on the issue. He had the key until Thursday, when the county workers asked him to return it. RYSA will need permission next time its players use the building.

Commissioner Ray Johnson said he thought the county agreed last year to allow Epps' players practice and play games at the gym, as long as someone from the county made sure the building was clean after.

"I can't say I did or didn't give him the key," Johnson said. "I don't remember giving him the key."

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.

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Copyright 2017 Sun Journal Apr 27, 2017

Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)

 



Additional classes for high school lacrosse and volleyball and a revision to the cooperative team policy that enables neighboring schools to band together to expand their sports offerings gained final approval by the Maine Principals' Association on Thursday.

Those changes, along with the biennial reclassification of schools in all sports sponsored by the MPA, advanced through individual sport committees as well as the classification and interscholastic management panels during the past year before being presented to the MPA's general membership as part of its annual spring conference at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.

Perhaps the most significant change involved the cooperative team policy, in which multiple schools are allowed to form collaborative teams in an effort to provide a wider variety of interscholastic sports for student-athletes around the state in the face of steadily shrinking enrollments.

Under the original policy, the full enrollments of all schools represented on a collaborative team were counted toward classification. That left the potential for a cooperative entry to be forced to play one or even two classes above the primary school's full enrollment with as few as one participant from a second contributing school.

That sometimes forced such cooperative teams into a much less competitive situation against much larger single-school programs.

"I think in the past sometimes there were schools that hesitated to enter a cooperative team relationship because even though they were only picking up a couple of kids from a second school it was going to bounce them up a class," said MPA executive director Dick Durost.

The approved revision requires only the full enrollment of the host school for a cooperative team to be counted toward the total for classification, along with a percentage of any other participating school's enrollment based on the percentage of players it has on the team.

For example, if a baseball team has 20 players and 18 come from the host school with two players from a second school, just 10 percent of the second school's enrollment would be added toward the classification enrollment as opposed to 100 percent under the previous policy.

Cooperative teams are most common in ice hockey, with several football teams also featuring student-athletes from more than one school. Proponents of the plan believe it may expand such collaborations in those sports and others.

"The real piece of this is it's a much more realistic reflection of the impact of that small number of kids from the second school," said Durost, "and if it's a larger number of kids, a higher percentage of kids, the rule will do what the old rule needed to do, which is probably to bump them up a class.

"But it makes it more likely that the first school will be willing to give the neighbors next door an opportunity to participate that they might not otherwise have had."

The expansion of volleyball and boys and girls lacrosse from two to three classes reflects the continuing statewide growth of those sports.

Volleyball now will have 36 programs divided among three statewide classes next fall, while boys and girls lacrosse each will have Class A North and South regions and statewide Class B and Class C divisions.

Boys lacrosse will have 46 varsity programs statewide next spring, 19 in Class A, 13 in Class B and 14 in Class C. Girls lacrosse will have 47 varsity teams in 2018, 19 in Class A, 12 in Class B and 16 in Class C.

Also approved by the MPA's general membership was the addition of a fifth, developmental class for high school football beginning this fall.

Class E was created to aid in the rebuilding of existing programs that have struggled competitively in recent years because of low participation numbers as well as in some cases shrinking enrollment. Teams expected to participate in the new class are Camden Hills of Rockport, Maranacook of Readfield, Traip Academy of Kittery, Boothbay Region, Sacopee Valley of South Hiram and Telstar of Bethel.

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Copyright 2017 Star Tribune
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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

New U.S. Bank Stadium oversight Chairwoman Kathleen Blatz put a quick and definitive end to discussions about a user fee on Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) events in the new $1.1 billion building.

SMG, the global company hired to manage the stadium, had been in early discussions with the MSHSL about adding a fee of at least $2 to tickets for league events. SMG Executive Director Patrick Talty said the fee would be used to pay SMG's costs for the events. SMG doesn't charge rent to the MSHSL for the use of the building.

But the MSHSL's free access is by design at the so-called people's stadium. Blatz, the former state Supreme Court chief justice serving as the interim chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA), told Talty on Wednesday that a user fee for high school events isn't an option.

"In fulfillment of the spirit of the statute, we ought not do that," Blatz said.

The 2012 bill authorizing the stadium required that the building's operator, now SMG, make the space available to the MSHSL for at least seven dates each year for football and soccer tournaments. The law says the league cannot be charged a fee for "this use, including security, ticket takers, custodial or cleaning services, or other similar services in connection with this use."

The fee came up in private discussions between Talty and Dave Stead, executive director of the MSHSL. The two are working on a contract covering future arrangements for league events on everything from how tickets will be sold and delivered to which scoreboards will be used. There was no contract during the first season last fall.

Talty said a "user fee" on tickets is common for venues across the country to pay for staff and security at events. Because the fee would be paid only by those who attended the games, he didn't consider it a charge to the MSHSL. He also noted that his job is to "make sure we're maximizing everything for the benefit of this stadium.... We have a fiduciary responsibility to look at all of the different revenue for all the events."

For example, SMG has ticket fees on concerts, he said.

Under SMG's contract, the state gets a share of revenue above a guaranteed amount. So more profit could lead to more money for the state.

Stead wasn't warm to the idea of a fee of on top of the league's $14 admission charge. "Each time you increase the ticket fee 50 cents, a dollar, people get upset," he said.

The move into U.S. Bank Stadium has led to a financial boost for the league, which raked in a record $1 million for football playoffs last fall. The free rent, along with a move back indoors and increased ticket prices, led to the increase. The MSHSL increased fees by $1 to $14 for football and by $2 for adults to $12 for soccer. Soccer brought in about $159,000, which is also likely a record, according to the league.

Across town, the four high school baseball championship games are played at Target Field. The Minnesota Twins pay the league a flat fee, then retain ticket and concessions revenue for the games.

Facility fees are common at other venues. Stead said there's a $2 per ticket charge at Xcel for the hockey tournament. Target Center is $2.75 and the University of Minnesota charges a $2 fee.

Before Blatz took action, Stead said he would have challenged the legality of a U.S. Bank Stadium user fee by SMG.

And he would have found some support. Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, chairwoman of the Government Operations Finance Committee, said the language of the law is clear. Until she heard about Blatz's opposition, Anderson was ready to pursue legislative action if necessary.

In a statement, Gov. Mark Dayton said he was glad no fee will be charged.

Blatz said SMG was understanding of her directive. "I don't want to micromanage what they do, but at the same time I am trying to truly understand and implement the intent of the law," she said.

Staff Writer Jim Paulsen contributed to this report.

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

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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

A fitness center plans to move to a redeveloping street within Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley, mainly to avoid noise complaints.

BrewCity CrossFit wants to move to around 10,000 square feet within a 20,000-square-foot industrial building at 1601 W. St. Paul Ave., according to plans filed with the city Board of Zoning Appeals.

The business, which provides classes in weightlifting, gymnastics and other fitness activities, would be in the same former industrial complex as Third Space Brewing LLC.

Also, BrewCity would be near an industrial building, at 1418 W. St. Paul Ave., that is being converted into the new offices for Plum Moving Media, a video production business now located in the Historic Third Ward.

BrewCity opened six years ago within a former candy factory, at 408 W. Florida St., that was zoned to allow a fitness center.

From ABVideo: Bringing the CrossFit Games to Madison

That Walker's Point building was later sold to a developer, and in 2015 was converted to Brix Apartment Lofts.

New residents began complaining about the sounds and vibrations from activities at BrewCity, according to the zoning board filing.

So, BrewCity owner Daniel Noonan started looking for a new home "where we would not disturb neighboring residents or businesses," the filing said. BrewCity earlier this year moved from the Brix building to temporary space at Grand Avenue mall.

The St. Paul Ave. site needs a use variance from the zoning board to allow BrewCity to operate there.

The board is to review the variance request at its May 4 meeting.

Tom Daykin can be reached at tdaykin@jrn.com

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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

UW-Milwaukee is engaged in discussions about joining the Missouri Valley Conference, sources confirmed to the Journal Sentinel on Wednesday.

Additionally, the sources confirmed that officials from the Missouri Valley are scheduled to visit UWM's campus and meet with school administrators later this week.

UWM has been a member of the Horizon League since the 2001-'02 season.

The Missouri Valley is seeking to add at least one member school beginning in the 2017-'18 academic year with Wichita State leaving to join the American Athletic Conference. It is believed to be considering adding as many as three teams, which would increase its membership from 10 to 12.

According to various reports, fellow Horizon League member Valparaiso also is under consideration, along with Murray State of the Ohio Valley Conference and Nebraska Omaha of the Summit League. Those schools have either already hosted Missouri Valley officials or are scheduled to do so.

It's unclear at this point how a potential move would shake out. One possible scenario would be the Missouri Valley adding one school for the 2017-'18 academic year and then two more for 2018-'19. If that were the case, it's likely UWM would be part of that second round of expansion in 2018-'19 should it get the nod.

UWM athletic director Amanda Braun referred all questions regarding a potential move to Missouri Valley Conference commissioner Doug Elgin.

"The Valley has always been resilient and progressive in the face of these changes, and we have never been defined by a single institution," the league said in a statement earlier this month after it was announced Wichita State would be leaving.

UWM has won four Horizon League regular-season men's basketball championships (2004-'06 and 2011) and four tournament championships (2003, 2005-'06 and 2014). All four of its NCAA Tournament appearances (2003, 2005-'06 and 2014) have come as a member of the Horizon League.

The Missouri Valley finished the season 12th among conferences in the RPI this past season, compared to 17th for the Horizon. It would be a more competitive conference from top to bottom, which would figure to help the Panthers with both recruiting and attendance.

The Missouri Valley is in the midst of a 10-year media rights agreement with ESPN that will run through the 2023-'24 season, and also has a deal through 2019-'20 with CBS Sports. That would figure to afford UWM the potential for much more exposure than it currently has in the Horizon League.

Additional travel costs for UWM in the new league would be negligible. But the school would figure to be penalized financially by the Horizon League if it left, although the exact dollar amount is unknown.

A move would apply to all sports except men's swimming and diving, because the Missouri Valley doesn't sponsor that sport. Several other Missouri Valley schools that offer the sport compete in the Mid-American Conference.

The league has a strong Midwestern footprint with Illinois State, Southern Illinois and Bradley joining Loyola as members from the state of Illinois; Northern Iowa and Drake from the state of Iowa; Evansville and Indiana State from the state of Indiana; and Missouri State.

Wichita State had won or shared the last four regular-season Missouri Valley titles, and the league has sent multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament in four of the last six years. The Horizon League hasn't sent multiple teams to the tournament since 2009.

The conference tournament is played each March in St. Louis.

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Copyright 2017 The Buffalo News
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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

Late last year, Terry and Kim Pegula urged Albany lawmakers to bring Uber to Buffalo. Approval came earlier this month, and the ride-hailing service will be on Western New York streets this summer.

The Pegula-owned Bills and Sabres quickly hitched a ride, making Uber an official partner.

"We couldn't be more thrilled that Uber is coming to our community," Russ Brandon, president of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, said Wednesday. "It's going to benefit all the citizens of Western New York.

"Obviously, as an individual that is involved with a couple sports franchises, it will have a massive impact with Sabres games and Bills games. I'm a frequent user on the road, and it's been a really rewarding experience."

There will be Uber pickup and drop-off zones outside New Era Field, KeyBank Center and HarborCenter. Uber is working with the Bills and Sabres to become integrated in the One Buffalo app.

"We are the only NFL franchise that until a few weeks ago did not have Uber in its community," said Brandon, who says the service will benefit locals and visitors attending Buffalo events. "You look at the NCAA Tournaments and the world juniors coming up and all the different events that we have and that we're committed to moving forward, it's just another opportunity for people to be able to move along our community in a seamless and safe way.

"It's not against anything that was done previously here, it's just an additive to the experience that people have in our area."

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

NASHVILLE — Vanderbilt is asking its fans via a survey if they would attend football games at a "hypothetical stadium" shared with a Major League Soccer franchise.

Nashville is among 12 cities being considered for four MLS expansion franchises, and Mayor Megan Barry has proposed a "private-public partnership" for a new soccer stadium at The Fairgrounds Nashville.

Vanderbilt is polling undergraduates, season-ticket holders, single-game ticket buyers and other selected participants in a survey to "determine interest in holding some future athletics events in a new (MLS) stadium," including football games, according to a university news release.

The survey was launched Tuesday and will close May 5. It was emailed directly to selected participants.

"It is designed to gauge how much demand there is for a hypothetical new stadium and game day and fan experience factors that will make fans more or less likely to attend games there," the release said.

The Vanderbilt release said the university was approached by the MLS steering committee about its interest to use a new stadium for athletic events. Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams is one of the 22 members of that steering committee. And John R. Ingram, a member of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust, is the lead investor in Nashville's proposal for an MLS team.

Last September, Williams told The Tennessean that talks had accelerated for a new Vanderbilt football stadium, but he initially preferred it to be on campus.

"Off campus? You never say never, so we'll look at it," Williams said in September. "But there are sports that seem to play on campus better, and football is one of those."

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Copyright 2017 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

DAYTON -— Dayton's school board approved a two-year contract renewal for district athletic director Mark Baker, in the wake of major state penalties imposed on Dayton Public Schools athletic programs.

The vote was 5-1, with board memberJoeLaceystronglyobjecting and Hazel Rountree absent. Baker declined comment after the vote.

Last fall, Dunbar's football team used an ineligible player in two games, causing them to forfeit those games and be knocked out of the playoffs. The eligibility issue was missed by coaches, athletic directors and the principal.

But during the final game of the season, there was a back-and-forth debate about the star player's eligibility. Once it was established, after he had already played, that he was ineligible, Dunbar officials told players to lose the game on purpose, believing they might still have an avenue to make the playoffs.

The Dunbar coaches said that directive came from Baker, but Baker denied it during subsequent investigations.

Lacey argued that DPS was not taking the issue of "throwing the game" seriously, calling it an unprecedented violation in Ohio high school sports, and saying the district appeared not to want to investigate it.

"It looked like there were attempts to not investigate the decision of this district to throw a game, to instruct students to cheat," Lacey said. "The rallying around the people responsible for this really disgusts me."

Board members Adil Baguirov, RobertWalkerandRonLeeargued that the focus should be on the new policies the district was putting in place to make sure this never happens again, saying it is time to look forward, rather than back.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association placed all DPS athletic programs on three years of probation, fined them $10,000 and ordered administrators to undergo training, citing the district for "a lack of administrative responsibility and institutional control."

Teachers rally

Hundreds of teachers attended the school board meeting, then rallied on the street corner outside, as contract negotiations between Dayton's teachers union and the district drag on.

"It's going to take... a deliberate decision on the part of this district to put the teachers and the students they teach first in decision-making," teachers union President David Romick said. "Teacher working conditions are student learning conditions."

The current contract expires this summer. Romick said through 20 sessions, contract negotiations have been more complex than usual, with more issues on the table than Romick has seen in the past. Those include teacher pay, the need for guidance counselors and staffed libraries in DPS schools, a move to five-day preschool, and more.

DPS Superintendent Rhonda Corr said she thinks the parties are a lot closer and had a good discussion Wednesday.

"We have the utmost respect for our teachers, for Mr. Romick, for the Dayton Education Association, and we want to do right by them," Corr said. "But in a negotiation, everything's a little bit of a give and take. We want to try to implement some things that are better for students as well."

Layoffs not planned

The 33 paraprofessionals (classroom aides) who were at risk of layoff from DPS last fall will have the opportunity to move into preschool aide positions next school year.

DPS assistant superintendent Elizabeth Lolli outlined a broad reconfiguration, in which Title 1 funding previously used for those paraprofessionals will be shifted to pay for teacher-leaders in each school. She said the district already has 90 applications.

Lolli said those teacher-leaders would be in coaching and teaching roles, rather than administration. She said those master teachers will work in curriculum implementation with teacher teams and building leaders, so they can spread their expertise.

The district will also add kindergarten and first-grade phonics teachers to work with students who test below benchmarks on reading tests.

"That's a good thing for the district that we're not going to be losing any of our highly qualified paraprofessionals because of RIF or layoff," Lolli said. "We're very pleased that we're able to make that personnel change."

Bus purchases

The district unanimously approved what board members said was a contract for the purchase of 115 new school buses, including a $2.5 million down payment this year, toward a $9.73 million total cost.

The resolution the board voted on was not attached to the agenda Wednesday night. Board member Adil Baguirov touted the 2.06 percent interest rate he said the district got.

School board members had a heated discussion on the bus issue last month, but Wednesday's vote was unanimous.

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The Daily Reporter

 

The state Building Commission approved plans Wednesday for a roughly $96.5 million replacement of the Southeast Recreation Facility at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The approval will lead to the construction of a 250,800-square-foot building to replace the campus's existing 191,254-square-foot Southeast Recreation Facility. The replacement, which was added to the state budget in 2015, will have a gymnasium with nine basketball courts, an indoor track, racquetball courts, a 50-meter-long pool, a diving well and various other amenities.

The current center was opened in 1983. Nearly half the money needed for the new building - about $42 million - was raised from gifts.

From ABBlog: Southeast Recreation Facility Core Design Values

Also on Wednesday, the Building Commission approved:

The construction of a $34 million residence hall at the UW-Whitewater campus. The project was added to the state budget in 2013 and became the subject of controversy when it did not proceed as quickly as state officials had originally said it would. Critics accused the state of deliberately slowing down progress on construction plans. State officials countered that they were dealing with an unusually large of number of projects and trying to manage cash flow.

The construction of Phase II of an addition at UW-Platteville's Williams Fieldhouse. The project, estimated to cost about $15.27 million, was added to state budget plans in 2015.

A $15.1 renovation of UW-River Falls' Rodli Hall. Plans for the project were added to the state budget in 2015.

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Copyright 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

Beer. Wine. And the bottom line.

The University of New Mexico pocketed almost $144,000 in profit from the three major revenue-generating sports in its first fiscal year of beer and wine sales to general admission fans.

Asked for comment Tuesday morning on numbers previously released to the Journal, UNM instead issued a press release later in the day, announcing the totals of money earned through seven Lobo football games in the fall ($72,631 in six regular-season games and the New Mexico Bowl in University Stadium), 17 men's basketball games in the Pit ($63,632) and 19 women's basketball games in the Pit ($7,290).

Those figures - a total net revenue gain for UNM of $143,553 - represent only the sales in general admission seating sections and not in premium seating areas where UNM has been selling alcohol for years.

According to the contract reviewed by the Journal between UNM and Levy Restaurants, the school's new concessions provider this fiscal year, all alcohol sales in general admission seating areas are split on a 50/50 basis.

Tuesday's press release stated, "Revenues generated from beer and wine sales will offset any decrease in attendance figures."

From ABSelling Alcohol to Fight Alcohol Abuse

Attendance in all three revenue sports dropped this past season. According to numbers UNM provided the Journal in March, those three sports missed ticket revenue projections this fiscal year by a combined $1,319,835 ($671,572 men's basketball, $544,052 football, $104,211 women's basketball).

In September, when the school popped the cork on the new initiative, neither athletic director Paul Krebs nor Deputy AD Brad Hutchins said he had a specific monetary figure in mind when gauging the success of the sales.

The school did not report any major incidents related to the beer and wine sales this past fiscal year and say they will continue monitoring the sales to make sure it remains safe for fans.

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Copyright 2017 Ventura County Star
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Ventura County Star (California)

 

The dream season for the Moorpark High girls soccer team this winter included a sterling 26-1-2 record, the program's first Southern Section title as the Division 2 winner and the title in the prestigious CIF-State SoCal Division II Regionals.

For that ballyhooed showdown in the Southern California final vs. San Diego-San Marcos, the Musketeers packed 2,700 fans into the home stands.

Moorpark High athletic director Rob Dearborn fears that might become the program's high-water mark.

"It's going to be hard to do anything like that again," he says.

The talent isn't drying up in the region, but it no longer may be committed to playing for the area's high school teams.

Beginning next fall, the top players around Ventura County, Southern California and, indeed, throughout the United States will have another enticing option.

U.S. Soccer, which oversees the national programs for USA Soccer, will launch its inaugural Girls Development Academy Program beginning in the fall of 2018. The academy is projected to feature 70 clubs across seven national regions that compete in three age group levels - under 14-15, under 16-17 and under 18-19.

According to U.S. Soccer, the program "will focus on positively impacting the everyday club environments to assist in maximizing female youth player development across the country."

It's an intriguing venture with a patriotic twist: How can you pass up the opportunity to train and play and thrive in a high-level program and, maybe, one day compete for your country?

There is a caveat attached: Players who are chosen for the program's elite teams will play exclusively within the academy and will not be allowed to participate with their high school teams.

"It's going to affect us a big way," predicts Dearborn. "We'll probably lose at least four to five players."

Westlake girls coach Frank Marino, whose teams are traditional top-flight Marmonte League and CIF-SS contenders, echoes that sentiment.

"You mean the program that's going to ruin girls high school soccer?" he said. Actually, the Warriors coach hopes it doesn't come to that. But he does believe that dramatic change is coming.

"If you are a top player, you really have no other option but to play for the Academy," he said. "It's going to attract all or most of the top players across Southern California, and it's going to change the level at which high school soccer in the CIF Southern Section is played.

"What it will do is open up opportunities for other players to step up and play for their high school teams. A new level and class of players will get a chance to play at this level."

U.S. Soccer launched an identical program for boys in 2007. Today that program consists of 152 clubs featuring five age groups.

"I think this (girls program) matches exactly what the guys have done," said Marino. "For the girls, the high school experience is a little different than it is for the boys. The girls enjoy high school soccer as a social event and a chance to play with their friends. I think it's sad that they will miss that."

Marino estimates the Warriors will lose a "handful" of players. USA soccer also plans to launch a second tier of club teams below the "A" level. Those players will be permitted to join their high school teams.

"We may have a mixed bag next year," said Marino. "We'll lose the top players, but the ones at the second level will have the opportunity to continue playing in high school."

A decade ago, the initial venture attracted scads of boys soccer players within the CIF-Southern Section, including more than a few from Ventura County.

Through the years, less and less top players signed up for academy soccer and more and more opted for their high school teams. Many realized their dreams of playing for team USA was still a long shot. Others simply missed the high school experience.

So what happens with the girls? Ventura County has become a prime locale for talented soccer players. Stellar programs such as Westlake, Newbury Park, Grace Brethren, Oxnard, Pacifica and, yes, Moorpark could be affected as athletes make their choices.

Miriam Hickey, the newly appointed Director of U.S. Soccer Development Academy, said the program aims to raise its players to be world-beaters. Literally.

"The academy will raise the standards and assure that the pathway for the most talented and dedicated female players exists and that we will be able to continue to compete with the elite players and teams in the world," Hickey said.

Loren Ledin is the Prep Editor for The Star. He can be reached at 805-437-0285 or at loren.ledin@vcstar.com

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April 26, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2017 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

It's the call athletic directors dread. Chris Hill got word last Thursday from one of his biggest boosters that something about his passion project wasn't quite right.

Spence Eccles, the main force behind the construction of the new ski team facility told Hill that there was a problem: From the second-floor balcony, two trees in the parking lot blocked his view of the "Block U" on Mount Van Cott on the northeastern fringe of campus. How else would recruits be able to see one of the most iconic features of the university?

His message: The trees had to go.

By Wednesday morning, as roughly two hundred alumni and donors crowded under a tent to officially dedicate the building, the offending flora had been removed. No detail of this project was going to be overlooked, Eccles said.

"Let me at those recruits," he said to laughter from the gallery. "Get them up on my balcony looking at that beautiful Block U."

The balcony and the rest of the $2.8 million project was officially opened Wednesday, as Eccles, Hill and other power players celebrated the ski team's new home. It was christened with an appropriate tribute to the team itself — the 2017 NCAA championship at the center of a trophy wall in the new board room.

The Utes see the facility as key to adding more hardware to the walls: It includes men's and women's locker rooms, a state-of-art ski tuning room, video areas and storage space for the most recent title-winning team at the University of Utah.

Ski director Kevin Sweeney, who broke a 14-year championship drought with the win in New Hampshire last month, said the trophy and the new building felt like the perfect convergence for his program. While the Utes hoped that the roughly 5,800-square foot building would be opened at some point during the season — a needed upgrade from the shed which has housed the team for the last eight years — but Sweeney said the end result is one he can't help but be happy about.

"It just feels right," "We had an amazing season, and it just feels right to bring this trophy home and put it front and center. There is no feeling of, 'Oh, we've done it, we're finished.' It's actually a motivator to put that trophy up there and say, 'OK, we're continuing the tradition at the University of Utah, and let's keep it going.'"

The program has 11 NCAA team titles, the most of any sport at the university. University president David Pershing also noted that 14 members of the team were national all-academic honorees, carrying at least a 3.5 GPA in the fall.

As the Utes considered moving the ski team last year to make way for new practice fields, it was brought to Eccles, who was an All-American in skiing himself in 1957, that an appropriate home for the decorated program was long overdue.

Now, Eccles' name doesn't just decorate the building, but his picture — donning skis and goggles as an athlete — hangs in the hallway as well.

"I just felt like we had to finally get rid of that Tuffshed and have what we needed to win more medals and be respected in the community," he said. "These are great young people. They're very accomplished."

Eccles also made remarks directed at Hill, hoping to see improvement in the skiing annual budget. Hill quipped: "If you think I'm cutting the skiing budget, you're crazy."

The big winners of the day, of course, were the skiers themselves, who posed in front of the building and waved with presidential gusto from the balcony. The interior is the truly exciting part, Sam Dupratt said, particularly the tuning room that the program sees as perhaps the biggest advantage the building will provide.

The view, he added, ain't bad either.

"I guarantee we'll have at least 10 barbeques every year," DuPratt said. "It's insane to me, win or lose, the support never seems to falter."

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon 

 

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Copyright 2017 Star Tribune
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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

With less than a year to go before the Super Bowl is played in Minneapolis, a group of local leaders is quietly meeting to map out strategies to combat sex trafficking before and after the big game.

The committee, led by Hennepin and Ramsey counties and the Women's Foundation of Minnesota, includes some 40 public and private sector leaders and has been meeting since September.

Their mission: Drafting a plan to boost awareness before the Super Bowl about sex trafficking and services for victims.

Local leaders hope to leverage the widespread attention the event draws, along with funding from the NFL, to boost prevention efforts and perpetrator stings across the state.

"Sex trafficking is an issue 365 days a year," Terry Williams, vice president of strategic initiatives for the Women's Foundation, told more than 100 people at a meeting this week of the Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force. "It's going to give us a huge platform to talk about this issue."

The subcommittee, which includes leaders from law enforcement, nonprofits and local government, will launch a revamped website and release more details in June. Though the group includes many public officials, their meetings aren't public.

Williams said this week that the subcommittee has looked at best and worst practices among other Super Bowl host cities. While it isn't counting on receiving much funding from the NFL, whatever it gets will be matched by the Women's Foundation, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit dedicated to gender equity.

The plan includes boosting services for sex trafficking victims 10 days before the Super Bowl and afterward. The subcommittee also is putting together training for different industry sectors, planning ways to build awareness through public service announcements, and partnering with businesses and law enforcement.

Experts at the University of Minnesota's Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center say an uptick in sex trafficking reports is likely during the Super Bowl, but added that some people are overblowing it as the largest human trafficking event in the country.

Instead, they say, while the big game likely will draw more sex ads just as big conventions do, or even the fishing opener in northern Minnesota, it won't draw nearly the kind of large-scale sex buying some have predicted.

The Women's Foundation has funded research at the U on the connection between large sporting events and sex trafficking. It found that the Super Bowl, like many other large events, correlates with an increase in commercial sex ads but that the ads are short-lived and that it's unclear how much trafficking actually occurs.

In New York, law enforcement officers arrested 45 people and rescued 16 juveniles in a two-week crackdown before the Super Bowl in 2014. Some trafficked women reported seeing up to 50 johns a day, more than double the usual traffic, according to a Reuters article.

Elsewhere in the metro area, other groups are planning to help victims or potential victims during the Super Bowl.

At the University of Minnesota, a group of students held an anti-Super Bowl party last fall to bring awareness to human trafficking. In St. Paul, the Civil Society, a nonprofit that provides legal help to sexual assault and human trafficking victims, is planning to do street outreach and distribute buttons and decals showing the U.S. Bank Stadium that read "Safety 4 Youth."

In a 14th-floor conference room in downtown St. Paul earlier this month, church leaders and other volunteers discussed plans for a hot line, sex trafficking prevention training for youths and airport workers, and a drop-in center near the stadium before and after the game for at-risk youths.

"We have to maximize our capacity to make sure the kids who can become knowledgeable have a place to go," said Linda Miller, an attorney and executive director of Civil Society. "What we're planning is very public and there are a lot of ways you can help."

Kelly Smith · 612-673-4141

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hollywoodreporter.com

 

ESPN will shed 100 staffers, most of them on-air talent, as the network works to retrench in the wake of falling subscription revenue, increased rights fees and a more concerted focus on digital content.

ESPN president John Skipper made the announcement on Wednesday, noting that "changes" in the talent lineup will be implemented this week.

"A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions," Skipper wrote in a note to employees posted on the network's website. "Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent - anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play - necessary to meet those demands.

"These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company," Skipper continued. "I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN."

Skipper did not specifically identify staffers or the number of employees that will be let go. But longtime ESPN NFL reporter Ed Werder tweeted this morning that he has been laid off.

Read more: Hannah Storm on Female Athletes: Earning Respect, But Not a Living (Guest Column)

"After 17 years reporting on #NFL, I've been informed that I'm being laid off by ESPN effective immediately," Werder tweeted. "I have no plans to retire."

So did college basketball reporter Dana O'Neil; "Add me to the list. Just got the 'call.' I've been informed my contract will not be renewed at ESPN."

About 100 on-air reporters - out of 1,000 across the company - are being told Wednesday that they will no longer be utilized, though the network will honor their contracts. The vast majority of those people will not be seen on the air for ESPN again, though in a handful of cases others will make final appearances in the coming days or weeks.

Other ESPN personalities may see their roles "significantly reduced," a person with knowledge of the situation told The Hollywood Reporter. They include Baseball Tonight's Karl Ravitch, ESPN Radio's Ryen Russillo and Hannah Storm, who has been a mainstay at ESPN for a decade and hosted various iterations of flagship SportsCenter. (An ESPN source said that Russillo will continue to host his radio show.)

The network will continue to evaluate talent contracts in the near term; and there very well could be more talent exits, some of them high-profile. Several contracts are coming up for renewal soon, including that of SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross, whose contract is up in July. An ESPN source said the network hopes to keep Buccigross.

Some anchors have already left: Kaylee Hartung, who covered college sports for the network for the past several years, will shift to CNN.

The last time ESPN undertook layoffs was in 2015, when the Bristol, Conn.-based network eliminated 300 jobs, which was close to 4 percent of its workforce. That year, ESPN also parted ways with big-ticket personalities including Keith Olbermann and Bill Simmons, who eventually went to HBO.

There were also layoffs in 2013. But this year's cuts are much more visible given that the vast majority of them will happen to on-air reporters, analysts and play-by-play announcers.

Read more: ESPN's Hannah Storm Leaves CAA for Sports and Entertainment Agency Octagon (Exclusive)

April 26, 8:58 a.m. Updated with details about Buccigross' employment status.

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Copyright 2017 Bangor Daily News

Bangor Daily News (Maine)

 

BANGOR, Maine — Less than a week after his thriving mixed martial arts and fitness gym was displaced, Chris Young finally can take a deep breath.

Young's MMA is back in business.

Young's was forced out of its home of the last 2Â 1/2 years after Penobscot County agreed to purchase the former Bangor YMCA for $825,000 this month. But it was set to resume its regular class schedule Tuesday at its new temporary quarters, the former Great Skates building on Sylvan Road.

"This place will definitely work," said Young, who founded Young's MMA in the basement of his Brewer home more than six years ago. "It's very spacious, and we've got what we need set up."

Young co-owns the gym with Ernie Fitch and serves as the head coach for a stable of the region's top mixed martial arts competitors. That group includes Bruce Boyington, Ryan Sanders, Aaron Lacey and Josh Harvey.

Young credited gym members for spurring talks between himself and Great Skates building owner Tom Ellis.

"We got that bad news that we had two weeks to get out of the other building, which was a really big punch in the face, so it was scramble time and really the members saved the day because they knew Tom and contacted him and told him the gym was in a tough spot," Young said.

"Tom got in touch with me and 'boom' — we're here through Tom's generosity."

Young wrote a Facebook post last Thursday evening seeking help with the move. By Saturday morning, some 40 members helped move the gym's equipment to its new home.

"One of the members rented a UHaul that they didn't even tell me about, and other people came with their trailers," he said. "I thought it was going to be an all-day process, and we were out of there in an hour and a half.

"We've been throwing around the term 'family,' and that's really what it is," he added.

Young's was able to maintain a schedule of fitness classes during its homeless period through the cooperation of Fields4Kids, an indoor sports facility in Bangor.

"Someone from the gym knew (Fields4Kids executive director) M.J. Ball, and he cleared some spots in the schedule so we could hold fitness classes," Young said. "Honestly, without him it would have been a lot worse situation."

Young will continue to look for a more permanent location for his gym, one somewhat smaller than the Great Skates building, a former roller-skating facility that was open for two decades before closing last year.

"I just want that security of being in a spot that we can call home because things can change," Young said. "As gracious as Tom has been, if he has the right guy walk through the door that wants to buy this building, the dynamic will probably change, but he feels pretty confident that we'll be good for six to eight months."

 

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Copyright 2017 The Columbus Dispatch
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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

 

Dateline: WASHINGTON

Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake said Tuesday he would oppose paying college athletes as if they were professional players, saying the "student-athlete relationship has served our students and our country well for decades."

At a panel discussion at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., and in an interview afterward, Drake said the current system of providing student-athletes with help on tuition and room and board has been "overwhelmingly successful in helping people to get an education and go on and do great things in their lives."

Drake pointed out his "father was a student-athlete many years ago," and probably "wouldn't have gone to college otherwise."

Major schools such as Ohio State agreed in 2015 to pay what is known as a "cost of attendance" stipend to college athletes in addition to whatever they receive from the university to pay for tuition and room and board. The stipends average about $3,000 a year per athlete.

The College Athletes Players Association, an organization founded by three former NCAA athletes, has pushed for college players to form unions and argued that college athletes deserve far more money than the stipends.

But Drake said he believes "in the student-athlete model overall. We want to do our best to manage that. I understand the pressures on student athletes and understand the nature and the size of our athletic enterprise. But I think the student-athlete relationship has served our students and our country well for decades."

Drake was seconded by Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, who said paying college athletes "would get in the way of them being students first and foremost, and athletes second."

Drake, Tessier-Lavigne, and Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust spoke about the future of higher education before an audience of several hundred people at a downtown hotel in Washington.

jtorry@dispatch.com

@jacktorry1

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Copyright 2017 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

STEVENS POINT — Beginning next school year, every WIAA athlete will be covered by concussion insurance.

Tuesday the Board of Control unanimously approved a policy with Dissinger Reed. The HeadStrong Concussion Insurance Program will provide the approximately 80,000 WIAA athletes in grades 6-12 with up to $25,000 of coverage per injury.

The plan costs $1.50 per athlete and covers any student participating in any practice or game sanctioned by the WIAA. For claims, a student's insurance will be filled first and then the HeadStrong Insurance would serve as a secondary insurance that covers the cost of deductibles or co-pays.

The official start date of the policy is Aug. 1, the first day of the WIAA's new fiscal year.

"The potential cost to a kid or a family should not be the reason that they don't get the diagnosis, the care, the follow-up treatment that they should have if there is a concussion," WIAA executive director Dave Anderson said.

The board approved the adoption of the concussion insurance during the same meeting it also approved an increase of regional tournament ticket prices from $4 to $5. Part of the additional proceeds from that increase will be used to cover the cost of the insurance, which is about $121,000 per year.

Greenfield violations: Deputy director Wade Labecki informed the board of the recruiting violations the Greenfield district reported to the WIAA this week.

"They hired a football coach who had somehow been involved in students transferring to that school from Milwaukee Public Schools, about five of them," he said. "This came to our attention back in February before (state) wrestling, the 21st of February. I sent a note down there. Once they started digging they found there were fraudulent addresses as well."

When discussing the matter Monday, Greenfield athletic director Trent Lower said he couldn't put a number on how many kids were involved. Also, while the district said the individual who recruited those students was no longer employed by the district, it didn't name the person who allegedly committed the violation.

Two weeks ago, Shane Covington, the school's head coach last season, told local television stations that he had been forced to resign and students rallied in hopes of having him retained as coach. Monday he told Fox 6 news that he did not have any involvement with any effort to get students to enroll at the school.

Usually, when a transfer student is deemed ineligible to compete at his or her new school, the individual has the option of returning to his or her former high school and become immediately eligible. That is not the case in this situation. Because these students were found to have intentionally provided false information to Greenfield, they are ineligible for one calendar year at any WIAA school.

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Copyright 2017 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

 

For 10 years, the American College of Sports Medicine has been trying to convince a sedentary public that exercise is medicine, as good for what ails us as over-the-counter or prescription pills.

What began as a national campaign morphed into a global initiative, with the goal of getting physicians to prescribe exercise to their patients and suggest that they get "physical activity counseling."

But although the association between exercise and health is widely accepted, there seems to be no consensus on how much physical activity we need for optimal health. The World Health Organization recommends 2½ hours a week. A study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation last year recommended five times that amount. And now there's recent research suggesting that people who exercise only on weekends can reap significant health benefits.

While the studies seem contradictory, they have one thing in common: They conclude the more exercise you do, the healthier you'll be - up to a point.

Finding that sweet spot can greatly reduce the chance that of getting one of five common diseases. But for those currently unable to run six hours or swim eight hours a week, the new findings on "weekend warriors" will at least encourage you to do what you can for the time being. But be careful - occasional exercise comes with its own set of risks.

Attention, weekend warriors

The "weekend warrior" study published Jan. 9 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine has gotten lots of buzz for its promise of longer life with sporadic effort. The authors said that weekend-only exercise and "insufficient activity" patterns can cut mortality by 30 percent.

"Many midlife people with active family lives and burgeoning careers find it difficult to make time for regular workouts. As a result, fitness advocates often encourage a small-steps approach to exercise," wrote Amby Burfoot, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon, in The Washington Post.

"Don't be discouraged if you don't have the time to train for a half- marathon, they advise. Focus on what you can do, not what you can't. Anything is better than nothing. The new research seems to confirm this," Burfoot wrote.

That could be heartening to the estimated third of Americans who get no exercise at all, or those who fall into an exercise drought and despair of losing fitness and momentum.

Researchers analyzed the weekly exercise reported by 63,000 British and Scottish adults and found both the ones who worked out once or twice a week for 2½ hours or more and the ones who exercised just an hour were both around 30 percent more likely to outlive the completely sedentary.

But one subset of people fared even better: Those who exercised three or more times a week.

"These individuals tended to go longer and slower than less-frequent exercisers but logged impressive weekly totals of about 450 minutes. They had a 35 percent lower all-cause mortality rate," Burfoot explained.

That's similar to what a public- health researcher in Australia recommended in a report published last year.

Dismissing the recommendations of the World Health Organization as insufficient, the study concluded that we need five times that amount to significantly cut our risk of five types of disease: breast and bowel cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

"Although the first minutes of activity do (the) most for health, our research results suggest activity needs to be several times higher than current World Health Organization recommendations to achieve larger reductions in risks of these diseases," lead author Lennert Veerman, of the University of Queensland, said in a statement.

His advice translates into exercise sessions that would be staggering for most people: 15 to 20 hours of brisk walking per week, 6 to 8 hours of running, 7 hours of cycling and eight hours of swimming.

Working with researchers at the University of Washington and Dartmouth College, Veerman analyzed 174 studies published between 1980 and 2016 and compared activity levels with the incidence of disease. Using a measure called "Metabolic Equivalent of Task" - or MET - he assigned values to minutes of vigorous activity, light activity or doing nothing.

As The Huffington Post explained, "Most health gains occur at a total activity level of 3,000-4,000 MET minutes a week which equals 12.5 to 16.5 hours of brisk walking or 6 to 8 hours of running a week."

But in their study, published in the journal BMJ, the researchers advocated not just for repeated, sustained periods of vigorous exercise, but also picking up the pace of everyday activities and chores.

"Focusing on a particular domain such as leisure-time physical activity, which represents only a small fraction of total activity, as was done by most studies, restricts the scope of applicability of the findings in the real world by limiting the opportunity of increasing activity in different domains in daily life (such as being more physically active at work, engaging more in domestic activities such as housework and gardening, and/or engaging in active transportation such as walking and cycling)," the authors said. "Taking into account all domains of physical activity increases opportunities for promoting physical activity."

While it's a problem that relatively few Americans have, there is some evidence that you can exercise too much.

Take it slow

In his memoir "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running," the novelist Haruki Murakami wrote that when people criticize him, "I go running for a little longer than usual. By running longer it's like I can physically exhaust that portion of my discontent."

As Murakami knows, in addition to offering protection from disease, vigorous exercise has been shown to have psychological benefits, such as quelling anxiety and reducing depression. Physical activity also treats ADHD and seems to slow cognitive decline as people age.

But despite the many benefits, weekend warriors should remember that sporadic physical activity can come with a cost: increased soreness at the first of the week, plus the possibility of injury.

A 2014 study found increased risk of serious injury among weekend-only athletes, although the author was uncertain whether it was because the exercisers were more easily fatigued or stressed, or just that they weren't as experienced those who worked out more frequently.

Moreover, physical exertion stresses the heart, which can lead to catastrophe if people try to do too much too soon. Recently in Thailand, where government leaders have been ordered to exercise for 90 minutes every Wednesday, a Bangkok official collapsed and died during an afternoon football game. And every year in the U.S., a few runners with preexisting conditions die from the stress of road races. And extreme amounts of exercise can lead to a condition called "athlete's heart," in which the heart becomes dangerously enlarged.

It's clear, however, that exercise benefits both mind and body in increments as little as 10 minutes, building gradually to an hour or more every day. A widely accepted general rule is to increase your physical activity no more than 10 percent every week.

EMAIL: jgraham@deseretnews.com

TWITTER: grahamtoday

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Copyright 2017 Wichita Falls Times Record News
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Times Record News (Wichita Falls, Texas)

 

It's not quite a 100-yard dash, but the Wichita Falls ISD is making a run for getting a new track at Barwise Middle School.

At a 41/2-hour goal-setting session - the second 41/2-hour goal-setting session in the last two weeks - the school board and administrators focused some of their discussions on athletic department goals.

"That would be my No. 1 request for budgeting, would be that we would budget in to replace the Barwise track," Wichita Falls ISD Athletic Director Scot Hafley said.

The official estimate to do the work from Hellas Construction, which recently completed tennis court work at Hirschi and McNiel and turf field work around the district, is a little more than $628,000, Hafley said.

"And there are two alternate bids to add topsoil and sod."

Hafley said when it comes to the Barwise track, "It's bad. We'll have to bus to Wichita Falls High School for track practice. It's that bad."

He said the Barwise track surface is beset by drainage issues and is peeling off its concrete base, so it does not provide an adequate surface for walking or running.

"Our plan is to remove the track and all field events completely and rebuild the structure with a similar layout to what was done at the high schools last summer. We will replace the eight-lane track with six lanes and move the field events to new areas either inside the track or to an area that isn't flooded every time it rains."

"What's the time frame?" board President Dale Harvey asked .

"Once they mobilize, it's pretty quick. We're not doing turf or anything. We're just doing the track.... If it's good weather, it's six to eight weeks (to complete the project)."

Superintendent Michael Kuhrt said another push from the Barwise community to address the track problem is that a group of parents wants to install a GaGa Ball pit play area outside, on the east side of the cafeteria. However, Kuhrt said none of that work can be done until the track issue is resolved.

"If we do any track work whatsoever, it would mess up anything they do."

The board and administration also discussed the long-talked-about plan for weight rooms at Kirby and Barwise middle schools.

"McNiel has a weight room. Kirby has a portable, and at Barwise, they brought over some of the Zundy weights and they lined them up against the wall on the upstairs gym," Hafley said, adding that students don't play basketball or volleyball in the upstairs gym.

He added that the district has received updated estimates on weight rooms since the decision was made to postpone the project.

"We are looking at a simple 1,200- to 1,500- square foot weight room that would be of similar size to the weight rooms located at McNiel Middle School."

Board trustee Elizabeth Yeager asked, "Do you think the track might be on the agenda next month?" and trustee Bill Franklin asked the same of the weight rooms.

"We're ready to go," Kuhrt said, though he added his recommendation would be to move another portable out to Kirby "until we come up with a long-range plan for Kirby."

On the plus side, Hafley said that once the track and weight room projects are completed, "Outside of natural disasters, there are no major (athletic) projects on the horizon we have to worry about," and the district would be concerned afterward with maintenance of their athletic facilities.

No action was taken at the goal-setting session. Items were for discussion only.

Follow Lana Sweeten-Shults on Twitter @LanaSweetenShul.

 

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Copyright 2017 The Buffalo News
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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

Hamburg Town Board members got an update Monday evening on the proposed $25 million to $30 million sportsplex.

But the board members would not reveal the latest on the public-private venture.

"The board has directed him to provide information that he has not provided," Town Supervisor Steven J. Walters said about the meeting with Marty Starkman, president of Sportstar of Toronto.

Once there is a signed agreement to purchase the property, an announcement will be made, Walters said.

He also has said a public meeting would be held to explain the proposal.

Walters said he hoped to have more information in two weeks.

The board has carried much of its conversation on the proposed recreational facility in executive session, before and after hiring Sportstar for up to $140,000 to undertake a feasibility and financial analysis of the project.

If the town decides not to go forward with the proposal, the town would have to pay for the work the company already performed.

A representative of Rink Management Services Corp. of Virginia, carrying a packet with the title "Hamburg Sportsplex Feasibility, Including Memorandums of Understanding" also met with the board and Starkman for about a half hour before the board's regular meeting Monday evening.

Starkman said last August he was "close" to identifying a parcel of land for the project, which would include twin ice rinks, a fieldhouse, gyms, a pro shop and restaurant. And in February, the supervisor said an announcement on the location was almost ready.

Meanwhile, the town has received a proposal for a $15 million competing private facility.

The Kaleta group, with Liberatore Management Group and Ellicott Development, last week presented a sketch plan of its proposed twin rinks at the site of the former McKinley Park Inn on McKinley Parkway near McKinley Mall.

The Kaleta group plans a 26,000-square-foot addition to be built on the back of the existing building to house the rinks.

The complex would include multisport fields and be home to the HITS Foundation, a charity founded by former Buffalo Sabres player Patrick Kaleta.

"There are traffic concerns," planning consultant Drew Reilly said Monday about the Kaleta proposal.

He said the problem is traffic trying to leave the parking lot on McKinley, and studies might point to the need for a traffic signal or another exit

"Have you ever tried to go left on McKinley?" he said.

He said information on traffic is one of the items that would be looked at when more formal plans and studies are submitted.

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Copyright 2017 The Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.
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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

As the Dolphins consider the players they'll select in the NFL d raft this week, some measurables have been staples for years: height, weight, speed, strength and tackles and touchdowns.

But in an effort to improve their chances of drafting a successful player, Miami has asked a Harvard-educated performance psychologist to interview more than 50 college prospects at the scouting combine in Indianapolis and the team's headquarters in Davie.

"While the NFL will spend millions and millions and millions of dollars assessing from the neck down, really assessing from the neck up is where the future will be and where it goes," Dr. Rick Perea told The Palm Beach Post. "The teams that put the emphasis on that piece will be the ones that win."

Perea is no stranger to Davie or the Dolphins. Behind the scenes, Perea worked with Dolphins coaches and players during all of their 10-win, playoff season last year.

A former undrafted free-agent linebacker with the Denver Broncos, Perea has been tapped by many pro and college sports teams, including the Chicago Bears and Broncos, two former organizations of Dolphins coach Adam Gase.

Perea says he has also worked with as many as 16 current NFL quarterbacks. Perea's strengths are multi pronged.

From ABGetting into athletes' heads and hearts, sports psychologists say, will boost the effectiveness of their arms and legs

When it comes to in-season work with athletes, for example, Perea says he helps players take an active role in how to control their human behavior. He says he can help players use techniques and protocols to get their thoughts in the right place. While he declined to get into specifics, Perea was able to speak in generalities.

"It comes down to helping them shape their thoughts, so their thoughts don't shape them," he said. "Thoughts lead to feelings. Feelings lead to moods. Moods lead to behavior. Behavior is the performance on the field. So we can actually influence that behavior by shaping our thoughts on a daily basis."

As it relates to pre-draft evaluation, Perea conducted "qualitative discussions" as part of two-day player visits that typically include meetings with executives, coaches, trainers, strength staff and security as well as Miami's highly respected sports performance staff.

Miami owner Stephen Ross has invested heavily in second-level resources designed to help players and, in turn, the organization. For example, Miami operates a full-time sports performance group led by director Wayne Diesel.

The consultation of Perea can be compared with strategies companies such as Apple and Google use in their hiring screening processes.

For all of the fancy words that can be used to explain what Perea's objective, it can really be boiled down to this: Does this prospect have high or low self-motivation?

"One of the things we do is we assess personalities," Perea said. "Personality is assessed by five major domains that we look at in psychology. Conscientiousness is really about someone's drive and motor and motive to perform on a daily basis. Their drive and their DNA. Is it in their DNA? Do they wake up in the morning and say, 'I can't wait to do this' or do they need a carrot dangled in front of them to do something ? When we talk about motivation, the root word is 'motive.' What is our motive in what we do? So we analyze conscientiousness as a core level."

One player who said he met with Perea in Davie was an SEC lineman who may be drafted in Rounds 2 or 3 on Friday night.

"His session was inspiring," the player said. "He really helped me. I learned a lot about myself, and he showed me ways to think about things in life. We spoke about how you can train your brain to think differently. He wanted to learn about you as a person and get deeper into what type of person you are and who you are. Talk about things to help figure out who you are and what your purpose is and what you want you want to get out of life. You can run a 4.2 at the combine or break records, but at the end of the day, it's about how badly do you want it?"

How badly do you want it?

If only NFL teams had more honest information about that seemingly unquantifiable character trait.

Yet that's exactly what Perea is trying to quantify.

"We want to understand what level of conscientiousness they have at what we call a covert level," Perea explained. "Covert means things that you can't see, like thoughts, feelings and perceptions. If I were sitting there right next to you, you would not be able to tell what my covert behavior is. My overt is something you can see, like anger control, relationship experience, anger management. Those are things you can see.

"My piece is really to understand their psychological core. I don't really care about how their ability to process information rapidly. That's not my area of expertise. My expertise is who are they at a psychological core. Because who they are will determine how they react to certain situations."

Perea notes the success of coaches he believes are open to performance psychology.

"It's about understanding how much the brain influences the body," he said. "And we now have some people in the NFL that are now driving that ship. And, oh, by the way, coincidentally it's people like Pete Carroll, Bill Belichick, Adam Gase and Nick Saban. So all four of those guys have something in common. I don't have to tell you what that is."

Miami has openly discussed how it is important to draft -- and retain -- players with not only the physical skill set to achieve high levels of on-field success, but who also fit into a positive culture.

"We don't want the guy with a low level of conscientiousness," Perea said. "We don't want the guy that needs the carrot. We want the guy that has the motor. And we can actually measure that. We can really make a determination of what that person is at a core level."

jschad@pbpost.com

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Copyright 2017 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

La Salle University announced Tuesday that it has sold naming rights for its primary campus athletics facility, long known as Hayman Hall, to TruMark Financial Credit Union.

The facility will now be known as the TruMark Financial Center. The basketball arena that's part of the building will keep its traditional name, Tom Gola Arena, but will now be officially known as the Tom Gola Arena at TruMark Financial Center.

A source said the rights deal is worth millions of dollars over at least 10 years. No further details were available.

"We are anticipating a long, successful relationship that enhances the on-campus student experience for years to come," La Salle athletic director Bill Bradshaw said in a statement.

The naming rights deal came a day after TruMark announced that it will open a branch on La Salle's campus, offer financial literacy education programs to the university's students, and provide scholarship money.

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Copyright 2017 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

The U.S. Department of Justice picked the University of Toledo as one of 14 schools to join a project aimed at helping male athletes lead the effort to prevent sexual assault and violence against women.

As part of its selection, UT will receive $10,000 in training and curriculum for the "Healthy Masculinity Campus Athletics Project." UT will send three people to the justice department in Washington for training in July.

The project focuses on men who play and coach sports and who work as athletics administrators. The idea is to connect with the influential campus leaders as allies in the effort to prevent sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, and stalking.

UT announced its participation in the program Monday.

The university will send representatives from its athletics department and student advocacy and wellness center to be trained. Afterward, the curriculum will be shared on campus.

From ABAdvocate for Victims of Student-Athlete Gender Violence Urges Action

"This is a great opportunity to further enhance our training and resources for our student-athletes so they can play a strong leading role in fostering a healthy, safe campus," Athletic Director Mike O'Brien said in a written statement. "UT athletics continues to support sexual assault education and prevention.

"We work with UT's Title IX Office and Center for Student Advocacy and Wellness to train our coaches, staff, and student-athletes on an ongoing basis," O'Brien added.

Last month, the university suspended an unnamed male athlete from an unidentified sport after a student accused him of raping her at an off-campus apartment.

A Lucas County grand jury declined to indict the 22-year-old athlete on the charges.

However, he remains suspended from team activities as the university continues its own Title IX investigation, according to UT spokesman Christine Billau.

 

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USA TODAY

 

Fitbit says that it is safe to wear or buy its Flex 2 fitness tracker as it investigates claims of a Wisconsin woman who said the band exploded on her wrist last Tuesday, resulting in second-degree burns.

The woman, Dina Mitchell, told a TV station that she had been reading when "the bracelet melted and I got pieces of plastic burned into my arm.... I'm going to have a scar from this probably. Can you imagine what it would do to a child?"

In a statement emailed to USA TODAY, Fitbit says it has spoken to Mitchell.

"We are extremely concerned about Ms. Mitchell's report regarding her Flex 2 and take it very seriously, as the health and safety of our customers is our top priority," the statement read. "Fitbit products are designed and produced in accordance with strict standards and undergo extensive internal and external testing to ensure the safety of our users."

Fitbit added, "We are not aware of any other complaints of this nature and see no reason for people to stop wearing their Flex 2."

Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin confirmed to USA TODAY that Mitchell was treated at one of its urgent care facilities.

The slim $99.95 Flex 2 swim-proof band came out in the fall. Inside is a lithium-polymer battery that's far smaller than the lithium-ion cell inside the Samsung's Galaxy Note 7's that caught fire. It's too soon to draw parallels with the Note, which for Samsung resulted in an embarrassing and costly recall.

Joseph Wittine, an analyst with Longbow Research, doesn't see this episode as Fitbit's "Samsung Note moment" and said he's viewing the report with "some element of skepticism."

"If anything, let's be patient with the process," says Ramon Llamas, IDC research manager for wearables. But Llamas adds that he's eager to see what Fitbit's investigation uncovers.

Fitbit cannot afford any bad news. The company is coming off a lousy holiday selling season, and it posted an adjusted fourth quarter loss of $144.2 million.

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Copyright 2017 Journal - Gazette Apr 25, 2017

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

 

Celebrating a hard-run race with beer seemed like a good idea to Jamie Delagrange. That's why she capped off her 5K Honor Run with a toast to the runners and veterans by adding a craft beer tent.

Delagrange, executive director of the Honor Run Project, the nonprofit organization that conducts the Honor Run and Brew Jam, says the craft beer tent makes the 5K race unique.

"There is a sense of accomplishment when you finish any race," Delagrange says. "5Ks are a dime a dozen; this makes ours different and unique to the city."

It's just one of many area fitness runs that incorporate alcohol as part of its race. And Fort Wayne-area runners are responding.

This is the second year for the Honor Run, which on June 24 takes runners through downtown Fort Wayne and finishes with the Brew Jam, a party that has live music and craft beer donated by local brewers on the riverbank near Fort Wayne Outfitters. Delagrange is expecting more than 300 participants this year, although people don't have to run the race to enjoy the family-friendly Brew Jam, she says.

"I wanted to involve the community - runners, people who like craft beer, military supporters, people who just wanted to listen to music," she says. "It appeals to many different crowds."

The Honor Run celebrates veterans and 100 percent of the proceeds benefit the Honor Flight of Northeast Indiana which pays for veterans to visit Washington, D.C., memorials at no cost.

"For me, I look at these veterans and just think that they literally were boys, went away to fight a war, they came home and never talked about it again," Delagrange says. "It's important to honor them, and Honor Flight is a fabulous organization to give them the thank you they deserved for so long."

Delagrange is not the only one raising a glass to a good workout.

The Michiana Wine Festival, happening Saturday, includes "Night Wine at the Line," a nighttime 5K race through Headwaters Park on Friday. Once the racers are finished, they are treated to a glass of wine. The race, which has close to 200 participants, is sold out.

The festival is the creation of Nichole Thomas, and her two girlfriends, Cristal Reader and Lisa Beber.

Thomas says there are a lot of festivals and events that include wine, but none of them are solely dedicated to wine. The three friends wanted an event that did just that.

Sixteen wineries from across the state, including several locally, will be at the festival. In addition, there will be food trucks, craft vendors and live local music. The cost is only $30.

"Most wine events are fundraisers, but most have a pretty expensive price tag," Thomas says. "We love those events, but we wanted to do something that focuses on wine."

Thomas says the festival is an avenue to have a lot of fun and spend the day drinking wine.

"It's just going to be a fun day," she says, "and even if you don't like wine, come on out to celebrate."

trich@jg.net

If you go

What: Honor Run and Brew Jam

When: June 24; 3:30 p.m. registration begins with opening ceremonies at 5 p.m. and race at 5:10 p.m.

Where: Fort Wayne Outfitters, 1004 Cass St.

Cost: $29 ages 12 to 20 and $39 for ages 21 and over before June 1

Registration: www.honorrunbrewjam.com

What: Michiana Wine Festival

When: Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Headwaters Park East, 333 S. Clinton St.

Admission: $30 advance, $35 at the door; additional tickets for VIP package and evening concert

Registration: Eventbrite.com

 

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Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA)

 

After putting together a breakout season in 2016, Pirates outfielder Starling Marte eight days ago was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs.

When one of the game's emerging stars tries to cheat the system, it's a blow to that player and his team. But it does not shake commissioner Rob Manfred's faith in MLB's drug-testing program.

"I do not see it as a program failure that we have positive tests," Manfred said Tuesday. "I doubt we will ever get to the point where any sport can say with 100 percent certainty that no athlete is using a performance-enhancing drug. Occasionally, athletes are going to make a bad decision. We have a program in place that is the best at catching them if they make that decision."

Manfred said Marte did not appeal his 80-game suspension, which was announced April 18.

According to MLB, there were 8,281 drug tests conducted on major leaguers last year. Fifteen players were disciplined.

Under a new collective bargaining agreement, the number of tests this year will increase to nearly 12,000.

In the wake of Marte's suspension, Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said MLB isn't testing often enough. Rizzo, like former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, wonders if the process' random nature results in an uneven distribution of tests.

In 2015, Ortiz claimed in a story for The Players' Tribune that he was tested nearly 80 times since 2004.

"Anthony Rizzo is certainly entitled to have whatever opinion he wants," Manfred said. "But to criticize the program based on the random experience of one player over a very short period of time is probably not the best form of criticism. Our athletes are tested more frequently than any athlete in any professional sport. I am really confident in the strength of the program."

Manfred stopped by PNC Park on Tuesday to promote MLB's "Play Ball" youth baseball initiative.Â

"It is crucial that we get kids playing our game," Manfred said. "The single biggest determinant of whether somebody is going to be a baseball fan as an adult is whether they played as a kid."

Other topics Manfred addressed included:

MLB is "monitoring" Jung Ho Kang's situation in South Korea, where the third baseman is awaiting a work visa that will allow him to rejoin the Pirates. In March, Kang got a suspended sentence after his third drunk-driving conviction.

"We have not been actively involved other than giving advice," Manfred said. "That's what we ordinarily do, with respect to immigration matters. That's generally handled by the club. They're in a position to do that more effectively than we are."

Steps taken to improve competitive balance by former commissioner Bud Selig led to stability among the 30 big league owners, Manfred said.

"It also has produced financial stability, if not profitability," Manfred said. "Most of our owners are in this game for the competitive side of the game. The fact that they believe they have a chance to win encourages them to stay in and hope their number is going to come up."

Pirates chairman Bob Nutting said MLB has taken care to approve owners who have a passion for the game.

"It's a group that is stable, is compatible and is generally very pleased with the direction that Rob is taking the game," Nutting said. "He has been very connected to and has been a great friend of the Pittsburgh Pirates."

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Copyright 2017 Sun Journal Apr 25, 2017

Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)

 

WESTBROOK (AP) — Law enforcement officials say a gymnastics coach has been charged with sexual abuse of a minor after being caught inside a darkened gym with a 14-year-old girl.

Prosecutors say 43-year-old Jeremy Link was seen with his pants around his ankles by the girl's father. Link taught ninja classes at Elite All-Stars of Maine and at another gymnastics facility.

The Portland Press Herald reported the owner of Elite All-Stars hired Link a year ago. She says he passed a background check during the hiring process.

Authorities have not said where the alleged assault took place. Link's phone rang unanswered Monday afternoon. His bail has been set at $15,000 cash or $100,000 bond.

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The New York Post

 

Nancy Slagowitz, 49, says she has found her fountain of youth. And she didn't discover it in an expensive pill — her miracle came in the form of a kettlebell.

The lean, married mother of two points to high-intensity interval training (HIIT), in which she uses a kettlebell, as the elixir that's keeping her young.

"It's the perfect antidote [to harsher workouts]," says Slagowitz, who trains two to three times a week and says she has seen a transformation in her body and attitude. While Reebok CrossFit was punishing — "My body couldn't handle it. I felt like Private Benjamin," she says — her HIIT routine has had the opposite affect.

"I walk differently. I definitely feel more fit, stronger and have more energy," says Slagowitz. "I have abs and that cut look in my arms. [Plus, I] look younger."

Slagowitz's turnaround lends credence to new findings that suggest HIIT can actually stop the aging process at the cellular level.

A study, published in March by the Mayo Clinic, found that after 12 weeks of HIIT, participants had "improved age-related decline in muscle mitochondria." The mitochondria is the powerhouse structure of the cell, and its decline is a factor in age-related physical deterioration.

HIIT alternates short periods of high-intensity exercise followed by low- or moderate-intensity intervals. The workout is known to be incredibly efficient, speeding up your metabolism to burn calories long after you hit the showers.

In recent years, HIIT has spawned numerous boutiques that use it as their foundations — including the Fhitting Room, where Slagowitz trains, and Kore — and has seen an uptick in classes at gyms such as the Row House and even boxing studios.

"Your body is working hard after the workout to replenish your muscles and keep getting oxygen into the body," says Dara Theodore, a trainer at the Fhitting Room. "It works for you beyond the 20, 30 or 40 minutes you're doing the actual activity."

Jessica Bolbach, who co-owns Kore in the Meatpacking District with her mother, Candice Bolbach, recommends that older exercisers spend extra time on their form to avoid injury.

"By listening to your body and easing into the exercises it will still provide the benefits [and] will prevent injury, which will allow you to do more over time," says Jessica, 30. "In turn, you'll see even greater results and progress, no matter your age or fitness level."

Theodore says beginners of all ages should ease into a HIIT routine, and suggests starting with twice-a-week workouts with rest periods. Once the fitness improves, she says, increase this to three to four times a week.

HIIT is a particularly helpful workout for time-starved New Yorkers.

"I like [that it] hits the body from head to toe because, quite frankly, I don't have a lot of time to work out. It's the most bang for your buck," says Theodore, 45, who is raising two children. The Upper East Side mother was a runner and yoga devotee until she went to the Fhitting Room. As a trainer, the incredibly cut Theodore has seen results in her physique, her energy level and even her blood work.

"One hundred percent, I feel younger. I have genetically high cholesterol [and it] came down," says Theodore. "And the fact that I teach class with younger trainers and we're all on the same schedule and have the same amount of energy, I attribute that to HIIT."

Candice Bolbach isn't surprised by the study. The 60-something HIIT devotee who, along with her husband, takes classes four times a week at her gym says, "Not only does my body look better and feel better, but my face and skin do as well because it brings more oxygen to the blood flow. [I look] younger. That's the truth."

Her daughter agrees that she has seen the difference in her mother, as well as in other older clients.

"People talk about toning their trouble spots, like [their] booty. They're the things that start to lose [definition] as you get older, but by doing this workout, those are the things you can maintain and [even] reverse," says Jessica.

Beyond looking and feeling younger, there are other benefits, notes Slagowitz: Her jeans are a size smaller. It was a difference she saw after a few months.

"You get lean doing this," says the admitted foodie, adding that HIIT helps her to work off her wine-and-dining habit. "It makes it a lot more fun living in New York."

The Workout

Dara Theodore, a trainer at Fhitting Room, one of the early HIIT proponents, says this 20-minute HIIT workout -—which requires dumbbells and kettlebells at the weight of your choice — uses compound movements.

"You're using more than one joint and accessing more than one muscle group, which makes it a more efficient and intense workout," she says.

Start the routine with a three-minute warm-up of your choice (think jumping jacks or jogging in place).

Then, move onto the five high-intensity moves below.

Each high-intensity move should be done for 40 seconds. In between each move, do low-intensity squat thrusts for 20 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds before starting the next move.

To do a squat thrust - "a modified burpee that's body-weight cardio to keep your heart rate up," says Theodore — squat with your hands on the floor, kick your legs out into a plank, bring the legs back in and stand back up. Keep it up for 20 seconds.

Do the entire routine twice.

Move 1: Kettlebell deadlift

Begin in a standing position with the kettlebell in your hands. Slowly hinge forward from your hips while pushing your butt back, lowering your arms until your hands hover by your knees. Stand back up.

"This is full body because you're engaging from the shoulders down," says Theodore. "Your lats are engaged, and you're working your hamstrings and quads."

Move 2: Push up to renegade row

Start in a plank position with a dumbbell in each hand (resting on the floor) and your feet shoulder-width apart. Do a regular pushup, and each time you come back up, pull one dumbbell up toward your rib cage, return to the floor and then do the dumbbell pull on the other side.

"You're engaging your lats while you're keeping your core fully engaged," says Theodore.

Move 3: Goblet lateral lunge

Stand with your feet together while gripping a weight with two hands. Step one leg out laterally, bending the knee, while keeping the other leg straight. Hinge forward, lowering your elbow to your knee. Come back up and repeat on other side.

"This is one of the most basic, fundamental moves. You're using your core, glutes, abductors and inner thighs," says Theodore.

Move 4: Push press

Stand with your core engaged holding a dumbbell in each hand, just outside of your shoulders, with your elbows bent. Dip your knees down and then use leg power to push back up to standing position while pushing the weights straight above your shoulders. Lower your arms back to starting position.

"If doing two dumbbells at once is too difficult, it's okay to do one arm at a time," says Theodore.

Move 5: Russian twist

Sit on the floor with your body in a "V" position and your toes pointed. Hold the weight at your chest and using your obliques, rotate side to side.

"This is a core rotational movement," says Theodore.

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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

The University of Memphis announced Monday afternoon that it will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its new indoor football practice facility Thursday morning at 11 a.m.

The groundbreaking date, which was first reported by The Commercial Appeal last month, comes more than five years after the university began raising money for such a facility, most recently as part of its "Time to Shine" capital campaign. Memphis announced in August 2015 that it was raising $40 million for the construction of new facilities for football and basketball. Construction of the basketball facility began last year, while the football facility has been delayed.

In addition to the construction of an indoor practice field, the Billy J. Murphy Athletic Complex will be renovated to include coaches' offices and a new dining area, among other amenities.

In a January interview with The Commercial Appeal, university president David Rudd said he expects it to be a 10-12 timeline for construction "on critical aspects in terms of a usable indoor facility," with further renovations thereafter. With Thursday's groundbreaking ceremony, which will be an invitation-only event, the indoor practice facility should be available for use throughout the 2018 football season, if not earlier.

Highland Hundred hosting annual golf event

The Highland Hundred, a booster group supporting the Memphis football program, will host the annual Les Phillips Memorial Golf Tournament at Colonial Country Club on May 12. Player fees are $185, with breakfast and lunch included.

To register or learn more about the event, visit HighlandHundred.org.

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

Local officials will gather Wednesday to honor Zaevion Dobson, the fallen teen football player killed while shielding his friends from gunfire, and celebrate the opening of a new playground dedicated to his memory.

The new park in Lonsdale Homes, the public housing complex where Dobson lived and died, will serve the more than 200 children between the ages of 5 and 12 who live there, officials with Knoxville's Community Development Corp. have said.

The public housing authority; Gerdau, a steel manufacturer headquartered in the area; and the city together funded the new playground, which has a slide, swings and open space for children to play. It was completed in March, and officials will gather for a ribbon cutting at 4:30p.m. Wednesday.

The park sits on land donated by Gerdau and KCDC, at the edge of the Lonsdale Homes community.

The ribbon cutting also comes a week after city and county officials announced a partnership with the community organization Emerald Youth Academy to build a $10 million community and youth sports complex in the neighborhood.

Lonsdale has been shaken by gang violence in recent years, including the high-profile death of Dobson, a 15-year-old Fulton High School football player killed in the crossfire of a gang retaliation. Police have said he was shielding his friends on a porch where they had been gathered, and his heroics garnered national attention, including a tearful mention by then-President Barack Obama and earned him a posthumous Arthur Ashe Courage Award at ESPN's annual ESPY awards in 2016.

Most recently, another 15-year-old, Xavier Shell, was hit by gang-related gunfire in the home of friends he was visiting in the neighborhood in late March, police said. The bullet lodged near his heart, and doctors told him it was too dangerous to have it removed.

The recent spurt of gang activity is not the first for the neighborhood. The lot where the new sports complex is slated to be built includes a memorial to 5-year-old Brittany Daniels, who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in 1996 while she was playing on the sidewalk outside her house. She, too, was caught in the crossfire of a bloody gang war, Knoxville police said at the time.

KCDC officials said last month that the idea for the park came from Dobson's mother, Zenobia Dobson.

"He made the ultimate sacrifice, and he leaves a powerful legacy of hope for kids in this neighborhood and everywhere," she said at the time. "The playground is really about raising awareness for kids and gun violence and the need to have a safe haven for all the children in the neighborhood. It's just need a safe place for them to go and play and be kids."

KCDC, Gerdau and the city have donated $35,000 for the park, and Recreational Concepts all but gave the equipment to the city and is installing it basically for free, KCDC officials said. Additional donations were made online through the Legacy Park Foundation at legacyparks.org.

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

 


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Greg Sankey considers June recruiting visits and hard caps on scholarships "unhealthy" for college football.

The SEC commissioner provided his thoughts on the sweeping recruiting package the NCAA's Division I council recently approved when he spoke Monday at the Associated Press Sports Editor's Southeast Region meeting on the campus of UAB.

If the package is approved by the Board of Governors on Wednesday, recruits would be allowed to make official visits April through June. Right now, recruits can take official visits only beginning in September of their senior year. This would allow them to begin their junior year.

Although Sankey is not against earlier official visits, he believes the time period allowed should provide an accurate representation of student life.

"Our football student leadership council in February they met. They said, 'Why would you bring people to campus when it's not the regular academic term. Why would you have visits in June?' " Sankey said. "These visits should be anchored during a regular academic year. We proposed an amendment to make it in April because everyone is essentially in class in April."

As part of the legislation, the number of recruits a program can sign each year would be capped at 25. Sankey believes more flexibility is needed.

"A hard count on signing day, I don't think accomplishes what it's intended to accomplish," Sankey said. "I think what it's going to do is remove some opportunities that should exist. If somebody signs and is ineligible for some reason, the school is prohibited from replacing that scholarship with someone new."

Most college coaches were happy with the addition of a 10th assistant coach to the staff. Sankey was curious about the means of the inclusion.

"I have yet to understand why with all the discussion about personnel, in a recruiting package a 10th assistant coach was added," he said. "I think it was viewed as a bit of a sweetener, if you will. But the personnel, the staffing situation is an important one."

Sankey said the issue of staff sizes remains an important topic the SEC plans to continue having conversations about.

He credited former Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley for being the first one to bring up football's large coach-to-athlete ratio compared to other sports in a coaches meeting years ago.

"Our leadership is hopeful there will be some meaningful discussion of overall personnel in football, but not to some lowest common denominator," Sankey said. "It's not just about numbers. It's perhaps about duties. We still want entry opportunities for people."

In regards to eliminating two-a-day practices, Sankey viewed the ban as the right step based on the medical feedback the conferences have received from the NCAA.

"As we learn more about the game, we want to be attentive to adopting things that support the health and safety (of) the participants," Sankey said.

Among the other issues Sankey addressed:

North Carolina's NCAA case

Sankey said he would not comment on his involvement in the University of North Carolina's ongoing academic case.

Last week, the Associated Press reported Sankey denied a request seeking his removal as head of the NCAA infractions panel handling the case because of conflict of interest.

In his role on the panel, Sankey said he fully recuses himself for anything involving SEC institutions. He said he was not involved when Tennessee appeared before the council twice or when Florida and Georgia appeared.

Sankey said he is "not at all" involved in granting immunity to student-athletes.

SEC officiating penalties

Sankey was asked if football officials should be more publicly accountable for any mistakes they make during games.

"We are prepared to acknowledge improper allocations of rules should they occur, but I don't think there is anything to gain from suspension," he said.

Although Sankey receives many questions about officiating from the public or media, he won't respond to every inquiry.

"The reality is the vast, vast majority of the time, they get it right in a very challenging situation," he said.

Television money

The television deals with ESPN and CBS have infused the conference with a windfall of money. Schools have used the money to increase coaching salaries and build new facilities.

But Sankey pointed out some of the income goes to support the student-athlete. He referenced a question-and-answer session he attended at Arkansas last year.

"A young woman raised her hand and said just how helpful it is to be able to charter back from soccer games during the conference portion of the regular season and get back on campus and back in class," Sankey said. "The administrators said that is part of what the SEC Network has brought."

Odds and ends

Sankey remains encouraged by the progress made in men's basketball scheduling. The SEC sent five teams to the NCAA tournament this year, and three reached the Elite Eight. Sankey said the SEC plans to keep working to make sure programs find the right balance between playing challenging schedules that will merit postseason attention and allowing teams to be successful and grow.

Sankey did not want to comment on the idea of a "super conference" eventually forming. He said he is happy with having 14 schools in the SEC. "It's not an agenda item at any meeting," Sankey said. "We've committed now to a new governance structure that's the big tent model of Division I.... It is working. It can continue to work."

Sankey said the SEC is having conversations about the potential of serving alcohol at football games. He anticipates more discussion at the SEC spring meeting in Destin, Fla. "That doesn't predict any outcomes, so be careful as you type. But we will see what the future holds," he said.


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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

A Boca Raton High standout football player will have to wait before he's allowed to join his teammates for spring practice, despite a judge's ruling that permitted his participation.

Shelley Singletary, an 18-year-old running back and defensive back considered a major college prospect, has been on house arrest since his arrest Jan. 25 on a felony charge. Singletary is accused of forcibly removing Air Jordan sneakers from an 11-year-old boy and stealing his bike.

Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer modified the terms of the house arrest twice, once to allow Singletary to return to classes at the high school and then on March 16 when she approved a defense request clearing the sophomore to take part in spring practice.

However, Boca Raton High principal Susie King informed the school's football staff that Singletary cannot take part in any team functions until his criminal case is resolved.

"The student has been cleared by a judge to participate in activities," according to a statement released by Palm Beach County Schools. "However, he has not been cleared by Boca Raton Community High School to practice or be part of the school's football team. At this time, he is in no way affiliated with the team or the spring season."

Singletary was in a car with three juveniles Jan. 25 when they spotted the 11-year-old riding his bike in the Oaks of Boca neighborhood, west of Florida's Turnpike and south of Yamato Road.

Singletary and one of the juveniles allegedly pulled off the boy's sneakers and took his bike, according to an arrest report.

One of the juveniles returned shortly after the robbery and warned the boy he would face retaliation if police were called, the report said.

The victim picked Singletary out of a police photo lineup and he was arrested by Boca Raton police Jan. 30 during lunchtime at Boca Raton High.

Singletary was released from the Palm Beach County Jail after posting a $25,000 bond and placed on house arrest with an ankle monitor to keep track of his movements. He was allowed to return to school after a Feb. 21 court ruling.

Singletary, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound two-way player, is ranked by MaxPreps, a college football recruiting website, as the state's No. 193 prospect.

The website 24/7 Sports reported in January that the University of Kentucky offered Singletary a football scholarship for 2018. NCAA rules prohibit schools from publicly discussing recruits until they sign letters of intent.

Singletary, who will turn 19 in September, is entering his final season of high school eligibility even though he will be listed as a junior. State rules allow students to participate in athletics until reaching the age limit of 19 years, 9 months.

Singletary's next court appearance is scheduled for June 19.

jmilian@pbpost.com

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Copyright 2017 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

The playground: a universal source of fun for children. It's also a place to burn calories, make new friends and develop skills like how to judge risks and make decisions. A good playground challenges and engages children but is also designed to keep them safe. One of the best ways to lower the chances of serious injuries is to make sure there is safe surfacing under and around the equipment.

Safe surfacing on playgrounds falls into two categories: loose materials such as wood chips, sand or pea gravel or permanent rubber-like materials. If a child falls, these softer materials absorb energy, making injury less likely. Hard surfaces such as grass, dirt, rocks, asphalt or concrete do not absorb as much energy, meaning the child is more likely to be injured in a fall.

Dayton Children's Hospital, a member of Prevent Child Injury, is participating in activities this week to promote the need for safe surfaces on playgrounds.

From AB: Why are so many communities still struggling to create safe playgrounds?

About 75 percent of injuries on the playground are due to falls. If your playground or home swing set is over grass, dirt, asphalt, or concrete, it's time to update. "Good surfacing under and around playground equipment means fewer serious injuries for all children who come to play," says Abbey Rymarczyk, Safe Kids Greater Dayton coordinator. "Even a simple swing set in the backyard should have protective surfacing to prevent injuries when kids fall."

Whether you're at home or out at a public playground, remember to check the surfacing first.

From ABPlayground Designers Face Hard Choices When Specifying Surfacing

Is it the right type? Surfacing should be either loose materials such as wood chips, sand, or pea gravel OR permanent rubber-like materials. Permanent rubber-like surfacing and engineered wood fibers are the only surfaces that meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Is there enough coverage? Surfacing should extend 6 feet out from all edges of playground equipment. Swings and slides need more coverage depending on how tall they are, so check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to see exactly how much coverage your playground needs.

Is it in good condition? If surfacing is loose materials, check heavily-used areas like under swings and at the end of slides to make sure 12 inches of material is in place. Check permanent rubber-like surfacing for worn spots or holes.

If not, make another choice. If you didn't say yes to these three questions, let the organization that oversees the playground know that the playground needs attention and find a new place to play until the playground meets guidelines.

This look at a children's health or safety issue comes from Dayton Children's Hospital.

Email:newsroom@childrensdayton.org

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Copyright 2017 Woodward Communications, Inc.
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Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)

 

DES MOINES - University of Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said Monday that three rounds of complaints from parents and field hockey players prompted an investigation into the program that ultimately led to the firing of coach Tracey Griesbaum in 2014.

Griesbaum's termination is a central piece of a lawsuit filed by former top administrator Jane Meyer against the university.

Meyer, who was Barta's top assistant for a decade, filed the suit after being moved to another department soon after the firing of Griesbaum, her partner. Meyer's job was eliminated in 2016.

Meyer alleges she suffered workplace discrimination as a gay woman in a relationship with a coach, that the school retaliated against her and that she was paid far less than a male counterpart for similar work.

From ABIowa's Treatment of Gay Administrator on Trial Today

Barta said that he had noticed a pattern of serious issues and allegations of abuse from Griesbaum dating back to 2007, just a year after he took over at Iowa.

In 2011, another student made similar claims that were serious enough to be forwarded to former president Sally Mason's office and so distressed Griesbaum that she threatened to resign. Barta said nothing was proven, and Griesbaum stayed on as coach.

But Barta said that before the 2014 season a player came forward with complaints again - and that a second player made similar charges a month later.

Barta said he had heard that, at one point, Griesbaum told a player that, "If I were you, I would kill myself."

The university subsequently investigated the program and the relationship between Meyer and Griesbaum, who did not report to Meyer beyond athletic facilities issues, and found no policy violations.

But Barta said his fears that such allegations would continue to surface, combined with the fact that Griesbaum had twice told him that she didn't do anything wrong and wouldn't change, led him to fire her just a few weeks before the season.

"Whether it could be finally proven or not, I had to make a decision," Barta said.

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Copyright 2017 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Why should college students be physically active throughout the school year? The answer is relatively simple. There's research that proves that if college students partake in let's say about 60 minutes of activity per day, they will achieve higher test scores than if they didn't. This is a win-win scenario because of the fact you are gaining higher test scores while also getting physically fit. In a 2012 article published by American InterContinental University, the author states "Exercise Increases Focus and Concentration. In 2009, a Canadian school for learning-disabled and ADHD children took part in an experiment that involved having students exercise for 20 minutes… we noted a marked improvement in students' ability to concentrate, participate, and retain information…". This is especially important to college students because there are many times where you have to go to lecture or a discussion section, and depending on how your day has been or what happened the night before, your ability to focus and participate may be negatively affected. The ability to retain a large amount of information, accurately, every single day of the week is a huge skill to have, and being physically active influences individuals to have a higher sense of that ability.

As the semester starts to intensify, college students tend to get stressed and that leads to an overconsumption of calories. According to a diet.com study, "When students first enter college, their diets often deteriorate and they often gain weight… The term "freshman 15" refers to the number of pounds many students gain during their first year in college. The weight gain is related to stress…" Participating in activities such as Intramural sports, cardio or weightlifting can be helpful for multiple reason. One, this causes the extra consumed calories to be burned which can further prevent weight gain, but rather it helps offset the bad dieting. Two, doing things that are fun for the individual, and also burns calories is a good way of relieving stress for some people. Three, it promotes one's eating patterns to be more consistent with how you're supposed to be eating; an individual wants to ideally eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Typically, you should be eating three small to normal sized meals a day, but most students eating habits start declining due to their extreme workload and class schedules. This lifestyle sways students to eat one big meal late at night before going to bed, which isn't good for your stomach/digestive system. However, daily exercise can eliminate this issue because any form of movement increases your heart rate. When your heart rate increases, you start sweating which in turn boosts one's metabolism. When one's metabolism increases it causes one's body to convert the food and liquid that's consumed into energy. This means that throughout the school day, you'll be more compelled to eat meals before the end of the night where you realize you're hungry. The digestive system works slower when you're sleeping, so a lot of the calories you intake end up turning into fat.

Enough talking about the macro but now we'll discuss the micro. A key component about one's health that's often swept under the rug is brain cognition. The brain is one of the most, if not THE most, important organ in a human's body. It's crucial for a college student as well, since this is what we rely on the most throughout the day. A study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia found evidence that suggest exercising for as little as 20 minutes a day "facilities information processing and memory functions." It's obvious why this is beneficial for anyone. Have you ever had those days in class where the Professor asks the class a question about something you had just read the other night, but for some reason you can't recall it for the life of you? That's called a memory lapse. The most common memory lapse that directly affects college students the most is called the "Struggling for retrieval" memory lapse. An example of this is when you were just introduced to someone, and shortly thereafter you can't remember their name. Or you saw an engaging film and then the next day when you tell your friends to go see it, you forgot the title. To greatly reduce the chance of having these on a consistent, day to day basis, all it takes is 20 minutes a day of exercising.

Now, I understand that there are those who might be reading this and they're currently thinking in their heads right now "I don't have time to exercise at all during the week. Look at me I'm fine" or, "Just because I'm not physically active no a daily basis doesn't mean I'm not healthy". To those people I say this. You're right. Not everyone's body is the same. Maybe you are the exception, someone who can neglect physical activity and still be a top student. But, I would also say whether you're aware or not, you're physically active every day. There are forms of exercise that every college student does daily that they might not be aware. Walking to and from class everyday of the week is a form of exercise that is overlooked by many people. Also, walking up and down stairs is another aerobic exercise that gets brushed off. Whether you're aware of it or not, everyone participates in some form of exercise daily.

The last thing that I'll say about this is that overall, being physically active improves one health in so many different areas that you may not even be privy to, so there's really no reason not to be. There's just so many benefits to be considered that it really should make you want to make a lifestyle change once hearing all the things it could potentially do for you. Personally, I slacked a little first semester. I got caught in the trap of adjusting to this new life, one where you're free and no one's forcing you to go to class, or do last nights homework. In the midst of it all I forgot about the one thing I used to do daily, and that's being physically active. Exercise can be ones rise to greatness or one's Achilles heel in this post-secondary education world all of us are now in. For me, It's something I choose to do because it makes me happy, and makes me feel better about myself when I wake up in the morning. For those who happen to stumble upon this paper, I want you to ask yourself "What is the main problem I'm dealing with right now and can it be dealt with by being physically active?" Most likely the answer is yes, so then my question to you is, What are you waiting for?

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Copyright 2017 Star Tribune
All Rights Reserved

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

One time during his 14-year National Hockey League career, Reed Larson got knocked out after a check from behind sent him headfirst into the boards.

Another time, he took a slapshot to the face during a morning practice, requiring 50 stitches and plastic surgery. He still played in that evening's game.

Larson believes he suffered numerous concussions — he's not sure how many. Players didn't necessarily count head knockings when he played. So when the 60-year-old Minnesotan hears tales of retired hockey players suffering from neurological woes, he worries.

"Whenever I'm irritable or forgetful, is it because I'm just getting old, or is it because of the abuses to my head over my career?" asked Larson, one of 126 former players who have sued the NHL for allegedly failing to protect players from the long-term effects of brain trauma.

More than a dozen of those plaintiffs have Minnesota connections, including several former North Stars such as Larson. The litigation is snaking its way through the federal courts in St. Paul, and the battle is heating up. The NHL is intensifying its challenge to brain-injury scientists, and a ruling on class status for all retired players is expected soon.

The National Football League faced similar litigation, settling with players for $1 billion in 2015. The NFL later publicly acknowledged a link between the sport and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative brain disease at the heart of the head injury debate.

The NHL maintains that scientific research has yet to establish a causal link between sports concussions and CTE. "At bottom, the science just has not advanced to the point where causation determinations can be responsibly made," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a letter to a U.S. senator included in court filings.

To make its case, the league is seeking a trove of pre-publication research data from Boston University's CTE Center. Experts there have said the disease is a long-term consequence of repetitive brain trauma. The CTE Center is fighting the NHL's request, calling it an invasive demand that threatens to have a chilling effect that could undermine research.

Meanwhile, more e-mails between NHL executives were unsealed recently in the court case, against the league's wishes.

"Well, ultimately you never can get rid of fighting... no matter what the injury risk," wrote one NHL officiating executive to another in 2009, capping her observation with a winking emoji.

Replied the other: "Ya love it, much to the dismay of the tree huggin', never played sport, leftist doctors... that soon won't let us climb stairs for fear of concussion."

Legal hits

Hockey long has been a game of grace and speed, but also - in its North American iteration - one of violence, even as the NHL has successfully worked to reduce fights. Seventy percent of concussions over four regular seasons came from legal hits and accidents, according to NHL documents filed in court.

"Players skate with a posture that makes removing all head contact from the game virtually impossible," said an NHL document.

Former players began suing the NHL over concussion injuries in late 2013. Several suits have been rolled together into one "multidistrict" case before U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson in St. Paul.

The plaintiffs, co-led by Minneapolis law firm Zimmerman Reed, are demanding the NHL pay damages and set up a medical monitoring and treatment system for retired players. Attorneys are asking for class status covering all retired NHL hockey players.

The named plaintiffs run from fourth-line also-rans to stars like Larson, who made his name with the Detroit Red Wings in the late 1970s and 1980s and later played briefly for the North Stars. Larson was a Minneapolis high school hockey star and a key member of the Minnesota Gophers team that won the NCAA championship in 1976. He's now an insurance salesman who lives in White Bear Lake. He was among the first former NHLers to sue the league.

"We love the league," Larson said. "We know what the owners do for the league, and we know what the players do for the league. But I don't get why you can use and abuse a person and then not take care of them."

Larson played during a particularly violent period in the NHL. He was a tough defenseman who knew how to fight. So was Brad Maxwell, who spent most his 10-year career with the North Stars and also played in the 1980s, when the NHL says fights per game peaked.

"I always wanted to be more of a finesse player than a physical player," said Maxwell, another plaintiff. "But it was a physical game, so you had to play physical."

Like Larson, Maxwell, 59, isn't sure how many concussions he's had, but there were plenty of incidents when "you got up slow [from a hit] and went back to the bench and you weren't all there. They gave you a little smelling salt.... You wanted to get out there and play, and you felt like you had to keep playing or you would lose your job," Maxwell said.

Today, he runs a cabinetry business from a wood shop next to his home in Elko New Market, south of the Twin Cities. He says he's had some short-term memory issues, so his shop is filled with notes to himself. "I write everything down so I won't forget."

'Brain bank' for athletes

Multiple concussions increase the long-term risk of neurodegenerative disease and reduced brain function, according to an affidavit in the lawsuit by Dr. Charles Cantu, a neurosurgeon who co-founded Boston University's CTE Center.

NHL players, like those in other contact sports, are within the "upper tier of risk" for concussive blows, Cantu wrote. An NHL report in 2011 found that team physicians reported 559 player concussions during regular season games from 1997 to 2004.

CTE symptoms include mood disorders, aggression, depression, forgetfulness, loss of impulse control and a heightened suicide risk.

However, CTE can only be diagnosed after death. Since 2008, BU's CTE Center has built up a "brain bank" for athletes, military veterans and others who suffered repetitive brain trauma. The center has found CTE in 34 former pro football players.

BU discovered the first hockey CTE case in 2010, and four more cases have been diagnosed since, including that of Derek Boogaard, the onetime Minnesota Wild enforcer who died in 2011 from a mix of alcohol and painkillers.

CTE is "clearly associated" with multiple brain injuries, said Dr. Michael Stuart, co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center in Rochester. "Suffice it to say people in the medical community like myself are concerned. But there really is no direct proof of a cause-and-effect relationship."

That cause-and-effect link is where the NHL is seeking to dispute the CTE research.

League takes action

The NHL has been scrutinizing concussions and head hits for at least 20 years. The league, too, has taken some concrete action. Checks that target a player's head were banned before the 2010-2011 season. This past season the NHL rolled out an extensive new concussion protocol.

If a concussion is suspected, a player must be removed from the ice for an evaluation in a distraction-free zone - meaning not the bench. To assist the teams' physicians, NHL "spotters" are watching for concussions from the stands and via video from NHL headquarters in New York.

"The National Hockey League has made some great strides," Stuart said. But the Mayo Clinic has concluded that all head hits and fights should be banned from hockey.

That's not likely to happen in the NHL. "We sell and promote hate," Colin Campbell, a top NHL executive, said in a 2015 deposition, acknowledging an intra-league e-mail saying the same. "We do sell rivalries."

One 2009 e-mail from a team doctor to NHL medical consultant Dr. Willem Meeuwisse took the league to task: "We all sit around and talk and talk and talk about concussion management. Then it's the playoffs, someone suffers an obvious loss of consciousness and is back playing in less than 48 hours. Another example of situational ethics."

Meeuwisse sent the anecdote on to other league officials, saying the doctor "is verbalizing what many people think."

Mike Hughlett · 612-673-7003

 

LOCAL PLAYERS PRESS THEIR CASE

Some former NHL players in the concussion suit with Minnesota connections:

Jack Carlson*, Fighting Saints, North Stars

Tom Younghans*, Gophers, North Stars

Dennis Maruk, North Stars

Steve Payne, North Stars

Ron Zanussi, North Stars

Scott Bjugstad*, Gophers, North Stars

Dave Christian*, 1980 U.S. gold medal hockey team

Rob McClanahan*, Gophers, 1980 U.S. gold medal team

Joe Dziedzic*, Gophers

Mike Peluso*

* Minnesota natives

 

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Copyright 2017 The Evansville Courier Co.
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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

Older adults who include both physical activity and exercise in their daily routine will reap many health benefits. 

Fitness goals can vary: some seniors are avid runners, focused on the next marathon, while othersexercise to reduce disease risk or maintain the ability to perform activities of daily living. Many aging adults are seeking to prolong their "golden years" and preserve their physical abilities in order to enjoy retirement, travel or play with their grandchildren.

Consequently, many of these individuals will embark on an exercise routine that is aimed towards gaining or maintaining the strength, endurance, bone density, balance and flexibility that is necessary to continue physical activity. It is critical that aging adults recognize the importance of resistance training and understand how to select the most appropriate resistanceexercises to achieve their goals.

The first step is selecting the type of resistance — either machine or free weights. Many older adults migrate to a localgym for machine resistanceexercises, and this method does provide many benefits. Machines often require little professional instruction and provide greater stability by controlling the path of the resistance.

This makes machines less intimidating, easier and safer to learn on for novice individuals or those with low initial strength levels. They are also time-efficient, as many do not require a spotter or the loading and unloading of weights.

Finally, machines allow individuals to perform exercises that they otherwise may not be able to perform. For instance, many older adults cannot perform a chin-up, but can adjust the resistance on a pull down machine to accomplish the same overhead pulling movement pattern at a reduced intensity.

While machines do provide the aforementioned benefits and do have a place in an individual's resistance training routine, machines typically isolate a specific muscle group and a single joint. Therefore, machines should serve as a starting point for individuals with limited resistance training experience with the intent to progress toward more free weight exercises.

When it comes to performing activities of daily living, such as climbing stairs, picking up a box off of the ground or carrying groceries, individuals are typically required to utilize multiple muscles and joints in a coordinated movement pattern. The majority of physical activities do not happen in the controlled, guided movement path of machines. Rather, exercises performed with free weights more closely mimic the challenges that are presented in everyday movement.

Research has demonstrated that this "free-form" seen in activities of daily living can be enhanced to a greater degree by using free weights (i.e., barbells, dumbbells, medicine balls, etc.) for resistance exercises as they require the lifter to control all aspects of the exercise. Free weight resistance training also allows the individual to perform a wider variety of exercises that recruit multiple muscle groups and multiple joints.

Plus, you don't have to have a gym membership to use free weights. All you need are the weights and some floor space. As with any new exercise routine, it is suggested that the individual consult a physician prior to beginning, but if given the opportunity, pick up a free weight and go to work!

Josh Wildeman is an instructor in the Kinesiology and Sport Department at the University of Southern Indiana's Pott College of Science, Engineering & Education. He can be contacted at jnwildeman@usi.edu This column is provided through a collaboration between SWIRCA & More and USI. For more information, visit swirca.org or call 812-464-7800.


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Copyright 2017 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

For three decades, Joseph Baker has been swimming, cycling and running in triathlons some would call punishing. Baker, 47, is also a professor of exercise sciences.

As he competed in races as a younger man, he would watch people of all ages alongside him, and he soon became fascinated with the parameters of human performance. Why could some 70-year-olds compete in triathlons and some got winded walking up a flight of stairs?

He wanted to know whether age decline is a result of simply getting older or being sedentary. In other words: Are we racing against time, or are we racing against ourselves?

Baker points to a seminal 1996 study from Stanford University analyzing age-related decline that looked at areas such as the number of muscle cells, DNA repair, fingernail growth and physical activity. The finding was that there is a 0.5 percent decline per year, a statistic he says has served as the biomarker of the aging process.

Since that time, Baker and his colleagues at York University in Toronto have dedicated their research to determining how much of that decline is out of human hands, and how much we can control. Baker leans heavily toward the latter.

He studies people in their 60s and 70s as they play handball, particularly the goalkeepers, reaching, grabbing and lunging into the air to stop the ball from going into the net.

"Their motor skills may have declined a bit, and they might be a little slower," Baker said. "But if they've kept up the practice, they can be as good as any elite athlete."

Baker honed his interest in aging athletes as he received his Ph.D in applied exercise and then continued his studies in exercise epidemiology as a professor and head of the LifeSpan Health and Performance Laboratory in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science at York. He and colleagues from the departments of psychology and nursing founded the university's Center for Aging Research and Education (YU-CARE) in 2008.

The idea was to study athletic performance beyond the development of muscles and skill. Baker's goal was to study aging from a broad perspective "rather than the negative, disease-focused approach that typically happens," he said.

"Our attitudes about older people, even when we age into this group, have been built on a life history where older people are thought of as less capable and less interesting," said Baker. "And it's very hard to deconstruct these beliefs. We used to think that development ended at adulthood, but we know now that it happens across the life span."

Aging is a reality, he said, but "we all have potential for growth."

Attempts to study the aging process over long periods are time-consuming and costly. Baker and his colleagues have found it useful to study masters athletes, older adults beyond the peak age of performance in their respective sports, like swimmers or golfers.

Because so many measures are taken and records kept in sporting events, it gives researchers data to track over time. It also allows them to examine what is possible when an individual is in top condition.

Baker conducted a study in 2007 that examined 96 golfers who played on the PGA tour for at least a dozen years. Detailed PGA records showed that, although the golfers' driving distances declined, their putting skills did not. Baker saw this as a win for the notion that cognitive, perceptual and motor skills do not have to suffer if people stay active.

In a 2010 study titled "Do or Decline," published in the Journal of Health Psychology, Baker and four other Canadian researchers sampled more than 12,000 people. Questions covered everything from health conditions to cognitive capacity to social engagement and physical activity. Results showed that "inactivity was a much stronger predictor of functional limitations than either chronic disease or being socially unengaged with life."

Baker says these findings indicated that physical activity, "even at moderate levels," creates and enhances optimal physiological, psychological and social conditions. This improvement in a person's psychological state is important, Baker says, because older people sometimes believe they are declining simply because that is the stereotype associated with aging.

Baker's emphasis on stereotypes in overall health and fitness of older people points out a key piece of the aging puzzle. "Self-efficacy, your belief in your ability to achieve an outcome is very important for predicting performance outcomes and a person's behavior," he said.

Some people might have given up exercise because they are "too old," while others are reluctant to begin it for the same reasons. The result is the same. If people have been sedentary for a few years, the body isn't going to function nearly as well as if they'd been practicing some kind of sport for that time.

He reached this conclusion in his studies of elite athletes - those golfers, in particular - concentrating on how they practice and maintain their skills.

"Their performance didn't really change much as they moved through their careers," he said. "Skills that take a long time to acquire seem to be much more stable as we age than other skills or capabilities."

The more we practice any complex skill, such as playing hockey, Baker says, the easier it is to maintain that skill. But the older we get, the less likely we are to practice skills we learned long ago.

"If we've learned something, we often think we've learned it as well as we're ever going to learn it," Baker said. "In truth, there is really no good evidence to support that."

Case in point: those older handball goalkeepers. Baker and his colleagues delight in seeing them still able to anticipate their opponents' movements and, even as they acknowledge their slower motor systems, see potential for growth. Jörg Schorer, one of Baker's co-researchers on the handball court, acknowledges that the player might take longer to get to the ball, but "we're still exploring the extent to which this slower movement is the result of age versus lack of practice."

Baker doesn't think it's too late, even for the most inactive. Though he doesn't advise jumping up and joining him in a triathlon, either.

"The key here is to be careful and systematic in how you approach this," he said. "Start slowly and have a realistic plan on how you will develop your capabilities over an extended period of time. Just don't let negative images of aging and getting older be the measuring stick for your experience."+

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Star-News (Wilmington, NC)

 

By the time it s completed in 2019, the new stadium complex for the National Football League's Los Angeles Rams will span almost 300 acres with free-standing concession stands encased in glass and a 50-foot-tall video board covering the length of the playing field.

Premium suites inside the 70,000-plus seat facility will include up to 20,000 club seats and loge boxes, including Lux Cabanas, a beach-themed club at field level hovering above one of the end zones.

Yet the $2.6 billion project just south of L.A. in the city of Inglewood will also include another coveted amenity for any die-hard sports fan: luxury homes.

In addition to a hotel, casino and 620,000 square feet of retail space, the new stadium complex will include Hollywood Park, a residential property development with up to 3,000 homes.

While some of the new dwellings are aimed at middle-income residents who have been increasingly squeezed by L.A.'s soaring real estate market, most will target the luxury sector with sprawling apartments overlooking the stadium outfitted with wedge hardwood flooring, sliding glass doors and soaring beamed ceilings. The project's developers, Wilson Meany and Stockbridge Capital Group, have yet to reveal prices.

"We're building a year-round community, not just a sports stadium," says Gerard McCallum II, project manager for Wilson Meany who is overseeing Hollywood Park. "This will give fans and Los Angeles residents a great opportunity to be a part of the sports environment and connect with a real community."

As more cities across the United States break ground on expensive new sports stadiums and arenas, some are including real estate components either directly on the complex grounds or nearby. From Atlanta to Minneapolis, Sacramento to Miami, developers are rushing to add condominiums and rental apartments to the long list of amenities available to ardent sports fans.

The move to add real estate is fueled, in part, by wanting to bolster the fan experience, but it is also an attempt to offset the soaring price tags to build new stadiums in some cities, say real estate experts.

In some cases, developers are also being pressured by city governments and local residents to add affordable housing to these massive stadium projects.

Residents have begun moving into First, a 325-unit apartment building at 1263 First St. SE in the District near Nationals Park. The mixed-use project is being developed jointly by Grosvenor Americas and McCaffery Interests and will include more than 24,000 square feet of retail space and a Residence Inn by Marriott.

Rents for the studio, one- and two-bedroom units range from $1,815 to $4,520.

The new property includes a swimming pool, a hot tub and a key selling point — stadium-style seating on the roof with views into Nationals Park.

"I can watch batting practice from my apartment. I make something to eat and go on the roof and watch the game", said Bob Lind, 52, a software developer, who moved into First in early April.

"There's stadium seating with a big screen," added Lind, who also goes to the games. "There's also a panoramic view of the city — there's the [Washington] Monument, the [National] Cathedral, the Capitol and the Anacostia River. You see everyone partying in the bullpen — it's pretty cool."

After more than a decade of delays and lawsuits, a major development around Barclays Center in Brooklyn — the home of the Nets and Islanders that opened in 2012 — is finally accelerating construction of affordable housing.

While the $1 billion arena is the centerpiece of the Pacific Park project, thousands of apartments are also being built aimed at working- and middle-class families who are shut out of a rapidly gentrifying area near downtown Brooklyn.

Nina Maluenda says being close to Barclays Center was only part of the reason she and her husband, Mehdi, moved into 461 Dean Street, one of several new towers in Brooklyn overlooking the sports complex.

Developed by Forest City Ratner Cos., the 32-story building has 363 rental units that are designated as 50 percent affordable, 50 percent market rate. "It's nice to be so close to the sports arena, but we really liked being in the center of culture and the arts in Brooklyn," says Maluenda, a marketing associate. "The building is right next to a lot of art and performance spaces in this part of Brooklyn, and that really appealed to us."

But the push in Brooklyn to build affordable housing as part of a sports complex is largely an exception rather than the rule.

"Some developers see a real financial upside to adding middle- and upper-income housing to these projects," says Selma Hepp, chief economist at San Francisco-based Pacific Union. "They are creating communities that they think will deliver financial reward in the long term."

In Sacramento, the new state-of-the-art home of the National Basketball Association's Kings cost nearly $600 million to build. The 17,608-seat arena opened last fall and includes 82 luxury suites and year-round access for its owners. An in-arena app also allows fans to help control the temperature in their section.

But developers of the Golden 1 Center are also set to open a 16-story mixed-use office tower including a 250-room hotel in the summer and residence on the complex grounds later this fall. The Sawyer overlooks the new arena and includes 45 condominiums with some of the highest prices in the city.

The Atlanta Braves moved into their new $672 million ballpark this season. Yet beyond the 4,000 premium seats and 18,000-square-foot hospitality club, the project at SunTrust Park also includes Home at the Battery Atlanta, three new residential communities under construction on the complex grounds.

Totaling 531 units, the three rental properties will feature one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with amenities ranging from exclusive clubhouse access to rooftop bars and lounges with wraparound balconies with ballpark views. Developer Pollack Shores says one of the three communities, Residences, was ready Opening Day on April 14 when the Braves hosted the San Diego Padres. The other two communities, Parkside and Flats, will open in May and July, respectively. Rental prices range from $1,225 to $4,505.

"We've created this unique opportunity to not only tailgate from your patio but also to enjoy other qualities residents look for like walking and biking trails and easy access to major highways," says Steven Shores, president and co-founder of Pollack Shores.

The new residential developments arrive amid another boom in stadium and arena construction around the United States. At least a dozen new professional sports complexes are under some form of development, with twice as many in the planning stages, according to the CoStar Group, an online marketplace for commercial real estate. This is on top of the dozens of professional ballparks and stadiums erected during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Despite putting up with the noise, crowds and traffic (to say nothing of losing seasons), adding residential property near or on a sports complex can add value to a home, housing data indicates.

According to real estate website Trulia, the areas around major league baseball stadiums saw home values rise 15 percent higher than the greater metropolitan areas in which they were located. While those values vary widely based on stadium location, Trulia data showed that the areas around 18 of the 29 stadiums had higher median home values compared with the cities in which they are located. Rents in those 18 neighborhoods were either higher or equal to those in the surrounding towns, Trulia says.

Homes around newer baseball stadiums — which tend to be in pricier neighborhoods — fared better, Trulia notes. Of the 14 stadiums built since 1999, only two neighborhoods — around Marlins Park in Miami and Miller Park in Milwaukee — had home values lower than the metros in which they were located.

Opened in 2008, Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., is perhaps a prime example of a ballpark fueling residential development and lifting home values. Once home to one of the District s grittier neighborhoods, the area around the ballpark is today booming with new construction, including upscale apartments, restaurants and bars.

Since 2012, more than 2,300 residential units have been added to the area around Nationals Park, and 3,727 are in the pipeline, according to RealPage, a maker of property management software. The influx of development makes the area the fifth-busiest submarket in the United States for apartment construction, RealPage says. And the area is getting more property development. Construction is expected to begin soon in the nearby Buzzard Point neighborhood on a new D.C. United soccer stadium and two apartment projects with a combined 869 rentals and condos.

"The Nationals stadium has been an absolute property boon to that area," says Michael Rankin, managing partner of TTR Sotheby s International Realty in the District. "The city hasn't seen anything like it in decades."

The Baltimore Orioles helped usher in the stadium-building boom in 1992 when they opened Camden Yards. But Trulia found that home values around that ballpark were 16 percent lower than the greater metro area: $211,724 near the stadium vs. $251,724 for the city.

But Seema Iyer, an assistant professor of real estate at the University of Baltimore, says the Trulia data doesn't consider the longer view of housing around Camden Yards.

"If you look at what home prices were like in that area of Baltimore before the park was built and compare that to today, you'll see fairly sharp housing appreciation," Iyer says. "Camden Yards was a pretty depressed area before the park arrived, but since then it's seen a tremendous level of commercial and retail activity, so the park literally created a housing community that didn't exist before."

Tenants of First Residences, a 325-unit apartment building in Washington, D.C., watch the Washington Nationals play the St. Louis Cardinals from the roof of their building. [JOHN MCDONNELL/THE WASHINGTON POST]

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The New York Post

 

As the number of emergency room visits by cheerleaders who were hurt performing their craft exploded past 100 a day, on average, national regulators last month adopted "extensive" rules changes aimed at minimizing the risk of injury.

The changes adjusted rules regarding when cheerleaders will be able to release team members during transitions and inversions. Of particular concern to regulators was the top person in a cheering pyramid.

No longer will the top person while inverted be allowed to twist more than a one-quarter turn upon release or be able to perform a so-called swing roll-down stunt if they are being lowered in a facedown position.

"The Spirit Rules Committee takes risk minimization very seriously and looks at the rules for cheer and dance to ensure the most amount of success - from beginners to advanced - with minimal risk for all involved," according to James Weaver, of the National Federation of State High School Associations, cheerleading's regulatory body.

A new rules also bars a cheerleader from holding a prop when tumbling unless the exercise is being done on the playing surface.

The revised rules will take effect during the 2017-18 school year.

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The New York Post

 

It's a safe bet that cheerleading has become one of the most popular activities for school kids.

But with its stunts becoming ever more difficult, it's far from the super-safe endeavor of a generation ago.

Over a 23-year stretch, the number of annual emergency room visits by cheerleaders soared 189 percent, according to a study published this month.

Over that period, ended in 2012, a total of 497,095 cheerleaders ages 5-to-18 were treated in US emergency departments, the study revealed.

In 2012, the last year covered by the study, an estimated 37,344 cheerleaders went to an ER - or more than an average of 100 a day, according to the study conducted by Nada Naiyer, Thiphalak Chounthirath, and Gary Smith from the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

And while cheerleading has exploded in popularity, its estimated 70 percent growth over the 23 years is far below the rise in injury rate.

"The increase in the frequency of injuries is most likely due to the increase in the number of cheerleading participants and the increase in the athleticism of the activity," the study says.

"Over the years, cheerleading has evolved from jumps, splits, and clasps to incorporating advanced gymnastics skills, such as tumbling and stunts, including pyramids and tosses," the study says.

The average age of injured participants is 14.1, the study says. Concussions represented 7 percent of ERs; sprains accounted for 48 percent of injuries.

Recently, cheerleading's regulatory body took steps to make the sport safer (see story here).

jkosman@nypost.com

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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

Several minutes after Saturday's G-Day spring game ended, Georgia football coach Kirby Smart was asked in a news conference about how the team leaders would take over in upcoming weeks, a time in which players have more freedom and responsibility.

"It kicks off from behavior tonight all the way through final exams," Smart said.

Roughly five hours later, Georgia was dealing with an unwanted offseason blemish very serious in nature.

D'Antne Demery, a 6-foot-7, 310-pound Georgia signee who was rated among the top 20 offensive tackles nationally in the 2017 signing class, was arrested Saturday night by Athens-Clarke County police and charged with misdemeanor simple battery and criminal trespass after allegedly shoving and hitting the mother of his one-month-old child.

Smart announced Sunday afternoon that Demery had been released from his national letter of intent. Demery was booked Saturday night and released early Sunday afternoon after posting a bond of $1,850, according to the Clarke County Sheriff's online booking report.

Demery, a 19-year-old from Brunswick, Ga., picked Georgia over scholarship offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Michigan and Tennessee. He was scheduled to report to Athens in June to begin classes.

According to the Athens Banner-Herald, downtown officers with the Athens-Clarke County police responded to a report of a "black male choking (strangling) a female." The victim called 911 with the desire to press charges against Demery, and then police contacted her in front of the Boar's Head Lounge, where she explained Demery had grabbed her by the back of the neck and pushed her against a wall.

The article states that after being separated by friends, Demery got back to the victim and threw her, which caused her cell phone to hit the ground and cracked its screen.

Demery's arrest and dismissal sullied an otherwise outstanding weekend, during which an announced 66,000 fans attended Saturday's game at Sanford Stadium. Smart was hoping for a tight contest and got one -- Rodrigo Blankenship's 28-yard field goal with 1:03 remaining propelled the Red team, made up of the second-team offense and starting defense, to a 25-22 triumph over the Black.

"I think we got better this spring," Smart said. "We had more sheer numbers. We had 17 offensive linemen, and there are a lot of schools who would die for 17 offensive linemen in their spring practice because you get three units."

Blankenship wound up deciding the game but had a mixed performance in kicking for both teams, going 4-for-6 on field-goal opportunities and 1-for-2 on point-after tries. The redshirt sophomore has performed for the Bulldogs as a walk-on, but it looks as though Georgia will have a scholarship kicker for 2018.

Jake Camarda, a 6-2, 175-pounder from the Atlanta suburb of Norcross, committed to the Bulldogs this past weekend. Camarda is ranked by 247Sports.com as the nation's No. 1 kicker for the 2018 class.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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Copyright 2017 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

HUNTINGTON — When Doc Holliday came to Marshall in December 2009, he had one major beef with his new surroundings — he called the facilities the worst in Conference USA.

For instance, the locker room was state of the art for Division I-AA in 1992, when the Shewey Athletic Building opened, but it became poor for major-college football. Marshalls brightest star of the Holliday era, Vinny Curry, has done something about it.

The Vinny Curry Locker Room opened Saturday morning to rave reviews. Sporting a charm with a No. 99 Thundering Herd jersey, Curry the former Herd defensive end and six-year NFL veteran with the Philadelphia Eagles grinned from ear to ear while taking pictures with the many former MU players who sponsored a locker for $1,000. Each locker, even the ones not being used this spring, have a donors nameplate.

The current players returned to the room for the first time this spring and were greeted with a brighter area with larger, more functional lockers. New plumbing and new showers, carpet and television sets were also installed.

Technically, the room didnt expand, but surely looks as if it did.

It looks bigger, but its really not, said athletic director Mike Hamrick. This is just another facility enhancement. This brings our total since Ive been here of either new facilities or enhancing facilities to about $43 million.

Jack Lengyel, the Herd coach who was at Marshall in the four years following the Marshall plane crash, enjoyed a nice new locker room at Fairfield Stadium. Compared to the old digs in the dungeon-esque stadium, it was palatial.

But it was cramped compared to the room that opened Saturday.

We were the first team to use that locker room. It was about the size of this section right here, he said.

The section right here represented about half the new room.

Contact Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsmock@wvgazettemail.com Follow him on Twitter @dougsmock and read his blog at http://blogs.wvgazettemail.com/dougsmock/.

 

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Chicago Daily Herald

 

LAS VEGAS — A handful of people paid up to $275 for the "Las Vegas Raiders" trademark when news of the team's potential move from Oakland surfaced in January 2016. The filings have shed light on a trademark system that gives priority to the first people to submit applications, regardless of the validity of their claims.

The applications for the various uses of the Las Vegas Raiders name put in by the team in August are still in limbo as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office evaluates earlier applications for the name, The Las Vegas Sun reported.

Airfreight company owner Lane Blue, a Las Vegas clothing company owner, a Houston pain management doctor and a Boston gym owner are among those who applied for the trademark.

Blue, whose bid was denied by the federal government, said his goal was to stop the team from moving. "If I own the trademark that's worth possibly millions of dollars, maybe I can talk them into staying," said Blue, who is from Fresno, California.

For Ross Notaroberto, the gym owner, applying for the trademark was done "out of boredom, really."

"I really didn't have many intentions," Notaroberto said. "I would've been happy with a couple of tickets to a game."

Patrick Jennings, a sports trademark attorney, said it is nearly impossible to acquire a trademark for a brand such as the Raiders, but the other applicants could delay the process for the team.

"These people think they're going to cash in, and 99.9 percent of the time, they're wrong," said Jennings, with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP in Washington, D.C. "For a trademark lawyer, it doesn't take much effort to knock those (applications) out separate from the patent and trademark office."

The Raiders need the formal trademark in order to create merchandise and materials with the team name. The team could wait to let the trademark office deny misleading claims to the Las Vegas Raiders name or pursue the applicants more aggressively by filing a letter of protest with the office or contacting the applicants directly.

Those who have been rejected for the trademark will not be able to get back their application fees.

"You're kind of buying a pig in a poke. You're not buying anything," Jennings said.

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Chicago Daily Herald

 

When Jeff Siegel was an 18-year-old baseball umpire in Morton Grove, a coach angry with a call he made started yelling at him. Then the coach grabbed Siegel by the arms and shoved him.

Police were called to the ballfield, and the coach was arrested. The charges ultimately were dropped, and Siegel continued working as an umpire.

"He had to go to court, and that was enough for me," Siegel said. "It made me stronger as an umpire."

Not every umpire shakes off something like that as easily as Siegel did. Actually, most don't. Bad behavior by coaches and parents at youth sporting events has contributed to an umpire shortage in the suburbs, which has increased officiating costs for most leagues, league officials say.

From ABNo Referees, No Games

Many youth leagues now outsource umpire jobs to regional "assigner" companies or associations, which is far more expensive than having in-house umps recruited from within the community, a common practice in the past.

Umpire costs vary depending on the age and playing level, and whether the umpires are certified by the Illinois High School Association.

While an in-house umpire might cost around $25 to $30 a game, an association or IHSA umpire is a minimum of $50 a game, said Adrian Steinberg, who managed the umpires in Lake Zurich's baseball and softball leagues for many years.

Working as an umpire once was a popular job for high school and college students. But teens now represent a small percentage of umpires, league managers say.

"It's a shame. These are perfect jobs for high school kids," said Kevin O'Donnell, youth athletic coordinator for Mount Prospect Park District's youth baseball leagues, which now use an assigner to provide umpires for the 683 kids signed up to play baseball this spring. "These are kids 16 and 17 years old who are just trying to make some money. Then you have these older gentlemen or women who really scream at them and make them feel bad about themselves. It deters them and terrifies them. How do you come back every weekend and want to do that job?"

The umpire shortage also can be attributed to higher startup costs to do the job, said Siegel, whose run-in with the coach was decades ago. Now he's an assignment supervisor at UMPS.org, which provides 375 umpires - mostly adults - to sports leagues across the Chicago area. For certain leagues, it's necessary to be an IHSA-certified umpire, invest $300 in your own equipment, have medical and liability insurance, and pay for training clinics, he said.

The upside of the umpire shortage is that training is improving and badly behaved coaches are more likely to be disciplined in some way.

Umpire and coaching associations are addressing the situation both from an education standpoint and by encouraging leagues to enforce rules for misbehavior.

"Historically, people sort of just let (bad behavior) go. But there is less tolerance for it now," said Tai Duncan, executive director of the Positive Coaching Alliance in Chicago, which partners with dozens of suburban leagues for coaches training, workshops and support. "There need to be stronger penalties, but it comes down to the education part of it."

The alliance emphasizes "honoring the game" in its programs, teaching coaches how to respectfully disagree with a call and be a positive role model for the players.

Since poorly trained umps only worsen the problem, many leagues are improving their umpire training, including lessons on conflict resolution and game management.

Bret Curlin, an umpire for 30 years who runs the Area Umpires Association in South Elgin, trained 45 umpires for this season. Six or seven one-hour sessions not only cover the rule book, but what to do when coaches or fans get unruly.

First, Curlin reminds them that they are the officials, they're in charge of the game, and the association will have their backs 100 percent.

Curlin tells them to start out by warning a coach to cool it, or use humor to diffuse the situation. If people yell, "You're blind!" - a common umpire critique - they might respond, "Oh, I forgot my glasses. I'll bring them next time."

If the disrespect continues, or gets personal, an umpire can call a timeout and have a quiet one-on-one discussion with the coach.

If the problem is with a fan, the umpire can have the coach ask that person to quiet down or go sit farther down the sideline, Curlin said. An umpire has the option to eject a coach, which is automatically reported to the league.

Curlin, who was once belly-bumped by an angry coach, reminds new umpires that any type of physical assault is a crime.

"If a guy's giving you a hard time, you can put him back in line. And you can do it with a smile on your face and they don't even know what hit them," Curwin said. "You've gotta have thick skin."

While this is hard for new umpires, especially young ones, he said the payoff is big - it's a job that will build tremendous confidence and self-esteem.

"The more experience (the umpire) gets, the better he becomes. Every situation you're going to handle early in life is going to make you better down the line."

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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

 

It's a fast-growing sport, promoted as a fun, safe alternative to tackle football. And it has attracted 93 children playing on nine Parks and Recreation teams in Virginia Beach.

The inaugural season of the 7-on-7 coed youth football passing league has begun; and as the name suggests, every play is a passing play, and every player on offense is an eligible receiver.

It is essentially a game of touch football played with quarterbacks and receivers against linebackers and defensive backs. Starting this week, the fast-paced games are on Friday evenings at the Princess Anne Athletic Complex.

Frederick Jackson has coached hundreds of area youth in just about every sport during the past 22 years. He believes the new league - for children between the ages of 10 and 18 - has the potential to double in size.

"All of my kids are really excited," said Jackson, coach of the West Kempsville Purple. "It's new on the recreational level, so there may not be a clear understanding of the game. Parents have to see this, and then they'll be sold."

Jackson's team lacks female players, but he believes their numbers will increase when word about the league spreads.

There is no equipment to buy and no large time commitment - just a two-hour practice and one game, per week. The city provides the shirts and the new synthetic turf fields to play on.

Team mom Melanie Russ says her son, Bryce, a student at Kempsville Elementary, is excited to play for the Purple. Bryce, 11, also plays tackle football, so Russ appreciates the off-season conditioning the spring league provides.

"It's more about teaching skills and fundamentals to the kids, not making them into football players," said Jackson.

Last year, there was concern by some parents and coaches that noncontact football would replace tackle football on the recreational level. The parks and recreation department issued a statement that tackle football would continue, and that remains the case.

From ABFlag Raising

"Changes to the leagues are made to ensure more children can play, which along with safety is the number one goal," said Julie Braley, public relations and content manager for the parks and recreation department. "There are no plans to do away with the tackle program."

Jackson, a Kempsville resident, has thought about retiring from coaching, but the new league provides him with more reasons to continue.

"These kids are enthusiastic and soaking it up like sponges," he said. "Even after 22 years of coaching, I still go home with a smile after every practice.

What: Inaugural 7-on-7 Coed Youth Passing League

When: Games are Fridays at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m., through May 26

Where: Princess Anne Athletic Complex, 4001 Dam Neck Road

Cost: Free for spectators

Info:VBgov.com/Sports

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Naples Daily News (Florida)

 

Those who know the sport, which is becoming more and more people by the day, call Naples the Pickleball Capital of the World.

The title might sound hyperbolic, even braggadocious, but the 1,300 players in town this week for the Minto U.S. Open Pickleball Championships would argue it's accurate. Thousands of matches will be played on 48 courts at East Naples Community Park over seven days, the biggest pickleball tournament in the world.

The U.S. Open is the most visible sign that pickleball is big business in Collier County. However the roots of the quirky sport have dug deep into the community in just a short time.

People across Collier County are playing pickleball, from elementary school students to retirees. Courts are going up at YMCAs and parks. Visitors are coming to Naples just to take lessons. That's all outside of this week's national championships, which provide millions of dollars in economic impact.

"Although it's a very old sport, not many people had heard of it," Collier County commissioner Donna Fiala said.

"It just hit the area and there was an almost immediate response. People wanted to get on board. It's given us a place on the sports map as being the home of pickleball. To me, it's a great asset."

Catching on quickly

If Naples is the pickleball capital of the world, East Naples Community Park is the statehouse.

When the U.S. Open picked the park as home for its inaugural event last year, the county added 30 permanent pickleball courts. A dilapidated skate park was removed to make way for the courts.

From ABAdding Pickleball to Parks and Recreation Programming

For a $25 annual membership, players can use the pickleball courts any day between 7:30 a.m. and noon. More than 1,200 people are members, and games can be found just about any time.

"We've got a lot of seniors and retired people who are down here full time," said Jim Ludwig, a USA Pickleball ambassador who spearheaded the project at East Naples. "They're looking to get healthy and stay healthy. This is a way to do that. They love the facility we built."

The sport - which resembles tennis played with ping-pong paddles and a wiffle ball on a badminton court - caught on so much that other parks followed suit. Fleischmann Park in central Naples added permanent courts. So did Veterans Park in North Naples.

There are plans for a new county park near the Collier County Fairgrounds. Ludwig is doing his best to make sure pickleball courts are part of the discussion.

Never too young

Pickleball was invented in the 1960s and has been popular among seniors for decades. The sport doesn't require much skill or physical power, plus there isn't a lot of movement like in tennis, making it perfect for older people with limited mobility.

Those same qualities make it ideal for children, who still are learning coordination. Collier County Public Schools took notice, and through the help of Ludwig's charity Pickleball For All, the district added pickleball to its physical education curriculum.

Tracy Bowen, the district's coordinator for health and physical education, bought a temporary equipment set three years ago that she rotated among schools. Since then, two more full pickleball sets have been donated through Pickleball For All.

Pickleball is easy to learn, much easier than tennis. Young kids can control a pickleball paddle better than a tennis racket, and they can get a volley going easier.

Plus pickleball courts take up less space than tennis courts, allowing schools to have more children playing at once and reducing the time and distance it takes to retrieve errant balls.

"We want kids to be successful (at sports)," Bowen said. "Pickleball allows kids at younger ages more control over (ball) placement. They're more successful and they want to do it more. They can play with their parents or grandparents, and they can play the rest of their lives."

The district's pickleball kits travel between schools, where physical education classes teach sports in two-week units. Bowen said the kits were in use all but three weeks during this academic year.

Manatee Middle School has its own pickleball equipment set, purchased by a private donor. When Manatee's tennis court was resurfaced recently, pickleball lines were permanently painted on. Oakridge Middle School has an intramural pickleball club.

Spreading the game

East Naples Community Park doesn't just provide a place to play pickleball. It's also home to a new academy that teaches the sport to locals and brings in people from around the country to learn.

After winning the professional women's singles title at last year's U.S Open, Simone Jardim fell in love with Naples. Already bitten by the pickleball bug, she quit her job as women's tennis coach at Michigan State and worked with tournament organizers to start the U.S. Open Pickleball Academy, based at the East Naples park.

Jardim teaches lessons every day. She said she's had 400 students the past five months, and there's a two- to three-week waiting list.

The academy also hosts destination camps, which combine pickleball and tourism. Athletes come down and practice for a few hours a day, then see the sights of Naples, including boat rides and fine dining.

"A lot of people like me, from out of town and cold weather, they want to get away," Jardim said. "There are so many courts here. There are so many people from different backgrounds that get together and play. Their common theme is pickleball."

The Naples and Bonita Springs YMCAs also offer pickleball lessons and games.

Economic impact

People who travel to Naples to attend the Pickleball Academy contribute to the millions of dollars the sport brings to Collier County each year.

Last year the U.S. Open contributed $2.5 million worth of direct economic impact - money spent at local hotels, restaurants and stores. That was with about 800 pickleballers playing over five days. This year's tournament will feature 1,300 players from 42 states and is seven days long.

The U.S. Open is part of the county's newest push into sports tourism. The pickleball tournament is the second-largest sporting event in Naples. The National Field Hockey Coaches Association's recruiting showcase, which brought 2,000 athletes to town in January, is the biggest.

"(The U.S. Open) allows us to be somewhat unique in the sports marketing arena," said Jack Wert, executive director of the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Pickleball came at the right time. It's a growing sport, and we've made a long-term commitment."

The pickleball national championships have a contract to be in Naples through 2021. The Convention and Visitors Bureau has invested in the event to help make it successful.

This year the CVB will spent about $1 million on the tournament. About $700,00 of that is a massive shade structure covering the entire championship court at East Naples Community Park.

The CVB operates solely on money raised on Collier County's 4-percent bed tax on short-term room rentals. Last year the tax raised $21.8 million, making the county's investment in the U.S. Open almost 5 percent of its annual budget.

That's on top of the money spent to upgrade East Naples Community Park and install 30 permanent pickleball courts.

"Pickleball has become a pleasant surprise, how much it's been embraced by the community," Wert said. "We've got multiple events each year, and we've established the Pickleball Academy. It's a year-round function, which is why it's good to make a long-term investment."

Minto U.S. Open Pickleball Championships

When: Sunday-April 29

Where: East Naples Community Park, 3500 Thomasson Drive

Admission: Free

Parking: $5 donation to Kiwanis Club

 
 
April 23, 2017
 
 
 

 

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

It may become more difficult for a PIAA student-athlete to transfer from one school to another and continue participation in one or more sports.

As first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association has drafted a hard-hitting transfer rule that it plans to present at the PIAA board of directors meeting next month in Mechanicsburg.

Amy Scheuneman, the athletic director at North Hills in suburban Pittsburgh, passed along a summary of the proposal via email:

"Students shall be allowed to enroll/attend any high school without penalty prior to beginning their first day of their initial ninth grade year. After the first day of student's initial ninth grade year, receiving schools must complete the athletic transfer form and submit to the district committee for filing and/or exception consideration.

"If a student transfers at any time after the first day of the student's initial ninth grade year, the student shall be ineligible to compete in varsity level competition for a period of one calendar year from date of transfer in those sports in which the student participated (participation being defined as playing in a scrimmage or contest) during the 12 months immediately preceding the date of transfer."

Scheuneman, a member of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association board of directors, listed the five exceptions to the proposed one-year ban:

A "bona fide" move by parents, legal guardians, or foster parents from one school district to a different school district.

A legal change of custody as appointed by order of a court of common pleas.

Closure of a school.

A hardship request, including but not limited to anti-intimidation, harassment, bullying, administrative transfers, or court assigned schools.

Transfer to a residential public high school.

A public school student-athlete who transfers to a private or parochial school would not be eligible for a year.

"I would like this to serve as a starting ground for discussion," Scheuneman wrote in the email. "If people feel something else needs to be included or changed, they should contact their local PIAA district representative."

Currently, a student-athlete who transfers from one school to another is eligible if there is a "principal to principal sign-off" and athletic intent is not discovered or proven by a district committee.

Across the river, under current NJSIAA transfer rules, student-athletes who participated at the varsity level at their old school are required to sit out 30 days unless they can show a "bona fide change of address."Hall of Fame honors

Longtime Pottsgrove boss Rich Pennypacker will be honored by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame for his "contributions to amateur football" at a May 24 dinner at Villanova.

Donald "Big Doc" Dougherty, who coached St. Genevieve's CYO football squad for three decades, will receive a youth league award. Dougherty was an all-Catholic League defensive lineman for Bishop McDevitt in 1985.Around the area

Karrington Wallace, a 6-foot-7 junior forward who helped Archbishop Wood win the PIAA Class 5A basketball title, picked up scholarship offers Saturday from Binghamton and Towson. Classmate Seth Pinkney, a 6-11 center, also received an offer from Towson. . . . The second annual Bucks-Mont all-star football game is set for 7:30 p.m. May 5 at Neshaminy. . . . Math, Civics, and Sciences forward Ahmad Wimbush and Father Judge guard Matt O'Connor will continue their basketball careers at Clarion and Moravian, respectively. . . . Former Neumann-Goretti baseball standout Josh Ockimey was batting .404 with a .692 slugging percentage and 1.169 OPS through Friday for the Salem Red Sox, Boston's high-A affiliate in the Carolina League. The 21-year-old first baseman was drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 first-year player draft. . . . Wood junior tight end Kyle Pitts (6-5, 230) added scholarship offers from Alabama and Ohio State last week.

robrien@phillynews.com

@ozoneinq

www.philly.com/ozone

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April 23, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Newsday (New York)

 

It was bound to happen.

Sooner or later, someone was going to step outside the box and offer a scholarship to a woman to play college football. Maybe we shouldn't be so surprised that it was someone like Timm Rosenbach.

The Adams State coach is a former quarterback with the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints. He also is the husband of a former professional volleyball player and the father of two sports-crazed girls. And that, more than anything, weighed heavily into his decision to offer a partial scholarship to kicker Becca Longo of Arizona to play for the Division II school in Alamosa, Colorado.

"Becca started following me on Twitter, and I thought it was pretty cool," Rosenbach said in a phone interview last week. "I have two daughters who are 7 and 10 and they play hockey, volleyball, basketball, skateboarding, you name it. When I saw her kick, I started thinking this is something that could work out for the both of us."

From ABFemale Athlete Earns Division II Football Scholarship

Though Division II teams do not offer full athletic scholarships, Longo is believed to be the first player to be recruited and receive some scholarship consideration from a Division II school or higher. A handful of women, however, have kicked before her.

Liz Heaston kicked two extra points for Willamette, then an NAIA program, on Oct. 18, 1997, and became the first woman to score in a college football game. Ashley Martin became the first woman to score at the Division I level when she kicked three extra points for FCS Jacksonville State against Cumberland on Aug. 30, 2001. Katie Hnida was the first woman to score at college football's highest level when she kicked two extra points for FBS New Mexico against Texas State on Aug. 30, 2003. Tonya Butler kicked for Division II West Alabama in 2003 and 2004 and became the first woman to kick a field goal in an NCAA game (she made 13 of 19 field-goal attempts).

More recently, Brittany Ryan scored 100 points for Division III Lebanon Valley from 2007-10, making her the all-time NCAA leader among women. And April Gross became the second woman to score in an FBS game with an extra point for Kent State against Delaware State in 2015.

None of those women, however, was recruited to play, which goes a long way toward explaining the explosion of publicity last week after the signing of Longo, 18. Her story went viral on social media and she was featured in People magazine and "Good Morning America.'' "I recruited her as a football player," Rosenbach said. "It was also the right time and I thought we had the right chemistry. Here's an opportunity to give someone who deserves it a chance to compete."

Maybe we shouldn't be so surprised that this barrier has been broken, because the number of girls playing 11-man high school football has more than doubled in the last seven years, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. In 2015-16, there were 1,964 girls playing on 11-man high school football teams, up from 759 in 2008-09. Though statistics are not available for this season yet, three girls - Cayleigh Kunnmann of Bay Shore, Hannah Martin of Patchogue-Medford and Megan Benzing of Mepham - played on high school football teams on Long Island.

Interestingly, while girls' interest in football is growing, the number of boys playing the 11-man game nationally has dropped by 9.9 percent in the same time period. Last year, there were 1,085,272 boys playing the game, down from 1,109,278 in 2008-09.

Apparently, the level of acceptance of girls playing what is traditionally considered a boys sport is growing at a faster clip than the safety concerns about playing high school football in general. Or, in other words, the same people who feel football is safe enough for their sons to play are allowing their daughters to do so now, too.

Longo made it clear on "Good Morning America'' that she hopes to inspire young girls to pursue their dreams.

Said Longo: "I want them to go out and do what they love to do. If they want to play football, play football. If they want to play hockey, play hockey. Don't listen to all the negativity, because you are going to get a lot of it. Just go do what you love."

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April 23, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

NEW YORK North Americas soccer federation has filed a lawsuit claiming it was victimized by two defendants charged in the FIFA bribery scandal.

In papers filed earlier this week in federal court in Brooklyn, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football accuses former FIFA officials Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer of making a fortune through embezzlement allegations that mirror those in a sprawling U.S. criminal investigation that has resulted in charges against several top soccer officials.

The suit accuses the pair of negotiating bribes and kickbacks in connection with lucrative broadcasting rights for tournaments including CONCACAFs Gold Cup championship.

There can be no doubt that Warner and Blazer victimized CONCACAF, stealing and defrauding it out of tens of millions of dollars in brazen acts of corruption for their own personal benefit at the expense of the entire CONCACAF region, the suit says.

The suit seeks $20 million in compensatory damages and unspecified punitive damages.

Blazer has pleaded guilty and cooperated in the criminal probe. One of his attorneys in that case declined comment on Friday.

Warner is fighting extradition in Trinidad and Tobago, where hes denied any wrongdoing.

FIFA, international soccers governing body, filed a restitution claim last year in the criminal case that similarly portrayed it as a victim of the defendants.

Their actions have deeply tarnished the FIFA brand and impaired FIFAs ability to use its resources for positive actions throughout the world, and to meet its global mission of supporting and enhancing the game of football, commonly known in the United States as soccer, it says.

The claim includes a demand for tens of millions in payments, including $10 million it says was stolen by Warner, Blazer and others.

North Americas soccer federation has filed a lawsuit claiming it was victimized by two defendants charged in the FIFA bribery scandal.
 
April 25, 2017
 
 
 

 

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The Daily News of Los Angeles



NEWBURY PARK — The Marmonte League first-place showdown between the Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks baseball teams was not played as scheduled on Friday after Thousand Oaks principal Lou Lichtl informed the umpires and Newbury Park athletic administrators that Newbury Park violated the pregame batting practice rule by throwing the wrong form of soft toss.

"We brought it up to the umpires and the Newbury Park people," Lichtl said. "It's a league rule and a CIF rule. It's an unfortunate situation. But the rules have to be followed."

Lichtl confirmed Thousand Oaks has video evidence, too.

It is not certain if Thousand Oaks can count the victory on its record just yet.

Newbury Park coach Curtis Scott didn't concede anything.

"The allegations are under review," Scott said. "That's all I can say right now."

Thousand Oaks coach Jack Wilson was willing to play the game under protest. Lichtl indicated Newbury Park did not think it would be wise to play at all.

"We thought we could play the game and then let the protest and process play itself out," Wilson said. "It was a surprise not being able to play. We were ready to go. I was informed by my athletic director and then the administrators took it from there."

Licthl added: "They took front toss batting practice. It can only be from the side. The rules are clear. There is only 24 hours allowed to file a protest. It was decided it wouldn't be a good idea to play the game. We wanted to bring it up right away and be up front about it, not play the game and then bring up the issue.

"We left with the game not being played and a forfeit win in our favor. It's now Newbury Park's protest to bring up."

Thousand Oaks came in red hot and didn't get the chance to win its eighth in a row on the field. Newbury Park had lost two in a row, including a 5-2 setback Wednesday against Thousand Oaks.

The teams are scheduled to meet on May 10, the last game of the regular season for both teams.

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April 23, 2017
 
 
 

 

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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

CHAPEL HILL — Greg Sankey, the Southeastern Conference commissioner who is also the chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, has refused a request that he recuse himself from the ongoing NCAA investigation into UNC-Chapel Hill, the Associated Press reports.

According to the AP, Sankey in a letter to Deborah Crowder's lawyer denied the lawyer's request that Sankey recuse himself out of concerns about a conflict of interest. Sankey is the SEC commissioner while UNC is one of the founding members of the ACC, one of the SEC's rival conferences.

Crowder, meanwhile, is the former UNC administrative assistant who is considered one of the architects of a long-running scheme of African- and Afro-American Studies courses that UNC's accrediting body considered to be fraudulent.

In Sankey's letter, obtained by the AP, he wrote that the infractions committee "would fairly decide this case. The panel, including me, will hear and decide this case based on the case record and the membership's bylaws."

Since June 2014 the NCAA enforcement staff has been investigating to what degree the bogus African Studies courses benefited athletes, including men's basketball and football players, over a range of years.

The NCAA case has stalled several times, most recently in mid-March.

UNC was due to respond on March 13 to the NCAA's third notice of allegations in the case. Days before, though, Crowder's attorney, Elliot Abrams, released an affidavit in which Crowder defended the legitimacy of the AFAM courses at the heart of the case.

In her affidavit, Crowder described the classes as "customized educational opportunities for students to solve problems created by the institutional bureaucracy." At first the classes were designed as independent studies courses that had no professor oversight, never met and only required a written paper.

Later, Crowder disguised those independent studies classes as lecture courses that still never met and included little to no instruction. The papers the classes required resulted in unusually high grades.

UNC athletes, who account for about 5 percent of undergraduate enrollments, represented nearly half of the 3,100 students who enrolled in the classes from 1993 to 2011. Crowder retired from UNC in 2009 and has refused to speak with NCAA investigators.

In a letter to the NCAA last month, Abrams wrote that Crowder would "potentially" cooperate with the NCAA investigation. In Sankey's letter that the AP obtained, meanwhile, Sankey wrote that NCAA investigators would interview Crowder in the coming weeks.

Sankey's letter was dated April 14. It was sent, according to the AP, to all parties involved in the UNC investigation. Sankey's letter came in response to one that Abrams wrote to NCAA officials, arguing that Sankey should recuse himself from the case because of a conflict of interest.

In that letter to the NCAA, Abrams also contended that Sankey "pressured" the enforcement staff into issuing the third notice, which is considered the harshest of the three UNC has received.

UNC received its first notice in this case, which grew out of another NCAA investigation into impermissible benefits and academic misconduct within the football program, on May 20, 2015. It was days away from the deadline to respond to it when the university submitted new information to the NCAA.

The enforcement staff sent its second notice to UNC on April 25, 2016. UNC responded on Aug. 1, 2016, and then appeared before a special committee on infractions hearing that Sankey presided over.

Sankey then encouraged the enforcement staff to reevaluate how it had framed the allegations. That led to the third notice, which UNC received Dec. 3, 2016. UNC faces five level one allegations, which are ones the NCAA considers the most serious.

Among them are an allegation of lack of institutional control and an allegation of providing impermissible academic benefits to athletes, including men's basketball and football players. UNC has argued, among other things, that the NCAA has no jurisdiction over the quality of course instruction.

The AP, citing Sankey's most recent letter, reported that UNC must now respond to the third NOA by May 16. If it does respond by then, it would represent about a two-month delay from when UNC was originally scheduled to respond.

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April 22, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Newsday (New York)

 

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said baseball would have to consider Las Vegas as a potential destination when the league is ready for expansion or relocation.

"Just on the demographics, it could work based on the size of the city," Manfred said on Thursday at a meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors. "We've seen two other professional sports teams go there."

The NFL approved the Oakland Raiders' move to Las Vegas in March. The team will open a $1.9 billion stadium in Las Vegas in 2020. The NHL added an expansion team - the Vegas Golden Knights - that will begin play next season.

From ABRenderings of $1.9B Las Vegas Raiders Stadium

"It'll be interesting to see what happens with the NHL and NFL being there," Manfred said. "That's two big moves in a relatively short period of time. We're going to watch that carefully."

Manfred said there are no current plans to expand, and the league is waiting to see how the stadium situations play out in Tampa and Oakland. Both the Rays and Athletics have been trying to get a new stadiums built for years.

"Until Tampa and Oakland are resolved, I can't see us expanding just as a practical matter . . . If we were looking to relocate, Las Vegas would be a possibility."

In the past, professional sports teams have avoided moving to Las Vegas because sports betting is legal in the state. Those concerns have dissipated in recent years.

"The presence of gambling is an issue that people have gotten past," Manfred said. "You can gamble anywhere. We all know that. It's not just Las Vegas. From that perspective, I'm open to it."

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April 22, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA)

 

A former volunteer coach at Mt. Pleasant Area High School blamed an ex-girlfriend for sending explicit texts to a pair of teenage boys and soliciting lewd photos, but all charges against him were held for trial Thursday.

State police charged Ty Cameron Holler, 23, of Latrobe, with two counts each of unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors and hiring or permitting a minor to assist in producing or distributing sexual materials, stemming from text messages he allegedly sent the teens in 2014 and 2015.

At a preliminary hearing Thursday before District Judge Roger Eckels, the victims and an investigator testified that Holler, a volunteer coach for the football team, had started texting the teens, who were 15 and 16 at the time, about sports.

But the conversation turned to sex — the teens' sex lives and Holler's exploits at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He allegedly asked them for details and "proof" of the sex they were having, and sent the teens topless photos of a woman he said wanted to get to know them or have sex with them if they sent explicit pictures in return.

"I just thought it was real weird.... I gave him a normal picture to send to the girl, that was it," testified the older of the two, now 18.

Investigating Trooper Joseph Lauricia testified that in two separate interviews with police, Holler told them the texts to the older of the two victims came from his girlfriend of only three days, whom he could identify only as "Alexis" and no longer had any contact information for via phone or social media.

According to Lauricia's testimony, Holler initially said Alexis met with him and the older victim at a bar near IUP, then took Holler's phone while he slept and sent the topless photo and suggestive texts. After officers challenged his story, Holler told them he acted as a go-between for his girlfriend and the teenager, but never asked for photos in return.

Lauricia said he found no evidence the victim, a high school sophomore at the time, had ever visited the bar in Indiana.

Holler told police he got an unsolicited nude photo and a video of the older victim having sex about a week after sending the topless photo, though the victim said he never sent anything other than a fully clothed picture.

The younger victim said Holler asked for a picture of his bodily fluids as proof he had sex.

Defense attorney Michael Ferguson argued there was a loophole in the state's child pornography law that said soliciting depictions of sex acts and body parts was prohibited, but bodily fluids were not.

He compared it to the difference between a photo of urine and one of a man visibly urinating.

Assistant District Attorney Adam Barr countered that the bodily fluids would require a sexual act that was covered under the law.

Ferguson also said the topless photo wasn't illegal because of a state appellate court precedent that held nudity alone was not obscene. He contested the "corruption of minors" charge by arguing that teenagers, especially in a football locker room, talk about sex all the time, and argued that Holler's conversations with them didn't change the teens' views or morals.

Eckels ordered that all charges against Holler be held for the Court of Common Pleas. His formal arraignment is scheduled for June 21.

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724 836 6660 or msantoni@tribweb.com

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April 23, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

Emerald Youth Foundation plans to build a $10 million recreation and community center on a 10-acre city block in Lonsdale, a neighborhood that has been shaken by gang violence in recent years.

The facility, which would be built on parcels owned by the city and the county near Sam E. Hill preschool, would include two turf sports fields and a community center with meeting rooms, a gymnasium, learning center, fitness center, cafe and chapel.

Emerald President Steve Diggs called the proposal an "answered prayer" for a community that has been asking for a facility like this for more than a decade and said the foundation is executing a vision that belongs to the residents.

"We know it's a reality that this community has had its share of real problems for children and they have been innocently affected for just way too long, with too many sprayed bullets," Diggs said. "We've got to turn that around, we have to change it. This kind of project is one that not only serves the children, but it needs to bring hope, bring transformation to the community.

"It's going to light up the neighborhood."

Diggs said the foundation has a commitment for "a majority" of the $8 million it plans to raise, including commitments from the foundation's board of directors.

The city, meanwhile, will donate $1million in land it has acquired between Minnesota and Texas avenues and Sherman and Stonewall streets. The two turf fields would be built on that city block.

Mayor Madeline Rogero said she will also include in her budget proposal next week $1million in infrastructure improvements, including lighting and sidewalks along Texas Avenue. The county, meanwhile, will donate the parcel it owns next to Sam E. Hill Elementary for the community center and gymnasium.

The city is also considering a proposal to shut down the block of Minnesota Avenue that runs between the two properties to make it safer for children and provide more parking.

There is no specific timeline for construction, but Diggs said he hopes that by "at least by late 2018, we're in the facility on the property, with kids playing and having a good time."

The Knoxville City Council, Knox County Commission and Knox County school board will all have to approve the proposal.

The city has been acquiring the property it's donating for years, and most recently had plans to build affordable single-family owner-occupied housing, following a model set out by the federally backed HOPE IV project in nearby Mechanicsville. But while the city and other nonprofits have been working on infill building, facade improvements and energy efficiency remodels, the market hasn't been right for new housing, Rogero said.

When she learned the Emerald Youth Foundation was looking to build a new facility similar to the Sansom Sports Complex on 17th Street, Rogero said she reached out to discuss the Lonsdale land the city owned.

"I immediately thought, 'Wow, we have land that's available that's right across from where so many people live,'" Rogero said. "I had just been out, walking Lonsdale Homes with some of the neighbors, who talked about the needs.

"It just seemed like it would meet some of the demands and the needs of the community that they said they needed for recreation and safe places for the kids to go."

The neighborhood, which includes a large public housing complex, has been rattled by gang violence in recent years, including the high-profile death of Zaevion Dobson, a 15-year-old Fulton High School football player killed by gunfire while shielding his friends on a porch where they had been gathered. The slaying garnered national attention, including a tearful mention by then-President Barack Obama and earned Dobson a posthumous Arthur Ashe Courage Award at ESPN's annual ESPY awards in 2016.

Most recently, another 15-year-old, Xavier Shell, was hit by gang-related gunfire in the home of friends he was visiting in the neighborhood in late March, police said. The bullet lodged near his heart, and doctors told him it was too dangerous to have it removed.

The corner of the block even includes a memorial to 5-year-old Brittany Daniels, who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in 1996 while she was playing on the sidewalk outside her house. She, too, was caught in the crossfire of a bloody gang war, Knoxville police said at the time. The red-brick memorial, on the corner of Minnesota Avenue and Sherman Street, has since become a tribute to the whole family. Her father also died of gun violence, her mother of cancer and her younger brother, the celebrated high school basketball star Phillip "Tookie" Stanford, to suicide in 2012.

Diggs said the foundation will build around the existing memorial.

Much like in 1996, the most recent spurt of violence has left the community on edge and calling for the city and police to do more.

City officials announced a partnership last year with Overcoming Believers Church to build the Knoxville Change Center that would serve the community's young people, giving them a place to hang out and learn job skills. They broke ground on the facility, located just east of downtown, earlier this month.

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April 21, 2017
 
 
 

 

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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

GREENSBORO — Seven sand volleyball courts sit on the grounds of Pinetop Sports Club, the home of Page High School's fledgling club teams. Three volleyball courts flank a middle feature court.

As 4:15 p.m. rolls around, members of the boys and girls teams remove their footwear, allowing their toes to penetrate the fine grains of sand upon which they will practice. Some don sunglasses, a majority electing to wear Ray-Bans, while others leave their eyes exposed to the elements.

Coed drills begin practice, and the sound of volleyballs making contact with hands and forearms fills the air. Plenty of balls fail to meet a player on the next touch and glide across the soft sand. There is no yelling and screaming, though, mostly smiles and words of encouragement fill the air on a spring afternoon.

AB Blog: Spiking Interest and Opportunities in Sand Volleyball

The pressure is low, the pace of activity is high, and plenty of learning takes place as sand volleyball takes hold in the high school ranks in Guilford County. Caldwell, Wesleyan and Hayworth Christina in High Point field teams, and Grimsley had one last year but couldn't find a coach this time. To the west, Reagan, East Forsyth, West Forsyth and Reynolds play.

The sport, which has gained national attention during the Olympics and largely because of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings, is not officially recognized by the N.C. High School Athletic Association nor the National Federation of State High School Associations. But the NCAA now has 53 programs, including UNC-Wilmington, playing beach volleyball in Division I.

"It's a lot of fun because everyone is feeling out what it's like to have a sand volleyball team," said senior Copeland Jones. "Indoor it's much more of a time commitment, everyone knows the rules, and it's a lot more strict. To come out on the sand it's more fun because we just have a good time."

Ten girls and seven boys make up the first Page sand volleyball team, a non-sanctioned club sport competing as a member of the N.C. High School Sand Volleyball Association. Six of the 10 girls on the roster play both indoors and outdoors for Coach Trevor Hewitt. The boys don't have the option of playing indoors, so the concept of bump, set and spike is new to them.

"We didn't really know much at all coming into this," said junior Trip Hughes, who with a majority of boys on the team is a member of the soccer program. "Having the girls who have played volleyball has really helped us along, especially playing with them."

As practice continues, the girls and boys separate themselves by squad for team drills. The pace of play is noticeably different between the genders. The girls, many of whom are diving for balls in the sand, are attempting to hone their skills for the upcoming fall indoor season. The boys are trying to get the basics down while improving their strength and conditioning for fall sports season.

"It's like watching a baby learn how to walk," Hewitt joked about his male roster. "Some of the guys, if they had experience in middle school, they've forgotten everything. But they come out here, they work hard, have fun and get better every day."

After serving and passing drills, it's time for two-on-two competition. Players pair off and share their half of the sand court with just their partner, leaving plenty of sand to cover as well as to aim for across the net.

"Court vision is a bigger component in sand," said Jones, who was an HSXtra.com All-Area libero in the fall. "Indoors you see the bigger 6-foot-3 girls are scoring all the points. But outdoors if you can really see where the players aren't and you can hit it to those spots, you can really win some games."

Players communicate with each other after each point, meeting on the court for a few seconds to tell their partner what they are seeing or what they would like to do. A high-five is shared, and the two players go their separate ways. During the action, it is relatively quiet. On-court communication is limited, and there is minimal coaching coming from Hewitt.

"Indoor you have to place trust in all of your teammates," said Jones, who has played sand volleyball for Beach South, a club team in Greensboro. "Outdoors, you have to have even bigger trust in that one teammate you share the court with, so having a good relationship and getting along with (with your partner) and being able to take constructive criticism is important."

The game is growing in North Carolina. UNC-Wilmington is in its second year competing in NCAA Division I beach volleyball. The addition of the spring sport is already paying dividends in recruiting for the Seahawks.

"I was recruited for indoor, but one of the main things I was looking for in a college was somewhere I could play both," said Halle Hunt, a sophomore in the UNCW program who graduated from Northwest Guilford. "When I was committing during my junior year, Coach (Amy Bambenek) said Wilmington was trying to get a beach team, and she called me my senior year to let me know it was happening and I was very excited."

The relaxed environment at Page practices is also a part of UNCW's beach volleyball atmosphere. It's part of the reason Hunt is attracted to the outdoor version.

"I really like playing both," said Hunt who played for the Beach South affiliate in Kernersville during her high school days. "But I want to pursue playing at the pro level for beach. The environment is completely different. It's a lot more relaxed (during beach). They are playing music throughout the entire match."

No matter the level, one thing seems certain: Sand volleyball should only grow in popularity.

"Since we started this year, a lot of people have gained an interest because we've liked it so much," Hughes said. "People were just unsure if they were going to like it, but since we came out and experienced it I think there will be a lot more (players) out here next year."

Contact Spencer Turkin at 336-373-7062 and follow @turkin35@twitter.com

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Page 's Trip Hughes during a sand volleyball practice at Pinetop Sports Club in Greensboro. Andrew Krech/News & Record Page High School sand volleyball players during a practice. Andrew Krech/News & Record Says Hughes: "Having the girls who have played volleyball has really helped us along, especially playing with them." Andrew Krech/News & Record Page High School sand volleyball players practice at Pinetop Sports Club. Andrew Krech/News & Record Trip Hughes sends the volleyball back over the net. Andrew Krech/News & Record Page sand volleyball coach Trevor Hewitt during a recent practice. Andrew Krech/News & Record Page High School volleyball players practicing at Pinetop Sports Club. Andrew Krech/News & Record Page's Trip Hughes leaps for the ball during a recent sand volleyball practice at Pinetop Sports Club in Greensboro. PHOTOS BY Andrew Krech/News & Record Page High School volleyball players practicing at Pinetop Sports Club. Andrew Krech/News & Record
 
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The Washington Times

 

There are places all over America where you have girls who have a passion for the game of baseball and pursue it, often in isolation, considered a novelty.

Last weekend in southern California, many of those young girls gathered for an event sponsored by Major League Baseball that validated their passion and told them they weren't alone.

It was only right that Alexandria's Codi Dudley was part of it.

Major League Baseball, along with USA Baseball, held its first girls baseball tournament — "The Trailblazers Series" — last weekend as part of the Jackie Robinson Day festivities. The tournament featured more than 100 young female ballplayers from the United States and Canada, playing for under-16 and under-12 teams.

"In memory of Jackie Robinson, Major League Baseball is committed to making our sport accessible and inclusive for all those who want to play, coach or participate," said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. "MLB and USA Baseball have listened to the growing demand for girls' and women's baseball by launching this unprecedented event. We will be proud to do so on the most meaningful date on our calendar, Jackie Robinson Day, at our Youth Academy in Compton. It is our honor to support trailblazing young women who will be outstanding representatives of their communities."

For Dudley, it was just another part of the dream she chases - her baseball dream.

Dudley, a veteran player in the local Eastern Women's Baseball Conference, was invited to coach one of the teams, joining other women who have been part of the USA Baseball national women's squad.

"The tournament was amazing," Dudley said. "I've been in tournaments before where they were all girls and all women, but for a lot of these girls this was their first time. It was incredible. They loved being in it. A lot of them came from places where they're the only girl on the field and to be there with other girls gave them a lot of validation.

"They could really enjoy themselves," she said. "They weren't scared to strike out and be judged. They were just there with other girls and didn't feel like they had to prove themselves so much. When they are on the field with guys they are always being looked at, but when they are on the field like this they are all together."

The women's baseball movement has been quietly growing over the past decade, with more participation by young girls in Little League baseball. Several years ago, young Mo'ne Davis caught the attention of the world as the 13-year-old star pitcher for a team out of Philadelphia in the Little League World Series. Her story opened up the door for more young girls to try to play baseball. But one of the biggest obstacles is the presence of fast-pitch softball as the vehicle for these young players to go beyond Little League.

"Little League seems to be at a point where girls feel comfortable trying out," Dudley said. "We want girls to get into the Babe Ruth leagues and on the high school teams. But one of the barriers is fast-pitch softball. If you're a really good player you go into fast-pitch softball because that's how you get your scholarships to college. I know several good players in this area who I know could play baseball because they are really good, but they feel like they have to play softball because that's where they get the real attention for college."

The Trailblazers tournament, though, was about change and knocking down barriers — on the field and off.

MLB senior vice president for baseball operations Kim Ng spoke to the girls about opportunities beyond the field. "She talked about the love for the game and pursuing baseball and how some day one of them in the room could be a general manager or work somewhere in baseball," Dudley said.

"I think the real message in this tournament was if you have a dream and you want to do it, don't feel like you have a ceiling on it," she said.

Dudley has been pursuing that dream — coaching boys baseball. The Eastern Women's Baseball Conference, which consists of four local girls baseball teams, is entering its 27th season, and Dudley has both played and coached in the league. But several years ago, she and her friend and fellow baseball player, Jennifer Hammond, began coaching junior varsity girls softball at Falls Church High School.

Now Dudley is the baseball coach and Hammond the assistant for the boys junior varsity baseball team there.

"During the season we would go over and watch the baseball team play, because that's sort of where our true passion was," Dudley said. "We became good friends with the varsity baseball coach, and we told him that we play baseball. He came and watched one of our practices and one of our games.

"We had a conversation after one of the games and he said, 'You know, my junior varsity coaches aren't coming back next year. Would you like to coach my boys?'

"That was a dream of mine when I started a few years ago," she said. "My plan was to coach baseball, not softball. I took a softball job because I thought that was the way to get in."

Those chances to "get in" got a boost from Major League Baseball last weekend.

Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast "Cigars & Curveballs" Wednesdays available on iTunes and Google Play.

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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

What: Zoo Tracks

When: Guided walks are at 10 a.m. the first Monday of each month through August. Patrons who wish to follow the paths at other times can find them on the Virginia Zoo app or on paper maps in the zoo's membership office.

Where: Virginia Zoo, 3500 Granby St., Norfolk

Contact: Call 441-2374 or visit virginiazoo.org.

A trip to the zoo can be educational.

And "it's obviously fun," said Ashley Mars.

But zoos can serve another purpose: "Exercise," said Mars, the Virginia Zoo's marketing manager.

The zoo and the YMCA of South Hampton Roads have launched a walking program. Zoo Tracks is for all ages and fitness levels, and provides patrons with six themed paths intended to increase their step counts. Visitors have to pay zoo admission, but the fitness is free.

"Take a walk in your neighborhood and enjoy the scenery you see every day, or take a walk at the zoo and see things you wouldn't normally see, like giraffes," said Gina Adrover, a health and wellness director for the Blocker Family YMCA and the Y on Granby in Norfolk.

"It's neat to walk around with your family and friends and see exotic animals."

The walking program was inspired by similar efforts at other zoos around the country, Mars said. It was a good fit, because the zoo shares the Y's "mission to have a healthy lifestyle," she said. "(So) we asked (the Y) to chat about the possibilities."

Adrover and her supervisor, Daniel O'Connor, studied the zoo's map. Then, they visited the zoo and used an iPhone app to track their steps along six different paths.

"He's much taller than I am, (so) we took the average of our strides," said Adrover, who helped name all the paths.

The longest route, which takes about 2,540 steps, is called Zip Around the Zoo. The shortest, called Tiger Trek, is about 900 steps. Participants, called "zoo walkers," can find the paths on the Virginia Zoo smart phone app, or on paper maps available at the zoo's membership office. At 10 a.m. on the first Monday of each month through August, visitors can follow the paths with a YMCA guide.

The guided walks will feature a talk about a health-related topic, plus periodic stops for other exercise. What you'll see at the zoo depends on what path you pick.

"You're going to see something different every time," Mars said.

And in the process, Adrover said, you'll burn a lot of calories.

"You will be surprised by how many steps you take when you walk around the zoo," Mars said.

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USA TODAY

 

Beginning Monday, Jovan Dewitt will spend much of the next six weeks traversing Broward County, Fla., visiting between six and eight high schools a trip to meet with football players and their coaches.

It's a lot to keep track of.

"It's usually around 60-some high schools I go visit on any given couple week period," said Dewitt, whose assigned recruiting areas as a member of the Central Florida football coaching staff are greater Fort Lauderdale and a sliver of Atlanta. "Some schools will have 10 or 12 kids, some schools will have 20 kids I have to know about, some schools will only have one or two."

According to NCAA research, high school football players in Florida earn the most college scholarships, per capita, of any state. Dewitt is expected to know every Football Bowl Subdivision-worthy player in Broward County's pool and beyond, and the list will grow by the end of the NCAA's spring evaluation period May 31. Dewitt understands this, which is why a couple years ago he created a phone app to make the task more manageable.

The app's architecture allows Dewitt to enter written information as well as audio and video from every interaction he has with a prospect or someone connected to the prospect and share it in real time with fellow staffers to whom he's given access to the app.

"When you're out and about and, say, the offensive line coach is in Texas and I'm in Miami, he can see all the notes as we're evaluating," Dewitt said. "We're trying to compare and analyze people from across the country, because recruiting has become such a big deal in terms of getting real-time information back and forth, and as much as it changes now, you need to be able to communicate those things as fast as possible.

"All I really did was I combined any kind of a free tool that I could find. I'm sure it's a really clunky way to do it, but it seems to be pretty efficient for me. It really just saves me time so I can spend less time finding my notes and more time recruiting."

Dewitt, a math and physics double major during a two-time Division II All-American career at Northern Michigan in the late 1990s, considers the app a side project that scratches multiple itches: It helps him be better at a job that is his passion, and it gives him the tech, data and problem-solving fix he has craved all his life.

It also helped him get instant credibility when he joined UCF as part of head coach Scott Frost's initial staff as linebackers coach and special-teams coordinator in 2016.

"Coach is very, very smart," said linebacker Shaquem Griffin, the 2016 American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year. "To have your actual position coach make something like that, that's when you know when it comes to doing something on the field, you better do it right."

Dewitt is entering his 18th consecutive year in college football coaching, but it was his lone full-time job outside the business that provides the app's origin. In 1999, Dewitt spent one year as a mortgage broker for Ditech in Costa Mesa, Calif., using customer relationship management software to interact with dozens of clients and potential borrowers. The software cataloged every customer's pertinent information and their every interaction with Dewitt and the company at large.

"At any given point in time you could be working with 40, 50 different clients in a month, and you had to be on top of each person's situation, because they're all unique," Dewitt said. "To me, that correlated over to recruiting."

A decade and a half later, that CRM software inspired the functionality and infrastructure of his football recruiting app, which works on IOS and Android platforms. Setting up templates and customizing everything down to the labels can be cantankerous, Dewitt says, but the final Web-based product works for him and his Knights peers, whether they are on their phone or desktop.

"And I built it for free, so that's even better," he says with a laugh.

Dewitt and Frost barely knew each other before connecting at Central Florida -- both had coached at Northern Iowa but only overlapped for a matter of weeks in 2009 -- but Dewitt came highly recommended by Erik Chinander, a Dewitt and Frost protégé who serves as UCF's defensive coordinator. "I interviewed him and was immediately impressed from a knowledge standpoint, intelligence standpoint and character standpoint," Frost said.

That is echoed by Roger Harriott, the head coach at the most talent-rich high school in Dewitt's recruiting area, St. Thomas Aquinas. Harriott and Dewitt briefly were on Charlie Partridge's Florida Atlantic staff together in 2013 before Dewitt left for Army.

"He's always been a major advocate for using technology in our football endeavors," Harriott said. "As long as I've known him, he's been extremely organized and efficient."

Dewitt's recruiting geography might be efficient, but very little else about football recruiting fits that description. It involves constant talent searches, constant relationship building and constant processing of new information -- all about teenage boys. Dewitt found a way to give himself a better way to manage and retain the information and give Central Florida a different but valuable form of tech support.

"There's a bunch of companies that do a much better job than I do," Dewitt said, "but I built it, so I like it."

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USA TODAY

 

The Atlanta Hawks practice in a no-frills gym at Philips Arena, not far from the arena's main court.

As practice facilities go, it's outdated. No high-tech video room, hydrotherapy pools or high-end kitchen. No massage room or players lounge with pop-a-shot and HDTVs. Just one full-sized court. Some big-time college basketball programs have nicer practice facilities and more amenities.

That's about to change.

In the fall, the Hawks will move into a 90,000-square-foot facility that cost nearly $50million. But it's more than just an NBA practice facility.

The Hawks are teaming with Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Center and P3 (Peak Performance Project) to create a center that not only includes modern amenities but also incorporates the best of sports medicine and science.

The strategically planned convergence is aimed at preventing injuries, keeping players healthier and extending careers.

"We want to be the bench mark that everyone strives for when people talk about a professional sports team and an academic health care partnership in terms of the quality of the medical care, healing and recovery and the science of injury prevention and nutrition," said Scott Boden, director of Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Center.

NBA teams are opening new practice facilities year after year. With a salary cap and luxury tax system limiting money spent on players, teams look for other ways to support players. Practice facilities are front and center in the NBA's arms race.

In the last three seasons, the Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings have opened new facilities.

The Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards are building practice centers, and the Detroit Pistons plan to build one in downtown Detroit. The Golden State Warriors will have a practice facility when the team moves from Oakland to a new arena in San Francisco.

But the Hawks think incorporating Emory and P3 in their building is a game-changer.

"It gives us competitive distinction in the NBA," Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said. "From a business, brand, franchise standpoint, it distinguishes us in a world that is über-competitive. Anything you do that makes you stand out is a good thing. We couldn't be more excited about the accomplishment. If our players are healthy and our players have fabulous experiences and our players' careers are extended, then it is an asset to the organization."

Koonin said the new ownership group led by Tony Ressler committed to a new practice facility the day he took over. Koonin, partial owner Grant Hill, five doctors from Emory and Hawks executive director of player performance Keke Lyles toured new NBA practice centers, combining what they liked around the league with what they envisioned.

"When we talk about player health and prolonging careers and allowing them to reach maximum potential, what is it that we can provide for the player?" Lyles said. "We tried to create a place that has a bunch of different things, and it's all in-house so we can address and provide services for each athlete that can cover a broad spectrum."

P3 is the leader in sports science, sports data collection and elite-athlete optimization and based in Santa Barbara, Calif. It has assessed hundreds of basketball players with the goal of identifying weaknesses and strengths in the body and improving performance while reducing the chance of injury.

Based on data and medical science, it creates workout programs to help athletes achieve their goals. Nearly every NBA team has had a player evaluated at P3, which has turned into a summer hot spot for NBA players.

There's another component to the new facility. With at least 50 high-level players --NBA, D-League, college -- spending time in the Atlanta area during the summer, the Hawks want their facility to become a site for quality pickup games in the offseason. The center will have a visitors locker room, too.

P3 founder Marcus Elliott had resisted expansion until this opportunity.

"We saw Atlanta as an East Coast hub that would allow us to assess athletes up and down the coast," Elliott said. "We have as many East Coast athletes as West Coast athletes. We have a lot of European athletes, too.

"Getting more data is important if you want to get insight into human systems. The more high-quality data we have coming in, the more insights we're going to be able to glean."

P3's office in Atlanta will expose the company to more athletes, and relationship with Emory could help P3 publish findings in journals where "we can bring these insights to a larger audience," Elliott said

Emory's Boden looks forward to working with P3.

"Marrying P3 and what they already do with a group of academics and sports medicine physicians, we think not only are we going to raise each other's game, we're going to marry that science with our clinical science and develop rehab protocols and prevention protocols at an even higher level," he said.

Emory is moving its sports medicine division into the practice facility. That includes 13 doctors who specialize in sports medicine, including a sports cardiologist, and high-tech CT, MRI and X-ray scanners.

Boden called this endeavor an unprecedented integration of sports medicine.

"We think this will be a platform to help us do better research in a way that's going to make a difference in sports medicine," he said.

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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

Alabama didn't invent college football.

The Crimson Tide did, however, ignite the current craze of insanely large spring-game crowds with the 92,138 spectators who packed Bryant-Denny Stadium 10 years ago to watch Nick Saban's first April contest. Alabama enters Saturday's A-Day game having averaged 80,974 fans in the Saban era for its spring extravaganza.

"We set the standard here for how spring games get evaluated because we had so many people," Saban said Thursday night in a news conference. "I've talked so many times about our first A-Day game here, which is about to be 11 games ago. The people who were there helped us set the tone for something special."

Something special has included five Southeastern Conference championships, four national titles and 18 first-round NFL draft picks, but Alabama's spring-game spirit now has company.

Alabama set a spring-game record with 92,310 fans in 2011, but Ohio State now holds the standard after 100,189 attended last year's game. The SEC record now belongs to Georgia, which had 93,000 pack Sanford Stadium last April.

From ABSpring Football Games Have Become Practice for All

"Now everybody tries to promote their spring game to get as big a crowd as they can get," Saban said, "as if that's going to be something that is going to help catapult their program forward. Like everything else that we do, we want to do it better."

The past three A-Day crowds of 73,516 in 2014, 65,175 in 2015 and 76,212 last year are the three smallest of the Saban era. Saturday will be the first A-Day spectacle for offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and the first for early enrollee quarterbacks Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa.

"We hope we have a great crowd," Saban said. "I think our fans need to know that the support of A-Day has been a tremendous asset in helping us build the program here. It's been a positive for recruits, and it's a special thing for our players to see so many people have so much interest in what they're doing."

Sophomore Josh Jacobs and early enrollees Najee Harris and Brian Robinson will shoulder the load at tailback Saturday. Because of injuries, juniors Bo Scarbrough (leg) and Damien Harris (foot) and freshman B.J. Emmons (foot) are being held out.

Saban said Scarbrough "took almost every rep" in Thursday's practice but that he isn't even considering him playing. Scarbrough broke his leg against Clemson during January's national championship contest.

"We haven't banged him around a lot, and there is no sense in doing that," Saban said.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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Copyright 2017 Colorado Springs Gazette LLC Apr 20, 2017

The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

 

AURORA — The push to sanction boys' volleyball didn't get off the ground at the Colorado High School Activities Association's Legislative Council meeting on Thursday.

Fifty-four percent of the legislative body voted against opening the Classification and League Organizing Committee report, thwarting the proposed amendment before it ever hit the floor.

"It was disappointing," said James Irwin athletic director Mike Prusinowski, who is the president of the Colorado Boys' High School Volleyball Association and was at the forefront of the amendment championed by the Tri-Peaks League.

"First time I've been involved with our league that something didn't even get to discussion on the floor," he said. "On my end, if we would have got to the discussion, and then got to a vote after that, then you have to accept that. But it's disappointing not to even share what's going on with the perspective on the sport."

The refusal came in a matter of moments following a long, tumultuous road for the leadership of the proposal.

The sanctioning initially received positive feedback after a survey sent out to athletic directors around the state in November showed that 200 of the 258 schools that responded were in favor of it.

The eventual decline, however, started when the association's equity committee did not support its sanctioning in a meeting in January. Their issue was the negative impact it would have on the proportionality between girls' and boys' high school sports in the state...Read more on Colorado Springs Gazette

 

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USA TODAY

 

Strength coach Dave Ballou is all about breaking through barriers, but he was nearly stopped from taking a new job because of the NCAA's new recruiting regulations for Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

Ballou, who was the physical conditioning coach at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) last season, was a finalist for the 2014 National Strength and Conditioning Association's High School Strength Coach of the Year Award. In January, he was hired as a strength coach for Notre Dame's football team but soon ran into a snag.

Part of the new legislation prohibits FBS schools from hiring for non-field coaching jobs people who are close to a prospective student-athlete for a two-year period before and after the student's anticipated and actual enrollment at the school. The Irish have three underclassmen on their roster who went to IMG, and Notre Dame is in the running for several 2018 IMG recruits. The legislation was made retroactive to Jan.18, and though Ballou had agreed with the Irish on the terms of his new job before that, his hiring wasn't announced until Jan.30.

Not wanting to jeopardize the athletic eligibility of Notre Dame sophomore running back Tony Jones Jr., freshman offensive lineman Robert Hainsey and sophomore safety Spencer Perry, all of whom went to IMG, Ballou went back to Bradenton this spring until the situation could be sorted out. He was not available to comment.

"At the time it was going on, he felt he had to come back here, because he was not going to put those kids at risk," IMG coach Kevin Wright said. "He came back and worked with us for a couple of weeks before he got the call from the NCAA it was OK for him to take that job."

High school coaches generally approve of most of the NCAA's new rule changes, such as allowing juniors to take official visits or the new December early signing period. However, while Ballou made it under the wire, many high school coaches are worried the new legislation will hinder their ability to land college jobs. The new legislation also applies to junior college coaches and family members.

DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) football coach Elijah Brooks said off-the-field jobs have been the biggest entryway for high school coaches into on-field college coaching jobs.

"Nowadays, the trend has been the off-the-field job as a recruiting guy or analyst or QC (quality control) position," Brooks said. "Now, a high school guy, unless you're a head coach who has great connections, it's going to be tough getting a job in college."

Veteran Colquitt County (Moultrie, Ga.) football coach Rush Propst has seen 15 former assistants go on to coach in college and can tick off the names of his former assistants at Hoover, Ala., who got their first college job in off-the-field positions.

"If this rule was in effect 10years ago, Jeremy Pruitt (Alabama defensive coordinator) would not be in college, Kevin Sherrer (Georgia outside linebackers coach) would not be in college and Chip Lindsey (Auburn offensive coordinator) wouldn't be in college, among others," Propst said. "For the American Football Coaches Association to not do something about this rule is a travesty."

During its annual meeting in January, AFCA members voted to support the overall package, including the portion of the proposal dealing with "individuals associated with a prospect." Todd Berry, the AFCA's executive director, said at the time that the reform package was not a finished product but a first step that could be tweaked later.

UNLV coach Tony Sanchez is the rare football coach to make the leap to being a head coach in college directly from being a high school coach at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas). He said the most innovative football is being done at the high school level and the inability to hire high school coaches hurts college football.

"To me, it's a right-to-work issue," Sanchez said. "If I cannot hire somebody and pay them $100,000 and they're making $55,000 as a high school football coach, that's a chance to better their life. How is that constitutionally OK? I probably know as many high school coaches as anybody.

"This spring, we had a bunch of smart high school coaches hang out with us. I would love to bring some of those guys on at some point in some capacity and give them an opportunity. But I want to get to know them. I want to see their work ethic. I want to see their true knowledge on a daily basis, and if it is what I think it is, those are the guys I eventually end up hiring as on-the-field assistants.

"But now that transitional phase is no longer. To me, it's just a good ol' boy network, a way to grandfather people in and keep the outside people out."

Propst said one way to get the NCAA to reverse course would be to go to the courts.

"I've been told by several college coaches that someone should file a class-action lawsuit," Propst said. "This is the worst thing I've ever seen happen to high school football coaches."

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

A former Giles County basketball coach pleaded guilty Wednesday to using his phone to ask teen girls for nude pictures of themselves.

Jordan Dale Green, 24, listed in court records as having a Narrows address, used his position as the eighth-grade girls ' basketball coach at Narrows High School and his wife's position as a girls' volleyball coach to target teens to solicit through the Snapchat app, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Debra Sifford said during a hearing in Giles County Circuit Court.

While Green told investigators that no girls actually sent him nude pictures and that he never sent naked pictures of himself to them, one teen said that Green sent her a picture of his face, Sifford said.

Green pleaded guilty in Giles County Circuit Court under an agreement that reduced the maximum prison term he faced but set a range of punishment above that recommended by state sentencing guidelines.

Free on bond while awaiting trial, Green was taken into custody at the close of Wednesday's hearing. Judge Lee Harrell ordered a pre-sentencing report and scheduled a decision on Green's punishment for July 19.

Green's plea agreement changed the two charges against him from soliciting child pornography to using a communication device to solicit a minor in violation of state law. The original charges each carried a maximum five-year prison sentence. The plea agreement set a range of punishment from two to six years in prison, plus three years of supervision by the probation office after his release.

The agreement also mandated that Green register as a sex offender and that he have no contact with the girls involved in the case or any child besides his own without permission from the court or his probation officer. Green cannot use social media, and cannot use a phone, computer or any device that connects to the internet without permission from the court or probation office, and is barred from Giles County school property unless the school board states in writing that he can be there, Harrell said.

Summarizing the case, Sifford said that in December, a school resource officer relayed a student's complaint that Green was sending Snapchat messages asking for pictures. "Let's swap nudes," Green wrote in a message to the teen, Sifford said.

Green pretended to be a 17-year-old boy from James Monroe High School just across the state line in West Virginia. But, the teen suspected that it was Green. When she sent a message back asking why he was doing this when he had a wife and child, Green replied that he did "stupid stuff" when he was drinking with friends, Sifford said.

Green later confessed to investigators that he sent the Snapchat messages, and said he was addicted to pornography, Sifford said. Green told investigators that his family knew of his attraction to pornography and that to hide his activities, he deleted records of his messages and online activities from his phone before returning home each day, Sifford said.

The prosecutor said that while Green was being charged for sending messages to two girls between October and December, investigators also talked to a second pair of teens who said Green contacted them. One of these girls told investigators that Green went beyond messages and had groped her breasts and crotch, made her sit on his lap, and lain on top of her on a bed, Sifford said during Wednesday's hearing.

Defense attorney Jason Ballard of Pearisburg said that he could not confirm or deny the allegations that were not involved in the actual charges, or even the existence of the second set of girls.

Green's coaching ended with last year's fall season.

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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

On the recruiting video, Ryan Berning looked OK to University of Richmond lacrosse coach Dan Chemotti. Nothing special. Berning probably wasn't good enough to play for the Spiders, Chemotti concluded.

Berning's high school coach in Cincinnati followed up with video of Berning as a defensive back at St. Xavier High.

"I called him right back and said, 'I've got to have this kid. We'll figure it out,' " recalled Chemotti. "The athleticism was something that just shined in his football video."

Berning, a senior, is a starting defenseman for No. 13 Richmond (10-2, 5-0 Southern Conference). Another UR defenseman, 6-foot-3 Brendan Hynes, was a football and basketball standout in high school in Mahopac, N.Y.

Chemotti's roster of about 45 includes dozens of Spiders who played high school football, and others who played squash, or hockey, or water polo, or soccer, or basketball or ran cross country. Chemotti loves multisport athletes.

"If a guy at a young age is just going to concentrate on one sport, the sport of lacrosse, they might hit their peak a little earlier," said Chemotti, who grew up as a multisport athlete and played lacrosse at Duke. "They might miss opportunities to be exposed to different types of coaches. They might miss opportunities where they could be exposed to high-pressure game situations.

"And lacrosse is such a unique combination of a variety of sports. You've got skill related to hockey. You've got concepts related to basketball. You've got physical aspects related to football. The endurance related to soccer. If we can find a face-off guy who was a wrestler... The amount of advantages goes on and on and on."

When the Northeast gets a week of late-October inclement weather, Chemotti believes it's unlikely a young athlete who plays only lacrosse will go outside and practice his shooting. If that same young athlete plays football, he'll be involved rain or shine in practice that helps develop toughness and his overall skill set.

Chemotti thinks most coaches appreciate the value of multisport athletes, such as Teddy Hatfield. Hatfield, a 6-1 sophomore attack, leads Richmond in scoring and assists. That level of accomplishment, said Chemotti, is tightly linked to Hatfield's background as a hockey player.

"He's great when the ball is on the ground because he's not afraid to get into the middle of it. He's good around the goal in those tight spaces," Chemotti said. "He has a variety of different (shot) release points. He has releases up high. He has releases down low. He has releases everywhere.

"If he wasn't a hockey player, I don't know if he'd be the kind of lacrosse player that he is right now."

Richmond has lost twice: one-goal setbacks to Duke and Virginia. The Spiders are into their finishing kick against their top competitors in the Southern Conference. Richmond plays Saturday at Air Force (8-5, 4-1) and then completes the regular season May 29 against visiting Furman (6-6, 5-0).

The SoCon tournament, which consists of semifinals and finals, will be held at Robins Stadium on May 4 and May 6. The winner earns the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. This is the third consecutive year the SoCon tournament will be played at UR.

The coaches in Saturday's game in Colorado Springs, Colo., are very familiar with one another. Chemotti and Air Force's Eric Seremet attended the same high school, West Genesee, about a decade apart. The school is located in Camillus, N.Y., a town of about 24,000, 8 miles west of Syracuse, a lacrosse hotbed.

Chemotti played at Duke. Seremet, the elder of the two, played at North Carolina. Each then played professionally and worked a string of assistant coaching jobs before being hired as head coaches at their respective schools. Air Force is the SoCon's defending champion -the Falcons defeated UR 9-8 in overtime to capture the 2016 championship - and the favorite in the league's preseason poll.

joconnor@timesdispatch.com(804) 649-6233@RTDjohnoconnor

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

 

GREENSBORO — A proposed new athletic fee would generate an estimated $400,000 a year and allow Guilford County Schools to spare sports programs, Superintendent Sharon Contreras says.

Contreras is recommending that the school system charge students $45 a year to play unlimited middle or high school sports. Students would be exempt if they qualify for free or reduced price lunches, typically an indication of families experiencing poverty.

Because school officials are looking at cuts to teaching staff and academics, they have to look at athletics, too, Contreras said.

"This is one way to make sure that we don't cut our very successful and robust sports program," she said Wednesday during a work session of the Guilford County Board of Education.

She is telling principals that they shouldn't turn away any students who want to play sports if they really can't pay, even students who technically don't get a waiver.

Contreras also gave the school board more details about a few other budget proposals, including the closure of High School Ahead Academy.

Angie Henry, the school system's chief financial officer, said after the meeting that it costs about $1.2 million a year to run the 100-student school. The plan is to use that money to pay for a new program that would offer online resources to help up to 500 students in grades 6-12 catch up after falling behind or to accelerate in their courses, Contreras said at the meeting.

Chairman Alan Duncan got consensus from his fellow school board members Wednesday to set up a meeting at High School Ahead to talk with parents and others who would be affected by the closure. They haven't set a date but plan to hold that meeting before voting in May on the budget request they will send to Guilford County commissioners.

Contreras also wants to reorganize the central office to save $500,000. Henry said the changes would likely involve shifting some responsibilities but not cutting positions. School officials say the changes, despite costing less, will allow the central office to provide increased support for English language learners, career and technical education, and school safety.

Many board member questions and comments at the meeting related to a somewhat-more-complex proposal that would increase the number of positions for assistant principals and counselors. The proposed changes would rely on shifting existing funding and types of positions, and so would not contribute to a budget gap, Henry said. However, if school officials get bad funding news from the state or county commissioners, that could mean a weakened version of the changes, with money then going to other things.

Contreras said she wants to have more counselors and assistant principals serving students and to adjust how those positions are parceled out to schools. So she's doing a couple things: First, she's proposing changing the allocation formulas that determine whether a school gets a certain staff position or how many it gets. Typically, counselors and assistant principals have been assigned based solely on how many students a school has. Now, Contreras wants to also factor in the number of students dealing with poverty and English language learners. The number of students with disabilities would also count for assigning counselors.

In the more distant future, it's possible a small number of schools might lose an assistant principal position under the new formula, but for the current budget year they plan to "hold harmless" those schools. That would give schools more time to understand the changes, Henry said.

The changes are expected to add assistant principals next year at 16 elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools. Counselors would be added at eight elementary schools, two middle schools and eight high schools.

In general, school board members had questions and suggestions rather than criticisms. But Vice Chairwoman Darlene Garrett shared a concern about an aspect of the proposal that would eliminate the flexibility schools have to "trade" different types of positions they have been allocated. One example she brought up is a school wanting to trade to pay for half of a full-time athletic director's salary.

"Schools have asked can they trade a guidance counselor for an athletic director, I think the answer is absolutely not," Contreras replied. "As long as we have students who are not graduating, dropping out, who need counseling services, how do we say, 'You can take a position that was allocated for a counselor and turn that over to the athletic department,' when a counselor would serve far more students?"

Garrett said not allowing that flexibility would be handcuffing principals. And she said she had heard principals had been told not to talk to school board members, which she said she didn't appreciate.

"I don't know who told them that," Contreras said.

She said she would love all the schools who want a full-time athletic director to have one; it's just not her priority. If the school board wants her to scrap plans for more counselors and elementary school assistant principals in favor of athetic directors, it can do so, she said. But it's not her recommendation.

The next school board meeting, set for 6 p.m. April 27, is expected to include a public hearing for people to share their thoughts about the proposed budget.

Contact Jessie Pounds at 336-373-7002 and follow @JessiePounds on Twitter.

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Copyright 2017 The Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.
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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

The discovery of a hidden camera believed to be set up to film a child secretly for more than a year sparked an investigation into the popular athletic director at Palm Beach Gardens High School, recently obtained police records indicate.

The child learned about the camera — it is unclear how — and turned it in to police in mid-February. About three weeks later, officers obtained a warrant to search Bill Weed's PGA National home, citing an investigation into suspected video voyeurism and possession either of images or electronic depictions of a minor engaged in sexual activity.

The report does not disclose the address at which the camera was hidden. The child's identity is redacted from the report.

Police seized photos, videos and cellphone applications from Weed's home. As of Wednesday, Weed — who worked as a teacher, cross-country coach and the high school's athletic director since 2006 — had not been arrested or charged in the investigation. However, he has been removed from the school's campus amid the investigation, officials confirmed.

Police logs from the mid-February meeting mention a student. However, it was not clear whether that reference was to the victim or whether that student attended Gardens High. School district officials declined to comment Wednesday.

Multiple attempts to reach Weed for comment have been unsuccessful.

A coach told The Post last week that Weed vanished from campus in late February. "This is pretty shocking to me," said the coach, who asked not to be named.

Principal Larry Clawson confirmed last week that Weed had been removed from the school but declined to comment further. He made a prerecorded telephone call to parents Friday morning, saying that an unidentified staff member was involved in an off-campus situation and a law-enforcement investigation was taking place.

Clawson stressed to parents that the person was no longer at Palm Beach Gardens High or any other county school.

 

ohitchcock@pbpost.com Twitter: @ohitchcock amarra@pbpost.com Twitter: @AMarraPBPost

Keep up with The Post's complete coverage of Palm Beach Gardens on its Facebook page dedicated to the city. On Facebook, search for Post on Palm Beach Gardens.

 

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Copyright 2017 Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

Authorities have arrested one man on charges of drunkenly using a car to vandalize a soccer facility in West Knoxville on Tuesday night.

Ismael C. Juan, 26, faces charges of vandalism, driving under the influence, driving without a license and driving without insurance, according to the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

"Knox County Parks and Recreation facilities are maintained at public expense, and it's a shame when grown men do stupid things that cost taxpayers money," said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett.

Witnesses told authorities that around 8 p.m., Juan attempted to drive a red 1998 Mitsubishi Eclipse onto one of the fields at U.S. Cellular Sports Soccer Complex.

Juan was seen spinning out for several minutes in the parking lot before losing control and crashing the car into one of the metal gates, according to a news release from the county's Parks and Recreation Department.

Juan and a passenger left the scene but were pulled over by a KCSO deputy moments later at Lovell View Drive and Yarnell Road. The deputy noticed several open beer cans, according to the arrest report. Juan was charged and taken to the Roger D. Wilson Detention Facility.

Adan Paris, 25, was a passenger in the car. His right arm was injured from the crash into the gate, so he was taken to Park West Medical Center.

The damage done to the facility was at least $1,500, according to the release.

This is the second act of vandalism at the complex in as many months. In March, someone damaged the gates and drove onto several soccer fields, ruining the turf. The county purchased new $3,400 gates following that crime. Authorities are still investigating that case, and it's not known if the two cases are related.

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Copyright 2017 Ft Wayne Journal Gazette Apr 19, 2017

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

 

For years, youth hockey in Fort Wayne operated under many different entities. Parents were unsure of where to begin getting their children involved and often found teams outside the area for higher-level teams.

Craig Scully hopes that will change with the announcement Tuesday at the SportONE/Parkview Icehouse of the formation of the Fort Wayne Amateur Hockey Association.

"My son was new to hockey, and I didn't play growing up," said Scully, president of the FWAHA. "It was difficult as a parent to navigate where I had to go. You had to find someone to give you direction. We hope to provide education to our parents so when they start, they can learn where the opportunities are at the next level. If I want to play travel, where do I go? If I want to play high school, where do I go? If I want to play at the next level, what does that mean and how can my kid get there?

"I think (this) organization is going to provide direction to the parents and be able to raise the level of play with the extra skills sessions we're going to be able to offer for our kids."

The newly formed association combines Fort Wayne Youth Hockey and Fort Wayne High School Hockey Association and the board has representatives from Canlan Ice Sports and the Komets.

Parkview Sports Medicine was selected as the team's naming sponsor and will offer expanded athletic training services at the Icehouse as well as AWP dry-land training, nutrition education and injury prevention.

"We have a lot of kids who are leaving because they think they can play at that level and have to go somewhere else," Scully said. "Kaleigh (Schrock) is a great example that we can provide and build that here at home. We have Indiana Tech, Trine starting their programs and IPFW. We have a lot of opportunities for kids to play at a higher level and continue on what we can offer them. I hope we can build that program so they have that opportunity."

Schrock will serve as the coaching director and head of player development, a role he's looking forward to in the new association.

"This is something when I first started in August of 2015 after I retired from the Komets, I didn't realize we were all three different entities," he said. "That was something that we definitely wanted to change. I'm thankful that it's come together this quickly. We all need to be on the same page especially until we get the numbers we want to get to. It doesn't make sense to compete with our own players in Fort Wayne.

"My goal is for kids to start when they put the skates on at 4 or 5 years old. Hopefully we can get a competitive junior team and they can play all their hockey in Fort Wayne, and we can give them every advantage that they can get. Some of our better kids are going to play elsewhere, so that's important to keep them all here in Fort Wayne."

areichel@jg.net

On the web For a video interview with Kaleigh Schrock, go to this story at www.journalgazette.net/sports

Credit: Aubree Reichel The Journal Gazette

Caption: Schrock Scully

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Copyright 2017 South Bend Tribune Corporation
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South Bend Tribune (Indiana)

 

MISHAWAKA — Fans who watch the Penn High School Kingsmen compete in football games later this year will notice eye-popping upgrades at the stadium.

Workers will soon break ground on a $1 million-plus project that calls for several improvements at TCU Freed Field: a new entrance with ticket center, a windscreen spanning the back of bleachers, new stairs, lighting upgrades and a bar fence that will surround nearly half of the site and feature brick pillars.

The Penn-Harris-Madison School Corp. board of trustees awarded the $1.1 million contract for the project on Monday to the Robert Henry Corp. of South Bend, which submitted the lowest of five bids received from contractors. Work will start in early May and is expected to conclude by the end of July, before football games start.

The main entrance will be relocated away from a parking lot to increase safety and allow people to enter the stadium more smoothly, said Denise Seger, the corporation's associate superintendent. It will still be on the east side but will be farther to the north, where more room is available.

"This will provide a safer area where someone can stand while they're waiting and not in the parking lot. And it will be well-lit," she said. "We're trying to enhance the stadium's appearance, but we're also looking at the safety component."

An artificial turf field was installed at the stadium in 2010. But Seger said that improvements have otherwise been limited during the past 15 years.

The project could have been done in phases, she said, but officials instead decided to get all of the improvements done in one season.

Seger said the project was awarded for roughly $75,000 to $100,000 more than anticipated. She attributed that to the project's tight timetable and the high local demand for construction projects.

"There's more work for folks, and they can be more selective with projects they do," she said.

Trustees decided earlier this year to sell about $7.2 million in low-interest bonds to pay for the corporation's summer projects, including work done at the stadium. The bonds, which will be paid back to investors by the end of 2021, will cover the cost of maintenance work at several buildings.

In other business on Monday, the board approved an agreement to buy laptops that will be used next school year by incoming middle schoolers starting sixth grade and high schoolers starting ninth grade.

The contract, totaling about $295,000, calls for the purchase of 1,900 laptops for $155 apiece. The corporation received a low-interest, five-year loan from the Indiana Department of Education to cover the cost.

Incoming middle schoolers and high schoolers at P-H-M receive new laptops each year.

Laptops given back to the corporation by outgoing seniors and eighth-graders are used for different purposes. Some are used as loaners and for spare parts, for example, and others replace older laptops in elementary schools. The laptops are also used by elementary school families who need them.

tbooker@sbtinfo.com

574-235-6070

@Tbooker24

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Copyright 2017 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

The Kanawha County Commission is preparing to grant funding to a YMCA vying to open at the West Virginia University Institute of Technology's athletic center at its former campus in Montgomery.

According to a report given to the commission Tuesday from Monty Warner, president and CEO of the YMCA of Kanawha Valley, the recreation center could open as soon as this summer, and just needs help with startup costs from the commission and elsewhere. It would be housed in the Neal D. Baisi Athletic Center on WVU Techs former campus.

Commission President Kent Carper voiced support for the project at the meeting, and instructed his staff to prepare for a funding request at the groups May meeting.

In a follow-up interview, Carper said he believed in the YMCAs mission in an underserved part of the county and said the project is likely to receive funding.

Im confident well give them significant assistance, what theyre doing is standing up for people in the eastern part of the county, and its the right thing to do, he said.

While nothing is final, Carper estimated the commission would be ready to give $50,000 to the YMCA.

KVC Health Systems, a private nonprofit company based in Kansas, announced plans in February to convert the former campus into a college for children who have aged out of the foster care system.

However, Warner said KVC approached the YMCA because the company does not handle athletic facilities. KVC representatives encouraged the establishment of a new facility on site.

Warner said both Bridge Valley Community and Technical College and KVC have offered to purchase YMCA memberships for students and staff, once the facility opens.

Though the center is close to fruition, there still are a few hurdles to clear. Warner said he still needs to sign and secure the lease from KVC, fund raise to outfit the building and get things off the ground.

He said he has requested funding from both the Fayette County Commission, along with Kanawhas. He said he anticipates only relying on the funding through January to help the YMCA handle outfitting the facility, training employees and handling bills for the first few months.

Come January, he said it should be able to stand up on its own.

With enough interest well be able to create a viable YMCA that will be able to serve the community in magnificent ways, Warner said in a follow-up interview. Were pretty excited about that and we hope to be up and operational this summer.

Looking forward, Warner will be attending several key meetings on the recreation centers fate. He is meeting today with a collaboration team of the mayors of Montgomery and Smithers, commissioners from Kanawha and Fayette counties, WVU representatives, and other interested individuals.

Likewise, he is waiting on formal responses for funding requests from both Kanawha and Fayette counties.

Reach Jake Zuckerman at jake.zuckerman@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4814 or @jake_zuckerman on Twitter.

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

 

If you visit downtown High Point Saturday, you'll see a city humming with vitality. Sidewalks crowded with stylish people. Musicians. Food trucks. Buses and vans on the move. Beautiful buildings busy with comings and goings. Trisha Yearwood singing on an outdoor stage!

Saturday is opening day of the spring furniture market. For a week in April and again in October, High Point hosts the biggest business event in North Carolina. If you want to enter a showroom or attend Yearwood's concert, you need a market pass.

The rest of the year, almost nothing happens in downtown High Point.

But opening day could mean something more if High Point builds a downtown baseball stadium.

There's no "if" to it, according to Doyle Early, a local lawyer and board member of Forward High Point, the latest group formed with the goal of revitalizing an old industrial city. "We're going to do it," he says.

As a long-time High Point resident, I hope he's right. But let's face it: High Point has stood at the plate with its bat on its shoulder and taken some called strikes over the years. Is it really going to swing for the fences now?

Like Babe Ruth, it is!

Ruth hit 714 big-league home runs. He struck out 1,330 times.

Earlier this month, the City Council approved a plan to purchase land and build a $30 million ballpark on a site just west of North Main Street a few blocks from the furniture showroom district. For conservative High Point, this is as rash as trying to steal home with two outs. But not trying to score is no longer an option, Mayor Bill Bencini says: "It's taken a long time to get folks in High Point to understand we cannot sit back and do nothing."

Except for furniture market buildings, property values in High Point's core city are falling. The largest structure on the proposed ballpark site, the former High Point Enterprise building, has been empty for years. So are other offices nearby.

Yet the area still has potential. It's not only close to the furniture market but to High Point Regional Health System. Dynamic High Point University is just a mile to the east. With the right catalyst, developers could be attracted, if...

"How can we expect others to invest in us if we don't invest in ourselves?" Assistant City Manager Randy Hemann asks.

Good question. But the investment is huge - construction costs on top of millions more for purchasing the land and completing design work. How can High Point pull it off?

Here's the plan:

The city will lease the facility to a private ownership group that will operate a team affiliated with the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. The city will retire its debt from lease payments and stadium naming rights, ticket and parking surcharges and an anticipated property tax boost from private development that will spring up around the park.

Obviously, a lot of things must go exactly as envisioned. The financing scheme assumes attendance of 2,500 paying customers for each of 70 baseball games, plus staging 74 other events during the year - concerts, festivals and other sports. The development would produce property tax revenue growth of $99 million over 20 years.

"With this one project, we can stimulate economic development downtown in a way that has not been seen since the Radisson Hotel," Early predicts, recalling the hotel-parking deck project built 35 years ago.

One of the guiding hands is a man who's well-known in Greensboro - Ray Gibbs. The inaugural director of Downtown Greensboro Inc. is filling a similar role for Forward High Point. Since last year, he's been assembling land and talking with potential developers. With HPU adding graduate programs, and with skilled young professionals increasingly being able to work wherever they choose, proximity to a sports-entertainment gathering space can be a good location for new apartments, as well as restaurants, shops and offices.

Sure, there's plenty of baseball in the Triad, including the Grasshoppers in Greensboro and the Dash in Winston-Salem. But High Point can find a niche, especially if it draws from Davidson and Randolph counties. It should get in the game to capture some of the revitalization that flows from increased activity. Baseball appeals to families, old folks and young adults alike, although for different reasons. Some fans even watch the games. Ballparks have become a key component of many successful downtowns.

While the plan carries risks, not even Babe Ruth hit a home run with his bat on his shoulder.

The first pitch is expected in 2019. Maybe Trisha Yearwood will sing the National Anthem.

Contact Doug Clark at doug.clark@greensboro.com or 336-373-7039.

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Copyright 2017 The Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.
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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

With football, soccer and lacrosse games year-round at Boca Raton's Patch Reef Park, saving money on maintenance costs became a priority.

The solution?

The city is replacing the natural grass fields with a synthetic version, but opted for a more expensive organic turf as rumors swirl of cancer-causing chemicals in a popular synthetic turf that uses crumb rubber as a base.

The Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, which oversees the 55-acre park on Yamato Road west of Military Trail, has set aside $3.8 million to replace three athletic fields. But it wants to avoid more common synthetic grass made from crumb rubber base and scrap tires because it has been found by at least one study to have carcinogens, the commission told engineering consultants.

"I have a grandson that's a goalkeeper and I don't want him rolling around in a crumb rubber field," said Robert Rollins, district commissioner.

A professor at the University of Stirling in Scotland found a number of carcinogens in crumb rubber, Forbes reported last year.

In 2014, one media outlet explored a possible link between crumb-rubber turf and female soccer players getting cancer, centered on Amy Griffin, an associate head coach for the University of Washington women's soccer team. Griffin said several students who had played on the field had developed cancer.

That prompted a Washington State Department of Health investigation that found the cancer rate was not abnormal . That didn't change any minds in Boca, though, even with higher costs.

"There's a lot more expense to it," Curt Keyser, director of engineering at Calvin, Giordano & Associates, told the district Monday. "The water consumption is tremendous."

The organic turf will require high-powered pumps to water the fields manually, rather than automatically as it's currently done.

The district also will stop using reclaimed water on the field. Enzymes in natural grass can break down bacteria, which is not the case for artificial grass, a Calvin, Giordano & Associates engineer told the commission.

"We haven't been known to spare any expense," said Arthur Koski, the district's executive director.

lramadan@pbpost.com

Synthetic fields

Boca Raton is replacing natural grass at Patch Reef Park with a synthetic grass called organic turf. A look at the development of artificial surfaces:

1. Astroturf

The first synthetic grass was placed over concrete in 1964 and was named "Astroturf" when it was installed in the Houston Astrodome in 1966. The fields were not popular with athletes because the thin layer was dangerous.

2. Crumb-rubber turf

Developed in the early 2000s as an alternative to Astroturf, crumb-rubber turf was made with an infill between fake grass blades of small black crumb pieces that came from old tires. That gave the fields more cushion and prevented injuries.

3. Organic turf

Also made from the same synthetic fibers that mimic blades of grass, the base is made from environmentally friendly material that can decompose. It is more expensive to maintain than the other two mainly because of water consumption.

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Copyright 2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Construction issues with the roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium will delay the opening of the Atlanta Falcons' new home for the third time and will keep the Georgia Dome standing for a while longer.

Steve Cannon, CEO of Falcons parent company AMB Group, said Tuesday that the opening of the $1.5 billion downtown stadium will be pushed back from July 30, when an Atlanta United soccer match was to be played there, to Aug. 26, when a Falcons preseason game is scheduled to be played there.

Cannon also said demolition of the Georgia Dome has been put on hold "until we are 100 percent certain of achieving our certificate of occupancy" required for holding events in the the new stadium.

"This really does represent an insurance policy," he said. "We do not expect to use the Georgia Dome whatsoever."

But for now, the 25-yearold Dome, which was officially closed in March, will remain in place in case it is needed for football games in late August and beyond.

The Dome's replacement originally was scheduled to open March 1. That previously was pushed back to June 1 and then to July 30, both times because of issues associated with the complicated retractable roof.

Cannon said the latest delay is driven by "steel work that has taken longer than we anticipated" in the roof and an updated analysis of the construction timeline from this point forward.

"When some things shift, it has an impact on the overall timeline and re-sequencing of the work," he said.

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

Cannon expects the roof, which he said contains 27,000 tons of steel, to be operable when the stadium opens.

"We have a complex design, we have a complex building, but there has never been any concern about the operability of the roof," he said. "This is a timeline challenge and nothing else."

But Cannon acknowledged the roof petals required some extra work to make them fit.

"You install a shim that closes a gap or addresses a gap," he said. "So, yes, there was a shimming process that took place, normal seal work on a project of this size and this complexity. We have completed all of that work.... And now we're moving on."

He said the roof petals are 75 percent installed and that the plan for late Tuesday or today was to move them to the complete open position and begin installing the "tips" of the petals.

Tommy Holder, CEO of Holder Construction and managing member of the Holder Hunt Russell Moody joint venture that is building the stadium, addressed the status of the project in a statement Tuesday.

"Mercedes-Benz Stadium is a spectacular building the people of Atlanta are going to be very proud of for a long time,"Holder said. "Any one-of-a-kind original project like this inevitably sees schedule adjustments along the way.

"The complexity of the design has taken longer than planned for a variety of reasons, but there is not a concern about the roof operating as designed once construction is complete. Work continues around the clock to deliver the building as soon as possible, and great progress is being made every day."

The issue of when to demolish the Georgia Dome will be revisited in a couple of months.

"We're very confident that in June we'll have that 100 percent certainty about the roof, the petal alignment and all of that," Cannon said.

If so, the process of preparing the Dome for demolition would resume, he said. Already, the artificial turf has been removed, the offices vacated and a security fence erected. But other pre-demolition work, such as removal of the seats, has been halted, and a representative for the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which operated the Dome, said recently that the building could be utilized if necessary.

The Dome was slated for implosion in July, but that date has been scrapped and no new one set.

A new implosion date will depend on when "de-commissioning" of the building resumes and on the Falcons' schedule, Cannon said.

The plan now calls for Mercedes-Benz Stadium to open with Falcons preseason games vs. Arizona on Aug. 26 (a Saturday) and vs. Jacksonville on Aug. 31 (a Thursday). If the plan holds, the Aug. 26 game would be the first public event in the stadium.

The Falcons' regular-sea-son home schedule will be announced by the NFL on Thursday, along with the rest of the league's 2017 schedule.

Two Chick-fil-A Kickoff college-football games on Labor Day weekend -- Alabama vs. Florida State on Sept. 2 and Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee on Sept. 4-- remain scheduled for Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Under the revised schedule, Atlanta United's match previously scheduled for July 30 in the new stadium will instead be played at Georgia Tech's Bobby Stadium on July 29. Two Atlanta United matches that had been scheduled for Mercedes-Benz Stadium in August will be rescheduled by MLS for later dates in the new stadium, Cannon said.

The stadium also was named the site of the College Football Playoffnational championship game in January, the Super Bowl in February 2019 and the college basketball Final Four in April 2020.

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Copyright 2017 Star Tribune
All Rights Reserved

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

Phrases like "declaring early" and "hiring an agent" are plastered all over basketball news briefs and social media these days.

Is he staying in school, or is he going pro?

College basketball teams and fan bases across the country are waiting for answers about the future of top players and their entry — or not — into the NBA draft.

Over the past week, Big Ten teams had 12 players declare early, but only Indiana's OG Anunoby and Maryland's Melo Trimble hired agents, which voids their amateur status.

The other 10 early entrants can take advantage of a new rule passed before last season that allows underclassmen to fully experience the pre-draft process before making a binding decision. That means working out for NBA teams, competing in the draft combine if invited and still being eligible to return to college, as long as the player doesn't hire an agent.

In January 2016, the NCAA extended the deadline for non-seniors to remove their names from the draft. Players this spring have until May 24 to decide. The previous deadline was less than two weeks removed from the college season.

"Until last year they had to make a decision in April - and that was ridiculous," ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said. "There are fewer casualties this way."

There were more than 100 players on the NBA's early-entry list as of Monday. Some talented underclassmen, such as the Gophers' Amir Coffey, declined to use the pre-draft process, preferring more time to develop on campus instead.

Coffey said he was excited to see fellow All-Big Ten freshman Miles Bridges announce last week he was returning to Michigan State, now a projected top-five team in 2017-18.

"Everybody wants to make it to the NBA in the end," Coffey said. "But just to see guys coming back after one year and trying to get better or work on their craft is pretty cool — guys like myself and Miles."

A year from now, Coffey and Bridges might be candidates to test the process, which includes a first step of requesting feedback from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee.

That committee, formed 20 years ago, consists of NBA personnel who give players information on where they could be drafted, if at all. The deadline to apply for that committee process was Friday, and no Gophers applied, according to the team.

The next deadline in the process is Sunday, when underclassmen must declare for the early-entry list. Two days later, NBA teams can begin workouts with those players. On May 9, the six-day draft combine will be held in Chicago, and players have the 10 days following the combine to take their names out of the draft pool.

Former Timberwolves General Manager Milt Newton, a director at this year's combine, said he's a fan of the new rules.

"The process really helps college basketball," Newton said. "From an NBA standpoint, I don't think it helps or hurts either way. You already know for the most part if a guy is an NBA talent. So it just helps the player make an informed decision. It helps the player make a decision that is going to influence their life and career in a positive way. You have a lot of mock drafts out there that don't have merit."

Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky, Oklahoma's Buddy Hield and Michigan State's Denzel Valentine are former All-Americas who listened to the committee's advice, went back to school and boosted their stock. So did Purdue's Caleb Swanigan, this season's Big Ten player of the year.

Swanigan and teammates Isaac Haas and Vincent Edwards are on the early-entry list this year. Indiana has four on that list, and Michigan big men D.J. Wilson and Moritz Wagner are also early entries — for now. The decisions of that group over the next few weeks will shape the Big Ten landscape this fall.

"The experience of a team telling you what you need to work on for the future is very helpful," Fraschilla said. "[College] coaches might be concerned about the continuity of their rosters: who might be coming and who might be going. But to me, that's a small price in exchange for a kid getting a proper read on his potential NBA career."

Former center Ralph Sampson III is the last Gophers player to declare early, in 2011, but he then decided to return for his senior season. The last Gophers player to declare early and stay in the draft was Kris Humphries in 2004 (drafted 14th by Utah). Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams Jr., who were seniors on the 2013 NCAA tournament team, both got feedback from the advisory committee before coming back to help make that run.

Newton, who was on the committee for several years, said players get feedback from about "one-third of the league."

"Some players don't want to hear the real truth," he added. "If they're seeing in the mock draft that they're going to get drafted in the first round, they don't want to hear that NBA people say they'll go in the second round. Some players will take a chance on getting drafted, but I think the more information a player and their parents - or whoever is leading them - can receive, the better."

 

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Copyright 2017 Wichita Falls Times Record News
All Rights Reserved

Times Record News (Wichita Falls, Texas)

 

A Midwestern State University freshman and former Wichita Falls High School sports standout was in jail Tuesday after his arrest Monday on a charge of sexual assault.

Rodney Roshunn Higgins Jr., 19, of Wichita Falls, was arrested Monday as part of an investigation into a sexual assault report from MSU's Killingsworth Hall Sunday.

MSU Police Chief Patrick Coggins said campus officers received the report late Sunday.

According to the arrest affidavit submitted by MSU police:

The victim reported she entered her room to find a man already there. The man grabbed her wrist and threw her to the floor. She said she was able to fight off the man and stand up, but he grabbed her again and forced her down onto the bed and sexually assaulted her.

During the course of the struggle, the victim was able to send an SOS message to two female friends, who drove back to campus and ran to the room, where they clearly saw the perpetrator. When the man saw them, he grabbed his shirt and shorts and ran out of the room. The victim said she was sure the man was an MSU football player.

After looking through the MSU Mustang football team website, one of the friends said she "was positive Higgins was the person assaulting the victim."

The victim also identified Higgins as her probable assailant after scanning through the pictures on the website.

Coggins said the investigation is ongoing.

Higgins was a three-sport letterman at Old High, where he was a member of the football, track and basketball team, and played in last year's Oil Bowl game. Higgins signed with the MSU Mustangs in February 2016 to play football. He is listed on the team's roster as a cornerback, but has yet to play a down. An athletics administrator said Tuesday Higgins had been suspended from the team prior to the alleged assault.

Higgins' bond was set at $20,000 and he was in the Wichita County Jail Tuesday.

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

 

At a workshop Tuesday, members of Collier County's Tourist Development Council continued to express concerns about using tourist tax dollars to build a multimillion-dollar amateur sports complex.

After hearing three ways the project could be funded by the county — including two options that would require a penny hike in the tourist tax — council members remained cautious about their support.

The advisory board has major concerns about the operating costs, the true cost of construction and the bonds that would be issued.

Councilman Clark Hill said he feared the bonds might jeopardize funding for beach renourishment and tourism marketing if the county saw a significant downturn in visitation, because paying off the bonds would come first, pulling money away from the county's other priorities.

He said now is not the time to consider such an expensive project, coming off a year when tourism numbers declined.

Several other council members shared Hill's concerns, including Victor Rios, who stressed the need for more money to keep up the county's beaches.

"We know we don't have enough money as it is," he said.

Rios went as far as to ask, "Do we need more people here?"

The new sports complex, which could cost $60 million to $80 million, has been floated as a way to grow sports tourism in the county and to meet growing community demands for more fields and courts.

Tim Durham, the county's executive manager of corporate business operations, presented three options for funding the sports complex, all of which assume about $5 million is needed annually to repay the bond:

Keep the tourist tax at 4 percent and cut the annual budget for tourism promotion by $2.99 million. While marketing dollars would be reduced, funding for beach projects would increase by $460,000 to $9.13 million a year.

Increase the tourist tax to 5 percent and shave $150,000 from the annual tourism promotion budget. Funding for beach projects would increase under this scenario, too - by $2.88 million to $11.55 million a year.

Hike the tourist tax to 5 percent while increasing money for beach projects by $2.04 million and adding $685,000 to tourism promotion annually.

All of the models that were presented assumed that county-owned museums would no longer receive tourist tax money for their operations.

Instead, the money would come from the general fund, an idea many Tourist Development Council members seemed to support.

Council members took several public comments, including from Randy Smith, president of the Collier County Lodging and Tourism Alliance, who said money for promotion needs to be increased.

"Promotion is what drives visitors to come to the area," he said.

Asked by one councilwoman what he thought about the sports complex, Smith said he'd like to know more information about it, too. "I would like to think it would be helpful," he said.

Tom White, a managing partner of Hawthorn Suites in Naples, said he thought the complex was just the type of "green, clean economic stimulus" the county should be looking at to help promote itself to visitors and to meet local demand by sports enthusiasts.

He emphasized the project wouldn't just help hotels, but restaurants, gas stations, rentals car companies and other area businesses. "Everything benefits from this," he said.

Dave Trecker, a representative for the the Collier Citizens Council and the Collier County Presidents Council, took a different view, saying the county should "put beaches first."

"My wife and I just finished hosting three waves of visitors from the North, and the first thing they all wanted to do is go to the beaches," he said. "That was the priority. Nobody said, 'Do you have sports complex; if so I would really like to go there.'"

The final decisions will be up to county commissioners.

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Copyright 2017 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

Alex Mikos had been an announcer for scores of high school basketball and football games and other athletic contests throughout the area for most of the last decade. But what transpired during a Week 10 football game between Dunbar and Belmont last season at Welcome Stadium was a first.

"In my time covering high schools sports, I've never seen anything quite like that," said Mikos, the news director at WTGR-FM out of Versailles. "It was a very strange situation."

It took just 16 seconds early in the third quarter for a bizarre sequence of events and plays that ultimately led to one of the harshest penalties in Ohio High School Athletic Association history. Found to have demonstrated a "serious lack of administrative responsibility and institutional control," all Dayton Public Schools sports teams — boys and girls — have been placed on an immediate three-year probation and the school district has been fined $10,000.

Mikos was contracted by DPS to broadcast all of last season's City League home football games for DPS-TV, an online video cache of school events that are filmed by Ponitz students. Mikos was the first to publicly announce something looked extremely wrong.

"Dunbar in the last two plays and also the timeout, just not trying whatsoever," said a bewildered Mikos, who worked alone in the stadium's press box. "I don't know if there was an issue in the locker-room.... That is one of the strangest situations."

Here's what happened from 9:44 of the third quarter to 9:28:

* Dunbar coach Darran Powell called time out and addressed the entire team on Dunbar's side of the field.

* Play resumed and the ball was tossed to a Belmont linemen. That resulted in a delay of game penalty on Dunbar.

* On the next play Dunbar rolled the ball on the ground toward the line of scrimmage. Intentional grounding was called and Dunbar penalized. "I don't know what Dunbar's doing," said Mikos.

* Teams went to their sidelines and officials huddled with Powell and Belmont coach Earl White at mid-field.

* Dunbar was missing a lineman, resulting in a delay of game penalty. Dunbar completed a 50-yard pass and play resumed as normal.

"When I tried to figure out what happened after the game I wasn't able to talk with anybody who would really know," Mikos said. "I remember it happening and being so confused."

Dunbar coaches accused DPS director of athletics Mark Baker of telling them at halftime Dunbar must "throw the game" according to the OHSAA's bylaws violation release, so both teams would qualify for the playoffs and DPS wouldn't have to report an academically ineligible Dunbar player.

Dunbar forfeited both Week 9-10 games for an academically ineligible player and missed the playoffs. Belmont lost in the first round of the postseason.

"From the implications from that game, now as everything has sort of played out, it makes sense," Mikos said. "It was really, really unfortunate. I think back to the athletes and students and cheerleaders, man, it was just wild."

Contact this reporter at 937-225-2381 or email Marc.Pendleton@coxinc.com

Twitter: @MarcPendleton

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Copyright 2017 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

Wrestling, sprinting, video gaming.

Oh, you laugh. Or maybe shudder. All these years, parents have been yelling at their kids to put down the controllers and do something productive instead. Now eSports can get you a college scholarship, prize money, endorsements.

Maybe even a spot in the Olympics.

That last bit is still in the works. The International e-Sports Federation -- yes, there really is such a thing -- has yet to be recognized by the International Olympic Committee, and no one is petitioning to add eSports to the Games.

But it's coming. The organizers of the Asian Games announced Monday that eSports will be a demonstration event next year in Indonesia. At the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, however, it will have full medal status.

That's right. Crushing it in Call of Duty or Madden will soon get you a gold medal just like the swimmer who sets a world record in the 100-meter butterfly. And once the IOC sees what a gold mine eSports can be, no doubt it will want in on that action, too.

Purists will be horrified, and understandably so. The Olympics and similar events are supposed to celebrate the ultimate in physical strength and skill, a showcase of athletes who have pushed themselves to go faster, higher, farther.

But the line between sport and competition was erased a long time ago. Probably around the time synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics were added to the Olympic program. Or maybe race walking. Or curling.

All require some level of exertion, maybe even dexterity and agility. But, if we're being completely honest, they fail the sport-not a sport test and it's not even close.

By that measure, and I can't believe I'm about to type the words, eSports aren't that much different. Enthusiasts point to the hand-eye coordination, fast-twitch muscles and focus required to compete at the highest level. The top teams now hire nutritionists and trainers to keep their gamers in shape.

"(Critics say) it's not a sport, it's not athletic and this and that. When you look at the way these guys train and what it takes to be at top of the sport, I can't but disagree," said Todd Merry, who as chief marketing officer for Delaware North oversaw the company's most recent "Future of Sports" report.

"It's as much a physical endeavor as a mental endeavor."

Let's be real, though. It's as much about money as anything else.

In recent years eSports has exploded and is projected to be a $1billion industry by 2019, said Zack Sugarman, senior vice president of properties at Wasserman Media Group.

Consider that just two years ago, only five professional teams had a stake in the eSports market, said Manny Anekal, founder of The Next Level, which covers the business of eSports. Another 30 got involved last year, and Anekal said there's 15 more already this year.

In February, the NBA announced it will start its own gaming league next year, the first of the four major professional leagues to do so.

Where the rest of the world sees kids rotting away in their basements, marketing and sports executives see the all-important younger demographic and the dollars that go with it.

"I sat with a group of 40-something managers at lunch today and all of them, in one voice, said, 'I don't understand this,'" Merry said. "I said, 'Talk to your kids.'"

Say what you want about the Olympic movement, but the folks involved are masters at self-preservation. They know they need to attract the younger audience or risk becoming irrelevant. Why do you think there are now five events each in snowboarding and freestyle skiing? Or that BMX racing was added to the Olympic program in 2008?

It's all about the kids. And their money.

"I think it could be an official sport, it could not be," Sugarman said. "(But) there's an opportunity for fan development. And it creates new inventory from the sponsor side, which we know the IOC loves."

Indeed, there's gold to be had in eSports, and not just the medals.

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Copyright 2017 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

The gap between rich and poor teams in the NFL has gotten so wide in recent years that three of the underprivileged franchises have taken drastic action:

In the past 15 months, the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders have decided to leave their home markets and move to cities that offered better stadiums and more local revenue potential.

By 2030, several more of the NFL's low-revenue teams might face the same pressure: Do they risk shrinking financial margins as costs go up for all teams with rising player salaries? Or do they relocate to where they can better keep up with teams that have bigger markets or better stadiums?

That is the big issue boiling under the hot pot of NFL relocation, from the viewpoint of low-revenue teams, said Troy Blackburn, vice president of the small-market Cincinnati Bengals.

The revenue disparity between teams is "the largest it's ever been in NFL history," Blackburn told USA TODAY Sports. Even though teams equally share the revenues of NFL television contracts and a portion of ticket sales, they don't share other local stadium revenues with each other, leading to the rising gap.

He said St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland essentially lost NFL teams because of this issue. If they had stayed where they were, he said they faced an increasing financial squeeze as player salary expenses continue to shoot up for all teams while revenues definitely do not. The salary cap this year is $167 million per team, up from $155 million last year and $120million in 2011.

Meanwhile, the gap between the highest- and lowest-revenue teams was $400million, the Dallas Cowboys at $700million compared to the Raiders at $300million, according to Forbes in 2016.

Making matters worse is how the salary cap is calculated as a percentage of the NFL's total revenues, Blackburn said. The more revenue those rich teams take in at the top, the higher player salary costs climb for all NFL teams, including those at the bottom.

"Right now, you've got many of the small markets paying over 60-plus percent of their revenues on players, and many of the large markets are paying 40% of revenue on players," said Blackburn, who previously was the team's director of stadium development and is the son-in-law of Bengals owner Mike Brown. "Something that could be done that narrowed that gap would be helpful, and it would make it easier for the small-market teams to stay where they are and not have to explore relocation."

More relocation?

Blackburn's suggestion to relieve this problem is more cost-sharing, possibly with richer clubs helping pay more for player benefits, which are separate from the salary cap and include pensions, insurance premiums and disability benefits. This year such player benefits are $37 million per team.

Or perhaps the NFL could provide other assistance similar to the old G-3 loan program for stadium construction.

"If the league is serious about franchise stability, maybe it should consider a new G-3-styled program that would help keep teams in small markets," Blackburn said. "If it did it once, it can certainly do it again, if it truly cares about the issue."

Otherwise the tension mounts and more relocation might be considered as teams with older stadiums have leases expiring in the 2020s, such as in Jacksonville, New Orleans and Tampa Bay.

Blackburn said the Bengals are committed to Cincinnati and not looking to leave town when their lease expires at Paul Brown Stadium in 2026. It helps that his team received a $350 million stadium funded by a sales tax increase approved by voters in 1996. It also helps that his team received generous lease terms from Hamilton County, Ohio, which the team can extend an additional 10 years.

But as a small-market team executive, he still feels the pinch of the smaller-revenue economy, much of which stems from how the league does and doesn't share its revenue and costs.

Old problem gets bigger

Tension over the revenue disparity isn't new, and this is not the first time the Bengals have spoken out about it. Brown has been a leading voice about what he sees as structural financial imbalance in the NFL. On the other side of the spectrum, some owners have not been sympathetic to this argument. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones even has suggested that the low-revenue teams need to be more aggressive chasing dollars.

"The big concern I have is not how to equalize the disparity in revenue but how to get the clubs that are not generating the revenue to see the light," Jones said in The Wall Street Journal in 2004.

Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple said Jones wasn't available to comment.

Not all small or big markets are the same. Big market and small market in this context also sometimes is used to mean the haves and have-nots: teams that are making big money because of big markets or lucrative stadiums vs. those that are not.

"You're always going to have a bottom eight, but if you keep enhancing the bottom eight, and you change them out, that means everyone's doing better," said Marc Ganis, a sports consultant who works with NFL owners and helped the Rams and Raiders relocate from Los Angeles in 1995.

The difference this time is the widening of the gap, the rising costs for all teams and how to "change out" the bottom eight without having them consider more relocation, which is bad for loyal NFL customers in abandoned markets.

Much of the league's revenue is shared equally among 32 teams, recently at around $225 million each. But the disparity has grown because of the revenues that teams are not required to share with each other -- local dollars that are kept by the team that earns them, including highly lucrative stadium suites, advertising and sponsorships.

Costs go up for all

This unshared revenue creates a big gulf between teams with lucrative stadiums in wealthy corporate markets, compared to teams with outdated stadiums with fewer corporate customers willing to pay big bucks for sponsorships and suites.

"Let's say, in New York, they can sell 250 suites at $200,000 per annum," Blackburn said. "That's $50 million per annum in suites. Well, in a smaller market -- whether that's Indianapolis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Jacksonville -- you're not going to have 250 companies that can afford that. Let's say you have 100companies and say they can pay $100,000, just as an easy example. These numbers are pretty close to reality. That would mean that small-market teams would get $10 million per annum from the luxury box sales, and the large markets would be taking in $50million every year."

Likewise, Jacksonville isn't going to get the same demand for national advertising or sponsorships as a team in New York.

This problem compounds for low-revenue teams because player salary expenses and the salary cap are determined by how much revenue the league makes collectively. Players are guaranteed 47% of the NFL's total revenue over the course of the 10-year collective bargaining agreement from 2011, including combined local revenue. So as revenues rise for the big-market teams, so do player expenses for all teams. Teams also are required to spend at least 89% of the salary cap over a four-year period.

And that's just fine for players and some franchises. But it's a different story for the likes of Cincinnati and San Diego.

'Real financial stress'

Blackburn traces the problem to the late 1990s and the rise of the NFL's G-3 loan program, which provided financial assistance to teams building new stadiums. Big-market teams were offered bigger loans, with teams in the six largest markets eligible for league loans of up to 50% of private contributions, compared to 34% for other markets.

The idea was to take care of teams in the big TV markets, which drive the big TV contracts. For example, the New England Patriots were looking at moving to Hartford, Conn., but were persuaded to stay in the Boston area with the help of a $141 million NFL loan for the construction of Gillette Stadium. The stadium opened in 2002 at a cost of $325million, and now the Patriots rank No.2 in revenue at more than $500 million, according to Forbes.

This program arguably exacerbated the revenue disparity. Blackburn estimates more than $1 billion was issued to large-market teams to build new stadiums, including $300 million combined for the New York Jets and Giants to build and share privately financed MetLife Stadium, which opened in 2010. Each has more than $400 million in revenue and ranks in the top seven with Forbes.

"Those new stadia, in almost exclusively large markets, have created enormous revenues," said Blackburn, whose team was in the bottom six in 2016, with $329million, according to Forbes. "Those enormous new revenues have driven the salary cap substantially higher. Those enormous new revenues in large-market stadia... have also created the huge spread in local revenues."

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said NFL personnel weren't available to comment.

Blackburn said the G-3 program has helped create "very real financial stress that now teams like the Rams, Chargers and Raiders are reacting to -- and it does little good at this late date to say the league will also help build stadia in smaller markets where the revenues from those new stadia will be substantially lower. New stadia in Detroit, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and St. Louis did not solve this problem."

Even after community leaders in St. Louis put together a plan to build a new $1.1 billion stadium for the Rams, the Rams rejected it and moved last year to Los Angeles, where they are building a privately financed $2.6 billion stadium that will be shared with the Chargers. Before moving, the Rams said in applying for relocation they were not confident that a new stadium in small-market St. Louis "will secure the necessary corporate and fan support to sustain a NFL team long term."

Teams keep losing ground

The Chargers and Raiders were offered $200 million each in NFL loans, plus another $100 million from the NFL to stay in their home markets. But it wasn't enough.

The Chargers had a stadium that's 50 years old in San Diego and wasn't helping them keep up with rising player costs. They have the same salary cap as the Cowboys but have half the revenue: about $344 million, according to Forbes.

"Their problem was looking to the future," Ganis said of the Chargers. "They were losing ground every year, as all costs rose but local revenues did not rise at the same rate."

So they left for Los Angeles after 56 years in San Diego. Likewise, the Raiders couldn't get an acceptable new stadium deal in Oakland and in 2019 will leave their 51-year-old stadium for a new $1.9 billion stadium in Las Vegas. Though Vegas is a smaller market, it offered a record $750million in public funding for the stadium -- and a better path forward for team owner Mark Davis, if not fans in Oakland.

Fans and taxpayers understandably don't have pity for the wealthy owners of these teams, even if they are not rich by NFL standards.

On the other hand, these teams didn't see a better alternative for their businesses. The Chargers tried to get a new stadium in San Diego, but voters last year rejected a proposal to support it with taxpayer money. Without such public subsidies, the corporate wealth of the smaller San Diego market wasn't enough to help privately finance a suitable new stadium, unlike in L.A., according to the team.

In L.A., the Chargers will be in a wealthier market where more suites can be sold at a higher price.

"The challenges that are out there remain more in the growth of the salary cap, and that has been driven up by the new stadia in the larger markets," Blackburn said. "And that's exactly what the Chargers were looking at and the Raiders were looking at and the Rams were looking at."

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USA TODAY

 

North Carolina is back in the NCAA's good graces -- after the state repealed its controversial HB2 law last month -- and will again host championship events.

Greensboro will host the first and second rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament in 2020, and Raleigh will host the first and second rounds in 2021. (Charlotte remains scheduled to host in 2018, though that had been previously determined.)

Though the legislation passed to replace HB2 has been criticized for still failing to protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination, NCAA President Mark Emmert signaled that the governing body could consider it changed enough that the NCAA could dip its toes back into a state that often hosts championship events in various sports.

Related: North Carolina Governor Signs 'Bathroom Bill' Rollback

"The fact that the board only identified one state that it didn't want to go to, while recognizing there were 49 other states with various degrees of support or restrictions around LGBT rights and other civil rights issues, it certainly meant that they saw North Carolina as distinctive," Emmert said last month at his annual state of the union address at the men's Final Four.

"And the question that's going to be before them: Is it now still so distinctive that we don't want to go there? Or is it close enough to where everybody else is in the country that it makes sense to be there?"

Apparently, the NCAA Board of Governors found answers to these questions.

Tuesday's announcement of host sites through 2022 included Divisions I, II and III. North Carolina will host a total of 23 events -- 10 in Division I, five in Division II and eight in Division III.

Seven NCAA championship events were pulled from the state during the 2016-17 academic year because of HB2.

The most high-profile pull was Greensboro, which was set to host the first and second rounds of the men's NCAA tournament. Those games were moved to Greenville, S.C.

In other host site news:

Dayton, Ohio, will continue to host the First Four through at least 2022. It has served as the site for the start of the NCAA tournament every year since 2001.

South Carolina, which is allowed to host NCAA events since the confederate flag is no longer flown at the statehouse, earned a pair of first- and second-round games -- in Columbia in 2019 and in Greenville in 2022.

Regional sites for 2019: Kansas City, Mo.; Louisville; Anaheim, Calif., and Washington, D.C.

Regional sites for 2020: Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Houston and New York

Regional sites for 2021: Brooklyn, Memphis, Minneapolis and Denver

Regional sites for 2022: Philadelphia, Chicago, San Antonio and San Francisco

The previously announced Final Four host sites, for reference: San Antonio (2018), Minneapolis (2019), Atlanta (2020), Indianapolis (2021) and New Orleans (2022).

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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

KNOXVILLE— Tennessee's Butch Jones on Tuesday joined a chorus of coaches that includes Alabama's Nick Saban in criticizing a new NCAA rule that bans high school coaches from working at football camps hosted by Division I college programs.

The rule change was part of a wide-ranging package of alterations to the recruiting process approved by the NCAA Division I Council on Friday in Indianapolis.

"The one thing, obviously, I was extremely disappointed in is the ability of high school coaches to work your camp," Jones said after Tennessee concluded its 13th spring practice Tuesday.

Jones said camps historically have been a good time to develop relationships with high school coaches and a gateway for some of those to break into the collegiate ranks.

"So much good had come of that," Jones said. "That's one thing. But like with any rule changes, we have a plan and we'll adapt and adjust to it."

Friday's vote will bring about a number of other changes, too, including the addition of a 10th assistant coach in 2018, an early signing period for recruits and a period of time in the spring when recruits can make official visits to campus.

Jones called the 10th assistant "a great addition to the coaching profession" and said it was greatly needed.

"The great thing about that is we have time to really research and look into that," he said. "It's something we've been prepared for for a long time. Everything is about the structure of your staff and what's needed, and kind of a balancing act of what's needed from personality- to recruiting- to position-wise. We'll have a plan in place."

Tennessee offensive coordinator Larry Scott, who came to Knoxville before the 2016 season to coach tight ends, is still coaching tight ends, even as he takes on the responsibility of calling the offensive plays this season.

The new rule might allow the Volunteers to hire a new coach to work specifically with tight ends, have a coach dedicated specifically to special teams or help with other position groups.

Coaches around the country already have hinted at what the responsibility of their 10th coach would be, with some, like first-year Texas coach Tom Herman, indicating to reporters that he might hire a dedicated special teams coordinator.

"I tell you what, it's going to be interesting," said Scott, who served a stint as interim head coach at Miami before joining Tennessee's staff. "I think a lot of people are going to assign that position to whatever they feel like their needs are, whether that's special teams, a second defensive line coach or a second secondary coach. You see a lot of people going to inside and outside wide receiver coaches and things like that.

"There are a lot of different things you can do, and I think it's totally just based on the need of the program, how you're built and the direction you're going."

Two other new rules pertaining to recruiting could quickly fill up whatever time Football Bowl Subdivision coaches gain by adding to their staffs. For the first time ever, there will be an early signing period for college football teams this year, allowing prospects from the class of 2018 to sign national letters of intent in December, before the typical February signing period.

"Really, to me, the way you're supposed to recruit, you recruit everybody like there's an early signing period," Scott said. "If they happen to sign a piece of paper, they sign it. If not, let's keep recruiting and keep rolling."

Jones is taking a more measured approach to evaluating the early signing period, saying it's a positive for high school players who have decided where they want to attend college. But he also expressed concerns over how an early signing period could interfere with high school football.

"I think the one thing we have to be cognizant of is everything is about the high school coach and respecting their programs as well," Jones said. "I hope we don't get to a point where high school seniors are taking their visits and putting their high school football team second nature, so to speak.

"I think we have to make sure that, as a profession, we don't allow that to happen."

A period for official visits also has been added. It will begin April 1 of a prospect's junior year and end in late June.

Anderson dies at 80

Bill Anderson, captain of the 1957 Tennessee football team and a longtime color analyst on Vol Network radio broadcasts, died Tuesday. He was 80.

Anderson played wide receiver for the Redskins and Packers in the NFL, but Tennessee followers mostly know him for what followed his playing career. For 30 years, 1968-98, Anderson shared the broadcast booth with John Ward, offering insight and commentary into Tennessee football for listeners.

"It is indeed a sad day for the University of Tennessee and the Vol Network with the passing of Bill Anderson," Tennessee director of broadcasting Bob Kesling said in a school news release. "For three decades, Bill and John Ward painted the picture on the radio for many of the greatest moments in Tennessee football history.

"Bill's great knowledge and understanding of the game and his passion for Tennessee football added so much to each broadcast."

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com

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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

Now that the NCAA has decided to return its men's basketball tournament sites to the state of North Carolina, a more contentious question begs asking.

As in, when is college athletics' governing body finally going to ban the University of North Carolina Tar Heels from playing in that tournament for its hosting of one of the worst academic fraud scandals in NCAA history?

After all, it was relatively easy for the NCAA to boycott the state over its "bathroom bill," including removing an opening-weekend NCAA tourney site from Greensboro last month and shipping it to Greenville, S.C. Agree or not with the bill concerning where transgender folks should use the facilities, the N.C. state legislature sort of/kind of agreeing to reverse Bill H2 in recent weeks to fall in line with the majority of the rest of the country's thinking made more than good sense, both financially and ethically.

But that may serve only to further anger a nation full of college basketball fans who continue to have a hard time understanding how you can give fraudulent grades to athletes and other students for 18 years, have at least a few of those athletes allegedly help you win at least one NCAA men's title and not wind up with so much as a double-secret probation for such misdeeds.

This is not to say that the most recent of the Tar Heels' six titles — won 16 days ago in Phoenix — appears to be tainted in any way. From senior post players Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks to junior guard Joel Berry and junior wing Justin Jackson, these guys all seem to be bright, witty, determined students. You know, the kind of young people the late UNC coaching legend Dean Smith once surrounded himself with before his beloved "Carolina Way" became more punchline than guideline following his retirement.

So any talk of stripping away this latest crown should probably end before it seriously begins. It's not these players' fault that the school used to hand out grades like Halloween candy in its African and Afro-American Studies courses, especially around the time Roy Williams' second UNC squad was on its way to winning the 2005 title, which was Ol' Roy's first as a head coach.

And while there are other issues regarding the Tar Heels' 2009 title, such as how UNC star Tyler Hansbrough's mom Tami landed a $95,000-a-year fundraising job with the school while he was still playing, the academic shenanigans are said to have, at the most, barely brushed that squad.

Still, just last week it was reported that University of Maryland president Wallace Loh said of the Tar Heels' academic mess: "For the things that happened in North Carolina, it's abysmal. I would think that this would lead to the implementation of the death penalty by the NCAA. But I'm not in charge of that."

In what was truly a highbrow response from UNC, Ol' Roy indicated Loh was "a double idiot."

The problem is, an NCAA investigation into the academic chicanery of the entire athletic department — but mostly football and men's and women's basketball — has pretty much led anyone who's read anything about it to ask who is in charge of the investigation?

Yes, it's still officially open. Yes, just this week there have been sentences handed down to unscrupulous sports agents for illegally supplying three Tar Heels football players with thousands of dollars.

In fact, from that initial 2010 sports agent investigation have come the academic fraud charges. Beyond that, the Tar Heels supposedly are still facing five serious NCAA charges, including the dreaded lack of institutional control, over the academic fraud mess.

But they haven't yet been hammered on any of them, which might be why some have come to refer to the NCAA as the North Carolina Athletic Association.

After all, if this had been UNLV or North Texas or Florida Atlantic, is there any doubt the NCAA would already have shut down those programs? But because it's UNC, there is at least a theory that the NCAA will do nothing until no one remembers there was anything worth doing something about.

One other thing, though it has nothing to do with UNC's academic mess. When Williams and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski blasted the bathroom law -- Coach K called it "stupid" -- it may not have been as much about ethics and human decency as they wanted the world to think it was.

In all-time NCAA tournament games played in the state of North Carolina, the Tar Heels are 33-1 while the Blue Devils stand 34-6. It would be hard to find any other schools anywhere, other than perhaps UCLA, who have played so many times on native soil in a supposedly neutral-site event.

Still, those are minor annoyances for the rest of the major college athletics community compared to the double standard that it more and more feels exists for UNC.

Or as Loh said, "As president I sit over a number of dormant volcanoes. One of them is an athletic scandal. It blows up, it blows up the university, its reputation, it blows up the president."

Unless, apparently, you're the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com

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Copyright 2017 The Post and Courier
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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

Tidelands Health is walking the walk — literally — to improve the health and wellness of people across the Tidelands region.

The area's largest health system is launching a regionwide initiative to get people moving by building new public recreational paths around its two hospital campuses in Georgetown County and launching a free, physician-led community walking program in Horry County.

Bruce Bailey, the health system's president and CEO, said the investment in health and wellness is a manifestation of the Tidelands Health mission, "We help people live better lives through better health."

Research has shown exercise may be as effective as medication in preventing some of the leading causes of death, including heart disease and diabetes — often-preventable conditions that are prevalent in the Tidelands region.

"Our responsibility as a health system is to not only help people recover from sickness and injury but also to serve as a partner in transforming the overall health of our region," Bailey said. "When we invest in health and wellness, we are saving lives just as surely as our clinicians do inside our hospitals each day."

The health system has already begun construction on a nearly one-mile path around Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital. The project will be completed in phases to accommodate ongoing renovations at the hospital.

The system is also planning to build a path along the perimeter of Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital in Murrells Inlet. The project is a major component of the Inlet to Intracoastal Multipurpose Path being developed by Murrells Inlet 2020.

In addition, the health system in May will launch a free community walking program called "Walk with a Doc" in The Market Common community of Horry County. Each month, a Tidelands Health physician will give a brief presentation on a health topic before leading participants on a walk around the lake at Grand Park. The event, which kicks off Saturday, May 13, at 9 a.m., will also feature healthy snacks and blood pressure checks.

Walk With a Doc, which is part of a national program started by an Ohio physician in 2005, will be held on the second Saturday of every month.

The new walking path and the local launch of Walk with a Doc are just the latest examples of Tidelands Health's efforts to improve health and wellness across the region, said H. McRoy Skipper Jr., CPA, chairman of the health system's board of trustees.

"Tidelands Health is dedicated to keeping the communities we serve healthy and active," Skipper said. "We are proud to launch these new programs in support of that commitment."

Perhaps the health system's most prominent example of community involvement is Tidelands Community Care Network, a public-private partnership that helps uninsured and underserved residents access needed health care and support services. The community care network is headquartered within the Tidelands Health Community Resource Center, which Tidelands Health opened in Georgetown last year. The innovative facility brings together medical care, social services and wellness programs under one roof.

The health system also regularly offers regional health screenings and educational events and provides financial and in-kind support to outside organizations including the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Black River United Way, Healthy Learners, Smith Medical Clinic and more. In fiscal 2016, Tidelands Health provided $12.5 million in community benefit to the region.

A view of the new walking path around Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital.
Provided

 

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The State Journal- Register (Springfield, IL)

 

"I use a ball that is tethered at the top and bottom, and when you hit that, to me that's the most fun," Kearney said. "You go 'boom, boom, boom, boom' as hard and fast as you can with your two hands with your boxing gloves on."

"Then we have two hanging bags. They each weigh 100 pounds, and with those, when you hit them, you move your body to give more power to your punch," said Kearney, who wears pink boxing gloves for her workouts. "Oh it's fun, lots of fun."

The bag-punching Kearney is not a typical 69-year-old woman in one other way. She has Parkinson's, a degenerative disorder that can cause deterioration of motor skills, balance, speech and sensory function. She boxes to help fight the ravages of the incurable disease through the new, non-contact Rock Steady Boxing program offered at Memorial's SportsCare. Kearney joined the program when it became available earlier this year.

"I feel stronger and I can do things that I know people who don't have Parkinson's can't do. Some of the bags that I work on, people have no idea how to use them," Kearney said. "We have a lot of young athletes come in for their workouts, like from the Junior Blues, who say they don't know how to use the bags, so I show them how."

Kearney was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2012. The disease made it difficult for her to walk, a problem that medication didn't address well. So Kearney began exercising at the YMCA to build her strength.

"Now I'm kind of 'buffed up' as they say. And when they started Rock Steady, I could use my strength when I box, which is cool," Kearney said. "I have Rock Steady muscle shirts that I wear, and I think they look chic."

'Has to be hard'

Rock Steady Boxing is a nonprofit organization that gives people with Parkinson's disease hope by improving their quality of life through a non-contact, boxing-based fitness curriculum. Memorial SportsCare began offering the classes last month after two of their sports enhancement specialists were certified in Rock Steady Boxing. One of those specialists is Gabriel Stinson.

"Lynn is awesome to work with, she wants to work hard, she enjoys working hard, and she is ornery. She gives us grief every day that she comes in," Stinson said. "She'll laugh and joke with you, and at the end of every workout, we're both smiling. She's an inspiration, she enjoys it, she works hard and has fun with it."

Stinson and fellow sports enhancement specialist Joshua Grant completed training last fall in order to offer the Rock Steady Boxing program in the SportsCare section of the Springfield YMCA. Stinson said the trainers emphasized that two things needed to happen to make the program work.

"The training stressed making it fun and making it hard," Stinson said. "It has to be hard, it has to push both their nervous system and their muscular system past their normal limits. That's what really helps make improvements in people. And we need to make it fun and build a community with it."

"Every participant basically does every type of training that a boxer would do, non-contact of course," Stinson said. "Hitting heavy bags, hitting speed bags, working at a very high intensity for short bursts of anywhere from three to five minutes, followed by a very short break, and then they repeat these exercises.

"Everything we have them do is combating what Parkinson's is doing to their bodies. They gain strength that Parkinson's tries to take away and they gain confidence."

No two the same

Stinson said it takes up to six weeks for participants to notice a difference. The first classes are at that threshold now, and Stinson said a recent quick survey indicated those taking part have noticed improvement.

"They have a disease that they know each day is going to get worse. And they have decided rather than just giving up and letting the disease take over, they're going to fight it," Stinson said. "It's totally amazing. I look at them and think, 'There's nothing wrong with that person, they don't have Parkinson's.' I mean, they just keep after the workouts, go as hard as they possibly can, and it's amazing to see what this type of working out does for them."

Roger Halleen of East Peoria is with the Central Illinois Parkinson's Support Group and his wife participates in the Rock Steady Boxing program in the Peoria area.

"My wife goes to boxing twice a week, and they have become a close-knit, very active group," Halleen said. "It gets loud, and they have fun with it. That increases their exercise and improves their attitude."

While those who take part in the boxing program seem to achieve amazing results, Halleen said it might not work for everybody with Parkinson's because the disease affects everyone differently.

"I've heard it referred to as the 'snowflake disease' because there are no two snowflakes that are alike, and there are no two people who have Parkinson's that are alike," Halleen said. "I know people that have been diagnosed for 20 to 25 years and it's kind of hard to tell that they have Parkinson's. I know people who have been diagnosed for five years and you would think, 'Oh, they've had it for 30 years.'"

"The normal vision of Parkinson's is somebody who shakes, has tremors," Halleen said. "I know a lot of people in our support group, my wife included, who don't have tremors, but have a hard time just moving in general. Some people develop the dementia issue and some don't."

All about attitude

The pink-gloved Kearney said that Rock Steady Boxing and a positive outlook have made a tremendous difference in her life.

"When you find out you have Parkinson's, it's scary," Kearney said. "But I have learned through the doctors that I deal with that it's attitude that makes the difference. And the harder you work your body, the longer you will be able to work it."

Kearney hopes her story will encourage others with Parkinson's to take advantage of the Rock Steady Boxing program. Her husband, son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons ages 6 and 3 are all supportive, and a possible upcoming broadcast interview may let them "see Grandma box on TV," she said.

But will she adopt a nickname like other famous boxers? Killer Kearney, Golden Granny or Lefty Lynn, perhaps?

"Do you think I ought to get one? I think that's a great idea, something like Rocky Balboa," Kearney said.

There are 16 people enrolled in the Springfield Rock Steady Boxing program. Classes are nearly full, but those who can't get in right away will be put on a short waiting list. Rock Steady Boxing participants meet for 90-minute sessions offered four times a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30 to 4 p.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m. More information is available at www.memorialmedical.com/services/sportscare/specialty-programs/rock-steady-boxing.

- Contact David Blanchette through the metro desk: 788-1517.

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Copyright 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

Workplace programs are increasingly using technology, social media and mind-body techniques to encourage employees to adopt healthy lifestyles.

Wearable gadgets like Fitbits that track movement, teams that communicate via Facebook, coaching on nutrition and sessions that combine meditation with high-intensity-training are all part of the new wave of workplace wellness programs.

"Companies are looking for a magic bullet to make a difference and reduce health insurance costs," says Susie MacLean, executive director of the Solutions Group.

MacLean has been creating workplace wellness programs since the early 1990s. In recent years, she says, the focus has shifted toward creating a culture of wellness that embraces the whole person both physically and mentally. Her company was acquired by Presbyterian Healthcare Services in 2013 and she has tested programs that incorporate the new trends with Presbyterian employees.

"People spend more time at work than at home with their families so if we don't create a healthy environment we're missing the mark," MacLean says.

She says it's important for a company to keep its wellness programs "fresh" so that employees won't get bored and be tempted to drop out.

Wearable technology that can track physical exercise has proved a popular innovation. Creating teams that can share their daily and weekly result through social media provides friendly competition that keeps employees engaged.

Employers are also rethinking the traditional workspace as new research has shown the long-term health risks of sitting at a desk all day.

"We used to think smoking was the biggest risk. Now we realize sitting is a risk. We're seeing lots of employees who have problems with their hips. So many organizations are setting up work environments where employees can stand," MacLean says.

She says some workplaces have even instituted "walking" meetings to encourage people to move instead of sitting.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is another concept taking hold in wellness programs. Many new programs feature a meditation component.

"We're seeing an increase in employee and employer understanding of how critical it is to bring the mind into the equation of wellness," says Michelle DuVal, owner and director of The Mindful Center.

Until recently, such programs concentrated solely on physical health, focusing on exercise and nutrition. A person's mental state was considered the realm of therapists or psychologists, she says. People are starting to realize that their state of mind influences everything they do, from work to eating and exercise habits.

"If you can reduce mental stress other pieces of the puzzle fall into place. It makes a heck of a lot of sense," DuVal says.

The engineering firm Chavez Grieves is one of her clients. Company CEO Chris Youngblood says he introduced wellness programs in his workplace a decade ago to help create a positive work environment. The programs focused on helping employees achieve financial, physical and emotional wellbeing. He is enthusiastic about the benefits of adding a mindfulness component to his programs.

"It has an amazing effect of reducing stress," Youngblood says.

Interval training

DuVal has developed a new program exercise physiologist Jose Maresma calls "Calm and Strong," which pairs meditation with HIIT or high intensity interval training.

HIIT, a new trend in physical exercise, mixes short bursts of intense activity with periods of less intense activity or rest, which is supposed to boost athletic performance and weight loss more quickly than traditional cardio workouts.

Maresma says studies have shown that the health benefits of meditation can mimic those of exercise. Combining the two elements amplifies the benefits.

"Mindfulness improves attention, focus and reduces stress. Mixing that with intense exercise amplifies the overall effect," he says.

They started offering the six-week Calm and Strong program at the Presbyterian Healthplex in 2016 and they are currently in discussions about offering it at other locations, Maresma says.

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Copyright 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Raquel Reedy addressed a divided board of education Monday about a controversial plan to drop middle school athletics, saying the district is struggling to cover a "staggering" projected budget cut.

"The fact is that the reaction to this one proposed change was very telling for us in how emotional this whole thing is and is going to be," Reedy said during a board finance committee meeting. "The kind of reaction we are getting just breaks my heart because you see just how many more things we are going to have to look at."

APS announced a proposal to drop its middle school sports program on Thursday, prompting a backlash from parents and condemnation from Gov. Susana Martinez. The move would eliminate competitive basketball, volleyball and track and field, saving about $600,000.

APS needs the board's approval to move forward with the budget, including the middle school sports cut. A vote is scheduled for May 22, and the New Mexico Public Education Department will review the budget in early June.

APS is trying to find $26million to cover a projected 2 percent budget cut for the next fiscal year, though the final numbers will not be determined until the Legislature's special session.

Martinez's office hit back at APS again on Monday, calling for a reversal of "their disappointing decision to defund middle school athletics when the district has tens of millions in reserves."

"Sports programs help keep kids active and healthy while also encouraging them to aim for higher grades," said Deputy Chief of Staff Nick Piatek in an emailed statement. "There's no excuse for this - period."

At Monday's meeting, board members said they had received many calls and emails from concerned constituents over the weekend.

Several board members stressed that middle school athletics is especially important for lower-income families who can't afford to pay for club sports. Currently, about 3,400 students are taking part in the program.

"This is an equity issue," said board member Barbara Petersen. "We already have these huge inequalities."

Board member Analee Maestas, a longtime school administrator, argued that sports are critical for students' development.

"I have very strong feelings about athletics itself, as I have many grandchildren and I see the difference in mental ability, being more responsive and doing better in school when they are involved," Maestas said. "I would plead to everybody to think about equity."

But Reedy reiterated that the district has been forced to look at every option to cover the reduction -— and said more tough decisions are coming.

The 2 percent budget cut plan lists a number of unpopular prospects, including larger class sizes, a heavier high school schedule and reduced employee workdays.

"The fact is middle school sports is $600,000 - it is a small portion of the $26 million that are going to have to cut," Reedy said. "This is massive, massive, and it is going to hit everyone."

The New Mexico Public Education Department claims Albuquerque Public Schools is spending $1.4 million each year on public relations and lobbying, areas it could cut to preserve middle school sports, but the district disputes that figure.

APS puts the total at around $680,000 per year, according to a budget breakdown requested by the Journal.

The difference comes down to the definition of public relations. PED argues that the district's graphic design services and radio station, KANW, belong in that category; APS says they don't.

"APS is prioritizing politics and their own bank accounts over New Mexican students," said Education Secretary Hanna Skandera in an emailed statement. "No other district is doing this, and it is unfair and ridiculous."

APS administrators countered that their public radio station is rarely used for publicity and the graphic design department is responsible for a variety of documents, including school safety posters.

The district figure covers salaries for four communications staff, one registered lobbyist — Carrie Robin Brunder, director of government affairs and policy — and lobbying services from the Modrall Sperling law firm.

APS spokeswoman Johanna King emphasized that Modrall Sperling's contract includes general legal advice on legislation, and Brunder spends the majority of her time on district policies and procedures.

The communications staff's duties also go beyond publicity, King said. They respond to records requests, send out public alerts during emergencies and produce an employee newsletter.

"It should be noted that almost all urban school districts have communications staff, and even some of the smaller school districts in the state — including individual charter schools — have lobbyists," King said.

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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Las Vegas Taxpayers contributed more than $4.6 million for an NFL stadium in Las Vegas in the first month that a new increase on area hotel taxes went into effect-- ahead of projections for the state's share of the project.

The preliminary tax collection figures from March for the stadium that the Oakland Raiders want to call home were released Tuesday. The bulk of the money came from resorts and other lodging facilities in and around the Las Vegas Strip, where tourists are paying about $1.50 more per night on their hotel bill for an average-priced room.

"I think it validates the model in terms of what's necessary to service the debt for the stadium," said Steve Sisolak, commission chairman in Clark County, where the stadium is to be located. "It's nice to see money actually collected and start to put some money in the bank for the stadium."

The Nevada Legislature approved the tax hike last year to cover $750 million of the $1.9 billion project.

The board overseeing the proposed 65,000-seat domed stadium expects the tax hike to bring in $14.8 million by the end of June. That's $3.7 million a month. Next fiscal year, officials expect to bring in $49.9 million.

The board is expected to meet publicly Thursday to discuss progress on a stadium development agreement and a lease agreement.

The NFL approved the Raiders' relocation to Las Vegas last month. The team is already allowing fans to place refundable $100 deposits to secure personal seat licenses even though a site has not been picked for the stadium. Officials are eying land near the Las Vegas Strip with a goal of having the stadium ready for the 2020 season.

The Raiders and the NFL are expected to contribute $500 million to the stadium project. In addition, the team has said it has secured a $650 million loan from the Bank of America to cover the rest of the project's cost.

The team had to secure the loan after casino mogul Sheldon Adelson pulled his multimillion pledge for the project.

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Idaho Falls Post Register

 

BOISE - Boise State will drop its wrestling program and intends to pursue baseball, the school announced Tuesday. The Broncos went 2-9 this season and have not won more than three matches in a season since 2012-13.

"This was not an easy decision, but one that needed to be made as we consider the long-term vision for Bronco athletics," athletic director Curt Apsey said in the statement. "We will continue to honor the scholarships we provide our student-athletes, and will do all we can to help those who want to continue their collegiate wrestling careers elsewhere.

"Additionally, current coaching contracts will be honored."

The wrestling program has been a part of Boise State's athletics since 1959, but it has fallen on hard times in recent years, going 11-35-1 in duals the last four seasons. Coach Greg Randall, who had been at the helm since 2002, was fired in April 2016, replaced by Cal State-Bakersfield coach Mike Mendoza.

According to the Idaho State Board of Education's most recent athletics budget report, released last April, the wrestling program had $222,494 in revenue for 2014-15 and $460,760 in expenses.

In an additional release, Boise State gave explanations for shutting down wrestling and why it intends to pursue baseball.

"The elimination of wrestling alone will not be enough from a budgetary or structural standpoint, but it was the first step that needed to be taken to build the future structure of the athletics department," the release said. "When it became clear that the university could not support both baseball and wrestling from a budgetary and structural standpoint, it was decided to simply make the tough decision in hopes of giving our coaches and student-athletes ample time to pursue their careers elsewhere if they choose.

"Baseball is the only Mountain West-sponsored sport not offered by Boise State. Additionally, we believe baseball will strengthen the long-term brand and reputation of Boise State at a national level."

Current wrestlers are free to transfer from Boise State and will receive help in the process, according to the statement.

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

BLACKSBURG — Whit Babcock 's right-hand woman is off to run her own athletic department.

Desiree Reed-Francois, who served as the No. 2 official in the Virginia Tech athletic department for the past three years, was officially named UNLV's new athletic director on Monday.

She'll be formally introduced at a news conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday and will start her new duties June 1. She will succeed Tina Kunzer-Murphy, who is stepping down as AD in June to work for the UNLV Foundation.

Reed-Francois agreed to a five-year deal worth $350,000 annually, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Reed-Francois, 44, becomes the first Hispanic female athletic director at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

"There's a great sense of enthusiasm and momentum in the community and at UNLV, and I'm honored to join this university and work with our coaches, staff, and student-athletes to build on the solid foundation in place," Reed-Francois said in a UNLV news release. "College athletics have the unique ability to educate, unite, and inspire. Together, we will do all of that at UNLV and build a championship culture that leads academically and athletically."

Reed-Francois has twice served as Babcock's top lieutenant, first for two years at Cincinnati, where she served briefly as the school's interim athletic director in 2014 when Babcock left for Virginia Tech.

She followed him to Tech soon thereafter. She first served as Tech's executive associate athletic director before being named deputy athletic director last year. She was responsible for external relations, as well as the day-to-day operations for Tech's 22 sports. Her departure leaves Virginia Tech with a major hole to fill in its athletic administration.

Reed-Francois had a hand in budget development, the program's facilities master plan, fundraising and hiring. She helped recruit football coach Justin Fuente to Blacksburg and led the searches for women's lacrosse coach John Sung and women's volleyball coach Jill Lytle Wilson.

"Desiree did an outstanding job at Virginia Tech," Babcock said in a release. "She made us better in so many ways, and she will be missed. However, I am extremely happy and excited for her.... Desiree is ready and prepared to be an elite athletics director. I am very confident the department and program will grow and prosper under her direction and vision. She is a leader who cares deeply about students, her staff and the fan experience."

She'll be returning to her Western roots. The Fremont, California, native is a 1994 graduate of UCLA, where she also was a rower, and earned a law degree at Arizona. Before getting into athletics, she was a practicing lawyer who spent time as a legal associate for the Oakland Raiders and the NFL's Management Council.

She's spent 19 years in athletics administration, with positions at California, San Jose State, Santa Clara, Fresno State, San Francisco and Tennessee, where she was the first woman to oversee a men's basketball team.

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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)
 


Now that it's getting a facelift, Mark Spencer and Manolo Concepcion are brutally honest about the space the University of Evansville volleyball team has called home.

"An almost middle school gym," said Concepcion, the team's head coach.

"A big, empty cement box... and it's not pretty," said Spencer, the Aces' athletic director.

With $725,000 and a creative solution for issues facing the volleyball and women's basketball programs, that cement box inside the on-campus Carson Center will be soon transformed.

Renovations will begin at the start of the new fiscal year June 1 and be complete by the time volleyball practice starts Aug. 9. New seating, flooring, lighting, video boards, basketball hoops and graphics will be installed, along with a new sound system.

"What we're going to do is going to bring it into the 21st century and it will be state of the art," Spencer said.

Meeks Family Court will be rebranded Meeks Family Fieldhouse, which leaves open the possibility of naming rights for the new court, Spencer said.

The project will be paid for with money saved on rent given to the Ford Center to host women's basketball games. By moving women's games to the Meeks Family Fieldhouse, Spencer said, the school will be able to save $115,000 per year that it can reinvest on campus.

The first eight years, almost $100,000 annually will go toward paying off the Carson Center project and its interest. The other $15,000 will plug an annual operational deficit the women's basketball program has had since moving to the Ford Center for the 2011-12 academic year.

"When women's basketball moved from Roberts Stadium into the new stadium, budgets weren't really adjusted for the change in rent and how much was spent, so women's basketball had been running an operational deficit that they didn't have any control over and it was all because of rent factors," Spencer said. "They didn't have enough money to pay officials outside of paying rent, so this allows for the normal operations of paying officials and having normal game expenses that normally they've been over budget on as a sport every year."

Spencer said the Ford Center was receptive to the idea of losing UE women's basketball as a tenant and that "it was kind of a money-losing situation for both the Ford Center and for us." He said the Ford Center can make as much money by booking a weekend full of concerts as it can guarantee by hosting 15 women's games. Scott Schoenike, executive director of the Ford Center, didn't respond to messages seeking comment.

In addition to the financial benefit to UE, Spencer believes moving women's hoops on campus will provide a better home court advantage. Anyone who has attended a game at the 10,000-seat Ford Center can attest that it's a dead environment when only a few hundred people show up for a game.

The Aces' average official attendance this season was 815, but that figure is far higher than the number of actual fans in the seats.

The renovated facility will have a capacity near 1,100, creating a more intimate setting. It's also an easy walk across the street for most students, who typically number in the single digits for games at the Ford Center.

"The biggest thing is you've got to get them there," UE women's basketball coach Matt Ruffing said. "Once they kind of experience it and see what it's about, it's a lot easier for others to come with them. It may start with 20 of them but those 20 will make a big difference."

Spencer said moving the program to Meeks Family Fieldhouse is in compliance with Title IX, which regulates equal treatment of male and female student-athletes. Title IX demands that men's and women's sports receive the same level of facility but not the exact same facility. One of Evansville's Missouri Valley Conference rivals, Bradley, hosts its men's and women's basketball games at different venues.

"I've had some pushback from fans who don't believe it and I encourage them to come out in August when volleyball starts or when we open at home in basketball to come see the facility and see that this is not going to disadvantage our recruiting or our program or de-emphasize it," Spencer said. "This is focusing a program in a facility that they can be successful and recruit to. I think seeing would be believing."

There are a few downsides to the move. Basketball players will need to vacate their locker rooms when visiting volleyball teams arrive, and vice versa.

Also, the men's and women's basketball teams will no longer be able to host games on the same day because the ESPN3 production team can't move its equipment fast enough. That could make the scheduling process more complex for both the Aces and the MVC office.

While there are skeptics about how much this move will benefit the women's basketball program, there is no denying the renovations are a welcome boost to Concepcion and his volleyball team.

He has been lobbying for a volleyball-specific court for the past three years and the eventual upgrades exceed what he was proposing. Removable Teraflex flooring will be placed on top of the new basketball court for volleyball practices and games, creating a cleaner look and a safer playing surface.

"People associate that type of flooring with Olympic flooring because that's the flooring that people see on TV only in either the Olympics or the Final Four," Concepcion said. "You don't see the floor like that every single day unless you are in a Power 5 conference, where you will see it in some home courts. To see it in a small, private school in the Missouri Valley, I think that's going to start a trend for other people in the conference."

Concepcion believes the Teraflex flooring will give him an edge in recruiting while improving the level of training the coaching staff can provide.

"Because of the cushion of the flooring and the ability for players to dive with no risk whatsoever... it will allow us to do things that we would not normally do on a wood type of surface," he said. "It's almost like tearing down the gym and completely renovating it. We went from an almost middle school gym to having probably one of the best gyms in the conference, if not the best."


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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Demolition of the Georgia Dome, originally expected to occur in July, could be postponed amid construction delays with its replacement, Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

"There's no date set for the demolition," Brett Jewkes, senior vice president and chief communications officer of Falcons parent company AMB Group, said Monday.

Jewkes said an update on the new Falcons stadium's construction timetable, although not a Dome demolition date, will be released today.

Issues associated with Mercedes-Benz Stadium's complex retractable roof already have delayed the opening twice, first pushing the target from March 1 to June 1 and then pushing it back further to July 30, and now threaten another delay.

Questions also loom about whether the roof will be completed and operable when the stadium opens.

Related: Will Mercedes-Benz Stadium Roof Be Ready in Time?

The stadium's first scheduled event is an Atlanta United soccer match July 30, followed by two more soccer matches in August and two Chick-fil-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 by the NFL later this week, along with the rest of the league's 2017 schedule.

Gary Stokan, who runs the Chick-fil-A Kickoff as president and CEO of Peach Bowl Inc., recently told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his organization has "full assurances from the Falcons"that the Alabama-FSU and Tech-Tennessee games will be played in the new stadium as scheduled.

Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, which is scheduled to play its national championship game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Jan. 8, said he hasn't been told when the building will open.

"We haven't asked the question too often because we know it will be ready by Jan. 8," Hancock said during a visit to Atlanta last week. "There will be a lot of football played in that building before the championship game."

He said he expects the Georgia Dome to be demolished before the national title game next door.

"I expect it to be, because that's what we hear," Hancock said. "And that's the way we're kind of planning "

Although a parking/tailgating area is planned for the Dome site, Hancock said he doesn't expect that to be ready by January.

"I don't think (that space) will be useable for us," he said. "We're still eight or nine months out, so we don't have to make those decisions yet."

Hancock said he expects the college football title game to be played with the roof of the new stadium closed, even if it can be opened at that point.

"I think we would have played with it closed anyway," he said. "We haven't (played the national title game in) an indoor stadium with the roof open, so I think we would have been 99 percent sure that the roof would be closed."

The Georgia Dome was officially closed after a Monster Jam trucks show March 5. The artificial turf has been removed, offices have been vacated and a security fence has been erected.

But Jennifer LeMaster, a spokesperson for the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which operated the Dome and on whose campus the new stadium is being built, told the AJC last month that "until the Dome is demolished, it could be utilized."

Another GWCCA spokesperson, Jason Kirksey, said Monday he had no date for when the Dome will be demolished and no update on construction of the new stadium.

The construction update the Falcons plan to release today has been in the works since late last month.

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USA TODAY

 

Recently retired Purdue athletics director Morgan Burke has an answer for those who believe athletes in the most prominent college sports should receive greater benefits than those currently allowed under NCAA rules, including benefits other than cash:

No, not only do athletes get enough now, there are people involved in the college sports world — specifically donors — who think they get too many benefits.

Burke's sentiments were conveyed through a filing Friday night in class-action antitrust lawsuits against the NCAA and major conferences that are challenging the association's limits on what football, men's basketball and women's basketball players can receive for playing sports. The cases' named plaintiffs include former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston and former Clemson football player Martin Jenkins, and they are being led by attorneys Steve Berman and Jeffrey Kessler.

Friday's filing pertains to a dispute over the plaintiffs' request to depose five university officials, including Burke, who were interviewed by a defense expert as part of the expert's compilation of a report in the case.

The NCAA and the conferences maintain the plaintiffs are entitled to notes of the expert's interviews with the five officials and a deposition of the expert, but they should not be allowed to depose the officials.

The expert, Kenneth Elzinga, covered a wide range of topics with Burke, according to the seven pages of notes from that interview, which say it was conducted Feb. 22 at Purdue in the presence of two attorneys from the law firm representing the Big Ten Conference in the case and an attorney from Purdue's office of legal counsel. Among them:

"MB discussed the possibility of giving student-athletes benefits that didn't necessarily come in the form of a check.

"In his opinion, student-athletes already are provided with everything that they need to be successful, which he described as the goal of financial aid to student-athletes. He said that 'we' (referring to schools) want to provide a level of support and services based on the time demands of participating in intercollegiate athletics and being a student that meets what student-athletes need to be successful academically and athletically.

"MB believes that there is 'already some tension' where the question of giving more to student-athletes is concerned. He said that some schools 'are creeping back into that.'"

The notes next say that Burke discussed the John Purdue Club, the athletics department's fundraising arm.

"MB said that one can already see what the effect of changing the current model of student-athletics would be on this group. If the model were changed to a more professionalized version, the members of the John Purdue Club would cut back in their giving and their level of interest in intercollegiate sports. 'They see how much we're getting from our media contracts and that the university is taking a cut,' MB said. They ask him, 'why are you asking us? You've got money.'

"Member (sic) of the John Purdue Club would not like the money going into athletes' pockets beyond the cost of their attendance at Purdue. Some donors already are concerned about the level of services Purdue provides its student-athletes. MB and his colleagues have to explain why the services are appropriate. He believes that if he didn't have those conversations, donors might act unilaterally and reduce the amount of money they give."

Burke was Purdue's AD from 1993 through summer 2016, was promoted to university vice president in 2014, and, according to the university's online directory, now holds the title of vice president for athletics special projects. He has held leadership positions within the Big Ten, a national AD's association and the NCAA's governance structure.

His comments come amid cases U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken refused to dismiss last August, in part, because they challenge NCAA rules "prohibiting the provision of other 'benefits' and 'in-kind' compensation as well as cash compensation."

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Pittsburgh Tribune Review

 

When criminal charges surfaced against the executive director of the storied 14th Ward Baseball Association, angered and baffled parents wondered whether the youth league could survive.

Some pulled their children out. Others, with mixed feelings, sought to keep the league afloat.

"It was devastating," said Abbie Campsie, who has a son in the league. "I know Jeff Rosenthal personally. We'd chit-chat at the ballfield every week. It's still hard to figure out."

Rosenthal "" a man so beloved in the community that one of the 14th Ward ballfields is named after him "" awaits trial on felony charges of theft, forgery and receiving stolen property.

Police say Rosenthal, 63, of Squirrel Hill, embezzled $162,000 from accounts of the 14th Ward Baseball Association.

Nobody saw it coming.

Following his arrest in December, there were meetings, full of shouting, dismay and tears. Parents wanted answers to questions that have none, not until the legal process plays out, if then.

"It was a confusing time," said Gregory Allen, a coach and parent of two sons in the league. "There was a general sense of "˜Where do we go now? What do we do?'"

What they did was fight for the league, which drew 350 boys and girls, ages 5 to 16, a year ago.

Because this is a league that has been passed down for generations. Today's coaches and parents grew up playing 14th Ward baseball. They didn't want their kids to miss out.

Campsie signed on as treasurer. Allen took over as chair of an interim committee designed to shepherd the league through spring and summer.

This week, the spring season opens at ballfields across the East End in Frick Park, Edgewood, Squirrel Hill and Highland Park.

"There's a sense of relief and anticipation," Allen said. "We're ready for baseball."

Campsie and Allen would rather focus on the games, not Rosenthal.

But the recent past casts a shadow. So the new 14th Ward league has vowed to make transparency a priority.

Each check must now be signed by two people: Allen and Campsie.

They will release financial documents on a website.

They're in the process of obtaining league insurance.

They hired an accounting firm to help organize finances.

Through it all, they had to sell parents on the concept of, "It's going to be different now," Campsie said. Because it had to be.

"It's going to be transparent. It's going to be open,'" Campsie said. "It probably wasn't transparent before. We were all trusting that everything that was supposed to be happening was happening. Nobody was suspicious.

"We're not necessarily going to remain in these roles," she added, "but we want to lay the groundwork for those who follow."

Their efforts have been rewarded: While some parents stuck by their decision to leave, Allen is thrilled to see that league participation is on par with last spring.

"We're still here and strong as ever," he said. "We even have maxed out some teams and created a waiting list."

Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O'Connor, who represents the 14th Ward, said he understands the significance of 14th Ward baseball. He grew up playing second base in the league.

"I told the parents I'd help them do anything I could to keep the league viable," said O'Connor, who attended a parental meeting after the Rosenthal charges. "It's a vital part of our community. It's very important to keep it going."

Now they return their attention to where it should be: kids on the field and fans in the bleachers.

"There's nothing like driving by and seeing the games going on," Campsie said. "There's a lot of great memories.

"The 14th Ward will be here as long as the desire is there."

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991 or bschmitt@tribweb.com

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New Haven Register (Connecticut)

 

It may have opened a year late, but Dunkin' Donuts Park seems to have been worth the wait.

The new ballpark located on the outskirts of downtown Hartford has generated almost unanimous rave reviews since officially opening on Thursday night. While serving as home of the Hartford Yard Goats, the park has already hosted a college baseball game (Quinnipiac vs. Hartford on April 11) and will host another on May 7, when Hartford faces Army. There is talk that it could soon host the America East tournament, as well.

How about high school games, you ask? That could happen, too. And it could happen pretty soon.

The CIAC will hold its state championship rounds at Middletown's Palmer Field once again this year. This is the second year of a three-year contract with the field, so the championships won't be heading to Dunkin' Donuts Park anytime too soon.

But the semifinal rounds could be a different story. Currently, the semifinals are slated to take place at Palmer, Waterbury's Municipal Field, Muzzy Field in Bristol and Dodd Stadium in Norwich. But nothing is set in stone, and it's possible that Dunkin' Donuts Park (as well as the new field at Trinity College) could be used instead.

"We're committed to running the best tournament possible," said CIAC baseball tournament director Fred Balsamo. "Location is always an issue, so it's nice to have flexibility."

In other words, if it looks as though there won't be many (if any) teams from a certain area of the state, one of the current semifinal sits could be switched to a more centralized location like Dunkin' Donuts Park or Trinity. The semifinals are slated to start June 6, but such a switch could be made even with only a week or so in advance, if it makes geographical sense.

"There's always the possibility of using the other two parks," said Balsamo. "They came online late. We booked (the other four) in October. All four of those sites are the ones we intend to use. But if Dunkin' Donuts Park or Trinity looks more advantageous, we would contact them."

Of course, the CIAC would have to come to terms with either of those fields. Since Dunkin' Donuts Park is essentially a professional facility, there are issues that the CIAC would have to resolve before using the field. Balsamo and other CIAC members plan on meeting Yard Goats director of hospitality and events Andres Levy and other members of the organization over the next week or two.

While CIAC officials haven't visited the new ballpark yet, they have had plenty of contact with the Yard Goats. Two years ago, shortly after the team was officially named, members of the organization met with the CIAC, showing them artist renderings and a virtual online tour of the new park.

Now, at long last, the park is up and running. And Connecticut high school baseball could be played inside of it in the not-too-distant future.

"It's nice that people want us, that's the great thing," said Balsamo. "We want to provide high school players with the best possible location and the best possible fields."

Forever 21

Waterford's Michael Burrows hurled a no-hitter with 21 strikeouts against 22 batters faced in an 11-0 victory at Killingly on April 10, according to a report in The Day of New London.

It is believed to be the second time in Connecticut history a pitcher struck out 21 in a seven-inning game since West Haven's Aaron Sellner did it against Hamden in 1992.

Burrows, a junior, threw 84 pitches and struck out the first 19 batters he faced, according to The Day. With one out in the bottom of the seventh, however, Killingly's 20th batter broke up the perfect-K game by laying down a bunt and getting thrown out at first.

Burrows struck out the 21st batter, but that batter reached via a wild pitch on the third strike, ending the perfect game.

David Borges can be reached at dborges@nhregister.com Follow David on Twitter @DaveBorges.

 

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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

Several years ago, Mater Dei High School recognized that many vendors were making money on the Mater Dei name and logo.

"We were aware that colleges and professional teams make a substantial amount of money through royalties," said Mater Dei president Timothy A. Dickel. "Mater Dei is fortunate to have a strong following who often wears our apparel."

In 2010, Mater Dei went through the trademarking process.

"We then sent letters to vendors who sell Mater Dei apparel and asked for a royalty," Dickel said. "Local and national vendors now send us a royalty. I encourage other schools to go through the same process."

Mater Dei received about $18,000 from 2012-2016.

"The amount fluctuates from year to year," Dickel said.

While the Kentucky High School Athletic Association partnered with licensing firms that work with individual schools to license and monetize merchandise, the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) leaves it up to its 418 member schools.

IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox said member schools market, advertise and sell merchandise to benefit their schools. It is the member schools' obligation to get trademarks to ensure the school controls who sells their merchandise.

However, Boonville athletic director Kevin Davis doesn't think the hassle of going through the trademarking process is worth it.

"If you are going to trademark the Boonville Pioneers' logo and name and enforce it, that job falls on the athletic director," Davis said. "How do you find the time to do that?"

Castle has a link to its athletic website to its BSN Sideline Store, where fans can customize Castle High School apparel any way they would like, said Castle athletic director Brandon Taylor.

"Since we have an all-school deal with BSN Sports, those sales go toward our total amount spent with BSN each year and we get a percentage of credit back on all the money we spend with them (on equipment, uniforms, apparel, etc.)," Taylor said. "With that said, the amount of credit that we receive through our merchandising on the website is very minimal. We receive nothing from any other merchandising source."

Like Castle, Harrison has a website from which it sells apparel and also sells apparel from its athletic office, said Harrison athletic director Bryan Speer. However, sometimes people want apparel customized to a particular sport that is not offered.

Because Harrison has to buy apparel in bulk, it doesn't make much money.

"Anybody can sell SIAC (Southern Indiana Athletic Conference) apparel in stores," Speer said. "There is no law prohibiting them from doing that."

Without a trademark, schools don't get any of the revenue from those sales.

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The Washington Times

 

Guns are big in Arkansas, but hogs and football can be bigger. The National Rifle Association took on the Razorbacks of the University of Arkansas over a law that would have enabled fans to take their guns to the game, and the Razorbacks won.

The Second Amendment is holy writ in Arkansas, which has some of the most liberal gun laws in the nation, and under a law enacted earlier this year holders of licenses to carry concealed guns who had taken eight hours of extra training were legally entitled to take their guns into public college campuses, including stadiums and sports arenas. Saloons, churches, and most public buildings, too, even the state Capitol in Little Rock. More than 200,000 Arkansans hold such permits.

This upset members of the Southeastern Conference, all from the South or adjoining states, including Arkansas, where the Second Amendment is also held precious. But representatives of the 14 members of the Southeastern Conference were afraid that guns, booze and football would make a lethal mix in places where hyped-up fans, through the haze of late afternoon and three hours or so nursing a bottle, might mistake the gridiron for the green fields of Gettysburg, Normandy or Guadalcanal.

"Given the intense atmosphere surrounding athletic events, adding weapons increases safety concerns and could negatively impact the intercollegiate athletics program at the University of Arkansas in several ways," warned Greg Sankey, the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, "including scheduling, officiating, recruiting and attendance."

When Brett Bielema, the coach of the football Hogs, as they are affectionately called, chimed in with his fears that recruiting players might become even more difficult, second thoughts, and sometimes third thoughts, occurred to the legislature.

"When I say to a parent, 'I take your son's safety to the highest degree in my heart,'" the coach said, "I don't want to ever put that in jeopardy." He promised to say more later, but he never had to. The legislature began fashioning exemptions to the expanded gun-rights law for sporting events. The Second Amendment was well and good, and all that, but the Hogs deprived of playing Ole Miss, or Alabama or LSU was a horror not to be imagined.

The exemptions, which legislators took care to say were only revisions and did not constitute repeal of the earlier law, were approved by Gov. Asa Hutchison and the new law was duly signed. Arkansans with a permit to pack heat can still take their guns to church, and to saloons and other public places, though not to day-care centers.

The legislator who sponsored the legislation took pains to say he only did it for the Hogs, and only because he felt he had to. Rep. Bob Ballinger, a Republican like nearly every other member of the legislature, said he thought concerns with the original law were "overblown," but he didn't want to jeopardize sporting events. "The issue is that maybe we took 10 steps forward, and a lot of people weren't ready to go quite that far forward," he said, "so now we're taking one step backward."

Many legislators worried that voting for the exemptions would imperil their approval ratings by the National Rifle Association, which are highly prized. Anthony Roulette, the Arkansas lobbyist for the NRA, said no decisions about that have been made. "That's a decision our [political action committee] makes, but it's a key vote, yes." (Woooo, pig! Soooie!)

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Copyright 2017 CMG Corporate Services, Inc. on behalf of itself and the Newspapers Apr 17, 2017

Palm Beach Daily News

 

In a town full of "big egos," some residents and officials are worried about naming opportunities for the new Palm Beach recreation center possibly getting out of control.

Donations are expected to cover two-thirds of the $11.2 million cost of the recently approved Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center. The Morton and Barbara Mandel Family Foundation is covering a third, Friends of Recreation another third and the town the other $3.7 million.

To help with fundraising, Friends of Recreation, a group of residents helping find donors for the project, wants to allow naming opportunities for different features at the new center.

The Town Council approved Wednesday a list showing various contribution levels and what features they would cover. But members said the friends group has to return in June with a detailed plan of how donors will be recognized. The council could approve, deny or modify the recognition proposal.

"Let's recognize that even with the generous donations that we would get, this is a public building and it belongs to the town of Palm Beach," Councilwoman Bobbie Lindsay said.

"This is town-owned property and I just want to make sure that we know what is proposed for the interior and exterior. The town should approve every name and vet them and make sure that we're not plastering names all over a single building."

Michael Ainslie, vice chairman of Friends of Recreation, said the group likely will propose a few brass plaques that will be "tasteful, consistent and small."

"There aren't going to be plaques all over the place," he said.

The donor opportunities list shows more than 40 naming opportunities ranging from $1 million for the gymnasium to $10,000 for a water fountain.

Contributions in between would sponsor a variety of features, including the multipurpose field, playground, fitness center, classrooms, clock tower, basketball court, porches, gardens, tennis pavilion and hitting wall, flagpoles, colonnades and scoreboards.

Councilwoman Julie Araskog was concerned there were too many opportunities.

"We could end up with 30 or 40 plaques, and it is a public building," she said. "Many residents have called to say they're concerned about a precedent that this sets."

Ainslie said 30 plaques is unlikely.

"First of all, we will not sell all of these naming opportunities," Ainslie said of the 45 options listed. "If we did we'd raise $8 million. And, we've already had three people who have given at the six-figure level who said they don't want any recognition on a plaque."

Ainslie said there likely will be a plaque in the lobby with a comprehensive list of donors, including those contributing under $5,000. But, plaques for higher-level donations need to go next to the item they're honoring because they will have Braille inscriptions, he said.

Councilwoman Danielle Moore asked Ainslie to remind residents how donors who contributed to the existing rec center will be recognized.

Ainslie said an "entire wall" of the lobby will include the history of the center, prior donors and other "appropriate recognition."

New center name

The new recreation center will be the first town building with a private name as part of its title. There are three town parks with private names, but no buildings.

Phipps Ocean Park in the South End is named for the Phipps family, who gave the land. Bradley Park near the Flagler Memorial Bridge is named for Col. E.R. Bradley, who also donated the land. And Boyd Park, at North Ocean Boulevard and Bahama Lane, was designated in 1962 in honor of former Town Manager J.M. Boyd.

"Since when do we want to start naming public municipal property after individuals?" resident Jeff Cloninger asked the council Wednesday. "A lot of big egos in this town, and if we start letting people name things after themselves we're going to have a town full of plaques.

"The naming opportunity is kind of a dangerous precedent to set. He's not giving the land, he's giving some money."

The council already approved the name last July when members signed an agreement giving the foundation the naming rights to the building.

Changing the name would require the town to reimburse the foundation for its donation.

The name of the center had to comply with town sign ordinances and receive approval from the Architectural Commission.

The commission approved the words to appear above the main archway entrance in three lines: Morton and Barbara Mandel, Recreation Center, Town of Palm Beach.

-- akopf@ pbdailynews.com Twitter: @aleesekopf

Credit: Aleese Kopf Daily News Staff Writer

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

The fitness industry has been plagued with more myths than ancient Greece. However, of those that continue to be most common are myths surrounding strength and weight training. Let's debunk these myths once and for all so you can get on with the business of being strong and reaping the benefits of your labor.


1. Myth one: Women who weight train look like Rambo. This is a glaring misconception. One of the biggest differences between male and female athletes are their hormone levels and how these hormones behave - most specifically, testosterone. Testosterone leads to increases in muscle and bone mass. Men have significantly higher testosterone levels than women and therefore increasing muscle mass for men is much easier. The truth is lifting weights and increasing muscle mass can increase your resting metabolic rate and in turn help you burn more calories during work efforts and while at rest.

2. Myth two: The only way to burn fat is by doing hours of cardiovascular training. Thankfully, this is very false. While steady state cardio is great exercise for the heart-lung complex, we would need to spend countless hours pounding pavement to see an appreciable return for our efforts. A more effective way to burn fat and get more "bang for your buck" is by combining strength and cardiovascular training through High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.). HIIT is a great way to get the best of both worlds while burning more calories in less time.

3. Myth three: You can spot reduce fat. Unfortunately, genetics predominate our body's size and shape and how we store fat. We are predisposed to store fat in different places. While it would be great to do a few planks, and get rid of any belly fat, the reality is that our bodies are going to lose weight/fat at its own rate and on its own terms. Doing triceps presses to get rid of flabby underarms is not an amazingly effective course of action. Your time would be better spent moving several muscles (compound exercises) during the same exercise to maximize the calories burned.

4. Finally, our final myth: Muscle turns to fat when we stop exercising. Another utter falsehood. Muscle and fat are two different types of tissues, just like water and wine. There has only been one person who could turn water into wine. The adage of "if you don't use it, you'll lose it" is much closer to being true. If a muscle is not used, the individual fibers decrease in their cross-sectional size (get smaller, this is called atrophy). If we continue to eat the same as we have when we were training, but stop exercising regularly, of course we will put on weight. This is because our energy in would exceed our energy out, not because muscle is turning into fat. The bottom line is that if you stop moving and keep eating, you will most probably gain weight.

Angie Ferguson is an exercise physiologist from Fort Myers, Florida. She is a USA Triathlon Advanced Level 2 coach, Ironman Certified coach, Slowtwitch Certified coach, USA Cycling coach and has a Specialty in Sports Nutrition certification. For more training tips, read her blog at www.triathlontrainingisfun.com or contact her at www.gearedup.biz."

fitness

angie ferguson

The fitness industry has been plagued with more myths than ancient Greece. However, of those that continue to be most common are myths surrounding strength and weight training. Let's debunk these myths once and for all so you can get on with the business of being strong and reaping the benefits of your labor.
 
 
April 17, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2017 Colorado Springs Gazette LLC Apr 17, 2017

The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

 


The Colorado High School Activities Legislative Council will vote on Thursday whether boys' volleyball will be adopted as a sanctioned sport starting in the 2018-19 school year.

The proposal needs a majority vote to become Colorado's first sanctioned sport since boys' and girls' lacrosse and field hockey were unveiled from 1997-99, according to the association.

Early indications are the vote could be decided by a tight margin.

"I don't know if anybody knows which direction it will go," CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann said. "I think it could be a very close vote, I really do."

A survey sent out in November to athletic directors around the state showed that 200 out of 258 responding schools would support sanctioning it. Ninety-three schools said they would be interested in starting a boys' volleyball team, while 107 additional schools said they would support it but would not immediately host a team.

However, any traction from the survey was derailed when the association's equity committee chose not to support the sanctioning of it in a meeting in January.

Their issue centers around Title IX and the negative impact the sport would have on the proportionality between girls' and boys' high school sports in Colorado. The committee stated that 81 percent of schools in the state would be negatively affected with the sport's inclusion, but advocates point out that 59 percent would maintain compliance with the law.

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

 

THERE'S NO tying. There's no tying in baseball.

The most famous tie in major league history — the 2002 All-Star Game — was so infuriating and embarrassing to then-commissioner Bud Selig that it led to the Mid-Summer Classic determining home-field advantage.

We like resolution. We like tradition. I get it. Yet, I think the major leagues should allow ties if a game remains deadlocked after 12 innings.

I know that will anger folks who don't want major alterations made to a game that they find close to ideal as is. But the reality is we have a pro-active commissioner, and improving the view-ability of the product and lowering injuries are his obsessions.

So let's consider the 15-inning game the Mets won Thursday in Miami:

• Josh Smoker threw three innings for the first time since returning to pro ball in 2015 after shoulder surgery. Hansel Robles worked a fourth straight day despite manager Terry Collins trying to do all he could not to use him. Had Robles said he was incapable of pitching again, Collins was prepared to have catcher Rene Rivera pitch and Zack Wheeler - who missed the past two seasons after Tommy John surgery - play first base.

At a time when there are protective measures taken to try to preserve arms, these elongated games put pitchers and, on occasion, position players in harm's way.

• By the conclusion of the 5-hour, 38-minute game, there were a couple of hundred people at Marlins Park. So most of the paying audience - with a workday the next day - gave up. The peak viewing audience on SNY came between 10:45-11 p.m. - about the ninth inning - then fell off by nearly 26 percent by the time the game ended at 12:50 a.m., yet to be fair, still was above 390,000.

• The Marlins were forced to use Adam Conley, their scheduled starter Friday. They bumped up Edinson Volquez on normal rest, and flipped Conley to Saturday.

But without a timely off day, the Marlins would have been scrambling for a starter as teams often are in this situation. So the quality of a future game - for which fans will be paying - would be impacted by extended extra innings. And what will those fans see from the players who had to endure more than 5¹/ hours one day and come back the next?

• Nick Wittgren pitched three perfect innings for the Marlins. His reward? He was sent down because Miami needed to get another fresh arm on the roster.

T.J. Rivera was demoted by the Mets to get Sean Gilmartin up. This happens all the time in these types of games: A player does his job, and because he has options is sent down, costing him major league salary and service time - all because a singular game went too long.

I know to a certain segment this will all sound like boo-hoo and the continued softening of the game. There are those who want to see the attrition and how teams handle that over a long, grueling season, and extended extra-inning games are part of the process.

But my question is, beyond tradition, why are we putting players through these marathons?

We know more than ever that performing at exhaustion levels increases the potential for injury. We know viewership - at the game and on TV - drops from peak the longer and longer a game goes.

We already are asking fans to stick around on average, for 3 hours and 5 minutes to play regulation.

Extra innings tend to be boring, with tiring players all trying to hit homers to finish things as soon as possible. Thus, even less base-to-base action than normal.

Playing an additional third of a standard game - three more innings - feels like enough extra time to let one or the other team win. I suspect if there were a cap on games, the psychology of players might change to try to build a run to avoid a tie, though it also is possible players still will just try to belt homers to do so. Either way, it would have a finish line, so fans more comfortably could stay to better anticipate when a game will end.

When rosters expand in September and the meaning of each game is more clearly understood, I would play until resolution, so there would be no ties in the final month.

On average, teams play 3-4 games of more than 12 innings a season. Would it really appall folks if a team were, say, 89-703 as opposed to 90-72? Did you know that last year the Cubs were 103-58-1 and the Pirates 78-831 because their late September game that was 1-1 and suspended after six innings because of rain was not resumed because it did not impact the playoffs?

The world did not stop because of a tie, and the world would continue if a team finished 89-70-3.

Plus, I think this is better than the alternative the Commissioner's Office is at least considering, due to concerns about injury and boring the customers. This season, Gulf Coast League, Arizona Rookie League and probably the Dominican Summer League games tied after nine innings will begin the 10th inning and each subsequent extra inning as needed with a runner on second and no outs.

MLB is doing this as an experiment. It is not close to installing it in the majors and - if it ever does - it almost certainly will be after several extra innings are played.

But this is where the game is heading, whether traditionalists like it or not. The Commissioner's Office wants to keep the product attractive to more than just the diehards while protecting the bodies of its most expensive and vital commodities - the players. Thus, if a game is not settled through 12 innings, it's fit to be tied.

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Copyright 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

Their voices weren't heard before the decision was made.

That doesn't mean the Lobos ski team will refrain from making them heard now, despite the insistence from the University of New Mexico administration that it's too late.

Thursday at a 1:15 p.m. meeting, athletic director Paul Krebs informed team members that the financial struggles of the school had led to the decision to eliminate the men's and women's ski team, winner of UNM's first team national title in 2004.

As copies of a fact sheet explaining the decision was passed around, team members' cell phones began to vibrate. Text messages began to pour in from friends and family, who saw the news break through a press release sent out to media at 1:19 p.m. - even as the meeting was taking place, said team coach Fredrik Landstedt.

"No warning whatsoever until we sat at the meeting," Landstedt told the Journal in an email exchange on Saturday. "We were texted the same morning to be there. The athletes had no warning as well. They were told to be there at 1:15 and that they should miss class to be there."

The team has now set up a petition and informative website (saveunmskiteam. com), which as of Saturday afternoon had some 5,600 signatures in support of saving the ski program. The team says it has plans to find ways to at least get its message across to those who didn't listen to it before the decision was made - one UNM says will save an estimated $600,000 per fiscal year. For his part, Landstedt suggests the savings closer to $515,000 with an "actual" cost to UNM of only about $285,000 per year in salaries and operation costs and that doesn't count the money the 25 team members (14 men, 11 women), none of whom is on full scholarship, pay for books and the rest of their tuition - nor money many of them pay when they stay on to earn graduate degrees.

UNM sports information director Frank Mercogliano on Saturday told the Journal the $600,000 figure used in Thursday's press release was "derived from a combination of salaries, operating expenses, travel, Nike allotment, insurance and full-funded scholarships."

Related: University of Buffalo Cuts Four Sports

Landstedt, a 1991 UNM graduate, is well aware of the school's dire financial situation in the athletics department, which posted a $1.54 million deficit in the 2015-16 fiscal year. He said he had asked to be kept in the loop if his program was facing such a demise and was told as recently as mid-March it was not.

Landstedt (who earned $80,400) and assistant coach Joe Downing ($51,763) were both told their employment and benefits will be terminated June 30.

On Thursday, Landstedt said, Krebs informed the team that three sports were considered in discussions with the Board of Regents with the final decision to only eliminate skiing. It isn't clear when such discussions with the Board of Regents took place.

Neither Krebs nor Mercogliano answered specifically when asked by the Journal on Saturday what other sports potentially could have been cut.

In August, former UNM president Robert G. Frank and Regent Marron Lee each told the Journal the school was not close to considering eliminating sports.

In October, Krebs told the Regents' finance and facilities committee that budget matters were again worsening and drastic measures might need to be considered at some point.

In December, athletics warned it could be headed toward a $400,000 deficit this fiscal year. In February,Board of Regents President Robert Doughty suggested it might be time to consider cutting a sport.

And through it all, the team insists it was not contacted. That, it says, is as big a source of its pain as anything.

"Normally, when a decision to cut a team is pending, coaches and athletes are notified months in advance, in order to give all parties ample time to make alternative plans to pursue their sport," the team's new website states.

"... Given the late date in the year, student athletes and coaches will most likely be unable to make alternative arrangements, as university academic transfer deadlines have passed, and most collegiate-level teams around the country have already made athlete and staffing selections."

The team plans to update information and coordinate future action on its saveunmskiteam.com website.

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Copyright 2017 The Daily Record Apr 16, 2017

Daily Record; Wooster, Ohio

 


Professional video game player. Sounds like a job made up by a middle-schooler. Maybe professional football or basketball, but professional video game playing? It is true and it is a field that is growing fast.

Frequently called "esports," professional competitive video game playing is becoming something of the mainstream in the United States. I do have to point out that it is in the United States, because the U.S. is actually late to the esports arena. Many countries, especially in Asia, have had robust professional video game circuits for a number of years. When I lived in Hong Kong in 2009, one of the only English-language TV channels was esports. It included commentators, instant replays and player stats. It was like a video game version of ESPN.

The first question you may ask is what type of video games fall into esports? Esports games range from rapid reflex fighting games such as first-person shooters to more strategic games such as real-time strategy games. You may think only newer video games are used. Actually, some of the most popular games are older ones such as Super Smash Bros. (first released in 1999) and StarCraft (first released in 1998). Almost any gaming platform is included, from PCs to Playstations.

So what is happening with esports in the U.S.? Quite a lot. Chinese-based company Allied Esports has a "Rapid North American Expansion Plan for Esports Arena Business." Included in this plan is a recent announcement on April 11 that it is partnering with MGM in Las Vegas to build "a multi-level arena complete with a competition stage, LED video wall, telescopic seating, daily gaming stations" along with other amenities. According to Mashable, betting on esports at Vegas casinos has been around since the fall of 2016.

Related: Vegas Targets Millennials with eSports Arena

In order to feed the demand for esport players, colleges have developed esports programs of their own. The programs even include scholarships. The first college to offer esports programs, according to Red Bull (which sponsors many esports events), was Robert Morris University in Chicago. At Robert Morris, you can earn up to 50 percent of tuition, room and boarding costs through an esports scholarship. The biggest school with an esports program in the U.S. would most likely be the University of California, Irvine. UCI even has a state-of-the-art PC café to support the program. Search "esports scholarships" on Google and you will discover a rapidly growing list of schools all over the country starting up scholarship programs for esports.

Where will esports go from here? It is hard to tell; however, a growing number of sponsors, entertainment companies and software development firms are pouring money and resources into the field. Teams and players are landing major sponsorship deals from many well-known companies. In case you want to stay up-to-date on the latest for esports, you can visit ESPN.com/​esports. ESPN now follows esports by video game.

Brian Boyer is the managing partner of Web Pyro (http://​www.webpyro.com) located in Wooster.

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Copyright 2017 Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc.
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Sunday Telegram (Massachusetts)

 

Racing on a fixed-gear bicycle without brakes around a steep, banked track at top end is thrilling.

No doubt about it, speed is exciting.

But few people get a chance to witness track cycling, never mind participate in the sport.

"Once you get over your nerves, you'll say, wow, this is so much fun. It's cool, it's fun, it's exciting," said Pam Fernandes, a former track cyclist and Paralympian.

"Track racing is mostly short stuff and super spectator-friendly," Fernandes said.

However, there are no velodromes in New England, and the nearest tracks are several hours away.

Fernandes is part of a group proposing to build a velodrome in the region. The New England Velodrome and Sports Complex is a nonprofit that originated about two years ago when Boston was considering a bid for the 2024 Olympics. The Boston 2024 effort included discussions about a velodrome for the Olympic track cycling events.

The Boston 2024 effort fizzled, but the New England Velodrome and Sports Complex has continued its plans to build an oval track for cycling.

"We decided to continue working toward that effort of building a velodrome," Fernandes said. "That put the burden of finding a site and raising the money on our shoulders. It's a lofty effort."

The group is meeting with various communities to discuss finding a home for the NEVSC, while fundraising and looking for partners in the project.

All options are still open. Massachusetts is probably the best state in New England to build the velodrome, Fernandes said, because it has the highest percentage per capita of cyclists.

Fernandes and the two other directors at NEVSC, Ed Kross and Jessica Eckhardt, will be making a presentation on their plans from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Worcester Public Library, at 3 Salem Square in Worcester.

The organization is talking and meeting with various groups, officials and communities with the goal of breaking ground on the project around 2021. The business plan is about 90 percent complete, Fernandes said.

"We are getting interested people and eventually something will come through," said Fernandes, who medaled in the 1996 and 2000 Paralympic Games. She is visually impaired and competed in tandem cycling races with a pilot. She currently organizes training camps for riders with disabilities preparing for competition in elite road and track cycling races.

The velodrome could cost anywhere from $1 million or $2 million to as much as $50 million, according to Fernandes. She said the cost depends on the extent of the project, which could be one of several options, including: a concrete, outdoor track; a covered outdoor track; a 250-meter wood track with a supportive inside structure; or a 250-meter, indoor wood track with locker rooms and indoor facilities for many activities, including a walking track, climbing wall, volleyball courts, indoor soccer and community meeting rooms.

A site of about 10 acres or more would be ideal, she said, with a 165,000-square-foot indoor facility.

"Ultimately, we're not going to be successful unless we're a good community partner," Fernandes said. "We want kids. We want kids on this track. We can teach kids how to ride."

The community meetings are a chance for the group to make a presentation, establish connections and form new partnerships. Fernandes said the group has several needs, including a fundraiser to help secure money for the project, a community willing to make the project viable, and volunteers to complete the many tasks such a project entails.

At the Worcester meeting, NEVSC directors will introduce themselves, talk about their plans, show photographs of other tracks, play a video of track racing in a velodrome, as well as have a discussion with those in attendance.

There are about 29 velodromes across the country, according to USA Cycling. The nearest tracks are the Kissena Velodrome in Queens, New York, and the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, which is known as T-Town, in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania.

Track cycling began around 1870. Wooden planks were laid down with banked turns similar to modern velodromes.

The most famous track cyclist from the area was Marshall "Major" Taylor, or the "Worcester Whirlwind," a Worcester resident who won the world championship in 1899.

When Major Taylor was racing, track cycling was at a peak, attracting Americans to velodromes like they are drawn to baseball parks today. There were an estimated 20 velodromes in New England around 1900, and 50 or 60 on the East Coast. The velodrome in Newark, New Jersey, for example, held 25,000 people, and Madison Square Garden was packed for cycling events.

-Contact Mark Conti at mark.conti@telegram.com Follow him on Twitter @markconti11.

 

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Star-News (Wilmington, NC)

 

NEW YORK — Real Madrid will play the Major League Soccer All-Stars at Chicago on Aug. 2.

Los Blancos, the defending European champion and current Spanish league leader, feature reigning FIFA player of the year Cristian Ronaldo, but it is unclear whether Ronaldo will be with Real that soon after the Confederations Cup, which ends July 2.

The All-Star Game, which since 2005 has featured European clubs against MLS All-Stars, will be played at Soldier Field. It is the first time a La Liga team has played in the All-Star Game.

It s good for the league, Toronto forward Jozy Altidore said. If we re going to have this event, you want to make it worthwhile for everybody. To play the biggest club in world football, it s exciting for a lot of reasons.

New York City forward David Villa added: To play against a team like Real Madrid, it s so very good, said NYCFC

The Chicago Fire, who play at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, will host the event. The last time the event was held at a non-MLS venue was in 2010, when the All-Star game was played at Houston s Reliant Stadium.

The Fire previously hosted the All-Star Game at Toyota Park against Chelsea in 2006.

Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger was with Bayern Munich when he played in the 2014 All-Star Game in Portland, Oregon.

I remember it quite well because it was after the 2014 World Cup, in Portland. I remember also my brother was included on the first team so that was quite nice for us as brothers, Schweinsteiger said. We were both saying how much we enjoyed this match because the atmosphere in the stadium was so nice. It s something different we don t have in Europe, so we really enjoyed it.

Arsenal defeated the All-Stars 2-1 last year in San Jose, California.

Christiano Ronaldo celebrates a goal for his club team during recent Champions League action overseas. Real Madrid will be pit against the MLS's top stars in this year's all-star game in Chicago. [Associated Press]

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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

NORFOLK — For nearly two decades, little thought was given to the health consequences of millions of kids playing sports on fields topped with crushed used tires.

More than 12,000 artificial turf fields in the United States are layered with tons of "crumb rubber."

When it was invented nearly two decades ago, crumb rubber was considered an ideal solution for a vexing waste-disposal problem. With billions of tires filling landfills or storage facilities, someone got the bright idea of shredding the tires into tiny specs and pouring them onto artificial turf.

Crumb rubber essentially acts as dirt, filling in the spaces between the blades of artificial grass. It takes 20,000 to 30,000 used tires to provide the crumb rubber to cover a football field.

From ABTurf Industry Bolsters Defense of Crumb Rubber Safety

Recently, questions have been raised about its safety. Some say soaring rates of cancer among soccer goalies are the result of playing on crumb rubber fields.

The science is far from settled, but the question got the attention of Brad Hobbs, who chairs Norfolk Christian's board of trustees. He was doing research last spring as the school prepared to install a new artificial turf field for its football, soccer and lacrosse teams.

Hobbs said despite industry claims that crumb rubber is safe, the more he read, the more he was convinced otherwise.

"I don't trust big money," said Hobbs, president of Hobbs & Associates, a Norfolk-based heating and cooling company. "I especially don't trust big money represented by lobbyists. I feel like there are things that are harmful that we don't learn about until years later than we should have."

Give Norfolk Christian officials credit: When Hobbs took the issue to school officials, they didn't hesitate. Building a field without crumb rubber would cost $250,000 more than was budgeted. But they put the health of their athletes first.

Norfolk Christian purchased an organic material, composed of ground coconut husks, as infill instead. Officials also paid an additional $50,000 for padding underneath the turf intended to prevent concussions.

From ABAn Overview of Advancements in Synthetic Turf

Headmaster Dan Tubbs said that once Hobbs brought the issue to the board, it was settled. "We weren't going to do anything, even if it saved money, that could potentially harm our kids."

Hobbs said industry officials told him that Christian's field is the first in Virginia with natural infill.

"We don't know for sure that crumb rubber is harmful," said Hobbs, who has four children at Norfolk Christian. "But what if it's true?"

It's the same question every city and county in Hampton Roads should be asking as they make decisions on building or replacing fields or replenishing the crumb rubber infill.

Norfolk Christian's students and alumni are largely middle class, so spending beyond its budget wasn't an option.

When Norfolk Christian's Moore Family Field was dedicated last month, it opened without lights or stands. Those were cut to pay for the natural infill.

Norfolk Christian is still fundraising, $400,000 short of what it needs for lights and seating for 900. "We're stepping out in faith that God will provide the resources we need," Tubbs said.

For years, I never gave crumb rubber a second thought. If you've watched a Super Bowl, surely you've seen the black dots that pop up when a ball, or a receiver's head, hits the turf.

I often have to clean it off of my shoes after walking on artificial turf. It never occurred to me, as it hasn't to millions of parents, that the dots were from used tires.

Stories about cancer risks of crumb rubber began to appear nationally in 2014, when Amy Griffin, the associate head women's soccer coach at the University of Washington, voiced concerns in an NBC documentary.

Although crumb rubber contains four known carcinogens, including lead, there is no documented evidence that it causes cancer. Chemicals leach out in such small amounts that they are harmless, industry officials say.

Even so, Griffin said that she began to suspect something was wrong when two former goalies she knew got cancer in 2009. When she visited a cancer hospital in Seattle, a nurse mentioned to her that four other former goalies were being treated for cancer.

She said that's when it clicked: Goalies dive on the turf 50 to 100 times per practice. Crumb rubber gets ground into mat burns, into their clothes and sometimes are ingested through the mouth. Griffin began keeping a list of former athletes with cancer, now at more than 300, and statistically, there were are far more soccer goalies than should be.

She believes the issue needs to be studied.

In large part because of pressure from Congress, former President Obama authorized a $2 million Environmental Protection Agency study last year that will try to determine whether crumb rubber is safe. It is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

Some did not wait for the study. New York and Los Angeles halted the installation of crumb rubber fields. Norfolk Christian, meanwhile, reached out to the Catholic Diocese of Orlando as it weighed its options.

Officials in Orlando had the crumb rubber vacuumed off its fields and replaced with the coconut husks. They did so in part because of cancer concerns, but also because crumb rubber absorbs heat, a problem in Florida's searing sun.

"They told us their fields are 40 degrees cooler," Hobbs said.

Michelle Malana, a Virginia Beach real estate agent whose son, Ryan, plays on Christian's junior varsity football team, said she was relieved when she heard about the new field.

"I know they have to worry about costs," she said. "But it means a lot that they thought about the safety of our kids first."

Hobbs hopes to complete fundraising in time to install lights and stands for the fall football season.

"We're beating the streets," he said.

In the meantime, he said: "I sleep well at night. I know we did the right thing."

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Copyright 2017 The Post and Courier
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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

CONWAY - Like many college students, she needed cash.

"I dropped a summer class and I guess I'm not getting the money back," the young woman texted a friend. "My dad's going to killllll me.

"I just need that easy money, LOL."

How she hoped to do that has brought national notoriety to Coastal Carolina University and its cheerleading squad. Her messages came to light recently amid a police investigation of the team members, some of whom were paid to go on dates with men they called "sugar daddies."

Cheerleaders would get between $100 and $1,500 a pop. Shopping sprees were sometimes thrown in, as long as the cheerleaders modeled their new clothes.

Laid out in an anonymous letter from a "concerned parent," those accusations and suggestions of prostitution, wild partying and drug use prompted the squad's suspension late last month. The swift action fell in line with the university's handling of other allegations of institutional misconduct in school groups.

But team members and their attorney called the allegations outlandish and criticized the school's response as hasty. The escort service was legal, they added. Some drew comparisons to the Duke University lacrosse team that was suspended a decade ago over false rape charges.

Text messages and interviews with current and former cheerleaders helped university police uncover the money-making effort. At least 11 of them knew about the service, according to an investigative report obtained through a S.C. Freedom of Information Act request. At least four took part.

The documentation gave no evidence of the more salacious claims. The students insisted that no sexual acts occurred, and the paperwork does not indicate whether they represented themselves as Coastal Carolina cheerleaders. It's also unclear whether younger squad members were pressured to take part, an allegation that posed hazing concerns.

About 10,000 students, mostly from the Palmetto State, attend the liberal arts school 10 miles from the beach. Tuition and housing runs in-state students about $20,000 annually.

Tucked away in the small city of Conway, Coastal didn't have much of a national profile until recently. That changed when its Chanticleers baseball team won the College World Series last year, and alum Dustin Johnson became the PGA Tour's top golfer in February. Johnson often wears teal, the primary school color.

As the recent allegations revealed, Coastal isn't immune to the risky behavior creeping onto campuses nationwide. Escort websites have come into favor among college students with bills to pay. A magazine four years ago reported that nearly 50 percent of one site's users looking to be paid for dates were students.

As colleges nationwide often struggle to deal with allegations of risky or criminal behavior, including sex assaults, advocates and student conduct experts said a prompt suspension of the Coastal cheerleaders might have been appropriate until investigators can pin down the details.

"If a parent is filing a complaint, there's probably a good reason," said Susan Lipkins, a New York psychologist and author of "Preventing Hazing." "It's probably deeper and more complicated than anyone has acknowledged so far. And when you have that potential dangerous activity, you have to stop it immediately."

But to an attorney for five cheerleaders, the university's handling of the episode and its release of unsubstantiated assertions unfairly painted team members as prostitutes.

The lawyer, Amy Lawrence of Myrtle Beach, and the cheerleaders questioned whether male athletes benefit from a double standard while women are punished. She cited various criminal accusations over the years at Coastal that didn't prompt a team's suspension.

"This goes to the heart of what is wrong with the university and its inadequate treatment of women," Lawrence said in a statement. "A lot of really wonderful, kind, smart women have been smeared."

This has been an issue elsewhere as well. At Baylor University, for example, 31 football players were said to have committed 52 rapes but stayed on the field, a lawsuit alleged earlier this year.

Coastal officials pointed to rules governing the cheerleading team, which is considered an athletics program but not an official sport. Cheerleaders, who don't get paid for their efforts, are university ambassadors, the policies state, and breaking the regulations can bring an unexplained dismissal.

"Everyone knows you are a cheerleader," they explain. "Wear the hat at all times."

Mona Prufer, a university spokeswoman, said the school was still investigating.

"The university... has an interest in upholding its educational mission and its code of ethical conduct," she said.

Last week, students sauntered between classes on the 600-acre campus, passing gurgling fountains, blooming flowers, chirping birds and brick buildings.

Many fretted more about surviving the final month of coursework than about the cheerleaders' plight. At the student union - its main hall lined with banners emblazoned with the words tradition, integrity and excellence - participants in a research competition stood next to posters on topics like microplastics in the ocean and the ethics of declawing cats.

Many students expressed skepticism of the allegations.

"They're cheerleaders. They're just wilder," junior Lontay Greene said. "But it's kind of sad to make them all look bad for something they're not all doing."

Greene wondered if the same fate would befall a national title-holding varsity squad.

"If the baseball team burned down a church," he said jokingly, "they'd be on the field the next day."

'Shrug it off'

The parent's March 8 letter was sent to the university's president, David DeCenzo, insisting on punishment for long-standing problems.

"The CCU cheerleaders should be representing your university in a positive way," it stated. "They should feel honored."

But the letter alleged that some were paying other students to do their homework, using phony identification to get alcohol, buying drinks for underage cheerleaders, posting half-naked pictures on social media and working at strip clubs.

They tried to recruit other cheerleaders to become strippers or escorts by "flaunting" their cash proceeds and gifts.

In the weeks after a March 13 meeting between school officials and cheerleading coaches, a campus Department of Public Safety investigator deemed some allegations to be true.

The cheerleaders, the report stated, said they used fictitious names to set up dates through SeekingArrangement.com. The website comes with a smartphone application and boasts 10 million members, including "sugar babies" looking to be pampered with fine dinners and exotic trips as their sponsors - "daddies" and "mammas" - enjoy the "beautiful" company.

But sex wasn't part of the deal, the report stated.

"I know everyone knows and they just shrug if off," a former cheerleader said in text gathered during the probe. "For people who think very highly of themselves, have more self-respect."

'We get a rush'

Two women reported getting $100 for dates.

One worked as a "shot girl" at Thee DollHouse, a Myrtle Beach strip club, and was offered $800 to escort someone to a steakhouse.

Two cheerleaders drove to North Carolina, each getting $1,500 for a rendezvous. An earlier shopping excursion with the same man netted one of the women shoes, clothes and a Michael Kors purse.

"They spent the night," the report stated, "but there was nothing sexual."

In arranging an August meeting, one woman told another that a client would give them $500.

"He was like... 'I'll give you money on top of that (for shopping) but only if you model what you buy,'" a text said. "And I was like, 'Yeah, that's cool.'"

But the women also talked about getting marijuana from the man and selling it for $275 an ounce.

"Hell yeah," one texted.

"Literally."

Participants in a text conversation spoke of getting "sugar daddies lined up" last July.

But some called the scheme "scary.""It's gross," one said, "because I wonder if my dad does this kind of stuff."

The money was good, though.

"We get a rush," one said.

'Completely legal'

Word of the school's probe prompted a group text message March 28 in which cheerleaders were urged to delete escort applications from their cellphones and quit their strip club jobs.

"If they find out we are in violation," it said, "they will be kicking people off."

That came the next day. Athletics officials went to a practice and announced the indefinite suspension, a week before a national competition, a cheerleader said on Facebook. The team's webpage was taken down.

"This is a very difficult time for my teammates and I," she said, "as we've worked so hard to overcome the many (obstacles) the university has thrown at us."

The university has similarly handled hazing accusations against fraternities. It suspended three in 2014 over what it called "questionable" initiation procedures. Officials said they hoped to quickly stop such activity before completing an investigation.

Jill Creighton, president of the Association of Student Conduct Administration, said different schools handle such probes differently. Some, seeking to halt potentially dangerous behavior, might suspend a group without a probe's findings.

Some govern conduct only on campus while others "say you're a student no matter where you are," Creighton said.

"Codes of conduct... set the rules of behavior for the community," she said. "They're trying to balance proactive education with the proper response."

'Hope it's not true'

On a recent day, a campus tour guide led a group past the Edward Singleton Building, which houses Coastal's administration.

"Most students never go in there unless they did something super-good or something that's not so good," she said. "Let's hope if you go in there, it's for something super-good, OK?"

Prospective students chuckled.

Cooper McCoy caught a shuttle bus nearby. The education major said the university had been trying to dispel a stigma as a party school near the beach.

"Then this allegation comes out," he said. "I hope it's not true."

Many students envisioned cheerleaders, like other college-goers, doing whatever they can to scrape by.

Jessica Bradwell, a sophomore, chatted with friends near the Road Rooster, a food truck that sells shrimp stir fry for $6.79.

"I know some people here who don't have enough money to buy meals," she said.

On a bridge to the business school, freshman Teryn Jenkins gazed at the turtles flapping in the water below.

"You're paying a lot to go to college," he said. "You gotta do what you gotta do."

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

Antonio Mercado might be one of the last three-sport athletes.

He definitely is one of the first three-school athletes.

In an era of increasing specialization, Mercado is probably South Jersey's most versatile athlete. He is surely the most colorful.

Mercado doesn't just suit up for a different team in the fall, winter, and spring. He represents a different school in each season.

"It's a lot of fun," Mercado said. "The best part is, you get to meet different people in different environments."

Mercado, a burly junior, attends Pennsauken Tech. He plays baseball for the Tornados, serving as catcher, cleanup hitter, and team leader, according to coach Rob Bryan.

Mercado wears maroon and gray in the spring.

Mercado wrestles for Camden. He was the Panthers' top grappler last season, advancing to the state tournament in Atlantic City and just beginning to tap into his potential, according to coach Sandy Thame.

Mercado wears purple and gold in the winter.

Mercado plays football for Woodrow Wilson. He was one of the Tigers' top offensive and defensive linemen, according to coach Preston Brown.

Mercado wears black and orange in the fall.

"It keeps me busy," Mercado said. "But I like it. It's very adventurous. It challenges you to play different sports for different schools and get along with different people."

Mercado is a top player in all three sports, excelling in football and wrestling in particular.

He is able to play sports for three different schools under NJSIAA rules. Woodrow Wilson is the public school in his district, so he is allowed to play football for the Tigers because Pennsauken Tech doesn't field a football team.

And since Pennsauken Tech and Woodrow Wilson don't have a wrestling team, Mercado is allowed to compete for Camden, the public school in his district that offers the sport.

"It's really something special," Pennsauken Tech athletic director Alice Conley said. "We're all so proud of him."

Brown said Mercado will be a scholarship player in football. He was an offensive guard and defensive tackle for the Tigers and also served as the team's long-snapper.

"Antonio is the definition of force: mass times acceleration," Brown said. "We call him '52 pick-up' because every time he pulls at guard he knocks someone down. He is unblockable [on defense], super quick out of his stance, and one of best long-snappers in the area."

Mercado said his football experience is among his most interesting, especially since Woodrow Wilson plays against Camden on Thanksgiving Day. In that game, he competes against future wrestling teammates.

"One day they're my enemies, and the next day they're my friends," Mercado said of Camden athletes. "I'm their friendly enemy."

Mercado said wrestling might be his favorite sport because of the challenge of competing by himself in the circle against athletes who often tower over him and outweigh him as well.

Competing in the 285-pound weight class, Mercado was 22-8 as a junior, taking second in District 27 and third in Region 7. He advanced to the state tournament and won three bouts in Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall, just missing a spot on the podium as one of the state's top eight wrestlers in his weight class.

"Wrestling shows what I am really made of," Mercado said. "It shows my mind-set, that I'll never quit. I went to Atlantic City, and I'm like 5-9 and I was competing against guys who were 6-foot, 6-2, and have a lot of pounds on me, and I showed I could do it."

Thame said Mercado missed some time early in the wrestling season with a back ailment, but was among South Jersey's top grapplers by March.

"He did an absolutely fantastic job," Thame said. "Everything we asked him to do, he did. And he got better and better. To go to Atlantic City and win three times and just miss getting on the podium, that tells you how good he was. And he's only going to get better."

Mercado's biggest impact on the baseball field so far this season has been as a leader, according to his head coach.

"He doesn't get a chance to work on his swing the rest of the year," Bryan said. "So he's still smoothing that out. It'll come. He hit a couple of home runs for us last year.

"The best thing about Antonio is his leadership, and that's something that we really need with a young team. He's vocal, positive, a player the younger guys can look up to."

Mercado lives in the Cramer Hill section of Camden. He attended East Camden Middle School.

Mercado said he decided to attend Pennsauken Tech to study carpentry. He said he hopes to someday join a carpenter's union, or perhaps run his own business.

"My dad [also named Antonio Mercado] is a union mason, and it's something that I know and like," Mercado said.

Mercado said he loves wearing a different set of colors every season. He said he loves being a Tiger in the fall, a Panther in the winter, and a Tornado in the spring.

"It's a cool experience," Mercado said. "Every season, I get to meet a different group of people."

panastasia@phillynews.com

@PhilAnastasia

philly.com/jerseysidesports

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

 

WASHINGTON - When not furrowing their collective brows about creches and displays of the Ten Commandments here and there, courts often are pondering tangential contacts between the government and religious schools. Courts have held that public money can constitutionally fund the transportation of parochial school pupils to classes -but not on field trips. It can fund nurses at parochial schools - but not guidance counselors. It can fund books - but not maps. Daniel Patrick Moynihan wondered: What about atlases, which are books of maps? On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will consider the constitutional significance of this incontrovertible truth: "A scraped knee is a scraped knee whether it happens at a Montessori day care or a Lutheran day care."

That assertion is in an agreeably brief amicus brief written by Michael McConnell, a Stanford law professor specializing in church-state relations. He requires just 13 pages to make mincemeat of Missouri's contention that a bit of 19th-century bigotry lodged in its constitution requires it to deny shredded tires to Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, which runs a preschool.

Missouri's Department of Natural Resources, which has a capacious conception of natural resources, runs the Scrap Tire Program. It enables playgrounds to replace gravel and dirt with a rubber protective surface that is kinder to the knees of the devout and heathens alike.

The department refused the church's request for a $20,000 grant, citing this from the state constitution: "No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion." Trinity Lutheran says the state is abridging its First Amendment right to the "free exercise" of religion and denying the 14th Amendment guarantee of "equal protection of the laws."

Both sides agree that the U.S. Constitution poses no impediment to Missouri giving a grant to Trinity Lutheran. The question for the Supreme Court is whether Missouri can demand an even stricter separation of church and state. Can it exclude an otherwise eligible entity from a generally available public benefit - a benefit serving a completely separate purpose (see above: knees) - simply because the entity is religious?

Missouri's constitutional language is a Blaine Amendment, named for the Republican Speaker of the House and 1884 presidential nominee James G. Blaine. Protestants resented Catholic immigrants founding parochial schools that taught Catholicism as forthrightly as public schools taught Protestantism with prayers, hymn singing and readings from the King James version of the Bible. Each public school was, in Horace Mann's approving words, a "nursery of piety" - Protestant piety.

Hoping that anti-Catholicism would propel him into the presidency, in 1875 Blaine unsuccessfully proposed amending the U.S. Constitution to stipulate that no public money could go to schools "under the control of any religious sect." But 37 states put versions of his amendment into their constitutions, and Congress required its inclusion in the constitutions of states entering the union.

Even if, as Missouri implausibly insists, its constitution's language, which was enacted in - wait for it - 1875, was unrelated to anti-Catholic animus, the language is nevertheless incompatible with the Supreme Court's Establishment Clause jurisprudence. Splitting and re-splitting judicial hairs over the years, the Supreme Court has produced a three-part test: A statute pertaining to contact between government and religion does not constitute establishment of religion if the statute has "a secular legislative purpose" (again: knees), it neither advances nor inhibits religion, and it does not involve "excessive government entanglement with religion."

Practices during the Founders' era demonstrate, McConnell argues, that "including religious groups in neutral public benefit programs was not viewed as an establishment." And: "Shredded tires have no religious, ideological, or even instructional content... a rubberized playground is existentially incapable of advancing religion."

Missouri cites, in defense of its practice, an utterly inapposite case in which the Supreme Court upheld a state's refusal to fund students seeking degrees in devotional theology, even though it funded degrees in secular subjects. This involved entirely different issues than Missouri denying an organization access to a public safety benefit simply because the organization is religious. Spreading shredded tires beneath a jungle gym hardly (in the Supreme Court's language) "intentionally or inadvertently inculcates particular religious tenets." And Missouri's denial of this benefit is, McConnell writes, "the clearest possible example of an unconstitutional penalty on the exercise of a constitutional right," the free exercise of religion.

"The religious status of the Trinity Lutheran day care bears not the slightest relevance to the purpose of the state's program." Which pertains to knees.

George Will writes for the Washington Post. His syndicated column appears Sundays and Thursdays.

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Copyright 2017 Richmond Newspapers, Inc.
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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

Metropolitan areas across the United States have shelled out billions of dollars for gold-plated cathedrals to big men in tights.

Talk of a new ballpark for Richmond has all but disappeared in the past few months. Former Mayor Dwight Jones' plans for one imploded, and his successor, Levar Stoney, has trained his focus on the nuts and bolts of local government that Richmond has too long ignored: public safety, sidewalk maintenance, leaf collection.

This is a good thing. To see why, look north to Hartford, Conn.

A recent story in The Wall Street Journal lays out the unfortunate details. Hartford looks somewhat like Richmond: One third of its 124,000 residents live in poverty, and its unemployment rate is twice the state average. The city also has been wrestling with financial difficulties.

Despite that, Hartford has built a new stadium for the AA-level ball club, the Yard Goats, and issued $68.6 million in bonds to do so - even though Dunkin' Donuts paid an undisclosed, but no doubt pretty, sum for the stadium naming rights.

Mayor Luke Bronin has said the park by itself cannot recoup the investment. The city hopes ancillary development nearby will do so: There had been talk of a $350 million mixed-use development - shops and apartments and so on, you've heard it all before. But the development has not materialized.

Richmond's poverty and unemployment numbers look better than Hartford's. But under Jones the city maxed out its credit card; there's almost no debt capacity left. Jones' vision for a new ballpark also relied heavily on ancillary development, both in Shockoe Bottom, where the park was to have been built, and on the Boulevard, where the old ballfield was to have been torn down to make way for "a gleaming, 60-acre complex of apartments, retail stores, restaurants, entertainment and office buildings," as a Times-Dispatch news story put it.

Yet The Diamond still stands, as it has ever since the Richmond Braves left town in a snit almost a decade ago because they weren't getting a new stadium. The Braves ended up in Gwinnett, Ga., which built them the citadel they wanted. "We anticipate it paying for itself from Day One," said the county manager at the time.

Well. As in Hartford, the project ran into cost overruns, and the county had to move $19 million from general-fund revenue to cover the hole. The stadium has been a disaster since its first year, when parking revenue came in at a mere 15 percent of projections.

"Seven years into the experiment that is the Gwinnett Braves," reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2015, "the numbers make it clear: The county built it. They have not come." Coolray Field has the second-lowest attendance in its league. Just like Hartford, Gwinnett hoped the stadium would provide the catalyst for new development nearby. It hasn't happened.

"None of the planned shops or restaurants has materialized," according to the AJC. And the bond payments for the stadium are bigger than the revenue it brings in. Gwinnett has had to take money meant for other functions to subsidize its money pit.

A fluke? Hardly. Last year, in a story headlined "The Braves Play Taxpayers Better Than They Play Baseball," Bloomberg Businessweek reported on the way the Braves organization has turned public investment by others into its own private profit:

"Over the last 15 years, the Braves have extracted nearly half a billion in public funds for four new homes, each bigger and more expensive than the last. The crown jewel, backed by $392 million in public funding, is a $722 million, 41,500-seat stadium for the major league club set to open next year in Cobb County, northwest of Atlanta. Before Cobb, the Braves built three minor league parks, working their way up the ladder from Single A to Triple A. In every case, they switched cities, pitting their new host against the old during negotiations. They showered attention on local officials unaccustomed to dealing with a big-league franchise and, in the end, left most of the cost on the public ledger. Says Joel Maxcy, a sports economist at Drexel University: 'If there's one thing the Braves know how to do, it's how to get money out of taxpayers.'"

The Braves aren't the only team to have made a business model out of bilking the taxpayers. Many - even most - sports franchises do it. Metropolitan areas across the United States have shelled out billions of dollars for gold-plated cathedrals to big men in tights. The cost of the new stadium for the Detroit Red Wings alone now stands in excess of $730 million, roughly a third of which will come from special taxes.

The money might buy the locals some hometown pride. But it doesn't buy them much of anything else: More than two decades of academic research on the subject find that stadiums produce almost no economic benefit.

As two experts who reviewed the literature, Dennis Coates and Brad Humphreys, put it a couple of years ago: "Economists reach the nearly unanimous conclusion that 'tangible' economic benefits generated by professional sports facilities and franchises are very small; clearly far smaller than stadium advocates suggest and smaller than the size of the subsidies." (And remember: Economists are almost never unanimous about anything.)

Richmond's debate over a new stadium has waxed and waned ever since the Braves left. Right now it is lying dormant. Given what we've learned about the experience in Gwinnett and elsewhere, it should probably stay that way.

bhinkle@timesdispatch.com(804) 649-6627Twitter: @ABartonHinkle

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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

A day after Major League Soccer suspended Colorado goalkeeper Tim Howard for an altercation with a fan, the MLS Players Union questioned security at Sporting Kansas City's stadium.

On Friday night the league suspended Howard for three games for profane language directed toward a fan during a Rapids' game at Kansas City last Sunday, as well as an altercation with a fan following the match. The Rapids lost 3-1. .

The longtime U.S. national team star, who formerly played with Manchester United and Everton in the English Premier League, also was fined by MLS.

"While this is out of character for Tim, we do not condone these actions," the Rapids said in a statement after the discipline was imposed. "We accept the league's decision and look forward to moving past this. The incidents that took place during our match at Sporting Kansas City last weekend do not represent the Colorado Rapids Soccer Club or Tim's character and beliefs, on and off the pitch."

But on Saturday the players' union said it was disappointed at how the situation was handled by MLS and suggested security at Children's Mercy park was not adequate.

"Following the incidents, which involved a verbal exchange with a fan, as well as an altercation after the game, Tim acknowledged his culpability and responsibility for his role," the union said in a statement. "However, he is the only one involved to do so."

The union cited the league's Fan Code of Conduct, which prohibits disorderly behavior including verbal abuse, and said there were no repercussions for Kansas City fans during the game.

"The security provided by the league and Sporting Kansas City was wholly inadequate to protect players and fans," the union statement said. "As Tim was attempting to leave the field, a fan with alcohol in hand was able to come within two feet of him on field level and aggressively scream obscenities in his face. That is unacceptable behavior anywhere and is not something that players, or anyone, should be subjected to in their workplace."

Sporting Kansas City did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Rapids were scheduled to host Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. Zac MacMath is expected to replace Howard in goal for Colorado.

A day after Major League Soccer suspended Colorado goalkeeper Tim Howard for an altercation with a fan, the MLS Players Union questioned security at Sporting Kansas City's stadium.
 
April 17, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

Palm Beach Gardens High School's longtime athletic director has been removed from the school after becoming a subject of a child sexual-exploitation investigation, according to school district officials and court records.

Bill Weed — a teacher, cross-country coach and the school's athletic director since 2006 — was pulled from campus more than a month ago as city police launched a criminal probe targeting Weed, officials say.

Court records show that Palm Beach Gardens police searched Weed's home at PGA National this past month as part of an investigation into suspected video voyeurism and possession either of images or electronic depictions of a minor engaged in sexual activity, court records show. Both crimes are felonies.

Weed, a school district employee for more than 20 years, has not been arrested or charged with a crime. Multiple attempts to reach him for comment Friday were unsuccessful.

A Palm Beach Gardens police spokesman confirmed that Weed, 50, was the subject of an active investigation but declined to elaborate on the allegations against him, saying the probe was incomplete.

The veteran track and cross country coach has been placed on alternate assignment but remains employed as the investigation continues, a school district spokeswoman said.

A county circuit judge approved a warrant March 7 to search Weed's residence, a rental home in a gated community in PGA National, and seize computers and electronic devices belonging to him. Police retrieved photos, videos and cellphone applications, court records show.

School district spokeswoman Kathy Burstein declined to say when Weed was removed from the school, but a coach at the school told The Palm Beach Post that he vanished from campus in late February.

School administrators appointed a new acting athletic director, Karen Hart, at that time but provided no explanation for the sudden change.

"This is pretty shocking to me," the coach said.

Weed also taught math and was a prominent figure on campus, one who used to work as an announcer for the school's football games.

Principal Larry Clawson confirmed that Weed had been removed from the school but declined to comment further. He made a pre-recorded telephone call to parents Friday morning, saying that an unidentified staff member was involved in an off-campus situation and a law-enforcement investigation was taking place.

Clawson stressed to parents that the person was no longer at Palm Beach Gardens High or at any other county school.

Staff writer Julius Whigham II contributed to this story. amarra@pbpost.com Twitter: @AMarraPBPost ohitchcock@pbpost.com Twitter: @ohitchcock jwagner@pbpost.com Twitter: @JRWagner5

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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

College football's offseason will look different going forward.

The NCAA's Division I Council, which Miami Athletic Director Blake James chairs, approved changes Friday that included an early signing day in December and the addition of a 10th assistant coach.

Additionally, the NCAA took steps to let recruits take official visits as juniors and keep colleges from luring recruits by hiring their prep coaches. Two-a-days are no longer, and the satellite camp era appears to be over.

"I think what we did was a great step forward for the future of college football," said James, who was among those who passed the package in a 14-1 vote.

Going over the changes:

Early signing period

When: effective Aug. 1

What it means: Essentially adds a December "signing day" to the familiar, frenzied version on the first Wednesday in February. In a three-day period before Christmas, players can end the recruiting process early. Colleges can lock in players and focus elsewhere.

It's something recruits "wanted and will take advantage of," James said. "I would be surprised if it's not in December. I think that's at least that's where we'll start. "

Recruits can and do make "verbal commitments" to schools all the time, but they are not binding for either player or program. A pledge becomes official when they sign a letter of intent.

10th assistant coach

When: Jan. 9, 2018, the day after the national championship game

What it means: The NCAA allows 14 staff members to do hands-on coaching: the head coach, nine assistants and four graduate assistants. They can spend a limited amount of time with players, too. Programs can have other staff members, but they can't go on the road to recruit. Only a head coach and his assistants can. Thus, the addition of a 10th assistant coach helps with teaching, but even more so, recruiting.

How might Miami use a 10th assistant? UM's current staff includes three coaches pulling double duty: Offensive coordinator and running backs coach Thomas Brown, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Manny Diaz and tight ends and special teams coach Todd Hartley. Head coach Mark Richt calls plays and oversees quarterbacks, though his son, Jon, holds the title of quarterbacks coach.

Junior official visits

When: Aug. 1

What it means: From April 1 to the last Wednesday in June of their junior year, a prospect can take official visits -- as in, paid by the school . The limit of five still exists; James said the junior-spring visits will count against the limit of five in the period beginning Aug. 1 of their senior year. Official visits can't happen in conjunction with a recruit's participation in an on-campus camp.

'Too close' rule

When: immediately

What it means: Adopted by men's basketball in 2010, this rule prevents FBS schools from hiring "people close to a prospective student-athlete" for a two-year period "before and after the student's anticipated and actual enrollment at the school." Some college coaches publicly opposed the rule, which would deter them from hiring high school coaches as support staff.

Two-a-days banned

When: immediately

What it means: After passing a rule that allowed football to begin its preseason a week earlier, the NCAA said schools may no longer have two contact practices on the same day. The reason: player safety.

No satellite camps

When: immediately

What it means: A limitation of time for FBS coaches to participate in summer camps -- 10 days in June and July -- but essentially a ban on satellite camps, since it requires said camps take place on a school's campus or in facilities regularly used by the school for practice or competition. Staff members with football-specific responsibilities are subject to the same restrictions. FCS schools can have all of June and July to run their camps.

Hard cap on signees

When: effective for recruits who sign after Aug. 1

What it means: FBS schools can sign no more than 25 players per year. Exceptions include walk-ons added on scholarship after being enrolled for at least two years. Also, if a school wants to give a scholarship to a current or incoming player who "suffer(s) an incapacitating injury," it won't be penalized. This is a measure to end "oversigning."

mporter@pbpost.com Twitter: @mattyports

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Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

Gov. Jim Justice and one of his top aides denied on Thursday allegations that Justice has privately tried to shake up Marshall University's football coaching staff and athletic department.

Nick Casey, the governor's chief of staff, confirmed that Justice met with five members of the school's board of governors on March 28, but he said the governor did not pressure them to oust head football coach Doc Holliday and to hire his longtime friend, and former Herd coach, Bobby Pruett.

"He told them that Marshall was starting to sag, that they were losing their research, they're down in funding, down in athletics and they're getting to be inconsequential, Casey said. "He said if they don't turn it around, they would become like a community college.

The Gazette-Mail reported Thursday that a source said Justice asked Marshall President Jerome Gilbert during a December meeting to fire Holliday and hire Pruett. Then in the March meeting, the source said, Justice asked members of the board of governors to fire Holliday, Gilbert and Athletic Director Mike Hamrick. The source asked to remain anonymous.

Casey did not comment on what Justice and Gilbert talked about in the December meeting.

As Justice campaigned last year to be the Democratic nominee for governor, Pruett appeared in a commercial supporting him and was at his side at numerous campaign stops.

Casey's denial came immediately after a theatrical news conference where Justice vetoed the Legislature's plan to balance the state's budget, during which Justice compared the plan to a pile of bull excrement, complete with a real prop. Justice, surrounded by aides, rushed out of the Capitol Rotunda where the news conference was being held, and did not open himself up to questions from the crowd of reporters there.

Casey said he was with the governor during the meeting with the board members in March. After it concluded, Casey said, the five board members went by themselves to a private room to discuss the meeting.

Casey said nothing Justice said during the meeting could be taken to mean that he wants the board to fire the three men, but that he asked the board members to "pick up their game.

"There's no way to misconstrue what the governor said to the board members, unless they don't understand English, Casey said.

Speaking to more than one television news show Thursday evening, Justice said he didn't call for Holliday to be replaced by Pruett and characterized reports alleging he did as "silliness.

"What I was trying to do was address many facets of what we ought to do. It broke my heart to watch us with Western Kentucky [University] on TV and the stands - with two people in the stands. I'm a guy that speaks my mind, Justice told WOWK. "They are the people who make the decisions. I'm too smart to say, I'm going to withhold funding,' or, I'm going to give you more funding.' It's crazy.

When Marshall faced the WKU Hilltoppers in November, it lost 60-6.

When Pruett was at Marshall, Justice said, the program was in its glory days. Pruett's 1999 team, led by quarterback Chad Pennington, finished 12-0 and ranked 10th in both major polls following the season.

Pruett was 94-23 in nine seasons at MU, from 1996-2004. The "nine is critical to those who believe he is worthy of the College Football Hall of Fame - it takes a minimum 10 seasons for a head coach to be so honored.

On the eve of 2005 spring practice, Pruett resigned his position, simply saying, "It's time. Among the theories at the time was his frustration with the administration over facility improvements, but he never publicly stated his reason.

Pruett famously campaigned for Marshall to leave the Mid-American Conference for Conference USA, which happened beginning in the 2005-06 academic year, and to play West Virginia University in football, which happened from 2006-12. But Pruett did not stick around to participate in any of that.

His tenure was tinged - some say tainted - by an NCAA investigation into academic fraud and improper benefits to freshman nonqualifiers. Indeed, on the day after the 2001 GMAC Bowl, the NCAA announced sanctions against the program, which included reductions in scholarships. The NCAA cited MU for lack of institutional control.

MU's compliance director, David Ridpath, was reassigned shortly afterward, and felt he was a scapegoat. He sued Pruett, the university and others, in an attempt to clear his name. The case had a jurisdiction question sent to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and dragged on six years before the university settled for $200,000.

Hamrick said he is proud of how Holliday has led the team.

Holliday said the governor's alleged attempts to get him fired made him unhappy.

"I'm sad. I think it's sad, to be honest with you, sad day for everybody. That being said, I'm only concerned about this football team, and my job is to get this football team, be around these kids and love these kids and get them better and become a better football team, and that's the only thing I'm worried about.

Pruett did not return multiple calls from the Gazette-Mail.

"Athletics puts you in the news, Justice told WOWK. "Academics doesn't put you on the cover of Rolling Stone - athletics does.

Since Pruett left Marshall, Justice told the television station, the school has gotten off track. Compare that to WVU, Justice said - because of the leadership of President Gordon Gee, that school is exploding with growth.

Gilbert would not comment for this report, saying in the Gazette-Mail's initial report that he said he wants to maintain a good relationship with the governor.

In light of the newspaper's report, Marshall's faculty senate unanimously approved a resolution on Thursday asking Justice to not interfere in the board's governance nor the school's daily operations, according to Shawn Schulenberg, a member of the faculty senate.

The chairman of the school's board of governors, Wyatt Scaggs, again would not detail what the board members talked with Justice about in March. He said Thursday morning, before Justice's news conference on the budget, that he and other university officials were too concerned about whether the governor would veto the Republican spending plan.

"We're focused on the current budget situation and what additional severe cuts would mean for Marshall, said Ginny Painter, a spokeswoman for the school. "It's a critical juncture for higher education in West Virginia, and that is where we are spending our time and energy.

Had Justice not vetoed House Bill 2018, the plan that lawmakers in the House of Delegates and Senate passed last weekend, the school stood to lose more than $8 million in state funding, Gilbert said in a news release. That large of a cut would be almost half the $11.5 million the school's state funding has already been cut since 2013.

If Marshall's appropriations would be cut that much, according to the release, the school likely would need to sharply raise tuition and charge in-state students $1,000 a year to cover the cut.

"Significant cuts would have forced us to consider major restructuring of our programs and academic units, and to look at the possibility of layoffs of faculty and staff, having already eliminated 16 percent of our staff and administrative positions through attrition to deal with the budget cuts over the past few years, Gilbert said in the release. "All these things would negatively impact the quality of the education and services we can offer our students.

Staff writer Doug Smock contributed to this story.

Reach Jake Jarvis at jake.jarvis@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-7939, Facebook.com/newsroomjake or follow @NewsroomJake on Twitter.

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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

KNOXVILLE - Two former Sevier County High School basketball players are fighting to re-enroll and rejoin the team after the dismissal of aggravated rape charges filed against them amid controversy over a violent hazing by members of another basketball team.

Attorneys Patrick Looper and Patrick Slaughter have filed legal action in U.S. District Court on behalf of two high school juniors who were charged with aggravated rape last year in what court records suggest was an act of horseplay against another SCHS male student that netted the alleged victim no serious injuries.

The charges came as another rape case involving high school basketball players from Ooltewah, Tenn., was garnering headlines across the nation. The charges were quietly dropped just three months after the SCHS players were kicked out of school and off the team.

The details of the incident between the SCHS players and the alleged victim, who is not identified in any pleadings, remain largely hidden. But a transcript filed in the federal case shows the special judge who presided over the players' case concluded it was horseplay run amok.

"I don't think there was any malice intent... you all had suffered for the bad choice that was made," Special Judge Kenneth Bailey Jr. said as he approved the dismissal of the rape charges.

That transcript shows Sevier County prosecutor Rolfe Straussfogel and Brian Delius, who was representing the two boys in the criminal case, appeared before Bailey in December and announced the charges were being dropped.

He made no such statement at the secret December hearing. Bailey acknowledged the presence of the alleged victim and his parents at the hearing and lauded them for being cooperative with the state.

Part of the deal, though, was that the boys would agree to stay away from the alleged victim and to walk away from their studies and team at SCHS, the transcript showed. The Sevier County Board of Education had agreed to allow the boys to enroll at one of the county's other high schools.

Bailey later ordered all records in the case expunged. The players, through their parents, then sought to re-enroll at SCHS, where the victim was still a student.

School officials refused the request. Attorneys Looper and Slaughter filed the federal action against the Sevier County Board of Education and Superintendent Jack Parton in February to force the system to let the boys back in school and on the SCHS team.

As soon as prosecutor Straussfogel heard about the lawsuit, court records show, he told Looper he wanted a signed restraining order barring the boys from re-enrolling at SCHS.Attorney Chris McCarty, who represents the school system, fired back that the boys and their parents were trying to have their "cake and eat it, too" - agreeing not to re-enroll at SCHS as part of the dismissal of the charges against them and then suing to re-enroll.

Senior Judge Leon Jordan has already held one hearing and has set another one in May. McCarty tried to persuade Jordan to hide records about the juvenile case from the public and to hold hearings in secret, according to federal court records. Jordan refused.

The SCHS players were arrested in the September incident at the same time controversy was swirling around a violent hazing in December 2015 of a freshman Ooltewah basketball player by three older teammates at a cabin in Gatlinburg where the Ooltewah High School team was staying during a tournament. The victim in that case required emergency surgery after older teammates held him down and assaulted him with a pool cue.

Those players were convicted around the same time as the SCHS players' arrest. By then, though, the Ooltewah case was mired in a high-profile controversy over the inaction of that school's coaching staff and administrators and a perjury charge filed against a Gatlinburg detective.

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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

MARLBORO - The New England Sports Center will become one of the largest indoor ice arenas in North America when construction crews put the finishing touches on an 88,830-square-foot expansion late this summer.

Constructed on Donald Lynch Boulevard in 1994 with four rinks, the center added a fifth rink in 2005 and a sixth in 2010. The expansion will add two rinks and 110 parking spaces at the complex, which also features a pro shop, arcade and restaurant, said General Manager Wes Tuttle.

After a winter hiatus, construction crews returned to the site a few weeks ago, erected the steel frame of the building and are installing the interior walls. Crews were unable to work over the winter because the ground froze and the tie rods used to brace steel columns could not be put into the ground, said Tuttle.

"As soon as the weather broke, the steelworkers were right on the job," he said.

Workers cleared trees from the 23 acres where the rinks and parking lot will be located, installed footings, plumbing and the foundation before the winter weather hit, according to Tuttle.

Tuttle initially hoped the new rinks would open late this spring, however, the weather delayed construction, pushing the opening until the end of August.

"We're going full steam ahead," he said. "We should have a building pretty quick."

Tuttle said only a few ice arenas in North America have eight rinks.

The expansion will likely increase business by 25 percent and provide additional opportunities, such as allowing more teams to play, the addition of a curling club and attracting bigger national and global hockey tournaments.

The facility will host the USA Girls National Championships next year, in part, due to the expansion, Tuttle said.

"We've got eight rinks all in one location," he said. "It's going to be a pretty unique tournament."

Tuttle said the tournament will attract thousands of players from across the country and be a boon to the city's hotels and restaurants. He estimated between 6,500 and 7,000 hotel rooms will be reserved during the tournament.

Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Susanne Morreale-Leeber last year estimated the center is responsible for the rental of about 30,000 hotel rooms each year.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

The NFL draft isn't coming to Philadelphia in two weeks just to make young men rich and snarl traffic around the Parkway.

The league says it wants to help, too.

Along with fanfare on the Parkway and high-stakes picks, the NFL said it would coordinate hospital visits, flag football clinics and funding, and partnerships with the Special Olympics, and host special honorees, including the family of an Army lieutenant from Logan who was killed in Afghanistan in 2011.

The league, according to a news release, will cut the ribbon on draft week April 25 with Mayor Kenney, former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, and Anna Isaacson, the league's senior vice president of social responsibility, at Starr Garden Playground, Sixth and Lombard Streets.

"We really make sure we are working directly with the community to leave a legacy," Isaacson said Thursday. "We focus on youth health and wellness and character.

Afterward, the NFL will host a flag football clinic for students of McCall Elementary and Middle School, nearby on Seventh Street. The league is providing an unspecified grant to the School District of Philadelphia to expand and equip flag football programs.

"We just see flag football as a way to get kids active and healthy, especially if it's 60 minutes a day," Isaacson said.

Officials with the School District did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.

The NFL is also bringing a digital ";character playbook"; to city schools, beginning April 26 at Ziegler Elementary School in Oxford Circle. According to the NFL, the program is used in 29 NFL markets and helps students ";cultivate and maintain healthy relationships.";

NFL draft prospects will visit Shriners Hospital in North Philadelphia on April 26, the league said, and players and ";legends"; will visit Children's Hospital of Philadelphia on April 27, the day the draft festivities are set to begin on the Parkway.

The league says it will also conduct several flag football clinics with schools and youth groups on the Parkway as well as hold a ";play zone"; there. High school athletes from the region will take part in a seven-on-seven tournament.

On April 28, athletes from Special Olympics Pennsylvania will be coached by Eagles players when they compete in a Special Olympics Unified Flag Football game.

A Make-A-Wish recipient and patient from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital will make draft picks, along with the wife and son of Army First Lt. Demetrius Frison, who was killed by a bomb in 2011 on his first tour of Afghanistan.

Frison, a Lancaster native, grew up a passionate Eagles fan in Logan, said his mother, Louella. But it was a house divided. His father, Paul, was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and his brother, Paul Jr., rooted for the Dallas Cowboys.

";They would all be in this house hollering and screaming when the Eagles played,"; Louella Frison said. ";He was a big, big Eagles fan.";

Charter school's plan to close for NFL draft upsets some parents

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2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia: Here's everything for fans to do on the Parkway

NFL Draft 2017 in Philadelphia: All your questions answered

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USA TODAY

 

They gathered in two dugouts in Chicago this week, representing not only every component of the game but also perhaps the hope and future to help heal Major League Baseball's ongoing shortcoming: the scarcity of African-Americans playing baseball.

While baseball celebrates the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier Saturday with glorious ceremonies and a statue unveiling at Dodger Stadium, it will only camouflage the harsh reality that there are fewer African-Americans in baseball than at any other time in the last 60 years.

African-Americans comprise just 7.1% of players on this year's opening-day rosters, the lowest percentage since 1958, according to a study by USA TODAY Sports.

There are 62 African-American players among the 868 on active rosters and disabled lists. Eleven teams have no more than one African American on their roster, and the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies have none.

"That's unbelievable," says the Los Angeles Dodgers' Dave Roberts, who with the Washington Nationals' Dusty Baker are baseball's only African-American managers. "You ask yourself, 'Why is this happening?'"

There are a litany of reasons why the African-American population in MLB has dwindled from 17.2% in 1994, according to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), but there are signs of optimism. Six of the top 30 prospects in this year's draft, according to ESPN and MLB.com, are African American -- including perhaps the top three picks. Five of the top 12 high school prospects, Baseball America reports, are African American.

Baseball also is starting to see results from the millions of dollars it has poured into youth programs, urban initiatives and showcases. This will be the third consecutive year that an alumnus from the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program and Breakthrough Series will be selected among the top five picks, with Los Angeles high school pitcher Hunter Greene likely one of the the first two players chosen.

Yet if baseball really wants to make inroads, there's no reason to look any further than five men in uniform this week during the Dodgers-Chicago Cubs series.

You had an African-American manager in Roberts, who could not even get an interview from his own team in San Diego but became the National League manager of the year in 2016.

You had Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward, a childhood prodigy out of Atlanta who is the highest-paid position player among African-American players.

You had Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr., one of only 13 African-American pitchers in all of baseball and one of five relievers.

You had Dodgers first-base coach George Lombard, the grandson of the former dean of Harvard, whose mother marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in the Civil Rights movement.

And you had Andrew Toles, who two years ago was making $7.50 an hour working in the frozen foods section of a grocery store in Peachtree City, Ga., and is now the Dodgers' starting left fielder.

These five might be young, but they will embrace the challenge of ushering in a new generation of African-American players and managers.

"I'd love to make a difference," says Edwards, 25. "I actually love being a minority in this game as one of the few black pitchers. I know everybody wants to hit homers and be on the field making great plays, but I love pitching. You're the center of attention.

"In my hometown (Prosperity, S.C), I see all of these kids wearing No.6 on social media like me. Hopefully, by them watching more, more minority kids will want to become pitchers, too."

Just 1.5% of all players in the game today are African-American pitchers, and, according to Mark Armour's research with SABR, there are 10 times as many Latino pitchers as African Americans.

Toles, the son of former NFL linebacker Alvin Toles, was released by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2014, but after being out of the game for a year he made the meteoric rise from Class A to the Dodgers.

"It's tough to get where I'm at obviously, and when you're an African American, depending on your upbringing," Toles says. "But the way I was raised, I'm not a quitter. Once I start something, I finish it. I definitely consider myself a role model now."

Says Roberts: "I think a lot of young African-Americans can relate to him. Hopefully he can inspire others with his story."

Roberts, who had the most famous stolen base in Boston Red Sox history in the 2004 playoffs, spent 10 years as a player and five in front offices and coaching staffs. He wasn't even considered for the managerial opening of his own San Diego Padres and was considered a long shot when interviewed by the Dodgers. Yet he dazzled the Dodgers ownership and front office with his intelligence and charisma in the interview process and was hired as the club's first minority manager.

Now, he wants to help those behind him and see a greater representation of African-American managers, and minority managers, in the game. Of the 30 major league managers, 27 are white.

"I've tried to motivate and inspire these coaches who potentially have the ability to manage and hopefully get that opportunity like I did," Roberts says. "Having more African-American leaders would be a good thing in this game.

"It's like when I came up, there were so many guys you looked up to. You need veterans who have that presence and leadership that can impact a clubhouse."

The most impactful African-American leaders among position players these days are Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles, Curtis Granderson of the New York Mets, Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Dexter Fowler of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Heyward, who signed an eight-year, $184 million contract with the Cubs before the 2016 season, certainly could join that group. He is just 27 but showed leadership skills by calling a team meeting during the infamous rain delay in Game 7 of the World Series, helping the Cubs to the championship.

"I know the game is trying to get younger, and you're already seeing a trend," Heyward says, "so I think that will help with so many young, athletic guys. I'd love to make a difference, too.

"The big thing to me is we could get colleges to give more baseball scholarships. If you want to go to school and get your education, baseball is not going to pay for it. They don't have enough scholarships (111/2). So you have to play football and basketball to get a chance for a college education if you don't have the money for school.

"If we could ever change that, that would really help."

And, of course, it would be huge simply to educate kids on the benefit of playing baseball compared to football. Sure, the bus rides are long in the minors, and it might take years to reach the big leagues, if at all. But once you arrive, the average salary is about $3.5million. And, unlike football, the contracts are guaranteed.

Every single penny.

"That's the biggest thing is just educating and teaching the kids at a young age," says Lombard, who was a USA TODAY All-America high school running back in Georgia. "I think the Urban Youth Academies are outstanding, bringing the sport to some of these inner cities. There are so many great athletes that come out of Miami, where I live, but they don't grow up playing baseball because they don't think it's a cool thing to do.

"We've got to change that and tell them the benefits of playing the sport. I had seven or eight surgeries in my career, and I played 16 years. If you had one of those injuries in football, they just move on to the next guy.

"I know I want to help. I think all of us do. And I really believe we can help make a difference."

In the name of Jackie Robinson, baseball can only hope.

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New Haven Register (Connecticut)

 

NORTH HAVEN >> The controversy concerning crumb rubber synthetic turf athletic fields dominated town meetings after the Middle School Building Committee approved the construction of two of them at the new North Haven Middle School.

The school opened last fall, but the construction project continues with the finishing touches, including the two fields.

The first phase of the project, including the classrooms, was done last fall in time for the first day of school, according to Building Committee chairman Gary Johns. The first part of the second phase, including the administrative and guidance offices, music classrooms and the auditorium, was finished last month, and the second part of the second phase, including the cafeteria, kitchen, nurses office and fitness area will be done shortly.

That leaves the athletic fields.

When the project went to referendum, it included synthetic crumb rubber fields. That proposal passed, but since then, there has been a growing movement in the state by those who believe the crumb rubber fields could cause cancer in the children playing on them.

The state legislature's Planning and Development Committee recently approved a bill that would prohibit installation of crumb rubber ground cover on municipal and public playgrounds. That bill does not cover athletic fields.

While some have questioned the wisdom of installing a material that still prompts medical concerns, the town is going forward with the plans and have settled on constructing two fields made with crumb rubber, Johns said. They are expected to be completed in November, he said.

Initially, the plans called for three fields, town attorney Jeffrey Donofrio told the Board of Selectmen Thursday.

"When you do a project like this, you get budget updates at various junctures of the project, and in this case, we got a budget estimate at the end of each phase of design," he said. "The budget updates indicated that there would not be sufficient money for three athletic fields so my advice at the time based on a couple of factors was to defer the decision on the athletic fields until a good portion of the renovation was complete. I was asked questions about the fields, and my answer has always been the same -- when we know more about what we are going to have left in contingency, we'll be able to make a decision about what we are going to be able to afford."

That is the point where they are now, Donofrio said, and the decision was made to construct the two fields with lighting at a cost not to exceed $2.2 million. The material to be used is "cool fill," he said, a water-based encapsulating system that cools the field better than regular crumb rubber. One concern with synthetic fields is the temperature of the material on hot days when the rubber heats up.

"The fact that it's encapsulated gave the committee some level of comfort," he said.

But he hasn't been able to find any studies done on the safety of the material, he said, adding that safety concerns have only come up in Connecticut and in California.

"Environment and Human Health, Inc, (EHHI) is distressed to learn that the building committee of the North Haven middle school has approved a synthetic turf field with "cool fill". said Nancy Alderman, president of EHHI.

"Cool Fill" has never been independently tested, just as the crumb rubber had never been independently tested before it was put on the market as synthetic turf infill. The decision to make the athletic field a synthetic turf field is expensive at a time when resources are scarce. As well, the federal government is in the process of conducting a year-long study of synthetic turf fields infilled with crumb rubber and other infills to look at their health effects. North Haven, at the very least, should have waited until that study was completed. Environment and Human Health, Inc continues to say that there is not safer surface for students to play on than natural grass."

Ridge Road resident Hugh Davis said "I think that encasing this crumb rubber is better than not doing so, but it's still untested."

"We still don't know what this means," he said. "I think we need to err on the side of the health and safety of the children who are playing on those fields, and not worry so much about the financial aspects. Those are important but it's the health and safety that should be the highest priority."

North Haven resident Mary White also thinks "this is something we should take a moment to think about and talk about."

Davis said natural grass fields should be seriously considered, but First Selectman Michael Freda said it's too late for that.

"The Board of Education and the School Building Committee unanimously on both sides voted for this," he said, and the Board of Selectmen has no power to override that vote.

"There's been a lot of conversation (about) what is the right product. I'm concerned about it," said Second Selectman Tim Doheny said. "The town is desperate for these fields and my son, who is in middle school right now, he'll be playing on those fields. It will certainly affect my family."

He's still not sure about the safety issues surrounding the material, Doheny said. "I'm a strong proponent of the fields. I'm not saying we should sacrifice our kid's health," he said. "There's been a lot of back and forth and I haven't been 100 percent convinced."

The federal government is doing a study now on possibly dangers of crumb rubber, Third Selectman Sally Buemi said. "My initial reaction at the referendum was that folks voted in favor of project as presented, including synthetic fields, so I felt tied to following that," she said. "But if new information comes in, reasonable people do pause and have concern, and I think that's what's happening."

The controversy concerning crumb rubber synthetic turf athletic fields dominated town meetings after the Middle School Building Committee approved the construction of two of them at the new North Haven Middle School.

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The Boston Herald

 

The city of St. Louis filed a lawsuit yesterday against the National Football League over the Rams' relocation to Los Angeles, alleging the league violated its own relocation guidelines and enriched itself at the expense of the community it left behind.

The move comes 15 months after the team departed. St. Louis is joined in the lawsuit by St. Louis County and the region's sports authority. The lawsuit filed in St. Louis Circuit Court names the NFL, all 32 teams and their owners, and seeks unspecified but "extensive" damages and restitution. The NFL says there is "no legitimate basis" for the lawsuit.

The Rams moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis prior to the 1995 season, lured in part by a new taxpayer-built domed stadium. Stan Kroenke, a real estate billionaire and native of Missouri, was minority owner of the team until purchasing it outright in 2010, two years after the death of longtime majority owner Georgia Frontiere.

From ABHere's How a $985M Rams Stadium Looks — in St. Louis

The suit claims that it wasn't long afterward that Kroenke began plotting a move, despite public comments from him and team executive Kevin Demoff that the Rams hoped to remain in St. Louis for the long term.

The lawsuit notes that since St. Louis officials weren't aware a move was essentially a done deal, they spent millions developing plans for a riverfront stadium project aimed at retaining the Rams. 

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The Bismarck Tribune

 

NHL coaches have been given more technology on the bench in time for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The league is making three iPad Pros available for coaches on every bench and officials will also have them to review coach's challenges, The Associated Press has learned. All 16 playoff arenas were outfitted with the iPads and also Macs for video coaches as part of a collaboration with Apple.

This season, coaches have been able to use video monitors on the bench to help them decide when to challenge offside and goaltender interference situations. The iPads, which were tested late in the regular season, provide real-time video capabilities to show players how they're performing.

"By the time the player gets off his shift, that content is available within a minute, I guess, from the time it actually took place," NHL executive vice president and chief technology officer Peter DelGiacco said. "Today generally speaking a lot of that would be done between periods and there's a limited amount of time.... This kind of gives the coaches and the players real-time access so that they can make adjustments."

The monitors had already become a game-changer for coaches, giving them more information on challenges and for player feedback. The technology is even more valuable in the playoffs when goals are scarce and the offside and goaltender interference challenges can decide a game - or a series. The St. Louis Blues lost Game 2 to the Chicago Blackhawks last year when a coach's challenge wiped out a go-ahead goal by Vladimir Tarasenko, and even though they won the series they felt the attrition of needing seven games to advance.

"It's going to be huge in the playoffs," Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "The referees, the league wants to get it right, the coaches want to get it right."

During the season, 86 of 313 coach's challenges were successful in overturning calls. With the aid of the monitors, headsets and video coaches watching live, each team developed its own step-by-step process in deciding when to challenge a goal for goalie interference or offside and tried to perfect it.

Speed will be key as the league cracks down on coaches who dawdle before deciding to challenge.

"When you have challenges, to have the ability to quickly look at what you're doing and now they're trying to expedite it even that much more," Arizona Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "When you're in those critical moments, you've got to make that decision in a hurry. You better have somebody good back there that knows what you want to see and the ability to make the decision quick."

Having iPads in the hands of assistant coaches will provide a crucial benefit for player adjustments. Late in the season, Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan looked at film of Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray on the bench before a shootout, and coach Guy Boucher has also used the advanced technology beyond challenges.

"We look at it because sometimes we're not seeing everything that's going on on the ice," Boucher said. "It's good also for feedback with our players and, yeah, it's good for challenges and all that. I think it's been important since the beginning of the year. It helps is also between periods because instead of looking at 12 different things between periods, we might have to look at five or six, so it's quicker for us to get back to our players and tell them about adjustments because sometimes we already know a few adjustments and a lot of times we'll address it right on the bench."

David Lehanski, NHL senior VP of business development, global partnerships and sponsorship sales, said the move got done in time for the playoffs but the league would have also been OK starting next season.

"It's equal parts of us believing this truly will help the coaches and the officials and we're going to make decisions faster and more accurately and all those things and it gives us an opportunity to get a lot of feedback in from everyone who's going to be involved from a playoff standpoint and then make some refinements and enhancements leading into next season for a full league-wide deployment," Lehanski said.

The biggest impact of the technology all season has been on coaches because they can point out the exact time of a potential offside or explain to an official what they see as goaltender interference.

Trotz recalled a goaltender interference challenge earlier this season where he was able to point out how an opponent was pushing down on Braden Holtby's blocker and keeping him from being able to rotate and make the save.

"We explained it and we won it," he said.

Lehanski said the league has conversations with NFL and Major League Baseball officials about their tablets and video technology on a regular basis. The NFL has had Microsoft Surface Tablets on sidelines for the past three seasons, and now the NHL is upping its game with more changes to come in the future.

"What you see today is not what it's going to be two years from now," DelGiacco said.

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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

 

K.J. Hill had a vague recollection of the last time he wore football pants that covered his knees.

"The last time I played with pads over my knees, it was probably at my calf muscles or my ankles because I was a small little boy playing at 5 years old," the Ohio State receiver said.

The next time could come Saturday at Ohio State's spring game if Big Ten officials choose to enforce a new NCAA rule that demands the knees be covered by the pants and enclosed pads.

Big Ten supervisor of officials Bill Carollo said the rule definitely will be enforced when the regular season begins. Some actions will be tolerated, Carollo said, such as hitching up the pants a little at the line or the natural rise of the pads while running.

"The egregious ones are three or four inches above the knee," Carollo said "We're not going to let them start that way, so we have to manage it. We don't want to be the fashion police out there, but we are going to enforce that rule."

Carollo said the migration of the bottom of the pants from covering the knee, to rising to the middle of the knee, to now well above the knee primarily for many receivers and defensive backs has been obvious the past several years.

"Now they look like shorts," he said. "We don't want to have shorts there. At the same time, more importantly, it's a safety issue."

While attending Ohio State's practice on Monday during the Big Ten-Southeastern Conference diversity clinic for minority officials, Carollo said he reminded several OSU players sporting the shortened pants that officials will be enforcing the rule in the fall. Receiver Parris Campbell was one of those players.

"I kind of just shrugged it off.... I always play like this," he said, looking at his knees, which were showing, the bottom of the pants tucked up with the knee pad at the base of his thigh. "I'm not really comfortable with the kneepads actually on my knees."

Hill doesn't see it as a safety issue.

"For one thing, we receivers and corners, we're on the outside, we're not in the trenches, we're not getting hit like that," he said. "Plus, it's a swag thing."

It's not just the look.

"We feel faster when we play like that, with nothing covering your knees," Hill said. "You want to feel light as possible, so that's one of the reasons we do that."

Regardless, the style change is coming, Carollo said. "We're not going to throw the flag. We're going to send you out of the game and you will not be playing if your knee isn't covered with a pad," Carollo said. Although the violation doesn't rise to the level of horse-collar tackles or targeting hits with the helmet, "we've gotten to the point where we we've put it in that category. It's player safety. Cover (with) the kneepads."

 

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Copyright 2017 CMG Corporate Services, Inc. on behalf of itself and the Newspapers Apr 13, 2017

Palm Beach Daily News

 

Many residents made perhaps their last-ditch effort Wednesday to stop plans to build a new recreation center this summer.

They were unsuccessful. The Town Council voted 3-2 to approve eight variances and a site plan review needed to build a new 17,000-square-foot center at 340 Seaview Ave.

The vote came after more than four hours of discussion and debate about the proposal. It was essentially the final public hearing in a debate about the controversial project that has been ongoing for more than a year. Council members say they've received "massive" amounts of emails, letters and phone calls from residents both for and against the project over the last several months.

"This has been a long, arduous process but I think it's been an open and transparent process," Mayor Gail Coniglio said. "We heard the residents. We've listened carefully. I think we've worked diligently on this project. I think it should move forward."

Attorney John Randolph reminded the council members more than once to base their decisions on evidence presented at the hearing. The applicant -- the town -- had to show the "hardships" in meeting existing zoning rules in order to receive variances for height, side yard setbacks and open space.

The current center itself does not conform to town code in many ways, according to staff.

Perhaps the most significant variance granted Wednesday allows the overall height of the gymnasium to be 27 feet, 3 feet taller than the existing building and 5 feet taller than what's allowed by code.

Other variances allow shorter setbacks, signage on a scoreboard, rooftop air conditioning units and for 50.6 percent of the property to remain "open space" (the same as what exists).

Councilwoman Maggie Zeidman said the variances are "essential" and "reasonable."

"I find that this is a unique situation," she said in regards to the center being located in a residential zone. "We are applying residential code to a town building that is a recreation center. The code provisions are meant to be applied to a residential area, not a school and not a recreation center."

Attorney Maura Ziska, who presented the variance requests to the council, said a recreation center has a different use than a residence and shouldn't be held to the same standards. She also said there's a hardship because the center is surrounded by athletic fields, parking, tennis courts, a basketball court and green space that needs to remain in place.

"You have to build in a certain spot," she said.

Zeidman, Councilman Richard Kleid and Councilwoman Danielle Moore agreed. Councilwomen Julie Araskog and Bobbie Lindsay voted against the variances. Both questioned whether the variance requests met several code requirements.

"I need to make sure that we can meet the legal rights to pass this as a variance," Lindsay said.

Araskog wanted the Architectural Commission to see changes to the floor plan before the council vote. The commission approved the design last month on the condition the architect switch the location of the fitness center and staff offices. That change is scheduled to be presented to the board later this month.

Public comment

Most of the hours long discussion on the recreation center focused on topics unrelated to the variance requests -- including the cost of renovation versus new construction, the merits of a previous survey, the preservation of outdoor space and the need for an indoor gymnasium.

Several residents spoke for and against the project. Some opponents raised concerns about another project in an already construction-weary town, traffic, and whether the new center is needed based on what they call a "flawed survey."

"I don't really understand how we got where we are," Jeff Cloninger said. "The residents don't want it. The old center meets the needs of the community."

Melissa Ceriale disagreed.

"I caution you not to be overly swayed by the loudest voice. It's not necessarily the majority opinion," she said, reminding the council there was a lot of "vocal negativity" about Publix, Worth Avenue restoration and several other major projects.

-- akopf@ pbdailynews.com Twitter: @aleesekopf

Most of the hourslong discussion on the recreation center focused on topics unrelated to the variance requests.

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Copyright 2017 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

SALT LAKE CITY — A West Jordan man accused of using his phone to secretly film a young girls hockey team in a locker room has been charged with multiple counts of voyeurism.

Christian Eugene Lovendahl, 44, was charged Wednesday in 3rd District Court with six counts of voyeurism involving a minor victim, a third-degree felony; and voyeurism, a class A misdemeanor.

On Dec. 21, several girls ages 11 to 13 were playing hockey at the Steiner Aquatic Center, 645 S. Guardsman Way. After the game, the girls were in a locker room that shares a wall with an adjacent locker room, according to charging documents. At the top of the wall is metal mesh for airflow.

Some of the girls noticed what looked like a cellphone positioned on the mesh, filming from the other locker room into theirs, charges state. A couple of parents and the girls' coach were notified and found Lovendahl, according to charging documents. Police were called, and they seized the man's phone.

Investigators discovered that 14 videos had been recorded on Lovendahl's phone that day, but four of them had been deleted. Salt Lake police were able to recover three of those videos, charges state.

In one of the videos, the phone is seen being placed in the mesh area of the locker room where girls are seen taking off their pads, according to charging documents. At one point, the camera moves and a beard resembling Lovendahl's is seen, charges state.

The second video is only one second long. The third video is nearly five minutes long and shows girls "in various stages of undress, but there is no nudity," according to charging documents. Four minutes and 40 seconds into the recording, one of the girls notices the phone, charges state.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

A Republican-sponsored House bill would require North Carolina and N.C. State to withdraw from the ACC if the conference chooses to "boycott" the state.

House Bill 728 was filed Tuesday. Among the four primary sponsors is Rep. Bert Jones (R-Rockingham). The bill is in the House Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations, where bills that do not have GOP leadership support typically do not receive a hearing.

None of the bill sponsors could be immediately reached for comment Wednesday, nor could the ACC or the athletics department at N.C. State.

Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for UNC Chapel Hill, said the school will "monitor the legislation should it move forward to determine its potential impacts."

Although the bill does not mention House Bill 2, analysts and economists say HB 728 is a response to the role the NCAA and ACC played in convincing enough lawmakers to vote for a repeal of the divisive transgender restroom law.

HB 728 also says the General Assembly would have "the final authority regarding the membership status" of any UNC System member for conference affiliation. UNC and N.C. State are charter ACC members since it was formed in May 1953.

The bill could apply to other conferences as well, including the CIAA, which, like the ACC, moved games in the wake of HB 2. If passed, the bill would affect three UNC campuses that are CIAA members: Elizabeth City, Fayetteville and Winston-Salem state universities. Winston-Salem State spokesman Jay Davis said it is premature to provide comment.

"Sponsors of this bill appear to have a bitter taste in their mouths after the ACC and NCAA played an outsized role in the debate over House Bill 2," said Mitch Kokai, a policy analyst with Libertarian think tank John Locke Foundation.

"While I suspect that a large group within the General Assembly agrees that these sports organizations had no business interfering in state public policy, I also suspect that a majority of lawmakers have no strong desire to resuscitate this debate."

In the instance that a boycott occurs, universities "shall immediately provide written notice to the conference that the constituent institution intends to withdraw from the conference no later than when the assignment of its media rights expire, unless the conference immediately ends the boycott."

The bill doesn't say what would be considered a boycott.

"I think there are a lot of conferences that would love to have North Carolina, including having a national championship basketball team (UNC) join their conference," bill sponsor Rep. Mark Brody (R-Union) told The News & Observer of Raleigh. "None of the other conferences took this radical approach that the ACC did."

It was unclear Wednesday how much support the bill had. Brody said he is aware HB 728 likely would face a veto from Gov. Roy Cooper if it advances. Cooper led the Democratic effort to repeal HB 2.

"It's astonishing that a part of the legislature is willing to ruin potentially the athletic fortunes and traditions of the two flagship state institutions," said Todd McFall, a sports economist at Wake Forest University. "... Actions like this are why the phrase 'Let bygones be bygones' was created."

Zagros Madjd-Sadjadi, a WSSU economics professor, said he doesn't believe the legislature as a whole "wants to revisit this hornet's nest at this time."

In September - six months after the controversial HB 2 became law - the NCAA pulled seven neutral-site championship events from North Carolina for 2016-17, including the first and second rounds of the men's basketball tournament that were moved from Greensboro to Greenville, S.C., and the women's soccer College Cup, moved from Cary to California.

The ACC followed by removing 12 neutral-site events for 2016-17, foremost the football championship from Charlotte to Orlando, Fla., women's basketball tournament from Greensboro to Conway, S.C., and baseball from Durham to Louisville.

The CIAA moved its 2016 football championship from Durham to Salem, Va., as part of pulling eight of 10 events, although it kept its most popular events - the men's and women's basketball tournaments - in Charlotte.

Although several GOP legislators referred to the ACC and NCAA decisions as a boycott, many analysts and economists said the organizations are private businesses and can hold events wherever they choose.

Following the bipartisan-supported repeal of HB 2, with two controversial stipulations in House Bill 142, the ACC agreed the next day to consider N.C. venues again for future neutral-state championships.

The NCAA said April 4 that the repeal bill met minimal requirements for the venues to be considered for its 2018-22 hosting cycle. The NCAA is expected to announce the selected venues Tuesday.

Four HB 728 primary sponsors — Jones, Brody, Jeff Collins of Nash County and Chris Millis of Pender County — voted against repealing HB 2. Collins and Jones graduated from UNC, while Millis graduated from N.C. State.

"I don't want to hurt athletics in North Carolina," Brody said. "I just don't support this action that they've taken to go beyond athletics and legislate to us."

Brody and Millis also are primary sponsors of House Bill 328, filed March 13, which takes aim at the tax-exempt status of the NCAA and the ACC.

The bill alleges that the groups have "exceeded their respective charters by using economic retaliation against North Carolina for the purpose of forcing the General Assembly to adopt social legislation that is not connected to (the groups') core mission."

The NCAA said in a statement that "all conversations that we've had with representatives in the state have been designed to provide information about our championships process and timeline, not take positions on legislation."

HB 328 is in the House Judiciary 1 committee and has not been heard.

Richard Craver is a reporter for the Winston-Salem Journal. Contact him at (336) 727-7376 or rcraver@wsjournal.com

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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

Two Middle Tennessee State University football players at the center of an animal cruelty investigation have been suspended.

Defensive lineman Justin Akins and linebacker Shalom Alvarez, both being investigated by the Murfreesboro Police Department for alleged animal cruelty, will also work with the Rutherford County Pet Adoption and Welfare Services, the university announced in a statement Wednesday.

"The actions captured on this video are obviously disturbing," MTSU athletic director Chris Massaro said in the statement. "We welcome the inquiry by the Rutherford County Pet Adoption and Welfare Services.

"We have high expectations of conduct of our student-athletes. Coach (Rick) Stockstill has suspended these players until the inquiry is complete and they will perform community service to the benefit of local animal welfare efforts."

According to a Murfreesboro Police report from April 7, a concerned citizen reached out to detectives April 6 after seeing a Snapchat video of alleged animal cruelty.

In the video posted on Akins' account, Alvarez is seen striking a puppy four times, the report stated.

"The puppy yelps in pain with each strike," the report stated.

Additionally the post displays an extremely derogatory comment regarding failure to pay rent.

The investigation is ongoing, Murfreesboro Police spokesman Kyle Evans told The Daily News Journal.

No arrests have been made, and no charges have been filed.

Akins, a redshirt-senior, played in all 13 games last season and recorded 27 tackles and led all linemen with four pass breakups.

He's recorded 1.5 sacks over the past two seasons.

Alvarez, a redshirt-junior, joined the Blue Raiders in 2016 but did not play in any games.

Reach Aldo Amato at 615-278-5109 and on Twitter @Aldo_Amato.

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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Commissioner Rob Manfred has made his strongest comments on wanting the Cleveland Indians to eradicate their Chief Wahoo logo.

Manfred has been in talks with Indians owner Paul Dolan about abolishing the divisive symbol, which has sparked debate for decades.

In the past, Manfred has only gone as far as saying he understood why many people find the logo offensive. Now, Manfred appears to be pressuring the Indians, who have reduced Wahoo's visibility in recent years, to make more significant changes.

MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said in a statement to The on Wednesday that league officials are confident about reaching a positive resolution for the game and the club.

"Thus far, there have been productive discussions with the Cleveland Indians regarding the Commissioner's desire to transition away from the Chief Wahoo logo," Courtney said. "We have specific steps in an identified process and are making progress."

On Tuesday, protesters gathered outside Progressive Field to demonstrate against the team's usage of the red-faced, smiling logo, which has been part of the team's history dating back to the 1940s.

The Indians have decreased Chief Wahoo's profile, switching their primary logo to a block "C" several years ago. However, the symbol still appears on some of the sleeves of some of the team's uniforms and caps and the Indians have continued to sell Wahoo merchandise.

Some anti-Wahoo protesters want the team to change its nickname as well.

"We are people, not mascots, not logos, not imagery," said Carla Getz, a member of the Potawatomi Tribe. Getz was one of several dozen peaceful protesters that chanted for change on a plaza outside Tuesday's game.

Cubbies get their rings

The Chicago Cubs now have the rings to go with their historic championship.

The team was given its crowning jewels before Wednesday night's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with fans at Wrigley Field roaring as the ceremony unfolded.

Each 14-karat white gold ring has a total of 214 diamonds, three karats of red rubies and 2.5 karats of sapphires.

The top of the ring features 33 red rubies forming the team's bull's-eye logo, and the bezel features 108 round white diamonds.

Clearing the bases

Melvin Upton Jr. signed a minor league contract with the Giants and the veteran outfielder is working out at extended spring training in Arizona. Upton, 32, would likely need some games with Triple-A Sacramento before joining the Giants. He batted .238 with 20 home runs and 61 RBIs while striking out 155 times in 149 games between the Padres and Blue Jays last season. He also stole 27 bases in 35 attempts.... Phillies right-hander Clay Buchholz has a partial tear of the right flexor pronator mass and will seek a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews next week.... The Nationals placed infielder Stephen Drew on the 10-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain. To fill the roster spot, the Nats selected the contract of infielder Grant Green from Triple-A Syracuse.... Reds RHP Rookie Davis was placed on the 10-day DL with a bruised right forearm, a day after he was hit by a pitch from the Pirates' Jameson Taillon. Right-handed reliever Barrett Astin was recalled from Triple-A Louisville to take Davis' spot.... The Dodgers placed outfielder Franklin Gutierrez on the 10-day DL with a left hamstring strain. The Dodgers recalled outfielder Trayce Thompson from Triple-A Oklahoma City.... The Tigers signed first baseman James Loney to a minor league contract.... The Royals made two moves to fortify their struggling bullpen, recalling lefty Scott Alexander and right-hander Jake Junis from Triple-A Omaha. Lefty Matt Strahm was optioned to Omaha, while OF Terrance Gore was optioned to Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

SEATTLE — Two arena companies have pitched multimillion-dollar plans to remake Seattle's KeyArena into a premier entertainment venue that's ready for an NBA or NHL team.

Seattle had received two proposals ahead of Wednesday's deadline for bids to renovate the 55-year-old city-owned facility. KeyArena was the former home of the SuperSonics before the basketball team bolted for Oklahoma City in 2008.

In January, city officials sought proposals to reimagine KeyArena into a facility that attracts more music, entertainment and sports events, including a potential NBA or NHL team. Developers would be responsible for all costs for redevelopment and construction.

Los Angeles-based Oak View Group on Wednesday submitted a $564 million plan that calls for the arena to be renovated by October 2020 and ready for the following NBA or NHL seasons, the Seattle Times reported.

Another proposal comes from Los Angeles-based arena giant AEG which teamed up with Hudson Pacific Properties, a real estate development company. They say their arena will be built to attract and accommodate future NBA and NHL teams.

Both companies have secured key corporate partnerships that could help them lure a professional hockey team to the Seattle market, the Times reported.

Oak View Group has signed a contract with Delaware North, a concessionaire company owned by Jeremy Jacobs who is chairman of the NHL's board of governors.

Hudson Pacific is run by Victor Coleman, who has not hidden his desire to bring an NHL team to Seattle, KING-TV reported.

Meanwhile, investor Chris Hansen is still trying to get an arena built on land he owns near Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field, the two current pro sports stadiums in town. He has become the choice of fans who are tired of delays stalling the process as Hansen has faced opposition from some city officials and maritime interests.

A city advisory panel is expected to review KeyArena proposals and make a recommendation to Mayor Ed Murray in June. The city council would then decide whether to renovate Key-Arena or go with a separate, new arena pitched for the city's stadium district by Hansen, according to the Times.

KeyArena, which opened its doors in 1962, was last renovated in 1995. It is home to WNBA's Seattle Storm and hosts dozens of concerts and other events. It had about 570,000 visitors last year.

 

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Copyright 2017 The Buffalo News
All Rights Reserved

The Buffalo News (New York)

 

WHEATFIELD — The YMCA Buffalo Niagara applied Wednesday to the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency for up to $9.7 million in tax-exempt bonding authority to pay for construction of a new YMCA in the Town of Lockport.

"It'll be a 52,000-square-foot building on a 31-acre parcel that has endless possibilities for the future," said Matthew J. Shriver, chief financial officer of the YMCA.

The YMCA has raised $10 million in donations, but much of that came in the form of pledges, not cash, and the YMCA needs upfront capital to pay for construction, Shriver said.

If the IDA approves the bonding authority, the bonds would be a debt of the YMCA, not the IDA or the county.

The IDA board scheduled a public hearing on the bond deal for 3 p.m. May 1 in Lockport Town Hall. The board is likely to vote on the bonding authority at its May 10 meeting.

The project has a $17 million construction budget, Shriver said.

"I'm hoping that it will come in closer to $15 million," he said.

According to the YMCA's application, it intends to take out a $450,000 bank loan for the Lockport project. The YMCA also asked the IDA for a mortgage tax exemption that would save it an estimated $100,000.

Six full-time and 17 part-time employees now work at the existing Lockport YMCA. The YMCA promises to add seven full-time and 12 part-time jobs after the new facility opens.

Also Wednesday, the IDA granted a tax incentive package for the construction of a pair of 96,000-square-foot inflatable sports domes to be erected this year behind the largely vacant Summit Mall on Williams Road in Wheatfield. The domes would include fields and courts for soccer, baseball, volleyball and basketball.

The $7.3 million project is part of a major effort to revive the shopping center as a destination for local athletes and diners. The mall's owner, Zoran Cocov, a Canadian developer, also plans to build a microbrewery and pub at the mall.

The Town of Wheatfield is applying for a $750,000 state grant that would be turned over to Cocov's Big Thunder Brewing Co. as a major portion of the financing for the $3.3 million brewery and pub project.

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Copyright 2017 The Buffalo News
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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

It is going to cost twice as much for adult teams to play games on Buffalo's fields and ball diamonds this summer, and that is not going over well with some of the adults.

"In the middle of the night, without warning, the city doubled the fees," said Mike D'Amico, who runs the adult softball, kickball, soccer and co-ed touch football leagues. "We're disappointed the city never told anyone. That's not good governance."

The city raised the rental fee to use the parks to $200, from $100. The increase is not just for summer sports but for all adult sports teams that use the city's parks, said Andrew R. Rabb, deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Works, Parks & Streets.

The increase amounts to about an extra $10 per player on each team for a 12-week season, Rabb said. The extra money will help offset some of the costs associated with more activities in the city's parks.

The increase seems to be taking the fun out of the game, D'Amico said. The various summer leagues are scheduled to start play the second week in May. But the new fees have some of the teams questioning whether they will play, D'Amico said.

"We're not-for-profit. We do this just to have something fun to do," said D'Amico, who has run the adult softball league since 1996.

Last year, there were 96 softball teams, but 12 of those have left because of the increased fees, D'Amico said. He added that 32 kickball teams played last year, but 10 have not signed up yet for this season. And there are eight soccer teams, but four of them have not registered yet - all because of the fee increase, D'Amico said.

According to city officials:

· The rental fee for adult leagues has not increased in more than 20 years;

· The increase does not affect youth leagues, which do not pay rental fees to the city, and;

· The fee increase still leaves city rates cheaper than those charged by nearby suburbs.

The suburban teams may pay more money, but their parks are well-maintained and well-groomed, said Kevin Coia, a longtime player on most of the adult leagues in the city.

In Buffalo, he said, the diamonds are not taken care of, except for the ones in the Olmsted parks. The league teams play their sports at both city and Olmsted parks, but if rain comes and stops early in the day, the diamonds at Olmsted parks are fixed, raked and chalked in time for 5:30 or 6 p.m. games, Coia said. On the other hand, the parks that the city maintains are not ready in time, causing rainouts because teams can't use the diamond.

He pointed to Cazenovia and Houghton parks, which are about three minutes apart in South Buffalo, as examples. If the rain stops in the morning, Cazenovia - an Olmsted park - is ready for play by evening while Houghton - maintained by the city - won't be, he said.

"How can one park be beautiful and ready and another be in total shambles?" Coia asked.

"A lot of people are upset," he added. "If they're going to pay for more, they want to know what they're getting out of it? Why are they paying the extra money?"

Olmsted parks are city parks, and there is city staff assigned to Olmsted that maintain all of the diamonds and fields, Rabb said. However, there is some truth about the conditions of some parks, he added. Still, that largely depends on the age and condition of the park. What's more, Rabb said, his office does not cancel games. Instead, his staff contacts league representatives and reports on the conditions of fields and diamonds. Ultimately, the decision is up to the leagues.

"I would argue that our diamonds and fields are just as good as the surrounding suburbs' diamonds. Some diamonds are older and have more problems than others. Some are on lower ground and are wetter. It all has to do with location. It might take us longer to get an older diamond playable than a diamond constructed 10 years ago with proper drainage," Rabb said. "The amount of maintenance and pliability is not constant throughout all of our diamonds because of specific site restrictions, not because we're not putting in constant levels of maintenance."

The amount of revenue that the Parks Department collects from fees still does not cover the cost of maintenance citywide, Rabb said.

What's more troubling than paying more money, D'Amico said, is how the city went about instituting the fee increase.

But administration officials say the information has been posted on the city's website since last August, letting people know the new fees would take effect.

"So that way we weren't penalizing the summer and fall leagues" that played last season, Rabb said.

"It's not like we were hiding anything," he said. "If there's a positive side, we have so much stuff going on in the parks. We have so many activities taking place. We've been launching more and more things. We have a whole lot of stuff."

The fee increase will balance the costs associated with having those additional activities at the park, he said.

D'Amico said he and players from the various teams are on the agenda for the Common Council's May 9 meeting of its Finance Committee to get more information about the fee increase.

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Copyright 2017 Newsday, Inc.

Newsday (New York)

 

The operators of Brooklyn's Barclays Center are preparing a pitch to bring the Islanders back to the recently renovated Nassau Coliseum, according to Kevin Law, the president and chief executive of Long Island Association, the region's largest business group.

Law said Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which runs both Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum, will offer to make further "adjustments" to the Coliseum - such as adding seats - to address the Islanders' potential concerns.

"Over the last two months, I have met with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, Islanders owners, I've met with the county and the state," Law said. "What I just learned very recently is that BSE will be offering a plan to the Islanders to move them back to the Coliseum."

Law, who has no direct role in the Islanders' fate, is an influential advocate and business leader who frequently consults with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Long Island-related matters. Law said the presentation will be made to Islanders owners Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin when they meet soon to talk about renegotiating the 25-year license agreement with Barclays Center.

Both the Islanders and Barclays Center can opt out of the deal, and sources say both sides have 30 days after the end of the Islanders' season - which was Sunday - to trigger the start of the negotiating window, which lasts until the end of the year. Neither side has officially notified the other yet, the sources said.

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment and the Islanders declined to comment.

Previously, sources have said the owners of the Islanders and Mets and a sports arena development company backed by Madison Square Garden have had discussions about building a new hockey arena at Belmont Park.

Amy Varghese, a spokeswoman for Empire State Development, said that the state's primary business development agency is "working to finalize" a new request for proposals to develop Belmont Park.

Last year the agency scrapped proposals, including a 25,000-seat soccer stadium for the New York Cosmos, after a long-delayed, four-year process.

Law said on Wednesday that he opposes the idea of a new arena at Belmont because of what it means for the Coliseum, which opened last week following a $165-million renovation. Law also successfully advocated for an $85-million grant from the state for two parking garages that he said will free up land for medical research facilities.

"It makes no sense to build a new arena less than 10 miles away from the brand-new Nassau Coliseum," he said. He believes the two sites "should complement each other, not cannibalize each other."

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, who met with Ledecky in November to discuss the team's return to the Coliseum, declined to comment on Law's statements, but said his "administration continues to work diligently to clear a pathway for the New York Islanders to return home to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum."

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Copyright 2017 ProQuest Information and Learning
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2017 Portland Press Herald Apr 13, 2017

Portland Press Herald

 

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — North Carolina Coach Roy Williams went on SiriusXM's College Sports Nation on Wednesday morning, and he was asked about Wallace Loh's recent "death penalty" comment.

Loh is the University of Maryland president who recently said that he "would think" that the NCAA would levy the so-called "death penalty" against UNC.

North Carolina in December received a third notice of allegations from the NCAA in its protracted investigation into widespread academic fraud at the university, centered on problems in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies department.

Williams did not take kindly to Loh's comments. Here's what he said in response during his appearance on SiriusXM:

"And then we have a president that says we should get the death penalty. A president of another university. I mean to me that's just so silly. A guy told me one time, 'You can get a little knowledge and it turns you into an idiot, but no knowledge, you're a double idiot.'

"And that's about the way I look at that thing."

And so there you have it: a "double idiot" out of Williams. Some of Williams' expressions have long become a part of his Ol' Roy persona: "dadgum" and "blankety-blank" and "tough little nut" and "little rascal" and on and on.

And now "double idiot." A new addition to the lexicon.

Williams went on to say during the interview that UNC's recent national championship victory was "especially satisfying, in a lot of different ways" - one of them being that it came amid the turmoil that has surrounded his program in recent years.

Oregon: Junior forward Dillon Brooks says he is entering the NBA draft.

Brooks announced his decision, which was widely anticipated, in a video posted on www.positionless.com.

The Pac-12's Player of the Year has hired an agent, which ends his eligibility with the Ducks.

Brooks averaged 16.1 points per game this season for Oregon, which went to the Final Four.

Kansas: Guard Svi Mykhailiuk is entering the NBA draft, but is not hiring an agent and could decide by May 24 to withdraw his name and return for his senior season.

The 6-foot-8 Mykhailiuk started 25 games last season, averaging 9.8 points and shooting 38.9 percent from beyond the arc.

The native of Ukraine made at least three 3-pointers in 11 games.

WISCONSIN: Jordan Hill is leaving Wisconsin after his junior season and plans to consider his options as a graduate transfer, leaving the team short another experienced player in the backcourt.

Credit: News service report

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Copyright 2017 Tribune Review Publishing Company
All Rights Reserved

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

 

When Pittsburgh last hosted Columbus in the NHL playoffs, the city's Sports & Exhibition Authority was putting finishing touches on plans for streets, utilities and other infrastructure on the former Civic Arena site in anticipation of $500 million in development.

Pittsburgh also was preparing to send a delegation to Columbus to study how that city and its hockey franchise, the Blue Jackets, managed to attract $1 billion in development around Nationwide Arena "" transforming a blighted downtown area into a vibrant entertainment and commercial hub.

That was three years ago.

While some Pittsburgh-area officials said they hoped a Columbus-style transformation would be under way by now around PPG Paints Arena, progress has been slow. Infrastructure work on the former Civic Arena site continues. No buildings have sprung up, and developers have yet to announce plans to build.

"I would like to see the private-side development occurring faster, but remember when we came into office in 2014, there wasn't even an agreement with the community" on goals for the development, Mayor Bill Peduto said Tuesday.

The Penguins, which hold exclusive development rights to the site, declined to comment.

Mary Conturo, the SEA's executive director, said the infrastructure work has proceeded as planned.

"The roadways are the first big step in transforming that area," Conturo said.

The city already has spent $7 million to build four-lane Fullerton Street through the heart of the development site and to extend Wylie Ave­nue from Crawford Street to Fullerton.

Another $6.7 million is being spent to build four-lane Logan Street parallel to Fullerton and to extend Wylie from Fullerton to Logan. That work, which includes installing benches, streetlights, trees and plants along the new streets, is expected to be completed in August.

Later this year, work is expected to begin on a $26.4 million park over Interstate 579, also known as Crosstown Boulevard. The city wants to raise additional money to place amenities including an amphitheater and a pavilion in the park.

Peduto, who previously expressed frustration that the Penguins weren't moving more quickly, said he always anticipated that it would take at least 10 years to develop the 28-acre property.

Peduto noted that U.S. Steel committed to building its headquarters on the property, but the company pulled out after a financial downturn. Peduto said that office building would likely have been under construction now.

"I have no doubt with how strong the market is in Pittsburgh that (the development) will happen. But I am more concerned about it happening in the way that it has been promised," he said. "It's not a criticism. It's just that I would rather take the time and do it right than end up with something that didn't follow the agreement that we had signed with the community."

The Penguins and city, among other things, agreed that 20 percent of housing built on the property would be affordable to the poor.

They also agreed to provide business opportunities for minorities and women, honor the Hill District's cultural legacy through artistic design and create work opportunities for Hill residents.

"The conversations we've been part of (with the Penguins) have been positive," said Kevin Acklin, Peduto's chief of staff and the city's chief economic development officer. "There's clear indications by the Penguins that they're willing to meet all of the stipulations of the community agreement. They're looking to advance this development."

Bob Bauder and Tom Fontaine are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach Bauder at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com and Fontaine at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com

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Copyright 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

The state's classification and alignment committee will meet today at the New Mexico Activities Association, and by the time the sun goes down, some important questions may be answered as it pertains to the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.

There are three major topics on the agenda today for the meeting, which is not open to the public.

Chief among them is establishing what the minimum enrollment figure should be for each of the five classes when the state switches from six classes to five starting in August 2018.

Already determined by the NMAA's board of directors is that a school's enrollment figure will be a three-year average, with 80-day counts from 2015-16 and 2016-17, and the 40-day count from the 2017-18 school year.

Secondly, and perhaps most interestingly, will be this item: possibly ditching the traditional district format that New Mexico has known for so many decades and going with a conference model, or leaving the district model in place.

The NMAA plans to have an outline of both proposals at the next board meeting, which has been moved up from June 8 to June 1.

"The board asked us to bring back examples of five classes with districts, and five classes with conferences," NMAA executive director Sally Marquez said.

How to align football will be the third topic today. It is likely to drop from seven classes to six starting in 2018 (Classes 5A through 2A, plus 6-Man and 8-Man).

Although, the enrollment line to separate the classes - particularly for the state's largest class - might move for safety concerns, Marquez said.

Hypothetically, the cutoff enrollment number for the largest class in football might be higher than it is in other sports.

The classification and alignment committee is comprised of about 15 members, athletic directors throughout the state in all classes. Marquez and associate director Dusty Young also serve on this committee.

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Copyright 2017 Boston Herald Inc.
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The Boston Herald

 

LAS VEGAS — The Las 
Vegas Strip is getting its first space dedicated to competitive gaming when the Luxor hotel-casino transforms its nightclub into a multi-level esports arena.

MGM Resorts International yesterday announced plans for the arena that will feature a competition stage, LED video wall, daily gaming stations, food and drink and a streaming and television-quality production studio. Work on the venue will begin in early June with the goal of opening in 
early 2018.

"We've closely watched the growth and excitement around esports, and we are always looking for new amenities for our Vegas customers," Niklas Rytterstrom, general manager of Luxor, said.

This will be the second esports arena in Sin City. The first one began hosting gamers in March in downtown Las Vegas. The arenas are part of a trend that the casino industry hopes will attract the millennial crowd.

The announcement from MGM comes on the heels of a report showing that a third of Las Vegas' nearly 43 million tourists last year were millennials - those between 18 to 35 - up from less than a quarter in 2015. Competitive gaming now draws tens of millions of spectators to online platforms and real-world venues, including New York City's Madison Square Garden, Los Angeles' Staples Center and Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena. Permanent esports venues are prevalent in Asia, but few public facilities are dedicated to competitive gaming in North America.

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

 

It is one of several measures being considered as the district deals with a K-3 class-size reduction mandate from the state and anticipated increases in pay and benefits, after eight years of budget cuts.

GREENSBORO - Guilford County Schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras is proposing the district charge students a fee to play sports if they do not qualify for free or reduced lunch.

It 's one of several budget-balancing proposals listed, but not elaborated on, in a news release the district sent out last week. In that release, officials said the district is facing tough budget choices this year due to a K-3 class-size reduction mandate from the state and anticipated increases in pay and benefits, after eight years of budget cuts.

In North Carolina, local school districts may charge an athletic fee and the state does not set any limit, said Burt Jenkins, health, physical education and Title IX consultant for North Carolina's Department of Public Instruction. Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the state's largest school district, instituted a fee starting in the 2010-11 school year. They charge $100 per season for high school students and $50 for middle school students.

Alan Duncan, chairman of the Guilford County Board of Education, said in a phone interview Tuesday that the board has discussed adding a fee at times over the past decade, but never acted on it. He wants to continue to learn more about the budget situation this year before taking a position on the issue.

"I'm willing to think about it," he said.

Contreras also is recommending cutting 51 of the district's roughly 500 teaching assistant positions, reorganizing the district's central office, increasing class sizes in grades 6-12 by one student per class, and closing High School Ahead Academy.

Schools spokeswoman Nora Murray declined to share additional details about the proposals, such as how much a fee might be. She said Contreras and other staff will wait until the board's budget work session at 11:30 a.m. April 19 in the school administration offices before commenting further on the proposals.

According to Murray, High School Ahead Academy allows students who are a year behind students in their age group, for whatever reason, an opportunity to catch up to students their age by 9th grade by accelerating classes from 6th to 8th grade using a compacted curriculum.

From ABU.S. Schools Institute Athletics Participation Fees

Duncan said if it becomes clear the board is giving serious consideration to closing the school, they should hold a special designated public hearing on that topic.

"It would be important for us to sit down and talk with people and hear them express their views," he said. "That's what we've done in the past."

The board is holding a more general public budget hearing at its regular meeting April 27.

Reached Tuesday, board Vice Chairwoman Darlene Garrett said, in particular, she's disappointed to see the proposal for reducing teaching assistants. Wes Cashwell, one of the board's newest members, stressed a similar point.

Under the proposal, teaching assistants would not be eliminated and the district will try to reassign staff to vacancies where possible. Still, Garrett said, teaching assistants are vital to elementary school. There's just so many things they do that people don't realize, she said. That's anything from helping with small group instruction to supervising pickup and drop-off before and after school.

"It seems like whenever we have to make cuts we always go to the teaching assistants," she said, pointing to budget decisions made in past years. "I'm just very, very, very uncomfortable with that."

Ultimately, it's the board that approves the budget, so it's their decision. April marks the beginning deliberations for the group. They've got to send a request for funds to county commissioners by mid-May, but budget plans will stay in flux, affected by the budget deliberations of both county commissioners and state legislators. Typically, the school board passes an interim version of the budget by the end of June, while still waiting on final funding decisions from the other bodies, and winds up finalizing it later in the summer, or even later than that in some cases.

Board members are waiting to see what the state legislature will do about K-3 class sizes. Last legislative session, the House and Senate passed a change that would decrease K-3 class sizes.

Right now, the superintendent's budget proposals, including these cuts, are based on the assumption that a compromise bill will pass, requiring lesser cuts to class sizes.

Garrett said if House Bill 13 passes, district leaders must make up a shortfall of more than $4 million. If it doesn't pass, they are looking at more than $16 million to make up, just from that alon. So they are rooting for HB 13.

"We really need the Senate to move that along for a vote," she said. "That's really what's hanging over us the most."

This is Contreras' first time making budget recommendations for Guilford County Schools, where she started in August. Previously she served as superintendent of schools in Syracuse, N.Y.

Contact Jessie Pounds at (336) 373-7002 and follow @JessiePounds on Twitter.

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

 

GREENSBORO - Grimsley High's head athletics trainer, who resigned Thursday, faces charges he inappropriately touched a female student.

Jeffrey Allen Guffey, who also was a health teacher at the school, has been charged with two counts of indecent liberties, Greensboro police said Tuesday.

Police spokeswoman Susan Danielsen said police became aware of the allegations March 28 after school administrators contacted them. Detectives from the Family Victims Unit then conducted an investigation.

Guffey was suspended from his duties at Grimsley effective March 28 pending the completion of a human resources investigation, according to Nora Murray, Guilford County Schools program administrator for media relations.

Grimsley Principal Charles Blanchard said in a statement the school is taking the allegations very seriously.

"The safety and wellbeing of our students is Grimsley's top priority," he wrote. "While the allegations are of great concern, it's also important to note that this case is not reflective of the great team of educators and staff at Grimsley High and in Guilford County Schools."

Grimsley officials referred all questions about Guffey to district administration.

Guffey's Facebook page was taken down April 5, and his Twitter account - which was active on the evening of April 4 - has been deleted.

In 2016, Guffey, 40, moved to Grimsley from Southern Guilford High, where he was a science teacher as well as head trainer. While at Southern, he was named the state's Athletics Trainer of the Year for secondary schools in 2015 by the N.C. Athletic Trainers' Association. Guffey also served as the North Carolina trainer for the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas in 2015 and has been a trainer for the Greensboro-based N.C. Coaches Association East-West All-Star games in recent years.

A McLeansville resident and Eastern Guilford High graduate, Guffey previously served as a trainer and taught at Eastern Alamance High in Mebane and has been a volunteer firefighter in McLeansville since 1995.

Guffey has been released from the Guilford County jail on a $5,000 secure bai,l and the investigation is ongoing, Danielsen said.

Police would not name the student, however, the News & Record does not name victims of sexual assault.

Contact Spencer Turkin at (336) 373-7062 and follow @turkin35 on Twitter.Contact Joe Sirera at (336) 373-7034, and follow @JoeSireraNR on Twitter.

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Copyright 2017 Times-World, LLC
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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

Jeff Highfill might have drawn up a play or two in the home stadium dirt during his 37 seasons as the head football coach at William Byrd High School.

No more.

Within the next month, work is scheduled to begin on the installation of an artificial turf surface at Byrd, replacing the natural grass that has been in place since the Terriers first kicked a football.

The new field should be ready for the 2017 season opener, making Byrd 's the fifth high school football facility in the Roanoke Valley to have artificial turf installed within the last decade.

To Highfill, the fake grass is not ideal but it is wholly necessary.

Byrd's field is subject to much use and abuse.

Varsity, JV and middle-school football, boys and girls soccer and boys and girls lacrosse teams all use the facility, which took a severe beating this fall during Byrd's home football game against Staunton River.

Finally, too much was too much.

"In our situation, it's all good," Highfill said. "I'd much rather have a beautiful grass field that nobody gets on. I think most of the players I know that have played on both would choose that, too.

"All the wear and tear we've got, I don't think there's any way to keep a good field unless we go to turf."

Highfill said when he arrived at Byrd in 1981, the field's only tenants were the varsity and JV football teams, and the boys soccer squad.

"In my first year, people were on the game field a total of 13 times for the whole year," Highfill said. "Nobody practiced on it. A couple years ago, we had 88 games on it.

"And for 20 years, I practiced soccer on it every day. In the mid-90s when we started adding all the girls teams and the middle-school teams, we ran out of practice fields."

Other improvements are planned, including new lights, a rubberized six-lane track and new practice fields adjacent to the stadium.

"The plan is for the football field to be ready at the end of July," Highfill said. "At that point, I don't know if they'll go directly to the practice fields and we'll practice on the game field during that time.

"There might be a little delay where we use the practice field, but they'll have to get those started so they can be ready by the spring."

Byrd will join Salem Stadium, Dwight Bogle Stadium and Patrick Henry and William Fleming high schools' stadiums as Roanoke Valley facilities with artificial turf.

Highfill never believed he would coach long enough to see the day.

"No," he said, "but with our situation, it's certainly the right way to go."

Copenhavers, Goff slated for induction to GW hall

Al and Mary Copenhaver - the husband and wife coaching duo who each led George Wythe to a VHSL basketball championship - headline the 2017 class of the Wythe County Sports Hall of Fame.

Former George Wythe football and basketball star Geoff Goff (class of 1991) also will be inducted during a ceremony in early November.

Al Copenhaver had a 451-113 record in 21 seasons as the boys coach at George Wythe, leading the Maroons to the 2008 Group A Division 2 state title.

He never had a losing season and did not draw a single technical foul in 31 years of coaching.

Mary Copenhaver coached George Wythe's girls for 11 seasons, producing a Group AA championship in 1989 and a Group A runner-up finish in 1992.

Her career coaching record was 368-140, including 13 seasons at G.W. Carver High in Henry County, where she led the Trojans to Group A runner-up finishes in girls basketball and outdoor track and field.

Goff was a first-team Group A all-state linebacker in football and first-team all-state in basketball.

He played four years at VMI as a placekicker where he ended his career ranked No. 3 in field goals made .

Williams, Phillips brothers highlight Bath Co. class

The recent induction into the Bath County Athletic Hall of Fame was a family affair.

Two sets of brothers who graduated from Bath County High School - Rayna, Chris and Tim Williams; and Jacob and John Phillips - highlighted the March 18 induction ceremony that also included a former Chargers girls star and a pair of Valley High School graduates.

The inductees were:

Jake Cleek (Valley, class of 1951), who played football and baseball at Valley before playing four sports during a college career at Lynchburg and Bridgewater. Cleek returned to the county where he became a coach, principal and county school official.

Frank Hepler (Valley, 1955), who played football, basketball, baseball and golf before becoming a golf club professional in Maryland.

Rayna Williams (Bath County, 1988), who made All-Timesland in football and baseball while starring in basketball. Williams was the starting quarterback on three Ferrum teams that made the NCAA Division III playoffs, and he played catcher on four Ferrum teams that reached the postseason.

Chris Williams (Bath County, 1990), who was the Pioneer District football player of the year in 1990 and a star on the baseball team that reached the Group A state tournament. Williams played baseball at James Madison, making the All-CAA first team as a senior.

Tim Williams (Bath County, 1991), a four-sport star who was the Pioneer District football player of the year and three-time Bath County male athlete of the year, rushing for 2,311 yards in football as a senior for a 12-1 team. He played football and baseball at VMI.

Jacob Phillips (Bath County, 2004), who had a 48-4 record as a starting quarterback in football, leading the Chargers to the 2001 Group A Division 1 state title. He scored 1,524 career points and basketball and was a four-time All-Pioneer pick in baseball. Phillips became a two-time all-conference quarterback at William and Mary.

John Phillips (Bath County, 2005), who starred in football, basketball and baseball, earning VHSCA co-defensive player of the year honors in football in 2004. He played tight end at Virginia and was taken in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL draft by Dallas. He has played in the NFL for the past eight seasons.

Katie Hardbarger Grist (Bath County, 1998), who starred in basketball, tennis, volleyball and track and field. She was the Pioneer basketball player of the year, finishing with 1,220 career points. She played basketball for four years at JMU, making the CAA All-Academic team.

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Copyright 2017 Newsday, Inc.

Newsday (New York)

 

The State Legislature rescued Suffolk County Community College's plans for a $21 million new sports-expo-wellness center by including $2 million in the state budget.

The last-minute funding was needed because bids came in $4 million too high. The funds will permit college trustees to approve the winning bid on the new 40,214-square-foot building on the Eastern campus at its April 20 meeting. Officials say construction will take about a year to complete and the center could open as early as the fall of 2018.

"We plan to move as quickly as possible," said Shaun McKay, college president. "As soon as our board of trustees approves the bid, and the necessary bonding and insurance are in place, construction can commence."

The state action over the weekend came after college officials last month got Suffolk County lawmakers to approve its $2 million share first in time for Albany lawmakers to consider a last-minute addition to the state budget. The state and county split the cost of college buildings 50-50.

"This is a huge thing, not only for the college but for the entire East End," said State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), chair of the Higher Education Committee who represents the area where the building is going up. "It's a project that has been decades in the making and will provide a facility not only for students but the local residents."

The new complex will complete the 192-acre Eastern campus with 4,000 students near downtown Riverhead. It opened 40 years ago and has never had any indoor facilities for physical education.

The building will include a gymnasium, basketball court, indoor pool, climbing wall, areas for strength and aerobic training as well as offices and classrooms. School officials say the complex will also serve as an expo center for trade shows, agricultural forums and other community events for the East End.

SCCC, the state's largest community college with 27,000 students on three campuses, was the only two-year state school to get extra funding.

Originally budgeted at $16.75 million, the sports-expo building came in over budget with the lowest of the seven qualified bids coming in at $20.95 million even though college officials, before the bidding, trimmed 4,700 square feet from the complex. Officials say they reduced the building's height, the size of the gymnasium and cut the number of classrooms. College officials blamed the improving economy and an increase in construction work throughout the metropolitan area for the spike in price.

However, Legis. Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said the project's cost has spiraled 46 percent over budget, if cutbacks are included. "We spent $1.6 million on consultants to get it right. Are we getting any money back?" he asked. "I'd like a house on Dune Road, but I can't afford it. And taxpayers can't afford this."

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