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Copyright 2017 Times-World, LLC
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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

CHRISTIANSBURG — Montgomery County Public Schools will get the money needed to perform football field improvements that will launch a yearslong plan to renovate the capacity-troubled Christiansburg High School.

The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, which sets the schools' budget, voted 7-0 Monday night to provide $2.1 million to add artificial turf and a rubberized track to the school's football field and pay for the designs of an artificial turf softball field and concessions, restrooms and athletic field entrance improvements.

Supervisors acted on the funding request during a joint meeting with the school board inside Christiansburg High's library. The vote drew applause from the school board and audience members.

The approved money makes up nearly a third of the total funds needed for projects benefiting football, track, softball and baseball .

The school board has asked for $1.8 million immediately after the sale of the old Blacksburg High School next month and another $2 million in 2019.

The funds from each of those two additional requests will pay for the construction of the softball field, remaining softball and baseball facilities, concessions, restrooms, locker rooms, and entrance improvements.

The athletic projects, however, will be but a fraction of a $67 million to $75 million plan to renovate and bring a new academic building and gym to Christiansburg High. The biggest phases of the high school's improvements aren't slated to occur until the early- to mid-2020s, when the county will again be able to take out capital debt.

Payments from the sales of former school properties in and near Blacksburg and revenue from a fraction of property taxes will provide the money needed for the athletic field improvements at Christiansburg High.

Superintendent Mark Miear said during the meeting that the improvements will bring some new benefits to the high school and the town. The track improvement will expand the track from six to eight lanes and allow the school to host state competitions.

"If we can get some state competitions here, we could fill the hotels up in Christiansburg," Miear said.

The artificial football turf will create an additional practice field, which Miear said will better meet the needs of various field sports, not just football.

Board of supervisors Chairman Chris Tuck said he appreciated the school board's efforts to be transparent and properly inform the public on the projects.

He said it's also wiser to provide the funds now since the interest collected by county money doesn't quite match inflation rates and the rising costs of construction.

"Spending money now is actually saving money," he said.

 

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October 31, 2017
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Copyright 2017 Newsday, Inc.

 
It's official: SUSA has broken ground on its long-anticipated soccer complex in Central Islip.

SUSA Soccer this month revealed plans for the $12 million Phase 1 of the new SUSA Sports Complex, which will be the hub for the company's Long Island operations.

"Our vision is to create an elite platform for player developments with state of the art facilities across Long Island with an accredited and dedicated coaching staff," Moussa Sy, SUSA president and director of coaching, said in a statement.

Company officials said the first phase was "a major steppingstone" that would include construction of four lighted outdoor artificial turf fields, and a field house with locker rooms, office and classroom space, a trainer's room and restrooms.

The facility will also have an amenity area with a plaza, food court, playground and other outdoor spaces.

The soccer complex has been nearly a decade in the making, with Islip Town board members voting unanimously in September to approve a deal to allow the project to move forward.

"It's been a long time coming," Sy said Monday. "We've been waiting for this for over 15 years now... starting out very small in communities and training organizations to become a club of this magnitude, not only on Long Island but the country. It's been a dream come true for everybody."

Brothers Duo 3 LLC of Hauppauge is developing the project and taking on a 40-year lease for a 32-acre parcel of town land on Carleton Avenue at DPW Drive in Central Islip.

"This is a win-win for the Town of Islip and for soccer players and enthusiasts all over Suffolk County and Long Island, who'll now have the opportunity to train and develop their skills in a state-of-the-art sportscomplex right here in the Town of Islip," Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said in a statement.

The SUSA soccer academy is to be the tenant at the soccer complex with programming for children and teenagers, officials said.

Efforts to build a soccer complex on the site date to 2010, when Yaphank developer Andy Borgia contracted with the town to construct a $45 million, 300,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor sports complex at the same site. It was never built.

In February the Brothers Duo company was assigned Borgia's lease, Islip officials said.

 

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October 31, 2017
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Copyright 2017 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.All Rights Reserved

The New York Post

 

An Upper West Side gym was a bit too "cutting edge," a Manhattan beauty queen charges in a lawsuit.

Micaela Lopez Bianchi, 28, says several shards of glass punctured her lower back when she used an exercise mat at the Equinox at Broadway and West 92nd Street.

López Bianchi - the 2013 Miss World Next Top Model - said she was doing crunches last month when she realized something wasn't right.

"I felt a very strong pinch on my lower back," the Argentine beauty told The Post.

"There were four pieces [of glass] that got into my lower back . . . I was bleeding," López Bianchi said.

She couldn't immediately retrieve all of the centimeter-size glass shards from her back - and said the $235-per-month gym should have been more careful.

Her $100,000 Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit notes that she is "an international model who must maintain a pristine appearance for her work."

She says she works out at the gym "virtually every day," and adds she had complained to a manager about broken glass earlier, to no avail. Equinox didn't return calls for comment.

 

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October 30, 2017
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Copyright 2017 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail
 
 

The headquarters for youth swimming in Charleston will change addresses next summer, as its decades-long home will close its doors.

The University of Charleston recently announced that, due to planned renovations at the Gorman Athletic Facility, it will close the university's indoor swimming pool. According to UC, because of the pool's age, the university would need to make a significant investment for it to remain functional.

The university does not field a swim team, but it does have a roster of more than 500 student-athletes in various sports, so Charleston will re-purpose that space, with renovations beginning in August 2018.

With that, the community swim programs housed at UC's pool will move to the YMCA of Kanawha Valley. Among those is the Huntington Y Charleston Aquatic Team (HYCAT), which holds the annual City Meet pitting club pools around the Kanawha Valley against each other.

As for the team, HYCAT executive director Greg Olson said the plan as of now - "It's a fluid situation, he said - was for HYCAT to move to the YMCA under a new name and operate under YMCA logistics and policies.

Name changes aren't new to the organization, which started as the Greater Charleston Swimming Association, became SUN Aquatics in 1976, the University of Charleston Aquatic Team in 1992 and HYCAT in 2002. But the UC pool has been HYCAT's home for more than 40 years.

"Change is always hard, said Olson, who said he will not be making the move to the YMCA with HYCAT. "We just want to see the kids succeed. With our Learn to Swim' program that we started 42 years ago, we've taught probably 50,000 people how to swim.

"It's really gratifying when you have a parent come to the program and say, I learned to swim here and now my kids are learning to swim here,' he added.

The City Meet will be held once more at the UC pool next summer, but the options for the event after that are numerous. YMCA youth development director Cindy Hemsworth said the age divisions and alignment will remain the same, but they've tossed around the idea of moving the City Meet outdoors, having pools bid to hold the meet or holding it at a pool the YMCA oversees, like at Coonskin Park or Pioneer Park in East Bank.

"We're thinking outside the box about what we can do, Hemsworth said. "Nothing is finalized. We're just exercising a couple of options.

Changes are ahead not just for youth swimming but for prep swimming as well. Several teams use the UC pool to practice: Nitro, Charleston Catholic, Capital, Herbert Hoover and Riverside. Starting next season, they'll need to find a new practice site.

"That's something the schools will have to figure out, with our help, YMCA of Kanawha Valley aquatics director Collin Meadows said. "With [the UC] pool closing, there will be an even greater demand for an indoor 50-yard pool in the area. We'll try to accommodate all of them, because we want to keep high school swimming going strong.

Among the indoor pools the YMCA oversees is the former WVU Tech pool in Montgomery.

Hemsworth said she hopes that will be accomplished by next August or September, with the 2018 prep swimming season beginning in October. Meadows said there have been good lines of communication going between everyone involved.

"Ultimately, what we want to do is what's best for the swimming community, he said.

 

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October 30, 2017
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Copyright 2017 The Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.
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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

Like college basketball players before March Madness, football players across Florida will huddle around screens Sunday to learn their postseason fate.

The Florida High School Athletic Association announced Monday that a selection show for the state's playoff spots will be streamed live on NFHSnetwork.com at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Following the selection show, the playoff brackets and information will be released on the FHSAA website at noon. Teams will not be contacted in advance, and schools hosting first-round games will be contacted Monday, FHSAA spokesman Kyle Niblett said in an email.

The NFHS Network is a subscription-based network, and a subscription will be needed to watch the selection show, Niblett said, adding that the media contract with NFHS and others helps reduce the financial burden on member schools.

A month-long subscription to the NFHS Network costs $9.95, while a "playoff pass" to stream postseason games costs $24.95, according to the network's website.

"We encourage member schools from across the state to tune in to this important program and celebrate the success of these hard-working student-athletes," FHSAA Executive Director George Tomyn said in a press release. "The excitement and buzz around the new playoff system is a testament to the amount of passion Floridians have for high school football, and this event is a perfect way for schools to engage their local communities."

Before last week's games, 13 Palm Beach County teams were in line to qualify for a playoff spot. The FHSAA will release updated standings today.

alichtenstein@pbpost.com

 

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October 31, 2017
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Copyright 2017 Virginian-Pilot Companies LLC
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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

NCAA president Mark Emmert said Monday that most Americans can agree on one thing: Major college sports is broken, and the people in charge might not be the right ones to fix it.

A recent NCAA-commissioned poll, Emmert said, found widespread distrust in both the NCAA and its schools, with 79 percent of Americans agreeing that major colleges put money ahead of the interests of athletes.

“I can’t think of anything right now that 79 percent of Americans would agree on, but they agreed on that,” Emmert said. More than half of Americans agreed the NCAA was part of the problem, not a solution, Emmert said, and nearly 70 percent felt the same way about schools.

“Those are numbers that should cause us a lot of anxiety,” Emmert told the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, an advocacy group that examines major college sports.

In one of his first public appearances since the arrests of 10 men – including four assistant coaches and an Adidas executive – as part of an ongoing FBI investigation into the shadow economy surrounding major college basketball, Emmert re-stated Monday what he said in a news release earlier this month: College basketball is in need of significant change. Emmert said the specifics are up to a committee, led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, that the NCAA formed in response to the FBI investigation.

“We cannot go into the next basketball season without seeing fundamental change with the way college basketball is operating,” Emmert said. “We need to act. We need to demonstrate that we are, in fact, capable of resolving these issues.”

The coaches arrested face charges of taking bribes to steer college players to preferred financial advisors and agents. The Adidas executive is charged with arranging bribes, with the assistance of other coaches, to direct high school recruits to Adidas-sponsored schools. When they announced the charges in late September, prosecutors emphasized that more arrests could come.

“I don’t know anything about the investigation that you don’t know,” Emmert said. “Whether it’s the tip of the iceberg or it’s the whole iceberg doesn’t really matter. It’s disgusting as it is, and we’ve got to recognize that we own that.”

Emmert seemed most supportive of some kind of change that would end the practice of players leaving after their freshmen year to play in the NBA. High school players projected as likely “one-and-dones” – able to leap to the NBA after just one season in college – are more likely to be at the center of backroom deals between coaches, agents, and shoe company executives.

“Only in America do we force someone to go to a university in order to pursue a professional sports career,” Emmert said. “Nobody else does that. Nobody else would even think that’s rational.”
 
Before the NBA instituted an age limit of 19 in 2006, teenagers could go straight from high school into the NBA draft. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said he’s interested in changing the rule, and potentially raising the age limit to 20, while the NCAA could impose its own rule requiring players to stay a minimum of two years.

Emmert said other areas that Rice’s commission will examine include the relationships between schools and apparel companies, and the relationships between schools and the independent basketball leagues, some sponsored by apparel companies, that long have been suspected of complicity in backroom deals to send star teenagers to preferred colleges and agents.

Emmert touched briefly on the NCAA Committee on Infractions’ recent decision to spare the University of North Carolina any significant punishment for running academically deficient “paper courses” taken by thousands of students, many of them athletes, for nearly two decades. Emmert implied support for the decision – which found the classes weren’t an unfair benefit for athletes because regular students could take them as well – while noting the ruling was another public relations hit for the NCAA.

“We can all agree or disagree on whether the Committee on Infractions made the right choice... a very small portion of Americans believe that that was the right decision,” Emmert said.

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Copyright 2017 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah baseball coach Bill Kinneberg could miss a couple of games next season after the university self-reported an undisclosed rules violation and submitted a penalty recommendation to the NCAA.

Although Utah athletics director Chris Hill declined to give specifics, he did say it wasn't about academics, funding or recruiting. Hill then noted that Kinneberg "will be sitting out a few games."

A final verdict will be rendered by the NCAA. Hill, however, said it will not include any suspensions for players.

The violation was discovered in the midst of an independent investigation of the Utah baseball program brought forth after the athletics department received a letter from the parent of a student athlete who was injured after getting hit in the face by a baseball.

 The letter included several allegations concerning the safety and well-being of student-athletes and was forwarded to the university's general counsel, who secured the national law firm Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC for the investigation with its specialized Collegiate Sports Practice Group. The latter assists schools with investigations involving issues with the NCAA such as compliance, conduct and eligibility.

The investigation report released to the university on Oct. 27 found no evidence to several concerns raised in the letter to the athletics department. Those allegations included the incorrect use of, or faulty, equipment; an alleged drug-abuse problem involving baseball student-athletes; a former baseball staff member allegedly requested prescription medicine from student-athletes; and an alleged culture of partying or other inappropriate conduct by student-athletes at away-from-home contests.

 Other issues included:

- The alleged failure of full-time staff to accompany and transport an injured baseball student-athlete to medical care. 

- The report noted that "on one occasion after an injured student-athlete had been treated and stabilized by the athletics training staff, a student-manager (who was also the roommate of the injured student-athlete) transported the student-athlete a short distance to the closest emergency room to receive additional medical care."

- An allegation that a coach asked a student manager to perform duties outside the scope of typical duties.

"On approximately three occasions, the head baseball coach asked a student manager (who was 21 years old) to purchase beer for the head coach."

- Alleged alcohol misuse by coaches at away-from-home contests. 

"A baseball staff member admitted that he and another baseball staff member were intoxicated on occasion at away-from-home contests in the privacy of their hotel room. Coaches also engage in social drinking while on the road. However, we found no evidence that coaches were intoxicated in public or around student-athletes. We also found no evidence that a coach's use of alcohol while traveling ever threatened the safety and well-being of student-athletes or prevented the coaches from performing their job functions." 

The investigation summary also includes four recommendations: 

* Making it policy that a full-time athletics department member transport, accompany or be present when a student-athlete requires emergency care at a hospital or medical facility. 

 * Having the baseball program ensure that adequate supervision is given and a curfew enforced on games away from home.

* Additional education for coaches regarding athletics department policies on alcohol use on games away from home.

* An evaluation of the scholarship relinquishment process. Should the university's student-athleteadvocate be involved in discussions with student-athletes in terms of rights involving NCAA rules and the university's financial aid process prior to voluntarily giving up athletics aid?

Hill discussed the findings with the media Monday afternoon. Kinneberg issued a statement.

"Student-athlete safety, development and success - both on and off the field - has always and will be my top priority and the top priority of the program," Kinneberg said. "I trust the university and the process as we move forward in addressing the concerns."

Kinneberg has been Utah's baseball coach since 2005. He guided the Utes to the Pac-12 championship in 2016.

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Copyright 2017 The Pantagraph

The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois)

 

CHAMPAIGN - The University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced an ambitious goal Monday: Raise $300 million by 2022 and begin that quest at a time when the school's flagship sport - football - is committed to a full rebuild and has a six-game losing streak to show for it.

Director of Athletics Josh Whitman said the money will be used for three specific areas. The largest chunk will include more than $200 million designated for capital projects, the cornerstone of which is the previously announced Football Performance Center, a 112,000 square foot, $79.2 million facility that will open in 2019.

Whitman said donors already have stepped up to commit $20 million to the project and he hopes to have a major donor with a gift significant enough to earn naming rights to the building.

He said they're selling the idea of supporting the renaissance of Illini football before the program turns a corner and delivers a better product on the field.

"You're looking for people to invest, people who want to be a part of the build, a part of the process," Whitman said. "When someone is there from ground zero, it makes the end result that much sweeter when they know they were a part of making that success possible.

"It's very easy for people to get excited and jump on the bandwagon once we're great. It takes a special person to buy into it at the outside. It's a pretty powerful message, one people have been receptive to so far. People are excited."

When completed, the football performance center will upgrade Illinois' facilities considerably, Whitman said. "This will absolutely put us in the top tier of the Big Ten."

Head football coach Lovie Smith, who had input on the design, said an upgrade of facilities is something he and Whitman have talked about since he was hired.

"Recruiting is a lot about facilities and what's in front of an athlete when they get on campus," he said. "Once we get it completed it's going to be a showcase. We feel good about the type of training and teaching we can get done (in there)."

The facility will include a new weight room, team auditorium, coaches offices and meeting rooms, recruiting lounge, team locker room, sports medicine and nutrition areas plus a couple of extras including a two-lane bowling alley and a barber shop.

"We're not going to have more than everybody else has but you have to keep up with what people have," Smith said.

Whitman said $70 million will go toward the scholarships raised by the I-Fund for student-athletes, $30 million for student-athlete enhancements such as academic services, tutorial assistance and learning enhancement specialists, and the $200 million for capital projects.

He said he hopes to soon announce other capital projects.

Whitman also said the school continues to explore the feasibility of adding intercollegiate men's hockey, but that the $300 million being raised as part of the "With Illinois" project would not cover that expense.

"We're working with consultants and anxious to see how that works out," Whitman said. "If we can bring hockey across the finish line that would be above and beyond; we see it as a tremendous opportunity to get a hockey program and to transform our community."

Sources have said the university is looking at a three-rink facility with one rink designated for community use, another as a practice rink and a third as part of a 5,000-seat arena for competition.

Although the university has received encouragement from the National Hockey League and the Chicago Blackhawks, funding for the hockey facility and program would be essential and remains unresolved.

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Copyright 2017 The Columbus Dispatch
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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

 

An official in Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, has asked the county district attorney to look into the legality of Major League Soccer encouraging the county to apply for an expansion team and purchase a stadium in light of the Crew's potential move to Austin, Texas.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff wrote a letter to MLS late last week questioning the fairness of the league's expansion process. San Antonio was one of 12 cities to submit an application to the league in February for one of four expansion franchises.

Wolff said he and County Manager David Smith traveled to New York to meet with MLS President and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott in November 2015 and expressed their intentions to buy Toyota Field, home to San Antonio's United Soccer League franchise, and apply for expansion. Bexar County and the city of San Antonio each contributed $9 million of public money for the stadium purchase.

"He encouraged us to go ahead and do that," Wolff said of Abbott. "He made it clear that if Austin filed, it was either going to be Austin or us. Of course, Austin never filed."

Wolff said he was surprised to learn of the league's contact with Austin earlier in 2017 and of a clause in Crew investor-operator Anthony Precourt's purchase agreement of the team in 2013 that allowed for a future move to Austin. Precourt might move the team after the 2018 season.

In Bexar County, the county judge presides over the five-member Commissioners Court -- one county judge, four commissioners -- that acts as the county's governing body.

"First, I'd like to get all this and air it out so that everybody will know what happened here," Wolff said. "That's my clear objective, and I think that's going to happen."

In a statement, MLS acknowledged it had received Wolff's letter but disagreed with a key claim.

"We are in the process of reviewing the letter and preparing a formal response," the statement read. "Although that review is not yet complete, we strongly disagree with Judge Wolff's assertion that we misled either him or any public official about the prospects for San Antonio acquiring an MLS expansion team."

Wolff met several times last week with District Attorney Nico LaHood, whose office serves as the civil representative for Bexar County in addition to prosecuting cases in the county.

LaHood said Monday he did not want to commit to a specific timeline or deadline for his office's investigation.

"We're gonna look into the situation so we can give (the county) good, honest, consistent ethical and legal advice on what to do going forward, if there's anything to do going forward," LaHood said. "I will tell you this, I'm not looking to waste any time. We'll make an assessment once we get all the facts and then we'll tell them if there's a viable cause of action or not and they can make a decision on what they want to do."

The Austin City Council is expected to vote at its Nov. 9 meeting on a resolution instructing the city manager to identify city-owned sites within the urban core that might work for a soccer stadium and sites outside the urban core for a practice facility that could "serve the Columbus Crew and the surrounding community."

aerickson@dispatch.com

@AEricksonCD

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Copyright 2017 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

After more than a year of planning, construction vehicles are chugging their way around the site of what eventually will be a new indoor swimming pool at Libertyville High School.

Separated from the rest of the campus by metal safety fencing, a bulldozer operator from Berger Excavating Contractors in Wauconda pushed dirt around the construction site Monday as an excavator dumped load after heavy load of that same dark soil into the back of a dump truck for removal. Site preparation for the $21.5 million project began this summer, but the real heavy lifting is only now getting underway.

"We're excited to be on our way to having an amazing new facility for our students and community to use," Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 spokeswoman Mary Todoric said.

The 38,000-square-foot natatorium is being built in front of the school building, just west of a softball field. It will replace an indoor pool that was built in 1971 on the north side of the building and no longer is in competitive condition.

Officials initially discussed replacing the pool in 2014 but shelved the project until February 2016, when fiscal planning for such an undertaking began in earnest. Officials considered adding a second gymnasium and other athletic amenities at sister school Vernon Hills High last year, too, but that project was put aside because of financial concerns.

The new pool will be used by the school's swimming, diving and water polo teams, students in physical education classes, members of various aquatic clubs and people taking private swim classes. It will be wider and longer than the old pool, contain a deep section for diving, have more spectator space and have better ventilation.

The natatorium is scheduled to be completed in spring 2019.

Because of the construction, a new traffic flow for students, parents and bus drivers was implemented at the start of the school year. The number of on-campus student parking spaces at the school was reduced because of the construction, too. Fortunately, officials say, they haven't encountered any problems with parking or traffic.

"Our students, parents, staff and community have been amazingly cooperative with regard to the new traffic patterns and parking," Todoric said. "We can't thank everyone enough for making this a smooth transition."

With winter weather on the way, officials will continue monitoring traffic flow on campus and make adjustments if needed, Todoric said.

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Copyright 2017 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Kane County taxpayers will get a free upgrade to one of its public facilities thanks to a new deal with Aurora University. The university uses the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva as the host facility for its hockey teams. That arrangement began five years ago.

But with the addition of a new women's hockey team, the second of its kind in Illinois, Athletic Director Jim Hamad said it's time to make the Kane County Forest Preserve District-owned building feel like home.

"Having locker rooms for your teams are pretty much standard," Hamad said. "We want to invest in the building to provide for our athletes, both for their own experience and for the good of our recruiting efforts.

These days players want their own space, their locker, and they want to see what jersey they will be wearing." The cooperative project with the district will bring new locker facilities, coaches offices, showers and video screens to the arena.

The university's men's hockey teams currently share locker space with the Cyclones amateur team. The school's new women's team, which just began its inaugural season, has no locker space.

The plan will involve temporarily closing the pro shop and repositioning it to an area accessible from the outside of the building. Forest preserve commissioners hailed the project as an enhancement to a property that already serves as a community asset.

"To upgrade our facility to something that's state of the art is a good thing," said John Hoscheit, forest preserve district commissioner. "When we first bought the ice arena, there were a lot of naysayers about how this relationship would work out.

Over the years, we've seen what goes on below our office in the building has really been used by all different segments of the community. It's been very positive. And now to improve the building at no cost to us is really a win-win."

The district purchased the arena in 2008. It paid $6.3 million for a building that cost $15 million to build. The facility hosts several hockey teams, a pro shop, a restaurant, a gymnasium and the forest preserve district's main offices.

The addition of the Aurora University women's hockey team into the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association created a 10-team association this season. The team is now one of 59 women's hockey programs in Division III of the NCAA.

Lake Forest College has the state's other Division III women's hockey team. The regular season runs October through March.

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Copyright 2017 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)
 

 

In 2017, football is the undisputed king of American sports.

The NFL, despite many missteps in the Roger Good-ell era, remains the country's most popular professional sports league. Locally, high school football still brings communities together on Friday nights. And the Ohio State Buckeyes are the closest thing the state has to a unifying force in sports, and perhaps outside of it.

But storm clouds are gathering around football. Participation numbers are declining. Kids today have many more options, almost all of them much less taxing on the body. Concussions and the issue of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) hover ominously over the sport.

Predicting 20 years into the future about anything is usually a fool's proposition. That might be particularly true about football.

It is highly unlikely that the sport disappears from the landscape; it is too ingrained and popular to expect its demise. But it also is true that football must evolve and that there there's no guarantee that it will retain the preeminent status it enjoys now.

About college ball

Let's start with some easy predictions about 2037. Urban Meyer will be 73 and will no longer be Ohio State's coach. Meyer has said that he has no intention of becoming another Joe Paterno in longevity.

Gene Smith won't be Ohio State's director of athletics, either.

"I know that for sure," said Smith, 60. "I will not be. I hope to be alive.

"I doubt if any of us will be around doing what we're doing. We might be fans in the stands drinking beer, but that will be about it."

OSU games, though, will still be played in Ohio Stadium. The Horseshoe, which opened in 1922, should outlive most of us. A major renovation at the turn of this century and continual upgrades and maintenance are designed to keep the stadium standing until at least around 2075, according to Don Patko, OSU's assistant athletic director for facilities.

"It's exciting to be a part of such a historic structure," Patko said. "Every five to seven, we do a structural analysis of the stadium to make sure we have things on our list to repair and fix.

"Mainly, that's the 1922 structure. When they built it back then, they built it to last."

The site at which Ohio State will play in 2037 might be all but certain, but college football's landscape isn't.

There's every reason to think that the Big Ten will exist in 20 years, but its form could change. Who in 1997 thought Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers would be league members 20 years later?

Looking ahead, it's likely the conference will expand as college football continues the gap among the haves and have-nots. Already, there's almost an expectation that we're headed toward four "super-conferences" of 16 teams apiece, and Smith and others believe there could be even larger conferences down the line.

Those changes will be driven largely by economics but also by travel considerations. Smith is troubled by the demands on players, who sometimes arrive home after road games in the middle of the night and are then expected to be in an 8 a.m. class.

"I think that will be an emerging topic over time," he said.

Safety and technology

Realignment and travel issues are important, but they are dwarfed by one that could be an existential threat to football. Medical research into concussions and CTE is no longer in its infancy, but it could not yet be called conclusive. CTE is the degenerative brain disease in which protein clumps called tau form from repeated head trauma and results in erratic behavior and dementia.

It is undeniable that the evidence so far presents plenty of red flags. The Journal of the American Medical Association in July released a study showing that of 111 deceased NFL players examined, all but one had evidence of CTE.

Those wishing to downplay the study say it was skewed because the players whose brains were examined were already suspected of having CTE. The disease can now be diagnosed conclusively only after death.

But after years in which the risk of CTE was ignored or downplayed, particularly by the NFL, a dwindling few dismiss the threat of it now.

"For (football) to survive in another generation, changes have to be made," said Beau Rugg, director of officiating and sport management for the Ohio High School Athletic Association. "It's going down that path where if changes aren't made, we'll see the attrition of football. But changes have been made, and I'm confident they will be made."

Those come in many forms - from the age in which kids begin to play tackle football, to changes in equipment technology, particularly helmets, to rules changes.

Despite a slight increase in 2015, a survey by the Sport and Fitness Industry showed that participation in tackle football by boys ages 6 to 12 has decreased by 20 percent since 2009.

A driving force in the decline is the fear that tackle football is too dangerous for the developing brains of younger players, and evidence points in that direction. A Boston University study indicated that athletes who began playing tackle football before the age of 12 had more behavioral and cognitive issues than those who started later.

"I think we will see almost no tackle football below the seventh grade," said Rugg, who serves on the national rules committee of the National Federation of State High School Associations. "I believe that will happen in the next 10 years."

Expect a shift to a different version of football among youth.

"I can see traction around the emergence of flag football being more prevalent and more organized, because you still learn the same skills by playing flag football with no contact," OSU's Smith said.

Even tackle football likely will be altered. Many expect kickoffs to be eliminated because that play features the most full-speed collisions of any play. Other measures have already been taken, such as penalties and ejections for targeting - deliberate helmet-to-helmet hits.

"A lot of our fans have an issue with the targeting rule and how it's being applied," Smith said. "I really don't. Might an official make a mistake here or there? No doubt. But I really don't care. I care about the safety."

There has been a concerted push at all levels of the game to minimize the use of the helmet in tackling. Ohio State is among the many teams that practices rugby-style tackling, using shoulders and wrapping up ball-carriers with their arms.

But football is too fast-moving and inherently violent to eliminate helmet hits. Helmet manufacturers already are immersed in making the next generation of protective headgear.

"All the data we've collected on-field over the past decade, it's going to allow us to create helmets that are position-specific and skill-level specific in the future," said Thad Ide, senior vice president for research and product development at Rid-dell.

For example, Ide said, an offensive lineman faces a different type of contact than a receiver. And the impact a junior high player takes is much different than that of an NFL player.

For the past decade, Ide added, Riddell has invested in helmet impact sensor research, which shows the nature and degree of helmet impacts - "transformational technology for helmets," he said.

Within 20 years, he expects helmets to be so technologically advanced that information from contact will be shared instantaneously to the sideline, alerting medical personnel to potential injury.

"Think of it as another set of eyes on the field," Ide said. "Not everybody sees every particular incident that happens on the field.... The pace of technology is accelerating all the time. You'll see things in five, seven or 10 years that aren't even a twinkle in someone's eye right now."

Ultimate team sport

All of these changes are designed to make football safer. But what if, despite rules changes and advances in equipment technology, a consensus forms that the sport can't be made safe enough? What if its very nature - it's a collision sport, not just a contact one - will scare away players, their parents, their programs and even fans?

"That's a great question and one that will affect this level more than others," said the OHSAA's Rugg. "If that's the case, it's going to be the high school level that's affected greatly. They're not 18 years old - most of them. With college or professional players, they're adults making a choice. It's tougher to say that here."

A doomsday scenario could unfold in a number of ways. What if a player is fatally injured on the field and that tragedy becomes a line of demarcation? What if a death or serious injuries cause insurance companies to stop issuing liability policies or raise premiums so much that they are increasingly unaffordable?

Riddell is facing at least 95 personal-injury lawsuits after a federal judge this spring refused to dismiss them.

"Once it becomes a business issue for an organization or institution, that's the tipping point," said Lee Igel, a professor and co-director of the Sports & Society Program at New York University.

But most involved with football, including Igel, don't believe the worst-case scenario will occur.

"You're laying out the Armageddon," Smith said. "You're assuming all the studies and all the tweaks to the sport, be it in equipment or how the game is played, takes it to the point where studies quantifyingly show there's no way to make it safe.

"I don't see that. I think there are so many more things that ultimately can be done - things that we don't even know yet what they are."

The sport's proponents espouse the beneficial aspects of football, that it demands teamwork, sacrifice, selflessness, toughness.

"I think the lessons you learn in football outweigh the risks from injury," Kilbourne's Trombetti said. "I look at the kids I've seen over 37-plus years coaching football and the confidence they've gained in themselves and the way they carry themselves. Like (Vince) Lombardi said, 'When you get knocked down, pick yourself up.'"

That's among the appeals of the sport that makes Rugg believe, despite his concerns, that football can thrive in 20 years if the right changes are made and the medical research shows the sport can be safe.

"One of the great things about the sport of football is it is the ultimate team sport," Rugg said. "There are so many moving parts, so many people doing things that aren't directly related to the ball.

"You really do learn if you do work together you can be good. It's the only way you can reach your potential. That ultimate team sport is critical in why people love it and enjoy it and see the value in it... and not just the risk."

 

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October 29, 2017
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Copyright 2017 Newsday, Inc.
 
Newsday (New York)

 

Carolyn Kieger's story is impressive. It shouldn't be unique.

Kieger played four years for the women's basketball team at Marquette University, graduated and took an entry-level job in basketball operations at the University of Miami. She parlayed that into an assistant coaching job with the Hurricanes and, after six seasons, was hired in 2014 to take over the Marquette program.

The Golden Eagles enter this season as the unanimous favorite in the preseason coaches' poll to win the Big East title. They also enter the season as the only women's basketball team in the conference coached by a woman.

That's right. Nine out of 10 women's basketball coaches in the Big East are men. And while that might be an extreme case, the dwindling number of women's coaches is a major concern among women's sports advocates.

While more women play college sports than ever before, only 38.8 percent of NCAA Division I women's teams have a female head coach, according to NCAA figures. By contrast, in 1972, when the gender equity law known as Title IX was enacted, more than 90 percent of women's teams had a female coach.

Why should the gender of a coach matter? Don't we want the best person to get the job, regardless of gender? Isn't Geno Auriemma, the University of Connecticut women's basketball coach, a huge supporter of women and the best basketball coach in the game?

Yet women rarely get an opportunity to be interviewed for men's head coaching jobs, let alone land them. In 2016, according to NCAA figures reported by Richard Lapchick's The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida, women held only 3.5 percent of the head-coaching jobs in men's Division I sports.

"What bothers me is the men seem to have two career paths - they can coach men or women's basketball - while the women only seem to have one, and that's to coach women," Big East commissioner Val Ackerman said. "People assume that the only job women can do is coach women's teams."

The Women's Sports Foundation was one of the first to examine this issue when it published a report called "Beyond X's and O's," which revealed that in 2014, women held only 23 percent of coaching positions across all NCAA sports. Earlier this month, the foundation held a leadership conference for women athletes in New York City. That conference included a panel that examined the gender disparity in coaching and looked at ways to encourage and support young women who want to go into coaching.

With a record of 1,527-491-5 over 33 seasons, University of Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins is considered the Pat Summitt of her sport. She said she would not be where she is today if she hadn't had strong female coaches in her life.

"I wanted to be them. It's the reason I'm doing what I'm doing," said Hutchins, who was a panelist at the WSF event. "Having women in leadership positions sends the signal to young women that they can be strong women. I think that is really important."

 

Hutchins, like Ackerman, thinks the situation is compounded by the lack of opportunity for women when it comes to coaching men's sports.

"I have never been asked to be a baseball coach, and I know a number of men who have come from the baseball world to coach softball," Hutchins said. "I don't think Pat Summitt was ever offered a job on the men's side. I think that alone speaks for itself . . . I think it's really a matter of being valued for what we do. You can look at the double standards that are out there. I'm highly concerned."

Ackerman believes players need to be encouraged to go into coaching to see that it is an attractive career. She also believes it would be helpful if there were a registry of coaches who are interested and qualified, with contact information, so athletic directors and the people who make hires would have a resource.

"After last season, I got two calls from athletic directors not in this conference who were looking for women's basketball hires and they just thought I would know," Ackerman said. "My observation is that people just don't know who is out there. I think the pipeline has to be developed, fortified and nurtured."

The lack of women in coaching also trickles down to the youth and high school levels. Kieger said some of her players never have been coached by a woman before. That fact was hammered home when some of her players flew to New York City for a Big East player career conference.

"We need more females in the game," Kieger said. "When our kids , they started texting me, 'Oh my gosh, Coach. We didn't realize you were the only woman in the league. You're the boss. You're awesome.'

"Just to hear them say that was an 'aha' moment for me, too. I was like, we have to do better as females. We have to support each other. I'm going to do what I can to be a part of the solution."

 

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October 29, 2017
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Copyright 2017 ProQuest Information and Learning
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Copyright 2017 Valley News Oct 29, 2017
Valley News; White River Junction, Vt.

 


Allston, Mass.— A spectator attending Dartmouth College’s football game on Saturday was injured after a Big Green assistant coach punched a Harvard Stadium press box window on the aging structure’s upper lip, sending glass shards into the seats roughly 30 feet below.

Dion King, a second-year defensive quality control coach, struck the window, which was later covered with what appeared to be a tarpaulin taped to the frame. The section of seats into which the glass fell was cleared of fans and marked off with yellow plastic tape for the remainder of the Ivy League game, which the Crimson won, 25-22.

Rick Bender, Dartmouth’s sports information director, was sitting on the same level of the press box as King and said police arrived to speak with the coach but did not arrest or cite him. Bender said the police told him that a spectator was injured by the falling glass but did not provide him with more details.

The incident apparently occurred after the Big Green’s Danny McManus was ruled to have fumbled a punt after signaling for a fair catch. Dartmouth contended McManus was not allowed enough space to make the play, but Harvard took over and soon pulled within 14-6 just before halftime.

“Dion King let his emotions get the best of him,” Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens said in a news release sent out after the game, which was played before an announced crowd of 11,143. “We hold ourselves to high standards, and in this instance we failed to conduct ourselves appropriately. Dion, Dartmouth football and I apologize wholeheartedly.”

Bender said that Teevens was unavailable for further comment on Saturday night and added that King will be expected to pay for the damage he caused. Bender confirmed that a hole was kicked in the wall of the Dartmouth coaches’ room at Memorial Field during last week’s game with visiting Columbia, but he said he didn’t know which coach was involved.

After an Oct. 14 victory at Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Conn., Teevens delayed a postgame meeting with reporters so he and assistant coach Cheston Blackshear could meet with Pioneers officials to discuss an incident involving Blackshear sometime after the nonconference game’s start. The head coach did not divulge details, but said he went “sort of hat in hand” to calm Sacred Heart administrators.

As of 10 p.m. Saturday, the story of King’s punch could be found on websites including USA Today, ESPN, the New York Post and ABC News. Harvard’s student radio station, WHRB, posted a Twitter photo of the broken window from the inside, showing numerous strips of thick black tape reinforcing the remaining glass. “Aftermath of the Dartmouth coach’s tantrum,” read the caption.

King’s Twitter account usually includes posts about Dartmouth’s football recruiting or game performances. However, on Sept. 29, King received a tweet reading that the sender was watching Dartmouth’s televised game at Pennsylvania and would be looking for him. Replied King: “Any good tape of me in the press box?”

King, 25, is from Douglasville, Ga., and played at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. He was listed as a 6-foot-1, 203-pound linebacker who appeared in a combined 16 games during his third and fourth seasons with the Leopards, who, like Dartmouth, field an NCAA Division I team in the Football Championship Subdivision.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.

 

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October 29, 2017
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Copyright 2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
 
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Work is expected to begin in the coming weeks on an $8 million athletic complex for Grady High School and Inman Middle School students.

The new Walden Athletic Complex is at the former site of Walden Middle School, which closed in 2008 because of declining enrollment.

The project includes demolishing the three-level school, which Atlanta Public Schools officials said was constructed in 1970 and has deteriorated. Crews are expected to begin razing the roughly 88,000-squarefoot school building in the next few weeks, said Alvah Hardy, APS executive director of facilities.

A field house with locker rooms, restrooms, concessions, storage and office space will be built as part of the project, to be complete by the start of next school year.

A natural turf baseball and softball field also will be installed and used for practice and games by Grady teams.

The site already features a football field, but the design includes a new synthetic turf that can be used for football other sports.

Grady's football, soccer and lacrosse teams will practice at the new Walden complex, where some lacrosse and soccer games also may be played.

The football team will continue to play games at Grady and Lakewood stadiums, facilities shared by Atlanta high schools.

Other project amenities include sidewalks, parking, fencing, athletic and security lighting, scoreboards, and concrete pads and bleachers.

The Walden site on Irwin Street in the Old Fourth Ward is roughly two miles south of Grady and Inman schools.

The school board this month unanimously approved a $7.39 million contract with Parrish Construction Group for the athletic complex project. The total cost, including design and other expenses, is budgeted at $8 million, according to school district documents.

APS will pay for the project using money from the one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax that voters approved in 2016.

The sales tax is estimated to generate roughly $475 million for school construction and renovation, technology purchases, and other items.

The district plans to spend an additional $9.1 million on other athletic facility upgrades throughout the district.

That work will result in all APS high schools having a field house and storage facility. Of the $9.1 million, about $1 million will be spent to upgrade Lakewood and Grady stadiums. A timeline for those projects has not been determined.

 

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October 30, 2017
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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The paperwork for Jim McElwain's departure hadn't even been completed when Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin announced a motto for his coaching search: He wants the Gators to be fun again.

That surely starts with an improved offense.

The school and McElwain, a former quarterback and assistant coach at Eastern Washington, agreed to part ways Sunday, a day after a third consecutive loss and nearly a week after McElwain said his players and their families had received death threats.

Stricklin named defensive coordinator Randy Shannon the team's interim coach for the final four games.

 

Stricklin said the sides reached an agreement in principle to settle McElwain's $12.5 million buyout, but he declined to reveal details until the deal is signed.

"This is more than just wins and losses," Stricklin said. "I'll just leave it at that."

Florida (3-4, 3-3 Southeastern Conference), which is still paying former coach Will Muschamp, hoped to significantly reduce McElwain's sum and likely used his actions over the last week as leverage.

Regardless, McElwain's tenure will be remembered for failing to fix a floundering offense. Three years ago, McElwain proclaimed he could win with his dog at quarterback. The Gators currently rank 113th in total offense, in triple digits nationally for the third time in McElwain's three seasons.

"When Florida has been really good, from a distance, it has looked really fun and I want it to be really fun," Stricklin said. "Our fans, they deserve it to be really fun. I want our players and student-athletes to have a lot of fun, like this is a rewarding experience to come here and get a degree from a top-10 public university and to play at one of the storied football programs in the country."

McElwain went 22-12 with the Gators, including 4-9 against ranked teams, and became the first coach in league history to take a team to the SEC championship game in his first two years. Florida was eliminated from contention in the Eastern Division with a 42-7 loss to rival Georgia on Saturday. It was Florida's most lopsided loss in the series since 1982.

McElwain's downfall was more about relationships than records.

His already-strained rapport with administrators reached a new low last Monday when he mentioned the death threats. The bombshell shocked Stricklin, who had not been notified about a potentially harmful situation.

Stricklin met with McElwain later that day, and the coach rebuffed a request to provide more information about the threats.

The school's position was this: If there were death threats and administrators did nothing about them, the Gators would be legally liable if something horrible happened. If McElwain exaggerated the threats or made them up altogether, then he essentially sullied an entire fan base without merit.

The former Alabama assistant and Colorado State head coach complained publicly about Florida's facilities shortly after taking the job and openly questioned the school's commitment to the football program two years later.

 

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October 30, 2017
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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

SEATTLE — Despite the furor that has unfolded this season over whether NFL players should have the right to take a knee during the national anthem, the Houston Texans have stayed out of the spotlight, dutifully standing for the anthem before every game.

That changed Sunday at CenturyLink Field. Before Houston lost 41-38 to the Seahawks, the Texans linked arms during the national anthem, and more than three quarters of the team took a knee, with 10 players standing.

"I support my players 100 percent. I love my players," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said when asked to comment on what his team did during the anthem.

This response comes two days after news emerged that, during an NFL owners meeting to address player protests during the national anthem, Texans owner Bob McNair commented "we can't have the inmates running the prison."

"What he said, a lot of the players felt was wrong," said cornerback Marcus Williams, who had four tackles and intercepted Russell Wilson late in the fourth quarter. "But at the end of the day, we've got to come out and play the game. What happens off the field, we try to keep it there, and when it's time to play, we gotta come out and make plays."

McNair has since issued two public apologies and he also addressed the issue with his team on Saturday. McNair did not make the trip to Seattle for the game.

But Texans tackle Duane Brown said Sunday evening that the meeting with McNair went "not too well."

Still, Brown said the Texans went into Sunday entirely focused on the game.

"It was a lot of emotions running for our team, but just a huge sense of unity we all felt coming out here and playing for each other," Brown said. "And that was that. Once kickoff started, we tried to block out any other distractions we may have had."

McNair's comment drew rebukes from numerous NFL players around the league, including the more outspoken Seahawks like Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner, and many news outlets reported Friday that multiple Texans players had considered boycotting practice. Only two - receiver DeAndre Hopkins and running back D'Onta Foreman - ended up doing so.

Hopkins finished as the Texans' leading receiver against Seattle, with eight catches for 224 yards and a touchdown. But he declined to discussed the reasons why he skipped practice on Friday.

"I play football for a living. I don't get into political things," Hopkins said.

 

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October 30, 2017
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Copyright 2017 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

PROVO - As the BYU basketball team gets set to tip off the 2017-18 season, the status of junior guard Nick Emery is uncertain as the school has confirmed that he is the focus of an NCAA investigation.

 "BYU is in the process of working with the NCAA regarding issues related to Nick Emery," the school confirmed in a statement Friday morning.

Later on Friday, BYU officials added some clarification: "After receiving information about alleged violations of NCAA rules, BYU contacted the NCAA and has been working to address issues related to Nick Emery's eligibility."

The story was first reported by the Salt Lake Tribune early Friday morning.

The probe, according to the Tribune story, relates to the use of a car as well as travel and entertainment - such as concerts and visits to amusement parks in California - that Emery indulged in, and whether they were paid for by BYU booster Brandon Tyndall, who is an executive with Fun For Less Tours. Tyndall is also a member of the Cougar Club, which is BYU's booster organization.

In an interview with the Tribune, Tyndall said Emery, a former Lone Peak High star, paid for the trips and entertainment himself. Tyndall did not respond to repeated attempts by the Deseret News to reach him Friday.

Emery's family declined to comment for this story.

As per NCAA rules, student-athletes are not allowed to receive benefits from boosters. NCAA violations involving improper benefits can result in a variety of penalties, including suspension.

Depending on the case, the NCAA can impose penalties on the school or it can let the school impose its own punishment.

Emery played in BYU's Cougar Tipoff on Wednesday night, scoring nine points and dishing out four assists. He made the trip to Albuquerque for BYU's exhibition charity game at New Mexico Friday night.

"While we do not comment on a pending investigation, we note that relevant NCAA rules concerning eligibility do not impact a player's ability to participate in practices, scrimmages or exhibition games," BYU officials said in a statement.

The Cougar guard has run into trouble before during his time in Provo. As a freshman, Emery threw a punch at Ute guard Brandon Taylor under the basket with 1:44 remaining in Utah's 83-75 victory at the Huntsman Center in December 2015. Emery was whistled for a flagrant 2 foul for fighting and was ejected.

The following day, the West Coast Conference reprimanded Emery for his actions and the flagrant 2 foul invoked the NCAA automatic one-game suspension. Emery was suspended for the next game against Weber State and issued a public apology.

By the end of that year, Emery had produced one of the best freshman seasons in BYU history. He averaged 16.1 points per game and knocked down 97 3-pointers.

Emery set BYU freshman records for points in a single game, 3-pointers in a single game, games scoring in double figures, 3-point field goals, 3-point field goals per game, and games with 3-plus and 5-plus 3-pointers.

As a sophomore last season, Emery's offensive production dipped. He averaged 13.1 points per game and made 75 3-pointers.

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Copyright 2017 Southeastern Newspapers Corporation
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The Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)

 

Additional penalties have been handed out to North Augusta and South Aiken high schools after the South Carolina High School League reviewed videos of the post-game brawl that occurred after a football game Oct. 13.

Each school has been fined $500 and additional sanctions have been levied against the football programs, according to a news release from the Aiken County Public School District.

After North Augusta beat South Aiken 21-7 at home, a brawl erupted between the two sides during the post-game handshake. The game, which was billed as one of the top games in the area this season, included many personal fouls and two brief scuffles.

The high school league identified nine players from each team and an additional non-uniformed student from North Augusta who were involved in the incident. Players were suspended for up to two games due to the sportsmanship issue, according to the release.

The names of the suspended players have not been released.

In a letter dated Oct. 25 and sent to both schools, the varsity football teams also are on restrictive probation for one calendar year effective Oct 13. For the 2018 season, both varsity football teams will be restricted to one scrimmage and will not be allowed to participate in jamborees or in scrimmages where admission is charged.

Neither school plans to appeal the decision, according to the school district.

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Copyright 2017 Journal - Gazette Oct 26, 2017

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

 

Months after withdrawing plans to bring new athletics facilities to Memorial Park, Indiana Tech announced Wednesday it now plans to build those amenities on a south-side golf course.

The university has entered into an option-to-purchase agreement with Sycamore Inc. for the Donald Ross Golf Club, 7102 S. Calhoun St. It expects to complete the purchase in early 2018, a news release said.

Indiana Tech is not disclosing the purchase price.

Sycamore Inc. appears to own seven parcels classified as a golf course or country club at the Donald Ross address or in the immediate area, according to property records from the Allen County assessor's office. The seven parcels' total assessed value, as of 2016, is $174,700, according to the records.

Donald Ross Golf Club, formerly known as Fairview Golf Course, declined to comment.

Indiana Tech's president said the university is excited about the possibilities created by repurposing the golf course.

"It seems like both a great fit for the needs of our student-athletes, and a positive use of the property for the entire community," Karl Einolf said in a statement.

A softball stadium and track and field complex are being eyed for the golf course's back nine, which is north of Tillman Road and east of Calhoun Street, the release said. It noted the 55-acre parcel would allow for future growth.

The front nine, which is west of Calhoun Street, would remain unchanged and be used as a nine-hole course open to the public, the release said.

Indiana Tech also envisions the course as a practice facility for its golf teams and as an experiential learning opportunity for students who would manage and operate it, the release said.

Construction could start as early as summer 2018, likely with the softball stadium, the release said.

The university doesn't foresee a problem having an off-siteathletics facility about 10 minutes away, spokesman Brian Engelhart said.

Some teams already use such sites, he added. The softball team, for example, will return to Havenhurst Park in New Haven for home games next spring.

Less fanfare accompanied Wednesday's announcement compared with Indiana Tech's spring news conference outlining plans to invest $6.4 million in Memorial Park.

That proposal - which included a new track and field facility, a softball stadium and an athletic training and office facility - met staunch opposition from veterans and their descendants, prompting Indiana Tech to withdraw the plans a month later.

 

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Copyright 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

"Delete this email," then-University of New Mexico Athletic Director Paul Krebs wrote on May 11 to a pair of staff members.

One of the staffers, senior associate athletic director Kaley Espindola, had sent Krebs a preview of an announcement UNM planned to issue when it revealed the next day that it was restoring its ski team.

Krebs responded with concern that an independent journalist who runs a watchdog website would get it sooner.

He went on to email Espindola: "Suggest you delete all texts and any emails related to reinstatement skiing (sic). Delete this email." A day prior, Krebs had given Espindola similar instructions after each was copied on a new public records request submitted to UNM. He cited an email his assistant had recently written, one he did not think the request required turning over. He wanted that email purged.

"If not (covered by the request), she needs to delete it and delete from delete file and send file," Krebs wrote Espindola.

Public and media scrutiny of the university has soared in recent years, especially regarding its athletic department. That has meant a sharp increase in the number of requests under the state Inspection of Public Records Act.

Krebs did not respond to a request for comment on his May emails, which the Journal recently obtained in response to an IPRA request. Krebs retired in June.

Interim UNM President Chaouki Abdallah said he knew nothing about the messages. He said he preaches transparency and contends that most at UNM are not trying to subvert public records law, and that at times the university has been "overwhelmed" by the number of requests.

"I keep telling people, 'If you don't want it out, don't do it, don't say it,'" he said.

Krebs' emails "should raise flags," said Peter St. Cyr, executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government.

"No one should be afraid to have it sunny and clear and bright in their office," St. Cyr said. "When we shine the light, it's because we are taxpayers and we want to know the government is efficient. And if it's not, we're going to hold them accountable."

Big increase in requests

The state's largest university received 531 IPRA requests through Oct. 20 - up from 387 in all of 2016. At this pace, it will see about 657 this year, a 70 percent increase from last year and more than 2½ times the volume of 2015.

UNM, with its annual budget of nearly $3 billion, has one records custodian, John Rodriguez. He manages the online records portal and disburses requests to the appropriate individuals and departments for fulfillment.

Kimberly Bell, senior deputy university counsel, also works on IPRAs, looking over documents that require an attorney's review before release. While IPRA workload varies, she estimates that it has lately consumed up to half her time.

Daniel Libit, who runs the NMFish bowl website dedicated to watchdogging the Lobos, alone submitted about 140 records requests for the first 10 months of this year. He said revelations wrought through his and others' record-driven reporting could benefit the school and UNM should have more staff finding and releasing records in the name of public interest and the school's bottom line.

"You want more eyeballs on this stuff," Libit said. "This is healthier for the university, it's healthier for the university's finances to do that."

So far this year, UNM athletics has acknowledged using public money to pay nearly $25,000 in donor expenses on a 2015 fundraising golf trip to Scotland and also that it has failed to collect about $400,000 from people who rented suites in the Pit.

Both state Auditor Tim Keller and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas have launched investigations into the department. Balderas cited UNM's response to Journal email requests regarding the Scotland trip when he launched his investigation.

UNM has devoted more administrative help for the paperwork side of the process, Bell said. But she said it's unlikely, in the current budget climate, that UNM will provide more staffing, especially since IPRA volume is not always so high.

Bell said UNM is doing "quite well" meeting its IPRA responsibilities, though Abdallah described the institution as overwhelmed by the volume.

"It is grinding on both the legal office that has to review some of these things and the other offices," he said. "It's the law and we follow the law; we try to do the best we can, and we come up short, I think, because there's no way to be able to respond to every single thing in a timely fashion and don't make any mistakes without just dumping a lot of stuff out there."

St. Cyr said New Mexico law makes providing public information a priority, deeming it "an essential function of a representative government and an integral part of the routine duties of public officers and employees."

Libit, who has two pending lawsuits against the school, said the process leaves the information-seeking public too much at UNM's mercy. "The institution is driving a Hummer and the requester is driving a bicycle in a game of IPRA chicken," he said.

Delays and concealments

Public entities have up to 15 days to provide applicable records. UNM failed to meet that deadline on three recent Journal requests.

UNM, earlier this year, heavily redacted records it gave the Journal detailing its expenses for the Scotland golf junket, concealing portions that showed the university paid for private donors. Weeks later, after the Journal continued to inquire, the university turned over more complete documents.

In response to a request for all spending records for the UNM Board of Regents' suite at the Pit since 2010, the Journal received 59 pages of documents. They included receipts for popcorn, nachos, bottled water, Bud Light and other refreshments ordered for the regents' suite during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 basketball seasons. They totaled $12,403.

But the university had not included receipts showing UNM had also paid $30,000 for the regents' suite rental each of the past two years. UNM corrected the oversight after the Journal inquired specifically about the rental fees.

Libit said that he has never received documents before 15 days and that UNM was also delinquent on three of his recent IPRAs. He also expressed concern about the integrity of UNM's process. The university often leaves it up to the subject of the inquiry to turn over the relevant documents, like emails, presenting an opportunity to withhold embarrassing or incriminating material.

Bell and Rodriguez have offered training to several UNM departments to explain IPRA's requirements.

Bell said she believes employees are forthcoming. "If I had a suspicion or concern that someone is not being forthcoming, I would raise that without question," she said. "But I don't think that's happening."

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Copyright 2017 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

John Hunzinger helped build the Bradley Center. Now, he's in charge of tearing it down.

The CEO of the family-owned Brookfield-based construction firm, one of the oldest construction companies in the Midwest, and several longtime employees know the 30-year-old building inside and out.

That was clear when they discussed prospects for recycling the massive granite panels that form the building's outer layer once demolition begins about this time next year.

"You need to pop one off, and the rest will come off really easy," said Joel Becker, a Hunzinger vice president who was part of the Bradley Center construction team.

"That'll be easy," agreed John Jansen, another Hunzinger engineer who helped build the arena. "They're just bolted on."

The BMO Harris Bradley Center will be removed once the Milwaukee Bucks' new $524 million arena is cleared for occupancy. The new arena, constructed with $250 million in public money, is scheduled to open in time for the 2018-'19 NBA season.

The Bradley Center was a $90 million gift to the community by the late Jane Bradley Pettit, who made the donation in the memory of her father, Harry Lynde Bradley, co-founder and chairman of the Allen-Bradley Co. The company is now Rockwell Automation.

A number of events are planned to commemorate the gift and the building's legacy in its final year, including a fundraising campaign in support of local groups that Pettit supported.

The Bucks hired Hunzinger to build the entertainment block, a complex on the east side of the new arena that includes a plaza, beer garden and several buildings that will house a brew pub, restaurants and shops. That work is just getting underway.

In addition, Hunzinger will work with Veit & Co. Inc. to oversee removal of the Bradley Center.

The demolition work will be an unusual addition to the résumés of a number of Hunzinger employees who helped build the Bradley Center, John Hunzinger said.

"All of us were very youthful young lads," Hunzginer, 59, said. "The Bradley Center was one of the earlier projects we all worked on."

People who work in construction can view their accomplishments for years.

"They see that landmark every day," Hunzinger said. "They're buildings that I go into - Miller Park, the Marcus Amphitheater - I can remember when we were building it."

He added: "Our professional career is marked by these projects that we've been involved with."

Engineer Joel Becker, 63, has similar flashbacks.

"I think about all of the people who worked there on our team," he said. "Those guys are logged in our memories pretty deeply."

It's happened before that the company has taken down a high-profile building that it helped erect.

Hunzinger was the contractor for construction of Milwaukee County Stadium, which opened in 1953, and handled the demolition in 2001, 48 years later. In that case, the same employees weren't involved in both ends of the project. (Hunzinger was also a local contractor involved in construction of Miller Park, which replaced County Stadium as the Milwaukee Brewers' home.)

It's a different story for the Bradley Center, which is closing after three decades.

The Hunzinger team knows how it will unfold. Demolition will begin inside and proceed with the removal of the granite, and then the structure itself, they said. Work will start on the south side, facing W. State St., and more toward the north.

"You never have a thought when you're building these buildings of their demise," said engineer Larry Palank, 62.

"But this building served its purpose."

Hunzinger agreed.

"The new arena's time has come. And the Bradley Center's time has gone," he said.

"It's going to be gone. It's kind of unusual, " said Jansen, who at 53 is the youngster in the group.

"It's just another project," Jansen said. "In this case, you're just bringing it down."

"All of us were very youthful young lads. The Bradley Center was one of the earlier projects we all worked on."

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Copyright 2017 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

There's a lot of running going on in West Virginia and the surrounding region these days. Running for health, fitness and fun has led to the rise of running groups, clubs and sponsored races in towns, cities and woodlands across the state.

Statistics declare Appalachia ground zero for an obesity epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35 percent of West Virginians are obese.

Running can be the first step - followed by a lot more footfalls - on the road to fitness and health, and it is a fun communal activity.

So, where did all the runners come from, and how are they finding places and races to run?

Try This West Virginia, an organization dedicated to fostering fitness and health programs around the state, has set up a website, called the West Virginia Running Resource Network (wvrunresourcenet.com) as a place to find all the running programs. It has links to running groups, races, mentors and trails.

"We've got most of them, but it is growing so fast that it is hard to know if we have them all. I'm sure we will be contacted by other running groups who want added to the list, said Kate Long, Try This co-director.

The website includes running groups that have agreed to mentor new groups and provide information about grants to help get local programs started.

"This is about West Virginians helping West Virginians, she said.

Any weekend, you can find a race to run, if you are interested. Websites including TriStateRacer.com, APTiming.com, Iplayoutside.com and West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners list races and runs in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and beyond.

There are dozens of events each month, starting at 5-kilometer races (3.1 miles) that benefit local charities, and reaching endurance events that span up to 50 kilometers (31 miles), races over trails, up and down mountains and through the woods.

Ricky Campbell, president and founder of Appalachian Timing Group, of Huntington, operates a service to handle logistics for local races, timing runners and photographing participants.

"I know, for us, we have seen an increase in races, he said.

The group logged 60 races in 2015, 95 in 2016 and roughly 105 in 2017, so far, in the regions they work with in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

"I know we have timed almost 20 races alone in the city of Pikeville, Kentucky, he said.

There are definitely more races and more runners, according to Pat Riley from TriStateRacer.com.

"We used to have one race a month with 100 people. Now we see seven to eight on any weekend in our region, and each can get that amount of people, Riley said. "We see people coming out for a number of reasons. Some are competitive; some are to support the charity.

Riley's website has promoted at least 500 regional races every year since 2014.

The Genesis Running program, started by Matt Young, has helped more than 2,000 people take up running for exercise.

"I saw a desperate need to help people in our community live better and healthier lives, he said. "I felt I had the ability, and, most importantly, the desire, to help, so I did.

Young's Genesis 5k program takes people of every skill level. It is one of several Couch to 5k programs getting people moving. He started offering the Genesis program as a free ministry at his church in 2007, and it took off from there.

"For the first several years, we ran one or two classes a year, and up until 2012, the biggest class was 35, he said. "In 2012, our spring class drew over 90 people, and since 2013, we've been running four 5k classes per year, in addition to a half-marathon class.

The group's classes now draw more than 400 people annually, and they've hosted classes in Charleston, Hurricane, Barboursville and Princeton, he said.

"We also have a virtual class that allows anyone to join the class from wherever they live and participate by video and email instruction, he said.

Young's students range in age from 6 to 83 years old and include both men and women. His classes are predominantly women, however.

"Whether its men saying they don't need help, that it's just running, or women taking the initiative to take the class, I don't know, but our classes are about 80 percent women, he said.

Young explained, when men do participate in his classes, often their wives or girlfriends make them come.

Stefanie Stacy currently completing the Genesis program for the second time. She is running with a friend taking the class, but she likes the atmosphere of the program and the ability to run with the group.

"I like being out here with everyone, but it also makes me accountable to myself. It makes me keep it up, Stacy said.

Another of Young's students, Stacy's mother, was the first in the family to begin the program. A friend did the class and encouraged her to take it.

"I was, like, Tabby, I'm 59 years old. I could never run that far,' Stacy's mother said. "My goal was to lose some weight and get some exercise. It feels so good now to be able to leave the boat, make it all the way up the ramp and the steps, and even have enough energy to make it up the steps to the house without taking a break in between.

Many people who choose to take up running as a form of exercise do so because it is relatively easy when it comes to equipment needs. They often find out that it brings them more than just simple exercise, though.

"Running was initially a way for me to move and be with my wife who runs, Mac MacMillian said. "I soon got to know many in the running community. Being a social creature, I made friends who shared the same feelings I did about the sport. It has become not only exercise, but a time to be with those friends.

"Sure, I guess I could get exercise in other ways, but I really like runners. Running, in particular, is something I enjoy as an outlet for stress. It has become mostly that for me with the added benefit of the social group interactions.

"I can run with others or be totally alone, if I need that. I have also been sucked into goal setting through running. I am always training to reach some goal... distance or time. I would have to say running is the perfect sport. It can be a challenge or a simple pleasure.

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

 

Athletes need a good night's sleep to maximize their performance. But that doesn't explain why N.C. State's proposed new dormitory for basketball players will cost roughly four times as much per bed than other campus living quarters do.

It seems pretty clear that the dormitory is due to N.C. State's participation in the ever-escalating arms race to attract top athletic talent in the revenue-producing sports of football and basketball. Luxury accommodations and lavish perks appear to be the minimum required to draw athletes capable of winning championships and bringing in big TV revenue from bowl games and March Madness.

The dormitory story began in 2015. N.C. State's athletics director, Debbie Yow, wanted to build a new residence hall for the school's basketball players, following the examples of the Universities of Kansas and Kentucky. The University of Kentucky spent $7.9 million and the University of Kansas spent $12 million for upscale dorms for student-athletes, which were stocked with theaters, private chefs, a barber shop and other amenities.

N.C. State's administration has long sought to rise to the upper echelon in college athletics, and to do so requires top talent. So plans were made for the new basketball dormitory, to be known as Case Commons Residence Hall.

There will be 65 beds for students, with 30 reserved exclusively for student-athletes and 35 used by non-athletes. There is a certain craftiness to this arrangement. The National Collegiate Athletics Association has strict rules regarding special treatment for student-athletes, one of which is that residential buildings must contain at least 51 percent non-athlete students.

In order to move forward with the project, N.C. State had to gain approval from the UNC Board of Governors. Three members voted against the project. One of the dissenters, Marty Kotis of Greensboro, said that the construction was simply too expensive to justify. "I think most families out there would view four students being housed for a million dollars as an extravagant amount," said Kotis, a real estate developer.

Despite those board members' resistance, N.C. State received approval to move forward with the plan from both the Board of Governors and the state legislature. Construction is now planned to start sometime in 2018, with an estimated completion time of the following summer.

Why does N.C. State need such lavish housing?

Having all the basketball players in one location, Yow said, will provide security with "limited access from outside parties." This is a reference to a previous incident in which an "agent-type" violated an NCAA rule in 2011 by giving $1,100 to a player's family while visiting him in off-campus housing.

The executive director of the Wolfpack Club, Bobby Purcell, argued that Case Commons dormitory will promote the academics. The residence hall will be positioned in the heart of campus next to Case Academic Center and a dining hall, which are both designated specifically for student-athletes.

Perhaps the most obvious argument against Case Commons Residence Hall is its price tag. The building is projected to cost about $15 million, which brings the price-per-bed to roughly $230,000. The average for State's other dorms is between $50,000-70,000. (Kentucky's dorms came in at $250,000 per bed, and the Kansas' cost $305,000 per bed.)

However, the facility will be funded privately by the Wolfpack Club. No money will come from either state appropriations or student tuition and fees.

Still, some question whether the donations could be better used for other purposes. And some observers of higher education suggest that alumni donations for sports reduce giving for academics. If NC State's goal is legitimately to further academics, there are many better ways to use this money.

Even if concerns about the cost of the dormitory can be dismissed, there is perhaps a more important objection: N.C. State's athletic department is advocating special treatment for their student-athletes that mocks the school's most fundamental commitment to academics. It's difficult to see how academics are enhanced by favoring athletes with extravagant residence halls. As Kotis argued, while building a showy residence hall to attract basketball players does not overtly break NCAA rules, it flagrantly breaks the spirit of them.

Joe Warta is an intern for the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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Copyright 2017 Union Leader Corp.
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The Union Leader (Manchester, NH)

 

DOVER — The man who allegedly attacked a woman as she was leaving her shift at Planet Fitness in Rochester in June has been indicted by a Strafford County Superior Court grand jury.

Jordan Lamonde, 23, of Portsmouth, is charged with second-degree assault for recklessly causing bodily injury to Erin McCarthy with extreme indifference to the value of human life, according to the indictment paperwork.

Lamonde allegedly threw McCarthy onto the pavement outside the gym and struck her with his hands and knee multiple times.

The incident at the North Main Street gym was captured on surveillance video.

McCarthy told police she did not know Lamonde, but court documents indicate he believed her boyfriend stole a safe with thousands of dollars inside it from him.

Lamonde was arrested by Rochester detectives at Portsmouth Regional Hospital on July 24.

If convicted, Lamonde could face up to seven years in prison.


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Copyright 2017 Crain Communications
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Students at Urban Community School in Ohio City now play on a turf field that was built in July and August.

The field is used during recess and after-school programs, and will be a spot for lacrosse clinics and competitions.

But it's not just a cushy new surface for elementary school students.

Ideally, it's the launching pad for an extensive partnership between Urban Community School, Ohio City Inc. and US Lacrosse, the national governing body of one of the country's fastest-growing sports.

US Lacrosse, as part of a pilot program it launched in June, and its North Coast Ohio chapter have committed $300,000 over two years to Cleveland. Half of the funds went to the construction of the multipurpose field at Urban Community School, and the remainder is expected to be raised from private donations.

The latter $150,000 will go toward the salary of a lacrosse manager who will be employed by Ohio City Inc., plus lacrosse programming for kids, resources to develop the sport in physical education classes and after-school programs, plus equipment, and CPR and AED training.

It's part of what Drew Roggenburk, the president of US Lacrosse's North Coast Ohio chapter, said is the national organization's "rock-in-the-pond" approach.

US Lacrosse, Roggenburk said, was "laser-focused" on getting the field built and hiring a person to manage the programs at Urban Community School. And it expects the initiative to widen significantly from there.

"The short-term goals are to increase awareness, get sticks in hands and get them to start playing," he said.

The Lacrosse Communities Project began in Albany, N.Y., and within a few months was expanded to Ohio City and Brooklyn, N.Y.

According to the organization's website, the initiative's goal "is to make the most racially, ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods in cities across the country focal points for growing lacrosse." 

'A pretty big deal'

Tom Gill, the president of Urban Community School, which was founded in 1968 and is sponsored by the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland, said the program is a "total coup" for the ecumenical school located at 4909 Lorain Ave.

"We have a long history of being in this neighborhood and running a high-quality program," Gill said. "With kids being able to stay here every night until 6, that field will be used virtually all day. It's safe, we have the trust of the families, the kids can stay here and play — it's a pretty big deal for us."

It's also significant for Ohio City Inc., which will model its new lacrosse program after its successful Near West Recreation partnership.

Near West — which includes development groups from the Detroit Shoreway, Tremont West and Metro West neighborhoods — started five years ago as a T-ball league in which 68 children participated, said Ohio City Inc. executive director Tom McNair. Today, it has more than 1,000 kids participating in a wide array of sports.

"I absolutely think it has the opportunity to open doors," McNair said. "We have lots of kids who participate in sports every day. Lacrosse is not something they get exposure to. The ability to get into different high schools and colleges — it can really help change lives."

One nearby university, Cleveland State, added a men's lacrosse program that completed its first season last spring. Dylan Sheridan, the Vikings' head coach, and some of his players have been teaching a lacrosse class at Urban Community's new field for 90 minutes every Thursday.

It's a chance for the program to promote awareness for the sport in the community, Sheridan said, but also a beneficial thing for the Vikings' student-athletes.
"Someday hopefully they'll have great jobs and a family of their own," Sheridan said. "And to use that as a platform, that's time well-spent."
Gill, the Urban Community School president, "can't say enough" good things about Sheridan and the Vikings.

The school is now involved in three projects centered around sports — lacrosse, the Foundry (a community rowing and sailing training center in the Flats) and Urban Squash Cleveland (a youth development center that is debuting later this month at Urban Community).

"What we're looking at as a school is how do we add (programs) and not take operating dollars away," Gill said. "The youth partnerships absolutely hit the nail on the head. They're free to our kids. They're right here. It's pretty neat. 

Casting a wide net

The next step for the Ohio City Inc. lacrosse program is hiring a manager, a process McNair hopes to have completed by November.

With the help of marketing by US Lacrosse, the position drew applications from all over the country, the Ohio City Inc. executive director said.

Roggenburk, the president of US Lacrosse's local chapter, said the national organization "will be sharing" in the salary.

"So we both have skin in the game," Roggenburk said of US Lacrosse and Ohio City. "We're in the midst of a capital raise to fund that and some other parts of the project. This is more than just the field." 

A lot more, actually.

The North Coast chapter is working with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, with the hopes of introducing lacrosse to children in phys ed classes. It's also meeting with municipal football leagues to promote lacrosse as a spring alternative to football.

"We'd love to ultimately build out a program that these kids who end up liking the sport will play for various clubs, whether it be school-based or rec-based, that then lead to a youth league," Roggenburk said.

That's an example of the ripple effects for which US Lacrosse is striving.

Roggenburk, who played lacrosse at St. Ignatius High School and at the club level for Miami University, said there were fewer than a handful of Northeast Ohio high school lacrosse programs when he competed in the late-1980s.

Now, he said, there are more than 120 boys and girls high school programs in the North Coast Ohio chapter.

"We truly believe the city and the young people not only represent the next great growth opportunity, but we owe it to the game and all the opportunities that go along with it," Roggenburk said.

Twitter: @KevinKleps


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Copyright 2017 Newsday, Inc.

 
Newsday (New York)

 

The Southampton Intermediate School gymnasium has closed temporarily to allow for a cleanup after small concentrations of lead were discovered in surface dust, school officials said.

 The work is expected to be completed by Sunday night and, while the gym is closed, all physical education classes, athletic practices and competitions will be held elsewhere, according to a statement posted Wednesday on the school's website from Southampton schools Superintendent Nicholas Dyno.

 Lead was discovered during routine maintenance of the gym, according to the statement, but the school's environmental consultants, EnviroScience, found no danger to students or staff, as the lead is not airborne.

 "However, the health, safety and well-being of our students and staff is our top priority, and the Board of Education and district administration have made the decision to close the intermediate school gymnasium and locker rooms effective immediately and begin a thorough cleanup," the statement said. 

 The district has contracted Branch Services, an environmental services remediation company, to perform a thorough cleanup and retesting, according to the statement.

 In accordance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards, "the accumulated surface dust will be thoroughly cleaned off all elevated gymnasium structural steel rafters, I-beams, bar joists, trusses, elevated equipment and windowsills," the notice said.

 As an extra precaution, the district will also perform additional testing of surfaces throughout the intermediate school, according to the notice.

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

 Tennessee basketball has joined the ranks of teams adding an exhibition game with proceeds benefiting hurricane relief.

 The Vols will play at Clemson - where Tennessee coach Rick Barnes coached in the mid-1990s - on Sunday, Nov. 5, the schools announced Thursday.

 The game will tip at 12:30 p.m. ET at Littlejohn Coliseum and admission is free. Fans are encouraged to make donations to benefit the Salvation Army's relief efforts in Florida and Texas, after both states were hit hard by hurricanes in recent months.

 An NCAA waiver allowed teams to add an exhibition game to their slate if proceeds go toward disaster relief. Michigan State, Kansas, Missouri, Georgia, Mississippi State, LSU, Notre Dame, Baylor and Houston are among the many schools that have also taken advantage of the waiver.

 Kansas and Missouri reportedly raised $1.75 million through ticket sales, text donations and purchases as they renewed the Border War rivalry on Sunday in Kansas City to benefit a handful of relief efforts.

 Barnes coached at Clemson from 1994-98, making three NCAA tournaments in that span. He left with a mark of 74-48.

 The Vols open the regular season against Presbyterian on Nov. 10. They have an exhibition against Carson-Newman on Nov. 2.

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Copyright 2017 Freedom Newspapers, Inc. Oct 26, 2017

The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

 

The family of a man who plummeted to his death from fire-escape stairs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High after a Denver Broncos game has sued the stadium district and other entities including Bowlen Sports Inc.

The wrongful death civil lawsuit was filed in Denver District Court on Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of 36-year-old Jason Coy's death, on behalf of his widow, Leslie, and her five children by Windsor attorney James Bramer.

The fire escape does not have uniform railings and steps, the lawsuit says, and presented an "unreasonable risk of injury to patrons."

The lawsuit was filed against the Metropolitan Football Stadium District, Stadium Management Company and a half dozen other defendants. It seeks compensation for Coy’s lost wages and the pain and suffering of his family.

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Copyright 2017 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

PROVO - The BYU basketball team is heading to Albuquerque this weekend to face an old rival - all for a good cause.

The Cougars and New Mexico will meet today at Dreamstyle Arena, famously known as The Pit, at 7:30 p.m. for an exhibition game that will benefit the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston.

"This is a good game," said BYU coach Dave Rose, who is a native of Houston. "Our guys are excited."

This will be the Cougars' first appearance at The Pit since 2011, the year before they left the Mountain West Conference for the West Coast Conference.

Rose initiated this matchup with the Lobos.

"When New Mexico expressed real interest, I thought it was a perfect fit. I haven't been there for seven years, but before that we were there every year," Rose said. "Lobo fans love to watch the Lobos play BYU. I played the national championship game with the University of Houston. Hopefully we can raise a lot of money."

Cougar forward Dalton Nixon, whose dad, Kevin, played games for BYU at New Mexico, knows plenty about the tradition of The Pit.

"I've heard stories from when my dad was playing about how hostile of an environment it is," said Nixon, who scored 19 points for the White squad in the Cougar Tipoff Wednesday. "We're really excited. Hopefully we can get a lot of people in The Pit, sell that thing out and send all the proceeds to the hurricane victims. We're really excited. We're just ready to play somebody else this weekend."

Cougar guard TJ Haws knows about The Pit as well. His dad, Marty, and his older brother, Tyler, both played games there.

"It's going to be fun," Haws said. "I remember my brother playing down in The Pit his freshman year. I'm excited to get down there and see what that's all about."

Forward Yoeli Childs is also looking forward to this game against UNM.

"I'm so excited. I had a dream last night about playing in The Pit. Everybody on this team is so excited," said Childs, who scored a game-high 23 points in the Cougar Tipoff. "It's going to be fun to go play some new faces, guys that don't know what we do, we don't know what they do. It's going to be so much fun. And it's a great cause, too. It's awesome that we can do something that's going to donate a lot of money to the victims of these hurricanes. It's a win-win from that aspect."

Exhibitions are usually played against lower- division opponents, and BYU will host two of those in the coming weeks.

This exhibition game has been approved by the NCAA, allowing schools to compete in an additional exhibition as long as the net proceeds are donated to a disaster relief charity.

Exhibition charity games are springing up all over the country. The charity game last week between Kansas and Missouri in Kansas City raised almost $2 million for Hurricane Harvey relief.

"I think it's sweet," forward Luke Worthington said about playing New Mexico. "I've talked to guys who used to play New Mexico frequently and they say The Pit is real. I'm excited to go down there. They'll have an excited crowd. It will be good to get in front of a team like that and an audience like that to get the juices flowing and to feel like you're in season."

All proceeds from today's game will benefit the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and County Judge Ed Emmett to provide relief for victims affected by the recent floods. The fund is housed at the Greater Houston Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity. Donations can be made to the fund at ghcf.org.

Rose attended Northbrook High School in Houston and was co-captain of the University of Houston basketball team known as Phi Slama Jama that finished as national runner-up in the 1983 NCAA Tournament. That year, Houston lost to North Carolina State at The Pit.

BYU and New Mexico were conference rivals from 1950 to 2011 and have met 132 times in the history of the series. The Cougars hold an all-time 77-55 record against the Lobos. They last met at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu in 2015. BYU won, 96-66.

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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Seventy bucks to visit Mount Rainier or Glacier National Park? Rather than pay that outrageous fee, many families would simply stay home, and that would be a shame.

But that's the proposal from the U.S. National Park Service for the 17 most popular parks. The purported purpose is to address overdue park maintenance.

"We need to have a vision to look at the future of our parks and take action in order to ensure that our grandkids' grandkids will have the same if not better experience than we have today," Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement. "Shoring up our parks' aging infrastructure will do that."

The current entrance fee per vehicle is $30, and more than doubling that might be acceptable if it were the solution to the huge maintenance backlog facing the National Park Service. But it won't even make a dent.

The Park Service collects about $200 million per year from entrance fees, which would increase to an estimated $268 million under the new price. The maintenance backlog is more than $11.3 billion (yes, billion).

Our decaying parks need work on roads, bridges, trails, restrooms, visitors centers and on and on.

But a Washington Post analysis finds that it would take 162 years for the fee increase to wipe out the current backlog. That doesn't include new maintenance costs that would arise over that span. Our grandkids' grandkids wouldn't have a better experience, just a far more expensive one.

That is, if they chose to visit one of the parks. That's a big "if" given the expense.

Moreover, the Trump administration is calling for a $297 million cut to the Park Service budget, which would be slightly more than total entrance fee collections under the $70 proposal. So overall, the agency would slip even further behind in maintaining parks.

The last fee increase - in 2015 - was $5, and park visits still increased. But a $40 increase would price out many Americans. The national park experience shouldn't be exclusive.

The massive backlog grew because the federal government began bleeding the National Park Service budget. It's taken a 40 percent hit over the last decade. The Park Service budget is less than 1 percent of the overall federal budget.

The proposed fee increase would be a Band-Aid on a gushing artery. The obvious solution is to increase the agency's budget, and a bipartisan bill in Congress would do just that. Last spring, Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, proposed to increase the budget by $500 million a year for the next 50 years. This would be paid for from royalties the feds receive from oil and gas leases on government property.

If the goal is catch up on maintenance, that's the way to go. On Tuesday, the Park Service opened a 30-day comment period on the price increase. Tell them a $70 price tag that doesn't solve the problem is simply outrageous.

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Copyright 2017 Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc.
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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

Plenty of people are upset that because she’s a girl, Emily Nash wasn’t awarded the championship trophy at the Central Mass. Division 3 boys’ golf tournament on Tuesday even though she shot the lowest score.

The Lunenburg High junior isn’t upset, but she is disappointed.

Nash said she was informed before she teed off that as a girl, she would be eligible to compete in the Division 3 state tournament Monday at Wyantenuck CC in Great Barrington only if her team qualified, but she could not move on as an individual.

“But I wasn’t aware,” Nash said in a phone interview Wednesday from Settlers Crossing Golf Course, “until after my round that if I won, I wouldn’t be able to get the title or the trophy. So I was definitely disappointed, but I understand that there are rules in place. I don’t think people expected for this to happen, so they didn’t really know how to react to it. None of us are mad at the MIAA or anything like that, but I was definitely a little bit disappointed.”

Nash shot a 3-over 75 at Blissful Meadows Golf Course in Uxbridge on Tuesday, four strokes ahead of runner-up Nico Ciolino of Advanced Math & Science Academy Charter School of Marlboro. Nevertheless, Ciolino was declared the medalist. 

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association allowed Nash to compete with the Lunenburg High boys’ team in the Division 3 tournament because Lunenburg doesn’t field a girls’ team in the spring. But an MIAA rule states, “Girls playing on a fall boys’ team cannot be entered in the Boys Fall Individual Tournament. They can only play in the Boys’ Team Tournament. If qualified, they can play in the spring Girls Sectional and State Championships.”

The rule prevents girls from competing as individuals in both the spring and fall in golf, but the rule seems to have changed over the years. Nash said she competed as an individual in the Central Mass. Tournament as an eighth-grader even though her team didn’t qualify. Richard Pearson, MIAA assistant executive director, did not return a phone call, and Ann Trytko, MIAA assistant director and golf liaison, did not return an email.

“I just don’t think they ever planned for this scenario,” Bob Nash said about his daughter winning. “We’re not trying to trash them. A lot of people are upset with the MIAA, but it is what it is. The rules are the rules. They’re there for a reason. We played by them. We didn’t know obviously this one, which was a big one. I’m sure they’re going to look at this and hopefully figure out what is the best way to handle this in the future.”

“It’s a shame that the best score didn’t win,” said Joe Griffin, PGA professional and director of instruction at Blissful Meadows.

Wednesday’s T&G story about Nash not receiving the trophy prompted Boston television stations to interview her at Lunenburg High and at Settlers Crossing, and pga.com, golf.com and the Kansas City Star were among the media outlets to post articles on the topic.

“I think people feel it was an injustice,” Bob Nash said, “and I understand, (but) I think people are more bothered than we are to be quite honest. I’m a little surprised at the reaction. When she found out, she was like, ‘OK, no problem.’ She came home, she had dinner, and it was a non-issue.”

As the No. 1 golfer on the boys’ team, Nash is eligible to compete in the state sectional girls’ tournament each spring. Last spring, she finished third in the state sectionals girls’ tournament and fourth in the state girls' tournament, and she said she’d like to continue playing for the boys’ team in the fall and as an individual in the spring.

The 5-foot-1 Nash is a three-time T&G All-Star in girls’ golf. She was voted the Mid-Wach C League most valuable player in boys’ golf as a freshman and sophomore. The honor hasn’t been awarded yet for this fall.

Bob Nash said his daughter would like to play golf in college. 

“It would be really nice to have this win on her résumé,” he said, “but technically there’s nothing. It’s almost as if she never played in it. So to win the tournament and not really have anything to show for it I think is unfortunate, but she does get to compete in the spring with the girls.”

Trophy or not, Emily Nash considers herself to be the Central Mass. Division 3 medalist. 

“It’s a pretty big accomplishment,” she said. “I haven’t even won the girls’ districts, so it was nice winning the boys. I wouldn’t say it’s No. 1 because I’ve won a few two-day tournaments, but it’s definitely up there because I’ve never won against all boys before.”

Nash won the two-day Women’s Golf Association of Massachusetts Junior Amateur championship last summer.

Ciolino offered to give Nash the first-place trophy, but she declined to accept it. 

“I thought it was really nice of him,” Nash said, “and I kind of felt bad for him because I knew he got the trophy, and he felt really awkward about it.”

Central Mass. Division 3 Tournament Director Kevin Riordan said on Tuesday that he planned to purchase a first-place trophy for Nash. Riordan declined to comment further on Wednesday.

“I honestly didn’t even realize that until I read one of the articles,” Nash said. “That’s super nice of him.”

AMSA athletic director Pete Jones is also a first-year member of the MIAA state golf committee.

“The optics of (Tuesday) don’t look great,” Jones said. “I understand that. The MIAA is in a tough position, and so are we as schools because we’re doing our best to provide opportunities for all of our student-athletes, and Lunenburg is a school that as of now can’t field a girls’ golf team, so Emily gets to compete with the boys this fall. She’s a bona fide member of the boys' golf team. Then she’ll have an opportunity in the spring to compete with fellow high school girls golfers.”

Jones felt proud that Ciolino offered to give the trophy to Nash.

“I know he felt like he got beat and she deserved to be the champion,” Jones said. “I’m very lucky to have a guy like him who handled it that way. A classy act by him.”

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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

Security will be increased at the TSSAA's girls soccer state tournament on Friday and Saturday with a white nationalist rally set to take place in Murfreesboro on Saturday.

Organizers of a "White Lives Matter" rally have applied for a permit to demonstrate on Saturday outside the Rutherford County Courthouse, located in the city's public square.

The soccer tournament is being held at Richard Siegel Soccer Complex, which is located about six miles away from the courthouse. The tournament kicks off Wednesday with teams from across the state competing for state championships.

The Division II championship games are scheduled for Friday and Division I championships set for Saturday.

TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said he has been assured there will be an increase in security. But he wants everyone coming to the tournament aware of what is happening and to avoid the downtown area.

"One of the things we are doing (Wednesday) is remind them to keep their teams together and away from the area where the protests are scheduled to take place," Childress said. "We want to make sure people are aware of it.

"You could have someone from upper East Tennessee coming that may not know this is going on. We want them to keep their athletes and fans together and away from those areas."

As of Tuesday, the city hadn't officially granted a permit for the event. However the League of the South, which applied for the permit, announced it still plans to rally Saturday.

Childress said coaches have been notified of the white nationalist rally.

"Of course there are concerns," Childress said. "We are not doing anything different as far as changing the schedule."

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

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October 26, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer was dancing for joy about the team's first day in its new Brookhaven practice facility. I mean that literally: Budenholzer sprinted across the two practice floors for his post-practice session with media and performed a cartwheel and some other moves I can't really explain.

Sadly, I do not have video of the moment.

"I caught everybody with their phones down," Budenholzer quipped.

Seriously, though, the Hawks were happy to return home and break in their new place before continuing the five-game road trip. They returned to Atlanta following their defeat at Miami on Monday night, enjoyed a day off Tuesday and then practiced Wednesday before heading to Chicago.

Injured point guard Dennis Schroder (ankle) did not make the trip. Injured forward Ersan Ilyasova did make the trip.

Kent Bazemore said working in the new facility gave the team a boost.

"It's kind of like a rejuvenated group," Bazemore said. "We've been on the road for so long: Athens (training camp) in preseason, the first few games of the season. It's kind of good to know you are coming back to a world-class facility."

Budenholzer said his excitement for the new practice area (officially dubbed "Emory Healthcare Courts") is genuine.

"I don't think there's that word that describes how excited we are about being here, how helpful it's going to be for our players (with) the emphasis we put on player development and player growth," Budenholzer said. "Hopefully it's going to put our players in a better position to be the best they can be and hopefully make our team the best it can be."

The Hawks have high hopes for the new practice facility as a comfortable workplace for current players that includes an advanced sports medicine operation in the Emory Sports Medicine Center. The Hawks also plan to use the facility as a lure for future free agents.

I'm skeptical about that second part. I think practice facilities are far down the list of factors when players are considering signing with a team. There's money, of course, but also the organizational leadership, the coach, the city and the promised role.

But surely a top-notch athletic-training operation can be a factor. And since other teams have either built fancy new digs or are planning them, at least the Hawks won't be behind in that area.

The Hawks are selling the new practice facility and the ongoing renovation of Philips Arena as parts of an overall rejuvenation of the organization.

"Everybody in the NBA loves new stuff," Bazemore said. "I'm sure this will get the attention of a lot of free agents come free-agency time. We are in an organization that is moving in the right direction. A lot of players live in Atlanta. Offseason, you will catch anyone here.

"Atlanta is the spot you want to be. We've got the front office and ownership group that is looking to change the entire city and not just the organization. Things are looking up if you are living in Atlanta right now."

As you would expect, the new facility is very nice. In addition to the much roomier (and brighter) practice area than at their downtrodden gym inside Philips Arena, the Hawks have added several amenities to make current players comfortable.

That includes some basics that make work a little easier.

"There isn't any stairs," Bazemore said. "At the old practice facility you had to walk upstairs to get to the weight room. That's kind of taxing in the middle of the season."

Bazemore cited some other cool amenities: an outdoor pool (extra deep for tall dudes), cold/warm tub, a grilling area, video game consoles with large-screen TVs, and chefs who prepare post-practice meals to order.

"They want us to hang out a lot a lot when you are here in town," Bazemore said. "I'm sure we will hang out two or three hours after practice and play video games, play horse and kind of do whatever."

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USA TODAY

 

As coaching-carousel season approaches, many Football Bowl Subdivision coaches appear to be on shaky ground, and many administrators might soon find themselves wanting to make a change.

How much would it cost to fire those head coaches on the arbitrary date of Dec. 1?

Here's a breakdown of each hot-seat coach's buyout, and whether it can be offset or mitigated by salary from his next job, according to the terms of contracts reviewed by USA TODAY Sports.

David Beaty, Kansas

Buyout: $3 million

Mitigation/offset: Not addressed

The Jayhawks have been shut out by Iowa State (45-0) and TCU (43-0) in consecutive weeks to drop to 1-6 this season and 3-28 in Beaty's tenure, with just one win over an FBS team during that span. Midway through Beaty's third season, there have been few signs of improvement. And for a school that pays its basketball coach upwards of $4.7 million annually, a $3 million buyout would certainly be manageable.

Bret Bielema, Arkansas

Buyout: $5,874,227

Mitigation/offset: Yes

A 2015 amendment to Bielema's contract created the misconception that his buyout is $15.4 million. In reality, the $15.4 million figure must be plugged into a formula in his original deal -- essentially divided by the total length of the agreement (in months) and multiplied by the number of months remaining on the deal, which runs through Dec. 31, 2020. The math reveals a buyout of $5.87 million that, while pricey, is not prohibitive, especially for a coach whose team has been outscored by 90 points over the last three games.

Todd Graham, Arizona State

Buyout: $12,266,667

Mitigation/offset: Not addressed

Athletics director Ray Anderson declined to extend Graham's contract at the end of last season like he had in previous years, an ominous sign for a coach who went 28-12 in his first three seasons at Arizona State but has gone 15-17 since. The cost of buying out Graham, however, is the entire salary left on his contract, which would put Anderson and company in a tough spot if they wanted to make a change.

Butch Jones, Tennessee

Buyout: $8,125,000

Mitigation/offset: Yes

The Vols have lost three consecutive games by a combined margin of 101-16 and are 2-8 in their last 10 SEC games, causing unrest among fans in Knoxville. Will first-year athletics director John Currie want to bring in a fresh face? Jones' buyout is relatively reasonable and includes a clause that would require Jones to not only seek a new job but also report his quarterly income to UT through the end of the deal. If Jones failed to do so, according to the terms of his contract, "the University's obligation to continue paying liquidated damages to Coach shall cease."

Brad Lambert, Charlotte

Buyout: $813,184

Mitigation/offset: Yes

It's been a tough transition to the FBS for Lambert and the 49ers, who have gone 7-25 since making the leap from the Football Championship Subdivision level in 2015. Change would come at a relatively cheap price for Charlotte, especially because Lambert, who previously worked as an assistant at Wake Forest and Georgia, has a mitigation clause in his deal.

Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina

Buyout: $1,633,333

Mitigation/offset: Yes

The Pirates fired Ruffin McNeill after a 5-7 finish in 2015, but they've won only five of their 15 games since under Montgomery. With a challenging remaining schedule, East Carolina could very well finish 2-10 and prompt athletics director Jeff Compher, who just signed a five-year extension, to go back to the drawing board.

Jim Mora, UCLA

Buyout: $12,275,000

Mitigation/offset: Yes

The most recent amendment to Mora's contract specifies that his buyout will be 80% of the guaranteed compensation remaining on his deal. There's also a school-friendly mitigation clause, which states that Mora's "lack of diligence" in seeking another job or "refusal of a reasonable offer" effectively voids UCLA's buyout responsibility.

Barry Odom, Missouri

Buyout: $1,462,500

Mitigation/offset: Yes, but no specified obligation to mitigate

Though it's unlikely the Tigers would cut ties with Odom after just two seasons, doing so wouldn't cost much. For an SEC school such as Missouri, Odom's buyout of $1.46 million is incredibly cheap -- and, because it is related to the time remaining on his contract, it will continue to shrink over time.

Mike Riley, Nebraska

Buyout: $6,630,000

Mitigation/offset: Yes

The athletics director who signed off on Riley's one-year contract extension in March was fired this season. And that move, plus a 3-4 start that featured a loss to Northern Illinois, has put Riley's future in Lincoln in question. If new athletics director Bill Moos wants a fresh start for his football program, it will cost him upwards of $6 million unless Riley, 64, takes another job.

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

Buyout: $10,416,667

Mitigation/offset: Not addressed

After a shocking season-opening loss to UCLA and a too-close-for-comfort win over Nicholls State, Sumlin appears to be working his way off the hot seat. Wins over Arkansas and Florida, and a competitive game against Alabama, help Sumlin's case, as does his buyout, which shrinks by more than $400,000 every month.

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USA TODAY

 

Robert Witt was president of the University of Alabama in 2007 when the school signed Nick Saban to an eye-popping, eight-year, $32 million deal. Witt says that when he committed to that contract he had more in mind than improving the football program. Ten years later, Alabama has significantly boosted its enrollment and its academic profile.

Does that mean — to paraphrase a University of Oklahoma president of the 1950s — that Alabama has a university its football team can be proud of?

"I think we do," Witt says, offering a smile wide enough to embarrass the Cheshire cat.

Today Alabama's football team is No. 1 in the Amway Coaches Poll and its coach is tops too, at least as measured by the checks he cashes. Saban will make more than $11 million this season, including a $4 million bonus that the school prefers to call a "contract extension signing incentive." It's by far the most money a coach has made in a single year at a public school since USA TODAY Sports began tracking college athletics compensation in 2006. It also might well be among the greatest amounts ever paid to anyone in higher education or public service.

Is Saban worth such a princely price?

"Probably not," Saban says.

Just try to find anyone else in the state who'll agree with that assessment.

"Roll, Tide" is a salutation around here, like hello or goodbye elsewhere. And the university is on a roll every bit as much as its football team. In 2006, the year before Saban arrived, Alabama reports it had an incoming freshman class of 4,404 students (2,926 in-state, 1,478 out of state). This fall's incoming class, the school says, is 7,407 students (2,406 in-state, 5,001 out of state).

Alabama ensures the quality of much of its student body the same way that Saban ensures the competitiveness of his football team — with aggressive recruiting and liberal offers of scholarships. Alabama reports 41% of its incoming class scored 30 or higher on the ACT (versus 13% in 2006) while 34% had a GPA of 4.0 or higher in high school (versus 17% in 2006).

These results, of course, are a function of university strategies independent of Saban and the four national championships he's won here. Alabama has 45 recruiters in Alabama and across the country, many in markets where in generations past the university was simply not a consideration, such as California and Connecticut. Rick Funk, director of admissions for out-of-state recruitment, says his recruiters primarily sell the school's academic programs, though he concedes football inevitably comes up in conversation.

"It's the elephant in the room," Funk says — and he doesn't mean Big Al, Alabama's pachyderm mascot.

Alabama's push for growth began before Saban was hired. Still, Witt says signing him was a key portion of a master plan for expanding enrollment, though it's difficult to measure how much growth would have followed had someone else been hired as coach. And someone else nearly was: Witt says Alabama was "truly blessed" when Rich Rodriguez turned down the job after Alabama fired Mike Shula in 2006 and Saban at first rebuffed an Alabama offer.

Mal Moore, then Alabama's athletics director, at last pried Saban away from the NFL's Miami Dolphins and then told Witt to go explain the landmark deal to the school's board of trustees. The pitch Witt made, as he remembers it, was simply this: Think of Saban's salary as an investment rather than an expense -- "and that he was going to become an important part of our effort to turn the University of Alabama into a truly national university."

Since, Alabama will have paid Saban a total of at least $65 million through his 11 seasons, including this one, and that doesn't even count incentive bonuses and the value of other perks.

Saban's salary in 2007, his first year at Alabama, was $3.5 million; only Oklahoma's Bob Stoops made more that year. Adjusted for inflation, Saban's original salary would be $4.1 million today, which would be good for roughly 20th among today's coaches.

When USA TODAY Sports began its analyses of coaches' salaries in major-college football in 2006, the average salary was $950,000 — or $1.2 million in today's dollars. This season, among the same group of schools studied in 2006, the average salary has doubled to $2.4 million — and Saban is making nearly five times that average.

Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne figures that's fair. "He's separated himself from the market," Byrne says.

CEO of a corporation

Saban's base salary is $245,000. This season he gets nearly $10.9 million in other compensation. That includes a $4 million one-time signing bonus that Byrne says is a recognition of what Saban accomplished in his first 10 seasons at Alabama. It does not include bonuses that can max out at $700,000, depending on the team's performance on the field and in the classroom. Nor does it include Saban living in his home at no cost. The Crimson Tide Foundation bought it from him in 2013. The foundation paid the prorated property taxes on the home that year; there are no longer any property taxes because the foundation is part of the university.

"I think offering Coach Saban a compensation package that addresses all of his interests is in the best interest of the university," Witt says. "Whether that is his house, car, whatever."

Saban gets the use of two full-size cars for him and his immediate family; all operating expenses and insurance are paid by the university. The contract also specifies that for each contract year that Saban completes, the school will pay $100,000 to the Saban family's charity, the Nick's Kids Foundation, or another organization he can designate after conferring with the university.

The economic impacts on campus that administrators cite in justifying Saban's compensation compound the case being made in federal court and elsewhere that college athletes deserve more for playing their sports than the NCAA currently allows. Alabama President Stuart Bell and Witt say they are not in favor of paying college athletes. But they say they do favor consideration of ways to give athletes more generous benefits than the cost-of-attendance-based scholarships they receive now, including the possibility of paying for graduate school at an athlete's institution of choice.

"The smaller schools are so concerned about the expenses of their programs that they're opposed to anything that increases expenses," says Witt, who was Alabama president from 2003 to 2012 and then chancellor of the University of Alabama System until he retired in 2016. "I'd rather see the NCAA more focused on doing everything possible to support athletes academically than being fixated on head coaches' salaries."

Ozan Jaquette, an assistant professor of higher education at UCLA, thinks Alabama administrators are justified in making the case that Saban is worth the money he makes. Jaquette conducts research on public universities that try to attract more out-of-state students given shrinking state education budgets. He says Alabama has been among the most successful at increasing its number of out-of-state students — and probably the most successful at raising its academic profile at the same time.

He says Alabama's strategy would work at few other schools: "It's not something that, let's say, Middle Tennessee State could easily replicate. Not many can play that game."

88 new buildings, $2 billion spent since 2003

Bell spreads a large map of the campus across a table in his office, surveying it like a general before battle. Alabama's president is pointing to a bundle of buildings that have popped up in recent years, all to accommodate the expanding enrollment from 23,878 in 2006 to 38,563 today, an increase of 62%. (Undergraduate enrollment grew from 19,474 to 33,305, all numbers per the school.)

Other schools in the Southeastern Conference, most notably Arkansas and Mississippi, also have had robust enrollment increases during this time, although not as robust as Alabama's.

"We've invested $200 million in our residence halls — what you and I used to call dorms," Bell says. "And we're breaking ground on two more."

Alabama says its investment is more than $2 billion since 2003, including 88 new buildings and renovation of 59 others. Much of that is paid for by the higher tuition of all those out-of-state students; they pay $28,100 this school year versus $10,780 for in-state students.

The 85,000-square-foot Witt Student Activity Center that opened in 2014 boasts a 40-foot climbing wall and views of the Black Warrior River through floor-to-ceiling windows from the cardio floor.

"So, as you are driving around, if you think, 'Wow, this looks expensive,'" Bell says, "it is."

Laura Catherine Wallace, better known as L.C., is a chemical engineering major from Nashville who gives campus tours by golf cart. She wheels around the grounds showing off Alabama's array of red-brick buildings and stately white columns. That, she says, pointing at one, is the SEC. No, not the Southeastern Conference — the Science and Engineering Complex.

Wallace also considered Vanderbilt and Virginia but scored a scholarship to Alabama. "They really show they want you," she says. Though, truth to tell, she wasn't a hard sell: Her maternal grandparents met here and her mother went here too.

Connor Aycock, a civil engineering major who works at the climbing wall, tells a different story. He is from Denver and had no affinity for Alabama before he met recruiter Beth Hodge, who covers Colorado and Wyoming.

"Then I visited and fell in love with the place," Aycock says. "The housing, the campus, the football — everything aligned."

Aycock says he is a Presidential scholar, for students who score 33 to 36 on their ACT or 1490 to 1600 on their SAT, coupled with high GPAs in high school. He loved Denver Broncos football before he arrived on campus; now he loves Alabama football, too.

Are you worth it?

USA TODAY Sports asked to speak to Saban for this story. Josh Maxson, Alabama's assistant athletics director for football communications, said there'd be no chance for a one-on-one interview but invited USA TODAY Sports to ask a question at one of Saban's weekly news conferences. The question: You're making about $11.1 million this season. Are you worth it?

That's when Saban said probably not. "But I really don't do this for the money," he added, "never really have."

Saban talked about how he began his career as a graduate assistant more than 40 years ago and how he made $8,000 (nearly $38,000 in today's dollars) when he got his first full-time gig as an assistant. He began as a grad assistant at Kent State, his alma mater, and that's where he became linebackers coach in 1975.

"And that was after two years of being a graduate assistant and making nothing, going to graduate school and working, loading trucks at night and my wife worked in the registrar's office," Saban said. "We were happy when my dad brought us a case of peas, so we could have a side dish when we were eating. We worked hard through the years."

Saban's tone suggested that perhaps he considered the question an impertinence.

"I don't think it's up to me to determine what the value is or what the market is for coaches, or what value I have created for this institution or this place," Saban said. "I think those people" — school administrators, presumably — "made those decisions. We haven't asked for anything."

Surely his agent, Jimmy Sexton, asks for things. Byrne, the athletics director, confirms that Sexton has made asks in contract negotiations, but Byrne said Saban's most recent negotiation was an easy one. Saban, who turns 66 on Halloween, got a three-year extension in May. His current eight-year deal runs through Jan. 31, 2025. If Alabama were to fire Saban without cause while the deal has it least four years remaining, it would owe him $26.9 million, subject to offset from subsequent income.

Faculty fine with Saban salary?

The question stands: Is Saban worth $11.1 million in a single season?

"He's worth absolutely every penny," says Bell, who signs Saban's contracts.

"Of course he is," says Byrne, who negotiates Saban's contracts.

"Yes, definitely yes," says Witt, who signed Saban to that first deal.

If there are Alabamans who think not, "they'd probably never say so publicly," says George Rable, professor emeritus of history at Alabama.

Rable remembers his first faculty senate meeting at Alabama. The only complaint he heard about football was how hard it was to get tickets. Faculty on other campuses often chafe at the misguided priorities of American higher education as represented by the millions made by the nation's top football coaches.

"The faculty here," Rable says, "is very quiet about such things."

Alabama coaching legend Paul "Bear" Bryant insisted that he always make less than Alabama's president, even if only by a dollar, according to Bryant biographer Allen Barra in The Last Coach. Bell's compensation package totals $755,000; several of Saban's assistant coaches make more than that. Bell says he's fine with that. "If you're going to have the best," he says, you have to pay for the best.

Witt seconds that emotion. He recalls a meeting with Alabama's board of trustees before he became president.

"One of them looked at me and said, 'We want the University of Alabama to be as respected academically as it is athletically,'" Witt says. "And we wanted to be a national university and we wanted to grow."

Alabama reports its applications grew from 15,761 in 2006 to 43,735 for the current entering class.

Witt says Saban has been an engine for all of that. Even so, he can't resist a small joke about compensation and reincarnation.

"In my next life," Witt says, "I'm coming back as a football coach."

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USA TODAY

 

Georgia Tech Josh Pastner has a neighbor in Atlanta who doesn't really follow college basketball but last month found a sudden interest in the sport. News of the most widespread scandal in NCAA history had penetrated so deep, even someone who couldn't name a player on Pastner's roster was asking questions about what those federal indictments meant and how far the dirt might spread.

At Mike Brey's breakfast spot in South Bend, Ind., people have been approaching him with questions like, "Everything good with us? You OK?" which have been vague in substance but unmistakable in their implication.

"We're all in it, man," Brey said. "We know it's going to get worse before it gets better."

In the post-FBI investigation world, merely being involved in college basketball carries with it the scarlet letter of corruption, which should give those who chose it as their profession plenty of incentive to clean it up.

That was the topic at the ACC's preseason media event Wednesday, and for good reason. Now the pre-eminent and unrivaled conference in college basketball strength, the ACC has suffered the biggest fallout of the scandal with Rick Pitino being fired at Louisville and allegations that Adidas executives were planning to funnel money to a recruit to attend Miami.

At the same time, with Hall of Fame coaches such as Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim, no league potentially has greater influence on how to fix it.

"I think it's an opportunity," Krzyzewski said. "In some respects, it can be one of the most productive times in the history of our game."

Krzyzewki is right that this scandal is so big, so embarrassing that perhaps it will shock people into thinking differently about everything from the grass-roots system to agent involvement and working toward real solutions.

But when all the committee meetings are finished and task force reports written, there's still reason to doubt that the stakeholders in college sports be self-aware enough to understand that the problem isn't the agents, the NBA, the AAU coaches or the shoe companies -- it's them.

"I don't know where it will end up," ACC Commissioner John Swofford said. "I don't know how much can be changed. I'm an optimist by nature, but the point I'm trying to make is that I don't think we have a chance to improve this without some connectedness between these groups and quite frankly just about any degree of connectedness among these groups would be better than where we are right now."

Swofford is right that the only fix for systemic issues is a holistic approach that involves every aspect of the basketball business from grass roots to the NBA.

The problem is, whether you're talking about a shoe company, an agent or a pro league, none of them except the NCAA participates in a market where a player's value is capped at a scholarship and a full cost of attendance stipend.

In other words, it's not the job of the NBA or Nike to bend to the value system of college sports; it's the NCAA's job to acknowledge that there's a market for talent and to adjust its rules accordingly.

"We've got to modernize some things," Swofford said. "I'm not for throwing out the collegiate model, but I am for modernizing it to live in today's world in a way that makes sense."

How far will that go?

Given the equity built into his brand as arguably the greatest college basketball coach of all time and a three-time Olympic gold medal winner, Krzyzewski has a chance to be the voice of reason for the next iteration of the NCAA.

Though vague on specific solutions, Krzyzewski clearly sees the folly in trying to make the multibillion-dollar business of college basketball fit into the same paradigm as women's volleyball or men's soccer. He isn't afraid to say that many of the rules governing college sports on issues such as agents, for example, are antiquated and irrelevant and should be updated to align with the world in which we live now, not the one that existed 30 years ago.

"One of the strengths of any organization is adaptability," he said.

Krzyzewski seems to think evolution will be relatively easy for the NCAA. I'm not so sure. "Do you still drive an Edsel?" he asked when I pointed out 70 years of NCAA history would suggest big changes often are met with bigger pushback. "Do you still listen to an 8-track? Come on. Change isn't hard, but change requires some footwork and you have to do it. The thing is, the game cries out for structural change."

That might sound good, but where do you start and end? It's going to be complicated.

Though everyone agrees the NBA's "one-and-done" rule isn't going to be in place much longer, those who point to that as a real solution to the underground economy of college basketball are doing so only as a crutch.

Whenever an entity believes a basketball player at any level has a monetary value to them, it's more likely than not that the money eventually will flow to either the player or someone attached to him. At the end of the day, the only way to reduce corruption is make things legal that were once illegal.

The agent issue, for instance, has an easy fix. If you let college athletes sign with agents -- all legal, all above board, all out in the open -- you eliminate the need for players to take under-the-table money from them in exchange for promises that may not get kept.

"But when you go down that road, you have one guy on your team that's getting paid from an agent and some guys that aren't getting anything," Boeheim said.

When I argued that's pretty much the case in any environment, in any walk of life, Boeheim shot back, "You're talking about 18-year-old kids. To me, that's difficult for 18-year-olds to process. Maybe they could. You've got to change the whole amateur way of doing things."

Given how his sport has been exposed over the last month, why would that be so bad?

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Copyright 2017 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby believes the federal investigation into corruption in college basketball has brought to light a seedy underbelly of the sport that people have known about all along.

Bowlsby, who spoke during the Big 12's media day Tuesday, also thinks the investigation that has brought down Louisville coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich is not going away soon.

"We certainly have always known all the best parts of college athletics and all the worst parts of college athletics are embedded in the sport of men's college basketball," Bowlsby said. "Lots of high-risk academic people and high-risk social people and lots of third-parties involved, and I think it's impossible to know at this point how far this goes or who might be involved in it."

Federal prosecutors have accused 10 men, including four assistants at Power Five conference schools, of funneling money to prospects in an attempt to direct them to certain schools, agents and companies. The probe hit the Big 12 when former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans was charged in the case.

"I know everybody wants answers to all those things," Cowboys coach Mike Boynton said. "I really can't answer much in regards to the investigation. But when that headline comes across your phone, I was shocked. That's really all I can say about initial feelings and thoughts about it."

The NCAA has already formed a commission, independent from the organization's governance, to study the inner workings of the sport. It is being chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Bowlsby said the Big 12 provided some guidance to athletic directors during a meeting last week, and there has been additional guidance from the NCAA heading into the next season.

"Surveillance of rule compliance is something our schools do all the time. It's routine, almost a daily part of how they operate," Bowlsby said. "I don't know that any of this necessitates radical change in procedures on each campus. But I think it informs administrators to ask questions."

Bowlsby, who is closely involved in college football governance, has wondered whether the tentacles of the investigation could spread into other sports - especially the NCAA's most lucrative sport.

"There are some of the same things present in college football," he said. "But I think a lot of the basketball challenges are embedded in the club programs. If you're a top-200 player in college basketball, from a purely letter-of-the-law basis, you're likely to have been professionalized at some point in the process leading up to your recruitment, just through the benefits you've received.

"There are some problems that are baked in that are perhaps a little more prevalent because of the structure of college basketball," Bowlsby continued, "but you don't have to have too vivid an imagination to see this showing up in other sports."

Bowlsby wouldn't even guess how long the federal probe will take, nor how many other schools might be implicated. But he pointed out that the Department of Justice and FBI have the power to subpoena and power of perjury, giving federal prosecutors the ability to dig far deeper than the NCAA.

"As a result, this is going to be around for a while," he said, "and we're likely to be in the same situation we're in now We don't have very much information and we aren't going to get a heads up before something happens, and as a result it's a period of discomfort."

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Copyright 2017 The New York Observer, L.P.
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New York Observer

 

Running, strength training, tennis, basketball; whatever the physical activity, you've probably also heard of it described as a mental game. But a fascinating new study suggests that the further you get inside your own head while exercising, the harder it is for your body and brain to function simultaneously. While exercise and brain function were previously viewed as a dynamic duo, scientists are now speculating that mixing intense thought with high-intensity exercise is counterproductive.

Humans have larger brains than other mammals as compared to the size of our bodies. Like any other organ, the brain requires constant blood flow and nutrients to keep it going. The harder the brain works, the higher the demand for caloric fuel, reducing the flow of nutrients that would normally go toward the muscles. In other words, exercise and high levels of cognition send the body a mixed signal, resulting in a disproportionate amount of nutrients in the muscles versus the brain. Muscles and brain tissue both require blood sugar as a main form of nutrition, and it can become unevenly dispersed in moments of high brain and muscle activity.

The study, conducted at Cambridge University, employed 62 of Britain's most elite rowers to complete three separate tasks: one mental, one physical, and one combining the two. The rowers were first shown words on a screen, asked to memorize them, and write down as many as they could remember afterwards. These memorization exercises are often used by doctors to measure the mental impact of concussions, brain damage, and other cognitive issues. The next day, the rowers were asked to row as intensely as they could for three minutes. The third day, they completed the memorization exercise while rowing. During the simultaneous challenge, memorization ability decreased by 9.7 percent, while physical ability dropped by 12.6 percent. Across all participants in the study, the decrease in physical power was about 29.8 percent greater than the decrease in memorization.

The results were clear: in the faceoff between physical and mental strength, the brain conquered. The rowers performed lower, both in rowing wattage and word retention, when required to complete both tasks together. However, the physical implications were far worse than the mental, meaning that the brain was dominant in receiving more blood sugar than the muscles activated by rowing. The study sheds an interesting light on athletes who persevere through extreme physical and mental conditioning in the world's most "mental" sports. To excel in a competitive sport is not only to overcome physical and emotional barriers, but the barriers presented when the two intertwine. The findings also support the theory that the human brain surpassed the body from an evolutionary standpoint to aid survival. "A well-fuelled brain may have offered us better survival odds than well-fuelled muscles when facing an environmental challenge," said Dr. Danny Longman, study leader and research fellow at Cambridge.

With cognition coming out on top, scientists are hoping to further examine how our "selfish brain" dominates other bodily functions, and explore the far-reaching limits of the power of the mind. "For me, the main message of this study is a bit philosophical," Longman stated, "An enlarged and highly functioning brain is one of the key factors that make us human. This study demonstrated, in a very simple way, this defining characteristic of our species."

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Copyright 2017 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Athletes at an Aurora gym can no longer compete in USA Gymnastics meets, after associating with someone who presented a "concern for athlete safety," USA Gymnastics representatives say. The organization revoked its membership with American Institute of Gymnastics in Aurora on Oct. 11 after the gym violated USA Gymnastics' Safe Sport policy by having contact with someone on the group's "permanently ineligible" list, said Toby Stark, director of Safe Sport.

"They are unable to represent gymnasts at any USA gymnastics-sanctioned events," Stark said. "Any gymnast in the community who intends to compete at USA Gymnastics-sanctioned competitions will need to affiliate themselves with members in good standing." The decision was made after a man attended a class at the gym with his child, an American Institute of Gymnastics representative said in an emailed statement Tuesday. "USAG decided on their own with no legal right, to revoke our current USAG competitive status," the statement said. "This specific status in no way shape or form interferes with the running of American Gymnastics." Stark declined to provide further details on the man's identity or why he had been added to the organizations permanently ineligible list. "It is a firm decision based on the severity of the gym's violation of our safety code," Stark said. Representatives of the gym at 881 Shoreline Drive said they have hired legal counsel. "Not only has this individuals rights been violated but they have interfered with 45 team kids and their present season," the statement said. "The current team now has the opportunity to choose another fabulous team who has decided to open a second location within this facility." Katiesmithdh@gmail.com

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

 

Injuries and lack of depth have taken a toll on the Village Academy football program this season.

The school announced Monday night it will forfeit its final three regular-season games.

Village Academy was scheduled to play a makeup game against Glades Day on Monday, followed by Fort Lauderdale-University on Friday, and Coconut Creek-North Broward Prep on Nov. 3.

The Tigers also forfeited their Oct. 6 game against Hollywood-International School of Broward, but returned to the field the following week against Fort Pierce-John Carroll for what turned out to be their final game.

Village Academy finishes the season 0-9 under first-year coach Rod Huggins. The former FAU defensive back took over the program from longtime coach Don Hanna in February.

Hanna's Tigers finished 3-8 last year in his final season, and advanced to the Class 2A regional semifinals.

Huggins will return next year, Athletic Director Christine Jiggins said Tuesday.

"Due to injuries and team depth, we need to be concerned for our remaining players' safety and health," Jiggins said.

"Our football program will continue under coach Rod Huggins' leadership in the 2018-19 season. "

Glades Central enters state poll: The Raiders are back to where they're accustomed to being.

The perennial powerhouse program entered the Associated Press Class 4A poll at No. 5 this week after defeating American Heritage on Friday. Glades Central is one of three Palm Beach County to be ranked this week.

In Class 3A, Oxbridge Academy slipped just behind Hollywood-Chaminade-Madonna and now sits at No. 2. In Class 1A, Pahokee is second behind Madison County.

For the complete polls, go to PalmBeachPost.com/highschoools.

jwagner@pbpost.com Twitter: @JRWagner5 alichtenstein@pbpost.com

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Copyright 2017 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue

Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY - Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is proposing to raise entrance fees at some of the nation's busiest parks, including four in Utah, to help pay for more than $11 billion in growing maintenance projects.

The National Park Service is buckling under a deferred maintenance backlog of $11.3 billion with restrooms, roads, bridges and trails in need of improvements. In Utah, at least $291 million in needed improvements are going unfunded.

"The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration," Zinke said.

"Targeted fee increases at some of our most visited parks will help ensure that they are protected and preserved in perpetuity and that? visitors enjoy a world-class experience that mirrors the amazing destinations they are visiting.?"

Under the proposal, peak-season entrance fees would be established at 17 national parks of $70 per carload, $50 per motorcycle and $30 per person who is on bike or on foot. The peak season for each park would be defined as its busiest contiguous five-month period of visitation.

The proposed new fee structure would be implemented at Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and Zion national parks in Utah, as well as Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks, with peak season starting on May 1, 2018. In Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain and Shenandoah national parks, peak season starts June 1, 2018; and in Joshua Tree National Park as soon as practicable in 2018.

The park service is also considering altering the fee schedule for commercial tour operators but would not charge entrance fees to visitors under 16 or holders of Senior, Military, Access, Volunteer or Every Kid in a Park (EKIP) passes.

Utah's four national parks that are subject to the possible increases have identified $167 million in needed improvements, with a little more than $70 million in projects that go wanting at Zion National Park alone. Zion has been weighing a first-ever admissions cap to deal with skyrocketing visitation that has put a strain on the park's resources.

Visitation at Zion jumped by 60 percent over the last decade, with more than 4 million visitors in 2016.

The Interior Department expects that the peak-season price structure will generate $70 million a year, a 34 percent increase over the $200 million collected in fiscal year 2016. Under federal law, 80 percent of the entrance fee remains at the park where it is collected, while 20 percent is spent on projects in other parks.

Fees at parks like Zion or Canyonlands are generally $25 to $30 per carload.

Public comments on the proposal are being accepted through Nov. 23 on the agency's website.

Written comments can be sent to National Park Service, Recreation Fee Program, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, D.C. 20240.

Email: amyjoi@deseretnews.com

Twitter: amyjoi16

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

 

The NCAA rules regarding a coach's responsibility and failure to monitor, which cost the Syracuse basketball program in an NCAA investigation, weren't applied in North Carolina's case, Orange coach Jim Boeheim says.

"I'm not going to comment on anything about that," Boeheim told the Post-Standard at Syracuse's media day Friday.

But then he did.

"But, as you mentioned many times, in your writings, head coach responsibility," Boeheim said to a reporter. "That didn't apply to North Carolina. Screamingly obvious. And I'm surprised that you, in particular, haven't been all over that. I'm supposed to know about a 10-page paper and they don't know about 18 years of A's?...

"Well, (the rules are) certainly applied differently."

In 2015, Boeheim was suspended for nine games as Syracuse was forced to vacate 101 victories and lost eight scholarships over a four-year period related to academic misconduct and improper benefits.

The NCAA's Committee on Infractions made Boeheim responsible for the actions of director of basketball operations Stan Kissel, who aided player Fab Melo in writing his paper, the Post-Standard reported. It did not note whether or not Boeheim was also deemed responsible for the behavior of a basketball receptionist and tutor that the NCAA believed did work for three other players.

A years-long investigation at Carolina turned up evidence of classes that were used heavily by athletes but also other students, and the NCAA recently ruled that the academic rigor was outside of its purview and did not penalize the UNC athletics department.

The NCAA found that the only people who committed rules violations were the head of the African-American studies program, Julius Nyang'oro, and his secretary, Debbie Crowder, who would not have reported to basketball coach Roy Williams.

"I know every year what my players get and what courses they get them in," Boeheim told the Post-Standard. "I get a report every semester. What course. What grades."

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USA TODAY

 

Washington State football coach Mike Leach has escalated his feud with Texas Tech after hiring an investigator to dig up information about school officials, including phone records of the Tech board of regents.

Dolcefino Consulting, a firm in Houston, is working on behalf of Leach to help pressure Tech into paying him the money he says he's still owed for the 2009 football season -- about $2.5 million. Leach remains Tech's winningest coach but was fired after the 2009 season, when the Red Raiders finished 9-4.

The firm is led by Wayne Dolcefino, a former investigative reporter for a TV station in Houston.

"We're going to get into their stuff, OK?" Dolcefino told USA TODAY Sports on Monday.

Dolcefino said it's time for "hardball" with Tech. That includes making public records requests that seek evidence of waste, fraud and abuse.

"If they want to be weasels and not pay the guy, then they won't pay him," Dolcefino said. "But we're going to look under every nook and cranny. We're starting with phone records."

Dolcefino declined to say what Leach is paying him but noted his firm charges up to $275 an hour. He's set up a website, Paycoachleach.com, that asks viewers to sign a petition supporting the cause. Dolcefino also held a news conference Saturday in Lubbock outside of Tech's football stadium.

Tech declined to comment Monday on Leach's recent salvo but previously noted the courts have ruled against him on the matter. Tech also has asserted that it paid Leach what he was owed according to his contract.

Leach coached at Tech for 10 years and now is in his sixth year at WSU, where's he's led the Cougars to a 7-1 record and a No. 16 ranking in the Amway Coaches Poll.

Leach said in a text message Monday that he is seeking information on where the money went, details on how he was fired and more.

"Also, what other corruption exists there that contributes to Tech cheating people out of money?" Leach said.

The feud stems from December 2009, when Tech fired Leach for legal cause, saying he mistreated a Tech player, Adam James, who was suffering from a concussion. Leach disputed this, sued the university and later obtained records and deposition testimony from witnesses to shed light on what happened and support his case.

But he never got his day in court to air it out. His case was thrown out after Tech claimed sovereign immunity as a state institution, which protected it from being successfully sued for damages.

With no further legal recourse, Leach is hoping to compel Tech to pay him through other means. He has used his Twitter account and other forums this year to wage his campaign against sovereign immunity and Tech. Now this.

"It is indisputable that they owe the money, whether the state of Texas will let them snake out of it or not," Leach said in a text message. "How many other people has Tech cheated over the years? By exposing these abuses of power, maybe we can get the sovereign immunity law in Texas changed and me and others can get paid."

The petition to pay him at Change.org had nearly 1,000 supporters as of Monday evening.

"This is a simple deal," Dolcefino said. "They owe him the money. Everybody who does business with Texas Tech should worry that if Texas Tech decides they don't want to pay, they just won't pay. We're going to stay around as long as Mike wants us to, and the only way they make us go away from our investigation is to work it out and pay him."

Last week, Leach said certain Tech officials were "outright crooks."

He has said his beef is with them, and not Tech fans or the people of Lubbock. "Texas Tech is a fantastic place with fantastic people, with a few notable exceptions," he told USA TODAY Sports this year.

Leach's 2009 contract with Tech says that if he were fired "for cause," then the university's "sole obligation" is to pay him his base pay of $300,000 and other performance incentives. Leach says that cause wasn't proved in court and was false.

Leach says he received the $300,000 in base pay but not the $1.6 million he was owed in "guaranteed" income, or the $800,000 retention bonus that was due to him if he was the school's coach on Dec. 31, 2009. Tech fired him a day earlier, but Leach says that bonus was "six years in the making" and due that year.

Leach spoke to USA TODAY Sports this year about why he won't let up on this cause.

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The Boston Herald

 

Sports-related brain disease CTE will some day shift from a post-mortem discovery to a treatable condition long before symptoms start, much like cancer, say local researchers and doctors speaking in Cambridge today.

"The future will be, as players are keeping track of how many head injuries and concussions they have, those would determine when they start to get tested to possibly prevent CTE from ever occurring," said Rudy Tanzi, professor neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who also advises professional sports teams.

"Early prediction, early detection and early intervention to stop that pathology," he said.

Tanzi, along with a panel of other medical professionals and former athletes, are slated to lay out the most current breakthroughs underway surrounding chronic traumatic encephalopathy at the Powering Precision Health Summit.

CTE has been strongly linked to contact sports like football. It was found in the brains of Aaron Hernandez and former Pats linebacker Junior Seau, who killed himself in 2012.

Researchers have discovered the presence of the tau protein in brains studied for CTE after death. That protein leads to tangles in the brain that act as a brush fire, and head trauma is the match that causes inflammation to spread. For now, there is no way to diagnose CTE in the living.

But local biotech companies are working to change this. Lexington-based Quanterix is focusing on ways to detect the tau protein in blood with ultra-sensitive tools - which, Tanzi said, are "equivalent to finding a grain of sand in 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools."

Cambridge-based AbbVie and Biogen are working on immunotherapies to stop the tau from spreading.

These new technologies couldn't be more welcome, said panelist Peter Cronan, former Boston College football player and NFL linebacker. He remembers a slam to the head so forceful that he couldn't accurately name the day of the week.

"I've good news and bad news," the doctor told Cronan, now 62. "Your cognitive impairment is no worse than other people your age."

But, the doctor added, "There's no way to know how it'll impact end of life."

It is this uncertainty that needs to change, he said.

"Watching some of my friends over the years, there's obvious deterioration occurring," Cronan told the Herald yesterday. "And we can tie it all back to what we did as young men."

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Chicago Daily Herald

 

Four of five suspended Wheaton College football players accused of hazing pleaded not guilty Monday morning to charges of aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint alleging an attack on a former teammate in March 2016.

Those charged are James Cooksey from Jacksonville, Florida; Kyler Kregal from Grand Rapids, Michigan; Ben Pettway from Lookout Mountain, Georgia; Noah Spielman from Columbus, Ohio; and Samuel TeBos from Allendale, Michigan.

Kregel, Pettway, Spielman and TeBos entered their not guilty plea at an arraignment hearing and are next scheduled in court on Oct. 31. Cooksey will be arraigned Nov. 13.

The men are accused of abducting a freshman teammate from his dorm room, tying him with duct tape and leaving him in a baseball field in Wheaton. Terry Ekl, the victim's attorney, said his client needed three surgeries for two injured shoulders.

Kregel's attorney Monday asked DuPage Judge Brian Telander to temporarily lift a gag order he placed on the case so attorneys for the players can publicly deny any allegations the freshman was threatened with sexual violation.

Telander will hear arguments on Oct. 31.

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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

COLUMBIA — South Carolina will play an exhibition men's basketball game against Virginia Tech with proceeds going to hurricane relief.

The game will be played at 2 p.m. on Nov. 5 at Colonial Life Arena. Tickets are $10 general admission. Fans who donate $250 or more will receive two premium seats, as well as two passes to the Frank McGuire Club during the game.

Additionally, USC is encouraging fans to make a donation to the "Hoops 4 Hurricane Relief" fund via online donation at https://crowdfunding.giving.sc.edu/project/8207. Funds raised from the game and the online donation will be directed to organizations benefiting the affected areas.

The Hokies and Gamecocks have had recent "secret" preseason scrimmages, unable to be publicized due to NCAA rules, and Virginia Tech was coming to Columbia on Nov. 4 for the latest in the series. Frank Martin and Buzz Williams thought it would be a good idea to make the game public, since the NCAA allows a publicized scrimmage if it's for charity.

They found a date that didn't conflict with football. USC is at Georgia on Nov. 4.

USC is one of several schools scheduling extra games before the season starts to aid victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. The movement began when Kansas and Missouri agreed to re-start their "Border War" rivalry with an exhibition game in Kansas City, and tickets sold out in a matter of minutes. Other schools jumped in for the chance to help out and also to get a live public showing of their team before the games start to count.

USC has its other exhibition against Erskine on Oct. 30.

Frank Martin's sixth Gamecock team has added a public exhibition game to the schedule to benefit hurricane relief. 
File/David J. Phillip/AP

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

CHARLOTTESVILLE — The significance of the selection of Carla Williams as Virginia's new athletic director was not lost on the appointee.

"Yes, I am an African-American female," Williams, 49, said. "I see that every morning when I wake up and look in the mirror."

Williams, previously the top assistant at the University of Georgia, is the first African-American woman to hold the position of AD at a school in a Power Five conference.

She is not entirely unique at Virginia, where she will succeed Craig Littlepage, who was the first African-American to serve as an athletic director in the ACC.

Littlepage announced his retirement plans in early September after 17 years in the post. He will continue to oversee the department until Williams arrives at UVa in December or January.

"I do understand and appreciate the historic nature of me being named athletics director at the University of Virginia," Williams said. "I will continue to be a role model to help others reach their goals."

Virginia had announced the selection in an email that was distributed Sunday. A search committee reported to retiring UVa president Teresa Sullivan, who then sought the input of her recently named successor, James Ryan.

Representing the athletic department on the search committee was Kevin Sauer, who is the UVa head coach with the longest seniority. Sauer is in his 23rd year as Virginia's rowing coach.

"It was an impressive group we looked at," said Sauer, who said the committee interviewed six candidates in New York. "We had a meeting with the head coaches [at UVa] and President Sullivan before we actually started the interviews."

Littlepage, who has been at Virginia on and off for 40 years, was something of a model as far as "calmness under pressure," Sauer said.

"She was a presence when she came into the room. She was someone we looked at and said, 'Wow, this is an impressive woman.' "

Sauer said it was important to consider Williams' role in Georgia's separation with former coach Mark Richt after 15 seasons.

UVa football coach Bronco Mendenhall said he met with Williams, who encouraged him to call Richt, currently the coach at Miami.

"I wouldn't have reached out to anyone unless she asked me to," said Mendenhall, noting that Williams supervised Richt at Georgia.

"I was really impressed with Carla as a person, not only from a professional standpoint and all the things she's done but I was very impressed with her communication skills."

Williams grew up in LaGrange, Georgia, where she played basketball and football.

"Quarterback and wide receiver," she said when pressed about her football position. "From a very early age, I learned some very valuable lessons. I learned no one has to feel sorry for you, so do not feel sorry for yourself."

Williams was accompanied by her husband, Charles, a professor at Georgia, as well as her three children. Two girls are in college at Georgia and their younger brother is in the eighth grade.

The only previous time she could remember being in Charlottesville was for a 2002 women's lacrosse NCAA game when she was on the staff at Georgia.

She received a quick indoctrination this past weekend.

"I've already had Bodo's," said Williams, referring to a local establishment that has a wide reputation for its bagels. "My whole family had it. It was awesome."

Sullivan introduced Williams and spoke for some length before UVa rector Rusty Conner added some comments.

"I want to start where [Sullivan] sort of ended, and that's to thank Craig Littlepage," Conner said. "He built an extraordinary program here.

"We owe him so much in an area where many schools run afoul and undermine their reputation."

Then, Conner set the bar at a pretty high level.

"Aspiration for the moment, but soon to be expectation, is that we want to win the Directors' Cup," said Conner of the trophy that goes to the nation's top-achieving athletic department in a given year.

"Year in and year out, we want to be in the top five of the Directors' Cup - if not in the top five, certainly the top 10. So, that's a very tall order."

Sullivan noted that Virginia has won more ACC team championships, 74, than any other school since 2002. She also mentioned a third consecutive NCAA men's tennis title last spring.

"I also want to commend Craig Littlepage," Williams said. "I have watched Craig from afar with great admiration. You know, I have to pinch myself sometimes to realize I'll be standing in [his] shoes.

"I'm anxious to get started. I got here two days ago, so there is a lot to learn. The way that Virginia wants to do it is the way that I am built to do it."

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Jim McElwain can handle the heat, the hate and even the harassment.

He gets paid to deal with it. But he would like his players, coaches and all their families, including his own, to be left alone.

McElwain said Monday that Florida players and families have received death threats amid the team's struggles. McElwain acknowledged the allegation while responding to a question about whether the team deserves credit for staying competitive despite missing more than 20 scholarship players because of injuries and suspensions.

"There's a lot of hate in this world and a lot of anger and yet [there's] freedom to show it," McElwain said. "The hard part is obviously when the threats against your own players, death threats to your families, the ill will that's brought upon out there."

McElwain declined to say whether he personally received death threats. He added that he has not contacted police.

The university's athletic department released a statement hours later saying officials met with McElwain and that the coach "offered no additional details."

McElwain is 22-11 in three seasons in Gainesville. The Gators (3-3, 3-2 SEC) face third-ranked Georgia (7-0, 4-0) on Saturday.

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The New York Post

 

A former Green Beret paratrooper says a dumbbell worker at a Equinox gym in Manhattan hurt his back, worsening an injury he received in the Army, according to court papers.

David J. Walker, of Brooklyn Heights, is now suing the upscale gym for allegedly refusing to refund all of the personal-training sessions he paid for.

Walker, 51, who runs a Manhattan hedge fund, was a member of Equinox's 421 Hudson St. branch in the West Village, according to his Manhattan Supreme Court suit.

Last month, he purchased a 24-session package with Equinox trainer Carlos Torres for $2,544, the suit says.

Walker repeatedly told Torres that he had a significant injury to his lower back and that he was worried about re-hurting himself, according to the suit.

Walker served as an officer in a paratrooper division through 1999 in locales such as Kuwait and Kazakhstan and was injured jumping out of an airplane. He is currently on the board of the Green Beret Foundation, which provides support to wounded veterans.

He claims Torres instructed him to use a foam roller on his lower back, then rotate his legs in a semicircular motion.

"I kept telling him throughout the workout that I think this is a little bit dangerous on my back," Walker told The Post.

During the second workout, Walker informed Torres that the exercises were very uncomfortable, he said.

"He kept telling me, 'It's OK, this is just the body reacting. The body is getting adjusting to it,' " Walker recalled. "I sucked it up as best as I could.''

The next morning, Walker said, he was in so much pain that he worked from home.

"I was on my back for the whole weekend," icing and taking Ibuprofen, Walker said.

He said he researched foam rollers and read warnings not to use them on your lower back.

Walker's suit says Equinox has refused to refund the full 24 sessions.

But the gym says it's fine with refunding the $2,544 - as long as Walker provides a doctor's note.

"We were not aware of Mr. Walker's suit but had previously offered him a full refund for his training sessions and are happy to honor that promise," a gym rep said.

Walker told The Post he has a note from his Veterans Affairs doctor explaining that he can't work out for six months. 

A former Green Beret paratrooper says a worker at a Equinox gym in Manhattan hurt his back, worsening an injury he received in the Army, according to court papers.
David J. Walker Wants full refund.
 
October 23, 2017
 
 
 

 

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The Boston Herald

 

This story was reported and researched by Herald multimedia reporter Meghan Ottolini in conjunction with Emerson College/Boston Herald reinventing journalism students Rob Way, Marisa Dellatto, Jonathon Sheley House and Daniel Kam under the supervision of Herald Managing Editor Joe Dwinell.

Boston has seen a dramatic increase in the number of used hypodermic needles littering the city's streets and parks, with health officials reporting a stunning 60 percent surge in the sharp hazards collected since last October.

No neighborhood is 
immune, a study of 311 hotline calls shows, with residents from the North End to Roxbury, Eastie to Allston all reporting tossed dirty needles. And those complaints are also 
increasing, with September accounting for 8 percent of all calls over a 30-month period studied.

"It's an everyday occurrence in our playgrounds, in our parks, in our neighborhoods," said City Councilor At-Large Annissa 
Essaibi George.

At her urging, the city doubled the number of Mobile Sharps Collection Team members - city employees who patrol public spaces picking up discarded needles - in July. The staff expanded from two responders to four who are on call from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. The city funds the program $172,576 annually.

The Sharps squad also 
responds to requests over 311, the city's nonemergency call-in, app and Twitter hotline.

All told, the city collected 63,744 discarded needles in September, compared to 39,879 picked up last October, according to city data.

"We all know that the (opioid) epidemic has gotten worse over the last year," said Devin Larkin, 
director of Recovery Services at the city's Public Health Commission.

"Every month of 2017 has been busy. We've been consistently busy."

The four Sharps 
responders travel in pairs in vans, stretching their slim resources to clean up nearly every public space. Roxbury and the South End are the worst hit, 311 calls show.

Gertrude Howes Playground in Roxbury requires daily visits from the Sharps team, officials said.

That's no surprise to Lorraine Wheeler, who said she and her neighbors have found needles, and even drugs, in the park - including 50 syringes raked up one day in June.

"Then we knew we had a problem," she said.

Wheeler said she fears the city just can't keep up. "You want to make sure that kids are safe," she added.

As the opioid epidemic worsens, parks and maintenance workers are being trained to collect needles. Same goes for school custodians, who sweep playgrounds early.

"We're in the midst of the opioid crisis statewide," Larkin said. "And with the housing crunch here in Boston, we're experiencing a lot of people who are struggling with both addiction and homelessness."

Essaibi George is trying to jump-start a program so Boston pharmacies could take back used and discarded syringes. If the ordinance passes, it would increase the number of needle disposal sites in the city from nine to about 100.

City residents are being warned no matter how bad it gets, they should never touch or handle a needle, especially kids.

"Parks are supposed to be safe places, an area for children, and no children come here. It's gotten to that point," said Anthony Munoz-Pendergast, 22, as he walked home through Howes park last week. "There's too much drug use out here, too many people blatantly shooting up."

Jordan Frias contributed to this report.

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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

CHARLOTTESVILLE

University of Georgia athletics administrator Carla Williams was named Virginia's director of athletics, U.Va. president Teresa Sullivan announced Sunday.

Williams succeeds Craig Littlepage, who has served as the Cavaliers' athletic director for the past 16 years.

Williams becomes the first female African American AD at a Power 5 school and is the fifth active female AD at that level.

Williams, 49, agreed to a five-year contract with a base annual salary of $550,000, plus incentives.

"The University of Virginia is excited to welcome Carla Williams to lead our athletics department," Sullivan said in a statement. "Her experience as a successful student-athlete, coach and senior administrator at the highest levels of Division I athletics is impressive. Equally impressive is her commitment to education and the academic pursuits of student-athletes."

Williams has been an athletics administrator at Georgia for the past 13 years, most recently serving as the deputy director of athletics since 2015.

During Williams' tenure at Georgia, its teams won 16 NCAA team championships and 37 SEC titles.

In her role as deputy AD at Georgia, Williams was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the department and its $127 million budget. She served as administrator for the Bulldogs' football and women's basketball programs and had supervisory responsibility for academic support services, business operations, compliance, event management, external operations, facilities and new construction, human resources, sports facilitators (21 sports and 15 head coaches), sports medicine, strength and conditioning, student services and ticketing.

"I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to lead one of the nation's elite athletics programs," Williams said. "Academic achievement, athletic excellence, operating with integrity, a commitment to maximum effort at all times and a strong sense of teamwork and unity are the core principles that will guide our athletics department under my leadership."

Since 2011, Williams has helped oversee $162 million in facility additions, upgrades and improvements for the Georgia athletics program.

She serves as the Georgia Athletic Association's liaison to the president's office, provost's office, general counsel, equal opportunity office and student affairs. She also serves as the athletics department's deputy Title IX officer.

Williams has a background of competing, coaching and administering at the highest levels of intercollegiate athletics. She was an All-SEC guard on the basketball court, then helped recruit and coach some of the greatest teams in Georgia's history before moving on to become one of the highest-ranking female administrators in Division I athletics.

"I am excited to partner with Carla Williams in building an exceptional football program and developing our student-athletes to their fullest potential," Cavaliers football coach Bronco Mendenhall said.

"This is an exciting time in U.Va. athletics, and I look forward to working with Carla Williams," men's basketball coach Tony Bennett said. "Her vast experiences as a student-athlete, coach, and administrator at top Power 5 schools are impressive. The people I respect in the coaching profession who have worked under Carla could not have given her a better endorsement."

Williams began her administrative career at Georgia in 2004. She served as associate AD (2004-2008), senior associate AD (2008-2011) and executive associate AD (2011-15) before being promoted to her present position.

Prior to joining the Bulldogs' staff, Williams was an assistant AD at Vanderbilt (2000-03) and an associate AD (2003-04). She oversaw 11 men's and women's sports as well as the Commodores' CHAMPS/Life Skills program.

From 1997-98, Williams was coordinator for student-athlete development and life skills at Florida State. While completing her doctorate in sport administration, Williams was a graduate assistant for athletic academic support from 1998-2000.

Williams received her bachelor's degree in sociology and master's in public administration from Georgia in 1989 and 1991, respectively. Following her undergraduate graduation, she played professionally in Spain in 1989.

A native of LaGrange, Ga., Williams was a three-year starter for the Bulldogs from 1987-89. She finished her career with 1,115 points, 425 assists and 285 steals. Those tallies ranked No. 10, No. 2 and No. 3 among Georgia's career leaders at the completion of her career.

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Newsday (New York)

 

Islanders co-owner Jonathan Ledecky revealed to Newsday the proposed site for a new arena at Belmont Park and said making the Long Island Rail Road station there a full-time stop is "a critical piece" of the plan.

The arena would be located next to the existing, part-time LIRR station in what is now a parking lot outside the grandstand area of the racetrack, Ledecky said.

The new arena would host approximately 150 events per year, including Islanders games and entertainment such as concerts, family shows and college basketball games, according to Peter Luukko of Oak View Group, one of the Islanders' partners in the development.

Ledecky called the LIRR station at Belmont "a strategically located asset to serve the metropolitan area" to come to Islanders games. He also said there would be 7,000 parking spots available, allowing fans to drive and tailgate as they used to at Nassau Coliseum, where they played until leaving for Brooklyn in 2015.

A full-time LIRR stop at Belmont would be necessary to meet the number of people who would be coming regularly to the arena, Luukko said. Currently, the Belmont LIRR station is used only when horse racing is taking place.

An LIRR spokeswoman declined to comment.

Ledecky and Luukko spoke to Newsday on Saturday night while riding the LIRR from Garden City to Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the Islanders game. Islanders officials have been critical of Barclays — from obstructed-view seats and poor ice quality to a financial arrangement that is not considered favorable for the team.

Luukko said the Belmont arena would be managed by the Oak View Group — an alliance of 27 arenas, including Madison Square Garden, Chicago's United Center and the Los Angeles Forum, designed to increase bookings and sponsorships.

The group submitted its plan to Empire State Development on Sept. 28.

"Our fingers are crossed on the, " Ledecky said. "We want to be selected, and we're out here explaining to the fans to try to be patient as we try to get this across the line."

Ledecky said he isn't concerned about the LIRR's ability to accommodate such a plan, saying it has been amenable to adding extra trains after games at Barclays Center in response to the crush of people leaving Islanders games at the same time. He also noted how ridership increases on game nights.

"I think they will be a great partner for us moving forward," Ledecky said of the LIRR if his group wins Belmont. "They'll understand the need for the transportation and they'll understand the demand in the community for the transportation as well."

The Islanders' other partners on the arena project are Sterling Project Development, controlled by the Wilpon family, who own the Mets. Ledecky credited their experience in building Citi Field. Empire State Development has given no timeline for a decision.

Increasing the viability of the Belmont LIRR station has been a hot topic in the months leading up to the Empire State Development request for proposals process.

State Sens. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) and Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) said in a letter to Empire State Development Commissioner Howard Zemsky in April that any development at Belmont should include a full-time LIRR station. Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino also held a news conference that month calling on the governor's office and MTA to expand the station.

And dozens of Nassau residents called for a full-time LIRR station while speaking before ESD officials at an event about the Belmont RFP at the Elmont Public Library in July.

LIRR and MTA officials have said as recently as last spring there were no plans to add full service to Belmont.

The Belmont station received a $5 million face-lift two years ago to modernize the station and reduce the long wait times thousands of riders experienced after the 2014 Belmont Stakes. That year, a record 36,000 people tried to board at once, resulting in delays up to 3 1/2 hours.

The upgrades included new elevated train platforms, reconfigured tracks to accommodate 10-car trains instead of eight along with new stairs, ramps, lights and public address system. Before those improvements, Belmont was the only remaining station with ground-level platforms that weren't wheelchair-accessible.

Ledecky lives in Manhattan but said he regularly rides the LIRR to Barclays Center after spending the day at the team's practice facility in East Meadow.

"As I talk to the fans on the train, I'm getting a lot of positive feedback from fans on getting to the games," Ledecky said. "They just want to be closer."

Some fans on the train asked about returning to the Coliseum. Ledecky said, "It's not set up with the things you need to generate the revenue that you need to compete for the Cup." He also noted that the Coliseum is not close to an LIRR stop.

For Long Islanders who have lamented the team's move to Brooklyn because of travel logistics, he sees Belmont as a welcome compromise, both for traveling by train and car.

"We are a New York metropolitan-area team with deep roots on Long Island and we would be moving the team; if you think about the Coliseum, it's 11 miles away from the Coliseum," Ledecky said. "That's a different journey than the journey from Barclays Center."

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Sunday Telegram (Massachusetts)

 

WESTBORO — The school district and the School Committee have filed a breach of contract lawsuit against an architect and contractor for allegedly failing to properly remove and replace the gym floor at Mill Pond School.

The action was filed in U.S. District Court in Worcester this week against Berlin, Connecticut-based Jacunski Humes Architects LLC (JHA), and CRIS Contractors of Fryeburg, Maine.

The district is seeking $90,000.

According to the lawsuit, the June 14, 2013, agreement with CRIS called for the company to remove the existing gym floor at the Grades 4-6 school on Olde Hickory Path, prepare the subsurface for the application of an epoxy floor, and to apply the epoxy floor to the manufacturer's specifications. JHA was hired to provide construction documents, bidding supervision and to monitor the work done by CRIS.

Within two to three months after the work was completed, the flooring started to bubble in two spots. A month later, 11 such locations were identified, the plaintiffs maintain.

Nearly two years later on Aug. 18, 2015, the district hired a certified floor-covering consultant to determine the cause of the problem.

The consultant concluded that CRIS, among other things, failed to monitor the workmanship, properly apply the moisture mitigation system, failed to properly prepare surface for epoxy application, substituted one type of epoxy for another without approval, and improperly used chemicals to remove the existing flooring.

The consultant also determined that JHA, the architect, "failed to monitor CRIS throughout the project, which substantially contributed to the failures."

The flawed flooring had to be replaced, according to the suit.

The district's attorney, James T. Hargrove of Boston, did not readily return a phone call.

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Newsday (New York)

 

Amber Seifts' hands shook as she stepped onto the football field, the deafening Centereach High School homecoming crowd roaring behind her. And as she jogged to her spot at cornerback, her long, light brown hair shifted and fell out of her football helmet, spilling down to her shoulder pads.

"There's a girl!" she said, recalling the screams from the opposing sideline. "And then my team had megaphones and they started screaming stuff . I was freaking out . . . everyone was cheering."

Seifts didn't get a tackle that Sept. 16 game, a 43-8 Centereach victory, but the 5-11 junior certainly made a lasting impression. And she's not alone.

Seifts, who has also played safety this season, is one of six girls playing varsity football for Long Island public schools this year, and one of two to play a contact position.

Girls who also played last year, like Bay Shore High School linebacker Cayleigh Kunnmann, have noticed a subtle shift. There will always be detractors, or those who think the sport is no place for a girl, they said, but that seems to be becoming less of a deterrent for female athletes.

"I think a lot of girls are seeing, not only women in football, but women in all of kinds of male-dominated fields and just gaining a lot more confidence and knowing that they can do it," said Kunnmann, a senior.

Hannah Martin, a senior kicker at Patchogue-Medford High School, said she's actually become aware of more naysayers than when she started last year. "Now, I can almost feel for the other girls, when I hear about other people talking about them. I definitely think we should keep doing what we like to do. It's not going stop me."

"My family and friends and people in school, they always ask why I never talk back or yell back at people and it was actually the finishing line in my college essay," added Martin, who loves the influx of female players and hopes to kick in college. "I told them that I don't need to yell back, I don't need to talk back to them. The points on the scoreboard are what speak for me."

On Saturday they spoke loudly. She kicked nine extra points in the Red Raiders' 68-19 victory over Whitman.

Participation is booming

Female athlete participation in football as measured by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association has has increased by nearly four times in the last year and far outstrips the numbers from 10 years ago, and that's primarily due to a staggering increase on Long Island.

There are 269 girls participating at some level of football in the state this year, according to a survey conducted by the association, which tallied up girls in varsity, junior varsity, freshman and modified football, which generally includes players in seventh and eighth grade, but may also include ninth graders - the equivalent of high school freshman. That amounts to one girl for every 179 boys. There was no breakdown of whether the girls played contact positions or were kickers.

Of those 269 girls, 124 are playing football in Section XI - the designation for Suffolk public high school athletics. Nassau, or Section VIII, boasts the next-highest total, at 57. Central New York is a distant third, with 12 girls.

Last year, only 71 girls participated in football, according to the study. NYSPHSAA did not conduct a survey for a handful of years before that data, but numbers before 2012 are modest. Nine girls played football in the 2011-12 school year, and 10 played the previous year.

"I wouldn't even say it's a statewide trend, it's a national trend," said Robert Zayas, executive director of NYSPHSAA. "Thankfully, girls are being given the opportunity to participate in sports that maybe they would have never envisioned participating in."

Football participation has decreased in the United States - the National Federation of State High School Associations reported that it went down almost 26,000 in the 2016-2017 season - but the number of girl participants has gone up. There were 2,017 girls participating in 11-player, or high school football, nationwide last season, and that number had been steadily increasing for three years and far exceeds the total from seven years ago (1,249).

Many do have concerns. The physiological differences between girls and boys at the varsity level can be stark, but Zayas said that the state Education Department has protections in place. Mixed competition rules dictate the girls must receive approval from a panel, which decides whether the student's abilities put her in danger. The panel includes a school physician, as well as a physical education teacher, and students undergo physical tests.

"I certainly hope" the trend of female participation continues, Zayas said. NYSPHSAA's job, he said, was to "find ways to give more kids more opportunities to participate . . . that should be our goal, to find new and creative ways to participate in sports."

Attitudes are changing

All six girls interviewed said they were determined to prove they belonged on the team — sometimes to themselves, and sometimes to teammates or opponents.

Alexis Saladino, a senior captain on the Newfield High School girls soccer team, describes herself as outspoken but said she dials it back on the football field. Being a first-year player, in addition to being the only girl, changes her role significantly.

"In the beginning, not everybody was very welcoming," said the kicker, a soccer goalie with a mighty wingspan and a booming foot. "As they saw what I could do, that I could actually kick — they thought it was a joke at first — but seeing I could actually kick long field goals, they welcomed me as one of their own, as one of their brothers."

Mia Advocate, a senior kicker for Calhoun High School, said it was imperative to her that she participate in all the summer practices - from laps to two-a-days. She was actually encouraged to join the team by coaches and teammates, two of whom took her to kick on an empty football field before summer began.

"She ran with us all summer, she lifted with us all summer," coach Brian Moeller said. "She is one of the boys as far as the boys are concerned. She's tough, she's not afraid of a challenge. She gets after it and she's not afraid of competition."

Jackie Seifts, Amber's mother, said her daughter's dedication — her steadfast intent on proving she was good enough — helped assuage some of her original fears.

"We'd see the practices and she was able to go in with the best of them," Jackie said. "She can take a hit and get back up and she can also give a hit . . . I think after they get tackled and they get back up, you get over the initial shock. It's much better."

Alec Kiernan, a senior captain for the Centereach team, said the team embraced Seifts. "We were definitely a little surprised, but we took her in right away. We treat her like family," he said, adding that her play exceeded his teammates' original expectations. "We take her out to dinner, we do therapy together, we do everything."

Added football coach Adam Barrett: "It's not like a boy-girl thing. She's an athlete."

The new role models

One thing does appear certain: Female football players have the power to beget more female football players, or baseball players, or hockey players.

Advocate said her experience has been completely positive, but even she was surprised at the impact her participation had beyond the football field. She was volunteering at a fair for the National Honor Society when she saw a young girl whispering to her mom and pointing her out.

"The little girl looked up and was smiling and the mom says, 'She sees that you play football and she was interested in joining the boys baseball team, and she just thought it was really cool. Now she's going to go out and try that,' " Advocate said. "That was a moment I'm never going to forget — just seeing how I can impact someone. How many more people that can be impacted by just a little thing."

Almost all the girls have similar stories.

Seifts said after her homecoming appearance, girls came up to her in droves. "It was like empowerment," she said.

After she was featured in Newsday last year, Kunnmann was inundated with Facebook messages — many of them women with daughters who saw Kunnmann as a role model. Megan Benzing, a senior kicker from Mepham High School, was in her athletic trainers' office when she was greeted by two freshman volleyball players who were star-struck by "the girl kicker."

"I don't even notice who knows and who doesn't know," said Benzing, a former cheerleader who realized she preferred to be on the field than on the sidelines. "Even on jersey days, it looks like I'm a cheerleader wearing my football player's jersey or something. It's cool when you realize how many people know and notice you."

Football "changed my whole high school perspective. When I was in ninth grade, I had no idea that that's how my high school would go. It made it unique and I loved it."

And it's more than a girl thing, Kunnmann said. Now in her second year on varsity, she's taken her hits and gotten back up. She's lined up knowing that the guy on the other side might be bigger, and may even hit harder.

"I would just hope to be a role model, not only just for girls, but for my younger teammates that are coming up," she said. "I want to show them that just because you might not be the best player on the team doesn't mean you can't be a leader. I've never been the best player on the team but I've always tried to be somebody that they can look up to."

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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

NEW YORK — A player gets hurt on the field, walks or is helped to the sideline, and then goes camping?

Not exactly. Those blue tents fans see popping up near the bench area at NFL games are for medical purposes only.

And get this: The pro game, which rarely copies anything from the college brand of the sport, borrowed the idea from those colleges. Most specifically, Alabama.

This year, the NFL mandated the tents on every sideline at every stadium. Dr. Allen Sills, the league's recent hire as chief medical officer, had experience with them while working SEC games.

"The genesis of the tent is really Alabama and Jeff Allen," Sills says of the head of the Crimson Tide's sports medicine training staff. "I think Jeff noted during some of their playoff games that he felt like his players' care was at time made more difficult by some intrusive media. It struck him that we need to have a way to conduct more of a private assessment on the sideline."

Allen came up with the prototype after consulting with experts in the field. He sought something small and portable, not permanent. Soon, other schools were adopting the practice.

Now, the blue tent is a staple at NFL games, used mostly for concussion testing or for quick medical work that does not require a trip to the locker room.

During a game in London in Week 4, Saints tight end Josh Hill was examined for a possible concussion.

"I thought it was effective," he says. "It was privacy for me without having to go into the locker room. It was convenient and easy."

Hill did not go back in the game.

Titans backup quarterback Matt Cassel went through the same exam in a loss at Miami. He was sacked by Kiko Alonso, went to the ground hard with his helmet popping off.

Because Miami scored on the sack/fumble return, Cassel did not miss a play.

"The element of adding that tent to give some players some privacy, especially those guys who really do have concussions and everything like that, I think it's important for them to be evaluated and not everybody staring at them, cameras in their face and everything else," Cassel says.

"So they just kind of pull that tent up, there's a few doctors in there and they go through the concussion protocol. Ask some questions, do some different balancing drills, everything else that they need to do. And from there they make sure you're OK and evaluate you. If you're OK, then great. I don't know what the next step would be if you're not. But I think it's a great thing."

So does Sills, and not only for concussion testing. It is easier to do those evaluations — looking at concentration and memory, for example — because there aren't the visual and auditory distractions that come with a sideline exams.

But the tent can be used at the discretion of a team for other injuries. Some teams are using the tent for all of the quicker medical exams, including treating cuts that don't require stitching, or re-taping feet and ankles, etc.

"The tent is not ever made to replace the locker room," Sills says. "We still have treatments done inside, if someone needs to be sutured up or get an IV or some sort of major invasive procedure needs to be done."

All that is inside the pop-up is an exam table and some first aid materials. Sills estimates two injured players could be in the tent at the same time, along with as many as seven medical personnel. That can include an equipment manager on occasion.

Not allowed in: coaches. Unless, of course, they are injured.

Other rules in place: the tent can't be heated or cooled, and can only be up for immediate assessments of injury.

Cassel admits it was hot inside.

"At that point you're just making sure you're OK and that you are alert and you don't have a concussion," he says. "It's not so much the weather as making sure you're OK."

Through the first month of the season, the blue tents were used 170 times for an average of three minutes per testing.

One thing Sills doesn't believe we will see on the pop-ups is advertising. If that seems odd with all the Gatorade tables and Microsoft Surface tablets on hand, well, the NFL doesn't view the tents as team equipment, but as a medical examination room.

That's not quite the case in college football, where school or conference logos or even advertisements for local hospitals or health care clinics might be visible.

Sills also projects other sports will be adapting the practice, and notes there are military and security applications, too.

Cassel is sold on it.

"Obviously they did a great job of just making sure they evaluated me and make sure I was OK," he says. "I passed all the tests and was able to get back out there."

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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

OLYMPIA, WASH. — Two students have filed a discrimination lawsuit against The Evergreen State College and its former women's basketball coach Jennifer Schooler.

A complaint for damages was filed by ShaMarica Scott and Linda Wilson, both of Olympia, on Oct. 13 in U.S District Court's Western Washington district in Tacoma, The Olympian reported.

In June, the women's attorney, Ada Wong with AKW Law of Mountlake Terrace, filed a prerequisite tort claim that stated the women are claiming damages of $500,000 each.

Scott and Wilson are seeking damages for "intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and racial and sexual orientation discrimination," according to the most recent court documents.

Schooler, who took over the women's basketball program at Evergreen in 2014, cited personal reasons when she resigned in December.

When asked by the newspaper about the lawsuit, college spokesman Zach Powers said that "the college conducted an investigation and took appropriate action."

Scott was on the women's basketball team during the 2014-15 school year and "endured racially based discrimination, epithets, intimidation and public humiliation" from Schooler, according to the claim.

It states that the coach used the term "ghetto" and employed race-baiting tactics to motivate her team with statements such as "If you think that white students feel intimidated by black players, they don't."

The lawsuit also claims on multiple occasions, Schooler harassed Scott about the woman she was dating and made offensive remarks about her Gay Pride T-shirt.

The court documents include a copy of the college's report from an internal investigation into Scott's complaints by the college's affirmative action and equal opportunity officer Lorie Mastin.

In the May 2016 report, Mastin wrote that her investigation found that Schooler more likely than not violated the college's non-discrimination policy with her use of "racial derogatory language." However, Mastin's investigation did not find sex-based discrimination and harassment related to Scott's other claims.

The second plaintiff, Wilson, played on the women's basketball team during the 2015-16 school year.

During a November 2015 meeting, Schooler pressured Wilson to hold players who were dating teammates accountable by telling them that their actions negatively affected the entire team, court documents state.

"Defendant Schooler also leveraged Plaintiff Wilson's tuition waiver and scholarship funding if Wilson did not comply," the complaint states.

"The constant pressure to broadcast details of her teammates' private lives in exchange for an athletic scholarship or tuition waiver was more than Plaintiff Wilson could handle, leaving her with no choice but to resign from the team."

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Copyright 2017 Valley News Oct 21, 2017

Valley News; White River Junction, Vt.

 

Hartford — When, after a one-week delay, the Wendell A. Barwood Arena opens to the public today, it marks the beginning of two annual traditions that promise to be more intertwined this year than ever before — ice season and budget season.

That's because, as the Hartford Board of Selectmen and Town Manager Leo Pullar begin their review of a stack of seemingly urgent financial needs for the 2018-19 fiscal year, the director of the Parks and Recreation Department is lobbying for a $500,000 refrigeration overhaul he says is needed to keep the ice frozen and the rink open.

In all, Parks and Recreation Department head Scott Hausler is seeking $900,000, of which $250,000 would go to replace the dasher board system, and $150,000 would go toward an artificial surface that would allow the facility to be used during the summer months.

On Friday, Pullar and Hausler both visited WABA to watch as workers painted lines onto the freshly frozen ice in preparation for the weekend, which features afternoon classes for children and beginners, and public skate sessions beginning at 4:15 p.m. today and at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

After years of short-term fixes that have cost the town tens of thousands of dollars and weeks of rink time, it's time to replace the system, Hausler said in the first draft of the town's Capital Improvement Plan, a schedule of needs that the town anticipates will arise over the course of the next six years. Though the entire municipal budget is only about $15 million, the first draft of the plan, which Pullar presented to the Hartford Selectboard last week, includes $18 million in identified needs, including building a reserve fund to purchase a new firetruck, an overhaul of the public safety building, street paving, sidewalk construction and a multimillion-dollar project to shore up the retaining wall that supports the road leading to Fairview Terrace.

Selectboard Chairman Dick Grassi said the amount was "shocking," but expressed confidence that Pullar would help lead the town down the best path.

The entire list of needs is unlikely to be completed, but in a narrative he wrote to accompany the request, Hausler made the case for addressing the 1990s-era refrigeration system and its supports, which include a chiller and a computer control system that was made by a company that is no longer in business.

"Failure of the system is highly possible and would cause shut down of the operation," Hausler wrote. "The investment of a new chiller, controls, cooling and dehumidification needs to be a high priority in order to continue the ice arena service to the community and region.... Continued Band-Aid approaches will only lead to major mechanical failure during the operating season."

Pullar said both the price tag — and the need — might be overstated.

"This is just an early draft of what the staff sees as the needs across the town," he said. "The guts of the system weren't looked at. There are definitely cheaper options. This is the high end."

Pullar said more concrete ideas about the plan will emerge over the course of four or five more Selectboard meetings that will be held to refine the Capital Improvement Program. Grassi said he needed more information before he committed to spending money on a complete replacement.

"I need to hear more from the town manager on that, whether that's something that we should have done yesterday, or if there's a way for us to put money in a reserve account to do it down the road," he said.

There's no question that the WABA facility and its refrigeration system have been a major source of concern and costs for taxpayers.

A $2.5 million bond to renovate WABA that was approved by voters in 2013 initially called for the addition of an eastern wing to the facility at a cost of $700,000, but that idea was scrapped when it was determined that the costs had been dramatically underestimated. Even after abandoning that component of the plan, a $405,000 shortfall remained, which was addressed in part by value engineering. Grassi said he doesn't understand why a system replacement wasn't rolled into the 2013 bond package that was designed to modernize the facility, among other things.

"The bond should have included any major expenses in operating the facility," he said. "Bare bones is bare bones, but in this case it's penny-wise, pound-foolish."

The cost overrun eventually was addressed with an additional $180,000 expenditure by the Selectboard, which used $50,000 donated by the nonprofit Friends of Hartford Hockey, $100,000 from the operating budget and $255,000 from the town's rainy day fund. In 2015, a different apparent oversight in the bond left the arena without a proper access road, leaving an $80,000 funding hole that leaders from both the town and the Hartford School District eventually found funds to close.

This year, WABA originally was scheduled to open on Oct. 15, but the delay, due to malfunctions of both a power supply component and the computer module that controls the chiller, is in line with other years. There's no total accounting of how much the refrigeration system has cost the town in repairs and lost revenues due to reduced rink time, but various town documents and Valley News archive articles from the past decade suggest that both types of losses are frequent.

Until recently, revenues for the town were tracked as the "Outdoor Facilities Fund," which typically nets roughly $180,000 annually. In a town audit for the 2008-09 fiscal year, auditors reported that revenues to the fund "were down by 14.5 percent due to refrigeration problems at the start of the season."

A few other documented delays caused by refrigeration problems happened in December 2012, when the arena was shut down and a scheduled opening home game of the Hartford girls varsity hockey team postponed; last October, when a short-circuit in the rink's refrigeration unit's electrical panel caused an unanticipated thaw that led to a three-day delay to the start of that season; and in December, when refrigeration problems caused the facility to be shut down for a day, canceling the skating plans of evening renters.

In October 2015, a $28,000 refrigeration compressor was ordered by Hausler's predecessor, Tad Nunez, for WABA, according to Hartford Parks and Recreation Commission minutes. In July 2016, another compressor was purchased and installed, for another $30,000.

The 2015 five-year Capital Improvement Program, which was developed under Nunez and former Town Manager Hunter Rieseberg, included no immediate expenditures for the arena's equipment and refrigeration system, though it anticipated spending $255,000 on that category between 2018 and 2020.

Grassi said he was dissatisfied with the FY 2015-16 budget, which proved to yield shortfalls for the Parks and Recreation Department budget.

"The budget presented to us by Parks and Recreation, I don't believe was representative of the issues that we were going to be facing," he said. "If a portion of that was due to WABA expenses, I don't know, but I question that the budget wasn't dealing with what I think was an obvious problem coming down."

In April, a representative with servicing company Vermont Commercial Refrigeration "informed us that he cannot guarantee the system will function next season, and recommend we move forward with (a series of temporary fixes totaling thousands of dollars) if we plan to limp through another year," Nunez wrote in a department report to Pullar. "If all work is done, there is still no guarantee that plant will make it through another season."

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be reached at mhonghet@vnews.com or 603-727-3211.

 

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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

COLUMBUS - Local state lawmakers don't want to see the Columbus Crew SC leave, but they differ on the lengths they are willing to go to keep the team in town after owners announced their intent to relocate if they don't get a new, downtown stadium.

Sen. Kevin Bacon, R-Minerva Park, is eager to help the team stay.

"I want to do whatever I can if the ship has not yet sailed to keep them here," Bacon said.

Having a stadium downtown, he said, would boost the Crew's attendance, and he likened it to when the Columbus Clippers moved downtown to Huntington Park.

"I'd surely consider it," Bacon said, when asked about using money in the state capital budget to build a downtown stadium.

He said it's hard to comment on specifics until he sees a proposal, and he would ultimately have to see if it's a true value for taxpayers.

Crew SC will play at Mapfre Stadium in 2018, but Pre-court Sports Ventures has made it clear they will move the franchise to Austin, Texas without a downtown, soccer-specific stadium.

The stadium at the Ohio Expo Center first opened under the name Crew Stadium on May 15, 1999. At the time, it was the first stadium in the nation to be built specifically for a Major League Soccer team.

If a new stadium were to be built, Sen. Charleta Tavares, D-Columbus, is not in favor of it being built downtown. Between parking and the crowds, she said, downtown can't hold every Columbus team and attraction. It already has the Clippers and the Blue Jackets.

"I think we should spread out venues," Tavares said.

She would be more on board, however, if the owners purchase land downtown, finance it with business owners and work with city zoning.

Tavares said she would not consider using money in the capital budget to build a downtown stadium.

"Why use tax dollars to subside a for-profit business?" she asked.

Anthony Precourt said he and his ownership group are not seeking public tax dollars to build a stadium in Columbus or Austin. Pre-court Sports Ventures has owned the Crew since 2013.

When it comes to supporting a plan to build a downtown stadium, Rep. Kristin Boggs, D-Columbus, first wants to see how the plan would be executed.

She also has reservations about using state capital funds for a stadium "unless it has strategic... long-term impact on the economy."

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The New York Post

 

KIM Sumbler isn't afraid to say it. She didn't hesitate when asked if she believes this is a new era in the sometimes turbulent history of the New York State Athletic Commission.

"Yes, I do," said Sumbler, who was recently appointed as the commission's new executive director. "We put the athletes first. I'm not saying the commission hasn't done that in the past. But we're doing our best to review all of our policies and make sure our policies are doing what they're intended to do, which his to protect these athletes."

Sumbler was appointed to the commission last year as the point person to develop staff, policies and procedures to regulate mixed-martial arts in New York after the sport was legalized by the state in the spring of 2016. It was a good hire.

Before joining the NYSAC, Sumbler spent a decade regulating amateur and professional combat sports for the Seneca Nation of Indians. Not only did she spearhead the commission since its inception in 2008, but Sumbler traveled throughout the United States helping other Native American tribes set up their own athletic commissions.

Initially hired to establish MMA policy and procedures in New York, she is now in charge of the day-to-day operation of NYSAC, which regulates MMA, boxing, wrestling and other martial arts competition.

"I'm very lucky and I'm very pleased to have this opportunity to run the Athletic Commission for New York State," she said.

The NYSAC will be stretched on Nov. 4 when Barclays Center hosts a major boxing card headlined by Deontay Wilder defending his WBC heavyweight championship against Bermane Stiverne, while UFC returns to Madison Square Garden for UFC 217.

That might have been a challenge a year ago when the Commission was new to MMA, but Sumbler said she is confident there are plenty of inspectors and other commission officials to handle the double-duty.

"We have more than enough bodies on our staff," said Sumbler, who has trained extensively in jujitsu, kickboxing and karate, but never competed. "Throughout the state I've got 12 deputy commissioners, 43 inspectors and 31 ringside physicians on my payroll. There will be no problem filling the roster."

Though the NYSAC has a long history of regulating boxing, UFC 217 will be the eighth MMA event in the state, including the UFC's debut last November at UFC 205. The UFC has also held events in Buffalo, Albany, Brooklyn, and Long Island. Bellator held its initial MMA event at MSG in June.

"We basically had to start from scratch and develop a new [MMA] program," Sumbler said. "New York obviously had a great boxing legacy which was great because it provided a great foundation. We did hire extra staff, but a lot of staff already at the commission had a lot of MMA experience in the amateur industry."

The hope is Sumbler can bring some much-needed stability to the Commission. She is the fourth executive director since the MMA bill was passed, following David Berlin, Eric Bentley, and Anthony Giardina. The initial uproar over increased insurance requirements of up to $1 million per fighter has quieted, though small promotions remain impacted. The state also has settled a lingering lawsuit stemming from the brain injuries Russian boxer Magomed Abdulsalamov sustained in a heavyweight fight at the Garden Theater in November 2013.

With Sumbler at the helm, there's a feeling that someone is in charge who actually understands how to regulate MMA and boxing.

"The boxing community and the MMA community are realizing we have turned over a new leaf," Sumbler said.

george.willis@nypost.com

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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

The Milwaukee Bucks have re-created the Robert Indiana-designed basketball floor for their "Return to the MECCA" game Thursday.

Dubbed the "floor that made Milwaukee famous," the colorful court will be used for one game — the Bucks game against the Boston Celtics Oct. 26. ESPN first reported on the floor project.

The game is being played at what is now called the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. The Bucks played home games in the arena, then called the MECCA, until the BMO Harris Bradley Center opened in 1988.

The new floor was built and painted by Prostar Services Inc., a local company that's in the process of moving from Mequon to the Menomonee Valley.

The floor has been stored at a south side high school and will be installed at the arena on Monday, said Hal Koller, company president.

Prostar has been the Bucks' flooring contractor for 25 years and built the floors in use at the BMO Harris Bradley Center and the Bucks' new practice facility.

After Thursday's game, the Robert Indiana design will be removed, Koller said.

"It's a one-time deal," he said of the use of the Indiana design.

In a statement, the Bucks said the permission to use the floor design was reached through an agreement with Artists Rights Society and the Morgan Art Foundation, which represents the rights and permission interests of Indiana.

"On this special night at the MECCA, it's only fitting for fans to have another chance to see the Bucks play on this iconic court," Dustin Godsey, Bucks chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

"Robert Indiana's famously designed floor is a major part of the legacy of the Bucks and the city of Milwaukee and we're proud to celebrate the team's heritage in our 50th anniversary season."

The new floor will be used as an "event floor" at the new arena being built for the Wisconsin Herd, the Bucks' G-League affiliate in Oshkosh, he said. Another floor is being created for Wisconsin Herd games.

Koller said the Indiana-themed floor will add to the excitement over the NBA game at the intimate arena.

"I don't think people realize how cool it really was," he said of the design.

The city hired pop artist Indiana to create the floor in 1977. It was left behind when the Bucks moved to the Bradley Center.

Koller's nephew Ben owns the original Indiana MECCA floor and it is in storage in the Milwaukee area, Hal Koller said.

The original Indiana floor was reassembled and displayed at the arena in 2013 when Ben Koller sought a buyer for the work.

The floor was the subject of an ESPN short film in 2014.

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Abilene Reporter-News (Texas)

 

Reports of a misappropriation of funds from a youth sports organization have prompted resignations and created a "rift" between parents, coaches and others in the Redskins, a part of the West Texas Youth Football and Cheerleading organization.

According to a police report filed Wednesday: "It was reported that someone working in a volunteer position as a board member... misappropriated funds of money that another person was entrusted with. That same person also used a bank card to pay for a personal cell phone bill."

The amount listed is $5,000. Police are investigating further.

Kevin Bose, a coach for the Redskins organization, said Friday afternoon that he didn't "know any of the full-on details" about the reported crime.

"But basically, what happened is our treasurer at the time, the beginning of the season, had realized there were issues with the books," he said. "So what she did, she went to our Mighty Mites coach who had experience investigating missing money in his career prior to what he's doing now. And so she approached him to investigate what's wrong with the picture."

From there, internal strife put strain on the Redskins' leadership Bose said,

"The president and the treasurer were at odds about it (the situation)," Bose said. "So there was money missing. We don't know if it was stolen or if it was just lost or what happened to it because there's no official investigation that has been started until recently."

Bose said that since then, the team's treasurer has resigned, its president was removed, and its vice president appointed as interim president.

"(The vice president) was given specific orders not to create a board, but to find out where the money's gone," Bose said. "So what he did, he created a board to help him investigate what was going on. There was a rift created from this between parents, between coaches, and within our Redskins organization."

WTYFA leadership have since stepped in and removed all the team's board members, and have "taken over everything until the end of the season," Bose said.

Lamont Thompson, president of the WTYFA, said that the organization had no further comment while the investigation was ongoing.

"As far as an investigation goes, there's nothing to really be told," Bose said. "There is money gone, it's unclear how much exactly, and we need an actual investigation before anything can really be reported."

In a separate incident, Bose said that in a team photo some adults can be seen making an obscene gesture in a team picture.

"One of the factions, because basically, that's what it is, the Mighty Mites coaches had flipped the bird in of their pictures and posted it on social media," he said. "And so, it's not just this whole money mess now, it's also that."

Bose said that even though he is a head coach, he has no child involved in the program.

"I am a coach because I want to coach, I want to be involved with the kids and do my to help create a better society for the future," he said. "So for me, this is all just a big headache, and we don't have anybody advocating for the kids. And that really hurts, because the ones being most the most affected by all of this is the kids."

He said that there are between 75 to 100 children in the Redskins organization, which consists of four football teams - one flag, three tackle - and cheerleaders.

"They don't fully understand what's going on, but listening to their parents and all this stuff and all their authority figures bickering and fighting about everything, I don't think that's what we need," Bose said. "... I just really want everybody to calm down and let's just finish the season strong and let's worry about this in the off-season when the kids aren't involved."

WTYFA is a nonprofit youth organization specializing in youth football and cheerleading programs for all children in grades pre-k through sixth-grade.

The organization is staffed by volunteers and consists of nine teams, with a stated goal of inspiring youth to "develop life skills of character, teamwork and Christian principles."

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October 21, 2017
 
 
 

 

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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

The girls' volleyball seasons for Emerson and South Park have been canceled following an ugly brawl in which five teens were arrested after an Oct. 13 match at South Park.

According to police, multiple students were injured when a majority of the Emerson team was assaulted by South Park students outside the gym. A portion of the fight was captured on school security cameras.

Police said they arrested five of the seven participants in the brawl that could be identified.

It is unclear what led to the fight.

School district spokeswoman Elena Cala confirmed that the five teens — all athletes believed to attend South Park — have been suspended under the district's code of conduct. Cala said two Emerson players were injured during the incident.

"The District Code of Conduct holds high expectations for the proper and peaceful behavior of all students," Cala said. "The District is unable to comment on individuals involved due to the police investigation and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act."

According to police, one of the teens was taunting a female student by following her and repeatedly yelling, "You wanna fight?" She then followed the student outside the gym when she was leaving with her mother and sister.

The situation escalated, leading to the teen punching, kicking and throwing the other girl to the ground. That led to the other teens joining the fray, police said.

According to police, the 16-year-old who was attacked suffered bruising, swelling and was later determined to have a concussion. Her sister, 14, also received medical attention for bruises to the head.

A 16-year-old girl was charged with second-degree gang assault, second-degree harassment, child endangerment and inciting to riot. A 17-year-old girl was charged with second-degree gang assault and endangering the welfare of a child. A 17-year-old girl was charged with second-degree gang assault, inciting to riot and child endangerment. A 16-year-old boy was charged with gang assault in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a child. Raymond Mushat, 18, was charged with second-degree gang assault, inciting to riot and child endangerment.

Cala said district staff "will review policy and procedures with coaches, school administration, security, and student support in order to prevent similar incidents."

Neither volleyball team experienced much success on the court this season. South Park had one win entering the match against winless Emerson.

The Section VI Tournament begins next week with seeds expected to be unveiled Monday night. The tournament begins Tuesday.

It's uncertain whether the teams would have participated or opted out of the playoffs given their on-court struggles. South Park is a Class A-sized school, while Emerson is Class B-1.

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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

Before she did anything else, she called her mother.

Tamia Bowden was about to make a stand — an unpopular stand in an unpopular way. Before the freshman at Canisius College even mentioned to her teammates about taking a knee during the national anthem at their next volleyball match, she talked it over with her mom.

Her mom, Desiree Groves Marshall, is an Army combat veteran. She served two years in the Middle East. And if her daughter wanted to take a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, well, she was 100 percent behind her daughter.

"She told me that she supported me. She'd stand by no matter what," Bowden said. "She said to not let people change my perspective on it by saying, 'Your mom's in the military. You're disrespecting her.' She said, 'Don't think that's what you're doing. Because you're not.' She's fully on board about the whole thing."

So Bowden reached out to her teammates on a group text, saying she wanted to take a knee and asking for their feelings.

Two of them, Leah Simmons and Sara Wesley, said they were thinking of doing the same thing.

"And the rest of our team replied that we may not be doing it, but we support whatever you guys want to do," said Wesley, a junior from Exeter, Pa.

Then they had to tell their coach. After a team meeting when the floor is open for announcements, Bowden spoke up.

"We want to take a knee. Is that cool?" Bowden, from Lexington, Ky., asked.

Yes. It was cool, although there were a few more conversations needed. And on Oct. 2, when National Football League players were taking a knee, so, too, were the trio at Canisius.

They have taken in a knee in matches since then and intend to continue to do so. Canisius plays two Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference matches at home this weekend, hosting Saint Peter's at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Rider at 1 p.m. Sunday in the Koessler Center.

In a statement, athletic director Bill Maher said the school recognizes "the right of a student-athlete to choose not participate in our celebration of the national anthem," but noted "the national anthem is a special part of any pregame ceremony here at Canisius College. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as citizens."

The school said it has "added a moment of silent reflection prior to the start of all home sporting events in an effort to consider those whose lives are impacted by inequality and injustice."

For second-year Canisius coach and Buffalo native Lenika Vazquez, her first thought was "how do I protect them from backlash?"

"So I felt like the best way to do that was to help them figure out what they're trying to say and listening to them," she said. "I feel like that's what I did. We sat down and talked. They typed up statements. One was handwritten. And they just shared their stories with me. They let it out. I gave them that platform."

The young women had stories and concerns.

Bowden said she dealt with racism at home in Kentucky, telling an all-too familiar tale for black women who go into an expensive store only to be followed by security and told they clearly don't have the money to shop there. She said her grandmother was told she couldn't bring her bag into a grocery store because "people like her steal."

"I think people thought initially I was kneeling just to kneel," said Simmons, a sophomore from outside Philadelphia. "I had people ask me, 'Why are you really kneeling? Do you even know what you're kneeling for?' And I would say, 'Yes, race injustices.' And they were surprised. They were like, 'OK, you actually know what you're talking about.' "

Other than one angry fan yelling at them in the Gallagher Center when they went to play rival Niagara, they said most people have been respectful, even when they disagree.

"I had one conversation with a guy in my major," Wesley said. "I was doing homework with him and as he was leaving he made some comment about not liking the fact that NFL players kneel. I looked at him and I'm like, 'Dude, I kneel.'

"I was trying to judge his reaction and we actually sat down. He doesn't agree with it. He thinks it's disrespectful, but he was open to talk about it and see my opinion. By the end of it he was like, 'OK. I understand. I don't agree, but I'm no longer as judgmental toward it because you have a reason and probably they do to.' That's all I really want to get out of a conversation."

Vazquez has had plenty of conversations around the Koessler Athletic Center at Canisius. While the coach is not participating in the protest, she is staunchly helping her players express their concerns and deliver their message. Among those conversations was one in particular with a person who was "just so adamant against it," said Vazquez. " 'It's so disrespectful to our military,' they said. I used Tamia's story."

"One of my players, her mother is a combat vet. Not just a vet. She's a combat vet. She went overseas and fought for our country," Vazquez said. "And to come back and have to worry about if her daughter will be OK if she gets pulled over for a citation, that's not OK. And it was a conversation. They were willing to listen and by the end of it were, 'Oh, OK. I see.'

"For me, as their coach, I'm here to help them. Again, my initial reaction was, how do I protect them? So I have chosen to have these conversations with people, albeit I didn't decide to kneel. Because they've shared their message with me, I will share their message with people that choose to have a conversation with me."

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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

NEW YORK - Big Ten basketball came to the Big Apple on Thursday for media day and a look at Madison Square Garden, where the conference will hold its tournament in March.

"This is the mecca of basketball," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "It always has been. And I think it always will be."

The Big Ten will make its conference tournament debut at the Garden. The championship game, traditionally played on selection Sunday, will be played a week earlier on March 4. The Big East already had MSG booked for the following week.

"It's made the schedule a little bit funky, a little bit different. But that's OK," Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. "Anybody who's played in this building knows the opportunity that it presents and how special it is to play here. And sometimes you got to sacrifice a little bit."

The shift means playing conference games in December, which is about to become the norm. The Big Ten announced Thursday it is increasing league schedules to 20 games in men's basketball and 18 in women's basketball, starting in the 2018-19 season.

Big Ten men's teams currently play 18 conference games and the women's teams play 16.

"The idea behind the 20-game schedule is to hopefully get more teams in the NCAA Tournament," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "Data showed when we went from 16 to 18 we started getting more in."

The coaches backed the expanded league schedule, but there is some concern about how it will impact non-conference games.

"We've got a pretty full plate, normally," said Wisconsin coach Greg Gard, whose team typically plays in-state rival Marquette along with a preseason tournament and the ACC/Big Ten challenge. "And now you add two more conference games, obviously, Power Five games. And you have to make a decision on what you're going to substitute out."

Michigan State has typically packed its early season schedule with powerhouse nonconference opponents.

"You know, I had reluctance when it went to 18, to be honest with you," Izzo said. "And then it's kind of worked out."

A 14-team conference was creating imbalanced schedules that could impact the conference standings.

"But I've also been a big fan of the truest champion you could have, and I think that when you're only playing 16 and an 18, sometimes the schedule determines some of the championships over the performance on the court," Izzo said. "This gives us the better chance to have the performance on the court do it."

Under the new format, men's teams will play seven opponents twice and six teams once, splitting the single matchups evenly between home and away. In-state rivalries Illinois-Northwestern, Michigan-Michigan State and Indiana-Purdue will be played twice annually, and regional rivalries will be emphasized when determining home-and-home opponents.

Michigan and Michigan State only play once this season.

"And there was no doubt, as Tom (Izzo) and I talked about this, that we should be playing twice every year," Michigan coach John Beilein said.

The women's schedule will include five opponents playing twice, eight once and also emphasize state and regional rivalries.

As for moving the tournament out of the Midwest to the East Coast, Commissioner Jim Delany said the goal is to bring the tournament to the Northeast corridor about 20 percent of the time. The Big Ten Tournament was played last year in Washington, D.C.

The Big Ten added Rutgers in New Jersey and Maryland in 2015, and soon after established a conference office in Manhattan. As Delany put it, the Big Ten wants to live in this area, not just visit.

But the extra time off between the end of the Big Ten Tournament and the start of the NCAAs could present a challenge for teams that make the field of 68.

Turgeon, who previously coached at Wichita State in the Missouri Valley, said he thought the time off helped the Shockers prepare for the NCAA Tournament.

"We were able to get fresh, put in a lot of new plays," he said. "We could disguise a few things, steal a few buckets, so to speak."

The Big Ten doesn't have a preseason poll for order of finish in the conference, but it does choose a preseason player of the year that's voted by the media. Michigan State sophomore Miles Bridges was the easy pick.

Joining Bridges on the preseason all-Big Ten team were: Northwestern's Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey; Wisconsin's Ethan Happ; Maryland's Justin Jackson; Michigan's Moritz Wagner; Michigan State's Nick Ward; Purdue's Vincent Edwards; and Minnesota's Amir Coffey and Nate Mason.

The Big Ten announced Thursday it is increasing league schedules to 20 games in men's basketball and 18 in women's basketball, starting in the 2018-19 season. Big Ten men's teams currently play 18 conference games and the women's teams play 16.
 
October 21, 2017
 
 
 

 

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

On Sept. 26, after a three-year undercover FBI investigation, 10 individuals, among whom were an Adidas executive, four college assistant coaches, a sports agent, financial advisor, and a former NBA official were charged with colluding to bribe star athletes to enroll at specified universities.

Federal prosecutors claimed that at least three top high school recruits were promised payments up to $150,000 to attend the universities of Louisville and Miami. The University of Louisville is already reeling from sanctions brought on by an assistant coach who hired strippers to influence recruits' decisions. Naturally, the head coaches at these institutions claim no knowledge of the deplorable events.

It's not like the current NCAA basketball scandal is a surprise. Any fan who is half way paying attention knows that big time college sports is a self-serving, cash-driven and hypocritical exploitation of "student-athletes." There may be some nay-sayers out there, but the recent scandals dump the sleaze clearly on the table.

Unfortunately, recent indiscretions are merely the tip of the iceberg. From its founding over a century ago, the NCAA, coaches, and college administrators have successfully swept all but the most egregious scandals under the rug. Nevertheless, when forced to the wall, the NCAA's enforcement division has several significant weapons in its arsenal.

The "death penalty" bars offending institutions from competing in a sport for at least a year. However, the last time the NCAA invoked the "death penalty" against a Division I school (SMU) was 1987. More recently, Penn State was considered for the death penalty because of the Jerry Sandusky case, but, instead, the NCAA meted out a $60 million dollar fine and forfeiture penalties.

The "show-cause penalty" enables the NCAA to bar athletic staff from working at any NCAA member school without NCAA permission. In 2011 this sanction was levied against Tennessee's head basketball coach who was fired and then bounced around for a while before ending up as head coach at Auburn. There have been several similar cases. In essence, though - while some of the penalties are severe - the NCAA seldom levies the big hits.

Meanwhile, the situation cries out for "somebody" to get a firm grasp on the collection of devious coaches, sports agents, athletic equipment makers, and hyperactive alumni whose goal is winning at all costs. Hopefully, a committee could be formed to drastically reduce and replace the mind-numbing plethora of unwieldy NCAA regulations that result in many time-consuming investigations and minor violations. Moreover, more big hits are needed to force the perpetrators to pay attention and reel in their excesses.

The NCAA model is not working and needs major changes. The scandals continue to surface with no end in sight. Can any solution turn things around? Or will the public permit the NCAA to meander through its second century of chasing the dollar and endure scandals that have bathed college sports in squalor since forever? One fan's bet is that athletic misconduct will survive in perpetuity. For who would be so bold as to slay the golden goose?

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October 19, 2017
 
 
 

 

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Newsday (New York)

 

The Big Ten quietly opened a New York office in 2014, but Thursday felt like the "move-in." It held its men's basketball media day before a throng of media and a live television audience at Madison Square Garden. The biggest thing on everyone's mind was how this season's Big Ten conference tournament will be held at the World's Most Famous Arena.

Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo of conference favorite Michigan State said "this is the mecca of basketball. It always has been. And I think it always will be." And new Illinois coach Brad Underwood added "being here in Madison Square Garden, I think, is very, very special. I think it's every coach's and every player's dream to get the opportunity to perform here."

This has been commissioner Jim Delany's vision since the Big Ten announced in 2012 that Maryland and Rutgers would join. He said conferences often add schools but don't have a presence around them, that they "add geography, but you don't live there." Last season's conference tournament was played in Washington, D.C.

"We wanted to actively compete and participate in this corridor," Delany said. "Why this corridor? I think it's probably the most important corridor in the country, maybe the world, if you look at media, if you look at politics, if you look at banking, if you look at finance. So it was important for us to be here, to live here."

The Big Ten is making a major concession in order to play at the Garden. The Big East has held its tourney there during the week leading up to Selection Sunday for more than three decades and remains locked in to that. The Big Ten agreed to play the Garden the week before, from Feb. 28 through March 4; it has historically played its title game on Selection Sunday.

As a result, teams out of the Big Ten that make the NCAA Tournament could be looking at nine to 12 days off before joining March Madness. The schools would have the option of scrimmaging one another to stay sharp, but Delany said he doesn't believe they will.

"We made some sacrifices to be in the Garden, but I think everyone will see it was worth it," said Michigan's John Beilein, who knows firsthand from coaching West Virginia for six of its seasons in the Big East.

"I'm a little concerned about the timing of it but I give Jim Delany a lot of credit," Izzo said. "There have been a lot of things I've questioned what they've done and 99.8 percent of them have been positive. I have faith and trust in him and he's earned it. This tournament is going to be exciting."

The addition of the Big Ten's tourney means that all eyes in the college basketball world will be on New York for two weeks. In addition to the Big East's tournament the following week, the ACC will be holding it's tourney at Barclays Center.

Notes & quotes: The Big Ten will play 20 conference games instead of 18 in 2018-19. The belief is it will raise every team's strength of schedule and get more teams into the NCAA draw . . . Michigan State's Miles Bridges was tabbed in the Big Ten's media poll as Preseason Player of the Year . . . The Spartans also were the unanimous choice to win the conference in a media poll conducted by The Athletic.

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October 20, 2017
 
 
 

 

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

MILWAUKEE — The Green Bay Packers and Microsoft are launching a tech incubator near Lambeau Field in a $10 million partnership aimed at igniting innovation in an area not typically targeted by major, global companies.

For Microsoft, the project announced Thursday is part of an initiative the company unveiled last week in Fargo, N.D., to spur technological advances and create jobs in rural and small metropolitan areas.

"We are bringing to a smaller city the types of efforts that you tend to see today only in the larger cities in the world," Microsoft president Brad Smith said.

For the Packers, the goal is to drive long-term economic growth to help ensure Green Bay keeps its NFL franchise.

"What we're trying to do is make sure that Green Bay is always going to be in an economic position to be able to sustain the Packers," said Ed Policy, the team's vice president and general counsel.

The Packers have sold out every game at Lambeau Field since November 1959, but Green Bay is the smallest city to have an NFL team, with a population of about 105,000 people. Lambeau Field's current capacity is more than 81,400, making it one of the largest NFL stadiums.

The incubator will be housed in a new, state-of-the-art building to be constructed in Green Bay's Titletown District, just west of Lambeau Field. The development already includes a hotel, a brewery, and a sports medicine and orthopedics clinic. It also has a plaza and park with playgrounds and a full-size football field that's open to the public.

Microsoft and the Packers are each investing $5 million over five years in the project, with most of that going to a venture capital fund to invest in start-ups that work out of the new facility. Start-ups can get 18 weeks to work in the space, where they will receive mentoring and technical assistance to develop their ideas.

"Using the Packers' brand kind of gives us a little bit of a beacon for all entrepreneurs to kind of look our way," Policy said.

The Packers will pay for the new building, which is expected to cost $8 million to $10 million, Policy said. The facility will include a lab for established businesses to send employees to work on new ideas.

"There is, in my opinion, perhaps no single organization that better unites the people of Wisconsin than the Green Bay Packers," said Smith, who attended middle school and high school in Appleton, about 30 miles southwest of Green Bay.

The initiative Microsoft launched last week in North Dakota, called TechSpark, addresses an issue Smith wrote about in a blog after the 2016 presidential election, when he said the results "registered a strong concern about the plight of those who feel left out and left behind."

TechSpark is a multiyear, multimillion-dollar investment to expand rural broadband, create jobs, and teach computer science to students, among other things. Smith has said other projects will be launched in Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.

Smith said the Titletown venture is a chance to help fulfill "a huge amount of promise and potential" in Wisconsin's technology sector.

"Wisconsin today has lots of successful businesses and lots of smart people. But it does not yet have a technology sector that is really working at scale," he said.

Wisconsin "has one of the most broadly based technology sectors in the country," according to Wisconsin Technology Council president Tom Still, who points out the state is among the leaders nationally in health information technology and biotechnology.

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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

HIGH POINT — City leaders now have a "Plan B" for building a baseball stadium, the anchor of a $200 million economic redevelopment plan for downtown.

But they're still holding out hope for "Plan A" — in which a reluctant Guilford County Board of Commissioners eventually agrees to help pay for it.

On Thursday, the High Point City Council voted 8-1 on the new plan, which looks a lot like the old one.

High Point still would borrow $30 million to $35 million to build the stadium.

But unlike "Plan A," the new plan calls for High Point alone to repay the debt, without the county's help. It'll just take a decade or so longer to pay it off, city staffers said.

Those staffers said the city can borrow up to $38 million without raising taxes to cover the debt.

Councilwoman Cynthia Davis, an ardent critic of the stadium plan, voted no, saying residents have neither seen the figures nor been asked whether they want the city to take on extra debt.

Her opposition has been a source of tension among the council.

At one point in the discussion, Davis interrupted Randy Hemann, assistant city manager, to ask why council members were being asked to vote on a plan they just received.

Mayor Bill Bencini asked her to hold her question, but Davis continued. Bencini called her out of order, then banged the gavel while she spoke, drowning out her question.

The county's role has also been a source of tension for the council. Some council members haven't abandoned hope that the county will shoulder some of the debt.

On Dec. 5, city leaders will present the project to the state Local Government Commission, which must give its permission before High Point can borrow the money for the stadium.

Councilman Latimer Alexander said city leaders will present "Plan A" if commissioners change their minds between now and then, or "Plan B" if they don't.

High Point leaders want to create a 649-acre economic development zone in a blighted part of downtown. The plan includes building a $30 million to $35 million stadium on land the city already owns or is trying to buy in an area bordered by Gatewood Avenue, English Road and Elm and Lindsay streets.

The zone would include private development, too. High Point University President Nido Qubein raised $50 million for a baseball team, a children's museum, a park and an event center. Greensboro developer Roy Carroll said he plans to build a hotel there, and High Point developer Blue Ridge Cos. said it will build 200 apartments.

It's part of a plan, two years in the making, to transform a blighted section of downtown into a thriving social and cultural center.

But High Point leaders need a way to pay off the bond to build the stadium.

Enter "Plan A." The City Council asked Guilford County to forgo any extra tax revenue generated by new development within the zone, which would cover 20 percent of the loan payments.

Commissioners balked, complaining that High Point leaders rushed them, that neither they nor local residents had a chance to vet the project, that the city had no backup plan for repaying the loan if the development zone goes bust.

High Point officials warned they will lose the baseball team that Qubein arranged to buy, the Atlantic League's Bridgeport (Connecticut) Bluefish, if the stadium isn't open in spring 2019.

Thursday's vote by the council ensures that won't happen.

Tim Elliott, the project's Baltimore-based master developer, on Thursday presented an updated development plan that calls for building in stages.

Once complete, it would include all the elements already announced - the children's museum, the hotel, the park, the apartments.

"Elm Street is going to rise up as your real cultural avenue," he said.

Elliott also talked about senior housing, office buildings, shops and restaurants — and maybe even a satellite building for High Point University along with graduate student housing.

The plan, he said, is a carefully calibrated "effort of private development that brings the city alive 365 days a year."

Contact Margaret Moffett at 336-373-7031 and follow @MargaretMoffett on Twitter.

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Copyright 2017 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

Sidney defensive coordinator Kyle Coleman directs video replay with the Yellow Jackets during a recent game. Hudl game video can be exchanged among teams with just a computer click.

There's been a significant change in how high school football coaches adjust to an opponent.

For many teams, gone are the days when a sharp-eyed assistant from a booth in the press box relays instructions to other coaches who are anchored on the sideline. Now, sideline video replays on a wide-screen television are favored.

That's why it's not uncommon to see offenses and defenses huddled together, often under a protective tent, watching significant replays of a game that might have happened just a minute before. Opportunities that previously wouldn't be revealed until after exhaustive Saturday-morning film watching can now be addressed real-time and implemented the next series.

Think that's an advantage on game nights?

"Some of our guys said it's almost like cheating," said Wayne coach Jay Minton.

This is the result of a rule change by the National Federation of State High School Associations in 2013 that allowed sideline use of iPads and video during football games. Initially, it went unnoticed. The NFHS reported that less than 1 percent of teams it contacted had implemented this kind of on-field technology the first season it was available.

Now, wide-screen TVs and multiple clickers are as common as water bottles. That's why Wayne's offense huddles around offensive coordinator Brian Blevins and watches replays during a game. It's the same for Sidney junior quarterback Andre Gordon and the Yellow Jackets' high-powered offense. Northmont's first-team defense was often locked onto sideline replay during last week's 21-14 defeat of visiting Centerville.

The use of iPads initially was a favorite among Dayton City League coaches. But that small-screen review doesn't carry the wide-spread impact of a large-screen TV. Many larger schools with more resources and deep-pocket booster programs eventually doubled down on the instant replay availability.

Hudl is a replay software program favored by most teams. This is used to separate offensive and defensive plays, special teams, third-down tendencies and every other conceivable situation the operator can imagine. Hudl game video is exchanged among teams with a personal computer click.

Doing all that during a contest and implementing real-time adjustments is a game-changer.

"Who would ever think you'd have that kind of ability and technology on the sideline?" Minton said. "You basically coach on the run with it."

There are limits to how playbacks can be used. Coaches can show iPad replays during a timeout on the field to a team that's huddled. But coaches can't share that on-field replay info when the ball is inside an opponent's 9-yard line. Also, unlike the NFL or college football, any attempt to show an official a replay will result in an unsportsmanlike conduct foul.

Wayne's large-screen, on-field TV was donated. Minton defers to assistants such as Blevins to coordinate game-day usage.

"I'd put my fist through it, probably," said Minton.

* Most of the area league and conference titles and the playoff status for contending teams will be affected by Week 9 games. Here's a look at what's at stake:

GWOC: None of the four divisional titles has been clinched. The National East will undergo the most significant adjustment with Fairmont (6-2, 0-2) at Centerville (7-1, 2-0) and Springfield (6-2, 1-1) at Wayne (6-2, 2-1). Beaver-creek (5-3, 1-2) takes a three-game losing skid against visiting Miamisburg.

Troy (6-2, 3-0) and Piqua (5-3, 2-1) likely will decide the American North title in Week 10. Trotwood-Madison (8-0, 3-0) is a lock to win the American South. Northmont (6-2, 1-0) is at Springboro (4-4, 1-0). That winner secures at least a share of the National West title.

GCL Co-Ed North: Alter (7-1, 5-0) and Chaminade Julienne (6-2, 5-0) are headed to a Week 10 showdown to decide this title. However, both have significant Week 9 challenges. Alter hosts McNicholas (5-3) at Fairmont, and CJ hosts Badin (5-3).

SWBL: Valley View (8-0, 4-0) can clinch a share of the Southwestern title against visiting Brookville (6-2, 3-1). Middletown Madison (6-2, 4-0) has only to beat Waynesville (1-7) and Northridge (0-5) to win an outright Buckeye title.

CBC: Kenton Trail leader Bellefontaine (7-1, 3-0) hosts Mad River leader Indian Lake (6-2, 3-0) in a Week 9 crossover matchup that doesn't count toward divisional standings. Both have secured title shares and will win outright with Week 10 wins.

SOPL: Belmont (8-0, 5-0) can clinch an outright American Division title by beating Western Hills at Welcome Stadium on Saturday. That will conclude the Bison's nine-game regular season. Taft (6-2, 4-0) clinched the National Division title by beating Dunbar last week.

MAC: Marion Local (8-0, 6-0) can clinch a share of the title at St. Henry (6-2, 4-2) today and hosts Parkway (1-7) in Week 10. Anna (7-1, 5-1) is at Coldwater (6-2, 5-1) today, with the loser falling out of conference title contention.

CCC: Miami East (7-1, 6-0) can clinch a title share against visiting Tri-County North (4-4) today. Also in contention are Bethel (7-1, 5-1) and newcomer Fort Loramie (7-1, 5-1).

Contact this reporter at 937-225-2381 or email Marc.

Pendleton@coxinc.com

Twitter: @MarcPendleton

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San Angelo Standard-Times (Texas)

 

The Class 2A Bronte Longhorns have yet to win a football game this season, but they scored a big off-field victory with their fans prior to last month's homecoming game against Irion County.

Every Bronte player dressed for the game — all 19 of them — came charging out from their inflatable run-through carrying American flags. The video, which was posted on Facebook and picked up by an Abilene TV station, drew 25,000 views before that weekend ended.

"Our kids are very patriotic. They take a lot of pride in our little town," said Amy Chumney, who helped round up the American flags just hours before the homecoming game.

It occurred a week after the war of words between President Trump and NFL players began about their conduct during the pregame national anthem. The movement of kneeling during the anthem was started last year by San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick over his view of police mistreatment of black males. The movement had mostly subsided when Trump said at a Sept. 22 rally that NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the anthem. The president's comment rekindled Kaepernick's movement as more players knelt in response. Some NFL owners knelt in locked arms with their players and coaches prior to the anthem, but stood during it.

Trump vs. NFL caused much public controversy, especially in rural Middle America. Many adults in Bronte thought their players carried the flags as a statement against the kneeling NFL players.

However, senior quarterback and safety Tanner Bedford said that wasn't necessarily the case. It seems these 19 teenage boys from Bronte thought at a higher level and rose above the adults on both sides of Trump vs. NFL.

"We did it for various reasons. We don't think either side is right or wrong in the NFL thing. We wanted to show that we are supportive of America, and the fact that we live in a country where we can do this freely and work through our issues and problems," Bedford said.

"It was about our team unity. If all of us run out with a flag, we're all equals."

Bedford said the Bronte players got the idea from seeing a Twitter video of another high school team - he didn't recall where - carrying American flags while running on the field. While decorating their gym that Thursday night for the homecoming pep rally, Bedford and senior guard/linebacker Cade Chumney approached his mom to see what she thought.

Amy Chumney, a substitute teacher at Bronte, liked the idea.

"It made me proud of those little guys that, in all the craziness going on with the NFL, our boys wanted to stand up for their own beliefs," said Amy Chumney, who in addition to Cade has a daughter, India, who is a Bronte cheerleader.

"It was not a school-affiliated decision. It was 100 percent the kids."

With help from Joni Busby, another cheerleader's mom, 19 American flags were rounded up Friday afternoon before the game.

"The Lions Club puts up flags downtown for holidays and special occasions, and we borrowed their flags. The rest came from people with yard flags," Amy Chumney said.

She told school superintendent Tim Siler, but by all accounts, no other school administrators, faculty, staff or even students knew the Longhorns planned to run on the field carrying American flags.

"That's how we wanted it. We wanted it to be a surprise," said Bedford, who also is president of Bronte's student council. "There was a lot of hype for homecoming so we thought it was pretty cool to show that the football team is unified."

Rocky Rawls, a Bronte coach for 35 years and the school's athletic director for the last eight years, didn't know about the flags.

"None of us knew. It was just done," Rawls said. "That's the kind of kids we have here. They're patriotic. They know right from wrong. They don't always do the right thing, but they're raised that way and taught that way.

"These kids here, they get it. Small towns get it. They've been brought up since kindergarten to know that patriotic matters are important."

Feedback from this community of 980 residents to its football players has been overwhelmingly positive.

"I've heard nothing but good things," said Cade Chumney, who runs a check-out register and cleans the meat market at Hall's Super Save Food in Bronte. "At the grocery store, I've had several people come up and tell me they appreciated what we did."

In addition to the overall gesture, Rawls was impressed with how the Bronte players respected the flags.

"They were all busting through the run-through, but none of their flags touched the ground. Even after they ran on the field, they rolled the flags up like you're supposed to, and they never touched the ground," Rawls said.

Bronte (0-6) has two remaining home games - Oct. 27 against Winters and Nov. 10 against Albany. There's talk of the Bronte players all carrying American flags for one or both of those home games. But the players hadn't decided as of this week. This already was a unique season because it will be Bronte's last as an 11-man team before next year's move to six-man.

Now, it will be unique because the unified action of 19 teenage players rose above the behavior of bickering adults.

"We may have a small football team in terms of numbers and size," Amy Chumney said, "but they have big hearts."

Mike Lee writes a high school football column on Fridays during the season. He can be contacted at michaellee7 @att.net.

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

NEW YORK — Big Ten basketball came to the Big Apple on Thursday for media day and a look at Madison Square Garden, where the conference will hold its tournament in March.

"This is the mecca of basketball," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "It always has been. And I think it always will be."

The Big Ten will make its conference tournament debut at the Garden. The championship game, traditionally played on selection Sunday, will be played a week earlier on March 4. The Big East already had MSG booked for the following week.

The shift means playing conference games in December, which is about to become the norm. The Big Ten announced Thursday it is increasing league schedules to 20 games in men's basketball and 18 in women's basketball, starting in the 2018-19 season.

Big Ten men's teams currently play 18 conference games and the women's teams play 16.

"The idea behind the 20-game schedule is to hopefully get more teams in the NCAA Tournament," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "Data showed when we went from 16 to 18 we started getting more in."

The coaches backed the expanded league schedule, but there is some concern about how it will impact nonconference games.

"We've got a pretty full plate, normally," said Wisconsin coach Greg Gard, whose team typically plays in-state rival Marquette along with a preseason tournament and the ACC/Big Ten challenge. "And now you add two more conference games, obviously, Power Five games. And you have to make a decision on what you're going to substitute out."

Under the new format, men's teams will play seven opponents twice and six teams once, splitting the single matchups evenly between home and away. In-state rivalries Illinois-Northwestern, Michigan-Michigan State and Indiana-Purdue will be played twice annually, and regional rivalries will be emphasized when determining home-and-home opponents.

The women's schedule will include five opponents playing twice, eight once and also emphasize state and regional rivalries.

 

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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

A Chicago-based security company recently fired from its job at Minnesota Vikings games has been fired again — this time by the Buffalo Bills.

After questions from The Buffalo News about Monterrey Security Consultants, the Bills said that the security firm no longer will provide security services for the 71,000 people who attend Bills home games at New Era Field in Orchard Park.

The Bills sent a statement to The News about the termination after learning that Monterrey had been turned down in its request for a license to do security work in New York State.

"The Buffalo Bills have terminated our agreement with Monterrey Security Consultants after recently learning that their application for a security guard company license was denied by the New York State Division of Licensing Services. As a result, the Buffalo Bills have engaged Buffalo Protection & Investigation to provide private security services at events held at New Era Field. Our ultimate priority is always to provide is a safe and secure environment for our fans," the team said in its statement.

A team spokesman declined to comment further.

Buffalo Protection & Investigation of North Tonawanda, which has a state license and had been working as a subcontractor with Monterrey, has been awarded the contract, the team said. Buffalo Protection & Investigation's chief executive officer is Mona Rinaldo, according to state records. She is married to Buffalo Police Lt. Jeffrey Rinaldo.

A "letter of proposed denial" was issued Monday to Monterrey after its request for a license to perform security work in this state, a spokeswoman for the New York Department of State said.

"We have issued a letter of proposed denial," said Mercedes Padilla, public affairs officer for the Department of State. "The company has 35 days to challenge the proposed denial and request an administrative hearing."

The license request was denied on Monday, Padilla said, but she said she had no information on why the state denied it.

Monterrey said in a statement that it is proud of the work it has done for the Bills and other clients. The company said it has a policy of giving "second chances" and hiring some people who have had past brushes with the law — but none with records of violence.

The denial of a New York license and the loss of the Bills' contract continues a recent streak of bad fortune for Monterrey.

The company's contract to provide security at Vikings' games at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis was terminated last month.

That termination was confirmed for The News on Wednesday by an official of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which operates the Minneapolis stadium.

The authority ended its relationship with Monterrey after conducting an investigation into Monterrey's operations at the stadium, said spokeswoman Jennifer Hathaway.

"Monterrey Security will no longer be providing support at U.S. Bank Stadium," Hathaway said. She said two other companies have been hired to do the work.

She said the sports facilities authority begin its own probe after learning that the Minnesota State Board of Private Detective and Protective Agent Services was investigating Monterrey.

The authority "abruptly terminated" its contract with Monterrey, about 15 months into a three-year agreement, after investigators found "sloppy record keeping, as well as inadequate training and background checks," the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Sept. 27. The newspaper also reported that the state of Minnesota decided not to renew Monterrey's state license after concluding that "hundreds and hundreds of individuals performing security functions were not properly trained or licensed."

State investigators also found that one of the people who worked for Monterrey at a game last season, standing on the football field and checking security credentials, was a convicted felon who had been sentenced to 13 months in prison for extortion. The extortion case resulted in the suicide of the extortion victim — a man who was threatened with being exposed for having an extramarital affair.

The Bills hired Monterrey Security this year to provide security at games at New Era Field, according to a source close to the situation. Because Monterrey was not yet licensed to do security work in New York, the source said, it arranged to work through a subcontractor — Buffalo Protection & Investigation.

Mona Rinaldo told a News reporter she could not comment on the situation, and she advised the reporter to speak with the Bills and Monterrey Security.

"After a national search, the Buffalo Bills selected Monterrey Security to provide security at New Era Field, knowing we were not yet licensed to perform this work in New York State. Since then, we have been in 100 percent compliance with New York State law, working with local, licensed subcontractors," Monterrey said in a statement issued to The News. "Our company has always been about second chances, about hiring people from disadvantaged communities, and about protecting the people we have been hired to serve. That means if you had a minor incident or indiscretion in your past, have a clean record since, and can pass our stringent hiring standards, we will hire you to operate an elevator or direct traffic. We never hire people with a history of violence or sexual crimes or dangerous individuals."

According to the company's website, it "provides customized protection to diverse organizations" and has "secured some of Chicago's largest public events, and protected international leaders and celebrities." Monterrey Security provides services to the Chicago Bears football team, the Chicago Fire professional soccer team and at Notre Dame University sporting events, according to its website.

The company says it employs "more than 1,600 experienced security professionals who specialize in crime prevention and public safety."

The company said its president and chief executive officer is Juan Gaytan Jr., a former Chicago Police officer. The company sent The News a copy of a letter that Gaytan sent to customers last month, saying the Minnesota situation was caused by "administrative mistakes that never compromised the safety of stadium guests." In the letter, Gaytan also said exhaustive efforts are being made to improve the company's procedures.

The Bills did not reveal how many private security officers work at their games. But in the past, News reporters writing about stadium security have observed dozens of private security officers working on the field, in the stands, outside the stadium and at security checkpoints where fans are checked before entering the stadium.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

The ugly racial incidents at a Quakertown Community High School football game didn't just hurt the black students from Cheltenham High School who were the targets of racial epithets, in the view of one Quakertown student leader.

"It definitely put us back, I guess you could say," said Tom Irvine, 18, a senior who organizes the student cheering section at athletic events. "Quakertown is actually a very good school. We don't stand for any of that."

Irvine was among those attending Wednesday night's varsity girls soccer match at Quakertown Community High School's Alumni Field on an evening when the mood of the crowd matched the tranquility of the weather.

On Oct. 6, the field was home to an ugly chain of events during a football game against Cheltenham High as students hurled slurs and other hateful comments toward Cheltenham cheerleaders, so frightening that their coach was reluctant to let them use the restroom. Some students said people said that black lives don't matter and don't shoot me and that Cheltenham's school buses were pelted with rocks.

The following day, Quakertown Superintendent Bill Harner, a Cheltenham graduate himself, said an investigation revealed the perpetrators to be a small group of middle-school students two eighth graders in particular roaming the sidelines. Cheltenham students insist more were involved, including adults in the stands. According to Harner, the district is taking appropriate actions.

"This is not just a one-time incident. We have a problem," Harner said in an interview Thursday. In a recent blog post, Harner described a number of instances of racism and harassment that had been reported to him in his four years as superintendent, including in the wake of the Oct. 6 football game.

"You have to determine what is the right time to address it," Harner said Thursday. "Clearly, this is the right time for Quakertown."

Parents interviewed Wednesday said that while the actions were atrocious, the gloss of shame now over the entire school district is misplaced. They found fault with some of the media criticism, and many commended Harner's prompt response.

"It's an unfortunate situation, for our community and Cheltenham," said Tim Gluck, 41, a father of a soccer player at the school. "That kind of hate springs from home," he said. "But I think it's being addressed by our school district pretty well." On Oct. 18th, a crowd at Quakertown Community High School's Alumni Field watch a varsity girls soccer match. On Oct. 6th, racial slurs were shouted at Cheltenham's cheerleaders.

Cheltenham, adjacent to the city limits, has a historically diverse student body. According to the district, 53 percent of the pupils are black, and 34 percent white. Quakertown Community High School, closer to the Lehigh Valley than Philadelphia, is predominantly white.

Jackie Bollman, 35, who watched the game from the sideline with her two children, said she found reports of the event to be disheartening, but echoing others comments, she insisted the incidents were anomalous.

"This is not something you see regularly and I just hope that they address those kids, because they definitely need to be addressed," Bollman said. "But it shouldn't tarnish the whole community."

Irvine, citing Harner's summary of the investigation, said Quakertown high schoolers were being unfairly targeted.

As for the allegedly guilty eighth graders, he said, "They were probably running around under the bleachers. That's what kids do."

In an email to parents Oct. 10, Strayer Middle School principal Derek Peiffer said student council leaders were creating a support video and support day "to show our true character," and send it to Cheltenham as an apology from the school.

"Peiffer is working to develop a comprehensive plan for educating our students on topics such as cultural awareness, reducing prejudice, and exploring assumptions and stereotyping," he said in the email. "Boxes will be placed throughout the school," he said, "where students can say something if they see something for us to investigate."

Harner, the superintendent, said Thursday he was still developing the district's strategy to address racism going forward. "It's not going to be a directive; it's going to be a community effort," he said. "For the most part, I've received a lot of very affirming emails, saying, I'm glad you're talking about it."

Parents said they understood the outrage in response to the incidents at the football game.

"I think most of the people I know are appalled that this would even happen," said Jeff Geiser, 51, a father of three current students and one former.

Geiser and others said the actions reflect more on the families than the community.

"Race and that kind of stuff, it starts at home," Geiser said. "I wouldn't castigate an entire community."

Cheltenham H.S. tries to heal after racial incident at Quakertown game| Jenice Armstrong

 

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Copyright 2017 The Post and Courier
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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

NEW YORK (AP) — In the face of fan unrest and accusations from the president about the league being unpatriotic, the NFL is not changing its national anthem policy to require players to stand.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners said Wednesday at the league's fall meetings that altering the policy language from "should stand" to "must stand" was not discussed.

New York Giants owner John Mara noted that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones "spoke at length" to the other owners about the anthem issue. Jones has said any Dallas player who doesn't stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner" would not be playing.

Goodell reiterated that the league and its 32 clubs "believe everyone should stand for the national anthem. It's an important part of our policy and the game. It's important to honor our flag and our country and I think our fans expect that."

Asked about any owners who threatened discipline for players who didn't stand, Goodell said the owners didn't discuss it.

"It wasn't necessary," he said. "We had a real focus on making sure all of our teams understood the kind of dialogue that took place and the kind of things that they were interested in getting support.

"And they were seeking support for the NFL, each club supporting its players and continuing the dialogue that they have had at the club level. I would tell you this, it's unprecedented conversations and dialogue going on between our players and our owners, between our club officials and between our league, and that is a really positive change for us."

Reminded that President Donald Trump tweeted again Wednesday about the demonstrations during the anthem, Goodell said there was nothing unpatriotic about his league.

"Everyone feels strongly about our country and have pride," he said, adding the NFL is "not afraid of tough conversations.

"What we are trying to stay out of is politics."

Goodell noted that only six or seven players are still kneeling or are involved in protests.

"We hope we will continue to work to put that at zero," he said.

On Tuesday, in an unprecedented move for a league meeting, a group of 11 owners and more than a dozen players met for more than two hours at NFL headquarters. Among the topics discussed was enhancing the players' platforms for speaking out on social issues.

The league and players say they have seen their messages getting lost because their demonstrations were misconstrued by the president and by fans.

"I understand the way they feel about these issues," Goodell said Wednesday. "We feel the same about patriotism and the flag and I believe our players feel that way. We have a great deal of support for the efforts of our players."

Several players said after Tuesday's discussions that progress had been made in not only explaining their positions, but in how the 32 teams and their owners could support initiatives.

"I think we all have mutual interests," Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "I think players are a part of this league, so we want to make sure the quality of product that we put out on the field is great. But at the same time we have a responsibility to the communities that we live in, the communities that we come from, and so I think we all share that interest in really talk more in collaboration than an us-against-you type of situation."

Like many owners, Mara has told Giants players that they should stand during the anthem, but that if they have a reason that compels them not to, the team won't prohibit it.

He also expects more talks between players and owners in the next few weeks.

"I think there's a consensus to keep having dialogue," Mara said. "That's where our hope is, and we hope over time, few players will kneel."

NOTES: The 2018 draft will be held at the Dallas Cowboys' stadium in Arlington, Texas, from April 28-30. It will be the first time the draft has been staged at an NFL stadium. Since leaving New York, the draft has been held in Chicago (2015, 2016) and Philadelphia (2017).... Goodell said the initiatives to enhance the pace of games have worked, including 40-second clocks after touchdowns, use of the Microsoft Surface tablets for replay reviews, and the centralization in the New York headquarters of officiating calls that are reviewed.

 

 

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Copyright 2017 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

Two-time Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney says she was molested for years by a former USA Gymnastics team doctor, abuse she said started in her early teens and continued for the rest of her competitive career.

Maroney posted a lengthy statement on Twitter early Wednesday that described the allegations of abuse against Dr. Larry Nassar, who spent three decades working with athletes at USA Gymnastics but now is in jail in Michigan awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography. Nassar also is awaiting trial on separate criminal sexual conduct charges and has been sued by more than 125 women alleging abuse.

Nassar has pleaded not guilty to the assault charges, and the dozens of civil suits filed in Michigan are currently in mediation.

Maroney, now 21, says the abuse began while attending a U.S. National team training camp at the Karoyli Ranch in the Sam Houston Forest north of Houston, Texas. Maroney was 13 at the time and wrote that Nassar told her she was receiving "medically necessary treatment he had been performing on patients for over 30 years. Maroney did not detail Nassar's specific actions.

Maroney, who won a team gold and an individual silver on vault as part of the "Fierce Five U.S. women's team at the 2012 Olympics in London, said Nassar continued to give her "treatment throughout her career. She described Nassar giving her a sleeping pill while the team traveled to Japan for the 2011 world championships. Maroney says Nassar later visited her in her hotel room after the team arrived in Tokyo, where he molested her yet again.

"I thought I was going to die that night, Maroney wrote.

Maroney did not immediately return an interview request from The Associated Press. Attorneys for Nassar had no comment.

Maroney says she decided to come forward as part of the "#MeToo movement on social media that arose in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

"This is happening everywhere, Maroney wrote. "Wherever there is a position of power, there is the potential for abuse. I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things I had to endure to get there, were unnecessary and disgusting.

Maroney called for change, urging other victims to speak out and demanding organizations "be held accountable for their inappropriate actions and behavior.

Maroney is the highest profile gymnast yet to come forward claiming she was abused by Nassar. Jamie Dantzscher, a bronze medalist on the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, was part of the initial wave of lawsuits filed against Nassar in 2016. Aly Raisman, who won six medals while serving as the captain of the U.S. women's team in both 2012 and 2016, called for sweeping change at USA Gymnastics in August.

USA Gymnastics launched an independent review of its policies in the wake of the allegations against Nassar in the summer of 2016 following reporting by the Indianapolis Star that highlighted chronic mishandling of abuse allegations against coaches and staff at some of its more than 3,500 clubs across the country.

In June, the federation immediately adopted 70 recommendations proffered by Deborah Daniels, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw the review. The new guidelines require member gyms to go to authorities immediately, with Daniels suggesting USA Gymnastics consider withholding membership from clubs that decline to do so.

The organization also named Toby Stark, a child welfare advocate, as its director of SafeSport. Part of Stark's mandate is educating members on rules, educational programs, reporting and adjudication services.

USA Gymnastics praised Maroney's strength in a statement on Wednesday, adding it is "outraged and disgusted by Nassar's alleged conduct.

"We are strengthening and enhancing our policies and procedures regarding abuse, as well as expanding our educational efforts to increase awareness of signs to watch for and reporting suspicions of abuse, including the obligation to immediately report, USA Gymnastics wrote. "USA Gymnastics, its members and community are committed to working together to keep our athletes as safe as possible.

The organization had initially agreed to purchase the training facility at the Karolyi Ranch following longtime national team coordinator Martha Karolyi's retirement shortly after the 2016 Olympics ended. The organization has since opted out of that agreement. The organization also fired president Steve Penny in March. A replacement has not been named.

Maroney, who lives in California and officially retired in 2015, encouraged others to speak out.

'Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, she wrote, "and it's time to take our power back.

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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

October is the month for playoff baseball and perfect weather for playing outside.

So it was fitting that on Wednesday about 355 Henrico County students with disabilities went on a field trip to the Tuckahoe Park Baseball Complex off John Rolfe Parkway to step into the tee-batter's box and make their way around the bases.

Katherine Mutter, a Highland Springs Elementary School teacher, said the day was a way for the students to feel included and participate with kids from across the county.

The occasion for the festivities was Challenger Day, an annual event dating to 2012 that's put on by the I Have a Dream Foundation - Richmond, an education nonprofit organization. The day is an offshoot of the Challenger Division of Little League Baseball, a league for children with mental and physical disabilities.

Gail Henshaw of the I Have a Dream Foundation said Challenger Day was an idea born by her late husband Ken Henshaw, an avid coach of youth baseball and softball.

"He saw a way to combine his passion for education and baseball," Henshaw said. "It's to make them feel just like everyone else."

Events like Challenger Day come at a time when advocates are calling for more resources for students with disabilities. Virginia students with disabilities were suspended about three times more than students without disabilities in 2015-16, according to a report from Legal Aid Justice Center. Black male students with disabilities were found to be about 20 times more likely to be suspended than a white female student without a disability.

In addition to playing baseball, the children from 22 Henrico elementary schools could chill out under a tent with a number of comfort dogs brought by Caring Canines, take a spin through bubbles and hanging pool noodles meant to simulate a car wash, or indulge in various games and obstacle courses.

A boy inched his way toward the bustle of the comfort dogs when volunteer Sandy Kjerulf presented him with Chippers, a 6-year-old Yorkshire Terrier. After getting over some initial apprehension he pet Chippers gamely.

Standing nearby was Robin Redington, an Arthur R. Ashe Jr. Elementary School teacher who said it wasn't often that the students got a chance to participate and feel included.

"It's important for them to get out into the community," Redington said.

The day had more than 400 volunteers, 300 of which came from Capital One, which has donated $42,000 over six years to help put on Challenger Day each year. The funding is part of the company's $150 million Future Edge Initiative that it started in 2015.

"Volunteerism is a huge part of the way Capital One gives back," Sarah Midkiff of Capital One said.

There were 125 teachers and aids helping out. Mills E. Godwin High School photography students were on hand documenting the day with cameras. Other organizations that helped out were Henrico's Department of Recreation and Parks, the HCPS Department of Pupil Transportation, Tuckahoe Sports and the Henrico Education Foundation.

moconnor@timesdispatch.com(804) 649-6254

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Copyright 2017 Sun Journal Oct 19, 2017

Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)

 

The varsity football coach at Gray-New Gloucester High has been dismissed for allegedly instructing his players to taunt a Yarmouth player about having two mothers as parents.

The parents, Lynn and Stephanie Eckersley-Ray, say Gray-New Gloucester coach Duane Greaton told his players to taunt their son every time he was tackled during a game last Friday by saying, "Who's your daddy?"

The couple sent a letter to the superintendent of SAD 15 asking for a meeting to discuss the incident.

The superintendent, Craig King, told WMTW that Greaton no longer works for the district. He told the TV station that "MSAD 15 takes concerns about the safety and security of students very seriously and does not tolerate threatening or discriminating behavior."

Lynn Eckersley-Ray said Thursday that she and her wife were told by Gray-New Gloucester parents of the taunting order just before the teams played. Greaton coached his team during the game.

"We found out because some Gray parents and players stepped forward and we are extremely thankful to them," she said. "They did what they could about it and we are appreciative and thankful for that."

In their letter to the superintendent, Lynn and Stephanie Eckersley-Ray said Greaton's actions were discriminatory: "We are appalled by your coach's behavior as it is not only the explicit targeting of a player, but it is also incredibly discriminatory and hate-laden in nature. It is our understanding that targeting is not acceptable per (Maine Principals' Association)... rules and we certainly know that anti-discrimination, anti-bias, and hate-crime laws protect individuals in Maine."

On Thursday Lynn Eckersley-Ray said the incident has been "extremely difficult for our family... It has been a little overwhelming."

Lynn Eckersley-Ray said her family has been appreciative of the support they have received from the Yarmouth administration and coaching staff.

She wants to meet with the Gray-New Gloucester administration to "have a conversation so this can be amicably resolved in a supportive and positive educational way."

Scott Walker, the athletic director at Gray-New Gloucester, said he could not comment on Greaton's status, citing it as a personnel matter. "Our remaining staff will be in place on the sidelines Saturday," Walker said.

The Gray-New Gloucester football team is winless entering its final game of the season at Fryeburg Academy on Saturday afternoon.

Greaton did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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Copyright 2017 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

The day after a $1 million grant from BrickStreet Insurance to the Shawnee Park Multi-Sport Complex was made public, the head of the foundation backing development of the proposed athletic facility said his organization planned to raise a total of $10 million to construct the complex.

Allen E. Tackett, chairman of the sport complex's foundation, announced the $10 million fundraising goal on Wednesday, during a meeting of the Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Board, of which he is president.

"We're going to try to raise $10 million for Shawnee, Tackett said during a discussion of the park board's long-term plans, which include the development of the athletic complex at the former Shawnee Park golf course. Tackett serves as president of the county parks board as well as chairman of the sports complex's foundation.

During a meeting of the Kanawha County Commission on Tuesday, president Kent Carper credited Tackett and county commissioner Ben Salango with facilitating BrickStreet's $1 million donation.

The sports complex, to be built on 121 acres atop Shawnee Park's soon-to-close golf course at a cost of about $15 million, will include playing fields for soccer, lacrosse, softball and baseball, as well as upgraded outdoor basketball and tennis courts.

The first construction projects are expected to be put out for bids in November, with the winning bidders to be identified in December.

In other developments at Wednesday's meeting, it was reported that the county park system cut expenses by $59,000, or about 10 percent, during the first nine months of this year, compared with the same period in 2016.

During the next three weeks, the soccer stadium at Coonskin Park will host the state AA championships, the state Christian schools championships and the Mountain East Conference's men's championships.

Coonskin Park's disc golf course has been moved from the area under the glide path for Yeager Airport's main runway to the park's golf course, making it the first disc course to be aligned with a golf course in the state.

The course, completed on Sunday, has already been used by 25 disc golfers, with no advance publicity, according to Coonskin Park officials.

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Copyright 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

Hey Lobos, looks like it's time to steal a play from rival Aggies' playbook. Make that paybook,as in pay off your debts.

Against a backdrop of the University of New Mexico failing to balance its Athletic Department budget for the past eight of 10 fiscal years and ongoing state investigations into financial mismanagement, the department is now part of the state Higher Education Department's accountability gameplan.

The state is going to start monitoring UNM athletics to ensure it repays the $4.7 million it has been borrowing from the main campus's reserve funds over several years.

New Mexico State University already has a repayment plan in place to pay off an Athletic Department debt that had burgeoned to $9.5 million in 2009. And it's apparently working. Aggie athletics has managed to balance its budget for the past nine of 10 years and has been working toward paying off its debt to main campus reserves. It has reduced its debt to $4.1 million and is scheduled to have it paid off in 2021.

Living beyond its means has become the norm at UNM athletics. For a number of years, the department has been subsidized by at least 20 percent, including $4 million in student fees.

So Higher Education Secretary Barbara Damron recently informed UNM Interim President Chaouki Abdallah the department would be placed on a repayment plan. She noted UNM athletics "salaries, benefits and transfers... have consistently exceeded budgeted amounts and continue to compound net losses." The announcement didn't sit well with Abdallah, who wrote back "As always, I welcome increased communication between the NMHED and the university, but this may not be the best way to accomplish that." He also said the university takes seriously all the financial concerns and intimated regents and top administrators are already working on some sort of reimbursement plan.

Damron wasn't buying it and responded "while the University may in fact have a deficit reimbursement plan in place, the financial statements provided to the Department do not seem to indicate such a plan is being followed, as evidenced by the marked increase in the athletics budget deficit over the past several fiscal years."

Journal attempts to determine information about repayment over the past five years would seem to bear this out. In response to requests to former athletic director Paul Krebs and regents, a reimbursement plan was not mentioned. Budget documents released to the Journal did not include a line item for reimbursement.

UNM's chief marketing and communications officer Cinnamon Blair recently noted athletics and the budget office have met at least once a year to discuss the topic and "this fiscal year will see an emphasized effort on a successful reduction plan." She said the department is committed to a $350K payment this fiscal year and is projected to make $500K payment each year thereafter.

Good to know. Because UNM athletics can't keep moving its rampant overspending and "plans" for repayment into overtime. Kudos to Damron for finally blowing the whistle to end this game.

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The New York Post

 

The Cavaliers had planned on showing a Kyrie Irving tribute video in his first game back at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Tuesday, until they didn't.

Irving forced his way out of Cleveland in the offseason after starring on the team for six seasons — first as the star in the post-LeBron James years then as a sidekick when James returned following his four-year run in Miami. Irving, frustrated with being James' No. 2, was traded to the Celtics this offseason after telling owner Dan Gilbert he wanted out.

The Cavaliers had planned to honor Irving with a video on Tuesday night when the NBA season started, but then canned it with an unsatisfying explanation.

"We were expecting to run it at a floating opportunity based on the right moment," Cavaliers spokesman Tad Carper said. "We felt that moment never presented itself."

That decision could have been based on several players inside Cleveland's locker room being upset when they heard a video montage had been planned for Irving, according to Cleveland.com.

While Gordon Hayward's gruesome first-quarter ankle injury seemed like a reason to perhaps cancel the video, Carper said the injury didn't "directly" influence that Cavs putting the kibosh on the tribute.

Hayward, who signed a four-year, $128 million free-agent contract this summer, suffered a fractured ankle and is expected to miss most - if not all - of the NBA season.

The Cavaliers ultimately got the upper hand against their Eastern Conference foes, beating the Celtics, 102-99, behind James' 29 points and 16 rebounds. Irving scored 22 points with 10 assists and three steals, but missed a contested, game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Irving was traded in a blockbuster offseason trade to the Celtics for star guard Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the rights to the Nets' 2018 first-round pick.

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Copyright 2017 The Commercial Appeal, Inc.
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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

Tom Jurich was fired with cause as the University of Louisville's athletics director on Wednesday after a vote by the school's trustees.

The board of trustees voted 10-3 in favor of letting go of Jurich, who had been in his position for nearly two decades.

The meeting in the Jefferson Room at Grawemeyer Hall was in closed, executive session for roughly three hours before the board made its vote just after 4:30 p.m.

"On behalf of the board of trustees, we thank those who have taken the time to write us in the past weeks," interim Louisville President Greg Postel said in a prepared statement. "Your passion and support for the University of Louisville will ensure that our best days are ahead of us. To our students, faculty, staff and Cards fans, this is our opportunity to demonstrate the unity and integrity that define being a Louisville Cardinal."

Then, Postel added, "When I walk around campus I'm always inspired when I see a student wearing one of our T-shirts that reads, 'Rise to the Occasion.' Right now, we need to challenge ourselves to do just that."

None of the trustees spoke when offered the chance in the meeting, and none answered questions from reporters. Papa John's founder John Schnatter, a trustee who has had tensions with Jurich in the past, said as he left the meeting that he would not comment on his vote to fire Jurich.

Trustees Brian Cromer, Diane Medley and Ronald Wright voted against the motion. They expressed their support for Jurich prior to the tally.

"I think (Jurich) is owed some thanks for those things that he's done," Wright said. "... I hope that we can somehow relay that to Mr. Jurich, some thanks for the service that he has provided to this community."

Interim university President Greg Postel declined comment after the meeting, saying it was a "legal matter." In his brief prepared statement, Postel thanked Jurich for "his years of service and many contributions to the university."

But he sought to assure Louisville's fan base that Jurich's firing doesn't represent a de-emphasis of athletics, a statement interim athletics director Vince Tyra seconded.

"Athletics will not take a backseat," Postel said. "We're bullish on athletics."

The Frost, Brown and Todd legal team representing Jurich, headed by Ed Glasscock and Alison Stemler, made a brief presentation to the board but declined to speak with reporters following the meeting.

In a statement released late Wednesday afternoon, Jurich's lawyers said he instructed them to "vigorously defend his rights and reputation under his long-standing contract with the University of Louisville."

"We are disheartened by the actions taken by the University of Louisville Board of Trustees this afternoon against athletics director Tom Jurich," his legal team said in a statement sent late Wednesday afternoon. "We believe that their vote to terminate his contract was done in haste with inaccurate information that should have had no bearing on continuing his employment."

The decision comes two days after the university terminated the contract of head men's basketball coach Rick Pitino and three weeks after interim university President Greg Postel placed Jurich on paid administrative leave.

Jurich is the third Louisville athletics employee to lose his job in the wake of news that an FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting includes the university's program.

Louisville parted ways with Jordan Fair, one of Pitino's assistant coaches, last week. Associate head coach Kenny Johnson remains on paid administrative leave.

The decision Wednesday was made after weeks of private and public jostling in the university community.

In a letter explaining Jurich's suspension earlier in October, Postel wrote that the FBI investigation was "disturbing and unprecedented." He said the federal complaint detailing the FBI's case insinuates "a scheme of fraud and malfeasance in the recruitment of student-athletes involving multiple members of your men's basketball coaching staff."

Postel also told Jurich his contract extension negotiations with Adidas, Louisville's apparel sponsor, were "conducted without timely or appropriate consultation" with the president's office or the University of Louisville Athletic Association. Jurich, through his lawyers, vehemently denied Postel's claims.

Over the past few weeks, several key athletics boosters, including Jim Patterson and Mark Lynn, wrote letters to Postel and the school's trustees, urging them to keep Jurich on staff.

Fifteen of Louisville's head coaches signed a letter of support for Jurich that was circulated Sunday.

Stemler sent Louisville's Board of Trustees a 42-page letter on Monday detailing why the school should retain him as its athletics director.

Stemler wrote that "parting ways with (Jurich) isn't in the university's best interest, especially now, when strong leadership is needed to be sure donor support remains intact, fans continue to buy tickets and NCAA punitive damage is minimized."

Jurich, 61, came to Louisville in 1997 after stints as the athletic director at Colorado State and Northern Arizona.

He helped guide the school's athletic department through a rapidly changing landscape, moving the Cardinals program from the fledgling Conference USA to the Big East, and then, in 2014, to the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference.

Over Jurich's tenure, Louisville's men's basketball program reached three Final Fours and won the 2013 national championship.

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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

"It will mess up my daughter's swing."

Ken VanSickle hears that all the time. But the University High athletic director and Greater Spokane League softball coordinator — for fastpitch and slowpitch — begs to differ.

He said it's a "myth" that slowpitch messes up a fastpitch swing.

"It's all the same swing," VanSickle said.

VanSickle has been a champion for slowpitch in this area and around the state since the GSL adopted it as a fall sport 12 years ago.

Originally picked up as a way to balance out football as part of the Title IX initiative, slowpitch has taken on a life of its own, with more girls finding it a way to participate on a school team that they might not have otherwise.

"When you have over 100 kids maybe turn out for football," VanSickle said, "this was adding anywhere between 30-40 extra girls playing.

"We're getting a lot of kids out. We have a lot of (slowpitch) girls that play select, and play fastpitch. We also get a lot of girls that don't play fastpitch, that just want to be involved with the school and want to come out to play. And it's catching on throughout the state."

VanSickle said that since slowpitch isn't sanctioned by the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA), tryouts come later after cuts are made from the sanctioned fall sports.

"We wait until school starts so that we don't want to take kids away from volleyball or cross country," he said. "We want them to turn out for those teams. Then we'll turn out for slowpitch. Maybe if a kid gets cut from volleyball, she'll come play slowpitch and be a part of a school team."

But VanSickle sees a day when slowpitch will have its day in the sun.

This year, for the first time in the state, the top four teams from the GSL and the Greater St. Helens League will gather for a state tournament in Richland. It won't be sanctioned by the WIAA, but the state's organizing body supports the idea, according to VanSickle, and will monitor the attention the tournament gets.

"Hopefully, it goes well and the ADs like what they see," University coach Jon Schuh said.

VanSickle said slowpitch is quickly gaining momentum across the state.

"The Greater St. Helens League down around Vancouver added it about four or five years ago and they talked and said, 'Hey, let's get together because we don't know where we're at. We play within our league, let's see where we're at,'" he said. "So we actually talked to the WIAA and though it's not a WIAA sanctioned event, WIAA was supportive of what we're doing. Now, the Big 9, about half their teams have started, the KingCo League over in Seattle has started."

Slowpitch still has some work to do to gain sanctioning. VanSickle is leading the charge.

"Since we've been doing it the longest, I think we're the ones trying to spearhead it," he said.

"It's starting to take off and I can see in the next maybe three-to-five years where we'll actually see it sanctioned by the WIAA. We'll actually see a WIAA state (slowpitch) softball tournament. But we gotta get the ball rolling."

VanSickle said the most important factor in getting the sport sanction is simple: participation.

"They're going to want to see more leagues added and generate more interest and I can see the WIAA saying, 'We'll sanction the fall slowpitch leagues,' which I think will get even more folks involved."

There are a couple of key differences between slowpitch and fastpitch - beside the obvious. The rubber in slowpitch is at 46 feet, 3 feet deeper than fastpitch. There's no bunting or stealing, and there are a lot more balls in play.

"They have to play defense all the time," VanSickle said.

Whereas in fastpitch a dominant pitcher might have 10-12 strikeouts, almost every slowpitch batter puts the ball in play.

One of the things VanSickle has done to try to draw more attention to slowpitch is University's annual "Fall Ball Brawl," a night game in which U-Hi sets up temporary lighting at its softball field and sets up an attractive matchup — usually against league rival Central Valley.

"It's something we started about eight years ago," VanSickle said. "We just thought to draw more interest to the sport, get more people involved, show them what slowpitch is all about, we said let's do somewhat of a highlight game and have a game between U-Hi and Central Valley."

The generators for the lighting are loud. The crowd — bleachers filled with a couple of hundred students and family members on Tuesday, responded in kind, cheering, hooting and hollering at every opportunity — despite temperatures in the 40s, more football weather than softball.

"It's a great event for our community," VanSickle said.

Unfortunately for U-Hi, the ball didn't bounce its way in the annual game this year. Even though the Titans had wrapped up the regular-season league title, Central Valley showed it's not a pushover and issued the Titans' first loss of the season. Kiara Morse went 3 for 4 with two doubles and Jordan Williams added two hits, including an RBI triple, and CV (18-2) beat U-Hi (19-1) 9-5.

It won't take long for U-Hi to seek revenge. The district playoffs start Thursday, and top seeds U-Hi and CV play first-round winners on Monday in the semifinals. The title game is on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

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Copyright 2017 The Buffalo News
All Rights Reserved

The Buffalo News (New York)

 

City of Tonawanda Mayor Rick Davis' proposal to reassign seven part-time seasonal parks attendants to new positions is drawing some criticism, including from city Recreation Director Mandy Loffts.

Loffts told the Common Council at its meeting Tuesday night that no one asked her about any proposed changes to her department.

Loffts said she learned from social media that Davis proposed in a memo cutting all of her remaining summer parks attendants, whom Davis said he believed were underutilized. The mayor suggested these workers be reassigned as gardeners for better upkeep of city parks. Loffts said she also learned that there was a plan to cut $25,000 from her department's budget.

"I'm having a very difficult time with the idea that decisions were made without talking to the person who has the hand on the pulse of exactly what is happening," said Loffts.

Council President Jenna Koch said that she and the mayor discussed a compromise that would consolidate parks attendants at two of the most-used parks, at Mullen and Fletcher elementary schools.

Several residents and parks employees suggested the city revamp and rejuvenate the summer program to bring in income, rather than make cuts.

Loffts said that 15 years ago, there were 17 park attendants. Ten positions have been cut since that time, she said.

The mayor's proposed city budget proposed a nearly 5 percent tax increase and Council members have meeting with department heads to look for ways to make spending cuts. Koch said she would meet with Loffts and her staff.

Council will continue budget deliberations at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

HARRISBURG — Jerry Sandusky lost a bid Wednesday for a new trial and a second chance to convince a jury he is not guilty of the child sexual abuse charges that landed him in state prison to serve a lengthy sentence.

Jefferson County Common Pleas Court Judge John Foradora denied Sandusky's requests for a new trial or for dismissal of charges.

Lawyers for the former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach said they were disappointed and planned to appeal the decision to Superior Court.

"The court's decision is not the end of Jerry's case; it is only the closing of a chapter which we need to go through in the course of our endeavor to obtain a new trial, a reversal of his conviction, and ultimately his release and vindication," said defense attorney Al Lindsay.

Sandusky, 73, has consistently maintained he was wrongly convicted. He argued that he did not receive adequate representation at his 2012 trial and that prosecutors should have disclosed more details about changes to victims' stories.

"Although he was denied access to the victims' psychological records, Sandusky was permitted to call witnesses to explore whether the victims had undergone repressed memory therapy prior to trial, and he did explore that subject" with victims and other witnesses, Foradora wrote.

The judge also rejected arguments that Sandusky's lawyers should not have let him waive a preliminary hearing, should not have allowed him to give a television interview after his arrest, and should have done more to challenge the identity of a young man described as Victim 2 in court records.

Foradora said the bulk of Sandusky's claims lacked merit.

"Those that remain, whether they fail for want of prejudice or because [trial defense attorney Joe] Amendola's actions or failure to act were informed by a reasonable strategy, do not combine to call into question the overall effectiveness of the defense counsel provided or the legitimacy of the verdict," Foradora concluded.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said prosecutors have "achieved justice" for Sandusky's victims and are confident the convictions will stand.

"Hopefully, today's decision will allow the victims of Mr. Sandusky to live their lives knowing that this serial sexual abuser will remain behind bars," said Shapiro.

Sandusky has been serving a 30- to 60-year sentence. Eight of his accusers testified at trial, describing abuse that ranged from grooming and fondling to violent sexual attacks.

The case, among the biggest scandals in college football history, led to major changes at Penn State and new state laws governing child abuse in Pennsylvania and other states.

Sandusky spent three decades at the university as an assistant to Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno before retiring in 1999.

The decision follows previous rulings against Sandusky by the state's Supreme and Superior Courts.

Foradora was brought in nearly a year ago after the trial judge, John Cleland of McKean County Common Pleas Court, removed himself in response to sharp criticism by Sandusky's lawyers of a meeting that Cleland participated in before Sandusky waived a preliminary hearing in 2011.

Penn State's former president, Graham B. Spanier, and two other ex-administrators, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, were sentenced to jail time earlier this year after Spanier was found guilty and the others pleaded guilty to child endangerment for their handling of a 2001 complaint about Sandusky showering with a boy. Spanier is free on bail while he appeals his conviction.

The scandal has cost Penn State more than $200 million in fines, settlements and other costs, and the football program was hit with significant NCAA penalties that were later dialed back.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

The city has closed the Vare Recreation Center in South Philadelphia after structural engineers determined the 100-year-old building is unsafe.

Outdoor facilities will remain open at the center, located at South 26th and Morris Streets.

Parks and Recreation officials are working to relocate indoor programs affected by the closure to other centers.

Mayor Kenney said the closure of Vare underscored the need for the city's $500 million Rebuild initiative.

"Vare is one of our city's most active recreation centers and a critical resource in an extremely underserved community," Kenney said in a statement. "Through Rebuild, we will be addressing decades of under-investment in our parks, recreation centers and libraries."

In February 2016, columnist Mike Newall wrote about how Vare and other recreation centers in the city are suffering from decades of neglect.

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Copyright 2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Mercedes-Benz Stadium officials are excited to announced country star Kenny Chesney will perform there and promises fans will be able to hear him.

"We are thrilled to be hosting Kenny Chesney as part of his 2018 stadium tour," says Tim Zulawski, chief commercial officer, AMB Sports and Entertainment, said in a release. "Kenny is an incredible performer and artist, and we will work very closely with his team to ensure we deliver the best possible show for his fans."

Chesney's Trip Around the Sun Tour with Thomas Rhett, Old Dominion and Brandon Lay starts April 21 in Tampa and gets to Atlanta on May 26. Tickets will be available starting Oct. 27 at kennychesney.com/events.

"There's nothing like a stadium full of people coming together to remind you what life's about," Chesney said in a statement. "The energy, the moments, the fun. Every single one of these artists who're coming out with us for Trip Around the Sun lives their lives the exact same way: they work hard, they appreciate what they're given, and they love music every bit as much as they love life. I, personally, can't wait to see this show hit the road."

Stadium officials vow a better audio experience than the ones many fans experienced during Garth Brooks' recent performance.

"Garth Brooks played the first concert at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and it was a spectacular show that tens of thousands enjoyed. We have heard some fan concerns about sound quality in certain sections of the upper concourse and sound engineers are looking into that now," a statement said at the time. "We do know that a breaker was tripped that powered speakers in the parts of the upper level for a small amount of time and was resolved."

With plenty of time to get ready between now and May 26, the stadium assures Chesney fans won't miss a note.

Jane Fonda invites you to her birthday party

James Taylor and Carole King will perform at Jane Fonda's upcoming 80th birthday extravaganza, which will benefit the organization she founded here in 1995, Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential. The event, co-chaired by Wendy Conrad and Ashley Preisinger, with Ginny Brewer and Caroline Tucker serving as patron co-chairs, is planned for 6 p.m. Dec. 9 at what is currently known as the Ritz-Carl-ton, Buckhead. As previously reported, the hotel at the corner of Lenox and Peachtree roads in the heart of Buckhead will be rebranded on Dec. 1, so by the time of Fonda's party, it'll be The Whitley.

"By empowering our young people to make healthy choices, we ensure their ability to achieve their full potential in life, unencumbered by teenage pregnancy, enjoying strong physical health, and supported by healthy relationships," GCAPP President and CEO Kim Nolte said.

For information about sponsorship opportunities and tickets, contact Karin Douglas at karin@gcapp.org or see visitgcapp.org/celebratingjane.

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Copyright 2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

The Georgia Board of Regents will conduct a special review of how Kennesaw State University responded to the decision by five African-American cheerleaders to kneel during the national anthem in silent protest of police misconduct and racial inequality.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday that Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren and state Rep. Earl Ehrhart boasted in a series of text messages about pressuring KSU President Sam Olens into keeping the school's cheerleaders off the field during the national anthem after they knelt during the anthem for the first time during the Sept.30 game. Since then, the cheerleaders have not been allowed to come onto the field until after the anthem.

Olens previously said "no"when asked if there any pressure or demands to change the policy regarding cheerleaders at sporting events, in a written response to questions from the AJC last week. KSU officials have said the decision to keep all cheerleaders off the field during the anthem was made by the university's athletics department.

The board of regents, which hired Olens in October 2016, held a closed-door sessionWednesdayafternoon to discuss the situation as a personnel matter.

"The University System of Georgia is conducting a special review to look into recent allegations raised about athletic processes at Kennesaw State University," a one-sentence statement said.

The board declined further comment, a spokesman said.

Olens, who is scheduled to be installed as KSU's president officially Thursday, said in a two-paragraph statement later Wednesday that he talked to Warren after athletics department officials had made the national anthem change.

Warren said in text messages with Ehrhart that he talked to Olens and was "assured" the cheerleaders would not be on field until after the national anthem.

Olens, Georgia's former attorney general, said in his statement he regrets how the situation has unfolded and admits "that the circumstances could have been handled better." Olens added he'd welcome a meeting with the cheerleaders.

Davante Lewis, who's acted as a spokesman for the cheerleaders, called Olens' statement disingenuous, saying he could have met with them before. Lewis said he's glad the regents are conducting the review.

At some point after the cheerleader protest, Olens exchanged text messages with K.C. White, KSU's vice president for student affairs, pushing for a meeting with the cheerleaders, the documents show. KSU officials were worried Olens' presence at a meeting with the cheerleaders might be "intimidating" and agreed against the idea, documents reviewed by the AJC show.

Some National Football League players — beginning with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — began taking a knee during the anthem to raise awareness about police brutality and racial inequality across the nation. President Donald Trump has blasted players who kneel, calling it disrespectful.

KSU officials were worried about similar actions on its football field before the five cheerleaders took a knee at the Sept. 30 game, the documents show.

Officials discussed numerous ideas to prevent students from kneeling during the anthem, including talking points that said "it is expected" they stand for the anthem and that doing otherwise may become the "unwritten part of your personal resume," the documents show.

The 197 pages of documents were shared with the AJC by Lewis, who said he received them through the Georgia Open Records Act. The AJC obtained some of the same documents through its own open records requests.

KSUofficialMindyDeBruce emailed associate legal counsel Nwakaego Nkumeh on Sept. 27 asking what to do if anyone takes a knee during a game, the documents show. Officials talked about discussing the matter with Olens. The documents do not indicate whether Olens was in the loop before Sept. 30.

On Oct. 3, three days after the cheerleaders' actions on the field, KSU interim athletics director Matt Griffin prepared several talking points.

They say KSU respects "the right of our student-athletes to exercise their right" but warn any actions they take will be on the "unwritten part of your personal resume." They also say "when you wear the uniform, you are representing Kennesaw State University and that comes with responsibility."

One draft talking point said "it is our expectation that our staff and student-athletes stand for the national anthem."

Jeff Milsteen, KSU's chief legal affairs officer, stressed in one reply "moving the'when you wear the uniform' bullet point closer to the top since I think that is the central point we are trying to make.

The cheerleaders, whom some call the Kennesaw 5, say they'll kneel inside the stadiumwhen the anthem is played.

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Copyright 2017 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

Former University of Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino received a grand jury subpoena as part of the FBI's investigation into college basketball recruiting, his lawyer told The (Louisville) Courier-Journal on Wednesday.

Steve Pence, Pitino's lawyer, said, "We've already acknowledged that the coach has a subpoena and he's gathering documents for the... U.S. attorney."

He added that he thought he previously disclosed that information in the packet submitted to the University of Louisville Athletic Association that contained an affidavit from Pitino, the results of a lie detector test and copies of text messages sent to an Adidas executive and a sports agent who were arrested as part of the investigation.

However, a Courier-Journal review of those documents shows no mention of the word "subpoena." The affidavit does say Pitino voluntarily spoke with the FBI.

Dawn Dearden, spokeswoman for the U.S. District of New York, said she could not comment on the "existence of grand jury subpoenas."

University of Louisville athletics spokesman Kenny Klein declined to say whether anybody at the university received one.

Pence downplayed the existence of the subpoena, and he has not answered what documents Pitino is specifically gathering for the U.S. attorney.

"If the FBI thinks you have anything, like on your phone or any records, they don't issue a subpoena, they issue a warrant and they take it, so you can't destroy anything," Pence said.

It remains unclear if former Louisville assistant coach Jordan Fair or suspended associate head coach Kenny Johnson have also received a subpoena in the case. Neither Fair nor Johnson's attorneys responded to requests for comment Wednesday.

Pitino was fired as head coach of the Louisville men's basketball team this week in the wake of the university learning it is included in the FBI's investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting.

"We felt our initial decision... was still in the best interest of the university," Louisville interim President Greg Postel said at the time.

Pitino also saw his Adidas contract terminated hours after being fired by the school. In response, he filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky alleging the apparel company deliberately damaged his reputation.

The FBI complaint accuses Adidas of attempting to funnel money to the families of two Louisville recruits in return for them to attend the university, sign with Adidas and hire certain advisers when those players turned pro.

Adidas spokeswoman Maria Culp said in a statement this week, "Pitino's lawsuit is clearly a reaction to his termination yesterday and is without merit."

Jurich fired: Tom Jurich was fired with cause as Louisville athletics director on Wednesday after a vote by the school's board of trustees.

The board of trustees voted 10-3 in favor of letting go of Jurich, who had been in his position for nearly two decades.

The meeting was in closed, executive session for roughly three hours before the board made its vote just after 4:30 p.m.

"On behalf of the board of trustees, we thank those who have taken the time to write us in the past weeks," Louisville interim President Greg Postel said in a prepared statement. "Your passion and support for the University of Louisville will ensure that our best days are ahead of us. To our students, faculty, staff and Cards fans, this is our opportunity to demonstrate the unity and integrity that define being a Louisville Cardinal."

Then, Postel added, "When I walk around campus I'm always inspired when I see a student wearing one of our T-shirts that reads, 'Rise to the Occasion.' Right now, we need to challenge ourselves to do just that."

None of the trustees spoke when offered the chance in the meeting, and none answered questions from reporters.

Papa John's founder John Schnatter, a trustee who has had tensions with Jurich in the past, said as he left the meeting that he would not comment on his vote to fire Jurich.

In a statement released late Wednesday afternoon, Jurich's lawyers said he instructed them to "vigorously defend his rights and reputation under his longstanding contract with the University of Louisville."

"We are disheartened by the actions taken by the University of Louisville Board of Trustees this afternoon against athletics director Tom Jurich," his legal team said in a statement.

"We believe that their vote to terminate his contract was done in haste with inaccurate information that should have had no bearing on continuing his employment."

Contributing: Jeff Greer. Greer, Sayers and Bailey write for The Courier-Journal in Louisville, part of the USA TODAY Network.

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Copyright 2017 The Post and Courier
All Rights Reserved

Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

North Charleston Coliseum has 13,295 seats, making it ideal for pop stars, rock legends and country sensations to perform.

Compare that number to the less than 3,000 parking spaces surrounding the complex and you have somewhat of a problem.

While small shows at the Performing Arts Center are easily manageable at only 2,300 seats and plenty of parking, larger Coliseum performances come with their own unique challenges.

It all begins with deciding how to arrive at the concert.

Calling a taxi or Uber can solve the parking dilemma, but not the traffic. And if you choose to drive, waiting in a line of cars to park, forking out $10 and then having to fill a space on the outskirts of the lot can be frustrating, especially if you are running late.

Even planning to show up a half-hour early is no longer enough time, with the chance of being turned away at the entrance and sent to an overflow lot to wait on a shuttle. Then, there are more lines once you've reached the doors — for bag searches, ticket taking, beer, food, restrooms and more.

Attending a show can be a hassle, but it's about to get worse before it gets better. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel that will fix some of these current issues.

The North Charleston Coliseum, Performing Arts Center and Convention Center complex off International Boulevard and West Montague Avenue is preparing for the 2018-19 development of an estimated 2,200-space parking garage.

The $50 million project, which will take about 18 to 24 months to complete, was approved by North Charleston City Council at a Sept. 28 meeting. The garage is being funded by a 25-year extension of an agreement with the city that will provide $1.4 million annually. Annual funding under the 1997 agreement paid for the Convention Center.

The plan

The five- to six-floor garage will be located at the lot closest to the Convention Center between Coliseum Drive and Firestone Road.

The initial engineering plan is scheduled to be complete by early November and be put out to bid, according to city of North Charleston project manager Adam MacConnell. The contract will be awarded in January.

"We think this may offer an opportunity for additional development in and around the Coliseum," MacConnell said. "North Charleston is starting to come into its own. Additional entertainment-type areas might allow additional development to create a true entertainment district in the area."

During construction, around 400 of the complex's spaces will be out of commission, leaving approximately 2,000 available, said the Coliseum's director of marketing, Alan Coker.

Satellite lots, with complimentary shuttle service to the Coliseum and Convention Center, will be activated on an event-by-event basis. Historically, the Coliseum has used the North Charleston Fire Museum and Tanger Outlets for off-site parking when needed, and parking alerts with shuttle schedules have recently been issued for high-attendance shows, such as Thomas Rhett and Ed Sheeran.

"When we do use off-site parking, we'll send out advance information (locations, times, shuttle info, etc.) through the media, social media and emails to ticket buyers," Coker said.

These satellite lots will still cost attendees $10 a space, the same as each space in the directly adjacent lots. The price rose from $5 to $10 in February. Future parking-garage spaces are set to stay at $10 but could increase as the area continues to develop and the garage gains potential as a multi-business-use space.

"Parking garages are extremely expensive for what they are, just concrete and steel," MacConnell said. "It's costing $20,000 to 25,000 per space to construct and will take a lot of parking to pay it off. Current parking is $10 per event, but that is always subject to change every few years."

MacConnell said the Coliseum will be losing money on the $10 cost per space at those satellite lots due to the provision of consistent free shuttles back and forth before and after shows.

"If we're going to make you park this far away, we're going to shuttle you," MacConnell said. "It will cost us more to shuttle people from those satellite lots than the parking money we receive, but we're not always in the game to make money."

Local musician Daniel Crider, who attends a couple of shows at the Coliseum per year and more at the Performing Arts Center, has never found parking an issue, even during high-attendance shows such as Prince and Hall & Oates.

"I've never had an issue with parking really — or traffic," Crider said. "They've done a great job at moving people in and out pretty smoothly. I would imagine putting 400 spaces out of commission would cause some problems, though. Now, if we want to gripe about something, the cost of parking at $10 at the Coliseum when you've paid a ticket to see the show is a little absurd."

The satellite lots are a temporary solution, though not necessarily appealing to audience members who have to plan ahead and arrive early to stay on schedule.

"That would be a bigger inconvenience," said Crider of the satellite lots. "I would consider it, depending on how much more time it adds to getting to the show because of a shuttle system. If it's too much, I may weigh the possibility of Ubering to the show versus parking."

So far this year, the Coliseum, Performing Arts Center and Convention Center have collectively hosted 150 public events, Coker said. While the 400-space shortage will not likely cause any issues for an average Stingrays game, it will be significant during high-attendance and sold-out shows, such as recent Ed Sheeran, Thomas Rhett and Hall & Oates performances.

"We took an Uber there knowing it was going to be an absolute mess," said Zach Turner, who attended the Hall & Oates concert. "And while arriving late, the line to park was absurdly long, not to mention the line leaving being even worse."

As for satellite parking, Turner said, "I think people will do it, but I don't think they'll want to. It's simply a matter of convenience. The $10 for the shuttle is a little much. It should be cut in half, not more."

Long-term reward

Ultimately, the parking garage will almost double current spaces at the complex, eliminating the need for satellite lots, at least for a while, after its completion.

"We've been pitching the parking deck for probably 10 years. It's been a longtime plan," said Ray Anderson, assistant to the mayor, and who has spearheaded the project.

"Our goal has always been to develop the land around the Coliseum. This is the first step in helping us to create the master plan to continued development around the Coliseum. We've always intended to build two parking decks, so after this, we can start securing resources for the next step. If we had 4,000 spaces, that would be about anything we could handle, what we would need."

The North Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center plans to add a 2,200-space garage to help alleviate some of its parking and traffic issues at more-popular events.
[File/Leroy Burnell/Staff]

The North Charleston Coliseum, Performing Arts Center and Convention Center complex will gain an estimated 2,200 parking spaces with the addition of a parking garage.

[File/Grace Beahm/Staff]

Parking at the North Charleston Coliseum & Performing Arts Center increased from $5 to $10 in February.

[Grace Beahm/Staff]

The site plan for the new North Charleston Coliseum Complex parking garage.

[Provided]

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Copyright 2017 The Durham Herald Co.
All Rights Reserved

The Herald-Sun (Durham, N.C.)

 

To study how an outdoor public space might shoo away unwanted drone aircraft, researchers from Duke University are teaming with the Durham Bulls and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens to develop a set of affordable and aesthetic guidelines for deterring them.

Through 2016, there were already more than 600,000 hobbyist drones registered with the Federal Aviation Administration, with many more unregistered drones buzzing about the skies. As one of the most common uses of drones is taking photos or video, operators are often drawn to use them at popular venues and events, such as baseball games or botanical gardens.

As concerns for safety and privacy rise, technology is emerging for detecting and disabling unwanted drones. For example, maturing technology exists that detects radio signals and camera vision used by drones. Other systems can jam the signals being sent and received by drones, or take them out of the sky using lasers or nets.

While there are many options, they share one thing in common — they are too expensive or impractical for many smaller organizations. But with a new $750,000, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation in hand, Duke University engineering professor Mary "Missy" Cummings is looking to develop passive, inexpensive solutions for deterring unwanted drone activity.

"We actually got the idea while trying to use drones to monitor elephants in African sanctuaries," said Cummings.

"We discovered that the noise the drones made really bothered the elephants, so we thought that maybe we could leverage that same sound signature to detect them," she said. "And if we could detect them, maybe we could then deter them from being in areas they're not supposed to be."

To help develop and test some of Cummings's ideas, she is turning to two very different Durham venues. Sarah P. Duke Gardens is 55 acres of landscaped and wooded botanical garden featuring five miles of pathways. It's also a favorite location for amateur drone pilots. Any sort of practical mitigations for deterring illegal drone use would need to be inexpensive enough to work on a daily basis.

"The natural beauty of our site is attractive to drone operators, but their presence detracts from our visitors' enjoyment, safety and privacy," said Bill LeFevre, Duke Gardens executive director.

Any deterrents would need to be unobtrusive enough to not detract from the idyllic surroundings. For help, Cummings is turning to landscape architects at Clemson University.

"When people are enjoying recreation in a public outdoor space, such as a park or a large-scale botanical garden, the last thing they want to see is industrial-looking features," said Hala Nassar, who is leading the Clemson team. "The design question then becomes how do we provide users with a sense of safety and privacy while preserving the natural character of the outdoor space?"

At the other end of the spectrum, Durham Bulls Athletic Park has a much smaller footprint but often draws crowds of more than 10,000 people.

Any illegal drones over the ballpark might be sharing airspace with official drones being used to take pictures — or in the future, delivering hot dogs or providing better wireless communications. On the plus side, the ballpark's confined space and defined event times might give deterrents more possibilities, such as aiming lights at unwanted drones to flood their cameras and sensors.

While the researchers won't be able to test their deterrents at the ballpark, the Durham Bulls are working to provide the next best thing — historic Durham Athletic Park stadium, eight blocks north, their former home which was featured in the movie "Bull Durham."

"Like most new technology, drones provide an outstanding resource for facilities and teams to utilize," said Scott Strickland, director of stadium operations for the Durham Bulls. "They provide a view of activities in your facility, in addition to views of the facility itself, from a perspective only previously available via helicopter or plane. That being said, they are also attractive to individuals not associated with the facility."

"Finding the proper balance between utilizing the technology and keeping a safe and secure perimeter will be an ongoing concern for facilities like ours around the world," Strickland said.

Over the next three years, Cummings will work with these collaborators, as well as N.C. State University's NextGen Air Transportation (NGAT) center and the Town of Cary, to determine how organizations can design public spaces to promote positive uses of drones while inhibiting pranksters and potentially malicious pilots.

The research group will look at emerging technologies to see how they might impact potential designs, while also taking into account cost and venue-specific considerations.

After developing a set of potential guidelines, Cummings and her colleagues will design solutions for the gardens and the old ballpark and test their effectiveness with actual drones.

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Copyright 2017 The Bismarck Tribune, a division of Lee Enterprises
All Rights Reserved

The Bismarck Tribune

 

GRAND FORKS — Brian Faison stood behind a podium in the new, $19.5 million High Performance Center on the grounds where an abandoned hockey rink sat when he arrived nine years earlier.

In the back of the room, six Division I trophies — all earned in the last 18 months — were displayed on a table. One said NCAA national champion. The other five said Big Sky Conference, a reminder of the distance the University of North Dakota traveled from a Division II North Central Conference program.

The banner behind him was covered with Fighting Hawk logos, the end result of a long, drawn-out, bitter Fighting Sioux nickname debate that often put Faison at center stage.

The edges of the room were filled with head coaches, assistant coaches and athletics administrators eager to hear, in his words, the big news of the day Tuesday, Oct. 17: Faison is retiring as athletic director on Dec. 31, ending a wild nine-year run where major changes became routine.

He will stay on as an adviser to athletics through June 30, 2018, at his regular rate of pay. Faison is scheduled to make $193,707 for fiscal year 2018. He'll also receive an early retirement package that UND President Mark Kennedy said was "within the standards of what we have done for early retirements."

An open-record request was sent to UND for the full details of the retirement package. UND said it would likely be available by Wednesday, Oct. 18.

"It's a real pleasure and an honor to serve as director of athletics at the University of North Dakota," Faison said before introducing his wife, Donna, who was seated next to local attorney Dick Olson. "It's been an interesting time. We've gone through some interesting things. I don't think any one year has been the same, and that's part of what's fun about the job.

"I've had great support in whatever we've had to deal with. At the end of the day, we got done what we needed to. At times, it was hard. But at the end of the day, I feel the program is in a better place competitively, financially and we're in conferences now that are going to make more sense moving forward."

Kennedy said there will be a national search for Faison's replacement and he anticipates that he'll have the next athletic director selected by the time Faison's term ends Dec. 31.

UND Provost Thomas DiLorenzo will head the search committee.

Although Kennedy said Faison approached him about retiring, the announcement comes just weeks after Kennedy hired a consulting firm to review the top four officials in the athletic department.

The consulting firm of Murney & Associates met individually with UND head coaches in September in a conference room at Hyslop Sports Center to get feedback.

UND declined to release the findings of those reviews, saying they were all conducted orally. Kennedy said that was the routine procedure.

When asked whether Faison approached Kennedy about retiring before or after the consultants conducted their reviews, Kennedy said: "They were in tandem."

Kennedy also rejected the term "reviews" and said it was "skill development."

When asked why pay for skill development of someone who is retiring, Kennedy said: "There are other players on the team he wants to make sure are set up for the transition that will continue to rely on those skills."

Kennedy also was asked about the futures of the three others who were recently reviewed: deputy director of athletics Daniella Irle, associate athletic director for external operations Kyle Doperalski and associate athletic director for compliance Kara Helmig.

"Clearly, when there's a new leader in charge, they may define things differently, but I think we have excellent people up and down the department and I would recommend those to whoever comes on board," Kennedy said. "But, ultimately, the new athletic director will have a say in how they organize the department, but I think we're proud of the staff we have and appreciative of their service and hopefully they're continuing to stay fully engaged."

Faison's predecessor, Tom Buning, was ousted soon after a similar review in 2007.

Since Faison's arrival on campus in 2008, the UND athletic department has undergone drastic changes.

Under Faison, UND has moved from NCAA Division II to Division I, secured league membership in the Big Sky Conference, pulled its men's hockey program out of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association to join the startup National Collegiate Hockey Conference, dropped its nickname, adopted a new nickname, revealed a new logo, announced its intention to pull out of the Big Sky and join the Summit League and Missouri Valley Football Conference, dropped baseball, swimming and diving and women's hockey programs and added men's tennis.

Along the way, Faison built some big supporters in the athletic department as well as critics, who would quietly grumble behind the scenes that their sport didn't receive enough support.

During the past two seasons, UND has had major successes at the Division I level.

The men's hockey team won its eighth NCAA national championship in 2016, and four other revenue sports won regular-season Big Sky Conference championships the following season.

Faison was named the FCS Athletic Director of the Year in March by the National Association of College Athletic Directors.

He recently ended his term on the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Committee. Faison chaired that committee for one year.

Faison came to UND from New Mexico State, where he served as athletic director and special assistant to the president. He also previously served as athletic director at Indiana State and assistant athletic director at Louisville and Illinois State.

Faison said that none of those other stops contained the challenges that UND has had in the last nine years.

"I appreciate everyone's support through some interesting times," he said, scanning the onlookers at the press conference. "We've gotten through it, and I think we're better for it."

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Copyright 2017 The Columbus Dispatch
All Rights Reserved

The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

 

Columbus is unlikely to lose out on any business relocations or expansions as a direct result of the Columbus Crew SC leaving town, if that comes to pass. But in an extremely competitive environment for attracting businesses, talent and visitors, it wouldn't help.

"Anecdotally, it's often said that 50 percent of site-selection decisions are made because the head of the company likes a particular sports team in that city, or that's where his grandchildren live," said Calandra Cruickshank, CEO of StateBook International, a data provider for site-selection professionals. "It's seen as coming down to personal preferences."

As cities make their case for attracting the coveted second headquarters site for Amazon, for example, several have highlighted their stable of professional sports teams.

In national rankings put out regularly by various organizations and websites, Columbus is often edged out in the "entertainment/leisure" category by Cincinnati and Cleveland, which have major-league baseball, football and (in Cleveland's case) basketball teams playing in downtown venues.

Such factors may even influence international business decisions in an indirect way. Columbus has been vying for years for a nonstop flight to Europe, for example, and airlines want to know there will be some travelers coming back from the other direction before committing to a route. Cincinnati and Cleveland just got new nonstop service to Iceland on two different Icelandic airlines. Columbus did not.

The economic impact of the Crew, or any professional sports team, goes far beyond the money paid for tickets and concessions at games.

The Crew's stadium has been the site of several high-profile matches in recent years that each generated more than $3 million in direct visitor spending, according to the Greater Columbus Sports Commission. The MLS Cup in 2015 brought in more than $3 million in spending, while the World Cup qualifiers vs. Mexico in 2013 and 2016 attracted $3.4 million and $5.5 million, respectively.

Fans for the qualifiers came from all around the country, and the matches were broadcast in 75 countries. In March 2016, Experience Columbus gave the Crew one of its annual Expy Awards recognizing contributions to tourism for the 2015 MLS Cup game, noting that the event attracted more than 400 media outlets and 1.2 million viewers worldwide.

"We call it the halo effect," said Amir Eylon, president of destination research and consulting firm Longwoods International and the former head of the Ohio tourism division. "If a destination is seen as being vibrant, as having a strong infrastructure in terms of arts, culture and sports... it helps promote a positive image."

Even for visitors who may be in town for a business meeting and don't have time to attend a game, Eylon said, sports teams add to the overall experience of a city.

"Visitors walk away with an image of someplace as dynamic," Eylon said, "someplace they may want to come back and explore."

Megumi Robinson, spokeswoman for Experience Columbus, said professional sports "is one of many attractions that draws visitors to Columbus."

Robinson said Experience Columbus CEO Brian Ross, who was not available for comment, "is hopeful that there will be a positive resolution" that includes the Crew staying in Columbus.

Irene Alvarez, communications chief for the economic-development group Columbus 2020, said businesses as well as visitors benefit from pro sports teams in a city.

"Businesses want to know they're located in a place that's energetic and vibrant," Alvarez said. "The Crew has certainly contributed to that atmosphere here."

On the flip side, experts say the value of a professional sports team or an expensive new sports venue can be hard to justify in sheer dollars-and-cents terms.

"In terms of the subjective overall image of a city, it certainly helps to have professional sports teams," said Cruickshank. "There are also a lot of studies that show there's not necessarily a direct correlation in terms of economic impact."

Crew timeline

June 15, 1994: Columbus is awarded one of the 10 inaugural clubs in Major League Soccer.

June 8, 1995: Lamar Hunt and family are announced as the investor-operators of Columbus' team.

Sept. 15, 1996: Still playing in Ohio Stadium, the Crew sets its season record for attendance in Columbus when 31,550 fans watch the team defeat the MetroStars 2-0 in the last regular-season home game of the inaugural year.

Sept. 25, 1996: The Crew makes its first-ever playoff appearance, losing at home 2-0 to Tampa Bay.

May 19, 1998: The Crew announces plans for the construction of the country's first major soccer-specific stadium, on the grounds of the Ohio Expo Center. The 25-year lease paves the way for construction of a 22,500-seat stadium.

May 15, 1999: Columbus Crew Stadium opens.

July 29, 2000: A standing-room-only crowd of 23,495 is on hand as Columbus Crew Stadium plays host to the 2000 MLS All-Star Game.

Dec. 14, 2006: Crew founder Lamar Hunt, one of the most-renowned pioneers in American sports, dies after an eight-year battle with prostate cancer.

Nov. 23, 2008: The Crew wins the MLS Cup with a 3-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls. It is the team's first title in its 13-year history.

July 30, 2013: Precourt Sports Ventures purchases the Crew from Hunt Sports Group, with Anthony Precourt as investor-operator.

Oct. 8, 2014: The Crew unveils the first change to the club's name, Columbus Crew SC, and logo since the inaugural MLS season in 1996.

March 3, 2015: The team announces its first stadium naming-rights partner, Mapfre Insurance, and changes the stadium name to Mapfre Stadium.

Feb. 24, 2017: The Crew announces Acura as its latest jersey partner, kicking off a three-year agreement.

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

 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars have apologized to local military leaders for demonstrating during the national anthem in London last month.

Jaguars President Mark Lamping sent a letter to the director of military affairs and veterans in Jacksonville saying the team was "remiss in not fully comprehending the effect of the national anthem demonstration on foreign soil has had on the men and women who have or continue to serve our country."

Most of the Jaguars, including owner Shad Khan, locked arms during the anthem Sept. 24.

NCAA:The student who wears the owl mascot costume at a Georgia public university where five cheerleaders knelt during the national anthem had no business leading a cross-campus march in support of the cheerleaders, an influential lawmaker said.

Kenneth Sturkey, who dresses as Scrappy the Owl at Kennesaw State University events, said he donned the costume for Monday's rally on behalf of cheerleaders who knelt at a game Sept. 30 to protest racial inequality.

SWIMMING: American swimmer Anthony Ervin has joined the growing number of athletes to kneel during the national anthem, taking a knee Sunday after he anchored Team USA's mixed 200-meter medley relay team during a meet in Brazil.

At the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Ervin became the first U.S. swimmer of African-American descent to win Olympic swimming gold.

SOCCER: Before a Bundesliga soccer game, Hertha Berlin's players and coaches knelt in support of "tolerance and responsibility." It's believed to be the first time that European athletes joined the protests of some National Football League players, which have drawn criticism from President Donald Trump and others.

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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

A Portsmouth man may never have joined a gang — and been involved in two homicides — if he'd only been allowed to play high school football.

That was one of the points defense attorneys argued in court documents as they asked a federal judge to impose an agreed-upon, 45-year sentence Tuesday morning for their client, Alvaughn "LB" Davis.

But it's also an argument Davis' former coach at King's Fork High School put forth. According to court documents, Cecil Phillips asked the Suffolk school system during Davis' freshman year to overlook a self-imposed rule requiring a 2.0 grade-point average for participation in extracurricular activities. He noted that Davis met the Virginia High School League's lower standard, which requires only that an athlete pass the equivalent of five classes during the semester.

"We knew if we lost a kid to that 2.0 rule that the streets would swallow them up, and we would never get them back," Phillips told the defense, according to the documents.

Attempts to reach Phillips, who is now coaching at Amherst County High School near Lynchburg, by phone and email were unsuccessful.

Most public school systems in South Hampton Roads require athletes to maintain a 2.0 in high school.

Davis, 29, and fellow gang member Anthony Foye pleaded guilty earlier this year to felonies related to a bloody 18-day crime spree across Hampton Roads that claimed the lives of five people and left four others injured.

Foye confessed to personally killing four people in exchange for a life sentence. Davis, a more senior member of the gang, confessed to helping Foye and others with some of the homicides.

Charges are pending against three others arrested in connection to the spree: Antonio Simmons, Nathaniel Mitchell and Malek Lassiter.

According to court documents, the five men were members or associates of the Nine Trey Gangsters, an affiliate of the United Bloods Nation that operated primarily in Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Norfolk. Of the five, Simmons held the highest rank in the gang.

The crime spree claimed the lives of Al-Tariq Tynes, 27; Vandalet Mercer, 27; Linda Lassiter, 49; Wayne Davis, 49; and Jamesha Roberts, 25.

Alvaughn Davis helped dispose of Tynes' body, which was found in January 2016 in a Chesapeake ditch, court documents said. The month before in Portsmouth, they said, he served as a getaway driver following the shooting death of Mercer and a nonfatal shooting that targeted the ex-girlfriend of a man who headed another Nine Trey Gangsters set.

There was little question about how U.S. District Judge Mark Davis would rule Tuesday because Davis' plea agreement required the 45-year sentence.

Still, defense attorneys Timothy Quick and Fernando Groene laid out their client's often tragic childhood in court documents. The attorneys noted that Davis' father was involved in two simultaneous romantic relationships when his client was born, and that both relationships were producing children.

The father eventually married the other woman, leaving Davis' mother to care for him and his little brother, they said.

The attorneys said Davis was sometimes homeless as a child. At the age of 6, he was sometimes tasked with caring for his little brother while his mother worked. And at 13, he was caught in the crossfire and shot twice when men opened fire around him.

In all, Davis attended eight public schools before dropping out. During that time, he repeated the third, seventh, eighth and 11th grades.

The attorneys said football gave Davis motivation to attend school, not to mention a distraction from his home life. But then, they said, he was barred from playing for Phillips.

Soon after, they said, Davis began spending time with a neighbor who introduced him to gang life.

In court documents, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Bosse agreed Davis' formative years were extraordinarily difficult. He added that Davis has tried to do some good with his life, including caring for his ailing grandparents and teaching football to young boys, ages 5 to 7. He was an assistant coach with the Bennett's Creek Warriors Tiny-Mite football team.

But, Bosse said, that doesn't make up for all the violence he has taken part in while working with the Nine Trey Gangsters.

"Nothing about his family background explains or mitigates the crimes he chose to commit," Bosse said.

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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

On a cold December day in 2001, a construction accident threatened to delay the opening of Old Dominion's Ted Constant Center. A crane had collapsed as it hoisted a 55,000-pound steel truss.

No one was hurt, but the crane disintegrated and the truss, part of five intended to support the basketball arena's roof, was bent beyond repair.

ODU quickly hired Turner Construction to evaluate the situation, and it determined that S.B. Ballard Construction would be months late delivering the arena.

What Stephen Ballard did in response is just one example why ODU made the right call last week when it hired him to construct a new Foreman Field.

Ballard, an outspoken, hard-nosed and unconventional guy, rented a plane and flew to the Canam Steel plant in Point of Rocks, Md., carrying T-shirts, hats and a bag of $100 bills. He bought lunch for the entire crew there and told them he needed a truss right away to help build an arena in Virginia.

He spread out the hats, shirts and money on the table and asked for 15 volunteers, promising double time and a bonus of several hundred dollars apiece.

His volunteers pulled a truss out of a machine they were forming for the new Detroit Lions stadium and began working on a new truss for ODU. It was done the next day.

Later, when a subcontractor was late producing concrete planks, he rented a helicopter and flew to the concrete plant in Maryland. He had been assured that all was well, but discovered that a machine that produced the planks was broken.

Ballard arranged to have a critical machine part immediately flown in, and two days later the planks began to arrive in Norfolk.

The truss alone cost Ballard $146,000, but it allowed him to hand ODU the keys to a beautiful multipurpose, 8,600-seat arena two months early.

I would expect no less from Ballard when a new Foreman Field opens in August 2019. He clearly has the credentials to pull off a difficult, $55 million expansion in just nine months. And he has a ton of motivation.

Ballard is one of ODU's most prominent athletic boosters, and Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium bears his name. He can be seen before every home football game underneath a giant S.B. Ballard tent in the most prominent tailgate lot.

The last thing he would want is for fans, and for his friends, to be disappointed in his work. This is a legacy project for him.

Some surely will think that Ballard was hired because of his name and connections. Based on private conversations with ODU officials over the last couple of years, that's not the case.

All things being equal, officials confided to me that they would have preferred awarding this contract to someone unaffiliated with the university.

It was clear that Ballard didn't hold a lot of sway with ODU's Board of Visitors in 2016 when he, Clark-Nexsen Architects and AECOM spent $400,000 putting together a $124 million, unsolicited proposal to build a 30,000-seat stadium.

The board rejected his bid in a closed-door session without even bothering to read it.

Ballard told me days later that ODU made a business decision, and that's the risk you run when you make an unsolicited bid. No hard feelings, he said.

We don't know who else bid for the Foreman Field project because ODU hasn't yet released those documents. But from the Virginia Beach Boardwalk reconstruction to MacArthur Center, the Peter G. Decker Jr. cruise ship terminal, Sentara Norfolk Heart Hospital to schools all over the region, Ballard has a reputation for landing major projects and getting them done on time.

He will also build the Virginia Beach Arena, assuming the financing finally gets into place, as well as James Madison University's new 8,600-seat arena.

Ballard declined comment when I called him this week, other than to promise to talk to me in the coming weeks.

Regardless, it's pretty clear this will be one of the biggest challenges Ballard has faced.

ODU has pledged to spend no more than $55 million on the first phase of the renovation, and a number of industry officials familiar with the project have told me the school can't afford all it wants. Construction costs have escalated since the project was approved in 2016, and ODU has planned some pretty lush finishes for a mid-major football stadium.

Following the 2018 season, the east and west sides are to be torn down and replaced. The new stadium is to have a brick facade, an escalator, individual chair-back seats for 15,500 fans and elevated restrooms and concessions.

The 20,118-seat stadium would expand to about 23,000 seats and add a lot of creature comforts now lacking.

The problem here is that tearing down and rebuilding two sides of a stadium in just nine months is likely to require two separate crews working 14 to 16 hours per day. That means personnel costs will be far more expensive than they would be with a typical stadium project.

Ballard was hired as a "construction manager at risk," and that was again a smart move by ODU. That means, essentially, Ballard is taking on nearly all of the risk here.

During the design process, he will consult with Moseley and Populous Architects on construction costs. At each stage of design, ODU will approve plans and then Ballard will sign off on the cost of construction.

If the stadium goes over budget, it comes out of Ballard's wallet. There's no room for error in the stadium timeline, either, because ODU has no other facility in which to play.

If the stadium isn't ready when ODU opens against Norfolk State on Aug. 31, 2019, then Ballard surely will owe the school some heavy-duty penalties.

But don't expect that to happen. Ballard has shown he'll do what it takes to get a project done, even if it means getting on a plane with T-shirts, hats and cash.

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Copyright 2017 The Evansville Courier Co.
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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

EVANSVILLE — This is always a possibility for any non-revenue generating sport. On Monday, it became a reality at the University of Evansville.

Athletic Director Mark Spencer announced the Purple Aces' women's tennis program will be eliminated following the semester. The announcement came right after UE completed its final match of the fall season Monday at the ITA Regional Championships in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

"This was an incredibly difficult decision because of the impact on the affected student-athletes, but it was one that was done with the best interests of our entire student-athlete body, the athletic department and the University of Evansville in mind," Spencer said in a statement. "This is something that has been discussed internally for several years and this is the right time for all parties involved to move forward with this action."

Women's tennis at Evansville began in 1969.

Its demise continues a growing trend at the NCAA Division I level. Western Kentucky, Southern Illinois Carbondale, Indiana State and IPFW have each cut tennis programs in the past few years.

The writing was on the wall for Jayson Wiseman, who was the program's head coach for the past two years until accepting the same position at Eastern Michigan University on Sept. 18.

Wiseman hoped that the addition of men's and women's track & field at UE meant that tennis would be safe. But he said cutting the sport was unavoidable due to the university's budget shortfalls.

"It's hard to justify the budget for that small number of kids when you know the money could be better spent elsewhere," Wiseman said.

Spencer detailed three factors that led to the decision.

"The recent and untimely departure of (Wiseman) brought into question as to whether to hire a new coach or reconsider program elimination. Secondly, the successful addition of men's and women's track and field at the University of Evansville put the program above the NCAA minimum for NCAA Division I participation while also keeping the program in Title IX compliance.

"Lastly, the aging UE tennis courts, limited access to playing facilities within the community and the persistent financial challenges within the university also factored into the decision," Spencer said.

Wiseman, who has a degree in sport management, couldn't fault the UE administration for making the decision.

"I understand the business and decision the university had to make," he said. "But it doesn't make me any less sad to see it happen. I hurt for those girls. I recruited all of them."

Current tennis players at UE who are in good academic standing will have the option to retain their financial aid until they graduate from the university. Others wishing to continue their careers are immediately eligible to transfer and resume playing in the spring.

Don Martin, the club manager at Tri-State Athletic Club, said that was a nice touch by UE. But he was surprised and disappointed to learn the news.

He disagrees with Spencer on the "limited access to playing facilities within the community".

TSAC provided an indoor and outdoor facility for all of UE's practices and some matches while all outdoor contests were played at Wesselman Tennis Center. Martin said the club allowed the Aces to practice and play free of charge at TSAC, which also fundraised "significant money" for the program.

"We were big supporters and we were disappointed," Martin said. "We did provide a facility for them and there was a coach. So we were a little disappointed (in UE's statement) about not having a coach or places to play. They worked really well with Wesselman and really well with us."

One of TSAC's tennis pros, Lisane Swartwood, helped run the UE program after Wiseman accepted the EMU position. Martin said Swartwood was qualified and would have accepted the job.

"(A lack of a coach) wasn't their problem," Martin said. "They had a great candidate. (Swartwood) did an excellent job this fall when Jayson left. She stepped in and helped (former UE athletic director) John Stanley (who was technically the interim head coach) out immensely."

UE had two players win singles' finals on Oct. 9 at the Missouri Valley Conference Individual Championship. The Aces were expected to finish among the top teams in the league next spring.

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Anderson Independent-Mail (South Carolina)

 

Clemson University's student government has made changes to the student football ticketing policy after much debate on and around campus.

The changes, including when students can register for tickets and allowing returns of tickets that would go unused, follow public debate over the distribution of tickets and who is at fault for recent unfilled spots on Memorial Stadium's hill. There were reports of the hill having noticeable empty spaces during both the Boston College and Wake Forest games.

The empty spaces even prompted head coach Dabo Swinney to tell Clemson's fans ahead of the Wake Forest game that it needed to "wake up and show up."

Students have complained about separation on the hill. Ropes marking the center section previously restricted movement from the north to south side and vice versa. With the new changes, students will now have a path that allows them to move freely from one side to the other so they can sit where they wish.

Students with tickets on the hill will also be given wristbands if they exit the hill during the game, allowing easier re-entry.

The changes were announced in an email sent to students by the Clemson athletic department late last week. The athletic department serves as the distributor of tickets, but the policies for ticket distribution are set by the Clemson student government.

In addition to adjustments on the hill, student leaders are changing how and when students can sign up for game tickets. The so-called waterfall process of registration is being adjusted to allow students to register in their initially assigned slot as well as in the following slot. For example, seniors will be able to register during the senior window and the junior window.

Students who are members of IPTAY Collegiate Club will be able to register during the club window as well as their class window and the subsequent class window.

Another big change to the policy is ticket returns. Students who register and receive a ticket to a game that will not be used may now turn the ticket back in to the ticket office for re-distribution. Returned tickets will be made available for any student to log in and select beginning on the Wednesday of game week at 9 a.m.

The email sent to students emphasized the importance of fan attendance at the games and noted that the previous ticketing process worked well in filling the stands for the early-season Auburn game, but acknowledged the need to listen to student concerns.

In 2017, Clemson students are the only students in Division 1 athletics to have access to completely free tickets to football games, according to Joe Galbraith, associate athletic director for Clemson University.

Galbraith said 10,500 student tickets are made available in lower deck seats, on the hill and in top deck seats. That's about 13 percent of the 80,000 seat stadium.

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Copyright 2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren and state Rep. Earl Ehrhart boasted in a series of text messages about pressuring the president of Kennesaw State University into keeping the school's cheerleaders off the field during the national anthem in response to several kneeling in protest.

The text messages, which The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained under the Open Records Act, appear to contradict the official story by university President Sam Olens that the decision to delay the timing of the cheerleaders' entrance onto the field for football games was made by the athletic department and had nothing to do with the protest.

"Legally I'm not sure they can stop or do anything to stop someone from this Un America ACT [sic]," Warren wrote to Ehrhart. In a different message, he reported that he had talked to Olens and been "assured" that the cheerleaders would not be on field until after the national anthem, whichoncehadbeen the practice but at some point changed.

"Thanks for always standing up too [sic] these liberal that hate the USA," Warren wrote to Ehrhart, who chairs the committee that allocates funds to public universities.

In a follow-up message, Ehrhart seemed to confirm that Olens had caved to pressure: "He had to be dragged there but with you and I pushing he had no choice. Thanks for your patriotism my friend."

In another text, Warren wrote, "Not letting the cheerleaders come out on the field until after national anthem was one of the recommendations that Earl and I gave him!"

Some National Football League players -- beginning with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick -- began taking a knee during the anthem to raise awareness about police brutality and racial inequality across the nation. President Donald Trump has blasted players who kneel, calling it disrespectful. Still, the demonstrations have spread to include others.

The protesting cheerleaders, whohavebecomeknown as the Kennesaw Five, have said they knelt during the anthem at a Sept. 30 football game to protest injustice and racism. Many in the community, including Sheriff Warren, took offense, accusing the young women of disrespecting the flag and the military.

The controversy has tested theleadershipofOlens, whose appointmentlastyearsparked protestsbysomestudentsand facultywhosawhimasapolitical appointment with no job experience in higher education. Olens formerly served as Cobb County chairman and state attorney general.

Davante Lewis is brother to Tommia Dean, a sophomore and one of the Kennesaw Five. He wrote in a statement that the text messages vindicate fears about Olens' appointment.

"Sheriff Warren and State Rep. Ehrhart showcase they will use their power and political connections to dictate changes at Kennesaw State," he wrote. "President Olens has a duty and a responsibility to finally tell the entire story."

David Corinthian, a fifthyearengineeringstudentwho organized a protest Monday in support of the cheerleaders, said the messages display "systemic issues."

"It's scary to see the lack of real leadership in KSU," he wrote. "The president of any university should... respect their faculty, staff and students."

Olens could not immediately be reached for comment. A spokesperson for Warren said the sheriff had nothing to add.

Olenscanceledascheduled interview with the AJC last week, but responded in writingtoaseriesofemailedquestions, including: "Was there any pressure or demands from any individuals and organizations to change the policy regarding cheerleaders at sporting events?"

"No," Olens wrote. "Decisions about game day programming is the responsibility of KSU's Department of Athletics and they have been clear about their reasons for making the adjustment."

KSU officials had said the change is one of several by its athletics department in recent weeks to "improve the fan experience."

Ehrhart also had denied that he asked Olens to keep the cheerleaders off the field. In an emailed statement Tuesday, he said his private comments to Sheriff Warren expressed his personal feelings, and he stands by them.

"I urge President Olens to stand firm against any student publicly disrespecting our flag at a football game or any college event," he said. "I say that as a private citizen."

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USA TODAY

 

Coaches are inherently creative. They constantly devise schemes and workouts that give their players — and only their players — an edge in competition. So when it comes to exploiting a rule such as the one governing graduate transfers, they'll do whatever it takes to advance their self-interest.

That has led to many actions in response to this particular rule, at all levels of Division I college men's basketball, that seem at odds with ideals of the NCAA and college athletics as a whole.

Some power conference coaches spend time combing through lists of all-conference players from mid-major leagues, looking for players to poach.

Some assistant coaches assume the responsibility of tracking which players are or will be eligible to be grad transfers; one coach described keeping a whiteboard in a staff meeting room and updating it throughout the year as injuries, redshirts or discontent elsewhere brew.

To combat the poaching and tampering — yes, players usually are approached by third parties before they declare their intentions to transfer — mid-major coaches try to protect themselves and their programs.

Some resort to odd but effective tactics such as limiting how many courses players can take in the summer so they're on a slower track toward graduation (and the opportunity to use the grad transfer exemption).

Others decline to redshirt players who aren't developmentally ready to play, because that will set them up well to jump ship sooner after graduating with eligibility remaining.

Still others are avoiding taking regular transfers, because they'll sit out a year, advance toward a degree and then be in position to leave early.

Mid-major coaches consider any and all options to avoid losing their best players — with the first and best one being, well, hoping and praying that their relationship with their players is strong enough to outlast any outside temptations.

"You have to be strategic, and yet you also have to keep the student-athlete in mind — and there's a balance with that," said Illinois State coach Dan Muller, who has lost multiple grad transfers the last few seasons including last year's No. 3 scorer MiKyle McIntosh (to Oregon). "But you have to be careful, because it can decimate your program. There have been multiple coaches who have been fired because they haven't won enough — because of grad transfers."

Rule meant well

Throughout the July recruiting period and any other times mid-major coaches have chatted with their colleagues — a regular occurrence — the topic of grad transfers has come up. Over and over again, it sticks out even in a sport that sees upwards of 700 regular transfers per year.

"It's certainly a hot spot, and here's the most difficult part: When the NCAA came out with this rule, the initial rule was if a student-athlete earns their degree and if that institution does not have a graduate program that the graduating student-athlete wants to go in, they can transfer," said South Dakota coach Craig Smith, who lost No. 3 scorer Trey Dickerson to Georgetown. "And how can you argue with that?"

But that's not even how the rule is written anymore. Graduating athletes no longer are required to find a graduate program that their original school doesn't offer. Once that component went away, this all began looking and feeling more like actual free agency.

Graduate transfers affect men's basketball more than any other Division I sport, according to NCAA research; 1.9% of current players are grad transfers. The raw number of grad transfers in 2016 (87) is nearly six times the raw number of grad transfers from 2011 (15).

And most of those grad transfers never earn their advanced degrees, enrolling in graduate programs that last two years (for the most part) and abandoning after their eligibility expires.

Adding a grad transfer remains relatively risk-free. For a power conference program, it's more of a sure bet than taking a two- or three-star recruit during the spring signing period. You're getting a veteran player who's been developed elsewhere — and it only counts against your scholarship count for one year. If that player isn't as much of a contributor as you expected, it's OK because, well, it's just one year.

The flip side is this: For mid-major coaches, losing one talented player you expected to have on your roster can be the difference between, say, making the NCAA tournament or not. Or finishing above .500 or not. And, coaches believe, losing grad transfers has cost colleagues their jobs.

"The difference is we're replacing our best players, which is no fun, you know, which is very unfortunate," said Howard's Kevin Nickelberry, who lost two graduate transfers this offseason, including James Daniel III, who led the nation in scoring in 2015-16, to Tennessee.

"On one end, you're happy, because he's graduating and that's what the rule is designed for. But on the other end, you're put in a situation where the rule isn't really designed for mid-major head coaches and job security," Nickelberry said. "Now, you have larger schools basically just recruiting your experience and taking advantage of what you have developed. I really don't fault the young men. It's the college coaches and the presidents and everyone else, the NCAA -- we decided on this rule."

But it is not just mid-major coaches who are frustrated by the rule, because everyone can see the unintended side effects of a rule intended to reward academics.

"It's the worst rule in the history of college basketball," Fran McCaffery told reporters in March. "On one hand, you say, you've done everything I've asked you to do. You graduate, so who are we or anyone else to say what you can do next? That's the purpose of the rule. But what we're underestimating is the collateral damage. Thousands of student-athletes are getting their academic progress deliberately retarded so they're not rated. There are multiple schools at all different levels tampering with players presently on other teams. There are middlemen looking for money as they shop prospective graduate transfers.

"If you weigh the effectiveness of a rule with great intent vs. the reality of what's happened, it's a no-brainer. The rule has to go away."

Student-athlete rights

In an era of increased awareness of student-athlete rights and well-being, it's hard to imagine a drastic rule change that would further limit mobility for unpaid student-athletes. The NCAA has put together a working group to look at the graduate transfer issue in Division I, and so far it has "generally agreed that immediate eligibility for students competing after graduation is appropriate now." But the group also expressed interest in holding schools more accountable for academic progress.

"One potential approach could be to require that the financial aid provided to graduate students count against a team's scholarship limit for two years, regardless of whether the graduate student stays for two years or leaves when their eligibility is complete," the NCAA said, adding that another way to increase accountability could come from the Academic Progress Rate calculation. The working group also believes that the institution "should commit to providing financial aid until the student-athlete completes their graduate studies after exhausting their eligibility."

At this point mid-major coaches are desperate for anything that moves the graduate transfer phenomenon in the direction of accountability and away from tampering and poaching. For now, these coaches see an exploitable rule with few, if any, consequences for power conference programs looking to plug a roster spot.

"It's just another example of the rich getting richer," William & Mary coach Tony Shaver said. "The rules are set up to protect the Power Five people, and this is another example, in my opinion. And I think it's a really bad rule. I know one of the things that people will immediately argue with you about is that, well, a coach can have a five-year contract and leave after two years and there's no problem with that. I understand that."

That still doesn't make it any easier to swallow when it hits you.

"I've always felt when I picked the job at William & Mary, I believed firmly that to be successful you had to do two or three things really well," Shaver said. "No. 1, you better develop your talent, because you're not always going to get the top players in the country, but you better be good at developing them. With this rule, we developed a guy over four years and in what should be his best year he's gone someplace else. No. 2, you better be experienced. You better figure out a way to stay old, to keep a team full of juniors and seniors. If you lose a guy that should be a fifth-year senior, it has just a backbreaking impact on you."

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Copyright 2017 The Post and Courier
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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

Charleston Southern football players removed the logos from their football helmets before their game at Presbyterian College on Saturday in protest of what they say are long-standing problems with the school's cafeteria.

The primary complaint, according to several sources, is the food selection and hours of operation at the CSU dining hall.

"The quality of food, the quantity of food available, and the fact that the cafeteria closes too early for many football players to eat are the biggest concerns," said a source with knowledge of the grievances.

The school released the following statement and said CSU President Jairy Hunter would have no further comment:

"We're dealing with an internal matter. The administration has worked with the football team to resolve the issue. At this time we have no further comments."

The cafeteria issue is not new, according to a senior on this year's team. He said the players considered a form of protest last season but decided against it after talking with then-head coach Jamey Chadwell.

"He felt it best we focus on football, things we could control, and we agreed," the player said, speaking on condition of anonymity because team members were told not to speak to the media about the protest.

"This isn't a protest to slander the school by any means because we are extremely grateful to go to an institution where our education is paid for, but we are trying to raise awareness to people that things need to change," the senior said.

There are 108 players listed on CSU's football roster. The Buccaneers have brought in additional revenue by playing two Power 5 Conference teams - Mississippi State and Indiana - this year, receiving more than $900,000 for those games.

Former football player Nathan Prater, who last played at CSU in 2015, recalls issues with the cafeteria while he was there, but also remembers improvements that were made.

"There were certainly times we arrived after practice to find slim pickings in terms of food," Prater said. "I don't recall it being a constant problem but there were times where there would not be much left.

"I know while I was there they made some improvements in the dining hall. They added an extra food line and really expanded the salad bar. They did a lot of upgrades to the cafeteria that I think were good."

The senior player, who is one of the leaders on this year's team, said the cafeteria closes too early, making it difficult for players to have enough time to eat and to get enough to eat. The dining hall closes at 7:30 p.m., according to the CSU website.

"The cafeteria runs out of food every so often for dinner, and kids who may come from lower-income families are not able to afford to eat out and spend money. (As a teammate), it's upsetting. We get out of practice around six o'clock and by the time we make it over there, it's 6:45 or so. Sometimes they won't have enough food prepared, and because they close soon after, they won't prepare more food."

In addition to the dining hall, Chick-fil-A operates a store on campus, which closes at 8:30 p.m. There also is a coffee shop, Java City, that remains open until 10:30 p.m.

"Again, not a lot of our guys have the money to eat at Chick-fil-A," the player said.

The football players aren't the only athletes experiencing problems at the dining hall. The volleyball and women's soccer teams also practice late and sometimes get to the cafeteria near closing time.

The dining hall is run independently of the school by Aramark Food Services. A source within the CSU administration said the school is talking with Aramark this week about extending cafeteria hours and making more food available prior to closing.

Adam Blake, director of dining services at CSU and an employee of Aramark, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

At The Citadel, the military school this year entered into a new dining services contract with Sodexo after years with Aramark. Coach Brent Thompson said Sundays are the most challenging day to make sure the players are fed.

"It comes into play mostly on Sundays, because that's the day we've got to get all the film out of the way," Thompson said. "But they do a great job of holding the mess hall open until 7:30 p.m. for us. We get the guys off the field at 6 or 6:15 p.m. and tell them to hustle up and get over there. The choices around here are you go to the mess hall or you don't eat.

"But we talk about it every week in our leadership council, if there's anything going on, if they need to put more food out or stay open later. But for the most part, we've had no problem with it."

The construction of CSU's new athletic performance center, which will include a dining area and nutrition center for athletes, should help address some of the players' concerns, CSU athletic director Hank Small said.

The center will employ a nutritionist and prepare food for all athletes, Small said. He said the new facility will have expanded operating hours and should be ready to open after the Thanksgiving break.

"The new center will solve a lot of issues and will be a great addition for our student-athletes," Small said. "And it will be available well into the evenings, making good nutrition accessible to all of our athletes when they need it."

CSU's first-year head football coach Mark Tucker declined comment on the protest.

According to the senior player, the team originally voted to leave the helmet decals off for the remainder of the 2017 season, but said the decals likely will go back on the helmets for this weekend's game against Savannah State at CSU Stadium.

Charleston Southern's defense forced three turnovers in Saturday's 7-0 win over Presbyterian.
Jim Killian/CSU Sports Information

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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — After hearing from brain trauma researchers who said playing football at a young age is unsafe even for kids who don't suffer obvious injuries, members of Congress on Tuesday asked the nation's governing body for the sport's amateurs to detail efforts to make the game safer for children.

Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to USA Football seeking details on how it evaluates the safety of tackle football programs for kids. USA Football recently launched a pilot program called Rookie Tackle for younger kids that uses smaller teams and fields plus rules intended to reduce contact.

Researchers at Boston University found in a study published last month that playing tackle football before age 12 can more than double the risk of behavioral problems and depression later in life.

A senior author of that study, Robert Stern, told the committee at a forum last week that researchers have not yet determined at what age it may be safe, or at least safer, to start playing football. He recommended young kids avoid the sport because routine collisions can cause brain damage.

"There is not necessarily a safe time for the head to be hit and for the brain to be moved around... over and over again. It's just not made to do that," Stern said. "To do whatever can be done to reduce the overall number of hits is critical."

The letter seeks details on what USA Football is doing to determine whether Rookie Tackle is any safer than conventional tackle football. It also asks whether USA Football believes there is an age where tackle football is inappropriate.

A previous study commissioned by USA Football about its Heads Up Football program made claims about safety that were later found to be misleading. The program was ultimately found to have no effect on the number of concussions or head injuries.

USA Football executive director Scott Hallenbeck told AP the organization is focused on developmental aspects of Rookie Tackle and is not necessarily claiming it is safer.

"I don't have any information that otherwise would say this form of football is safer than another form," Hallenbeck said. "We sort of learned that's a very, very challenging space. You need a lot of research. It takes a long time."

Melinda Whitemarsh, a spokeswoman for the organization, said it will respond to the letter.

"We welcome the members' interest in our Rookie Tackle pilot program," she said, "and look forward to providing them with the information requested."

Follow Ben Nuckols at https://twitter.com/APBenNuckols

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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

 

Two World Cup cycles ago, a thoughtful and well-researched soccer story anchored the June 2, 2010, edition of The New York Times Magazine. The title: "How a Soccer Star is Made." It is the story of the AFC Ajax Youth Academy, the sole purpose of which is to turn Dutch children into elite footballers.

There are other such facilities dotting Europe, Asia and Central and South America. Ajax remains the gold standard.

Michael Sokolove, the author of the Times piece, wrote: There are two ways to become a world-class player. One is to spend hours and hours in pickup games... This is the Brazilian way and also the model of much of the rest of South America, Central America and the soccer hotbeds of Africa.... The other way is the Ajax method. Scientific training. Attention to detail. Time spent touching the ball rather than playing a mindless number of organized games.

In America, we opt for a mindless number of organized games.

There has been a great hue and cry in the week since the U.S. men's national team's loss to Trinidad and Tobago. The defeat knocked the Americans out of the 2018 World Cup, a setback that has been described in Pompeii-like terms. The U.S. failing to emerge from CONCACAF is like the Browns finishing behind Bluffton University in the Heartland Conference standings.

Perhaps you've heard of Sokolove. He wrote that Pete Rose book, "Hustle." Monday, Sokolove was driving home from New York, where a television series named "Rise" is in production. It is based on one of his recent books, "Drama High," about a brilliant high-school drama teacher.

Sokolove was kind enough to entertain a phone call. First question: Has anything changed with U.S. Soccer in the seven years since he wrote that piece for The New York Times Magazine?

"I think nothing, in a way," he said. "I am not going to hold myself up as a soccer expert; I just looked deeply into the way we train and raise players. It's still stunning to lose to Trinidad and Tobago and get knocked out."

Let this be said: The U.S. women's national team is fabulous, because we have fabulous female athletes, and for other reasons that would take another column to explore.

On the men's side, there has been a call for heads to roll. Coach Bruce Arena has resigned, but U.S. federation president Sunil Gulati seems bent on avoiding the guillotine. Sokolove is a proponent of change (a sentiment I share). Progress, he said, can be made with a full-time president buttressed by people who understand American sports culture — and by outsiders who have a grasp of how players are developed in other countries.

America has vast resources, even for soccer. Why aren't there more Christian Pulisics?

First, nobody is playing pickup soccer.

Second, nobody is ready to commit to an Ajax-like system, where thousands of kids are put in a hopper at age 7 and, after puberty, three or four of them are sold to Chelsea.

What is possible, though, is a hybrid system that fits America's democratic idea of participation — in combination with an elite development tier that bypasses the NCAA game. College is far from an effective finishing school for elite soccer players.

"The problem is there is tremendous economic incentive not to change," Sokolove said. "Complexes are built to provide X number of hotel rooms and generate restaurant traffic, and everyone comes down to compete for college scholarships."

Those who can afford it are playing on travel teams under the auspices of unregulated and highly profitable youth-sports systems in proximity to hotels and restaurants. Those who can't afford it are playing in rec leagues. In either case, they're playing a mindless number of games and threatening their knees at a young age (see Sokolove's "Warrior Girls").

If we take nothing else from the rest of the world — and, as Sokolove said, "we rarely listen to anyone else" -- we should take the lesson of practice, practice, practice. Major League Soccer academies have made inroads and they will be part of a larger solution — if there is a solution. And if there is, the U.S. is not yet halfway through the process.

marace@dispatch.com

@MichaelArace1

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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

Police on Monday released a surveillance photo of man dropping a gun on the campus of Virginia State University after allegedly shooting a Petersburg man in the parking lot of VSU's football stadium after the school's homecoming game.

Authorities have recovered the weapon and sent it to the state lab for forensic testing, said Chesterfield County police Sgt. Brad Conner.

Conner said the shooting occurred about 8:25 p.m. Saturday as people were tailgating just outside the stadium after VSU's homecoming football game with Bowie State.

The victim was with some friends in the stadium parking lot when he was shot and wounded by an unidentified gunman after the game. Conner said it's unclear whether the victim or his friends were participating in the tailgating festivities.

The victim was not a VSU student, Conner said.

Responding officers found the victim suffering from a non-life-threatening gunshot wound and he was taken to VCU Medical Center, where he is recovering, Conner said. Investigators have conducted an initial interview with the victim, Conner said.

After the shooting, VSU surveillance cameras captured images of the suspected gunman dropping a handgun and leaving campus at Lee Street and Chesterfield Avenue.

Police described the suspect as a black male wearing light blue jeans and a white T-shirt with blue sleeves.

VSU locked down the university for a period of time after the shooting. The lockdown was lifted after authorities determined the shooting was an isolated incident and there was not an active shooter on campus.

During VSU's homecoming celebration four years ago, a VSU student was charged with stabbing another student on campus with a 6-inch blade.

The victim was stabbed on the campus during one of several fights that broke out that evening, prompting officials at that time to lock down the campus. The victim was treated at a hospital and released.

Court papers described the Oct. 16, 2013, incident as a "riot" that began about 5:45 p.m. while a bazaar was being held on campus during the university's homecoming week.

Kemal Jackson-Hinton, then 22, of Fort Washington, Md., was charged with malicious wounding. But his attorney said after the arrest that his client was not the aggressor and was injured during the melee.

Jackson-Hinton was expelled from VSU but the charge against him was dismissed at a court hearing on March 24, 2014, records show.

Anyone with information about Saturday's shooting can call Chesterfield police at (804) 748-1251 or Crime Solvers at (804) 748-0660.

mbowes@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6450

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Copyright 2017 Freedom Newspapers, Inc. Oct 17, 2017

The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

 

DEDHAM, Mass. — Football helmet maker Riddell says it intends to vigorously defend its products and its reputation against concussion-related lawsuits like one lawyers for late New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez have filed in Massachusetts against it and the NFL.

Elyria, Ohio-based Riddell says it introduced helmets designed to mitigate concussion risks more than 15 years ago.

Hernandez's attorneys filed a federal lawsuit last month after Hernandez had killed himself in prison and an autopsy had revealed he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease found in people who've suffered repetitive brain trauma such as concussions.

The lawsuit was refiled Monday. It accuses the NFL of hiding the dangers of football and names Riddell. It seeks damages for Hernandez's daughter.
The NFL hasn't responded to emails seeking comment.


The Patriots have been removed from the new lawsuit.

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The Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)

 

Aiken County Public Schools announced Monday that disciplinary action will be taken after a post-game brawl between North Augusta and South Aiken on Friday.

The school district said in a statement that eight players from the two teams will be suspended a minimum of one game. The decision came after athletic directors and coaches from North Augusta and South Aiken reviewed game footage.

The names of the suspended players were not made immediately available.

After North Augusta beat South Aiken 21-7 at home, a brawl erupted between the two sides during the post-game handshake.

The game, which was billed as one of the top games in the area this season, included many personal fouls and two brief scuffles.

The incident remains under review by the South Carolina High School League, which will determine if any additional disciplinary action is warranted, according to the school system's statement.

"The unsportsmanlike behavior exhibited by some players during the post-game handshake is unacceptable for an Aiken County Public School District student athlete and will not be tolerated," the statement said.

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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

CHAPEL HILL — UNC-Chapel Hill's accrediting body won't take further action after reviewing the NCAA report that last week issued no punishment against the university for its long-running athletics and academic scandal.

Belle Wheelan, president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, said in an email that there is no new evidence.

"We acted two years ago," she wrote in an email Monday. "Nothing new has occurred for us to do anything else."

Over the weekend, Wheelan said that the commission would review the NCAA report to "determine if the institution is out of compliance with any of our Principles of Accreditation. If we find that they are, we will investigate."

Last week, the NCAA's Committee on Infractions recommended that the NCAA send its report to the accreditor. UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt said Friday the university had already sent it.

"If you start looking at the record, you'd see that there was nothing new, but it's always our goal to make sure that we're as forthright as we possibly can be," Folt said.

On Friday, the Committee on Infractions announced that there would be no penalties against the university because it "could not conclude academic violations." The decision surprised many. But the panel basically said the record did not prove that 18 years of no-show African studies classes were created solely to benefit athletes. Other students also took the classes, which required no attendance and little work; students' papers were graded by a former office secretary, not a faculty member.

Kenneth Wainstein, a former top U.S. Justice Department official, found that the academic counselors had pushed for the easy classes and embraced those started by Deborah Crowder, a longtime manager for the Department of African and Afro-American Studies.

UNC has already been under the microscope by the accrediting body. In 2015, the Commission on Colleges put UNC on probation, a rare and serious sanction. The commission's board handed down 12 months of probation to UNC for failing to meet seven accreditation standards, including academic integrity and control of athletics.

The commission last year removed the university from probationary status, saying it had put safeguards in place to prevent such a situation from happening again. The university had mounted an effort to institute changes and document them for the accrediting body.

In 2012, after the scandal first arose, the organization required UNC to undergo extensive monitoring. A second review was launched in 2014, after the scope of the academic misconduct was revealed in the Wainstein Report, by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein. That ultimately led to the probation.

The university is currently already undergoing its regular 10-year review by the accreditor.

Even as the NCAA's Committee on Infractions cleared UNC from allegations, it criticized the university's shifting positions on whether the classes were legitimate or constituted academic fraud.

"Within the academic review of the classes outside the NCAA infractions process, UNC told its accrediting body that the 18 years of academic conduct was 'long-standing and egregious academic wrongdoing.' It also originally adopted its accreditor's characterization of the wrongdoing as 'academic fraud,' " the committee's report said.

"Despite these early admissions, UNC pivoted dramatically from its position roughly three years later within the infractions process," the report added. "UNC disavowed its earlier support of the findings and conclusions of an independent report, distanced itself from earlier statements to its accreditor and ultimately defended its courses as a matter of academic autonomy."

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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

The spate of arrests, details of under-the-table bribes to teenagers and the downfall of one of the sport's best-known coaches has triggered uncomfortable soul-searching among the institutions at the heart of college basketball, including internal reviews by more than two dozen schools of their own prominent programs.

At stake is the future of a business that, over the span of 22 years ending in 2032, will produce $19.6 billion in TV money for the NCAA Tournament, known to the public, simply, as March Madness.

The NCAA distributes those billions to its conferences and universities, and that figure doesn't include the millions splashed around by shoe companies, who play an outsized role in the success of the programs and the careers of some of their top players.

More than two dozen universities with major hoops programs — including Louisville, where Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino was fired Monday after 16 seasons - have responded to news of the sport's bribery scandal by conducting internal reviews of their compliance operations.

The Associated Press asked 84 schools, including all the nation's power programs, and six top conferences about their response to the arrests that upended college hoops mere days before practices for the 2017-18 season began around the country.

Of 64 schools that responded, 29 said the probe prompted their own internal reviews. So did the Pac-12 Conference, which formed a task force to dive into the culture and issues of recruiting.

Among the schools reviewing their programs are Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and Southern California; each had assistant coaches arrested as part of the sting.

The list also includes Alabama, where a review led to the resignation of basketball administrator Kobie Baker but unearthed no NCAA violations, according to school officials.

A representative from one school, St. Johns, told AP the NCAA directed all Division I programs to examine their programs for potential rules violations after the federal complaints were filed. The NCAA declined to comment when asked about that specific directive.

But last week, the NCAA formed a fact-finding commission to be led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, with results expected in April - right around the time the NCAA Tournament comes to an end.

"My only piece of advice (to young players), don't let the process ruin you because we will. I blame myself," said Tom Izzo of Michigan State, one of the schools conducting a review.

Izzo is convinced players' circles grow too large as they near the big-time and fill up with too many people with different agendas.

But in an illustration of wide-ranging perceptions of the issue, Michigan State's cross-state rival, Michigan, said it isn't conducting an internal review and its coach, John Beilein, said "I don't think the sky is falling in college basketball."

"I think that there's certainly some rogue coaches," Beilein said. "How many? Maybe I'll be proven wrong, but I can't believe there's too much of that going out there."

Michigan, 34 other schools and the Big East Conference said they were not specifically responding to the federal probe. But many of the "no" responses came with the caveat that the school's athletic department is always reviewing its compliance.

Four conferences and 20 schools declined to respond to the AP's survey, including one university that declined to respond on the record but acknowledged privately that it was reviewing its program because of the probe.

The vast majority of schools surveyed have shoe deals with Nike, Adidas or Under Armour. A top Adidas marketing executive was among the 10 people arrested, after authorities spent two years untangling schemes, often bankrolled with money from the apparel companies, to steer future NBA players toward particular sports agents and financial advisers. No players were accused of doing anything illegal, but any recruits found taking any improper benefits could lose eligibility to play.

In many corners, the arrests have been portrayed as the government's response to activities that have long been viewed as business-as-usual in big-time hoops - a long-awaited reckoning with problems the NCAA has been unwilling or unable to rein in.

An announcement Friday by the NCAA that a seven-year-long investigation into academic fraud at North Carolina would result in no sanctions for the Tar Heels did nothing to promote confidence in the body tasked with keeping its sports clean.

The AP also asked universities if they had been contacted by federal or state law enforcement. Only the schools involved in the federal complaints acknowledged being contacted.

That doesn't mean more isn't coming. Prosecutors have made clear the probe could widen in scope as the investigation continues.

"I'd say most people agree that this is the tip of the iceberg," said John Tauer, the coach at St. Thomas in Minnesota, which has won two Division III titles this decade. "Over the next six months to a year, a lot more chips are going to fall, and you'd have to think that schools that aren't diligent right now could end up paying dearly."

Tauer, who doubles as a social psychology professor specializing in issues of sports in society, spends a lot of time wrestling with the NCAA rulebook. His task isn't as high-stakes, though, because scholarship money and big-time shoe deals are essentially nonexistent in Division III.

"As an educator and a coach, you're certainly disappointed but not shocked to know this kind of thing goes on," Tauer said. "You hear rumors and stories of things that go on in the underworld of recruiting. You always hope they're not true, but you probably know, deep down..."

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak told a story of losing a hard recruiting battle, and his initial reaction was "at least we didn't cheat."

He called it his heat-of-the-moment reaction, though he's certainly not blind to the issues confronting his sport. When he arrived at Utah in 2011, his two guiding principles were: "We are never going to cheat," and "We aren't going to recruit any turds."

"I wasn't sure in my lifetime that we were going to see anything of this magnitude where the lid got blown off," Krystkowiak said. "I was hopeful that at some point somebody's going to pay the price. Now when you get the feds and the FBI involved, it takes it to a new level."

Kansas coach Bill Self, whose school is among those conducting an internal review, said he harbors no illusions about what's at stake.

"This is bigger than us just coming up with ideas, this is us coming up with ideas that can withhold all the headwind that's going to be coming toward it," Self said.

___

Nearly four dozen AP sports writers around the United States contributed to this report, including Kareem Copeland, Oskar Garcia, Jimmy Golen, Larry Lage, John Marshall, Eric Olson, Dave Skretta and Noah Trister.

___

For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

OXFORD — The three-month legal saga between Houston Nutt and Ole Miss reached its conclusion Monday afternoon.

In a joint statement, both parties announced a settlement in Nutt's lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in July, dismissed in August, then refiled in Lafayette County Circuit Court last week.

"The lawyers who represent the University and Coach Nutt have communicated during the past few weeks to reach an agreement that would allow the parties to resolve Coach Nutt's claim while avoiding the costs and distractions associated with further litigation," the university and Nutt's statement said. "The parties have reached such an agreement."

Nutt filed the lawsuit, which alleged a breach of contract, a breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing, and punitive damages, in response to an alleged misinformation campaign led by Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss officials after the arrival of the university's Notice of Allegations from the NCAA's enforcement staff in January 2016.

Both complaints filed by Nutt outlined calls made by Ole Miss officials to several journalists around the time the university received its notice.

Thomas Mars, Nutt's Arkansas-based attorney, has consistently stated he wanted an apology — and sometimes more than that — from the university for what he considered a smear campaign against his client.

"Certain statements made by University employees in January 2016 appear to have contributed to misleading media reports about Coach Nutt.

"To the extent any such statements harmed Coach Nutt's reputation, the University apologizes, as this was not the intent," the university said in a statement.

"The NCAA's Notice of Allegations dated January 22, 2016, did not name or implicate Coach Nutt in any misconduct, and it would have been inappropriate for any University employee to suggest otherwise."

Throughout the past few months, the university didn't feel an apology or any further compensation for Nutt was necessary.

When asked if any compensation was included in the settlement, lawyers from both parties declined to say anything more than their statements.

In a statement, Nutt said: "I am pleased to put the lawsuit behind me. Best wishes to the future of the Ole Miss Football program."

Freeze was the main casualty of this lawsuit.

Mars, through a public records request of Freeze's phone records, discovered a call made by Freeze on his university-issued cellphone.

Ole Miss later looked into the rest of Freeze's phone records and found a pattern of personal misconduct, which led to his resignation and the end of his five-year tenure as the Rebels' coach.

Nutt said it wasn't his intention to bring Freeze down.

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

CHARLOTTESVILLE — A former volunteer softball coach in Orange County has been charged with nearly three dozen counts involving sexual and other crimes against children, ranging from forcible sodomy and object sexual penetration to cruelty to children.

Cathy S. Rothgeb, 57, of Stanley, was indicted by an Orange County grand jury Friday and turned herself in to police the same day. She is being held without bond at the Central Virginia Regional Jail, according to Virginia State Police officials.

Rothgeb, a former youth softball coach for Orange County High School, coached youth teams from the 1980s through the early 2000s. Police said she has no current affiliation with Orange County High School.

The charges stem from an investigation begun by state police in the summer of 2016 after a female victim approached an investigator about alleged sexual abuse during Rothgeb's tenure as a volunteer softball coach, police said.

Rothgeb is scheduled to be in court Thursday, records show.

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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

LAS VEGAS — The sign is in every travel brochure you see for Sin City. "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada" is its simple greeting as tourists walk up to take pictures and cars whiz by heading down Las Vegas Boulevard to The Strip.

A beacon in the desert, the sign has a much deeper meaning these days.

It's become the site of the unofficial memorial for the lives lost in the mass shooting that took place here Oct. 1. When Stephen Paddock opened fire from an upper floor at Mandalay Bay on a crowd of 22,000 concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival across the street, he left 58 people dead and more than 500 injured in the worst act of gun violence on American soil.

The shocking massacre has left an indelible mark on a city that always has out its 24-hour welcome mat.

The Sabres will play their first game here against the expansion Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night in T-Mobile Arena, less than a mile from the site of the shooting. Many fans from Buffalo and Western New York expats will be in the stands.

But whether they live here or are just visiting, their trip to see their favorite team is no longer about just a hockey game.

"This community is still hurting, really hurting," said Brian Blessing, the longtime Buffalo television broadcaster who has been a sport talk radio host here since 2005. "It's not one of these things that happened from afar. It was in your backyard. When this first happened, people are still walking around in a funk and now you're trying to talk sports on the radio, but what do you do? You can't because it's about life, but eventually you have to ease back into what you do. You have to."

At the sign

Under bright, sunny skies Monday afternoon, several hundred people quietly walked around looking at pictures of the deceased. Leaving flowers and stuffed animals. Taking pictures and signing their names to the rocks and the concrete curb to offer a message of support to a still-grieving city.

Josh Schupp and his girlfriend, Terri Wappat, of Mayville got their tickets to Las Vegas in July. They made plans in September to attend tonight's Sabres game. Then the shooting happened and they knew they had to pay their respects.

"It changed our destination list for sure," said Schupp, a Sabres cap on his head and a Sharpie in his hand after signing a message on a rock. "We were coming to the Sabres' game and coming here became No. 2 after that. It's great to see how many different people from so many different walks of life are here. I just ran into a Boston Bruins fan who was at the game Sunday night and we got talking. Maybe we don't do that otherwise."

"This brings tears to your eyes," Wappat said of the collection of artifacts and messages. "I was concerned coming here after this. You never know what's going to happen. But you think to when the schedule came out, that's the first thing we were looking for: When is the game in Vegas and can we make it out there to see the brand new arena? So we were coming."

Tourists are a big part of the experience at Golden Knights games. It will be interesting to see how many Sabres fans have made the trek.

Bill and Kara Neidel of Buffalo, Sabres season-ticket holders from Section 300 in KeyBank Center, are in a group of 130 fans who came West and made a weekend out of it prior to the game on Tuesday night.

"This might be an annual thing for us. It will be a lot of fun," Bill Neidel said.

Neidel said he and his wife stayed at Mandalay Bay to celebrate their 10-year anniversary on a previous trip. They're spending this time at the Mirage but also came to the memorial on Monday.

"To see it involve Mandalay Bay was upsetting," he said, looking at the towering gold hotel a few blocks off in the distance. "We tried to keep it out of our minds but once you come down here, you can't. It's a huge feeling here. You think of people just enjoying themselves and then that happens and it affects everyone's families so much."

Golden Knights rally city

The Golden Knights have been a rallying point for the community with a 4-1 record, becoming the first NHL expansion team ever to win its first three games. They won their season opener in Dallas and then staged an emotional home opener last week in T-Mobile, scoring four first-period goals in a 5-2 win over Arizona.

The night was framed in a solemn tribute to victims and a salute to first responders, and the nationally televised ceremony became a much bigger story than the game. It included a 58-second moment of silence, one second for each of the victims.

"It was awesome, one of the coolest games I've been a part of for sure," Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb, a former Sabre, said after practice Monday at City National Arena in the Summerlin section of the city. "You saw the emotion in the crowd and there was emotion for us. It was a special moment."

"It was an unbelievable night that was much more for the city than for the team," said forward William Carrier, who was taken from the Sabres in the June expansion draft. "The emotions were high and we got three goals so quickly, we were really pumped up for that one."

McNabb was selected from Los Angeles in June and was whisked here on a 4 a.m. flight from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to be on hand for the expansion draft. He joined four other teammates on a photo shoot at the Vegas sign that day, when it was a much happier place.

"There were a lot of people there," he said. "It was cool, a fun day."

On the night of the shooting, the Golden Knights had wrapped up their final preseason game about 2 1/2 hours before the chaos began. Some players were having a late dinner up the street at The Cosmopolitan hotel when word spread on Twitter.

"We didn't really know if it was real," McNabb recalled. "We wanted to get out of there once we heard and they locked us down for a couple hours but our security team did a great job getting us out of there. They sent three cars for us and got us home safely."

From that point, the Golden Knights became ambassadors, much like the Yankees were in New York after 9/11 and the Red Sox were in Boston following the marathon bombings. But those were teams with decades of tradition. This team had yet to play an official game.

"Guys went around to fire stations and have met a lot of people," Carrier said. "The city is really enjoying having a hockey team. We're in the middle of the desert and people are coming in and out from Vegas so you didn't know. But people have enjoyed having us, especially now."

"It's been a crazy time," McNabb said. "The hockey has been a lot of fun and when the tragedy happened, we all knew we wanted to get behind the city. Then you get the first three wins and it's huge for our franchise and our fans."

On the air

Blessing is back to talking sports, like he did on Channel 4 from 1980-1994 and as he did at Empire Sports Network on the Sabres' "Hockey Hotline" postgame show until it went bankrupt in 2004. Blessing says he's thankful the Golden Knights' last preseason game played the night of the shooting was an early start.

"Had that been a normal start time, the odds are high there might have been 7-8-9,000 people still coming out of T-Mobile Arena," he said. "They might have needed to quick go back in and go in lockdown. But it was a 5 o'clock start. I left the arena, got home and was nodding off."

Blessing's 37-year-old son, also named Brian, woke him up.

"He said to put the TV on and that something was going on at Mandalay Bay," he recalled. "It was on locally for 7-8 minutes and then it started getting picked up by CNN, FOX and all the networks. I bet I was up until 3 a.m. watching."

On opening night at T-Mobile, Blessing was particularly moved by the words of defenseman Deryk Engelland, who has lived in Vegas for many years. Said Engelland, closing a brief and touching speech: "To the families and friends of the victims, we'll do everything we can to help you and our city heal. We are Vegas Strong."

"The organization was bang-on with the way they did the tone of the pregame ceremony and the 58 seconds of silence was amazing," Blessing said. "Eighteen thousand people and you could hear a pin drop. Then Deryk Engelland's speech was hair-standing-on-your-arms stuff.

"The game starts and the first 20 minutes, with the emotion in the building, the Golden Knights looked like the Central Red Army."

Blessing said he and his callers have talked of the way the Golden Knights, the first major-league sports team to come to Vegas, have quickly meshed into the town in the wake of tragedy.

"It's a hodgepodge of guys thrown together, a team only here for a few weeks and they all dove right in," he said. "They went out immediately to blood centers, visited with police and first responders. They got out in the community very much so in that first week. It enhanced their sense of community and quicked connected the town to the team."

Expats are ready

Frank Scinta came to City National Arena hoping to see the Sabres practice Monday. He didn't get to see them as the team was given the day off following its win Sunday in Anaheim, its third game in four days.

Scinta, 36, is a die-hard Sabres fan and a Kenmore West graduate. He's a regional manager for Life Storage, the former Uncle Bob's that started in Buffalo. On Oct. 1, he was going to bed to watch Netflix when everything changed.

"My friend texted my wife to put the news on," Scinta said. "As it turned out, I didn't go to bed until 3 a.m. It was crazy. One of my managers was at the concert and left an hour before the shooting started because he wanted to beat traffic."

If the name sounds familiar, it should be. Scinta is the son of Frankie Scinta, the Buffalo native who has spent many years as a musical headliner in Vegas. Now working downtown at the Plaza Hotel, Frankie Scinta did an emotional show two days after the attack.

"After 9/11, entertainers didn't know what to do," his son said. "Do we go to work? But that's what we do. People are stressed out, you go to work. Two days after the massacre here, my dad came out and told the audience that times were tough right now but we're here to laugh. Entertainers' jobs since the beginning of time is to take your mind off what's going on in the world.

"There's firefighters there, the mayor was at the show. It hits home so hard. It was a very emotional show. A lot of tears, a lot of hugs. It took people's minds off things just for a little while."

Evan Wozniak is a 2017 UNLV Law School graduate whose family moved him here when he was 3. He'll be in a group of 10 at Tuesday's game, all of whom have either moved to Vegas or traveled here from Buffalo.Wozniak said it was "worth every penny" to attend the home opener.

"That is a lifetime memory considering the circumstances... I've never seen an arena almost at capacity 30 minutes before game time. Everyone wanted to be in their seat and see what was going to happen.

"It was impossible not to be choked up. It was this complete and overwhelming sadness but there was joy in celebration in what this team and organization is trying to do for the community putting something together that special."

Wozniak said he's amazed at how in touch the Golden Knights have been in the face of the tragedy.

"This is a community that has been yearning for a pro sports team for 30+ years," he said. "Once we were awarded the team, it has been a buzz since that day. There was more than a year of anticipation and buildup. Then tragedy strikes. How does this brand new team respond to this situation? They've checked every box."

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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

INDIANAPOLIS — When the lighting at Bankers Life Fieldhouse looks different at Pacers' games this season, it is not your imagination.

A new LED lighting system has been installed in the arena, putting the spotlight on the court while darkening the seats. It creates a Broadway-stage type atmosphere, and the new system is more versatile and energy efficient. But for the players, the new lighting and depth perception take some getting used to.

Coach Nate McMillan wanted to give players more time to adjust before Wednesday's season-opener against the Brooklyn Nets. So the Pacers moved their practices this week from their new downtown St. Vincent practice facility to Bankers Life.

"With the different lighting, we wanted to give our guys shots over here," McMillan said after Monday's practice. "It is a difference, with the bowl pretty much being dark, and the floor having the lights. I think it's always good to shoot in your building as much as possible."

McMillan said the Pacers would also have game day shoot-arounds at Bankers Life this season, rather than at St. Vincent. Eventually, the new lightning will become normal for players. But the Pacers only had one preseason home game, and afterward, the new lights were a topic of conversation.

Asked if he liked the new lights, center Myles Turner said, "I don't know yet. I liked the lighting a little bit better last year, but I feel like it'll grow on me. It just takes some getting used to. It's kind of like that center stage kind of feel."

Pacers guard-forward Lance Stephenson was not sold on the new lighting either.

"It's all right," said Stephenson. "I like the bright lights. I like feeling like everybody's involved. I feel like (now) it's just on us. We're going to get used to it."

In their lone home preseason game, the Pacers defeated Haifa Maccabi, 108-89, and shot 9 for 22 from three-point range. Pacers guard Victor Oladipo was not complaining about the new lights afterward. He shot 4 for 5 from beyond the arc.

Playing well at home, where the Pacers were 29-12 last season, is one of their primary goals. They cannot use the new lighting system as an excuse for shooting poorly, especially since several NBA arenas already feature the same style of lighting, including Madison Square Garden where the New York Knicks play, and the Staples Center, where the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers play.

Once the Pacers have a hot shooting night, talk about the new lights in the locker room will cease. But for the opener, McMillan thought it was best to practice at the team's home arena for a few days. When the lights go on Wednesday night, McMillan wants to see the Pacers' jump shots go in.

Pacers vs. Brooklyn, 7 p.m. Wednesday on FSIN, YES

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Copyright 2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Fitlanta Movement, a local free fitness group, has officially earned status as November Project Atlanta.

For 29 weeks, Fitlanta leaders rallied more than 70 locals to rise each Wednesday and Friday at 6:27 a.m. for a morning workout. Members meet up in the parking lot of Ponce City Market near Lululemon on Wednesdays and at a rotating location announced via Facebook on Fridays.

For weeks, they kept it going with the goal of gaining entry into the November Project, an international grassroots fitness organization that was founded in Boston in 2011.

On Oct. 18, Fitlanta will host their first workout as November Project Atlanta.November Project founder Brogan Graham is traveling from San Diego to mark the official start of the Atlanta tribe, said the local tribe leaders.

Graham, a former member of a collegiate rowing team, created November Project with a friend as a way to stay in shape after college. They worked out together weekly and when other people began to join them, they turned it into a larger movement. A few years later, NP groups began popping up in places as far away as Malaysia, London and Paris, as well as in other cities around the country.

The group draws athletes, runners and cyclists as well as workout newbies and the gatherings are as much about fitness as camaraderie and positivity.

Each workout begins with a group bounce and chant followed by hugs. The workouts are a combination of plyometrics, functional movements and paired exercises that are accessible to a range of fitness levels.

November Project Atlanta was launched by Christian Lopez who began working out in Piedmont Park with a handfuloffollowers.Through social media exposure, the group tripled in size growing to four tribe leaders and about 70 tribe members that regularly attend workouts.

November Project workouts around the globe take place rain or shine, making it an easy option for some members who need to know that no matter what, there is a workout happening. As Atlanta tribe leader Alexa Lampasona says, "just show up."

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Copyright 2017 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

Rick Pitino's career at the University of Louisville is over.

The school's athletics board voted unanimously Monday to fire Pitino as head coach of the Louisville men's basketball team three weeks after the university confirmed it is included in the FBI's investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting.

University interim President Greg Postel made the announcement after a University of Louisville Athletic Association special meeting that lasted more than five hours, saying Pitino's "actions and inactions" warranted his termination for cause.

"We felt our initial decision... was still in the best interest of the university," Postel said, referring to the board's unanimous vote last week to move forward with Pitino's dismissal. "That's why the resolution was put forward and passed."

The board was in closed executive session for the full five hours and evaluated arguments from Pitino's lawyer, Steve Pence, but ultimately voted in favor of his firing.

Louisville's termination of Pitino's contract did not include any parting pay, Postel confirmed. The Hall of Fame coach would have received $46 million in salary over the remainder of his contract, which ran through the 2025-26 season.

"One of the reasons the meeting was so long is we wanted to have a chance to sit down and thoughtfully go through the materials even after (Pence's team) left," Postel said. "Obviously we were very thoughtful in our discussion about it."

After his presentation and before the ULAA board's vote, Pence said he hoped the ULAA board "does the right thing" and would retain Pitino.

"He should be brought back," Pence said. "If the university wants to negotiate for him to leave at a later time, we can talk about that. But this is not the right way to do this. Coach did not engage in any of this activity, (and) he didn't know about any of this activity."

Pitino had been suspended since Sept. 27 after an FBI investigation into pay-to-play recruiting schemes became public.

Pitino's name is not included in the federal criminal complaint that was released Sept. 26, but a law enforcement source confirmed to The Courier-Journal and USA TODAY that Pitino was the "Coach 2" listed in the report.

In an Oct. 3 letter that Postel sent to Pitino, the school listed eight reasons it was pursuing the termination of his contract.

Among them was an escort scandal in 2015 that could cause the team to lose its 2013 title. The NCAA's Committee on Infractions ruled in June that Louisville must repay shared NCAA tournament revenue from the 2012-15 tournaments and vacate 123 wins. Louisville is appealing that decision.

"There were a number of issues that, over time, were brought to our attention," Postel said, "and we simply felt this was in the best interest of the university to make this decision at this point in time. We try to do that with all decisions — we weight a lot of factors.

"These aren't easy conversations, but we have to do what's best for the university."

Pitino is the highest-paid coach in college basketball this year at $7.8 million, which includes a retention bonus and his personal Adidas contract, according to a USA TODAY salary database.

Pitino, 65, has coached at the collegiate level at Boston University, Providence College, the University of Kentucky and Louisville.

He also coached the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics in the NBA.

During a 40-plus-year coaching career, Pitino has won 769 games at the college level and two national championships, and his teams made seven Final Fours. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

"He won all sorts of games and titles," Postel said, "and created a powerful program for many years at U of L."

Greer and Sayers write for The Courier-Journal in Louisville, part of the USA TODAY Network.

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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

Grundy County High School's football team will play out the remainder of the season despite five players being held on house arrest after they were charged with attempted aggravated rape.

The students — a freshman, three juniors and a senior — are accused of attempting to rape a 15-year-old freshman with the metal handle of a dust mop in the school's football fieldhouse some time before 6 a.m. CDT on Wednesday.

During a special-called meeting Monday night, the school board voted 6-2 to allow the season to continue. The two "no" votes came from school board members Kasey Anderson and Chris Snyder.

At the beginning of the meeting, Director of Schools Jessie Kinsey addressed the lack of communication from school officials and what the administration's next steps would be.

"The board and school administration have been slow to comment on these allegations due to pending investigation and based on advice from counsel," she said. "We are as shocked as anyone that this happened in our community."

"We are better than this," she added. "Our children know better. Our families expect better. Our educators model better, and yet, apparently, something awful happened."

Kinsey said the school system is cooperating with local law enforcement officials and will thoroughly investigate the incident and look for steps to prevent similar acts of violence in the future.

"We intend to review policies, practices and procedures to see whether we need to revise school operations in light of this event," she said. "We intend to assess our schools' climate and culture to learn why students behave in such a deplorable way toward one of their own."

Grundy County school district attorney Chuck Cagle clarified the timeline of the school system's response to the incident the day after it was alleged to have happened. He said the incident had been reported to the principal at around 8:30 a.m., and by 8:50 a.m., the school resource officer was made aware. Interviews began with students by 9:50 a.m., and he said the sheriff's office was present at that time.

However, Grundy County Sheriff Clint Shrum said last week that the sheriff's office was not made aware of the incident until much later.

"At 1 p.m., the SRO realized it was more than he could handle, so he contacted me," Shrum said at a news conference.

Cagle said head coach Casey Tate was relieved of his coaching duties because of information they learned relating to the fieldhouse. It was not clear what that information was, other than that the doors were left unlocked, allowing students to enter. Tate is still teaching special education at the high school.

In further interviews, Cagle said investigators learned that the then-interim head coach Greg Brewer, who was an assistant coach, also had information relating to the use of the fieldhouse. That coach was also relieved of his coaching duties.

Then, late Friday afternoon, the school's football game against Upperman High School in Putnam County was canceled, Cagle said. The decision was made after considering the coach they'd be left with had never been a head coach and the group of players were rather young compared to the team they were up against.

The forfeiture of that game has a fee of about $2,500 in damages, Cagle said, because of a contract with Upperman High.

Before the board voted on the future of the school's football season, Cagle addressed the consequences if the board were to end the season, which has two games left.

"Should you decide to suspend the rest of your football season, then your men's basketball team would not be allowed to participate in tournament play," he said.

He added that it wasn't a decision the school board could make, but rather the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association.

Tensions peaked when the board began discussions regarding who would serve as coach of the football team if the season was allowed to continue. School board member Reuben Newsome said he thought the board should appoint the head coach, not Kinsey.

Cagle quickly reminded Newsome and the rest of the board that it cannot legally appoint or hire any personnel in the schools, including a football coach. Only the school director has the authority to do that.

Newsome responded, saying Kinsey had not taken the board's suggestions into consideration when they came to her with certain "situations" that had come up.

Kinsey said her problem with appointing a coach is that the people she was considering were not willing to take on the responsibility.

"Everybody that is involved is under investigation, and that's another issue," she said, adding that one person she has in mind needed to be certified.

Board members Anderson and Snyder said they "warned" Kinsey after a previous incident in which doors to athletic facilities were left unlocked and some boys got into a fight. Newsome said the board's and the athletic committee's recommendation to replace the entire coaching staff was ignored by Kinsey.

"This is not the first time something of this manner has happened," Anderson said. "We can't trust her."

Kinsey did not deny her decision to not replace the coaching staff and did not comment any further. Cagle later explained that the recommendation came after the coaching staff had already been hired last year.

"Once you employ teachers for the subsequent school year, in order to unemploy them, you have to fire them," he said. "All of this occurred at a time that it was very improbable it could have been done."

Cagle said he thinks Kinsey will appoint a coach at some point today for the boys to play at home Friday against Sequatchie County High School. It will be the school's senior night.

Earlier Monday, the accused students appeared in juvenile court. In a news conference, Shrum said it was still too early to know if they would be tried as adults.

During the students' arraignment, Judge William "Trey" Anderson set another court date and recused himself. The next court date is set for Nov. 15 at 9 a.m., but is subject to change due to the judge's recusal.

Barbara Peck, spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the Courts, said Anderson recused himself because he has represented some of the parents of the defendants during his time as a private attorney, before he became a judge.

The Administrative Office of the Courts will look for another judge, and it will most likely be another juvenile court judge from a neighboring county. It will be decided later if the judge will travel to Grundy County or not, Peck said.

Twelfth Judicial District Assistant District Attorney David McGovern said he was not aware of any adults being charged in connection to the incident.

Before recusing himself, the judge ruled that the five accused students will remain on house arrest and receive homebound education.

"I think the mood of the county is a little bit of surprise," Shrum said. "But I think they're watching intently, I know there's some support both ways. It's just a tough time for everybody involved."

He said the sheriff's office is continuing to closely investigate whether adults knew of any hazing going on prior to last week's incident or if there was a history of sexual misconduct at the school. He added that the sheriff's office is not classifying the incident as hazing.

"It's an attempted aggravated rape -- that's what they have been charged with," Shrum said. "Hazing is something that, I guess, the school classifies these actions as, but we don't classify it as hazing."

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at rhughes@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.

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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

By now, we should all have had enough of the hatred that becomes violence that becomes the unthinkable.

Yes, another teenage boy was assaulted by bullies and punks out of some sort of high school sports ritual.

Yes, the horror is staggering. This is about right and wrong, and worse, between good and evil.

Pure evil.

And this is now on all of us to stop it.

This is the second time in less than 24 months it's happened within 75 miles of the Walnut Street Bridge, for Pete's sake. Action must be taken.

Five Grundy County High School students — a freshman, three juniors and a senior — are accused of attempting to rape a 15-year-old freshman with the metal handle of a dust mop in the school's football field house sometime before 6 a.m. Central on Oct. 11.

This is beyond a local issue; we sadly hear about this all too often across the state, the region and the country. According to insidehazing.com, more than 90 percent of high school students are part of a school organization and 48 percent of them claim to have been involved in an hazing incident.

And to make matters worse, according to the website, 92 percent of high school students will not report hazing events, and of those kids, 59 percent are definitely aware of hazing and a staggering 21 percent are victims of hazing.

This has to stop. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Now.

I wish we could make this a hate crime, but that's federal law and goodness knows the tape and tangles to expand the definition of that law.

As difficult as that change certainly would be, we need to start with the simplest of changes: Filing this under the "Boys will be boys" umbrella is every bit as problematic as these teenagers violating each other.

Let's make this priority. Let's make the heinous act that this is connected with the heinous results that should come with those guilty, and even those indifferent or unaware of it.

Any coach who has such a heinous assault occur under his watch should be immediately suspended, and if allegations and charges are proved to be true, they should be fired. We believe the Ooltewah High School coaches knew that some form of hazing was going on within their program, and we have to believe the Grundy County coaches did too.

Did they know it was ever going to get to this? Maybe, maybe not. But the presence of hazing, like sparks in the woods, only escalates in seriousness and sickness. It got here because those coaching staffs did not do enough on the front end to prevent it.

And that can't be excused.

Let's go further. Let's have every team sport send home a document to be signed by the player and a parent, and if possible both parents, that lets everyone know that hazing, if proven to be true, is a zero-tolerance incident that immediately leads to a permanent ban from all extracurricular activities and possible expulsion.

Let's go further than that. If it is found that hazing went to the level of assault, then the coaches are terminated and the kids are charged as adults; perhaps the parents could face charges, too.

And before anyone offers, "God, Greeson, you're trying to ruin these kids' lives for a little locker room stuff," well, put a sock in it.

Now and forever. How did we get here? Because what started as kids being stuffed in lockers or forced into the hall naked or whatever stunts that seemed somewhat harmless back in the day — we were dogpiled and punched and thrown into a stagnant mud puddle — has now escalated into a "can you top this?"

And maybe those students in Grundy County will face life-changing consequences because of these allegations. But, if proven true, that was their choice when they held that boy down and abused him.

Because his life likely has been changed too, and he had no choice.

We must choose to change that. Now.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com and 423-757-6343.

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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

The Milwaukee Bucks arena's outdoor plaza and "Live Block" will be used up to 150 days a year, and attract city residents and suburbanites with a craft brewery, concerts and 3-on-3 basketball tourneys, team owners and executives say.

"I want to give people a reason to get out of their houses in the suburbs in the middle of the winter and drive downtown," Wes Edens, one of the Bucks' principal owners, said in a recent interview.

"I think there's a lot of reasons to want to do that and I want to give people a reason to live down here as well."

The Bucks are looking at a combination of ways to "activate" the plaza now under construction on what was N. 4th St. in front of the new arena. That plaza lies on the east side of the $524 million arena the team is building just north of the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Supported by $250 million in taxpayer money, the arena is scheduled to open in time for the 2018-'19 NBA season.

The plaza will be fronted by three buildings, one of which will include a brewery, team officials say. The complex will be connected by a beer garden to N. Old World 3rd St.

"This will become in many ways one of downtown Milwaukee's only outdoor rooms," said real estate developer Blair Williams, who is working for the Bucks on the entertainment district. "The goal here is for this to become a forum for Milwaukee."

The plaza can be configured to include a temporary outdoor stage for concerts for up to 12,000 people, Williams said last week in a speech to the Rotary Club of Milwaukee.

"That plaza really matters," Williams said. "That plaza is intended for heavy programming."

He said that in addition to the 55 to 65 Bucks and Marquette University Golden Eagles basketball games (depending on playoffs), the plaza will be used for many other events.

"We'll also have a similar number of program dates on the plaza," he said. "Roughly 150 days a year we will be programming the spaces and activating the environment."

The Bucks originally planned for the Live Block to be up and running when the arena opens a year from now. That timeline has slipped, and the size of at least one of the buildings - one that in earlier renderings showed a brewing tank - has been reduced from four to two stories.

The Bucks say they'll reveal details about the tenants, presumably including the brewery, in a couple of weeks.

Two of the Live Block buildings will be up and enclosed by the time the new arena opens, Williams predicted. The actual businesses will open much later.

"We should have most of the Live Block players — a substantial number of them — open when we go deep into the playoffs" for the 2018-'19 season, Williams said. That would be late in the spring of 2019.

The Bucks will have the plaza fired up long before then.

"If you can think of it, we have planned for it in the infrastructure and design of this plaza," Williams said.

"We have three-on-three basketball court layouts. We have futsal tournament layouts. We have viewing party layouts, we have ice skating rink layouts," he said, adding that farmers and craft markets are also in the works.

The ultimate plan, Bucks officials say, is to make the arena a day and night district of downtown. For that to happen, the team needs to attract a corporate tenant for the parcel it controls just north of the new arena.

"If you think long term, we'd like to have a balance of uses," said New York real estate executive Mike Fascitelli, another of the team's owners.

"Some entertainment, retail, we'd like to have residential — we've started on one," he said, referring to an apartment building underway next to a new parking garage north of the arena.

"And we'd like to have some corporate entity and ancillary retail - not like mall retail," Fascitelli said. "If you had that mix, it will fit well with the parking uses and with the traffic patterns. That's our goal."

Edens and Williams said that close attention is being paid to the plaza and Live Block. Edens said he was very involved in those plans.

"What I'm personally very focused on are developments that give people a reason to come to the area besides when a basketball game is being played," he said. "That's the top of my list."

Edens said that although he lives in New York, he taps his roots when considering the development around the arena.

"My experience growing up in Montana, which I think is quite consistent with here, is that people want to do things," Edens said.

"They want to be active. And they don't let weather dictate what they're going to do every day."

"Wisconsinites, like people from Montana, are a pretty hardy crew and I think we need to find good reasons for them to do things that they're engaged with, that they feel great about and that's what I'm going to focus on."

Williams told the Rotary Club that one measure of success will come in the depths of winter.

"Success will be measured when it's a Tuesday night in February and there's not a game. If there are people there, we're winning. If there's not, then we need to plan better."

Williams added: "If we do this right, the arena will be just one of the buildings in there."

 

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Copyright 2017 Sun Journal Oct 16, 2017

Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)

 

The mother of a Mi'kmaq Indian who plays football for Lisbon High School alleges that fans and players mocked Native Americans with offensive stereotypes throughout Friday's game at Wells High School.

Wells fans — both students and adults — were "running around with hands over their mouths," making whooping sounds, and banging on drums and five-gallon buckets with offensive chants, said Amelia Tuplin, whose 16-year-old son Lucas Francis, is Lisbon's quarterback.

Wells' mascot name is "Warriors" and the logo has a single feather attached to a block W. In the past, the school used more blatant representation of Native Americans as a logo.

"When I went down to Wells, I didn't find the logo distasteful, it's how they represented it," Tuplin said. "They just made a mockery of my culture and my heritage."

Tuplin and Francis are full-blooded Mi'kmaq, originally from Canada, and have lived in Lisbon for 13 years. She said in a strongly worded letter sent to Jim Daly, superintendent of schools for Wells-Ogunquit Community School District, that many of the fans' actions Friday crossed the line of decency.

"Your team, students and spectators mocked our families' heritage, including my son, quarterback Lucas Francis, by painting their faces, banging on fake drums that included 5-gallon buckets, singing mock chants, performing mock dances, and continuously making hand-over-mouth sounds," Tuplin wrote in the letter. "It was the most ultimate display of racism on the largest scale I've ever seen."

Daly said he takes this letter, and the issue at hand, very seriously, and he plans to investigate the matter fully.

"Allegations were made toward the Wells community and fan base," Daly said. "That's a lot of people. It's going to be a very thoughtful and prudent investigation. There's no quick answer to this. We want to make sure we're doing due diligence and taking time."

Tuplin also wrote that while she was appalled at Friday's display, on the whole, not all mascots depicting "Indians" or "warriors" are offensive.

But, "this is not the case for Wells High School," she wrote. "You made a mockery of my culture. Your chants, fake drums, war paint, dance and hand-over-mouth sounds were embarrassing to watch and hurtful."

Daly said that changing the district's mascot is a bigger issue, and one that must be dealt with on a broader level.

"That's greater than just an AD or a superintendent," Daly said. "That's something that needs to be brought up at the board level, at the community level."

Wells and Lisbon were both unbeaten going into Friday's contest, and Wells pulled away in the second half for a decisive win. Afterward, Tuplin said, the chanting continued.

"After the game, I witnessed a celebratory Native mock dance and mock chant by the Wells football team," she wrote. "I escorted my son from the field to the school only to be taunted by people making hand-over-mouth sounds."

That, Lisbon Superintendent Richard Green, is the biggest immediate concern.

"Looking at the allegations on social media, if there was slander or if there were threats to either a player or a parent, that's the first priority," Green said. "I've responded to Amelia, and I'm waiting now to discuss it with her further."

Wells is one of four schools in Maine to still use "Warriors" as a mascot — Nokomis of Newport, Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook and Fort Kent are the others, though Fort Kent's warrior mascot has been changed to a Spartan-style combatant.

Skowhegan High School has come under fire for use of the nickname Indians. In 2015, its school board decided to keep the nickname after public forums with the four tribes of the Wabanaki confederation and residents who support and oppose changing the name.

Wells is known as a town that exuberantly supports its high school athletic teams, particularly its football program.

Daly said it is common for students to bang drums at football games.

"Banging on five-gallon drums, yes," he said. "Is it racial? I do not believe so, but we are in middle of investigating that."

"I think the banging on the drums and stuff just shows spirit we have for our school because we're honoring them," said Jade Petrie, a senior at Wells High.

"I just feel like it's the culture of high school football and something that comes along with football," said Delaney O'Brien, a Wells junior. "I don't associate it with Native Americans."

But even portrayals of Indians perceived as positive still have a negative impact, said Jordan LaBouff, an assistant professor of psychology and honors at the University of Maine.

LaBouff said several studies have shown that Native American students perform worse academically and imagine fewer future possibilities for themselves in schools that use Native American imagery.

"I don't think anyone in that community is explicitly trying to harm but the fact is, they are, and the data demonstrates that," LaBouff said.

Tuplin said she initially felt the fans' behavior and mock chants were targeted specifically toward her son, the only Native American on the Lisbon team. She expressed those feelings on her Twitter account late Friday evening.

Over the weekend, Tuplin said she's been told that what she witnessed Friday is typical at a Wells football game. She now believes her son was not specifically targeted for abuse "which made it worse, made it hurt more," because it showed a disregard toward Native American culture.

"If you do this all the time, if that's the response I'm going to get from somebody, then we have a bigger issue," Tuplin said. "If you're allowing this to happen and instilling these values, if this is how you're teaching your students how Indians act and behave, (that is) instilling racism in your kids for a long time."

Daly acknowledged that Wells' use of the Warrior mascot will also be addressed.

"The first issue is there were allegations of inappropriate behavior and the second issue is the mascot and that is an issue that will be brought to the school committee and the community," Daly said. "Those two issues are very different in the way we deal with them."

Wells senior Megan Schneider thinks it is time for the Native American imagery to be removed from the Wells High logo.

"The name is OK, that we go by Warriors," said Schneider, a three-sport athlete. "That's like we're hard fighters. But I think it's not hard to just get rid of that mascot because that's not needed. That is just exploitation. The mascot part is just unnecessary.

"We don't have black people's heads as a mascot. Should we have the Indian head as our mascot?"

Tuplin emphasized that Wells' students aren't to blame.

"I hold the superintendent accountable for all of this," she said.

Daly said he wants to have a dialog with Tuplin.

"I'll definitely reach out," he said. "I plan on emailing her and inviting her to have an open discussion about what happened, and how we can all move forward from this."

Lisbon Superintendent Richard Green said he made sure Wells' school officials were aware of Tuplin's complaint.

"I don't believe (Tuplin) is overreacting," Green said. "She's upset and she's going through the process and making people aware and I think that's what people do nowadays."

Lisbon's middle school, Sugg, once had an Indian mascot, as well. That was changed "16 or 17 years ago," Green said. "We became the Huskies, and then all of our schools eventually adopted the 'Greyhounds' mascot."

The Lisbon town seal also bears the likeness of a Native American leader.

"It's an unfortunate situation," Green said. "We've reached out to their AD and their superintendent, and we hope this can all be resolved soon."

 

 

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Copyright 2017 The Durham Herald Co.
All Rights Reserved

The Herald-Sun (Durham, N.C.)

 

Family and friends prayed for a 14-year-old Orange High School football player who remained in a medically induced coma Monday after suffering a head injury last week.

Thys Oldenburg, 14, was injured upon being tackled during a junior varsity game Thursday against Hillside High School. The game was played at Orange High, where Oldenburg's supporters held a vigil Sunday.

Oldenburg's aunt, Caroline Oldenburg, created a GoFundMe page Friday to help pay her nephew's medical bills.

While the teen remained unconciousness Monday afternoon, Caroline Oldenburg posted in an update that "Jan just confirmed CT looked good. Yay yay yay. No swelling or hemorrhage."

His battled "will be a marathon and not a sprint," she wrote earlier. "Not only will this be a long and arduous mental, physical and emotional battle, it will also be a financial one."

As of Monday afternoon, the GoFundMe page had generated over $9,300 in support. It was being updated regularly with pictures and messages of encouragement.

Thys Oldenburg's fever broke over Saturday night, and a Sunday post said he was "stable and holding his own."

The teenager, who previously was a two-time champion wrestler at Stanford Middle School, underwent three emergency surgeries to reduce swelling and bleeding on the brain in the first 24 hours after his injury, wrote his aunt, a former toxicologist with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Doctors are scheduled to begin to bring him out of his medically induced coma on Wednesday, she wrote, "They'll start to wake him up."

Doctors will then be better able to diagnose his injuries.

On Monday, Caroline Oldenburg said Thys Oldenburg's parents are exhausted and "running on autopilot."

She added that if her nephew "wakes up out of this coma and is fine," then the donations will be deposited into a fund to go to "the next kid who this happens to."

Scary injury leads to unusual midgame sportsmanship between two high school football teams

2nd Orange Panther injured

Oldenburg was one of two Orange High player sent to the hospital last week.

On Friday night senior running back Marvante Beasley went down in the third quarter and lay motionless as coaches and trainers surrounded him.

Beasley put two thumbs up as he was carted into an ambulance.

He had movement in his arms and legs, and by Saturday morning posted on social media that he was out of the hospital.

"I'm... feeling a lot better. First and for most (sic) I want to thank the man upstairs, and everyone who sent a prayer for me," he wrote at 10:26 a.m. "Glad my boys pulled out the win! Oh yeah I'm also cleared this week to play so let's keep it rolling."

Insurance for high school athletes

North Carolina public high schools provide insurance premiums for their student athletes, N.C. High School Athletic Association spokesman Russel James said.

The NCHSAA requires all public high school athletic programs to enroll all formal participants in its Student-Athlete Catastrophic Accident Insurance Program.

Each school pays $3.75 per enrollee; the program provides coverage from $25,000 up to $5 million.

All athletes, student managers, student trainers, student cheerleaders and student participants and coaches are covered while participating in authorized and sanctioned interscholastic competitions and practices.

Some school districts offer options for supplemental, student-athlete accidental insurance coverage, James said.

Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks

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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

PULLMAN — Bill Moos was responsible for erecting the buildings that were supposed to give Washington State's athletic programs a competitive edge in the Pac-12 facilities arms race, and hiring the coach who gave WSU's football team a facelift at a point when the Cougars were hardly a blip on the map.

Moos' big spending put the school in a $10.6 million hole, but that never did seem to outweigh the contributions he made to the department. And at no point did it ever seem like Moos was itching to leave Pullman.

So it was startling Sunday afternoon when news broke that the 67-year-old had darted from his alma mater to become the athletic director at the University of Nebraska. Moos will officially start his new job on Oct. 23.

"It's always been my view professionally that when someone is looking at another job, another position, that they're either running away from something or running to something," Moos said. "And believe me, I have nothing to run away from, but wholeheartedly wanted to run to this job."

Nebraska announced the hire just before noon Sunday, then presented Moos in a news conference a few hours later.

Washington State's Associate Athletic Director for Communications, Bill Stevens, said he hadn't heard from Moos as of 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Mike Leach said Moos only sent a text message to alert the WSU coach he was leaving.

The WSU community was nothing short of stunned.

In a news release issued by WSU, President Kirk Schulz said the school will begin its hunt for a new AD immediately. WSU intends to fill the void temporarily and will have an interim AD in place "early next week," according to the release.

On Monday, Schulz will announce the membership of a search committee that WSU will employ to find its new AD. The school also plans to hire an executive search firm to aid in the selection process.

"Cougar fans are among the most passionate and loyal in all of college sports," Schulz said. "We will begin our search immediately to find an athletics director who will drive our program to even greater success both on the field of play and in the classroom."

Moos and Nebraska agreed to a five-year contract with a base annual salary of $1 million, plus incentives. That should make him the second-highest-paid coach in the Big Ten Conference. Those incentives could be worth up to $500,000. Moos was earning a base salary of $500,000 at WSU and was on contract through April 2020.

It's only been three weeks since UN parted ways with former AD Shawn Eichorst, who was fired in the wake of the Cornhuskers' 21-17 loss to Northern Illinois, which dropped them to 1-2 on the season.

Moos was drawn to the job because it presented an opportunity to flip Nebraska's football program, much like he did during his seven years at WSU and 12 years at Oregon, where the Ducks grew their athletic budget from $18.5 million to more than $40 million and won 13 Pac-10 championships in six different sports.

Nebraska's football program is wealthy in tradition, but not in recent success. The Cornhuskers won five national titles between 1970 and 1997, but haven't contended for college football's biggest prize this millennium and have been usurped by a multitude of teams in the Big Ten.

The Huskers are 3-4 this season, so Moos will be pressured to revive the "storied" program he followed closely as a child.

"From the time I was a small boy on a wheat-cattle ranch in Eastern Washington, I always tuned in to the Nebraska-Oklahoma game on Thanksgiving," Moos said. "Weekends, never missed one. Even did it in college when I was a player myself.

"A storied, storied athletic program at a very prestigious institution. When you name the top two, three, four, five positions as an athletic director, Nebraska's in that same breath."

In transit to his Sunday news conference, Moos was asked how long Nebraska had been on his radar. "Twenty-five years," he told the Lincoln Journal-Star. "That's the kind of school it is."

Nebraska football coach Mike Riley has gotten mixed reviews three years into his regime with the Cornhuskers. Riley's teams have amassed a winning record of 18-15, but the Huskers finished with a losing mark in 2015 and face an uphill battle in 2017.

Moos' and Riley's paths have intertwined before while both were working in the state of Oregon. Moos was the University of Oregon's AD from 1995-2007, and Riley was the football coach at Oregon State from 2003-14.

"As we speak right now, he's my football coach," Moos said. "And I'm going to support him and hope for some victories here in the latter part of the season."

Moos spent two full years away from collegiate athletics following his final year at Oregon in 2007. He went into retirement, but was pulled back when the late WSU President Elson S. Floyd convinced him to become the Cougars' AD in 2010.

"Anyone who actually plays the game, your pilot light never goes out," Moos said.

Moos' best act as WSU's AD was reviving a football program that had won just eight games between 2008-11. Leach was one of the 11 head coaches Moos hired his first five years in charge, and the WSU football coach, now six years into his tenure, has taken the Cougars to three bowl games in four years. That will be four in five years when the current season is over. The Cougars are ranked No. 15 in the country and already bowl-eligible with six wins.

"He has a style and a blueprint that is followed very closely," Moos said of Leach. "Mike is a very strict disciplinarian. And he's a brilliant individual. He's done a remarkable job, and he's been a great fit there."

Some are speculating that Moos could try to bring Leach to Nebraska, but the WSU coach has long stated his affinity for Pullman and has never hinted at any kind of departure.

Moos never did either. Multiple reports hint there may have been friction between the AD and Schulz, who was hired from Kansas State to become WSU's president in 2016. An anonymous source told the Seattle Times that Schulz was blindsided by Moos' departure and that Moos hadn't alerted the school president about his departure.

Potential friction between the president and the AD could be the product of a few things.

While enhancing WSU's facilities, Moos emptied the school's athletic budget, which made a portion of the fan base leery of his financial strategy. Moos' biggest project — a lavish football operations building that was constructed in 2014 — cost the school $61 million, and additions to Martin Stadium ran the total cost of upgrades to $130 million.

Moos also spearheaded improvements to the school's soccer field, and WSU has already sketched out blueprints for a baseball clubhouse.

The big spending may have been necessary to keep the Cougars competitive in recruiting battles with the Pac-12 schools in more urban settings, but it also cost the school a fortune. WSU ran its deficit to $10 million during the last fiscal year.

Moos did knock his football hire out of the park. Leach's teams have an even 35-35 record through 51/2 years, but have gone 20-10 over the last three seasons. But Moos also made coaching hires for a few of the other major sports that have yet to yield much success in the win-loss column. He enlisted Ernie Kent's help to turn around the men's basketball program in 2014 and hired Marty Lees to lead the baseball team in 2015.

Kent's time in Pullman is still very much a work in progress. The former Oregon coach who worked under Moos for a decade in Eugene hasn't taken the Cougars to the postseason. Kent's basketball teams have registered 35 wins compared to 58 losses. Lees' WSU baseball teams have gone 43-64 in two seasons.

Still, Moos was well-liked in Pullman and had an open-door policy that made him accessible to coaches, athletes and members of the media.

In a tweet Sunday afternoon, former WSU offensive lineman Eduardo Middleton wrote: "Smh (shaking my head)... WSU lost a true visionary in college athletics."

Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne noted on Twitter Sunday that Moos gave him his first full-time job. Byrne was hired by Moos as a regional fundraiser at Oregon in 1995, "Great vision & great guy," Byrne wrote. "Really good hire by Nebraska."

Moos was also the dean of Pac-12 athletic directors — "until tomorrow," he laughed on Sunday during his news conference — and was at the forefront of the conference's effort to secure a 12-year, $3 billion television contract with providers Fox and ESPN. Moos was also renowned for his fundraising: The Cougar Athletic Fund's Annual Giving program saw an 81 percent increase in gifts during his tenure in Pullman.

Along with his wife, Kendra, Moos owns and manages a cattle ranch — the Special K Ranch — in Valleyford, Washington, just south of Spokane.

He's a self-proclaimed "rural boy" who grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in eastern Washington.

"I'm not one that would take a job in an urban environment," Moos said Sunday. "I feel like Eastern Washington is so much like the state of Nebraska. Great, wholesome people with a great work ethic. Love athletics, and love football."

Contact the writer:

509-939-5928

theol@spokesman.com

 

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Copyright 2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

The locker-room renovation that Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson has long sought is about to become a reality.

Plans are in place "so that we're ready to push 'go' as soon as the season's over," athletic director Todd Stansbury told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "The goal is to have the project completed by the time that preseason practice begins for the 2018 season."

The project is in the design phase, with construction to begin after the season ends, which Tech hopes would be following its bowl game.

"They're still on the drawing board, and we've got a couple of players on the committee, so they're working on the plans," Johnson said. "And then of course it has to get approved by campus and all that."

The project will cost around $4 million. With Stansbury having made the rounds with donors, commitments have been made to cover the entire tab.

The locker room was constructed in 2003, part of the expansion and renovation of Bobby Dodd Stadium. Player lockers previously were located in the basement of the Edge Center, which is adjacent to the stadium. The 7,000-foot room, which is under the north stands and is used for both practices and games, has received mostly cosmetic updates since then.

Locker rooms are part of the never-ending competition to dazzle recruits, and Johnson has been banging the drum for a renovation for several years as competitors distance themselves from Tech in that race.

Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, N.C. State and Pitt are among schools that have redone their locker rooms within the past four years.

"You guys know it's an arms race," Johnson said in August 2016. "And if you're not building, you're falling farther and farther and farther behind."

Tech's locker room hardly is a dungeon — it's well-lit and functional. The wooden lockers have compartments for cleats, pads, helmets, clothes and personal items. A wall-size photo of a packed Bobby Dodd Stadium looks over the center of the room, an open space with the "GT" logo on the floor.

But it shows some age and lacks the pop of most of its competitors' locker rooms. Many locker rooms have backlit logos throughout, branding on the ceiling and homages to the teams' past successes and stars. Anything to wow a prospect on a visit.

The N.C. State locker room, renovated last year, boasts 82-inch televisions and has LED lighting throughout (the whole room can be lit Wolfpack red) as well as at each locker. The Florida State locker room has tablets at each locker and statues of past Seminoles stars whose jerseys have been retired.

Virginia Tech's lockers have a ventilation system to keep pads and helmets dry and electrical outlets. At 14,800 square feet, it's also twice the size of Georgia Tech's. Georgia State wowed its players in August with its locker room at its new Georgia State Stadium, formerly Turner Field.

"I felt like the nicest place that I saw (during recruitment) was probably VT," linebacker Victor Alexander said.

Asked for his own wish list, Alexander literally rubbed his hands together.

"Is he going to see this?" he asked hopefully, referring to Johnson. "I don't know. Maybe some TV's, some (charging ports) in the lockers."

By comparison to extravagances elsewhere, Alexander's ideas sound entirely practical. Texas made a splash this summer -- stainless-steel lockers with 43-inch televisions atop each.

It will be the second major project in recent months. With funding provided by the rental agreement Tech arranged with Atlanta United to use Bobby Dodd Stadium, the team re-did the lobby of its football offices at the cost of about $500,000.

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Copyright 2017 The Arizona Daily Star. All Rights Reserved.

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

 

Most of Tucson was still reeling from the FBI investigation into assistant basketball coach Book Richardson when a second University of Arizona athletic department scandal quietly made its way into federal court.

A woman who accused former Arizona Wildcats running back Orlando Bradford of domestic violence last year has filed a lawsuit against the UA, saying school officials knew for months before her attack that he posed a danger to women but failed to take action. The suit alleges a violation of her civil rights, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence by the university.

The university must adhere to Title IX, a federal law that protects students from gender discrimination. It includes protections against sexual assault and relationship violence.

Since 2015, two other UA student-athletes have been accused of rape, and a former assistant track and field coach is awaiting trial for assaulting and threatening a student-athlete. The coach's legal bills — nearing half a million dollars — are being paid by taxpayers.

And two weeks ago, a current member of the UA football team was arrested on a charge of domestic violence assault.

The incidents point to a sliding scale within the athletic department, the lawsuit says, where rules vary depending on how talented the player or coach is.

"The actual de facto policy of the U of A athletic department was to try to minimize reporting of acts of domestic violence, to minimize adverse consequences of such acts, and to prevent such acts from becoming public knowledge, at least for valuable players," the lawsuit says. The Star does not generally name alleged victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault.

The Star contacted UA president Robert C. Robbins, the school's Title IX coordinator, and several members of the athletic department for comment. UA spokesman Chris Sigurdson responded on behalf of all of them Friday afternoon with a seven-paragraph statement that included links to online resources offered by the school and a September memo from Robbins.

The statement emphasized that the UA's procedures are "student-centered," meaning the accuser always chooses how to proceed.

"Faculty and staff are required to make sure any allegations are reported to Title IX or Dean of Students, but it's up to the student to decide how far they would like the university to go and what actions we can take," the statement said.

The policy is different from that of law enforcement, which is required to pursue an investigation once an accuser files a report.

Actions by the UA can range from making sure that students don't have similar class schedules to a student code of conduct inquiry, or even filing criminal charges, the UA's statement said.

The UA offers online and in-person training "to help prevent and respond to the harmful effects of sexual assault, sexual harassment and gender violence," the statement said, adding that the school also has additional programs departments can request from human resources and student affairs.

Over the past few years, the UA has increased Title IX prevention and education efforts, he wrote. Despite that, reports to university police of sexual assault, domestic violence and dating violence rose from 2015 to 2016.

"The UA has been very clear about our commitment to end sexual violence, including relationship violence," the statement said. "We have publicized the number of reports we received for the previous years and the resources in place for student support."

Details of the lawsuit and other recent allegations of domestic and sex-related crimes were pieced together by the Star's examination of records from Pima County Superior Court, U.S. District Court of Arizona, Tucson Police Department, University of Arizona Police Department, Pima County Consolidated Justice Court and Maricopa County Superior Court.

Between April and September 2016, three women came forward to police to report abuse by Bradford. Each woman said separately that she had been choked by him on more than one occasion.

Bradford was arrested on Sept. 14, 2016, after one of the women told police that she'd been assaulted over two days after she and Bradford fought about a scratch on his car, her reluctance to eat a Frosty he'd purchased and Bradford's suspicions that she was texting with another man, Tucson police reports show.

She told police Bradford choked and slapped her repeatedly and punched her in the face. At one point, according to a police report, Bradford choked the woman while telling her, "Say goodbye to your mom."

The woman told authorities she stayed two nights with Bradford out of fear, and that when he left for football practice in the morning, she called her mother, who called Tucson police, the report says.

When detectives interviewed her they noted marks on her neck, arms, ribs, stomach and head, the report says.

The next day, a second woman came forward to say that Bradford had also assaulted her on multiple occasions beginning in January 2016. He was re-booked into the Pima County jail on new charges.

Bradford was ultimately charged with 10 felonies and five misdemeanors in connection with the incidents. He later pleaded guilty to two felony counts of aggravated assault domestic violence and is to be sentenced Nov. 20.

In February, the second woman who reported Bradford to police filed a $1 million claim against the UA and Arizona Board of Regents, saying the school had prior knowledge of Bradford's violent behavior and failed to take appropriate action to stop him.

While that claim has not been settled, it has also not yet been pursued in court, according to the woman's attorney, Kimberly Hult.

The federal lawsuit filed earlier this month follows a $1 million claim filed in August by the first woman who reported Bradford to police. When suing a government entity or state agency, a claim precedes a formal lawsuit.

Because Title IX is a federal law, the lawsuit was moved from Maricopa County Superior Court to federal court, documents show.

The lawsuit says that, in July, the plaintiff learned of a third woman who had alleged violence by Bradford. That woman had reported Bradford's alleged abuse to several members of the UA athletic staff, the suit says. Her allegations came months before Bradford's September arrest.

The UA athletic department was made aware of the accusations against Bradford as early as December 2015, when the mother of his then-girlfriend called the department to say Bradford had physically attacked her daughter, the lawsuit says.

That woman told police that she and Bradford began dating in the fall of 2015 and ended their relationship in April 2016, a Tucson police report says.

The woman, who was also a UA student-athlete, told police Bradford assaulted her three or four times. He choked her at least twice, she told TPD.

When the woman went home for Christmas break, she told her aunt that she and Bradford broke up because he was abusive. The woman's aunt told her mother, who said she called her daughter's softball coach, Mike Candrea, to tell him about the situation, the police report says.

The former girlfriend later told police that, when she returned to school in January 2016, she spoke with Candrea, who told her to not have any contact with Bradford, the TPD report says.

In April 2016, the same woman called campus police to report that Bradford had been harassing her although their relationship was over. She said he had spent nearly two hours outside her dorm room the previous night, according to a UA police report. When officers went to the dorm to interview her, she was with a UA senior athletic director, whose name was redacted from the UAPD report.

The woman told UA police officers that she had called them because she was afraid of Bradford. She said that in March, she'd reported the relationship to the Dean of Students and notified members of the athletic staff, the UAPD report says.

The woman "expressed to the Dean of Students at the U of A and additional members of the athletic department at the time her continued fear of Bradford and difficulties avoiding contact with him given their mutual school-related activities," the lawsuit says.

The Pima County Attorney's Office declined to prosecute Bradford in connection with the incident at the woman's dorm room, but the UA put a "no contact order" in place, the UAPD report shows. Bradford was banned from living in the on-campus dorms, according to the lawsuit.

The UA arranged off-campus housing for Bradford, putting him in a home with other members of the football team, the lawsuit says.

School officials were "aware that the off-campus housing 'solution' would involve even less supervision of Bradford and therefore even more risk of harm to (the victim) or other female students," the lawsuit says.

Within a few months, Bradford became involved with the two women who reported him to Tucson police in September.

After Bradford's September arrest and dismissal from the football team, coach Rich Rodriguez said that he has a "zero tolerance" policy when it comes to domestic violence committed by athletes on or off campus, and that a single incident would result in a player being removed from the team.

The plaintiff "heard in the media that coach Rich Rodriguez had a 'one-strike and you're out' domestic violence policy for his players," the preliminary claim says. "Unfortunately, based on the new information we received last month, it appears that (she) was mistaken, and the true policy was 'one strike that goes public and you're out.'"

Bradford admitted to a witness that he "tortured" the plaintiff, the lawsuit says. One of his teammates reported that he was joking about the incident in the locker room, the lawsuit says.

"The acts and omissions of (the UA) in response to Bradford's prior acts of domestic violence were completely unreasonable under the circumstances," the suit says. It adds that, by failing to take action, the UA "allowed Bradford to retain his favored position within the campus community without consequence for his known propensity for domestic violence and with reckless disregard for the safety of female students."

Under Title IX, the UA was required to investigate the first victim's report against Bradford regardless of whether criminal charges were filed. If it did, the results weren't made public. It's unclear if Bradford was disciplined in connection with the woman's claims.

"This situation certainly raises a lot of concerns," said Alexandra Tracy-Ramirez, an attorney who used to work for the UA as a Title IX investigator. "I would have a lot of questions about what was happening, who knew what and when they knew it and what they did with that information."

The December 2015 conversation between Bradford's then-girlfriend and Candrea "was a critical moment" during which Candrea could have spoken to the woman about filing a formal complaint and her options for on-campus support, Tracy-Ramirez said.

"If responsible employees within the university knew or had reason to know that harassment or abuse was happening, and they didn't get that information to appropriate administrators, I think there's something to be said for alleging the university could have done something differently," she said.

The Star contacted Candrea for comment. His response was the general statement from the university.

Also concerning is what the UA knew and how officials decided the first woman's allegations against Bradford were substantial enough that he had to be moved off campus, Tracy-Ramirez said.

"Moving someone around, 'no contact orders' and changing housing locations... are all steps that an institution can take before finding that someone had done something wrong. They're considered interim safety steps," she said. It's unclear in this case if these were interim steps or sanctions, or if there was an investigation into Bradford's behavior.

Credit: Caitlin Schmidt Arizona Daily Star

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Abilene Reporter-News (Texas)

 

Over the past 15-20 years, wireless technology has found its way into our lives in many forms.

We've seen it in smartphones, computers and even at football stadiums of all sizes.

One place it had not yet made it until recently was to the high school officials on the football field in the Abilene chapter.

This year, however, even that has changed. Before the season, every official in the chapter received walkie-talkies to make communicating with each other easier and to help speed up the games by keeping the officials from having to huddle to discuss each penalty.

Reactions on the change depend on which official you ask.

"The only thing I like about it is if you have a penalty on someone and a play keeps going, you might forget the number. It's easier to remember and report it to the white hat," veteran official Ronnie Hargis said. "Maybe it speeds up the game, but your mechanics are still the same. It's just the communication is a little bit faster."

Bruce Jones, another veteran official in the Abilene chapter, is a fan of the switch.

"It's easier and it's all about communication and (helps) everyone on the field know what's going on," Jones said. "It helps on mechanics, penalties, who's looking at what and who's doing what. It's a help when you can hear it."

Katie Gore, the lone female official in Abilene, is in her second year of calling games. She took a more humorous approach.

"I don't mind having it, but it does take me longer to get ready," Gore said. "I have to wire this thing up, put my makeup on and earrings and now this earpiece."

Gore was able to laugh about it because she is still learning the ropes as an official — despite her father, Brett McCracken, having decades of experience calling games.

She said the technology has helped in the aspect of communicating with the coaches.

"When coaches are asking about calls, I don't have to run on the field and scream questions," she said. "The communication with each other and the coaches is better. It's only my second year so I hadn't gotten used to one way or the other, but I like it."

Hargis said when it comes to talking to the coaches and relaying who the penalty was on, it's the head referee's call to report the guilty party to the appropriate sideline official.

The switch to the wireless communication devices is not without its flaws.

"It's just something else that we have to mess with," Hargis said. "We have a bean bag, a flag, a whistle, a pencil and now we have to key a microphone. If the referee has a stadium microphone, he has to make sure that he doesn't key the wrong one."

The officials also are responsible for keeping up with the radio equipment during the season and, should they misplace it, are responsible for replacing it.

Jones said one hindrance is only having only one earpiece with the radios.

"If there are multiple people talking, all you hear is a garbled mess. The issue I have is keeping the earpiece in my ear," he said. "These are $20 radios. The concern was that someone would be able to hear us or there would be bleed over from someone else (not on the crew)."

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

Mollie DeLozier took her car for an oil change, not expecting the bargain that awaited her.

It was November 2014 and the former University of Tennessee swimmer brought with her a petition, which urged the university to reverse its decision of two weeks earlier to drop the use of the Lady Vols name and logo for all women's sports except basketball.

DeLozier approached the shop's owner, a personal friend, seeking permission to broach her cause while she waited. DeLozier said that they were talking when a man marched up, referenced the clipboard in her hand and asked, "Is this to bring back the name?" No sooner had she said yes that he reached for it and said, "Give me that thing."

He gathered the signatures of everyone in the place.

DeLozier left with a changed attitude, realizing: "It's not just me."

DeLozier's four friends — Raubyn and Donna Branton, Susan Whitlow and Jean Lusardi — reached the same conclusion. At some point, they also had clipboards wrested from their grips.

The petition drive was the most dogged exercise undertaken by the five women and several others to hold the university's attention regarding the Lady Vols restoration cause. It might have been their most effective strategy, too.

Tennessee announced last month that it was restoring the Lady Vols name and logo to all women's sports. At the press conference, first-year Chancellor Beverly Davenport said the sum of the signatures was "powerful." Whitlow said the final tally of the names and addresses gathered in person was 32,688. Online signatures pushed the sum past 40,000.

Whitlow had sent petition signatures to Davenport before she arrived at UT.

Whitlow and Lusardi — two retired teachers who are married and live in Bristol, Tenn. — put considerable time and effort into the petition drive. For three years, Lusardi said, they gathered signatures before and after every Lady Vols home basketball game as well as at halftime. Initially, Lusardi said she was hounded by security personnel at Thompson-Boling Arena, but their presence abated after the first year.

"Sometimes we had four clipboards going at the same time, just passing them out in the stands," Lusardi said.

They did the same drill at the SEC tournament. Lusardi estimated that they covered more than 100 games.

Whitlow conceded to suffering occasional bouts of petition fatigue. But Lusardi always went back for more and she followed.

"And I would get up there on the concourse and the first person would sign it and start talking and my energy would come right back," Whitlow said. "The people truly cared about this."

The people she encountered favored a common reaction to the university's decision. It was so common that she and Lusardi recited it in choral unison: "Why would they do that?"

Why a petition?

Whitlow forwarded the petition signatures to UT President Joe DiPietro, accompanied with a cover letter that she sent to him and other UT officials. The first three installments were sent in large batches of 5,000. She then reduced the total to 500, thereby increasing the frequency of her correspondence.

"I felt like a gnat, just a little gnat, a little fruit fly driving them crazy," Whitlow said, laughing at the image. "I got joy out of that."

Whitlow also got satisfaction out of the petition drive's impact. A child of the 1960s, she thought the exercise was an example of "power to the people" in action.

"It's amazing the number of people who thanked us when they signed it," she said. "It was like a heartbeat. That's how I felt about it."

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Newsday (New York)

 

Center Moriches High School parents are appealing a decision that disqualified the school's girls soccer team from the upcoming playoffs because the team scheduled more than the maximum number of games allowed in a regular season.

Girls soccer teams can play a maximum of 16 games during the season, said Tom Combs, executive director of Section XI, the governing body for Suffolk County high school sports. Combs said the school self-reported the infraction in mid-September after realizing that a Sept. 1 season-opening non-league match against Eastport-South Manor would put it over the limit by the end of its 16-game League VII schedule. The team is 11-4 in league play (11-5 overall) with a final, required, conference game scheduled for Tuesday at Babylon.

"They exceeded the maximum number of games in a season so therefore, the state policy is if you do so, then you are excluded from the playoffs," Combs said, adding that Section XI requires schools to complete their league schedule to compete in the playoffs.

Center Moriches coaches and athletic director Jeremy Thode did not respond to requests for comment.

Two appeals by the school - to Section XI and the section's athletic council, already have been denied, Combs said. An appeal before the executive director of the New York State Public Athletic Association is scheduled for Monday, Combs said.

Parents and players of the Center Moriches team are distraught over the disqualification, with some saying they first learned of the disqualification on Tuesday.

"It sounds almost ridiculous but if the athletic director can't count to 16 and see that we're overcommitted before the season starts," said Renee Passaro, who has a daughter on the team. "I mean, that's just basic counting."

Passaro said the parents reached out to the office of county Legis. Kate Browning of Shirley, and received a response, saying a letter to Section XI to advocate for the players in hopes of the girls not being penalized for an administrative mistake will be sent.

"Understanding that we have three seniors that are graduating, we are trying to make it as positive for them as we can knowing that there are rules in place," Passaro said. "Although we are advocating on their behalf, we don't know how it's going to turn out. They're frustrated and upset and just trying to make the best of their last games."

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The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

 

Even the kids in America's fittest state are too fat to fight their nation's wars, a pro-military nonprofit argues in a new study.

The military has long bemoaned America's tubby youth, and the Council for a Strong America says Colorado is part of the problem, with more than 27 percent of the state's children categorized as overweight.

"Low levels of physical activity and the obesity epidemic are contributing to an unprecedented readiness problem for our armed forces," the nonprofit said.

Those extra candy bars compound a complex problem for military recruiting. Between other health issues, criminal records and other troubles from facial tattoos to drug habits, a full 70 percent of Colorado teens are ineligible for

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The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

 

DENVER — A Denver prosecutor says no charges will be filed following an investigation into videos showing a high school coach pushing cheerleaders down in splits.

District Attorney Beth McCann said in a statement released Saturday there was insufficient evidence to warrant charges after a police investigation.

The former coach, Ozell Williams, was dismissed after the videos became public. An East High School principal retired, and an athletic director resigned.

The recordings were broadcast on KUSA-TV in August, showing eight cheerleaders repeatedly being pushed

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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

The Milwaukee Brewers have joined the growing number of major-league clubs announcing plans to extend protective netting for the 2018 season.

The Brewers on Friday announced plans to "significantly" extend the protective netting on the field level at Miller Park, taking it to the outer edge of the dugouts on both sides.

There was an outcry to extend protective netting at all ballparks after a 2-year-old girl was struck in the face by a foul liner at Yankee Stadium in late September while sitting behind the visiting dugout. Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier hit the line drive in a game against Minnesota that struck the girl, who was treated for several minutes while play was halted.

Players on both teams were shaken by the incident and many said afterward it was time to extend netting in every ballpark to protect fans sitting in the lower levels. Several teams since have announced plans to do so.

The Brewers first extended the protective netting at Miller Park after the 2015 season, to the inside edge of each dugout, which met the standards set forth by Major League Baseball in December 2015.

In an incident at Miller Park in July 2015, a Milwaukee woman in the stands was hit by a foul ball that fractured her forehead, left eye and sinus cavity, and severed a main nerve in her face.

The Brewers are working with engineers and vendors on specifics related to extending the protective netting. The project will be completed in time for the 2018 home opener on Monday, April 2.

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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

CHAPEL HILL — David Ridpath, a professor of sports administration at Ohio University, has dedicated his career to advocating for and studying academic integrity in college athletics, going so far as testifying in front of Congress and serving as an expert witness.

But when the NCAA cleared UNC of wrongdoing on Friday morning, his reaction wasn't one entirely of disappointment the school escaped without punishment.

"I think it's really tough to defend the amateur model, the collegiate model today," Ridpath said. "I think that maybe, where this was talked about as maybe a chance for the NCAA to reassert control over college athletics, maybe this is a blessing in disguise. Maybe we can get away from continuing to do something that isn't working."

The indictment came down long ago, the NCAA alleging several bad actors in UNC's department of African and Afro-American Studies set up a shadow curriculum, designed with the goal of keeping student-athletes eligible with no-show classes and loose grading from a rogue secretary, Deborah Crowder.

Five Level 1 charges in all, including an allegation of lack of institutional control, which has devastated athletics programs from Miami to SMU.

And UNC beat 'em all, save for token punishments to Crowder and Julius Nyang'oro, the former head of the AFAM department.

Now, the indictment has been flipped onto the NCAA and there's an overwhelming amount of evidence to support the case.

Ultimately, UNC got off on a technicality, telling the NCAA it had no business meddling in its academic affairs, and based on the organization's rules, that's true.

"I think that the NCAA was uncomfortable lowering the boom when they couldn't point to an identifiable violation of a specific bylaw that would justify it," said Nellie Drew, a professor of sports law at the University of Buffalo. "UNC was rattling their sabers; they made it very clear that if they got hit with significant sanctions, they were going to court on it. This would be a tough one to defend, because the NCAA is not a state actor; they're subject to private association law."

As a private association, Drew explained, the NCAA is free to institute and incorporate its own laws. The problem here, she said, was that the NCAA had no specific language in its rulebook governing the quality or vigor of academic courses.

Though the NCAA's case against Penn State concerned far more serious subject-matter regarding sexual assaults involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, it did set a precedent when the organization levied serious sanctions against the school, although no specific rules existed regarding the misconduct.

In private association law, Drew said, one of three ways for an organization to be defeated in court is when it doesn't follow its own rules.

"My guess is that they were afraid of the last one, because there's no bright-line rule here that you can point to here and say, 'Oh, UNC broke that rule,'" Drew said.

The implications of the decision could have far-reaching effects throughout college athletics, given that the NCAA's main reasoning for not pursuing sanctions against UNC is that the irregular courses were available to non-athletes, with student-athletes making up just 47 percent of enrollments.

That could open the door for other programs to challenge how the NCAA enforces its rules regarding eligibility. The precedent now exists that, hypothetically, a school could certainly get away with setting up a similar arrangement with a few athletes mixed among non-athletes in order to preserve eligibility.

"This has shown a very clear wedge and openness in the NCAA system of academic eligibility," Ridpath said. "While most everyone knew about it, now it's been clearly advertised and now actually sanctioned as admissible."

Drew agreed that the case sets a unique precedent on that front.

"It leaves the definition of amateurism in the hands of the institutions," she said. "If you're comfortable with having your athletes take classes that have minimal, if any, content as an institution, then that's OK."

And that's fine in Ridpath's mind.

In his estimation, the NCAA has no place legislating initial eligibility, continuing eligibility or transfer eligibility, and schools should have autonomy in terms of admitting and keeping athletes on the roster. Instead, the scrutiny should be pushed inward and let stakeholders in the university determine what they want to be.

"If a school wants to admit who they want and absolutely have no care about the educational primacy for that student," Ridpath said, "and the alums, and the students and the donors and the state government and taxpayers are fine with that, I say so be it. At least it's more transparent than what we have now."

Between UNC's relative victory, the ongoing FBI investigation into college basketball and several other amateurism challenges to the NCAA, the time could be right for challengers to arise.

Today's ruling helped solidify to Ridpath that the amateurism model that is sacred to college athletics has little bearing on fan investment.

"We're going to watch the games regardless, whether the athletes are paid, whether they're not, whether they go to class, whether they don't," he said. "We simply do not care, and the few that do care, they can go do something else because the system proved today that it will survive with things like this going on."

There are any number of proposals available for how to alter the NCAA model, like allowing athletes to profit from their likeness, or scrapping it altogether, like the HBCU league that economist Andy Schwarz proposed.

In Schwarz's proposal, at least 16 cash-strapped HBCUs would break away from the NCAA, with the league funding salaries from $50,000 to $100,000 for the nation's top college basketball players to turn their college experiences profitable.

Ridpath called that proposal a "real possibility" and said the landscape is right for others like it to potentially challenge the NCAA's hold.

"I think we need to give athletes other choices for elite development outside of NCAA athletics," he said. "Then perhaps, we can say to ourselves, 'This is how we're going to run it.' And then if an athlete doesn't want to participate in that space, they have other options."

Contact Brant Wilkerson-New at 336-373-7008.

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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

Wright State University will end its men's and women's swimming and diving programs after the current season even after the teams just narrowly survived recent budget cuts.

Scheduled to be a part of the university's $30.8 million in budget cuts, the swimming and diving program met the June 30 deadline to raise $85,000 to keep the men's and women's teams afloat.

But the university announced Friday it will "not allocate further funding or accept additional external funding to operate the men's and women's swimming and diving teams after this season."

The decision to end the programs after this season was made by the athletics department and the office of Wright State President Cheryl Schrader, according to WSU.

"In the face of adverse financial conditions, many people who love these student-athletes and programs stepped up this summer to make sure they could compete at Wright State for one more year in 2017-18," said Athletic Director Bob Grant in a prepared statement. "But it is clear we are not able to fund operations of these programs after this season. And counting on external funding alone to pay for operations is not sustainable nor is it fair to the student-athletes and their families because of the uncertainty it creates year-to-year."

The university has said it will honor the scholarships of any of the 38 swimmers and divers who elect to remain to finish their degrees and coach Kyle Oaks' contract, which runs through March 2018.

The men's and women's swimming and diving programs have been in existence since 1974, and have competed at the Division I level since 1987. They have combined to win 18 conference championships along with 228 individual and 77 relay titles.

The Raiders have competed at the WSU Natatorium since the program was founded, and the condition of that 44-year-old facility weighed heavily in the decision to cut the swimming and diving programs.

"Our facilities for the most part are wonderful, but any kind of long-term strategic plan we've ever done, we can't seem to find any way to provide a championship-caliber facility for swimming and diving," Grant told this news-aper in May. "A new facility would cost millions and millions of dollars, and in our current situation that's not possible."

Eliminating swimming and diving drops WSU to the minimum threshold of 14 intercollegiate sports to remain a Division I program.

The first meet of the final season is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 28, when the Raiders host Milwaukee.

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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

James Madison University announced Friday that its basketball facility, scheduled to open in the fall of 2020, will be named the Union Bank & Trust Center. The naming-rights deal with Union Bank & Trust extends 10 years for $2.25 million.

Plans for the arena were announced in 2015. Groundbreaking for the Union Bank & Trust Center is scheduled for spring 2018. It will be located on the East Campus, with the cost estimated at $88 million.

The Union Bank & Trust Center will seat 8,500 for basketball and nearly 10,000 for events that involve floor seating. In a school release, JMU athletics director Jeff Bourne said the arena will be "a game-changer for our basketball programs."

The Union Bank & Trust partnership helped JMU reach the $12 million commitment goal established to proceed with construction plans. Fundraising for the project continues.

The Dukes have played since 1982 in the 6,426-seat Convocation Center.

The Union Bank & Trust Center will have a club area, courtside seating with a private hospitality area, state-of-the-art lighting and audio/video technology, a center-hung scoreboard and upper concourse ribbon boards, a student club area, a multipurpose event space, a team store and a Raising Cane's restaurant. A 1,500-space parking deck will be constructed next to the building.

The arena will include a practice gym, offices, academic areas, locker rooms, meeting rooms, a strength-and conditioning area, a sports-medicine area and amenities for the men's and women's basketball programs.

Jonathan Alger, JMU's president, said the Union Bank & Trust Center will be used for graduations, guest speakers, concerts, trade shows, high school sports and other events, in addition to Dukes basketball.

joconnor@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6233

@RTDjohnoconnor

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JMU's 8,500-seat Union Bank & Trust Center is expected to open in the fall of 2020. JMU ATHLETICS JMU's 8,500-seat Union Bank & Trust Center is expected to open in the fall of 2020. JMU ATHLETICS
 
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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

OXFORD — It's been a week since Ole Miss declared the landshark was in as its on-field mascot and Rebel the Bear was out.

With that announcement came some questions. Questions which Michael Thompson, Ole Miss' senior athletic director for communications and marketing, provided some answers to.

Before moving onto the landshark, what happened to the Rebel the Bear uniform? Was it thrown in the trash? Burned? Kept in hiding?

"It'll be in archive," Thompson said.

What, and where, exactly is archive?

"It's a secret place at an undisclosed location," he explained. "We have a lot of things there. I think one of (Johnny Vaught's) old desks is there. Sort of relics."

The university's athletic department is in charge of designing and developing the new mascot, which won't be unveiled until before the 2018 season. The first step in that creation is getting the right people in the room and making sure they're all on the same page.

Thompson said he'll assemble a "landshark launch team" of eight-to-12 people and the group will have its first meeting next week.

"You have to take people who are going to wear this and former mascots, you have to get their opinion," Thompson said. "Because you don't want to make something that doesn't work for what it is intended to do.

"It's not just a Halloween costume. There's a lot of form and function to it. I met briefly with some of the mascots yesterday and one of the questions that was asked was, 'Are we going to have hands?' That's an interesting question that you just don't think about when you're not in that world."

There are also different ways Ole Miss can go with its mascot. Is it supposed to be more Disney-like and cartoonish, sort of like Rebel the Bear was? Or is it going to be an athletic mascot that does stunts, which would require a lighter suit, similar to some NBA mascots?

Once that's decided, Thompson said, it'll take the design and go from there.

"It can go in a million different directions," Thompson said. "We're going to make sure it goes in the right direction, that's the key. In a strategic direction."

What about the mascots? Not the uniforms, but the people who dress up in them. When the landshark was adopted as the mascot, Rebel the Bear's "retirement" was announced effective immediately.

So Ole Miss will be without an on-field, or on-court, mascot for a few months. The people behind mascots will work on other crowd and cheer things.

As for how they're handling the transition?

"They're awesome," Thompson said. "They've been through a lot. When you think about it, a change like this is a big deal."

Along with the mascots, others likely to be involved in the creation process are those who are impacted by the change, such as the cheer squad, production and creative teams, marketing.

There's also the merchandise component to this too. There will have to be the development of officially licensed trademarks, which will supplement the current "fins up" and landshark licensing program Ole Miss already has.

"There are a lot of things at play," Thompson said. "You have everything from literally a costume, which is a lot more sophisticated than people think. It's a pretty intense process. We'll probably do some design here, some base design here then bring in somebody, a company that manufactures these type of things. It has to be a functional thing, it's not just a flat piece of artwork."

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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

Bon Secours will provide athletic trainers for Richmond Public Schools through the end of the school year after the two sides agreed to continue their previously terminated agreement.

The contract was originally ended by Bon Secours in late August as a "strictly business decision." The health system will provide its original number of trainers — five — to the division after cutting its supply to two after the August termination. The original contract, which began in 2014, between RPS and Bon Secours was for $145,000 per year, or $29,000 per trainer.

RPS Interim Superintendent Tommy Kranz said at the time of the termination that school officials weren't given an opportunity to discuss options for the contract before Bon Secours terminated the deal. RPS began exploring contracts with other athletic trainer providers before ultimately coming back to Bon Secours.

"We appreciate the renewed commitment from Bon Secours to provide athletic training services for our teams," Kranz said. "This partnership is an invaluable benefit to our student athletes and we look forward to continuing this relationship in the future."

Kenita Bowers, spokeswoman for Richmond Public Schools, said the division and Bon Secours would not be commenting beyond a joint statement sent to the Richmond Times-Dispatch announcing the renewed agreement.

Athletic trainers help prevent and treat sports-related injuries. At Richmond schools, they work with coaches for sports teams and are not limited to one sport.

Bon Secours provides athletic trainers to a number of other area school districts and organizations, including the Richmond Kickers and the University of Richmond. It has two sports medicine offices in the area — one in Midlothian and the other at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center. The company advertises service to 13 high schools on its website.

"Superintendent Kranz and I had a collaborative discussion about how to best meet the needs of Richmond Public School's athletic programs through our athletic training partnership," said Toni Ardabell, the CEO of Bon Secours Virginia. "I have given him our commitment that Bon Secours will provide athletic trainers through the end of the 2017-2018 school year, and that going forward, we will continue to work collaboratively to review contracts for future years to find a long-term solution that benefits our respective organizations."

jmattingly@timesdispatch.com(804) 649-6012Twitter: @jmattingly306

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)

 

It started with the monotone blast of a vuvuzela.

The wobbly blare of the crude horns, popular at soccer matches, rattled Pamela Smith from her sleep Sunday morning in her apartment in Roanoke's Countryside neighborhood.

"It scared me to death. I didn't know what was happening," said Smith, 35.

She soon knew why: hundreds of youth soccer players, and their families, had arrived in her neighborhood for the first major tournament hosted on new soccer fields at Countryside, just completed by the Roanoke Star soccer club as its home facility. Some of the fields are just across the street from Smith's place at the Sterlingwood Apartments.

The Kroger Cup hosted 80 teams and featured 132 games on multiple sites — with more than 90 of those games played over two days on fields at Countryside. A tournament that size can add nearly $1 million dollars to the local economy over two days, organizers say.

Smith and some of her neighbors saw it as mainly a headache.

She used her phone to record video of the parking and traffic snarl along Highland Farm Road and posted it to Facebook. Likewise, Tuan Reynolds posted a similar video from along Ranch Road, near fields on the northern end of Countryside.

They complained of cars parked erratically, blocking driveway entrances and clogging private parking lots.

The tournament, one of two of its size to be hosted at the soccer fields there annually, was a first test of the facility as home to such an event. Hundreds of on- and off-street parking spaces were available.

And Danny Beamer, executive director of Roanoke Star, said the tournament operated essentially like those the team plays in at similar complexes out of town, but acknowledged the club could improve parking management and is willing to do so. "We want to be good neighbors," he said.

Neighbors, however, claimed vindication for warnings to the city that the soccer fields would generate parking and traffic issues.

"We repeatedly told city council and city administration that the parking and traffic in a neighborhood like ours could not handle soccer tournaments. Of course they will conveniently forget that," said Valerie Garner, president of the Countryside Neighborhood Alliance. "We told you so."

In 2014, the city agreed to lease land in two parts of the former golf course site $100 per year for the Star club to develop fields for practice, weekend games and twice annual tournaments.

The club has spent about $1.5 million on the fields on the way to a total cost of probably $2.2 million, Beamer said, and is still raising money to finish the work. As part of the deal, the city parks and recreation department gets some use of the fields in September and October each year for rec soccer practices and games, though that hasn't happened yet because the fields only recently came into service.

The city discouraged the club from building large parking lots to accommodate tournaments because they would only be needed twice a year and would create unnecessary stormwater runoff, said city Planning Director Chris Chittum. Planners counted about 300 on-street spaces near the fields, not including those in front of private homes. The club ultimately built lots with a total of about 100 spaces.

Beamer and others from the soccer club met with neighborhood groups in the area to tell them about the fields and how they would be used, but that information didn't reach everyone, as neighbors say they weren't prepared for what the tournament presented Saturday and Sunday.

Beamer sent emails to neighborhood leaders before the weekend advising them of the tournament. Still, being the first time for a tournament of this size there, they didn't know what to expect.

"No one told us there would be that kind of concentration," Reynolds said.

Reynolds didn't have parking issues on his street, Mattaponi Drive, but it took him far too long to leave in his car because of the traffic from the tournament.

Smith said cars were parking anywhere they could, in some cases still sticking out into the street.

"They effectively turn the street into a one-way street," she said. Others parked in the apartments' parking lot, she said. She saw players leaving the cars there and going to the fields on Highland Farms Road. Garner heard similar complaints from several neighbors.

Beamer said maps directing people to parking lots, including the old golf course parking lot, and on-street parking - and away from places where they shouldn't park - were sent to all visiting teams at least three times. The map is also available on the tournament website. Signs were posted to warn people away from parking in off limits areas, as well. The club did not, however, hire help to direct traffic.

Chittum noted that many neighborhoods are host to annual or occasional events that block roads — block parties, festivals, parades — and that neighbors should bear in mind that the club is hosting tournaments this size only twice a year.

Roads in the area are wide enough to allow parking on both sides and still have traffic pass going both ways, Chittum said, but if drivers don't park near enough to the curb, flow could be restricted.

If people are parking in private lots, residents or owners should have them towed, he said.

He said the videos by Smith and Reynolds did show people parked improperly on streets and in a field owned by the Roanoke Airport Commission. But those are issues that could be solved with education, he said.

Smith said near her house, the parking and traffic are issues during routine weeknight practices, not just during the tournaments.

"I'm not blaming the parents or the kids. They're told, this is where you play, you go play there," she said. But the whole situation smacks of privilege, she said.

"There is no way they would have this situation in a neighborhood that wasn't predominantly minority," Smith said. It adds insult to injury that the fields are for private use and not open to neighborhood kids, she said.

Beamer, of the Star soccer club, said he understands the frustration, and acknowledged he probably wouldn't be pleased about the same disruption in his neighborhood. But he noted the club has numerous minority and refugee players, underprivileged kids who received a total of $30,000 in scholarships annually, including some who live in the same apartments as Smith.

He's willing to meet with Smith and others to find solutions.

Reynolds and Smith believe with work and vigilance, the parking and traffic issues can be at least made tolerable. They suggested using shuttles to allow off-site parking and people directing drivers to appropriate parking. "I think it can be fixed with a couple of tweaks," Smith said.

Beamer said the club is willing to address concerns and make changes. The tournament was a first experience for them, too, after all.

"We don't want the neighbors upset for sure," he said.

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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

Lafayette has been forced by Section VI to forfeit all of its boys soccer wins, but the Mighty Violets will remain at least co-champions of the Buffalo Public Schools league because it's a title they earned through competition on the field, according to district athletic director Aubrey Lloyd.

Lloyd said Thursday that Lafayette athletes won't be penalized for what he called a paperwork issue by the district that impacted the eligibility of an unknown number of players on the team.

The eligibility problem is a merger that wasn't approved by Section VI that has resulted in the team being stripped of all its victories (nine) and power points used to determine seeding for the coming Section VI Tournament.

"Did the district, did we drop the ball on this one?" Lloyd said. "We're going to do everything in our power to fix it."

According to an email obtained Thursday by The News, the Mighty Violets, who as of Wednesday had a 9-3-2 overall record, consisted of players who not only attend Lafayette High School but also students who attend a school housed within the same building called Newcomers Academy of Lafayette.

According to the email sent by Section VI Boys Soccer Chairman Todd Marquardt to area coaches: "The Section VI Executive Committee denied Lafayette and Lafayette Newcomers combining of schools application. Therefore, Lafayette will participate in Class D as originally scheduled."

Marquardt did not return messages left for him.

Lloyd has already contacted the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association to initiate the appeals process.

"Students were on the team last year, they were part of the Lafayette school," Lloyd said. "I hope the state does not penalize students because adults didn't submit paperwork."

Newcomers Academy is a school for youths who recently arrived in the United States who are still learning the English language. There is also a third school housed within the building called Lafayette International, which was created to replace old Lafayette High School, which is still being phased out, according to district spokesperson Elena Cala.

The enrollment number being assigned to Newcomers appears to have changed what Lafayette had been able to do in the past with athletes in that program. Newcomers Academy at Lafayette received an enrollment BED number for the first time in January, roughly two months after the deadline for schools to submit BED numbers to Section VI for size classification for the 2017 fall season.

Lloyd, who oversees athletics for the second largest school district in the state, said he didn't know there were any potential eligibility issues with the team until Section VI contacted him a month ago.

Lloyd said he asked Violets coach Brad Brodnicki for a roster, and at that point realized the team had players from Newcomers. After reporting it to the section, he was informed he needed to submit a combined program application to the section.

"My coach is a good coach," Lloyd said. "This was not a malicious intent by him. This was not a malicious intent by the district. It was a paperwork snafu."

The players from Newcomers Academy won't be allowed to play with the team during the appeals process. Lloyd said Lafayette will have about 15 players for sectionals.

As a result of the non-approved merger, Lafayette falls back into Class D after being bumped up to Class C.

The Mighty Violets' regular-season finale against Riverside on Thursday was postponed. The makeup date is unknown.

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Times Record News (Wichita Falls, Texas)

 

Following a phone call from the UIL Wednesday, Wichita Falls ISD officials wished to clarify possible confusion changes being proposed to the district's policy on UIL eligibility.


The call came in response to an article first published on the Times Record News website Monday that also appeared in Tuesday's print edition.

For the UIL eligibility rules, attendance zones, physical changes of address, and interdistrict or intradistrict transfers are each handled differently.


"The policy changes that the board is recommending will mirror the UIL constitution's recommendations," WFISD Communications Director Ashley Thomas stated in an email to the Times Record News Thursday.

The proposed policy that was presented at the WFISD Board of Trustees work session Tuesday was reviewed by UIL officials prior to being recommended to the school board, Athletic Director Scot Hafley stated in a subsequent email.

When it comes to attendance zones and UIL eligibility, "the first time a student is officially enrolled in their appropriate attendance zone high school and/or attends an in-season practice, the student shall have established eligibility in that high school for UIL purposes," according to the proposed policy changes.

As long as the student lives in that zone physically and attends that school, they are eligible to play varsity athletics at that high school. If he or she moves residences or elects to transfer to a different school, then additional factors come into consideration for UIL eligibility.

"Right now, when a student does an intradistrict transfer they must sit out for one year (365 days) before being eligible to play," Thomas stated. "With the policy change, students will take their eligibility with them and be eligible to play at the beginning of their freshman year.

"However, if that student transfers back to their assigned attendance zone school they will have to sit out 365 days then."

Thomas gave the example of a current eighth-grader who lives in the Wichita Falls High School attendance zone but wishes to transfer to Rider High School as a freshman.

"I am eligible to play varsity athletics at the beginning of my freshman year," she stated in the example. "However, if I don't make the team and decide to transfer back to Wichita Falls High School, I will have to sit out 365 days before I am allowed to play again."

In the eyes of the UIL, those rules change when the student physically moves to a new address in a different attendance zone.

According to the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules in Subchapter M, Section 400, "an individual is eligible to participate in a UIL varsity contest as a representative of a member school if that individual:... (c) has been in regular attendance at the member school since the sixth class day of the present school year or has been in enrolled and in regular attendance for 15 or more calendar days before the contest or competition (student becomes eligible on the fifteenth day)."

In the proposed WFISD policy change, "if a student moves to another WFISD attendance zone, the student will be ineligible for varsity UIL competition for fifteen days as long as the move was not made for athletic purposes."

Hafley clarified in the email that "it deals with a physical move of address not a transfer."

In the revised policy, a proposed change states that "if the move was made for athletic reasons, it could result in permanent ineligibility."

However, Thomas noted "the district cannot determine if a student is permanently ineligible. That decision is made by a District Executive Committee made up of area superintendents and athletic directors."

Similar factors are weighed into decisions of a student's eligibility for varsity sports when he or she transfers to a WFISD school from another district.

"A student transferring from out of district shall follow the same guidelines for varsity eligibility as students transferring within the district," the proposed policy states. "If eligibility has been established at the district of residence, the transfer will result in a loss of varsity eligibility for one year."

Thomas noted that students transferring into the district who do not live in Wichita Falls must sit out 365 days before being eligible to play.

"However, if somebody moves into the district (lives in Wichita Falls) they are eligible to play right away," she stated.

If approved Monday by the WFISD Board of Trustees, the proposed policy would go into effect for the 2018-19 school year.

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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

BOYLSTON — The Guardians Youth Lacrosse organization is riding high after receiving a grant from the Bill Belichick Foundation earlier this year.

Guardians involves players from Berlin, Boylston and West Boylston, and welcomes Lancaster and Clinton this year.

Art Brand, one of the organizers of the group, said the foundation, in conjunction with STX Lacrose, "offers scholarships or grants (equipment)."

So the Guardians board got together and created a grant request.

Steve Savoie, another board member, said that cost is a factor when playing lacrosse.

"At the younger end, the cost of equipment is prohibitive," Savoie said. "So we submitted a grant request for younger kids, to offset costs."

"Whatever we can do to help a kid (participate), because it's been shown that sports are a huge part of shaping a child's life, and we're passionate about that," Brand said.

The request was one of six programs nationally that were awarded that grant, he said.

"We received 24 full sets of equipment: helmet, stick, shoulder pads, elbow pads, gloves and a goalie set of equipment. And some pinnies (jerseys) as well, in conjunction with Nike, Belichick practice pinnies," Savoie said.

Guardians was awarded the equipment, which is for boys, at the end of last season. It will be given out to U9-U11 players this year, 2017-2018.

The organizers of the nonprofit are proud of their group's approach to the sport, which runs from players ages 4 to 6 up through a U15 group.

The youngest players, in U7, are part of the "fiddle-sticks development program," said Jen Savoie.

Fiddle-sticks players use a miniature lacrosse stick, with no other equipment, and "teaches kids the basics of lacrosse," Jen said. "We focus on fun and sportsmanship. And it's coed."

The small-scale lacrosse sticks cost $18 to $19, said Steve, and "use a softer ball."

Despite the grant being for boys' equipment, girls have become an integral part of Guardians Lacrosse. Eric Rubinow is the director of girls lacrosse.

"Last year was first year of the girls' program, and word on the street is that we may be able to field two or three girls' teams this year," Steve Lavoie said. He said Guardians has about 75 players in the program.

"Probably 14 are girls, and the rest are boys," he said. The majority are in the U9 to U15 teams, which have "60-ish participants."

Guardians is going into its fourth year this coming spring, and has seen steady growth over its first few years.

"The first year we had about 48" kids, Steve said.

That grow is due in large part, Jen said, to youths staying with the program.

"They come back year after year," Jen said. "We get feedback from parents about how the exciting games are. They take about an hour. The year-end survey says all (of the players) plan to come back if they don't age out."

Guardians teams practice at Hillside in Boylston, where they also hold home games. Boys play on the upper field, girls on the lower, primarily on Sundays.

The teams travel to various towns in the league. The boys' program is part of the West Central division of the Mass Bay Youth Lacrosse League (MBYLL), and the girls' team is part of the MetroWest North division of the Mass Bay Girls Lacrosse League. Both leagues are considered "instructional leagues," according to the Guardians website, guardiansyouthlax.com.

For parents concerned with safety, Steve pointed out that the coaches are all trained and certified, including being CORI-checked and receiving concussion training.

Early registration for the spring lacrosse season opens Oct. 15, and can be completed online at guardiansyouthlax.com. Costs vary, depending on age and whether a player is a boy or a girl. There is also a family discount.

"We're offering payment plans this year," Steve said. "We know it can be tough with multiple kids involved."

 

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

A potentially far-reaching lawsuit demanding expensive steps to limit the harm from concussions among high school and junior high athletes cleared a significant legal hurdle Tuesday.

A three-judge panel of the state Commonwealth Court on Tuesday rejected an attempt by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, or PIAA, to have the suit against it tossed out.

The association, whose members include all 500 public school systems in Pennsylvania and 200 private schools, argued unsuccessfully that the association was protected from liability because youngsters face an "inherent risk" when taking part in sports.

But in his unanimous opinion, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. said the suit raised important questions about how coaches and others responded to injured players. The appeals court upheld an earlier ruling by a judge in Lawrence County that cleared the way for plaintiffs' lawyers to gather further evidence.

The lawsuit, brought by a Texas personal-injury firm, was filed on behalf of three teenage students from towns outside Pittsburgh. Two boys suffered concussions while playing football and a girl while diving to catch a softball. Their lawyers hope to win judicial approval to expand the suit to a class-action on behalf of all similarly injured students.

The nonprofit PIAA promulgates rules for high school and junior high teams across Pennsylvania, affecting some 325,000 athletes and 13,000 referees, umpires, and other officials. Its policies regarding concussions are "insufficient and ineffective" to protect younger athletes, the lawsuit claims.

Awareness nationwide has grown dramatically over the last decade about the risk of brain damage from sports, particularly in professional football. But concerns have spread to other contact sports at the college, high school, and even elementary school levels.

In the Pennsylvania suit — the only one of its kind in the nation to challenge a statewide system — the plaintiffs allege that both of the boys had to drop out of high school for months afterward.

Jonathan Hites sustained a "brutal blow" during a 2014 practice, but was told to keep playing — until he vomited on the field and then lost consciousness sitting on the bench, according to the lawsuit.

Freshman Domenic Teolis sustained "multiple severe hits" during a 2012 practice and more head trauma during a game the following day, according to the suit. Several years later, Teolis still suffered from headaches and sensitivity to noise.

The softball player, Kaela Zinagro, suffered a concussion in 2014 after striking her head on the ground as she tried to make a catch, then became nauseous and dizzy, only to have her concerns dismissed by her coach, according to the suit. That evening, her mother had her taken by ambulance to a hospital, where doctors concluded she had sustained a concussion and whiplash, according to the suit.

Rebecca Bell-Stanton, a lawyer for the students, said Wednesday a major issue was a lack of qualified trainers at practices — which she described as chaotic, with players of differing abilities crowding a field. This was in marked contrast to games, she said, when only the best players take the field and are watched from the sidelines by medical personnel.

If the suit prevails, Bell-Stanton said, her hope is that families with injured children would receive money for any medical expenses and that a fund could be created to pay for additional trainers.

Melissa N. Mertz, PIAA's associate executive director, said the issue should be resolved by coaches and parents. "We really think the best decision-makers are the people who see this day to day to day, not an association based in Mechanicsville," she said.

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USA TODAY

 

On Jan. 29, 2016, as Mississippi coaches were preparing for a crucial recruiting weekend just ahead of national signing day, Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports broke the story that the NCAA had delivered a notice of allegations to the school, alleging violations in three sports.

Within minutes, Ole Miss officials including athletics director Ross Bjork, then-football coach Hugh Freeze and other staffers tasked with public relations management went to work, spending significant time that afternoon talking on the phone with reporters, who all reported a similar message: The NCAA's case was largely about women's basketball and violations that happened under Houston Nutt.

Whether that legally amounts to defamation and a breach of the non-disparagement language in Nutt's 2011 separation agreement with Ole Miss will be for the courts to decide. Nutt has filed a second lawsuit — this time in Mississippi state court, after the first try in federal court this year was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds — against Ole Miss on Wednesday, seeking compensatory and punitive damages, attorney's fees and other relief. And who knows how a judge and perhaps eventually a jury will interpret the information as it applies to the law.

But after reading the 46-page complaint, which contains even more specific information than the first, is there any doubt that Nutt's initial request — a public apology — was not only reasonable but well deserved?

Again, from legal perspective, there are contentious facets of this case. Ole Miss will argue that the non-disparagement language applied only to a certain "control group" of people. Moreover, proving that the public narrative in early 2016 had an impact on Nutt's reputation to the point where he couldn't land another head coaching job in college football will not be easy.

But this much is true: Anyone who foisted the idea on members of the media that Nutt or violations from the Nutt era were the central theme of the first notice of allegations did so without regard for the truth.

And Thomas Mars of the Arkansas-based Friday, Eldredge & Clark law firm made a compelling argument that the misleading public relations campaign was done with a sophisticated level of purpose and coordination.

Bjork, in fact, had retained the services of an outside public relations consultant — Brian Curtis, who runs the Atlanta-based Paradigm Four firm, has sort of a niche business in college sports — and the lawsuit details numerous communications with him documented in public records around those key times.

Mars' lawsuit says "two-thirds of AD Bjork's cell phone calls on January 29-30, 2016 were with sports journalists, Coach Freeze, and the three members of the AD's PR team. Ten of those conversations were between AD Bjork and (Kyle) Campbell, the head of PR who reported directly to AD Bjork.... University phone logs show that on a typical day, AD Bjork would have had no more than a few calls with (that group of people)."

The lawsuit then details a play-by-play of phone calls between Freeze, Bjork and other officials in the inner circle correlated with information reported by journalists that day.

There was a 13-minute call between Campbell and ESPN's Chris Low, who later in the day tweeted "I'm told the Ole Miss Notice of Allegations doesn't contain any surprises. Most of it predates Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss knew it was coming." There was a call between Freeze and then-Fox Sports (now Sports Illustrated) reporter Bruce Feldman, who cited anonymous sources in saying "the majority of the allegations stem from women's basketball and track as well as from incidents occurring with the previous Rebels football staff from the Houston Nutt era." ESPN's Ed Aschoff, who had spoken with Bjork that afternoon, wrote in a news story, quoting an anonymous source, "This is a fraction involving our current football staff."

And those are just some of the examples cited by Mars, all either extremely misleading or flat-out untrue.

Neal McCready of Rebel Grove, who had spoken with Freeze a week earlier, tweeted on the day of Forde's report: "The other football-related stuff dates back to the Houston Nutt era. Hearing that stuff is six years old."

On his podcast Thursday, McCready admitted that information came directly from Freeze: "Did we discuss the NCAA case? Yes. Did I ask, 'Hey, what's in it?' Yes. Was I told it was mostly Nutt and women's basketball? Yes. Did I feel misled? Yes. Did it piss me off later? Yes. Was I taking talking points and running? No."

Full disclosure: I exchanged text messages that day with Campbell and reiterated my position that the school should release the NOA publicly and until it did I would remain skeptical that the characterization of the allegations being provided by school officials was complete and accurate.

It simply didn't make sense. If the charges weren't that bad, why not just get them out there publicly?

Well, it turned out we got the answer on the Friday before Memorial Day in 2016, when Ole Miss finally released the NOA. At that point, it became obvious the public relations campaign was a sham, designed to convey the message that the NCAA investigation wasn't going to be a big problem for the school, helping Freeze and staff retain a recruiting class that eventually was ranked No. 7 by Rivals.com.

And now that it's being rehashed, it's a horrible look for Ole Miss.

Moreover, the lawsuit claims that Bjork and Freeze "were the only members of the Athletics Department who were allowed to read the specific allegations in the NOA."

If that's true, and others in the athletics department were deputized to speak to reporters off the record and disseminate false information at the athletics director's behest, that could be a major problem for Bjork.

Ole Miss officials didn't immediately have a comment. Curtis didn't return a phone call from USA TODAY Sports.

Eventually, they'll have their chance to respond to the allegations that they damaged Nutt's reputation. But it doesn't appear for now that Nutt is going to let it go.

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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

ALTAMONT, Tenn. — Five Grundy County High School football players are charged with attempted aggravated rape after an assault on a freshman teammate at the school sometime before 6 a.m. CDT Wednesday.

At a news conference, Grundy County Sheriff Clint Shrum said all five youths, ages 15 to 17, will remain at their homes with ankle monitors pending a court hearing Monday.

Twelfth Judicial District Assistant District Attorney David McGovern said prosecutors have not determined whether they will be charged as adults.

The sheriff said the five — a freshman, three juniors and a senior — are accused of attempting to rape a 15-year-old freshman with the metal handle of a dust mop in the school's football fieldhouse.

Shrum said a total of eight football players, including the victim, went to the fieldhouse at 5 a.m. Wednesday to work out. It's unknown how the boys gained access, he said, but the door was unlocked or blocked open.

Two of those players were in another area of the fieldhouse and have been cleared of wrongdoing. Shrum said one of the boys not charged went to sleep in a coaches room and another was in the fieldhouse film room watching films at the time of the assault.

Shrum and sheriff's office investigators interviewed the students, with at least one parent and the school's principal present, to piece together what took place.

The sheriff described the incident as "disturbing."

"After the workout, a couple of the individuals began wrestling around," Shrum said. "At some point, one of these participants, by their own admission, grabbed a dust mop with a metal handle and began tapping on the leg and the back of the victim. He then passed the dust mop to another individual.

"It was then that the victim was placed prostrate on the floor with his arms pulled behind his back. His shorts were pulled down and the knee of one of the participants was placed across the back of the neck of the victim as this occurred," Shrum said.

"Another participant held the victim's legs while he and a third participant used a metal dust mop handle to assault the victim," the sheriff said. "As this happened, another participant used a phone to record the incident."

Investigators retrieved the cell phone recording of the assault, in which the victim could clearly be heard shouting, "Stop, stop," Shrum said.

Shrum said there were no adults present when the assault happened and none of the boys had permission to be in the fieldhouse at that hour.

The school resource officer and coach reported the incident to the principal at 9:55 a.m. Wednesday and then started pulling students out of classes and conducting interviews, Shrum said.

"At 1 p.m., the SRO realized it was more than he could handle, so he contacted me," Shrum said.

Grundy County hasn't investigated a "hazing" incident that led to charges before, Shrum said, noting that "hazing" isn't a criminal charge. Instead, his office is focusing on elements of the incident that led to the charge of attempted aggravated rape.

Shrum said none of the accused boys appeared to show much remorse in interviews with investigators, apart from concern over being caught.

"We did have a couple of individuals cry," he said.

The five teens will appear before Juvenile Court Judge Trey Anderson on Monday, he said.

The sheriff said people in the community are upset.

"There's a lot of mixed emotions right now. I do not think that there's anyone in the community that does not want to see the right thing done," Shrum said.

Director of Schools Jessie Kinsey did not respond to a call requesting comment on Thursday. Shrum said Kinsey was made aware of the time and place for the press conference but told the sheriff that she "was not allowed to attend the press conference."

However, Grundy County Board of Education Chairman Bob Foster responded via email to a request for comment Thursday evening.

"The recent events involving athletes at the high school are currently under investigation by the district attorney general, the sheriff, and the department of children's services," Foster wrote. "Due to these ongoing investigations, and the involvement of minors, upon the advice of counsel, the board cannot have any comment on the matter. It should be understood that no member of the board has been authorized to speak for the board and any statement by an individual board member should be considered as a private comment for which the member will be personally liable."

Shrum also warned members of the Grundy County community to be careful about any comments they make publicly, because if investigators hear any remarks that sound credible, the person making them could end up testifying about what they know.

Fall break begins today, and students return to school Oct. 23.

WRCB-TV Channel 3 reported that head football coach Casey Tate has been suspended while the investigation continues.

Tonight's football game at Upperman High School in Putnam County is still on with assistant coach Greg Brewer serving as acting head coach, according to Foster's email.

Foster said a special called school board meeting is set for Monday at 6 p.m. CDT at the high school to discuss the school's football program. He said the school board's attorney will be there, too.

The incident in Grundy County is eerily similar to the rape in Gatlinburg that involved a pool cue and three Ooltewah High School basketball players who assaulted a freshman teammate on Dec. 22, 2015. The three former players were found guilty in August 2016, one on aggravated rape charges and two on charges of aggravated assault.

Staff writer Rosana Hughes contributed to this story.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1 on Facebook.

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Copyright 2017 Portland Newspapers Oct 12, 2017

Portland Press Herald

 

Cony and Mt. Ararat high school administrators are investigating an alleged racial incident that took place Sept. 28 during a boys' varsity soccer game in Topsham.

"I'm aware of an issue that came up," Mt. Ararat Athletic Director Geoff Godo said. "The administration at Cony made us aware of it. We take these types of situations very seriously. We are investigating accordingly."

The incident reportedly involved a racial slur directed at one or more Cony players. The team features a number of players from diverse ethnic backgrounds, including Haitian, Iraqi and Czech families.

Brad Smith, superintendent of Topsham-based School Administrative District 75, said Wednesday that the investigation is nearing completion.

"We are still waiting to hear from one or two more students before deciding on what disciplinary action should be taken," he said.

"From our end, we are trying to determine what happened. We are trying to sort everything out.

"I do know that any form of discrimination is unacceptable. We take this very, very seriously. When people make decisions to make discriminatory comments to others, it's completely unacceptable.

"This is a lesson we don't want our high school students to learn, that they can treat people differently based on ethnicity or religious beliefs or their sexual orientation. It's very disappointing."

Godo wouldn't say how many students in his school were involved but acknowledged that a Mt. Ararat soccer player and at least one spectator were being investigated.

"We don't condone these types of comments," he said. "We don't tolerate them. We will investigate them. We are working to find a resolution because this is not the kind of thing anyone wants associated with their community or school. It's unfortunate."

According to the Maine Association of Soccer Officials, no red cards were issued for unsporting behavior. Red cards can be issued for insulting or abusive language and trigger an ejection.

Two yellow cards were given for reckless challenges.

Cony soccer coach Jon Millett declined comment and Vachon would not say what prompted Cony to report the incident to Mt. Ararat. Several phone calls to Cony soccer parents also were not returned.

Karen McCormick, whose son, Simon, plays on the team, said in a Facebook message that she wasn't comfortable discussing the situation but was confident the schools were handling it.

"From what I know the coaches, (athletic directors) and principals are dealing with the issues," Karen McCormick wrote in response to a Facebook message seeking comment. "I trust it will be taken care of."

In a Sept. 28 Facebook post to the Cony boys' soccer page, Millett praised his team after the game.

"I'm proud of our guys tonight of the way they played through a multitude of adversity," Millett wrote.

"Like life, there were many things like fans and refs we couldn't control and despite this the boys persevered as a team to the end."

Smith, the schools' superintendent, said there are ultimately lessons to learn.

"This is serious and it will be dealt with," he said. "Discrimination of any kind is flat-out off limits."

 

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Copyright 2017 The Arizona Daily Star. All Rights Reserved.

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

 

Chad Berman didn't need to remind his players to bring their skates and sticks to practice this week.

That wouldn't be necessary. There would be no pucks, either. And no ice at all.

Instead, the Arizona Wildcats' club hockey coach — and his team — spent the week on the artificial grass field that borders the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility.

"We're a qualified soccer team," Berman joked, as he watched his players kick around soccer balls at the end of Tuesday's practice.

There is one usable ice surface in Tucson — inside Tucson Arena.

But "Disney on Ice" and a pro bullriding event are scheduled for the next two weeks, and the American Hockey League's Tucson Roadrunners are a week into their season. The Wildcats are, frankly, out of luck. They'll hold just one on-ice practice in their next nine games.

The Roadrunners often travel to Phoenix to train; the Wildcats don't have that luxury.

"They've got a different budget," Berman said. "It's just a different challenge for us. We have our positives here, too."

Their hot start is one of them.

Arizona opened the season with a win over Grand Canyon before knocking off Arizona State both at home and on the road.

The Wildcats have risen to No. 16 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association poll. They'll travel to AZ ICE in Gilbert starting Thursday for three "home" games against Missouri State and Arkansas. The puck drops at 7 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, and at 1:15 p.m. Sunday.

Berman says the Wildcats' style is tough for opponents to prepare for.

"We play at a fast pace, and I think that's tough for teams to get used to with or without the puck," Berman said. "Our hockey sense has drastically improved, and I just think the buy-in of our group is different."

Eleven skaters have already scored for the Wildcats this season, and the team isn't even at full-strength health wise.

The balanced approach is a change from last season, when then-senior Brian "Toppie" Hogan produced a bulk of the team's offensive output. Orion Olsen, a forward in his third year with the team, has been impressed with the collective aggressiveness of the team.

"Everybody is giving it their all, and the team is jelling together," Olsen said. "The lines are playing well."

Now comes the tricky part: The Wildcats must maintain their momentum without the benefit of ice time. Players intend to stay active, even if it means just kicking around soccer balls. The physical activity may not affect their hockey directly, but it aids in both injury prevention and team-building.

"We're just trying to get some cross-training in," Olsen said. "We do all sorts of kinds of stuff."

All three of Arizona's games this weekend qualify as league games. A positive weekend could put the Wildcats in the early driver's seat.

For now, Berman is pleased with how his team is making it work.

"We haven't played close to our best game, and we're winning," Berman said. "If you can learn lessons and win that's a good thing."

 

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Copyright 2017 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

SALT LAKE CITY — The National Football League continues to tweak its rules in an effort to curb injuries, and yet the injuries keep coming. Is it possible the league has failed to identify or recognize the real culprit? (Hint: drugs.)

First, the carnage: Even by the NFL's gladiator-like standards, last weekend was brutal. Americans are used to it, but imagine the reaction of someone watching football for the first time Sunday when the games were stopped repeatedly so another body could be carried or helped from the field.

The league's best and most visible player, J.J. Watt, sustained a broken leg in Game 5 — this after missing the last 13 games of 2016 with a back injury. The team's other defensive end, Whitney Mercilus, also left the game with a torn pectoral muscle and is out for the year.

The league's best tight end, Travis Kelce (sorry, Rob Gronkowski), was knocked out of the game with a concussion.

The league's most talented receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., broke an ankle. He was one of three Giants receivers to leave Sunday's game with an injury (three of the four are out for the year). The Giants have one healthy receiver still standing.

Injuries also claimed Bilal Powell, Chris Conley, Lane Johnson, Kevin King, DeVante Parker, Haloti Ngata, Terrance West, Charles Clay, and both of the Bengals' cornerbacks, Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones.

This doesn't even count all of Sunday's injured, nor the players who already were injured, among them Eric Berry, Tyler Eifert, Jaguars receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson, quarterbacks Sam Bradford (just returned to action), Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr, star cornerback Josh Norman, Packers running back Ty Montgomery and his backup Jamaal Williams, rookie star running back Dalvin Cook, Falcons' receivers Mohamed Sanu and Julio Jones, the Seahawks' rising young running back Chris Carson, Cowboys star linebacker Sean Lee, and Gronkowski.

In recent years, the league has adopted rules designed to offer more protection to the players - targeting penalties, quarterback slides, banning the hitting of defenseless players, launching and head shots, etc. There has even been talk of eliminating the three-point stance.

But football has been played the same way for decades. The only thing that has changed is the players. They have gotten much bigger, and that is a difficult problem for the league to address.

The Associated Press reported that in 1970 there was only one 300-pound player in the NFL. There were still only three of them in 1980, but then their numbers increased dramatically — 94 in 1990, 301 in 2000, 394 in 2009 and 532 when training camp opened in 2010. In a study of NFL draft picks conducted by Alex Bresler for Aragorn.org, the average weight of NFL offensive and defensive linemen in 1970 was 253. Business Insider reported that the average NFL offensive lineman in 2015 was 312 pounds, and that among the 159 who started at least four games the previous year only 23 weighed less than 300 pounds and 39 weighed at least 320.

This far outstrips the growth rate for the American population. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that since the 1980s and early 1990s, Americans have added 15 pounds, but are no taller.

Not only are players heavier, they are faster. Now place them on the harder (and, hence, faster) synthetic turf and you have human missiles. It's physics — mass x acceleration = force on an object. Players have essentially outgrown the game and shrunk the 100-yard x 531?3-yard field. They cover much more turf than they used to, and they hit harder.

So, the question: How have players gotten so big? Yes, training protocols have improved, but it's difficult to believe that performance-enhancing drugs aren't a huge factor. Human growth hormone and anabolic steroids build muscle and create heavier and faster players.

If you're one of those who repeat the party line — But most of them pass the drug tests, so they must be clean — then you haven't been paying attention. PED users rarely get caught (Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones never failed hundreds of drug tests). Former players report wide use of doping in football (in 2005, Jim Haslett estimated half the league was taking PEDs in the 1980s, and in 2015 Bleacher Reporter quoted a player saying "HGH is the big problem. For the past four or five years, the league has been almost overrun by HGH.").

It doesn't make sense that track and field athletes, cyclists and even baseball players have been busted for PEDs so frequently and yet relatively few NFL players fail a drug test. Football players have the most to gain from PEDs given the premium placed on size.

As New York Yankees co-owner Hank Steinbrenner once said, "I don't like baseball being singled out. Everybody that knows sports knows football is tailor-made for performance-enhancing drugs. I don't know how they managed to skate by. It irritates me. Don't tell me it's not more prevalent. The number (of dopers) in football is at least twice as many. Look at the size and speed of those players."

In 2014, the NFL bragged of its revised testing procedures, but an anonymous player told Bleacher Report, "The new testing procedures aren't catching anyone, because players know there is almost no way to get caught."

The NFL does not meet the strict standards of the World Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees the Olympic sports. Instead, the NFL oversees its own testing program. Penn State professor Charles Yesalis, an anti-doping expert, likens that to the fox guarding the hen house.

"They put in place something that gives them plausible deniability without hurting what their customers want," Yesalis told The San Diego Tribune. "... This is all about business..."

WADA CEO Travis Tygart told the Tribune it was a conflict of interest — "It's hard to police and promote at the same time."

If the NFL really wants to get serious about doing more to protect its players' health short of turning the game into a flag league, it would turn its testing over to WADA and let the organization apply the same rigorous standards it does to Olympic sports.

Email: drob@deseretnews.com

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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

This time of year, you can't avoid all the lawn signs that have sprouted along thoroughfares in Chesapeake. They dot plenty of grassy frontage, and hawk everything from political office-seekers to open houses to the upcoming Chesapeake Wine Festival.

Candidates' signs should come down, mercifully, after Nov. 7. (I even saw Mayor Alan Krasnoff, who's running for the more-lucrative post of clerk of the circuit court, erecting some large placards with his supporters in Great Bridge on Wednesday.)

One local businessman, though, has thumbed his nose at local regulations covering where the signs can be placed. Ryan Mosher, owner of two Your Time Fitness locations in Chesapeake, displays a businesslike, calculating approach by throwing them up everywhere — and gladly paying any resulting fines.

That tack stinks.

The Pilot's Katherine Hafner reported he has paid more than $2,000 in fines. Volunteers with a city program have taken down 1,400 of his signs since 2014, including more than 700 last year.

The city of Chesapeake has gone to court to try to stop Mosher from planting the advertisements on city property. The Circuit Court issued an injunction — a civil directive — against the business. He's been held in contempt of court three times, too. Between the civil penalties and violations of the injunction, he's been fined more than $3,000.

The recalcitrance surprises Jan Proctor, the city attorney. "It is unusual, in my experience, for a business to violate an injunction and be held in contempt three times," she told me through a spokesman.

That's legalese for: Enough already!

I drove through Great Bridge and Greenbrier early Wednesday and saw at least two of the store's signs. It wasn't immediately clear whether they were on public rights of way, though.

You would think Mosher's gym is the only place to go in Chesapeake, or that every resident wants to join a fitness center. That's simply not true.

I left voicemail and email messages for Mosher. He hadn't returned them by mid-afternoon Wednesday.

The gym owner has previously told The Pilot the fines are just the cost of doing business, and he tries to post his signs in shopping center parking lots. Mosher told my colleague that, since the court proceedings began, he has tried to stay off city rights of way.

Officials from nearby cities said no local business owner has approached the plethora of pitches that Mosher has installed.

Julie Hill, a Virginia Beach spokeswoman, told me Wednesday the city has been fortunate. "We've had very few repeat offenders," she said. A Portsmouth spokeswoman said something similar.

Imagine: What would it look like if each shopkeeper inundated the streets of Chesapeake the way Mosher has? That would mean every barber and beautician, every print shop and restaurant, would place hundreds of these signs up around the city. Such an approach becomes unsightly and annoying.

Volunteers with the Sign Sweeper program can only do so much at playing "whack a mole," too. It's clear Mosher factored that into his calculations.

The city has said it's found fewer illegal signs for Mosher's fitness centers recently. Maybe the message is getting through.

If not, officials should exercise the city's muscle and hike the cost of doing business. Don't encourage these endless eyesores on public property.

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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

The owners of the Sheraton at the Falls hotel in Niagara Falls have been shut out of state incentives for their $20 million water park project, but local agencies are not holding back.

The Niagara Daredevil Waterpark was awarded a $1 million grant Wednesday from the newly created Tourism Target Zone Fund, overseen by the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.

That's the same agency that granted the project a 12-year package of tax breaks last month, valued at $6.6 million.

Next week, the Niagara County Legislature is expected to vote on a low-cost hydropower allocation for the project.

Empire State Development, a state agency, has declined to assist the DiCienzo family, owners of the Sheraton, with the water park. The state agency chose Uniland Development to create a competing water park, to be called Wonder Falls, nearby at the former Rainbow Centre Mall.

The DiCienzo family already operates a water park atop a parking garage that serves two hotels the family owns in Niagara Falls, Ont. NFNY Hotel Management, the DiCienzos' U.S. company, intends to construct Niagara Daredevil next to the Sheraton, on a now-vacant lot the company is to buy from the city for $189,262.

DiCienzo said the project is to be completed by the end of 2019. It would create an estimated 25 full- and 35 part-time jobs in what is projected as a year-round attraction.

On Sept. 25, NFC Development Corp., the City of Niagara Falls' economic-development agency, approved a $300,000 grant to Niagara Daredevil.

NFNY Hotel Management had asked for $3 million from the tourism fund, which would have depleted it. The state-funded account, created in June, is meant to assist new businesses within two miles of Seneca Niagara Casino.

NCIDA counsel Mark J. Gabriele said the fund's rules limit it to paying for 5 percent of a project, and the money is paid only to reimburse actual costs.

"Not a dime until the project is done," he said.

NCIDA board member Joan G. Aul voted against the grant.

"We're giving one-third of the fund to a project that would get done without our fund," Aul said.

"Absolutely not. If we didn't need assistance, it would be built (already)," owner Michael DiCienzo said.

He said he's just filed his third application for aid from Empire State Development, seeking a $2 million grant for the water park.

"It's never too late to do the right thing," he said.

DiCienzo said he also intends to seek incentives from the New York Power Authority.

Also Wednesday, the NCIDA board chipped in for another Niagara Falls project backed by the city: a microbrewery and 10 market-rate apartments in what are now vacant buildings at 320-324 Niagara St.

The board tapped the target zone fund for $155,000 for the 7,500-square-foot brewery, to be operated by Community Beer Works, on the ground floor of the buildings. It's the first brewery in the Falls in at least 75 years, and is projected to create nine full- and nine part-time jobs.

The apartments will be placed on the two upper floors.

The city previously provided two grants totaling $200,000 toward the $3.4 million project by Savarino Cos. and Buffalove Development.

Construction is scheduled to begin in January and be completed by July.

The NCIDA board also approved $50,000 from the fund for Merani Hotel Group's $1 million proposal to build an outdoor ice rink at Rainbow Boulevard and First Street. During the summer, the hotelier intends to make the lot a staging area for hot air balloon rides and outdoor movies.

Merani Hotel responded to a city request for proposals for a vendor to offer skating and other recreational opportunities on that lot. Susan C. Langdon, NCIDA project manager, said the city has not yet awarded the bid to Merani, but negotiations are ongoing.

The tourism target fund also will allocate $37,666 toward a $113,000 feasibility study, to be completed by Nov. 30, regarding construction of a new arena and convention and concert venue in downtown Niagara Falls. The County Legislature and the City Council previously approved matching amounts for the study.

The proposed new multiuse facility would offer some of the same uses as the former convention center, which was converted into the Seneca Niagara Casino in 2002.

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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

Washington coach Chris Petersen has moved on from the debate over Pac-12 After Dark, those late-night televised conference games that end in the wee hours on the East Coast.

But it's worth noting he did bring up a topic that's been debated on the West Coast for some time. Some say those late TV games are a great showcase for the Pac-12, while others say it's tough on the players.

Some, like Petersen, wonder if it's actually hurting teams to start so late when it comes to exposure. And, by extension, many wonder if it impacts things like postseason awards: After a long day of Saturday football games, are Heisman voters staying up late enough to see the league's stars like Washington State's Luke Falk or Stanford's Bryce Love? Last week, Petersen addressed a series of late starts for the Huskies - who have not started a game before 5 p.m. local time this season — and apologized to fans.

"It hurts us tremendously in terms of national exposure. No one wants to watch our game on the East Coast that late, and we all know it," he said.

The issue was amplified in a not-so-good way over the weekend when Kirk Herbstreit said on ESPN's "College GameDay" that Petersen "should be thanking ESPN for actually having a relationship."

Petersen tried putting the mini-controversy behind him this week. The Huskies play Arizona State on Saturday night, and yes, it's a late kickoff.

"I don't have any more thoughts on this. I spoke my piece," Petersen said. "I'm on to Arizona State and that's really how it is."

The reality is that the league has a 12-year, $3 billion contract with ESPN and FOX. Good West Coast teams, like No. 5 Washington, are going to get those late national time slots because there's no other competition for them.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said member schools have to accept late kickoffs as the trade-off for increased exposure and revenue. He was at California's game at Washington, which started at 7:50 p.m.

"The night games rate better than the day games," Scott said. "So what tends to happen is, the better you do the more attractive you are for TV and the more you're going to get scheduled in the night."

USC coach Clay Helton said Tuesday that he accepts the entertainment/business aspect of it all.

"The whole thing about college football is we are TV-driven," he said. "As a coach, I've never worried about things I can't control. There's sometimes we're going to play at 12 o'clock, and sometimes we're going to play at 7:30. You just prepare your team for those different situations."

It's not a new issue. The Pac-12 CEO Group made up of presidents and chancellors from its member schools approved a recommendation last year to modify the league's agreement with ESPN and FOX to reduce the number of Pac-12 Network night games with a start of 7 p.m. or later.

"The Pac-12 has some of the most loyal fans in college athletics and we appreciate our television partners working with us on this important issue for fans," Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement.

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USA TODAY

 

The announcement came down from the NCAA on Wednesday, full of sharp-looking graphics, bullet points and buzzwords. Indeed, some real heavy hitters have signed on to its latest in-house attempt to clean up college basketball.

From former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to former Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley to Grant Hill and John Thompson III, nearly every sector of the uncomfortable relationship between big-time college basketball and higher education will be represented, trying to come up with ways to reform the sport in the wake of a sweeping FBI investigation into the sport's seedy underbelly.

"We must take decisive action," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a release. "This is not a time for half-measures or incremental change."

Let's hope he's telling the truth. Because the typical NCAA way, the one that led college basketball to this still burgeoning scandal, is to form a blue-ribbon panel exactly like this one, talk about the issues, then come up with a package of "reforms" that win a 24-hour public relations victory but amount to almost nothing in changing the culture of a broken system.

"Not sure when's the last time they did anything meaningful," one high-major coach texted USA TODAY Sports.

This time, the question for the NCAA and its all-star committee will be simple: Can they handle the truth?

Because unless the following things are addressed in a meaningful way, this committee will be nothing more than a photo op for Emmert and a bunch of college presidents who are typically clueless about the athletics enterprises they are supposed to oversee.

Ownership of the grass-roots basketball industry.

Loosening of agent rules.

An overhaul of the NBA draft system.

Name, image and likeness rights.

Let's address these one by one.

First, my advice to this panel would be to start from the fundamental position that ceding control of the grass-roots system to shoe companies simply does not work. Giving Nike, Adidas and Under Armour full control of the primary feeder system for college basketball primarily serves those who form teams that travel across the country all summer playing in tournaments where the basketball is generally poorly coached and not particularly meaningful to development.

Not only are these "coaches" being paid by the shoe companies to put these teams together, but they often serve as middlemen in the recruiting process, where a lot of the backroom deals get made.

Certainly, there is an upside to the system. Every summer, there are a number of overlooked and underrecruited players who take advantage of the exposure in these tournaments and get scholarship offers they didn't have before. As Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin told me last week, "I've seen many young guys that didn't have any opportunities; all of a sudden they play one tournament and get a scholarship."

He also believes doing away with the so-called AAU system would disproportionately hurt players from inner-city schools.

That's a fair point, but it's high time for the NCAA, and perhaps even the NBA, to take some ownership of and responsibility for the system that develops their prospects. If you want to clean it up, there's no other option.

Second, Kentucky coach John Calipari was 100% right last week when he told FanRag Sports that players should be able to hire agents and pointed to college baseball, where drafted high school players can have agents negotiate contracts but still retain their eligibility if they decide to go to college.

"They don't need a new model because there's already a model in place," Calipari said.

But why not take it one step further? Everybody who has been around college basketball understands that the most difficult part for the NCAA or college coaches to police is that agents recruit players while in college, typically offering financial incentives in exchange for the promise of hiring them when they turn pro.

While states have put various agent laws on the books, the reality is you can only stop those kind of under-the-table agreements by making them legal and public. If an agent wants to loan a player and his family money to form that agreement before or while in college, make them sign a binding contract and declare it. Poof! You've turned an under-the-table scandal into a legitimate transaction that everybody understands.

Third, eliminating the NBA's "one-and-done" rule — which, again, is the NBA's collectively bargained rule and not the NCAA's — is a good start. But it doesn't go far enough. While a number of people have championed the college baseball model, where a player either goes pro out of high school or is bound to be in college for three years, that's thinking too small.

How about something closer to the hockey model instead? In essence, let players enter the draft whenever they want, whether it's out of high school or any of their college years, but they can do it only once. No matter where they get picked, the team that drafts them owns their rights for the next four years. Then it's up to the NBA franchise, the player and his family to collectively decide the best course of development, whether that's playing at Duke or Kansas for two years or signing a pro contract and going to the G-League. That lessens the risk and pressure on all sides of the equation and gives the NBA team and the college a stake in the players' development.

Fourth, and finally, it's way past time for the NCAA to give ground on name, image and likeness rights. Though the NCAA has waged an expensive and lengthy court battle to maintain the system, there's been more and more openness at the athletics director level to figuring out a way to make it work. Is that a pure Olympic model where college athletes can go get their own marketing deals? Is it some sort of group licensing arrangement where players who graduate have some sort of lump sum payment waiting for them? Is there some sort of hybrid that can allow college athletes the opportunity to capitalize on their popularity (many of them at the height of their marketability) but avoid turning it into a recruiting free-for-all?

These are not going to be easy discussions, but it's time for the NCAA to have them. And perhaps the committee Emmert put together is smart enough and bold enough to look at the issues honestly and without any fealty to the false prophet of amateurism, an idea that can mean whatever the NCAA wants it to mean.

Until proved otherwise, however, history tells us this will be another do-nothing panel of high minds and big egos who would rather say they tried to save the sport than do what's necessary to really change it. We can only hope this time the FBI has scared them straight; hope they can finally handle the truth.

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Copyright 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

RIO RANCHO — Sitting in the first few rows of the bleachers at Rio Rancho High School's basketball gym on Tuesday afternoon were several Rams basketball players, oohing and aahing as Jachai Simmons put on a bit of a post-practice dunk show for them.

The University of New Mexico's 6-foot-7 junior college transfer didn't disappoint after the Lobos' hour-plus practice at the high school — the first of three this month at metro-area high schools.

On the other side of the gym, the Rams coach, Wally Salata, was enjoying the show, too, but he was keeping his oohs and aahs to himself.

"For me as a coach, I had goosebumps seeing them walk off the bus and seeing them walk into our gym," Salata said. "It's giving our community and this school an opportunity to see a Division I program come practice. You see them play, but you never get to see the work they put in behind the scenes like this. For me, I'm excited to see what things I pick up."

While a good amount of Salata's roster was at Rams football practice — the bulk of his frontcourt makes up the football team's huge receiving corps — he said he can't wait to get them all together to go over what he learned Tuesday.

"My guys are over there watching the dunks and how high guys jump," Salata said. "I'm looking at drills right now and this shell drill (going on as he spoke with a reporter), we try to teach that as well, but I'm picking up some things we'll be using this year."

The Lobos will also hold open-to-the-public practices at La Cueva on Oct. 17 at 3 p.m. and at Albuquerque High School on Oct. 24 (a time has not been set).

First year UNM coach Paul Weir said bringing the Lobos to the community, rather than waiting for the community to come back to them after attendance has dipped in recent years, has more than just a basketball component.

"It's helping UNM in admissions, too," Weir said. "We're doing what we can to thank all the students we can who go to UNM (from here and the other high schools we're visiting)."

As for the practice itself, Weir said the team went pretty hard on Sunday and Monday and Tuesday, while it was a full practice and did start with some physical, loose-ball drills, was devoid of much scrimmage-type drills pitting players against one another.

"I think it's exciting to get out in the community and show people we still care," said Lobos senior forward Sam Logwood. "... And just playing in a different gym should help us in the long run."

THE NEW DUNK CHAMP: Logwood, winner of past UNM dunk competitions at the Lobo Howl preseason event, which was shelved this season, has gladly handed over the crown as the team's best dunker even without an official competition taking place.

Logwood could hardly let a reporter finish the question about who was the team's best dunker before he answered.

"Jachai Simmons by far. By far," said Logwood, who has also said he's felt like he's in the best shape of his life this offseason and dunking as good as ever.

Nevertheless, he knows how much of a high flyer his new teammate is.

"Yeah, he's got me. No question," Logwood said. "It's all right, though. I'll take second."

HE SAID IT: Weir knows the team has a tough task in front of it this season, but he likes — really likes — what he is seeing.

"I've been doing this for 13 years," Weir said. "I've been very lucky to be a part of nine championships now and six or seven NCAA Tournaments. I've never been around a team that has worked this hard and been this together on Oct. 10. Now, does that mean we'll be there on Nov. 10? I don't know. That's part of our challenge. But, so far, the buy in, the commitment, the work ethic, the team chemistry has been exceptional.... It's encouraging."

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Copyright 2017 Bangor Daily News

Bangor Daily News (Maine)

 

A Bath man who sued Bath Iron Works alleging the company illegally fired him for continuing to coach basketball at Morse High School while on medical leave from the shipyard has settled his case.

Brian Bennett, a planning tech at BIW and head boys basketball coach at Morse High School, filed suit in February in U.S. District Court against the company, which is owned by General Dynamics, charging the shipyard with violating the Maine Human Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Bennett said by phone Wednesday that he could confirm a settlement had been reached "in principle," but could not comment further until it had been signed.

BIW spokesman David Hench did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bennett argued that BIW illegally fired him after he took medical leave in 2016 for treatment of bipolar disorder at the recommendation of his psychiatrist. The company accused him of fraud and "job abandonment" after a private investigator found he continued to coach basketball during his leave from BIW.

Bennett's psychiatrist recommended he continue coaching to prevent a symptom of bipolar disorder, social isolation, according to court files.

The company said in its response to a Maine Human Rights Commission complaint filed by Bennett that it "is not the standard in the medical community" to determine that Bennett was unable to work at BIW but was able to continue coaching.

Bennett's suit sought a jury trial and asked for back pay, lost future earnings, compensatory and punitive damages, and that Bennett be reinstated in his job.

It also asked that the jury require BIW to mail a letter to each of its 6,000 employees informing them of the verdict, that the company post notices of the verdict in workplaces, and that a ruling enjoinder BIW from future acts that the suit alleges were illegal.

In a written statement in June, a shipyard spokesman said, "Mr. Bennett represented to BIW that he lacked any capacity to continue his job as a fabrication planner, but at the same time continued to work in a paid position as a high school varsity basketball coach. BIW ultimately declined to excuse Mr. Bennett's absences from work, based on his demonstrated capacity to work."

The shipyard's statement noted that "employment decisions are guided by federal and state law, as well as the collective bargaining agreements covering those employees, like Mr. Bennett, who are represented by a union. Mr. Bennett was treated in compliance with the law and the applicable collective bargaining agreement."

In a response filed in court, BIW lead attorney Ernest J. Babcock said Bennett's claims are without merit, and denies, among other allegations, that Bennett "sought social isolation because of his illness." The company admits in the filing to hiring a private investigator "to investigate its good faith suspicion that [Bennett] had misused the leave of absence."

On Friday, attorneys notified the court that a settlement had been reached and the case would be dismissed, according to court documents.

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Copyright 2017 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

As a boy dancer, Kaiden Johnson put up with more than his share of teasing and bullying. But he never got out of step with his passion, and as a freshman, he made the varsity dance squad at Superior High School.

Then came the Lake Superior Conference Dance Championships in neighboring Duluth, Minn., where he faced an unexpected new challenge.

Already in costume, warmed up and waiting to take the floor with his team last December, Johnson was told the judges wouldn't let him dance because he's a boy. That's the rule at the Minnesota State High School League, the governing body for high school sports. As a border town, Superior High belongs to a Minnesota-based conference.

"I felt useless," he told the lawyers now representing him. "All that work I put in was wasted."

Maybe not.

On Tuesday, those same lawyers from Pacific Legal Foundation delivered a letter to the MSHSL demanding it change its girls-only policy for competitive dancing, or get sued in federal court.

The letter calls the rule unconstitutional discrimination based on sex and a violation of Johnson's right to equal protection.

"Some boys prefer dance to football, and there is no reason to prohibit them from participating in their chosen sport except for outdated stereotypes about who should be competing in which sports," the letter reads.

"The rules that MSHSL has adopted perpetuate insidious sex-based stereotypes, lending credibility to Kaiden's bullies by suggesting that girls, but not boys, should dance. You make the fact that dance is girls-only sport a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Johnson's mother, Miranda Lynch, told the Pacific Legal Foundation that her son showed a passion for music and dance when he was still he diapers.

"Ever since he was a baby, it's just been something that's always been a part of him."

Johnson started lessons at age 5 and said he knew right away it was what he wanted to pursue. He has studied tap, ballet, jazz and now does kick and pom with the Superior team.

On a video Pacific Legal Foundation made about his case, he says he knows boys in Minnesota who would dance if they could, and that he hopes his challenge may open the door for them.

The director of the MSHSL did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

In May, an official with the Minnesota High School Dance Team Association told a local television station that the rule against boys on girls teams was a vestige of the early adoption of Title IX and meant to protect girls on their new teams.

Changing the rule might not be that easy, the official said then, because girls-only teams count to balance boys teams under Title IX.

Pacific Legal Foundation is a California nonprofit that advocates for property rights and individual rights. It recently represented owners of a St. Croix County vacation cabin in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Its letter to the MSHSL sets a Nov. 3 deadline for the organization to change the girls-only rule before Pacifica will "pursue all available options."

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

 

CHAPEL HILL — How could Alexis Amato have predicted this? Then a junior on the UNC-Chapel Hill rowing team, Amato didn't think it mattered that she missed the team's social media training for a class. She could make it up later, she thought.

Then she got a phone call from one of her teammates.

"Alexis, the meeting had a lot of your stuff in it," her teammate said. "You need to do something about this. I don't know what's going to happen."

A slideshow presented to the team included tweets Amato had posted in high school, where she jokingly included expletives. Amato stopped using Twitter once she went to college. She had forgotten those tweets existed.

Amato was humiliated and frightened. For all she knew, she could be dismissed from the team. She immediately texted her coaches and set up a meeting. UNC takes an educational approach to social media, so Amato apologized to her coaches and deleted the tweets. But the scare made her triple-check everything she had posted.

"I don't want people to see this the wrong way and think of me in a certain light," she said. "And I know I was using those words in a funny way, but when they are on social media, it's totally in a different context."

College athletes across the country have lost job opportunities, scholarships and even their place on a team over social media posts. But it's not all negative. Effective social media use can build relationships and open doors to opportunities. To prepare athletes for navigating the digital landscape, colleges need to teach the risks and rewards, said Laura Tierney, the founder of The Social Institute, a Durham company that advises students on social media use.

"It's having this tool that could be an amazing tool, or it could be as terrible as having like a loaded gun in your pocket, because it can destroy your life," Tierney said.

Rap tweet's consequences

On May 29, 2010, then-UNC football player Marvin Austin forever changed how all student-athletes approach social media in one tweet: "I Live in club LIV so I get the tenant rate... bottles comin like its a giveaway."

The tweet, a quote from a song by rapper Rick Ross, drew the NCAA's attention to Austin's Twitter account, where a number of other tweets alluded to potential NCAA bylaw violations. The postings led to investigations that uncovered an academic scandal from which UNC is still recovering. The NCAA reprimanded UNC for failing to thoroughly monitor its athletes' social media accounts, among other things.

"Any time you have serious issues like that, it makes you look at how you're doing," said Paul Pogge, an associate athletics director at UNC. "And one of the things that was realized as an area for improvement was working with student-athletes on social media and how they express themselves on social media."

After the crackdown on UNC, other colleges began adopting social media restrictions. Some teams banned players from social media altogether, including Clemson football, Minnesota men's basketball and Connecticut women's basketball.

Wes Gay, an associate at the Allen Norton & Blue law firm who wrote a paper on the issue while in law school, said the social media bans instituted at some public universities could potentially violate athletes' First Amendment rights.

But no athletes have challenged the restrictions in court.

"As soon as that person did that, it would probably be the end of his or her career for the student-athlete," Gay said. "It would require a real unique individual who was willing to jeopardize their athletic eligibility, which is usually for these people something that they've dedicated the majority of their life for."

UNC restricts athletes from making inappropriate posts, which includes swear words, offensive language and posts that suggest alcohol or drug use. Rather than banning social media, the school teaches athletes about what it considers appropriate posts, which Gay said is closer to the ideal, because it preserves First Amendment protections.

UNC requires one coach from every team to monitor their athletes' social media accounts. This year, for the field hockey team, head coach Karen Shelton has that role.

Shelton requires all her players to friend her on Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Shelton said she has to respond to an inappropriate social media post about once a year.

When she does, she discusses the post with the athlete.

But if the post needs further action, she disciplines the entire team. Once, after a player made an inappropriate post, Shelton required them to go on a walk together at 6 a.m.

"If one person posts something inappropriate on a team like ours, it reflects on the entire team," Shelton said.

UNC hires 5.0 Communications to conduct the social media training for athletes. Beforehand, the company uses a program to search public social media accounts for inappropriate posts to share in the slideshow.

Pogge said UNC wants athletes to make sure what they post reflects their character. After all, they have obligations to uphold to their teammates, their university and themselves, he said.

"I'm confused why they're embarrassed when it comes out in front of a couple other people when you put it out for the entire world to see," said Pogge, who isn't on social media. "Hypothetically, there's an unlimited audience for that. But when you're not behind a computer or a phone and you're actually face-to-face with a couple people that saw it, then it gets uncomfortable."

Now that Amato has graduated and started a full-time job, she knows a recruiter who operates a "three-click rule" on social media. If something inappropriate on a profile can be found in three clicks, that job applicant will no longer be considered.

But Tierney said there is a more effective way. Showing athletes' posts in front of the team risks scaring them away from posting altogether. It could keep them from reaping all the benefits of being active on social media.

"In 2017, you need to approach social media education differently than how we did two years ago, four years ago, even how some teams currently still approach social media, which is equip vs. scare the athletes," Tierney said.

Try this superfast test

You're texting with your crush, and he or she asks you to snap some risque pics of yourself. They say they totally respect your privacy, and they reassure you that they would never, ever, ever share the pics.... What do you snap back?

And the shot clock's on: 10 seconds to decide how you would respond to this situation.

In Tierney's social media training sessions, she turns the "social sprints" into a game.

Because isn't that what social media is? A competition? You can win a job, connections, a better reputation, or you can lose opportunities, your spot on the team or your scholarship.

A former Duke field hockey player, Tierney approaches social media this way because she played the game when the rules were still ambiguous. It started with empty bleachers at Duke's field hockey games in 2005.

Tierney made Facebook and Twitter accounts for the team to improve game-time turnout. She created Facebook events for the games and invited Duke field hockey alumni, including Laura Gentile, who worked for ESPN and lived in New York. Impressed by Tierney's social media grace, Gentile helped her get a job at ESPN. Tierney worked in social media there for five to six years.

She tells the athletes, and high school and middle school students she works with to "play to your core." Use social media as a place to showcase your strengths, your character.

Because they're athletes, the stakes are even higher.

"Just like any other student, the second you click 'send,' you're playing at the biggest national stage," Tierney said. "But here's the catch with a student-athlete: People sometimes want to see you fall. And they will glorify the fall of you maybe messing up."

Lessons for life shared

Duke football cornerbacks coach Derek Jones began to speak to his players in the position group meeting — but not to talk about football.

That would come later. First, a dose of life advice: lessons in character, conduct and everything in between, with the real-world examples to back up his words. But Jones frequently circles back to social media.

"In the changing of time, as a coach, to see someone lose an opportunity because of something they posted, because of something they retweeted, something they liked," Jones said. "You really want to make sure that the young men that you make promises to look out for don't make the same mistakes."

Jones encourages them to make LinkedIn accounts, and he shares stories in the news about how athletes have faced opportunities or consequences, depending on a post.

He tells them about how social media helped him save time and money while marketing the book he wrote, how it has allowed him to connect with recruits, their parents and high school coaches. Social media has become the foundation of relationships.

Tierney said Jones represents the ideal for teaching athletes about the power of social media. Because Jones doesn't just warn about the dangers of social media - he equips his athletes to reap the benefits.

"Coaching is much bigger than X's and O's," Jones said. "Because you see something where someone has lost a job or not gotten a job because of their use of social media. I think it's always good to share with them, because they're not going to always be a football player."

Blake Richardson is a Media Hub student in the School of Media and Journalism atUNC-Chapel Hill.

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Copyright 2017 The Post and Courier
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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

In what is being called a proactive measure that is part of an ongoing safety initiative, the Berkeley County School District piloted a "Clear Bag or No Bag" entry procedure for those attending high school football games at Goose Creek High School starting with the game Friday against visiting Fort Dorchester.

The statement released by the district Oct. 2 said the new rule will take effect on Oct. 6 and would advance district security and safety measures.

"Implementing the 'Clear Bag or No Bag' entry procedure allows staff and on-site law enforcement to quickly and easily identify prohibited items thus reducing delays that result from traditional bag searches," said Tim Knight, BCSD Safety and Security Coordinator. "We want our fans and guests to enter and enjoy our facilities with the peace of mind that we are taking proactive steps necessary to ensure their safety and the safety of their families."

The statement does not mention a specific threat but said Goose Creek High is the best place to begin the new district wide safety initiative.

"As Goose Creek High School is currently our largest high school, it was the best location to pilot this new safety measure," Knight said.

Each ticketed individual is allowed to carry one clear tote bag, not to exceed 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches and a small clutch or wallet can be included in this clear tote if it does not exceed 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches. A clear tote bag is not required to carry small permissible items such as keys, wallets, cell phones, credit cards and cash.

"We prefer our fans and guests to attend events without carrying any bag; however, we understand that it is necessary for some individuals to utilize a non-clear bag for medically necessary items or equipment," Knight said.

"We commend and applaud Berkeley County School District for their willingness to pilot a 'Clear Bag or No Bag' entry procedure and look forward to working alongside their leaders to continue to improve safety measures at district schools and facilities," said Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis. "It is important that we consider all proactive measures and continue to explore all options available to us to ensure the safety of the students."

In addition, the district wants to remind fans that once they have received clearance to enter the event, they will not be allowed to re-enter.

The Berkeley County School District will begin enforcing its "Clear Bag or No Bag" policy beginning Friday.

 

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Copyright 2017 San Angelo Standard-Times
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San Angelo Standard-Times (Texas)

 

The way A.J. Moore describes it, San Angelo's YMCA proves that while getting older is mandatory, feeling young is a choice.

Moore, the Y's CEO, was joined by a few dozen guests Tuesday to celebrate the Y's 70th anniversary.

"We just got new life in our Y now - not only in the staff, but in the members and in the programs," Moore said.

Pete Thiry, who served as CEO from 2009 to May 2017, attended the celebration at 353 South Randolph Street and offered his thoughts on the secret to the local YMCA's longevity.

"It just shows that (San Angelo's YMCA) serves its purpose in serving the community, serving family - young and old."

If service has kept the YMCA a community staple for the past seven decades, keeping it young and vibrant may have much to do with the energy and enthusiasm of its staff - particularly Moore.

"Everyone loves A.J., always have," said Anthony Wilson, who serves as Public Information Officer for the City of San Angelo and is on the YMCA board.

"Don't be fooled by his 'aw-shucks' personality," Wilson said of Moore. "... We're already seeing innovative approaches to everything from childcare to programming to budgeting. It's totally energized the staff."

Since taking over, Moore has initiated several changes at the Y that he says have been positively received.

"We're trying to do things that we had talked about before in small groups and thought, 'We ought to try this someday.' I'm one one of those guys that say, 'Let's take some chances on some things. Let's try something new.'"

There's already proof that Moore isn't afraid to experiment.

"We now have a senior citizen membership. We didn't have that before, and I thought we needed it. We're looking at starting a corporate membership as well as a military membership," Moore said.

Some programs Moore has taken chances on include expanding the Y's volleyball and basketball leagues to its younger members.

"I wanted everyone to have an idea and input in what we do. It seems that morale has improved, excitement has increased."

Other programs and events being considered include introducing a triathlon back to the San Angelo community as well as holding a pickleball tournament over the Christmas break.

"Just about every week our members come out (to the Y) and see something different. The members like a new feel to the Y. We've updated it and made the Y new."

Updates include upgrades to facilities and landscaping as well as new weights in the fitness center and new flooring in dressing rooms.

"Even though this building is still considered new, when you have between four and five thousand members coming in a on a weekly and daily basis, it puts a wear and tear on the place - especially when you have kids in here as much as we do," Moore said.

Moore began working for the Y in 2004, spending 10 years as the physical director and then serving as associate director before becoming the CEO.

When Moore became CEO, he chose not to fill the associate director position. Instead, he folded the associate director duties into his own job and reinvested $25,000 into the Y's staff to give them pay raises without going over budget.

"I had people with master's degrees who were making less than $30,000 and haven't had a raise," Moore said. "I said, 'I need to help these people. I got to show them that I care about them and what they're doing for this community.'"

Moore said taking on the extra responsibilities has been hard, but it's worth the investment.

"The staff I have are incredible people," he said. "And you have to have people that feel like they're committed to what they do."

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Copyright 2017 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

PHOENIX - Top-level basketball recruits played ingyms across Las Vegas over the summer, their final shot to impress college coaches during a live-recruiting period.

Around the same time in July, an undercover FBI agent was in a Sin City hotel room where more than $12,000 changed hands, money earmarked for influencing a high school player's choice of colleges.

The meeting was one of several recorded by federal investigators during a three-year probe that led to the arrest of 10 people, including four assistant coaches at prominent schools. It also illuminated an aspect of college basketball the NCAA has failed to fully uncover for years: the shadowy world of recruiting.

"The NCAA's never had the ability to enforce rules," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "I was told this summer by a coach, 'If you're not cheating, you're cheating yourself.' Certain conferences, I think, are notorious for doing that, and if you're trying to compete in those conferences and you don't do it, you're going to be subpar. It's a big egg on a lot of our faces."

On Sept. 26, federal prosecutors announced the arrests of 10 people , including assistant coaches from Arizona, USC, Oklahoma State and Auburn. An Adidas marketing executive also was arrested, along with a tailor known for making suits for NBA stars in a case that alleges bribes were exchanged to influence high-level recruits' choice of schools, agents and financial advisers.

The federal probe also implicated Louisville in paying a player to attend the school, leading coach Rick Pitino and Athletic Director Tom Jurich to be placed on administrative leave. Louisville has since started the process of firing Pitino for cause.

The arrests and accusations, though blockbuster in nature, were not exactly shocking to followers of the sport.

The shady side of recruiting has always been college basketball's dirty little secret, standard operating procedure for numerous programs across the country about which little could be done.

The NCAA has had some success in uncovering the seamy underbelly of the sport.

In the 1990s, California coach Todd Bozeman was fired and the school was forced to vacate victories from two seasons after a pay-for-play scandal in which a recruit's parents were given about $30,000. Kentucky was placed on probation for three years in 1989 after the NCAA found an assistant coach sent money to the father of a recruit to get his son to play in Lexington, among other violations.

Michigan was forced to forfeit 112 wins from five seasons, including a pair of Final Four appearances, after the NCAA found booster Ed Martin lent four players more than $600,000 as part of a gambling and laundering scheme. Coach Steve Fisher was fired in 1997 for violations involved in the scandal.

But for every NCAA take-down, countless others slip through the massive cracks in the system.

"When I did play, there was always rumors about guys getting this or that to be where they were, so this is nothing that is completely unexpected," said Arizona State coach and former Duke standout Bobby Hurley. "It doesn't appear to be a system that works right now, so I'm sure there's going to be a lot of conversation about that."

The conversation may start with the shoe companies at the grass-roots level of basketball.

It used to be that high school coaches were the conduits to top recruits. Now the shoe companies run the show.

Adidas, Nike and Under Armour - a relatively new player in the hoops game - are on constant lookout for the next LeBron James or Steph Curry to make them millions.

Bonding begins fast

The courtship starts early.

Today's recruits often identify with a brand at a young age, in part because the shoe companies are so involved at the lower levels of the game, sponsoring to