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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

The NBA announced a new multiyear partnership with MGM Resorts on Tuesday, making MGM the league's first official gaming partner.

In coming to the agreement, which sources confirmed to The Washington Post as a three-year pact worth $25 million, the NBA, for the first time, will be compensated for having a product on which people can place bets.

As the gambling industry has evolved in the wake of the Supreme Court striking down the federal prohibition against sports betting earlier this year, the NBA has remained at the forefront of attempting to take advantage of the new frontier that the American sporting landscape has stumbled into. The league has aggressively courted lawmakers at both the federal and state levels in the hopes of receiving an "integrity fee" for having people bet on its games.

The NBA has stated this fee would go toward additional monitoring of the sport, which it says will be necessary once gambling is legal across the country and not primarily in Las Vegas. So far, though, attempts to impose the fee have failed to gain any traction on the government side.

At the same time, however, the league has been talking to various casinos themselves. And by striking this deal with MGM, the NBA can set a precedent that it should be compensated for having a product on which people can wager.

"It's a bit of a shift [in strategy]," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. "Our initial strategy was a consistent federal framework. There was a shift in that strategy when we saw that wasn't going to happen with the repeal of PASPA [the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act] and no federal replacement. We were then going to be looking at a state-by-state strategy. Once we started discussions with the states, we're realistic. We saw it was going to be an uphill battle. By the way, it's still early days in those state-by-state discussions. At least 20 states are currently considering legislation, but only a small handful have passed bills so far."

And that is where MGM comes in. That the league would partner with MGM is a natural fit, given MGM is the owner of the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces, the owner of the two largest arenas in Las Vegas, and is already a core partner with the league for its annual summer league in Sin City.

If the NBA is going to continue to do business in Las Vegas, it only makes sense for MGM to be part of this. In addition, MGM will have the cache to say it was the first gaming partner of the league and be able to advertise across all NBA platforms, including NBA TV, NBA.com and on the league's official app.

Silver made clear during his news conference that the only exclusivity MGM will have in this deal will be from the data it receives from the NBA - meaning MGM will have the league's official stats at its disposal, which could be particularly useful for in-game betting, not to mention the potential for possible more creative in-game bets down the road using some of the league's motion tracking data.

What the deal doesn't do, however, is prevent people from betting on games anywhere but MGM properties. Thus, for the regular fan who wants to go place a wager on a game, Tuesday's announcement doesn't mean a whole lot. Fans will still be able to go to whatever place they choose to make a bet on the NBA once it is legal, and the bets themselves won't change.

What did change Tuesday, however, was the perception that the NBA should be compensated for providing the thing for which people want to put their money on the line. The NBA will be hoping this is the first of many such agreements to take place moving forward.

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

 

The University of Dayton Arena is undergoing major renovations right now but another change could take place after the remodeling job is complete.

UD Arena may become a "zero waste" facility, meaning that 90 percent of waste from the arena would be diverted from a traditional landfill, said Steve Kendig, UD's executive director of energy utilization and environmental sustainability.

To achieve the status of being a "zero waste" arena, a majority of the products UD offers during events at the facility would be either recyclable or compostable, Kendig said.

If the university moves forward with the sustainability plan for UD Arena, the facility will join a number of other big venues that have also achieved the "zero waste" status. Ohio State University's Ohio Stadium in Columbus is one of the largest stadiums in the country that achieves "zero waste" status.

The plan for UD Arena is just the latest in a long list of sustainability work the university has undertaken in recent years. Most recently, UD installed a number of solar panels on campus including more than 4,000 at the University of Dayton Research Institute, according to the school.

UD Arena is in the midst of a three-year, $72-million renovation that is expected to be finished ahead of the facility's 50th anniversary in 2019.

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

 

A video containing a racial slur and being shared on social media has a Jordan High School athlete in hot water.

The student, a rising senior who plays football and lacrosse, repeats the N-word, makes a sexist remark and pledges support for President Donald Trump in the video he reportedly sent to a female student who shared it on social media.

He is joined by another student who does not speak in the portion of the video circulating on social media.

The video was not recorded during the school year, with school equipment or on school grounds, said Durham Public Schools spokesman Chip Sudderth. So, it was unclear Tuesday whether DPS can discipline the student.

But some students are demanding the student not be allowed to play football or lacrosse this year.

Aminah Jenkins, the student body president, said some Jordan students will protest and boycott football games if the student plays.

"People are pretty upset, and they want something to be done," said Jenkins, who has known the student since elementary school. "Our main concern is not his political views, it's his views toward women and his use of the N-word that's the main concern. That's what's got people so upset."

Jordan Principal Susan Taylor sent a robo call to parents Tuesday to notify them about the video, which she said does not "reflect the values of our faculty, staff, student body, community, or the impacted families."

"When I was first made aware of the video, several actions took place and will continue," Taylor said. "The actions were designed to investigate, address the behavior, plan for healing, and take steps to ensure that Jordan is a school in which all students are and feel welcome."

 

Greg Childress: 919-419-6645, @gchild6645

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Copyright 2018 The Florida Times-Union

Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)

 

PARKLAND — The first practice of the new season was over, and the only sound on the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was dozens of football players screaming in delight.

At 2:15 a.m., they were having a water balloon fight.

Finally, on a campus known for tragedy, there was joy.

The Eagles now ambassadors for a school and a community that in many ways is still reeling from the Feb. 14 massacre that left 17 people dead, including assistant football coach Aaron Feis, who was killed while trying to use his body to shield students from the cascade of bullets took the field for practice at 12:01 a.m. Monday, since under Florida rules teams could begin their fall workouts on July 30.

So they didn't wait a minute longer.

"This is the only thing we have to show our respect," Eagles coach Willis May Jr. said. "This is the way we can show our respect to those guys, with our great effort and with our great attitudes. Be leaders within the school. I hope we see all that from these kids this year."

Douglas has had the "midnight madness" practice on opening day several times before, but this was different. A uniformed sheriff's deputy was on campus throughout the evening, his patrol vehicle parked adjacent to the field during practice. The site of the shootings the 1200 building is still there, cordoned off by a chain-link fence. Many want it leveled, but for now it stands because it's essentially evidence, a crime scene.

Players, when they left the locker room, had to pass the 1200 building on their way to the field for practice. Barely anyone seemed to look its way.

"Our community is still very much in the traumatized healing process," said Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky, who sat in the bleachers with about 100 other people for the middle-of-the-night practice. "This is not a sprint. This is absolutely a marathon. And we will never forget. No one who was here will ever forget. But we also have to look at a way forward."

The reminders are everywhere.

There is one locker with a door painted gold in the locker room it belonged to Joaquin "Guac" Oliver, one of the 17 victims who was buried in the jersey of Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade. The fence around the 1200 building is partially covered by banners with messages of support from neighboring schools. Inside the cafeteria, where parents reported for the preseason meeting, another banner still hangs. It's from the students of Columbine High School, where a similar tragedy took place in 1999.

On the field, there are more banners with reminders to play for Feis and how to be "MSD Strong." The shirts most of the coaches wore had some reminder of the shooting.

Put simply, there's no escaping it.

A school that was a sanctuary is now, in many ways, a memorial.

"Are we perfect? Are we happy all the time? How can we be?" said Johanna Feis, the younger sister of the slain coach, whose desk remains next to May's and hasn't been issued to anyone else. "I'm not OK at this moment, but we're pushing through, so we are OK."

The Eagles obviously did not want this attention.

They did not want to be asked to play a Canadian team in Georgia on Sept. 1 to open the season, but now view it as a great opportunity. They did not want to see Feis, athletic director Chris Hixon, cross country coach Scott Beigel all victims on Feb. 14 honored with the Best Coach award at the ESPYs. They did not want to turn Feis' name into a motivational acronym, the letters in football parlance now standing for "Fearless, Emotion, Intensity and Sacrifice."

They would rather see things go back to normal, whatever that was before the afternoon of Feb. 14.

"You represent this high school," May told his team just before practice started. "Every time you put that Douglas on, make it count for something. Make it mean something. When somebody faces us this year, one thing I want them to know is, you ain't getting an injured Eagle. You're not facing an injured Eagle that's just going to let you roll over them. You better bring the best you got."

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

The developers behind a plan to build a 450,000-square-foot athletics facility in Lincolnshire returned to village hall Monday night to pitch a revised version of their proposal. The facility, to be called The St. James, is proposed for land that's north of Half Day Road and west of the Tri-State Tollway.

Chicago-based developer GlenStar Properties wants to build the facility as well as a hotel, a restaurant and a commercial recreational facility on the 43-acre property. But the audience during Monday's public hearing consisted of more than trustees and the usual village staffers. Developers also had to contend with more than 100 residents concerned about the aesthetics of the proposed complex and the potential impact on traffic.

"I don't trust these people," said Kay Malek, who lives in the nearby Sutton Place neighborhood. "We don't need this." The St. James was the focus of Monday's discussion. The two-story center would have an indoor Olympic-sized pool, sports fields, ice rinks, a health club, a restaurant and many other amenities. The site now is a mostly unused office complex. Michael Kerin, director of development for the Virginia-based St. James, spent some time Monday night promoting a planned indoor water park that would feature slides, spray fountains "and everything that kids love to do."

The business "is going to be a tremendous asset" for Lincolnshire, Kerin said. GlenStar managing principal Rand Diamond spoke about the plan Monday, too. Seeking to address some residents' concerns, Diamond said The St. James would have a "minimal" impact on traffic. He also said he and his team used a flying drone to ensure the St. James building, despite the enormous footprint that's proposed, would not be visible over the existing tree line that separates the site from nearby homes.

Diamond also predicted The St. James would bring hundreds of construction jobs and full-time jobs. The development plan used to include a Topgolf driving range, but that aspect of the proposal was eliminated because of strong community opposition. The village board held the public hearing because GlenStar wants the land rezoned from office campus to general business district. The company also is seeking a special use permit for the proposed development. If the project moves forward, various elements will require board approval.

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Smoking and public parks don't go together in places such as Buffalo Grove, Elmhurst, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Gurnee, Schaumburg and Vernon Hills, and that soon may be the case in Naperville, too. In bans enacted as long ago as the mid-1990s and mid-2000s, more and more towns have prohibited smoking in outdoor public parks or during outdoor sporting events, saying no-smoking policies send the right message to children and protect public health. In Naperville, where officials are considering a ban in advance of an Aug. 9 vote, some park board members say they support a rule against all forms of smoking or tobacco use - including cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes and vaping devices - because it matches their mission.

The park district exists, park board Vice President Rich Janor said, quoting its mission statement, to "promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community." "With that being our mission, how could we possibly condone smoking in the park? It just seems contrary," Janor said. "It seems to me there would be no reason not to move forward with something like this, especially as it ties to our mission."

Naperville officials are considering an outdoor smoking ban after a few residents brought to their attention a negative interaction with a baseball player who was smoking at Nike Sports Complex and "chose not to use common sense," Executive Director Ray McGury said. The ban would require smokers to go to the parking lot or the nearest public street where parking is permitted if they would like to smoke near one of the district's 137 parks.

Signs would be posted to inform park users of the rule. Park district attorney Derke Price said having the ban on the books would allow park patrons to call district police if someone refused to stop smoking or move to a parking area. Allowing smoking in parking lots or on nearby streets would make the ordinance easier to enforce by drawing an obvious line between where the behavior is permitted and where it isn't, he said.

Exempt from the proposed ban would be the Naperville Riverwalk, a 1,75-mile path through downtown maintained by the park district but not under its sole jurisdiction, and the district's two golf courses, Naperbrook and Springbrook. The district already governs the golf courses differently than other parks, mainly by allowing alcohol sales there, Price said. Plus, many golfers want to smoke on the course. "That's the customer base," Price said.

Park board President Mike Reilly said his only concern is overregulation. If the district enacts a ban on smoking in outdoor parks because of one scenario brought up by residents, could others want music banned from the parks as well? Or dogs? Then what? The recent complaint about smoking in a park is isolated. "We haven't had an influx of people coming forward complaining about this," Janor said.

But the recent issue gives park officials a reason to consider the topic. Reilly encouraged others on the board to talk with residents before Aug. 9 to gather input. So far, he said, those with whom he has spoken are split. Some say the district should ban smoking in outdoor parks, while others question the need for another regulation. "Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the people that do smoke are considerate of other people," Reilly said. "So it's not a problem." Smoking already is prohibited within all park district buildings and within 15 feet of their entrances.

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Scott Sanders/ssanders@dailyherald.com Lighted beach volleyball courts are part of Nike Sports Complex expansion in Naperville. photos by Scott Sanders/ssanders@dailyherald.com Soccer can now be practiced and played on artificial turf at the newly refurbished Nike Sports Complex on Mill Street just south of Diehl Road in Naperville. The picnic shelter, rest room facility and park storage area, top, is just east of Mill Street. Scott Sanders/ssanders@dailyherald.com
Lighted beach volleyball courts are part of Nike Sports Complex expansion in Naperville.

photos by Scott Sanders/ssanders@dailyherald.com
Soccer can now be practiced and played on artificial turf at the newly refurbished Nike Sports Complex on Mill Street just south of Diehl Road in Naperville. The picnic shelter, rest room facility and park storage area, top, is just east of Mill Street. Daily Herald file photo Naperville Park District is considering banning smoking at all public parks - including Nike - with the exception of the Riverwalk and its two golf courses. Daily Herald file photo Naperville Park District is considering banning smoking at all public parks - including Nike - with the exception of the Riverwalk and its two golf courses.
 
July 31, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2018 Portland Newspapers Jul 31, 2018

Portland Press Herald

 

BRUNSWICK — When freshman Darius Minor collapsed and died while participating in a supervised University of Maine workout last Tuesday, the loss was felt in college football programs across the state.

At Husson University, the coaches were in a meeting when the news broke.

"Devastated is not a strong enough word to describe how we felt," said Gabby Price, Husson's head coach. "A lot of us cried."

College football deaths are rare — from 2000-16, an average of two NCAA football players died per season, according to the National Athletic Trainers' Association — but when they happen close by, they're magnified.

"I've heard of situations like this in the past," said Jack Cosgrove, the former UMaine coach who is entering his first year as the coach at Colby College, "but never so close to home. That really gets your attention. It's one of ours, a young man who wore the blue of the University of Maine."

Cosgrove and Price were among the head coaches speaking Monday at Bowdoin College in the 12th annual Kick-Off Luncheon put on by the Maine chapter of the National Football Foundation.

J.B. Wells of Bowdoin and Chris McKenney of Maine Maritime Academy were there, as were first-year coaches Malik Hall of Bates and Mike Lichten of the University of New England, which will field its first varsity team this fall.

UMaine Coach Joe Harasymiak was not present. He was traveling to Orange, Virginia, with assistant coach Matt Birkett to attend the services for Minor, which began Monday with a candlelight vigil.

The Black Bears were represented at the luncheon by Jon Lynch, the director of sports performance, more commonly referred to as the strength coach.

Lynch was supervising the workout, which involved pushing a weighted sled, when Minor died. After one repetition, the players were taking a four-minute water break while Lynch was explaining what the next drill would be.

According to school officials, Minor tapped Lynch on the shoulder and said he felt like he was going to pass out. Then he collapsed and efforts to resuscitate him by Maine's training staff and first responders were unsuccessful. His cause of death is still unknown.

Asked Monday if he could have done anything differently, Lynch said, "You know, I'm not going to lie. It's not something that hasn't crossed my mind. But at the end of the day my job is based off scientific principles. And, so, looking at the programming that we had, certainly it wasn't something that we expected to happen."

Minor's death occurred during the third week of the summer program. All the players had participated in the drill before, said Lynch, who is in his third year at Maine.

"This was nothing new," he said. "This was one of the things the last two years the freshmen had done."

The tragedy has caused Lynch to wonder about one thing: "As a strength and conditioning coach, one of the things that you really have to have in place before you can get anything done is that the players have to trust you, believe in you and know that you care. And so for me, I don't know that this incident has affected that, but that was the first thing that crossed my mind — how are the players going to see me and my program after that?"

UMaine's players report Tuesday and have their first practice Wednesday.

Maine's other college coaches — all from the Division III level — said the safety of their players is paramount.

"I know for a fact, at our place, every activity we have had, trained professionals are always on site," said UNE's Lichten. "We're very, very, probably over-cautious over the well-being of our student-athletes. Their well-being is our No. 1 priority every day."

Cosgrove and Bowdoin's Wells said that might not have been the case decades ago, when coaches often used conditioning drills as punishment.

"If you were talking 20, 30 years ago, when it was two-a-days in the hot sun and guys doing things they shouldn't be doing, I'd say you would have to check yourself," said Bowdoin's Wells.

"But I know coaches in Maine are doing it the right way. They follow the guidelines."

The NCAA eliminated double sessions a year ago and has put in place numerous guidelines for the safety of its athletes during summer workouts.

"I just don't know how much more can be done," said Cosgrove.

 

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or: mlowe@pressherald.com

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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

 

The bucket-wearing fan injured by falling debris from the Wrigley Field center field scoreboard last week said he's fortunate the Cubs were losing at the time.

Had he not been wearing the plastic bucket on his head as a Cubs "rally cap," Kyle McAleer believes he might have been killed.

"Absolutely," he said. "It's purely speculation, but the way it hit me.... If the Cubs weren't losing I would not have been wearing that bucket. It might've fractured my skull. It definitely could've been fatal. I am extremely lucky."

McAleer was sitting with family and friends under the old center field scoreboard during a Cubs-Diamondbacks game on July 24, the day before his 20th birthday. When Kyle Hendricks gave up three runs in the top of the fifth inning, McAleer said it was time for him and his dad and friend to put on the "rally" buckets, which actually were empty bubble gum containers purchased a few years earlier from a Sam's Club.

After the bottom of the fifth, a loose, 6- to 8-inch metal "pin" that holds the score tiles in place fell down from the scoreboard and struck McAleer in the head.

"I wouldn't be surprised if all the people in the bleacher heard that loud thud," he said.

McAleer said there was "considerable pain, but (it was) more shocking than anything else" because his ears were ringing.

The impact forced the bucket downward and knocked his glasses off. He first thought someone had thrown a bottle at him, before he saw blood rushing down from a laceration right above his hairline.

The Cubs' medical team responded quickly, and McAleer was sent to Illinois Masonic Hospital for treatment. He said he was conscious all along and documented the incident on his Snapchat account.

The Cubs confiscated the pin, which he estimated weighed about 3 to 4 pounds.

McAleer was released around 11:30 p.m. and went back to his hometown of Scranton, Iowa, the next day. The cracked bucket that may have saved his life still has blood on it and is sitting on a shelf in his house.

"It's amazing, the coincidence," he said. "That scoreboard has been around 81 years and this is the first time this has ever happened. And it just happened to fall on the kid wearing a plastic bucket on his head?

"I mean, what are the odds, man? I'm dumbfounded. I think about it and I've just got to stop and go 'Wow, man.' "

McAleer's biggest regret, he said, was having to miss the seventh inning stretch.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green said last week the incident resulted from "a loose pin that rolled out of the scoreboard when the tile was being changed," adding "there are no loose pins and the scoreboard is secure."

The Cubs did not respond to messages on Monday.

After the news broke, many were confused as to why McAleer was wearing a bucket on his head. He confirmed the containers were a tribute to "rally cap" bubble gum buckets worn on the head by former Cub Starlin Castro and other players during celebration during the 2015 season.

McAleer has since been in contact with the Cubs, who gave him some gifts, including a new Addison Russell jersey. He praised the quick response by the Cubs, and said there's been no decision about legal action down the road.

"If it was any other injury than a head injury, chances are this would've already been settled," he said. "But the fact it was a head injury, and there's still a definite possibility I could suffer concussion symptoms within a couple weeks or months after the incident...

"I still have multiple doctor visits. I've got to get the staples removed, I've got to get a second opinion on my head. The road is long."

 
July 31, 2018
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

She just wanted to use the restroom before a celebrity meet-and-greet at Saturday's LoveLoud Festival.

But Bobbee Trans Mooremon had a hard time finding a gender-inclusive one. The transgender woman, who is disabled and uses a walker, was told by a festival staffer to go to a nearby men's restroom.

Mooremon, who was volunteering with the nonprofit QueerMeals, had been told all of the facilities at the University of Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium would be gender-inclusive for the event created to raise awareness of — and support for — at-risk LGBTQ youths.

So Mooremon went inside. But as she was washing her hands, Mooremon said a man wearing LoveLoud volunteer credentials told her she was in the wrong restroom.

He told her, if she wanted a gender-inclusive restroom, there were two in the general population area of the concert venue. This one was for men.

"I felt very frustrated and very unsafe," Mooremon said Monday. "It was a big event for LGBTQ people, and this concert was supposed to be addressing things like that and making it better for us."

After her run-in, Mooremon said she felt she couldn't stay at the concert — and QueerMeals and other organizations that had been at the festival packed up their booths early and left. They are now pressing LoveLoud to make changes moving forward.

"A couple of organizations took it seriously and were not going to stand for transphobia in LGBTQ spaces," Mooremon said. "Which was great."

One of the organizations that left was Provo Pride. Representative Brianna Cluck said concerns about the festival's inclusion of transgender people began before Mooremon's experience that Saturday.

Cluck said the groups had been told days in advance that all the restrooms would be gender-inclusive — but on the day of the event, there were only two. Wading through a sea of 35,000 concertgoers to find one of two gender-inclusive restroom in a large venue would be impractical and uncomfortable, she said.

"On the outside looking in, it can seem to be a little petty," Cluck said. "It's about more than that. It's about respect and equality."

Since then, several LGBTQ groups — including Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Provo and Ogden Pride — have released statements expressing disappointment and asking LoveLoud for change.

"We have confidence that the organizers of LoveLoud will be able to learn from this event and do better in the future," PFLAG Provo wrote in a Facebook post. "For our part, we intend to ask more questions and get detailed answers when we participate in any future community events."

LoveLoud representatives said in a statement Monday that they were "saddened" to hear of reports of discrimination at the festival.

"We have a zero-tolerance policy toward any behavior that makes anyone feel unsafe or unwelcome," the statement reads. "As an organization dedicated to creating safe and affirming events for our LGBTQ+ friends and families, our staff, volunteers, and charity partners were asked to participate in an LGBTQ+ cultural competency training. We are committed to learning from our mistakes and will continuously work to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people in our community and beyond."

The statement added that if concertgoers wished to shared their experience "so that we know where we excelled and where we have room to grow," feedback could be sent to info@loveloudfest.com

Mooremon said Monday that she hopes her experience will lead to changes at future LoveLoud events — including mandatory gender-inclusive restrooms. She hopes the organization might also consider creating a working group to focus on issues involving underrepresented groups, like the transgender community, people of color and those who are disabled.

Cluck said Provo Pride will still come back next year to the LoveLoud Festival but added that she hopes the restrooms will be gender-inclusive and the volunteers better trained.

"These are issues that happen, that hurt the community and make people uncomfortable," she said. "But these are issues we can learn from and LoveLoud can learn from."

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
All Rights Reserved

The Washington Times

 

ARLINGTON— Kettler Capitals Iceplex has been renamed MedStar Capitals Iceplex, and the new Washington Wizards practice facility in Southeast will be named the MedStar Wizards Performance Center.

These naming rights changes are part of an expanded partnership between Monumental Sports and Entertainment and MedStar Health, announced Monday morning at the iceplex.

MedStar Wizards Performance Center will be part of the St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena. The larger building, which will open in the fall as the new home of the Washington Mystics and new G League team Capital City Go-Go, will have a separate deal for naming rights.

More than a naming rights deal, the partnership also establishes a "medical council" that will include representatives from all seven Monumental teams Capitals, Wizards, Mystics, Go-Go, District Gaming, Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade. It will focus not only on injury recovery and prevention, but also seeking competitive advantages and sharing that information across all teams.

"What the council does is that we have one team that has figured something out from an IT standpoint or an exercise science standpoint, it doesn't just stay with that one team," Wiemi Douoguih, MedStar's co-medical director of sports medicine, told The Washington Times. "All seven teams potentially can benefit from that tech or that new injury prevention method that's been developed."

MedStar became the Capitals' and Wizards' official medical partner in 2014. The not-for-profit healthcare provider operates 10 hospitals in the region.

"This is all based on the medicine and it's everything that MedStar's about," CEO and president Ken Samet said. "It's how we contribute to something that is so important to the city and to the region."

The practice facility used by the Wizards District Gaming esports team, adjacent Capital One Arena, will now be named the MedStar Wizards District Gaming Studio.

Elsewhere on the sponsorship front, Monumental CEO Ted Leonsis hinted that the Wizards could soon agree to terms for a new regular season jersey patch sponsor whether with MedStar or another organization. The Wizards already wear a MedStar patch on their training camp and practice jerseys.

"Stay tuned," Leonsis told reporters. "My bet is we'll do a big, big deal on the naming rights on the patch as well."

The whole Wizards District Gaming team attended the unveiling of the new name, as well as Wizards coach Scott Brooks, wearing a Go-Go T-shirt.

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

 

The Lee County School District's nearly year-long high school football stadium naming rights initiative made its biggest score yet, selling the rights to the crown jewel of its portfolio.

The stadium at the brand new Bonita Springs High School will be known for the next five years as Lee Health Stadium in an advertising deal worth nearly $292,000. The district confirmed to The News-Press the blockbuster advertising deal with the largest healthcare system in Southwest Florida.

"Lee Health has been a long supporter of The School District of Lee County and we are thrilled to partner with them to name the stadium at the new Bonita Springs High School," Superintendent Greg Adkins said. "This affiliation will directly benefit our students and employees and we could not ask for a better ally."

The district also confirmed FAST AC, a locally owned air conditioning company in Estero, purchased the rights to the football field at Estero High in a deal worth $32,688 over three years. The home of the Wildcats will now be named FAST AC Field at Jeff Sommer Stadium, the latter part memorializing the late Estero athletic director and cross country coach.

"We are doing something that most districts do not do, raise money to benefit our students and to help them reach their highest personal potentials," Adkins said. "Partnerships like this are vital to the success of our students and to our community, and we are grateful that FAST AC is part of this growing group of supporters."

FAST AC owner Matt Foster, a 20-year Estero resident, took pride in his company's investment. "I believe that, as a successful business owner in the area, it is important to give back to local causes and social issues," Foster said. "Our children are our future and represent a beacon of hope to all of us. Each of us need to find as many ways as possible to support them. Estero High School has done a fabulous job at developing its youth and I am proud to be a part of their continued efforts."

Bonita Springs and Estero are the second and third stadiums in Lee County to have their naming rights sold. North Law Firm Stadium at Dunbar High was announced late last year in an agreement that brings in $114,480 per year over five years.

Dealing with growing enrollment each year and a budget that struggles to keep pace, the district was forced to think outside the box in its search for new revenue streams. The cash-strapped district's latest endeavor is taking a page out of the playbook of the wildly successful business models of professional and college sports.

By rolling out the sale of naming rights to stadiums, gymnasiums and theaters the district finds itself near the ground floor of what could become a growing trend around the country.

The money generated will go toward closing a nearly $478 million gap in capital dollars which pays for new construction, maintenance, technology, equipment and safety and security initiatives.

The district signed a contract in September with Baltimore-based Tebo and Associates to sell the naming rights to 12 football fields and stadiums. In addition, naming rights for nine gyms and 12 auditoriums that are on sale make up what Tebo managing partner Brian Siatkowski calls "the largest naming rights initiative in the nation for public schools."

After Tebo, which is on retainer for $2,000 a month, earns 20 percent of the net sales, 60 percent of the naming rights fee will remain at Bonita Springs and Estero while the remaining 40 percent will be available for countywide use by the school district. All of the money is slated for capital improvement projects including safety and security upgrades and technology enhancements.

Advertising prices are based on the amount of traffic passing by the stadiums and foot traffic at games, making Bonita Springs the most attractive of all the stadiums due to its visibility from I-75 and Imperial Parkway.

Lee Health and FAST AC will have signs at the main entrance of the venues, one inside the stadiums visible on the visitor's bleachers, two on-field painted stencils, one sign on the outer wall of each field house, a welcome announcement at every event and four 30-second public address announcements during all events. The firm also will receive other exposure online and in the school's football and other sports programs.

Signage at North Law Firm Stadium is expected to go up on Tuesday while district spokeswoman Lauren Stillwell said Estero and Bonita Springs hope to have their signage up before the beginning of the upcoming football season, which begins Aug. 17 with preseason kickoff classics.

Bonita Springs will begin its inaugural junior varsity season this fall.

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Copyright 2018 Union Leader Corp.
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The Union Leader (Manchester, NH)

 

MANCHESTER — After exceeding expectations in its debut summer, the Dupont Splash Pad is on pace for an even better second season.

The city replaced the aging Dupont Swimming Pool last summer, filling it in and creating a more family-friendly zone where kids are doused with water. The space has gone from one of the city's least utilized facilities to one of its most popular.

Janet Horvath, recreation and enterprise manager for the city Parks and Recreation Department, said Monday that the splash pad has already drawn about 10,800 visitors so far this season.

"We definitely were looking at an alternative to the pool," Horvath said Monday afternoon at the splash pad, speaking above the din of dozens of children zipping around from nozzle to nozzle, getting sprayed and loving it.

"It just seemed like it was a better fit and would serve the patrons of the city of Manchester better to provide an alternative," she said.

It was also significantly cheaper than repairing and renovating the old Dupont pool, which Horvath said had about 7,000 visitors in 2015, its final season.

The tab on the conversion was $425,000, about $250,000 less than the estimated cost to repair the aging pool, she said.

The Dupont conversion required filling in the old pool at 207 Mason St. and installing the many water options as well as a new filtration system. The long-awaited grand opening was in May 2017; the new attraction had about 15,800 visitors before the end of that summer, Horvath said.

Parents like the safety aspects and option of staying dry themselves.

"You don't have to worry about their life jackets or holding them up in the pool," Holly Laro said as she enjoyed some shade in the grass while keeping an eye on her 6-year-old son.

Laro's 3-year-old daughter, Alexandria, was taking a break from the splash zone, which incudes dozens of water jets and spays positioned throughout the concrete where the pool used to be. At the far end, next to the Rock Rimmon bluff just north of the splash pad, kids also waited in anticipation for one of the main attractions: A giant bucket that tips gallons of water onto a slide that sluices it onto the waiting children.

"The big bucket!" Alexandria proclaimed when asked her favorite part of the splash pad.

Although it is supervised, the splash pad doesn't require the expense of lifeguards.

"We don't necessarily have to have lifeguards here. Lifeguards have more training and we pay them more," Horvath said. "The whole thing was less expensive."

Another bonus: Horvath said the popularity of the splash pad is easing the crowds at the Livingston pool.

Like city pools, the splash pad has safety rules. There's no running or horseplay. No glass containers or breakable objects are allowed and bathing suits are required in the splash area. The bathing suit mandate has caught a few visitors by surprise, but Horvath said it's necessary because of the special filtration the splash pad requires.

"The less fibers we have in there, the better off we are," Horvath said.

Parks and Recreation Director Don Pinard has also been pushing for a splash pad at the Hunt Memorial Pool, also aging and in need of renovations.

Still in the planning stages, Horvath said the proposed Hunt conversion would renovate the pool and add a new splash pad in the park just off Maple Street.

"We've got some preliminary designs done," Horvath said. "With this large splash pad on the West Side, we'd like to bring a splash pad to the east side as well."

dalden@unionleader.com

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

 

PHILADELPHIA — More than $500 million in claims were approved as of Monday under the NFL's concussion settlement, nearly a decade earlier than league officials estimated they would reach that amount.

Claims administrators in the settlement released an updated report on the concussion settlement information website saying about $502 million had been approved in less than two years of the settlement. The original actuarial estimates from the NFL estimated a little more than $400 million would be paid out in the first decade.

Attorneys for the retired players adjusted their estimates on the total payout of expected claims earlier this month, saying the settlement would likely reach $1.4 billion- almost a half billion more than the NFL originally estimated.

"We encourage all eligible former players to immediately sign up for a baseline assessment, and they can take comfort in knowing that compensation will be available for more than 60 years if they develop a qualifying condition," said Christopher Seeger, co-lead class counsel for the former NFL players. "The fact that $500 million in claims have been approved in less than two years proves that this settlement is fulfilling its promise to former NFL players and their families."

Almost 2,000 claims have been filed in less than two years, according to the update filed Monday. Hundreds more of the nearly 20,500 retired players signed up to be prequalified to file claims than were expected, outpacing all previous projections.

As of Monday, the claims administrator said 7,343 medical appointments to assess neurological baselines had been made and more than 6,000 had been attended.

The settlement, which took effect January 2017, resolved thousands of lawsuits that accused the NFL of hiding what it knew about the risks of repeated concussions.

It covers retired players who develop Lou Gehrig's disease, dementia or other neurological problems believed to be caused by concussions suffered during their pro careers, with awards as high as $5 million for the most serious cases.

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

 

COLUMBUS — Former Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Joshua Perry retired from football Monday at the age of 24.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Perry wrote, "Football has been one of the biggest blessings in my life, but recent concerns about concussions and the health of my brain have led me to step away from the game. I've recently sustained my 6th documented concussion. It wasn't from a high velocity big impact play. It was a very pedestrian thing, and that was a huge concern to me. The last thing I want to do is put the health of my brain and my future well being in jeopardy over a game and a paycheck."

The San Diego Chargers selected Perry in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. He had eight tackles in 15 games as a rookie. In 2017, he appeared in two games for the Indianapolis Colts. He signed with the Seattle Seahawks in June.

In 2014, the season Ohio State won the College Football Playoff, the Olentangy High School graduate Perry led the Buckeyes with 124 tackles. The next season, he ranked second with 105.

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

 

Two city Parks Department employees were arrested Sunday for allegedly beating up a man who was urinating in a Bronx park, police sources said.

The victim was allegedly peeing in Jerome Park, which is next to the Bronx HS of Science in Bedford Park, at about 1:30 p.m. when the two workers confronted him, according to a law-enforcement source.

On-duty workers Damian Garner, 40, and Yadhil Marrero, 41, argued with the man, police said. The two then allegedly kicked and punched him, scratching and bruising his face.

The victim was taken to Montefiore Medical Center, while the two Parks workers were hit with assault charges.

The arrests are the latest example of misbehavior in the Parks Department ranks. The Post reported on July 16 that the city is probing sex-abuse allegations against an ex-con who rakes in $105,000 as a Parks Department supervisor.

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

 

SUMMERVILLE — The town has banned a tennis instructor from providing free lessons at Doty Park after officials said he refused to follow rules.

James Martin started offering free tennis lessons in 2016 to underprivileged youth through his Tennis Development from the Heart program. In April 2017, town officials notified him in a letter that "outside tennis instruction would no longer be permitted at Doty Park."

Martin was offered the opportunity to extend his tennis program at the Saul Alexander Playground about a mile from Doty Park. He refused because there was limited parking and the town told him he didn't have "exclusive rights" to the courts.

There have been clashes between Martin's program and the town's. On May 29, Martin and members of his group occupied a tennis court at Doty. A team captain from the town's U.S. Tennis Association team told Martin the courts were reserved for the town's use.

Martin suggested the captain use another unreserved court that was not being used, which led to a verbal altercation. The town claimed Martin used "foul language" toward the captain. Martin said he did not use foul language before "everyone left the park." Martin said there was no May 29 match posted on the USTA website and the team captain was simply trying to "kick them off the court."

A July 12 letter informed Martin that he was placed on trespass notice and prohibited from returning to the park. Martin has "chosen to harass town staff with threats of calling the police (and) threats of filing an 'ethics complaint' with the State of South Carolina," it said. The town referred to the incident where Martin "refused to vacate courts reserved by town staff."

Mayor Wiley Johnson said on July 20 he doesn't want to see anyone banned from the tennis courts and plans to meet with the town administrator and parks and recreation manager soon.

"I know this thing is still not over," Johnson said.

In response to discontinuing Martin's tennis program, the town started offering free tennis lessons through the town's tennis professional, Nancy Sumersett. Clinics are from 5-6:30 p.m. Wednesday for children ages 6-14.

Summerville Parks and Recreation Manager Doyle Best said Martin refused to follow procedures set in place by the town. They mainly involved "scheduling conflicts" between Martin and Sumersett, he said.

Councilman Aaron Brown started the Tennis Development from the Heart program with help from Janitors for Jesus, which is based between two local churches — Baum Temple AME Zion and Brownsville Community Church of God in 2016.

Brown solicited Martin, both of whom are black, to lead the program for underprivileged young people who could not afford tennis lessons. In all, the group has taught 75 children ages 5 to 17. Martin said his group has helped bolster the number of black children on tennis teams at local high schools.

Brown said at a recent meeting that Martin's program was discontinued because Martin refused to follow the rules.

"It doesn't matter what you're doing, you have to follow the rules," Brown said.

Activist Louis Smith said the town is attempting to prevent minority children from accessing the Doty Park courts.

"They don't allow minority children to play on the park. I want to say this loud and clear to the Summerville Recreation Department, we will stand up for our children. The Jim Crow era is over," Smith posted July 19 on Facebook.

Martin agreed, stating the town is conveying a message that "if you're black and you're not paying... we're not going to allow someone else out there to teach you this game."

Best said claims of racism are unfounded.

"The purpose of our department is to provide recreational opportunity for all ages and all races. There's no discrimination going on, on the basis of color, age, and gender such as that."

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

 

The idea behind the startup company Ticket Spicket was born about four years ago, when Roanoke resident Russell Hertzberg's daughter was playing middle school volleyball.

"My wife and daughter and I were sitting around thinking of fundraising ideas for her volleyball team," Hertzberg recalled. "My wife thought about selling season tickets for the team."

Hertzberg, who has a professional background in technology applications development, said that set his mind turning about ways to integrate digital ticket sales with fundraising for school athletic programs.

"I thought about how schools often do season tickets with a plastic pass," said Hertzberg, a Roanoke College graduate. "I thought it would be great to get that on a mobile device, where we could sell advertising sponsorships to every event" as a fundraising tool, he said.

Hertzberg shared the idea with a friend and professional colleague, Donnie Schemetti, a VCU graduate with a background in marketing and communications, who liked the concept. To develop the application, they partnered with another friend, Ernie Hawkins, an Old Dominion University graduate who has spent most of his career in user interface and user experience design.

In April 2016, Ticket Spicket was founded as a Richmond-based company. The co-founders started offering their service to schools and school districts, an underserved market for digital ticket sales.

Schools can sell tickets to sporting events via the Ticket Spicket platform while also raising funds to support athletic programs through sponsorships, which can include national, regional or local businesses. Schools also can use the app to promote athletic events and track attendance data. Ticket buyers can check into events using their smartphones.

"We're just providing a convenience for fans," Hertzberg said. "One of the things we try to do is raise revenue not just through sponsorships but through fan engagement. The app also can remind people of games."

Ticket Spicket started with a few schools as customers in 2016. Later that year, Adam Hammer, a digital platform and business systems analyst with an MBA from VCU, joined the startup as its chief strategy officer.

Two years later, Ticket Spicket is being used by schools in 20 states.

Richmond-area customers include J.R. Tucker High School in Henrico County and Thomas Jefferson High School in Richmond. High schools in Loudoun County and Spotsylvania County also are using the platform. Recent additions include the Prince George's County, Md. school district, one of the top 25 largest in the U.S.

While not all schools charge for athletic events, the co-founders of Ticket Spicket think their potential market is as many as 25,000 schools nationwide.

Ticket Spicket earns money through a revenue sharing model with schools on event sponsorships. The company keeps its convenience fees low for ticket sales, at 25 cents plus 5 percent of the ticket price. "This started out to be a fundraiser, and we have very much maintained that as part of our business model," Schemetti said.

The model was appealing to Dick Kemper, executive director of the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association, a network of about 100 private schools across the state, which has used Ticket Spicket to sell tickets to its sports events. "It was very successful for our state wrestling program last winter," Kemper said.

"We are hoping to get to the point where more and more of our tickets are sold that way," Kemper said. "It is so easy for people."

Ticket Spicket started out working in the Gather co-working space in Richmond's Scott's Addition area. Earlier this year, it moved into Gather's third co-working space in West Broad Village in western Henrico County.

"Being in Richmond is fantastic for a startup," Schemetti said. "There is such a great community here, not only of fellow startups, but also people that just want to support what is happening."

jblackwell@timesdispatch.com(804) 775-8123

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

There was no mention of the NFL at ArenaBowl XXXI, until Washington Valor interim head coach Benji McDowell found a moment in the post-game press conference to brag about his players.

McDowell, after a 69-55 victory over the Baltimore Brigade at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore that secured the Valor's first Arena Football League championship, was seated between ArenaBowl MVP Arvell Nelson (five rushing touchdowns, three passing) and defensive lineman Jake Payne.

"We have so many guys that are NFL type of players," McDowell said, "and it's not just us, it's all around this league. You look and you see guys who've had those opportunities or should have those opportunities. I'm sitting next to two of those type of guys that could literally play in the NFL right now."

This wasn't the NFL. NFL fans might riot if a 2-10 team like the Valor sniffed the playoffs, let alone won the league championship. But the AFL's best path forward is not to copy the bigger league, according to Valor and Brigade owner Ted Leonsis, who said he was drawn in by the "anti-NFL" aspects of arena football.

"Why would you want to be a poor man's version of the giant of the sports landscape and not take advantage of it being indoors?" Leonsis told The Washington Times.

One of the reasons league owners like Leonsis and Ron Jaworski are serious about expanding the AFL again is because they see a built-in audience for the product. The AFL has only missed one season since it was founded in 1986, and some of its fans have stuck around the entire time.

In today's football landscape, where the long-term health of the NFL greatly differs based on who you ask, the AFL chugs along. Could the NFL learn something from its indoor sister?

To be fair, just 8,183 fans attended ArenaBowl XXXI a record low for the game. The website arenafan.com reported that Royal Farms Arena opened the upper bowl to sell $10 tickets, but those seats were largely empty Saturday.

But the diverse group of fans who did attend took in a show. On the field, it was the high-octane, 8-on-8 version of gridiron football at its best, but that's not the whole picture. Before the gates opened, many fans recognized first-year AFL commissioner Randall Boe mingling with fans. Once inside, DJ Chris Styles pumped in remixed music as fans headed to their seats, many of them just yards away from the bumper-protected sidelines.

But the big draw is in the "party zone," where fans can stand over the wall of an end zone, eat and drink with friends and maybe catch a stray pass like it's a foul ball at a baseball game.

The Valor and Brigade are two-year-old teams, so they have new and growing fan bases filled with newcomers like Phil Allin.

"If you want that experience of being on the field, chit-chatting a little bit with players, maybe catching a football which you get to keep, it's awesome," said Allin, a Valor fan.

However, Saturday's championship game also drew people like Ken Gill, who came down from Scranton, Pennsylvania and wore a retro Arizona Rattlers jersey. He called himself a 31-year fan of the league.

"Even though I'm nervous about only four teams, I like the fact that Jaworski and Leonsis are running it. They've had success everywhere else," Gill said. "It can only go up."

Some fans like Gill strongly preferred the arena game to the NFL, while others just liked adding the AFL to their football diet.

"It's more fun than you should have. It's a time in which we don't actually have football active," Valor fan Justin Rollins said. "It's before the NFL games start. It's after the draft. It's kind of a whole area in which, if you're a fan of football, you can go see quality players."

Ultimately, the reasons these fans enjoy the AFL are precisely things the NFL cannot replicate, nor would it wish to. It's played during the NFL offseason; the league is smaller with an arena experience some fans relish more than NFL stadiums; and most resoundingly, fans have "access" to AFL teams and players.

Jordan and Dana Ziegler, a couple from Fairfax, Virginia, wore matching T-shirts autographed by every player on the Valor. The ArenaBowl was just the second Valor game they attended.

"I think the NFL is just a little big," Jordan Ziegler said. "They do a lot to try to connect with their fans through media, all kinds of media, and it's just not really the same as getting really close to the team."

That's not only the chance to talk with players between plays from the "party zone." One perfect example: Valor season-ticket holders got to go bowling with players after the season last summer in Georgetown.

"The great thing is for us being close to the field, we actually know the players," Allin said. "We feel like we've had some interaction. We've had events with them."

Though the AFL fell off the mainstream radar in recent years, it used to have television deals with the likes of ESPN, and Bud Light was ArenaBowl XXXI's presenting sponsor. It has corporations' attention.

With its relatively small but passionate fan base, and with serious and ambitious owners in place who McDowell, the Valor coach, said "can sell ice to eskimos" the AFL is already thinking about 2019.

"Right now, we're like, 'What are we going to do next year?'" McDowell said. "A few years ago, soon as you win the ArenaBowl, you're like, 'What is next? I might not even be here.'"

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



The location on Golden Gate Parkway will be operated by the franchisees who also co-own locations on U.S. 41 in San Carlos Park and Fort Myers. Other area locations in North Fort Myers, Cape Coral and south Fort Myers are owned by different franchisees.

"We expect the Planet Fitness in Naples to open by the end of the year," said Becky Zirlen, senior public relations manager for the fitness chain based in New Hampshire. "The new location will offer state-of-the art cardio and strength equipment, free fitness training and a Black Card Spa, which will include HydroMassage beds, massage chairs and tanning beds/booths for PF Black Card members."

The fitness center chain promotes itself as fostering a welcoming environment that is labeled "the Judgement Free Zone."

"If you are not familiar with Planet Fitness, we cater to first-time and casual gymgoers who may have never belonged to a gym before," Zirlen said. "We always strive for a nonintimidating, judgment-free atmosphere where our members can feel comfortable working out at their own pace. Membership always starts out at $10 a month, or $21.99 a month for the PF Black Card. The Black Card offers the above amenities, the ability to bring a guest for free, and use of any of the 1,500-plus Planet Fitness locations nationwide in all 50 states."

Planet Fitness locations are typically around 20,000 square feet, so the new fitness center in Golden Gate most likely will occupy less than a quarter of the 95,530-square-foot Big Kmart store built in 1992. This last Kmart in Collier County closed in March 2017 when parent company Sears Holdings shuttered scores of stores nationwide.

Neither representatives of Parkway Plaza owner Benderson Development Co. nor property manager Cam Realty of Southwest Florida could be reached for comment regarding what other businesses, if any, may fill the remainder of the discount store vacated last year.

The new Planet Fitness at 4955 Golden Gate Parkway would become the de facto anchor of the local retail center. Because of the Kmart store and a more than 45,000-square-foot Sweetbay supermarket that remains vacant, the majority of the plaza's square footage has been empty. A Dollar Tree store and an Aaron's lease-to-own retailer are the largest tenants among drive-thru restaurants Pollo Tropical and Burger King and a few other eateries and small businesses in the center.

Benderson Development has tapped DK Mullin Architects and JL Stone Construction to redevelop the former Kmart. The contractor is to remove all existing plumbing, ceiling ductwork and tiles, light fixtures and abandoned utilities, according to permit applications filed with the county's Growth Management Department.

All interior partition walls, windows and doors also are to be removed, and the vacated store's concrete slab will be patched, smoothed and prepped for new floor finishes, according to the new architectural plans.

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

 

A second new sports complex may be coming to Buffalo's First Ward and Valley neighborhoods, as the area along the Buffalo River southeast of the city's downtown is increasingly becoming an adult playground for a variety of sports and entertainment activities.

Ellicott Development Co. this past week unveiled new plans for a $2.5 million Downtown Sports Complex, diagonal on Ohio Street from the Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association. Located at 300 Ohio, it would be sandwiched between Father Conway Park and the developer's Cooperage project.

Ellicott plans a multimillion-dollar transformation of the long-vacant former E. & B. Holmes Machinery facility at 55 Chicago St. into a mixed-use entertainment destination, featuring Buffalo's Resurgence Brewing Co., a rock climbing operation run by Central Rock Gym, 10 market-rate apartments and a barrel-aged spirits distillery.

It's also near fishing and kayak launch sites on the Buffalo River and the Buffalo City Rod & Gun Club, down the street from the Tewksbury Lodge and River Fest Park, and within sight of the RiverWorks adventure and entertainment destination on the other side of the Buffalo River on Ganson Street.

And it comes as Jon Williams' South Buffalo Development is already building an indoor and outdoor complex on 15.8 acres of land along Elk Street as part of his larger 21.7-acre project at the Schoellkopf Power House.

In a competitive twist, the original driving force behind the Elk Street complex — Michael Damico — is now heading the Ohio Street venture.

The Ohio Street project

Ellicott's plan involves building a 30,000-square-foot sports facility, featuring a 110-by-200-foot enclosed field with protected viewing areas and food service, including beer and wine.

It will also install two 40-by-40-foot outdoor volleyball courts, with a raised viewing platform that looks out over the courts and the adjacent Father Conway Park, where teams will play softball.

"The addition of this exciting new facility... will further contribute to the growth and revitalization of this former industrial area," said William Paladino, Ellicott CEO. "It will synergize well with our adjacent developments both completed and underway."

The proposal is expected to come to the Planning Board for review in early fall, Paladino said. If approved, it's expected to be completed by spring 2019, with the first volleyball teams slated to start playing in May alongside softball, followed by football in the summer.

"We are extremely pleased to be part of the revitalization of the Old First Ward by partnering with Ellicott Development Co. on our indoor/outdoor sports complex adjacent to the Cooperage," said Damico, who is president of facility operator M/ilesports. "The Downtown Sports Complex will be a fine asset for the area. Groups and individuals who would like to get involved should contact us right away. We are getting ready for the 2019 sports seasons."

Damico is a sports promoter whose company has run adult football, soccer, softball and kickball leagues across the city for over 20 years, with both men's and coed teams.

His league's games are currently held at Delaware Park and other city parks, as well as the Nardin Fieldhouse and the Adpro Sports Training Center in Orchard Park. But those fields are geographically spread out and not consistently available, so Damico dreamed of uniting them in one location in the city.

He initially tried to work with Williams to accomplish that goal on Elk Street until the two bitterly parted ways months ago amid acrimonious litigation that is still pending. Damico said that lawsuit is likely to be settled shortly and won't interfere with the new venture.

Damico acknowledged the potential challenge of operating two similar facilities so close to each other. "We were the biggest tenant down there, and now we're not there. I don't know who would fill all those open hours," Damico said. "I plan on selling mine out."

Elk Street project

Williams' $1.6 million project, designed by Carmina Wood Morris DPC, will include a one-story, 26,400-square-foot field house at 427 Elk, with a 61-space parking lot, and a 300-by-300-foot outdoor athletic field at 85 Lee St. It's already been approved by the city, and officials are now seeking building permits to begin work, said spokesman Phil Pantano.

Pantano added that Ellicott's new project doesn't change what Williams will do. "There's no change to what Jon had planned for the Elk Street project," he said. "Everything is the same and full speed ahead."

Williams' site plan application, which was approved by the city Planning Board, calls for an indoor complex with an artificial turf field that would serve adult and college teams for soccer, lacrosse, volleyball and "other similar sport activities." Limited refreshments would be available from an indoor snack counter, which would have a liquor license to serve beer and wine.

The outdoor field would be used similarly but more for actual games, handling adult or college soccer, softball, adult flag football and other sports as needed, the application continued. It also could be divided to allow two separate games to be played at once.

The indoor facility — located on the corner of Elk and Orlando streets — would be capable of handling up to three teams practicing at once, for a total of about 50 to 75 adults at any given time, according to the documents.

About 35 to 50 adults would be expected on the outdoor field at any time.

Before he split with the Elk Street project, Damico had not only pledged to bring his leagues to Williams, but even drew in Medaille College as the anchor operator.

Medaille will use it for three of its own sports — men's and women's soccer, lacrosse and field hockey. The school signed on for 1,000 hours of playing time over 10 years.

M/ilesports had also signed a sponsorship and partnership agreement with Red Bull to run six events at the Elk Street facility over the summer — two soccer tournaments, two volleyball tournaments and one each for touch football and kickball.

But when negotiations with Williams fell through for his own leagues, Damico was left out in the cold, even though he was the driving force behind the initial concept. That's when he came up with a new idea.

Damico said he was playing softball at Father Conway Park, and hit a foul ball backwards that landed where his planned new fieldhouse would be. Seeing what was already planned for the Cooperage, he reached out to Paladino.

"It was almost natural," he said. "We had a business plan, and we had everything drawn up from the other place, and we just walked it over and showed them. Half the work was already done, so they were interested. It happened pretty quick."

Damico said his new facility will be "all adult-oriented," but with no college partner. Medaille will remain at Elk Street. He currently has about 1,100 people playing in about 100 teams — 56 for softball, 24 for kickball, 10 for football and another eight to 10 for soccer. Volleyball will be new. The Red Bull and other sponsorships will have to be renegotiated.

"My leagues will fill it," he said. "We're happy with what we have, and the amount of people that are already in there."

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

Olamide Zaccheaus had to quit. Things had gotten out of hand — he was addicted.

In a way, the addiction wasn't unexpected. Zaccheaus, a senior wide receiver at Virginia, admitted to "an addictive nature." And "anything I do," he added, "I want to be the best at it."

Even this?

He wasn't going to bed at a reasonable hour. It was consuming his time. And worst of all: Zaccheaus found his new craving was affecting his development as a football player.

"I was kind of slacking on the things I was supposed to do," he said.

He had to quit, and quit he did — cold turkey. In September, after the start of the Cavaliers' season, Zaccheaus made the decision to readjust his priorities. So he turned on his television, logged into his profile and deleted "Fortnite" from his Xbox.

"I had to," he said.

It's the game in player lounges, apartments, hot tubs and cold tubs, on buses, cellphones, PlayStation and Xbox: "Fortnite," the cooperative video game that just celebrated its one-year anniversary, is wildly popular across the Football Bowl Subdivision, adding another layer of intense competition to the hours before and after team activities.

"Every single time I go in the locker room, I see that game on the TV, every second of the day," Virginia linebacker Chris Peace said. "It's an intense game, even if you're not playing. One guy can be playing, and the whole locker room will be watching."

It's "big time, big time" at Florida, said junior linebacker David Reese, where "everyone but a few people play," said his teammate, offensive tackle Martez Ivey. It's "crazy how many people" are into the game at Georgia Tech, senior linebacker Brant Mitchell said. "Fortnite" is "huge in my locker room," Rutgers offensive lineman Tariq Cole confirmed, as teammates will "curse each other out in the middle of the locker room because somebody died."

"I wouldn't even say it's taken over college football, it's taken over the world," Maryland offensive lineman Derwin Gray said. "Whoever made that game, I take my hat off to them."

More than 125 million people have downloaded "Fortnite" since its debut, most drawn to the free-for-all form that pits up to 100 players in a last-man-standing fight to the finish. That mode, known as "Fortnite Battle Royale," has divided locker rooms, formed hierarchies completely unrelated to depth charts, created friendships between would-be rivals and led even potential All-American contenders to make the game part of their daily offseason routine.

Ivey had it down to a science: Florida's senior offensive tackle would lift in the morning and then go to class, finishing around noon. Ten minutes later, he'd sit down with his Xbox until about three in the afternoon. Then another team activity, followed by a trip back into the world of "Fortnite."

Two Wisconsin stars, offensive lineman Michael Dieter and linebacker T.J. Edwards, are so into "Fortnite" they brought their gaming systems to Big Ten Conference media days — though Deiter forgot his HDMI cord at home.

"If I have time with nothing going on, I'm going to get on 'Fortnite,'" Deiter said. "But there are definitely guys on the team that are worse. It's almost like they have to get their 'Fortnite' in."

Gray and Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich will meet on Oct. 6, when the Terrapins and Wolverines clash in a matchup of teams from the Big Ten East. Until then, however — and very likely after — Gray and Winovich match wits on "Fortnite," two "big 6-foot-5 dudes out here playing Xbox," Gray said, competing online before they compete in person.

"On the weekends, it's fair game," Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall said. "I will personally stay up until two or three (in the) morning playing with teammates and my boys from other schools."

There's a financial crunch to deal with: Ivy said he's spent a "good amount" of money, about $300, buying new characters, models and weapons in the past 200 days. There's a time crunch: Athletes try to cram games into increasingly small windows of time.

The game upends a locker room's power structure. The hierarchy on the practice field is simple: the quarterback, the stars and the seniors lead the way. However, responses to the question of which teammate is the best at "Fortnite" sent reporters scrambling for rosters and depth charts, searching for the names of previously unknown backups, walk-ons, kickers and punters.

"These guys are so good," Reese said. "If they streamed, they'd be able to make money on it. But there's an NCAA policy, so they can't do it. I feel bad for them."

But the magnetic draw "Fortnite" has on FBS players fits into a broader theme. Teams compete all day, in everything, on the field and off. It only makes sense the competition would continue, whether first in the morning, before the start of team meetings and workouts, or deep into the night.

"We're competitors," Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye said. "That's all we do."

It can also be a way to decompress, particularly during the months of player-driven workouts and practices. That's "work," Pittsburgh offensive lineman Alex Bookser said. On the other hand, "Fortnite" provides "a different kind of juice."

"'Fornite' is when you can yell at people for messing up and not feel bad about it," Bookser said.

There's a generational gap, of course. Fortnite might be the go-to outlet for student-athletes. Coaches, meanwhile, are less enthused.

"I call a high school kid and ask, 'You play that Fort Hill?' I don't even know the name of it," Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi said. "It bothers me that people are that into it. But that's the generation we're in. They'd rather do that than work."

Coaches might not mention "Fortnite" by name, if they know it, nor even single out video games as a habit to necessarily avoid — even if those who spoke to USA TODAY were unable to wrap their head around the game's mushrooming popularity.

"Video games are taking over the world," Maryland coach D.J. Durkin said. "What happened to being outside? You should just go outside and just play. Those days are gone. I'm trying to bring them back with my own guys."

Then again, coaches are pragmatic: It could beat the alternative.

Added Durkin, "I'd rather they're playing video games than doing other things."

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
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Copyright 2018 CMG Corporate Services, Inc. on behalf of itself and the Newspapers Jul 29, 2018

Palm Beach Daily News

 

A date has been set to begin building the town's new $13.8 million recreation center.

Construction will start Wednesday, according to a town press release, setting in motion work on the new Seaview Park recreation center that was first proposed about two years ago but encountered several snags, including Town Council delays and a one-year legal battle.

But while construction will begin Wednesday, the building won't be demolished until mid-August, according to Pat Marshall, project manager for Hedrick Brothers Construction. Marshall said the first couple of weeks will be reserved for fencing the construction site and landscaping work.

The project is expected to be complete in fall 2019. Until then, much of the existing recreation center will be inaccessible, including the playground, front lawn, basketball court and athletic field. The only publicly accessible area will be the tennis courts, which may experience "occasional court shutdowns" due to construction, according to the release.

Camp Palm Beach, which is normally held at the recreation center, will move to Palm Beach Day Academy at 241 Seaview Ave. for Week 8 (this week) andWeek 9 (Aug. 6-10), according to the Palm Beach Recreation Department. Pick up and drop-off will be held at the school's cafeteria in the southeast corner.

Parking in the Royal Palm Way municipal parking lot will be "very limited," according to the release, and the town suggests drivers use on-street parking along Seaview Avenue.

The new recreation center will be built by Hedrick Brothers Construction, which also built Town Hall and the Par 3 Clubhouse. The total estimated budget for the project is $13.8 million, which will be evenly split among the Morton and Barbara Mandel Family Foundation, Friends of Recreation and the town. The Town Council approved the project in July.

 

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Copyright 2018 Union Leader Corp.
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The Union Leader (Manchester, NH)

 

HUDSON — A lightning strike caused a small fire in a Hudson fitness club Friday night.

Just after 7:30 p.m., the Hudson Fire Department Dispatch received three notices of an event at the Nottingham Square Plaza, located at 142 Lowell Road, one from a master box alarm being activated and two phone calls reporting smoke inside the Fit Lab Gym.

Firefighters arrived quickly and found the building evacuated and smoke present in the gym. A fire was found in an adjacent rear utility room and was quickly extinguished and contained to the area of origin.

The fire was declared under control within 20 minutes of the first report of the incident.

An investigation confirmed that the fire occurred when a lightning strike traveled through a conduit to a lawn sprinkler timer box in the utility room.

Firefighters ventilated the building for an additional hour after the fire.

The Nashua Fire Department also sent engines and ladder trucks to the scene. The Pelham, Litchfield and Londonderry fire departments supplied station coverage during the incident.

No injuries were reported.

The fire broke out just days after the Hudson Fire Department officially opened its new fire station at 204 Lowell Road, just up the street from the scene.

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Copyright 2018 The Post and Courier
All Rights Reserved

Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

It's a typical hot and muggy June morning when the bus from Mount Pleasant pulls into the parking lot at Cane Bay High School.

The 30 or so players who have made the hour-long drive up from Wando High School step off the bus, equipment in hand, and make the slow walk to the practice fields behind the school. A heavy rain fell the night before, and large puddles on the field have yet to recede.

"It's gonna be a slogfest," one Wando player says to a teammate.

Once a week, for three straight weeks in June — normally on Thursday mornings, depending on the weather — Cane Bay High School head football coach Russell Zehr plays host to teams from around the Lowcountry for a morning of 7-on-7 games. What started out seven years ago as a trio of Berkeley County teams — primarily Cane Bay, Goose Creek and Timberland — getting together for a couple hours of 7-on-7 matchups has swollen into nearly a dozen squads from five counties.

No score is kept and there won't be any statistics published in the following day's newspapers or highlights on the local TV stations. There will be no wins and losses that count in the standings, only the sound of a horn when the 25-minute game is complete and the teams meet at midfield, shake hands and rotate to another field and another opponent.

There are also no college coaches watching intently from the sidelines, so no scholarships will be offered on this morning.

However, that might be changing in the not-so-distant future. As the popularity of 7-on-7 football has exploded across the country, especially in the South, this non-contact hybrid sport could become a main conduit for high school football players hoping to catch the eye of college recruiters.

While prep sports might be as popular as they've ever been in the United States — record numbers participated this past academic year — playing for your local high school may no longer be the best avenue for prospects hoping to get noticed by college coaches.

The days of college coaches combing the hallways and classrooms looking to land the next blue-chip athlete is a thing of the past. The influence of high school sports when it comes to college recruiting has gradually ebbed over the past two decades. That role has been taken over by club or travel teams in almost every sport — baseball, basketball, soccer and volleyball.

Want an athletic scholarship? Playing only for your high school team probably isn't enough

The holdout has been football, where travel and club teams have yet to gain a foothold. High school football still reigns supreme, with prep coaches still holding tremendous sway in terms of determining who receives athletic scholarships.

There are no official participation numbers kept nationally or even on a local level for 7-on-7 football, but it's potential influence cannot be denied. The proponents of 7-on-7 football believe it's another pathway to earning a college scholarship and a chance to face some of the nation's top-level talent, like in AAU basketball, during the spring and summer circuits.

But critics worry that it will go the way of AAU basketball, which is an unregulated sport with no governing body at the national, state or local levels. AAU basketball has earned a deserved reputation of being plagued with street agents, middlemen and so-called "mentors" who are in it not for the athletes, but for their own personal gain. Or worse, 7-on-7 football will eventually end up under the scrutiny of federal law enforcement like AAU basketball did this past fall when coaches, apparel companies and parents were caught up in a cash for players scandal.

"As coaches, we hope 7-on-7 doesn't turn into AAU basketball," said Clemson offensive coordinator Jeff Scott. "I think that there are certain pockets in some of these bigger cities — Miami, Atlanta, Houston — where you're seeing a lot more of the 7-on-7 teams, but it still doesn't replace the actual Friday nights. I think in basketball, sometimes the AAU circuit really is probably even more important to the players and maybe even scouting coaches than the high school model. So I think as college coaches and I think as high school coaches, we're optimistic that it'll stay the way it is right now."

What is 7-on-7 football?

Seven-on-seven is not a new phenomenon. It's been around almost since the invention of the forward pass. For decades, coaches from Pop Warner to the NFL have used 7-on-7 as a routine practice tool to sharpen skills in the passing game and create competition among teammates.

"I think 7-on-7 is great for developing a Friday night football team," said Oceanside Collegiate head football coach Chad Grier. "I think it's a great way to get reps and develop some of your skill players, especially quarterbacks and wide receivers. It's also a way for the kids to stay involved with football on a year-round basis because there's no contact."

A 7-on-7 game is typically 20 to 25 minutes in length with seven players on each side of the ball. There are no linemen and there is no tackling. No kickoffs or special teams. Each possession starts at the 40-yard line. The offense has three plays to get a first down past the 25-yard line, three more plays to get to the 10 and another three plays to score.

A team can opt to have a player hike the ball to the quarterback or use a stool where the quarterback snaps it to himself. The stool or center is equipped with an alarm, and quarterbacks have four seconds to throw the ball without incurring a sack or penalty.

"The (Seattle) Seahawks and the NFL were really the first ones to start making every drill in practices about competition," said Summerville High School coach Joe Call. "This is a copycat sport. The colleges saw what the NFL was doing and started to do it, and now it's trickled down to the high schools. I love the competitiveness of 7-on-7."

Not so long ago when Wando High School football coach Jimmy Noonan was looking to break up the monotony of summer workouts, he'd call one of the coaches in the area for an informal game of 7-on-7.

It was an easy way to break up the routine of the summer, when dragging teenage boys out of their beds early in the morning and getting them into the weight room or on the field for "voluntary" workouts can be a daunting task for even the most motivated high school player.

The 7-on-7 version of football emphasizes speed, athleticism and one-on-one matchups. What used to be a practice tool has evolved into nearly the same phenomenon of the AAU basketball summer circuits, which feature five-star travel teams and the nation's bluest of blue chip players.

The only thing missing has been the college coaches, who under NCAA rules are forbidden to go to tournaments off their campuses.

'It's not real football'

The obvious difference between the game that is played on Friday nights and the one during 7-on-7 is that there is no tackling and no linemen on the field. That can clash with a very traditional view held by some coaches, who believe the game is ultimately won in the trenches.

"The game of football is still won and lost at the line of scrimmage, and that isn't going to change," South Carolina coach Will Muschamp told reporters last season. "Unless they outlaw tackling, football is going to be played at the line of scrimmage."

When college coaches come to watch potential prospects during showcase events in baseball, basketball, volleyball and soccer, they are seeing those athletes perform the same sport. Seven-on-seven is so fundamentally different from the game everyone is familiar with, it's difficult for coaches to evaluate players.

"I think you can take a little bit away from 7-on-7," said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. "We do 7-on-7 every day in practice. It's a great way to teach your scheme and to see who can process things. You can see ball skills and things like that, but at the end of the day, it's a contact sport.

"You're not going to last very long if you're making all your evaluations based on 7-on-7 tape. You better see who can play between the lines. That's why the Adam Humphries (5-11, 190 pounds) of the world are playing in the NFL, because at the end of the day, you've got to be a football player."

Noonan couldn't agree more.

"I've seen plenty of All-American quarterbacks in 7-on-7," Noonan said. "But when it comes time to put on the pads, those skills don't always translate to the field on Friday nights because you take out so many of the intangibles of the games."

Stanford coach David Shaw was even more blunt about his assessment of 7-on-7 and its value when it comes to evaluating prospects.

"Seven-on-seven is not football," Shaw told a group of high school coaches last year. "I've never watched a 7-on-7 film. I need to see them with pads on. I need to see the quarterbacks with a pass rush. I need to see the receivers catch a ball over the middle and get hit and break tackles. Seven-on-seven is great for staying in shape and great for working with those guys, but it means absolutely nothing to me as an evaluator. I will also never ever, ever have a recruiting conversation with a 7-on-7 coach."

That's not to say that a player can't get noticed playing 7-on-7.

Take Summerville quarterback Jonathan Bennett for example. The summer before his junior season, Bennett, a raising senior this fall, and the Green Wave attended Georgia's passing camp. Coaches from Liberty University were on hand and noticed Bennett.

"I think the Georgia camp put me on their radar," said Bennett, who verbally committed to play at Liberty next year. "I think it showed them I could make all the throws in 7-on-7."

Grier remembers seeing Ryan Switzer make two spectacular leaping grabs during a 7-on-7 camp at Wake Forest a few years back and the Deacons offering a scholarship on the spot. Switzer eventually signed with North Carolina and now plays in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders.

"No one knew who Ryan Switzer was before that camp, so it can happen," Grier said.

Despite the benefits of 7-on-7, Bennett understands the game he will be playing on Friday nights this fall for the Green Wave is vastly different from the one he plays during the summer.

"At the end of the day, it's not real football," Bennett said.

'Getting out of control'

On the final play of the college football season, Alabama freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw the game-winning touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Devonta Smith in overtime as the Crimson Tide beat Georgia for the national title in January.

Sitting on his couch in Ladson, Mal Lawyer, a former Clemson wide receiver, had seen Smith and Tagovailoa play on elite travel 7-on-7 teams and knew their skillset. Lawyer, the head coach of a local 7-on-7 team called the Lowcountry Outlaws, had watched Smith play for the Louisiana Bootleggers, one of the nation's top 7-on-7 teams. He'd also seen Tagovailoa, who was a quarterback for a team sponsored by Nike.

"If you look at the top prospects, the quarterbacks, defensive backs, wide receivers, nine out of 10 of them play on some kind of travel 7-on-7 team," Lawyer said. "It's not a coincidence. I follow recruiting pretty closely, and almost all of them play on 7-on-7 teams."

The 7-on-7 season unofficially ended in June with a pair of national tournaments, including the Pylon 7-on-7 National Championship played in Mercedes Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons. IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., has another popular circuit with the National 7V7 Football Association. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is actively involved with his own all-star 7-on-7 team.

Adidas, Under Armour and Battle have started to become involved in providing equipment for some elite travel teams.

"It's starting to become a big business," Lawyer said. "I can see it becoming like AAU basketball. I'm not sure it'll ever surpass high school football, but it's getting bigger and bigger every year. You see more and more kids starting to play 7-on-7, so I think eventually college coaches will start to get involved too."

One of the top regional tournaments is the Blazing 7-on-7, which was held in Charlotte earlier this month. Mike Newman, who played defensive back at North Carolina A&T in the early 1990s, is one of the tournament's founders and started his enterprise with three North Carolina high school teams in 2014.

This year, with Powerade as its primary sponsor, the tournament had 40 teams from 16 states. Woodrow Wilson High School, out of Camden, N.J., took home the championship and the $15,000 check for the school's athletic program. All the teams in the event were made up of high school teams. No travel or club teams were involved by design.

"What we're trying to do is give the kids a chance to play against elite competition and help them prepare for the upcoming season," Newman said.

This year, for the first time, Newman organized a tournament for club teams as well.

"We've had some success with the high school tournaments and put our toe in the water to invite some of the travel teams," Newman said. "We're not looking to become like AAU basketball with all the street agents. I know there is a negative vibe that surrounds AAU basketball, and I don't want to be associated with that element. If you do it the right way, it should be about the kids who want to play college ball. That should be the extent of it."

In other sports that feature club and travel teams, tournament and showcase organizers understand the NCAA recruiting calendar and put on their biggest events when they know the athletes will get maximum exposure with college coaches. College coaches can come to one event and see hundreds or even thousands of potential prospects in one area.

The NCAA, which didn't want 7-on-7 football to become the next AAU basketball, put a stop to that years ago, forbidding college coaches from attending 7-on-7 tournaments.

"The NCAA saw where this was heading a decade ago and stepped in," said Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell. "It's a dumb rule to pass because the coaches love the one-stop shopping that allowed them at these tournaments and camps. The reason the NCAA stepped in was because the camp circuits and tournaments were getting out of control. It was too many of them, and too many people started to get involved in the recruiting process. It was starting to become like AAU basketball."

That, of course, hasn't stopped colleges from holding their own 7-on-7 tournaments. The only difference is that no travel teams are allowed to participate, only legitimate high school teams. South Carolina held its own 7-on-7 tournament in June, getting 64 teams from six different states and more than a thousand kids on the USC campus.

"It's such a smart idea because it's a great way to get a lot of kids on your campus at once with little or no cost," Grier said.

While 7-on-7 might never supplant high school football as the main vehicle to earning a college scholarship, one cannot dismiss its growing influence. For now, many college coaches hold the sport in the same contempt that most players have for two-a-days on hot, muggy mornings.

"For some reason, this whole recruiting thing is blowing up. Kids say 'I have to go to this 7-on-7 or do this or this. I've got a better idea. Go become a great high school football player on your team," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. "When we walk into that high school, guess what that head coach says? 'Take him.' And you know what we do at Ohio State when he says that? We usually take him."

Practice for the upcoming high school football season started on Friday.

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Copyright 2018 LNP Media Group, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

LNP (Lancaster, PA)

 

Construction is nearing an end on Lampeter-Strasburg's new $3.5 million upgrade to its football and soccer fields that began several months ago.

The project is essentially a facelift to the fields, with a turf surface replacing the grass. The pressbox in the football stadium has also been renovated, along with the addition of handicap accessible ramps that now enter from behind the bleachers.

"There's a whole bunch of excitement from the kids," longtime L-S football coach John Manion said. "I'm excited for game nights...but this is for more than just football."

While L-S will become the 13th Lancaster-Lebanon League football team with a turf field, the new surfaces will also serve to benefit the soccer, field hockey and lacrosse teams at L-S in varsity, junior varsity and beyond.

And that was the point of this project, as overusage of both grass fields in previous years often left the surfaces torn up. A synthetic turf field will be able to hold about 300 events, while a grass field can hold about 80 events per year, according to district estimates.

"With our current usage we were short many, many fields," Lampeter-Strasburg athletic director Branden Lippy said in an email. "Hence the 'value' in turf and being able to put multiple sports on the surfaces."

The updates are just a part of a multi-year plan in which the district has $5 million budgeted through the 2018-19 school year to restore or renovate existing outdoor athletic facilities on its campus. The cost of the projects do not require a tax raise for residents as none of the money is coming from the district's general fund, but instead is coming from the district's capital reserve fund.

Here's some other updates taking place to athletic facilities across the L-L League this summer...

Annville-Cleona: Athletic director Tommy Long said A-C installed a "new scoreboard for our football stadium. It will be a scoreboard with a video board and sound system. We are excited about this upgrade and appreciate the sponsors who are helping make this happen."

Donegal: Athletic director Ron Kennedy said the "gym floor is being re-finished," along with an "upgrade of lights at our junior high (stadium), and construction began on what will be our multi-purpose/wrestling room."

Elco: Athletic director Doug Bohannon said, "Tennis courts were resurfaced and a new set of light standards installed at the stadium."

Elizabethtown: Athletic director Linda Ahern said this summer and fall the scoreboards at the baseball field and the main gymnasium will be replaced. Added Ahern: "We are also working on our main entrance to our football stadium where we are replacing pavers that keep sinking."

Lancaster Catholic: Athletic director Rich Hinnenkamp said the tennis courts are being resurfaced.

Lancaster Mennonite: Athletic director Nasser Salim said the old gymnasium inside the high school, now mostly used for physical education courses and sometimes for Blazers' basketball practices, is getting a complete facelift, "from the ceiling to replacing tiles and lighting to repainting the walls to putting in a new floor."

Manheim Township: The turf Ed Journey Field and turf Gene Kruis Field were each replaced over the winter. The tennis courts were also resurfaced.

McCaskey: This school district is very busy with summer projects, according to athletic director Jon Mitchell. Both Lincoln and Reynolds Middle School are undergoing major construction that "will provide new/renovated gymnasiums and locker rooms by the 2019-20 season." The Reynolds project also includes a parking deck with a sport surface that teams can use for practices. On the main campus, the practice football and soccer fields behind McCaskey East High School have been re-crowned and reseeded. The school is working with Tennis Central and the USTA to have the tennis courts resurfaced and repainted. Finally, the school is moving forward with a major trophy case/Hall of Fame project outside the main gymnasium, and will be holding a golf tournament Aug. 3 to support the project.

Penn Manor: A new scoreboard will be installed on the high school turf field, and new varsity tennis courts are being constructed at Manor Middle School, with the latter slated to be completed by the start of the spring boys tennis season.

Pequea Valley: Athletic director Mark Grossman said, "We have a major redesign to our softball field. New field on a slightly different location. The field will have dugouts, fence, scoreboard, etc."

Solanco: Athletic director Anthony Hall said the track has been resurfaced, while the school continues to explore options in a future rebuild of the wrestling building after the structure collapsed over the winter, but Hall expects it'll be "at least a year before that's finished."

Warwick: Athletic director Ryan Landis said, "Only notable item was a structure added to our softball field and additions to the dugouts that were a result of a fundraising campaign by our parents' group, community donors, and the school district. It will provide storage and a place for the scorekeeper and other benefits for both Warwick and our opponents to match our baseball program and keep us in compliance with Title IX."

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

 

 


A Knox County jury found two former University of Tennessee football players not guilty of rape charges Friday evening.

"I trusted in God. He took care of it," former star UT linebacker A.J. Johnson told reporters outside the courtroom after the verdict was announced.

In closing arguments earlier Friday, a prosecutor framed for jurors the sole issue they needed to decide as they considered the fate of Johnson and his ex-teammate Michael Williams.

The pair were standing trial on charges they raped a female UT athlete in Johnson's bedroom during a football victory party in November 2014.

"Is (the accuser) locked in a lie or was she locked in a room?" Assistant District Attorney General Leslie Nassios told jurors in Knox County Criminal Court.

That question was at the heart of the aggravated rape case against Johnson and Williams.

She said, they said

The accuser told jurors she didn't object when Johnson, with whom she twice had sex in the months before the party, began having sex with her while her best friend, Anna Lawn, and Williams were in the bedroom.

But, she said, when Lawn left her alone in the room and Williams — who she said had briefly left — returned to the room, Johnson told him to lock the door and both players began raping her.

She testified that she told them no but they persisted.

Defense attorneys Stephen Ross Johnson and David Eldridge, who represent the ex-linebacker and Williams, respectively, contend the accuser voluntarily had sex with both players and only claimed rape once she realized others at the party knew about the encounter. They say she wound up "locked in a lie" that she couldn't undo.

"She never knew it would get this out of control," attorney Johnson told jurors. "She can't turn that back."

Eldridge hammered what he contended is a lack of evidence — forensic proof, eyewitness testimony, incriminating statements — to even support the charges, let alone conviction.

"Our system of justice demands more proof when you're trying to deprive a fellow citizen of their liberty," he said. "Michael Williams has been the subject of false accusations for three and a half years. There is no greater privilege as a citizen than to lift the veil of false accusations."

'Vast conspiracy'

The trial began last week with four days of jury selection. Testimony began Monday. Although A.J. Johnson had been expected on Thursday to testify, the defense attorneys announced Friday morning they would present no witnesses, including the accused players, arguing Nassios and fellow prosecutor Kyle Hixson had simply failed to prove their case.

Testimony at trial revealed allegations that a Knoxville Police Department liaison to the UT athletics department tipped off then-coach Butch Jones about the investigation just minutes after lead Investigator Tim Riddle notified the agency's command staff about the rape report.

Jones, in turn, alerted Johnson, and Jones and then-Police Chief David Rausch communicated throughout the day of the investigation.

Riddle told jurors he didn't know about those behind-the-scenes phone calls at the time and now contends UT's inclusion and his own boss' leaking of information to Jones hampered the probe and gave the players time to destroy evidence.

Both defense attorneys on Friday in closing arguments mocked the notion of what they called a "vast conspiracy" between KPD and UT. Both also pointed out testimony that the accuser and Lawn wiped their phones clean and ultimately ditched them within a day of each other, while investigators seized Johnson's phone and secured cellphone provider information on Williams' phone. KPD sent preservation letters for the phones of the accuser and Lawn but never followed through with a search warrant.

"The only cell phone that was ever recovered in this case was Mr. Johnson's," attorney Johnson argued. "You have to have a moral certainty (as to guilt). Can your mind rest easily based on the evidence you've heard?"

'She's meat'

Nassios countered that it was the defense who was trying to lure jurors away from the key issue in the case — what happened to the accuser in Johnson's bedroom.

"She said no, and they put their hands over her mouth to shut her up," Nassios said. "They didn't want to hear her. They (passed) her back and forth... She's a thing — not a human being, not a person. She's meat. She had a mouth and a vagina. That's what she was to them... This was a gang bang. This is rape."

Attorney Johnson countered that the accuser's account often contradicted her own best friend's version of events, and he insisted there is plenty wrong with both their accounts.

He noted, for instance, the accuser testified that after the rape, she collapsed onto the floor and the players left her there with the bedroom door open.

"She said they left her in a crying heap on the floor with the door open — at a party," he said.

"There were people upstairs on the landing and there were people all along the stairs."

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

 

Deep Creek is headed to a higher classification, while Bayside, Cox, First Colonial and Granby will drop a level under a realignment plan approved this week by the Virginia High School League.

The changes — based on school enrollment figures from March — go into effect beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

Schools can appeal their placement at a hearing August 21 at the VHSL's office in Charlottesville. No area schools are expected to appeal.

The proposal was released last month, and the VHSL's alignment committed approved the plan this week.

Granby currently resides in Class 6, but the Comets would move to Class 5 in 2019-20. The Norfolk school's enrollment in grades 9-12 is 1,947 students, making Granby the largest school in Class 5.

Deep Creek, meanwhile, is now in Class 4, but the Hornets would move to Class 5 with an enrollment of 1,605 students in grades 9-12. Deep Creek would be one of the smallest schools in Class 5.

Enrollments for Bayside (1,936), First Colonial (1,831) and Cox (1,819) — all currently in Class 6 — would be among the largest schools in Class 5.

Four Peninsula District schools also would change classification: Hampton, Menchville and Warwick drop from Class 5 to Class 4, and Woodside falls from Class 6 to Class 5.

The reclassification also impacts postseason competition. Hampton Roads schools compete in Region A tournaments, and Class 5 Region A would become the largest in the state with 18 schools. Class 6 Region A has 14 schools.

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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)

 

The Marietta (Ga.) High School football team led by former Oscar Smith coach Richard Morgan this week was ordered to forfeit all eight of its victories during the 2017 season for using two ineligible players, according to a report by the Marietta Daily Journal.

Morgan was not implicated in the investigation, and the Georgia High School Association did not name him in reporting its findings.

Days before the sanctions became public, longtime Marietta athletic director Paul Hall stepped down to take a teaching position at Marietta Middle School. And Kelly Hastings, Hall's assistant and the school's eligibility coordinator, told investigators that she filled out the two students' eligibility forms and made a clerical error, according to the paper.

The penalty, which included a $1,500 fine and the team being placed on "severe warning status," was handed down Monday - less than a week after The Pilot reported that Morgan's team this preseason has landed in some national rankings.

The GHSA found that Marietta had two ineligible players last season - two starters who did not live in the school's attendance zone. Eligibility forms - completed by Hastings - stated the two players had mothers who were employed at the school, making them eligible to play there.

"We concluded that there were two students for whom GHSA eligibility forms were incorrectly completed by the Marietta High School Athletic Office," a statement from the school district read. "In each situation, the student in question is a child of a teacher at a Marietta City Schools elementary school and attended MHS through a district policy that permits children of employees to attend an MCS school. It was determined that one student legitimately moved into the Marietta attendance zone at the time of enrollment and later moved outside the MCS attendance zone; the other student never established residency in the MCS attendance zone."

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Copyright 2018 Chattanooga Publishing Company
All Rights Reserved

Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

 

Hamilton County Schools' new team of athletic trainers is gearing up for the start of school in two weeks, rehearsing spine injury protocol and other medical emergencies.

In April, the school board approved a contract with Erlanger Health System to place full-time, certified athletic trainers in every high school in the district.

East Ridge High was one of the schools left to fend for itself without an athletic trainer before the new contract.

"I now have a trained professional that understands sports-related injuries," said Tim James, head football coach at East Ridge High. "We can focus more on the Xs, Os, the kids and the coaching, as opposed to trying to be a pseudo athletic trainer."

On Friday, Kevin Gebicke, a paramedic for Erlanger Lifeforce Event Medicine, provided a refresher course on how to safely transfer players with suspected neck or spinal cord injuries from the ground to a board and ready them for transport by emergency responders.

"To protect that person from further injury, that's where spinal immobilization comes in," Gebicke said. "They could have a fracture to their back resulting in damage to their spinal cord, which could result in temporary or long-term paralysis."

He emphasized "neutral alignment," keeping the head and neck straight and in line with the body, when moving the players.

"Making sure that person at the head is calling that movement and we're working as a team, that is probably the most key aspect," he said.

Although Friday's training at Signal Mountain Middle High School was geared toward football players, the same technique applies to all spine injuries, but in football, trainers must also take the helmet and pads into consideration.

"The only time we're going to remove that equipment in the field is if they were having a life-threatening emergency requiring CPR," he said.

When a serious injury occurs in a remote part of the county, like Signal Mountain, Lifeforce helicopters are poised to quickly transport the student.

"If somebody has a suspected spine injury, that's a pretty serious injury," Gebicke said. "Getting them to those super specially trained neuro and spine surgeons is really key, and the faster we can do that is always better."

Although some schools already had arrangements with other sports medicine providers, board member Joe Wingate, District 7, said the move would bring much-needed fairness and consistency to the athletics programs.

Dr. Bill Moore Smith, medical director of Erlanger sports medicine, agreed.

"For so many years, one program would come in and try to get the best schools... but the ones that were unserved were the ones that really needed it," he said.

Students won't be charged for services, which could range from injury evaluation to joint taping, physical therapy and nutrition counseling.

"If it's an injury, they'll probably want to see a sports medicine physician, but trainers will provide all options to the parents," Smith said. "We're not trying to take patients away from an athlete's doctor. They always have the opportunity to go see their doctor."

Common injuries include sprained ankles, jammed fingers and shoulder strains, but more significant injuries, such as torn knee ligaments and broken collar bones, also happen, James said.

"I'm not going to dare put a kid in with some type of suspected, more serious injury, and it probably kept some kids from playing in the past," he said.

Heat stroke is another concern, since the season starts earlier and today's teens spend less time outdoors than when James played ball.

"I think the sport has, in the past 25 years, begun to really take heed of the medical warnings," he said. "When I played, it was kind of a shake-it-off mentality. I'm sure we had a lot of injuries that we played through that probably did some permanent damage."

Cortney Braswell, the head football coach at Ridgeland High School who has played and coached football across the region for more than a decade, said the new athletic trainers are a welcome sight. He said even experienced coaches aren't equipped to handle certain injuries.

"There's nothing worse than, as a coach on the sideline, [having a player] go down and you not know how to deal with that," Braswell said. "Anytime a kid goes down, you always kind of hold your breath. At that point, it's not even about return to play. It's about quality of life. You want to make sure kids are OK and able to do things beyond sports."

Contact staff writer Elizabeth Fite at efite@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6673.

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Los Angeles • Larry Scott, as Larry Scott does, dug in.

When it was his turn at center stage during Wednesday's Pac-12 Media Day in Hollywood, the Pac-12 commissioner went on the offensive when asked why the conference has fallen so far behind the other Power 5 leagues in terms of revenue and other metrics. The subject came up because, well, that has pretty much been the national narrative about the Pac-12 in what has been a nightmarish year for the conference.

Pac-12 teams went a historically bad 1-8 in bowl season. (Utah fans won't miss an opportunity to remind conference cohorts who saved the league from going epically bad).

No Pac-12 team made it out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The ongoing drama surrounding the Pac-12 Network and DirecTV seems it will never die. Scott did say Wednesday there's no update on that, so DirecTV subscribers, once again, must find another way to tune into Utah or other Pac-12 games when they're being broadcast on the conference's network.

And then it was unveiled that the Pac-12 came in at No. 5 out of the Power 5 Conferences in terms of revenue at the end of the spring.

"I'm confident our schools have the resources they need to continue to win championships more than any other conference," Scott said. "I see no sign of it slowing down."

The Pac-12 commissioner pointed to what he normally points to, some of it very valid No other conference wins as much as the Pac-12 does across the board on an annual basis. The conference has a dozen national title contenders in any number of Division I sports every fall, winter and spring. Scott pointed to the fact that no other conference has producee as many Olympians or gold medalists as the Pac-12. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Pac-12 affiliated athletes won 55 medals.

But this is almost always a football and men's basketball discussion, given that those two sports deliver far and away the most revenue. Scott knew that was coming, so he got out in front of it.

He acknowledged that some fans might not care that Oregon State won the College World Series or that USC won a track & field title or that UCLA won the gymnastics crown, but the Pac-12 schools do. Scott said, in total, Pac-12 schools have combined to invest $1.5 billion in the last decade in capital improvements. Every school, he noted, has now upgraded its football facilities.

"There's no example I can point to in football or basketball that our schools have not been able to invest how they want to," Scott said.

However, Pac-12 schools average about $30 million in revenue each year, a little more than $10 million behind the average SEC school. In an interview with CBS Sports in May, Washington State president Kirk Schulz said bluntly, "we're falling behind." Schulz added in an interview with USA Today schools must stop worrying what the Pac-12 is providing and "start doing some of our own creative things to bring in additional revenue."

The SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC are financially in better shape than the Pac-12 and there are a bunch of reasons why. But many point to the beleaguered Pac-12 Network, which paid out a reported $2.5 million per school last year. Scott, boasted Wednesday - as he often does - that the conference has positioned itself quite well because it currently owns its own network and with the rise of digital streaming, the conference is in good shape to maneuver the next step.

But the numbers don't lie. The Pac-12 takes in significantly less money from its network than the SEC and Big Ten do in their shared network arrangements with ESPN.

The Pac-12 is in its seventh year as a conference and with its network. Not much will change in the near future, because most of the P5 conferences are in the middle of their current network agreements. Scott foresees a "period of stability where you won't see revenue changes up or down." But come 2024, those deals will expire and the Pac-12 will have options.

Scott said he "couldn't be more delighted" that the Pac-12 is the only conference in the country to have complete control of its media rights and that will allow itself to adapt and take advantage of the new media landscape, he explained.

There is also the painful topic of late Saturday night kickoffs.

Most of the Pac-12′s current prime time matchups kick off at 730 p.m. Pacific or 8:30 p.m. Mountain, with the games not ending until 2 a.m. Sunday morning on the East Coast. The conference can't do anything about time zones. The fear is, if and when the league produces a national title contender, it too, could wind up playing in the wee hours at a time of the season when national exposure will make all the difference.

Football, fair or not, is the driving force behind most all athletic departments. The conference's product in recent years has struggled. Outside of Washington's inclusion in the 2017 NCAA College Football Playoff, it has been, well, kind of thin as of late. In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune last month, new Utah athletic director Mark Harlan was asked how the Pac-12 can close the revenue gap that appears to be widening versus the other Power 5 conferences.

Harlan said it's cyclical, largely dependent on how high-revenue sports can fare on an annual basis.

"It just seems that every now and then a conference will bring in more money and then the next year, another conference will bring in more money," he said. "The Pac-12 has a great product. I see only great upside going forward."

The Pac-12 currently has four major sources of revenue bowl money, TV rights deals with ESPN and FOX, the Pac-12 Network and March Madness earnings.

Scott says he is well aware of the Pac-12′s revenue shortcomings vis a vis the conference's P5 rivals, and remains "laser focused" on creating new income streams to help close the gap. But money, Scott insists, isn't the Pac-12′s only measure of success.

Which is true. One good, turnaround year, with a Pac-12 football team earning a a national playoff berth or a conference team or two making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, will almost certainly shift the national narrative about the league.

Yet, the numbers tell the larger tale. And unless that is eventually addressed, the Pac-12 runs the risk of falling farther behind.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

Few places in sports scream "blue" (with a touch of maize) as loudly as the Big House, yet Michigan Stadium will be a blanket of red on Saturday.

Manchester United and Liverpool, perhaps the two most iconic clubs in the English Premier League and with both a shared color and a mutual loathing, will do battle in Ann Arbor as part of the International Champions Cup.

The tournament, in which 18 of the world's biggest teams square off as part of their final preseason preparations, has provided further proof of America's appetite for top-level soccer. Yet it also raises the question of if, and when, soccer's European heartland will take steps to broaden its core product beyond geographical boundaries.

With a strong crowd expected this weekend for a preseason game, it makes many wonder what might be possible if a regular-season game from the EPL, or Spain's La Liga, or the Champions League, was to take place in the States.

"I am sure it is going to happen," Charlie Stillitano, chairman of ICC organizer Relevent Sports, told USA TODAY. "When you look at the people involved, it just makes too much sense. As for when? That's the multimillion-dollar question."

When Stillitano references the people involved, he is alluding to how there are numerous ownership crossover links between American sports and the EPL. The Glazer family controls both United and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. John W. Henry owns the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool. Stan Kroenke has both Arsenal and numerous American sports entities including the Los Angeles Rams, while Fulham's Shahid Khan has the Jacksonville Jaguars as part of his portfolio.

And it has escaped no one's attention that the NFL has had significant success in playing games overseas, most notably London, where it has staged 22 matches over the past 11 years. The NBA has held eight regular-season games in London and six in Mexico City since 2011. Major League Baseball has headed to Mexico, Australia and Japan.

"I think it is inevitable," Stillitano added. "You have to think it is a natural progression. These clubs are big brands that have done an incredible job in their home countries. If you're looking at it, how are they going to get huge further growth at home? It's not really possible; everyone already loves it.

"As we know, the U.S. is a big market and it is going to be appealing."

Soccer is a traditional sport but it is not necessarily mired in historical conformity. There is only one way for leading European clubs to stay there, by continuing to spend money on new players. Therefore, anything that adds a fresh revenue stream is bound to be strongly considered.

In 2008, EPL chairman Richard Scudamore unveiled a proposal for a "Game 39" - a ground-breaking idea that would have seen each EPL team play one extra game a season, with that match taking place in a foreign country. It was loosely suggested that three of the 10 games would be staged in North America. Fans, players, and the British media reacted with apoplexy, and the idea was quickly quashed.

Adding a game would disrupt the EPL's perfect competitive imbalance, whereby every team plays each of the league's other squads once at home and once on the road.

But Stillitano sees solutions. If an entire round of matches played overseas was too much, what about one game a season? To allay criticism, concessions could be offered to season ticketholders in the form of lower prices.

"You could fill five jumbo jets with English fans and fly them out," Stillitano added.

If one obstacle is that teams would be unenthused about giving up home-field advantage, then how about a Cup final? The Champions League is likely out of the question, but the Europa League could be a possibility, or the European Super Cup, where the Champions League and Europa League winners meet in a one-off game.

"American fans have shown their commitment to this product," Stillitano said. "It would be an incredible reward for them and the clubs would benefit. As ever, with change, there is going to be some resistance. I think they will overcome it."

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

A Bartlett-based international pasta company has donated $100,000 toward the Bartlett High School Activities Complex. The contribution from Giovanni Rana Meal Solutions, producer and distributor of refrigerated pasta, sauces and ready-made meals, concludes fundraising for the first phase of the $1.5 million project. "We are very grateful for the contribution as it has helped get close to finishing phase one of our project and offers momentum to continue our plans," Bartlett High School Booster Club Treasurer Ken Pavell said.

Construction of the first phase is now complete. It involved resurfacing the football field; installing new goal posts, permanent bleachers seating 1,500 people, a press box, stadium lighting and a high-definition scoreboard/sound system; and completing the infrastructure required to make the complex playable.

In the past 18 months, the booster club has raised roughly $925,000 through donations and fundraisers toward the project. Major donors include Bartlett-based food products distributor Greco and Sons Inc., and Cheese Merchants of America ($500,000 combined), the Bednarke family ($125,000), Hoffman Estates-based Plote Construction Inc. and the Plote family ($50,000), Bartlett's Bluff City Materials ($36,000), Benchmark Construction in Bartlett ($25,000), and Orange Crush LLC of Hillside ($20,000).

"Aug. 31 is the opening of the stadium for the first home game," Pavell said. "We will have a donor reception (dinner) that night to acknowledge these large donors." Club officials also are planning postgame fireworks.

Bartlett High School opened its doors in 1997 without an on-campus facility to host football, soccer, lacrosse and track competitions at the varsity level. The new athletic complex will serve the high school's football, soccer, lacrosse, marching band, cheerleading, dance and track and field teams and clubs and their events. The project largely is funded through donations secured by the booster club.

Elgin Area School District U-46 has committed to covering remaining costs by contributing roughly $600,000, including tax revenues and a $425,000 grant, which will be repaid by the booster club through future fundraising, Pavell said. Fundraising for phase two of the project has begun. It will involve building a new concession stand and locker rooms, and installing artificial turf to replace the grass field once nearly $1 million in funding is secured.

The field was resurfaced two summers ago when the high school football and soccer teams got together and laid the grass by hand, Pavell said. "We believe that having it open and allowing people to tour it will help us with donations in the future," he said.

For project updates, visit bhsactivitycomplex.com.

To donate or for more information, visit bhsactivitycomplex.com/donations, bhsboosters.org or contact treasurer@bhsboosters.org

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

A second formal complaint has been filed with the New Mexico Attorney General's Office and the Second Judicial District Attorney's Office calling into question whether the meeting that led to four University of New Mexico sports to be eliminated violated the state's Open Meetings Act.

The complaint, filed by Albuquerque attorney Maria "Mia" Touchet, addresses last Thursday's Board of Regents meeting in which six of the seven members of UNM's governing body were on hand, each voting to accept the recommendation of first-year president Garnett Stokes and first-year athletic director Eddie Nuñez to eliminate four sports and drastically alter the rosters of two others.

Due to what UNM says was a three-part decision covering finances, Title IX federal gender equality mandates and Mountain West Conference affiliation factors, the sports of men's soccer, men's and women's skiing and women's beach volleyball were voted to be discontinued as of July 1, 2019.

Touchet told the Journal she attended last week's meeting and left having great concerns about the governance of the university and the handling of what is required to have been an open, transparent process. That, she says, is why she filed the complaint.

"It's important for the citizens of the state of New Mexico," Touchet said. "We have the Open Meetings Act for a reason.... If these decisions are allowed to be made behind closed doors, that wouldn't be good for the people of New Mexico, not just for the students and coaches affected by this at UNM, but it is the wrong message for everyone in this state."

One part of her complaint echoes a separate one filed last week by Socorro attorney David Pato alleging the Regents violated the Open Meetings Act by not adequately following the proper protocol for posting of the agenda, with specific details of the sports being cut, in a timely manner to give the public proper notice of what was being discussed. If true, the meeting, and thus the vote, could be deemed invalid.

While notice of the meeting was given July 3, the agenda only stated it would cover a "Discussion and Action on Athletics."

The Open Meetings Act compliance guide states, and Touchet notes in her complaint, agendas for public meetings "must contain a list of 'specific items' of business to be discussed or transacted at the meeting" and that the board "should avoid describing agenda items in general, broad or vague terms."

Shortly after 5 p.m. on July 18, the day before the 9 a.m. meeting, UNM released the details of the proposal, including for the first time which sports would be cut and how many other team rosters would be affected.

Monday's complaint also argues that members' comments during the meeting implied that the regents had already discussed and decided the vote prior to the meeting. The complaint argued that constituted a "rolling quorum," which should invalidate the meeting and vote.

Regent Michael Brasher spoke of having talked to Stokes days before the meeting about the recommendation before it was made public and student regent Garret Adcock read from a statement prepared before the public comment and included the phrase, "we must support the administration's plan" for the cutting of sports.

"What happens when there is a finding of a violation of the Open Meetings Act is that the court's normal remedy would be as though the public vote never occurred," said Susan Boe, Vice President of the Foundation for Open Government. "If that happened, you would have to re-post the notice and have the public vote take place again in another public meeting."

Touchet's complaint also argues the inclusion on the UNM Board of Regents of Adcock, the board's student regent who graduated from law school in May, leaves the board "unconstitutionally comprised."

New Mexico's Constitution requires at least one of the regents to be "a member of the student body."

In February, Adcock received a "recess" appointment from Gov. Susana Martinez, extending his spot on the Board through Dec. 31, though he graduated in May.

UNM spokeswoman Cinnamon Blair, handling a Journal request for comment made to both Regent Presentident Rob Doughty and Adcock, said, "it is the opinion of the University that the action taken by the board is valid."

Blair, on Adcock's behalf, also said the former UNM football player also plans to take classes in the fall semester.

The Governor's office did not respond to the Journal's request for comment on Tuesday, nor did it do so in February when asked about what would happen with Adcock's position when he graduated.

"I have not decided what I will do," Adcock told the Journal in February. "But I will probably confer with and defer to the Executive who appointed me to the position when the appropriate time comes."

Balderas' spokesman David Carl wrote in an email response to the Journal, "The AG takes enforcement of the Open Meetings Act very seriously and will do a thorough review of these complaints." There is no specific timetable on when Balderas would act on these two complaints.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

The sexually graphic text messages began popping up on the phone of recently retired swimmer Caroline Burckle, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, when she was at home in the Los Angeles area on a May evening in 2011.

"They were so aggressive," Burckle said last week to the "Orange County Register," which broke the story.

"I was a 24-year-old female swimmer who had retired way too young but was sick of all the (garbage)," she said. "I wanted to change lives and do different things but felt trapped."

The texts, she said, hit her "like a whirlwind." (She said she also received a voicemail.)

"I was disgusted," Burckle said. "I felt violated, felt sad too. This was a sport that I had just left and loved and so I felt very sad."

On Monday, Bob Bowman, the man who coached Michael Phelps throughout his legendary career, issued a statement about those texts and voicemail for one very good reason: They came from a phone that belonged to him, and he was one of two people who sent them.

"I regret the exercise of poor judgment in being involved one evening seven years ago with inappropriate communications," Bowman said. "I promptly apologized to the person to whom the communications were sent and my apology was accepted. I have nothing further to say at this time."

This shocking and sad news about Bowman's behavior comes at a time of heightened awareness and zero tolerance for the inappropriate, sexually charged mistreatment of young people and athletes in the world at large, and particularly in the U.S. Olympic movement.

But back in 2011 when this happened, after Burckle reported the incident and forwarded the texts and voicemail to USA Swimming, Bowman was put on notice about "the severity of this situation" -- then named to the U.S. Olympic swimming team coaching staff in 2012, hired as head swimming coach at Arizona State in 2015 and named head coach of the U.S. men's Olympic swimming team in 2016.

USA Swimming did tell Bowman that Burckle "experienced significant mental distress as a result" of his actions, adding that had he done this to "a current USA Swimming member athlete, this behavior would be considered a potential violation of USA Swimming Code of Conduct..."

By sexually harassing someone who had just left the sport, rather than someone still in it, Bowman escaped potential punishment.

"If he had power over her, no matter how old she was at the time, then that's a violation," Olympic gold medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar, an advocate for victims of sexual abuse and the CEO of the legal advocacy group Champion Women, said in an interview Wednesday. "But if he was sexually harassing someone who used to swim, that's not a violation. It's wildly inappropriate, it's gross and sleazy behavior, but it's not a violation."

The text messages and voicemail from Bowman have not been made public. The other person with Bowman that night was former national team coach Sean Hutchison, now the subject of a criminal investigation by the Department of Homeland Security and Washington state law enforcement after allegations were made by world champion swimmer Ariana Kukors that Hutchison sexually assaulted her when she was 16 and continued to have sexual contact with her until she was 24. Kukors has also filed a civil suit against Hutchison and USA Swimming, among others.

As Bowman goes about his duties coaching at the U.S. national swimming championships this week in Irvine, California, his bosses at Arizona State have given us some clues about what they might think of their high-profile coach's 2011 behavior.

ASU vice president of athletics Ray Anderson released a statement saying he "communicated to Mr. Bowman (via letter) that the text message exchange was inappropriate and unprofessional and that no such incidents will be tolerated at ASU."

ASU President Michael Crow took an even stronger position several months ago when he spoke to "The Arizona Republic" about the sexual abuse scandals at Penn State and Michigan State.

"It's zero tolerance," Crow said. "You can't always prevent something from happening, but you can take immediate action the second you hear about it.

"If we heard from someone complaints of physical abuse, sexual abuse, inappropriate conduct, the first thing we would do is investigate," he said. "If it turns out these things were true, all those people would be turned over to the police or fired."

Crow said those words in March. Four months later, they're more meaningful than ever.

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Copyright 2018 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

The New York Post

 

ClassPass is now bench pressing $255 million.

That's how much the Big Apple fitness company has raised in venture capital including its latest round of $85 million.

Led by L Catterton, which has also invested in Peloton and Equinox, and Singapore's Temasek, the funding will help ClassPass expand into an additional 10 US cities and 20 countries by next year, the company said Wednesday.

It currently has members in 26 states and 50 countries. More than 1,000 of its 10,000 studios worldwide are located in New York City, a spokeswoman told The Post.

"Our ambitions have always been more lofty," said founder Payal Kadakia, adding that the extra cash will "bring our vision to reality as we more firmly establish ourselves as a global brand."

Five-year-old ClassPass charges $45-to-$160 a month for Gotham members to take yoga, pilates, boxing and other classes. Fees vary by city.

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

TOPEKA, Kan. — A grand jury investigating alleged recruiting abuses in college basketball ordered the University of Kansas earlier this year to turn over communications involving its men's team coaches and at least one prospective recruit, newly released records show.

The federal grand jury in New York also demanded copies of any agreements with apparel manufacturer Adidas and communications between the basketball coaches and company representatives.

"These documents do not suggest any wrongdoing by the university," spokesman Andy Hyland said in an email Wednesday to The Associated Press, referring to the two subpoenas, which were sent in January and March. "We are cooperating fully with investigators in this matter."

The university released edited copies of the subpoenas Tuesday. Each demands documents and communications regarding "the recruitment and enrollment" of a person whose name is blacked out, so that it is not clear whether both subpoenas refer to a single person or different people, or whether they involved someone who ultimately enrolled at Kansas.

The subpoenas were part of a multiyear investigation into the alleged payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks designed to influence recruits in choosing a school, agent or apparel company.

Multiple schools are enmeshed in the investigation, including Kansas, Louisville, North Carolina State and Maryland, which earlier this month released copies of subpoenas it received. The fallout has included the ouster of Louisville's Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino, who was not charged criminally.

"Because this is an active investigation, it is not appropriate for us to comment further at this time," Hyland said in his email.

The first subpoena to Kansas was issued Jan. 8 and demanded the production of records by Jan. 22. It sought documents, including emails and texts, from Jan. 1, 2016, going forward.

It included documents and communications between men's basketball coaching staff or any other athletic department member regarding the recruitment or enrollment of the unnamed person, family or representatives.

It also demanded all "application and/or enrollment forms, financial aid forms, eligibility forms including any NCAA student athlete statements, and/or any national letter of intent" submitted by or on behalf of the unnamed person "whether completed or in draft form."

The same subpoena also demanded contracts and other agreements between Kansas and Adidas effective after the start of 2016 and any communications between the athletic department and men's basketball coaches with current or former Adidas employees.

The second subpoena to Kansas was issued March 14 and demanded the production of documents by March 23. It covered only documents regarding the recruitment and enrollment of an unnamed person.

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced earlier in the year that committees of coaches, administrators and media would determine seeding for the state football playoffs in 2018 instead of predetermined seeding before the season due to geography, league strength and allocation and other factors, as they have been historically.

On Wednesday, the WIAA announced those committee members. If you have a child playing football in Eastern Washington or the Tri-Cities area, you aren't being well represented.

Of the 32 committee members, split over three divisions, one is from Spokane. There are three coaches from Eastern Washington schools and none from the Tri-Cities area. There is no media representation from this side at all.

It's patently unfair to the 80 or so high schools and thousands of football student-athletes across the eastern half of the state. It's already bad enough that teams from this area have to travel to the Seattle/Tacoma area every year to play in state championships.

But here's the rub: The WIAA took everyone east of the Cascades who applied.

According to Greg Whitmore, athletic director at Ritzville and the head of the state's RPI committee, the WIAA decided to staff the committees through a volunteer application process and the board was surprised more from this part of the state didn't apply.

"I didn't know what we would get for applications," Whitmore said. "We sent out several notices and, honestly, we only had eight applicants from the east side of the state. And that's including the Wenatchee area. And all eight were accepted to a committee.

"We didn't turn anyone down."

I think it's a great idea to have these committees public and for them to be using empirical data (win/loss records), an RPI system, state coaches and media polls, MaxPreps rankings and other criteria to help with seeding, rather than an anonymous edict from on high.

But relying on volunteers rather than ensuring complete representation seems like a missed opportunity to me.

Judging from my social media followers, I'm not the only one.

When the board realized that Eastern Washington might be underrepresented, it considered recruiting or asking district directors to participate. According to Whitmore, they were too far along in the process and folks had already dispersed for the summer.

"Certainly next year we'll talk about committee makeup, and if we really think there was a bias, we may do more recruiting of members rather than just seeing the applications," Whitmore said. "I thought there'd be a lot more applications.

"Going into it, I just imagined there would be so much interest in it that we'd be turning people away."

Still, Whitmore believes having public committees is better than the previous seeding process.

"We'll look at it at the end of the year and see if it was better," he said. "If it was, good. But we'll still try to make it even better."

If I had a child playing football in Eastern Washington (I don't), I would be on the phone to my school's athletic director right now asking why my AD or football coach didn't apply to be part of the process.

By the way: I'm not lobbying to be on a committee. While I am the high school sports editor at the paper of record for more than 50 Eastern Washington high schools, I've only held the position since October, so I haven't even been through a full football season yet.

Still, there are literally dozens of qualified media members here — current or former — who could provide quality representation on one of these committees.

"Knowing that the East Side is a little underrepresented, one thing we're definitely going to talk about at our opening meeting before the seasons starts is bias," Whitmore said. "Anything like this, bias is a huge thing and we're going to try to make it as objective as we can."

John Barrington, athletic director at Mead, is the lone Spokane proper representative. He is a member of the 4A/3A seeding committee.

The 2A/1A committee has one Eastern Washington representative — coach Brycen Bye of Clarkston — and the 2B/1B committee features two "area" coaches, Jim Holman of Asotin and Kyle Kimble of Pomeroy.

Barrington thinks the committees will be agents of positive change and isn't necessarily worried about who is on the committees.

"I don't think it gives us less decision-making or input power," he said.

"I think the whole thing going forward can be a positive development. The makeup (of the committees)? Maybe they'll talk about that when we meet in August."

Barrington thinks that once the committee members are all sitting across from one another at a conference table, the best interests for all will be served.

"If there's criteria we can all agree on — whether it's one set or eight sets of criteria — however it's weighted, that to me is the opportunity to discuss it and then seed accordingly. It seems to me, it's a lot fairer shot for teams on this side."

What happens if the committee members don't agree on a set of criteria?

"We'll find that out at our first meeting," Barrington said.

"East Side folks have complained some when they see those brackets," he said. "Maybe that will go away."

It seems to me something this important should have been evaluated as to how it would — or could — be perceived by the general public, or the parent of a student-athlete in the Northeast 1A or Northeast 1B leagues, neither of which is represented.

I get that everyone's schedules are busy. But there's a long-held perception that the WIAA favors schools west of the mountains.

While everyone involved thinks it's better that these committee members' names are public and a system fair to all can be developed, the optics still imply that the coastal side dictates what happens across the state.

 

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — It loomed large Wednesday, as many thought it would.

UCLA head coach Chip Kelly wore a rubber bracelet printed with the "Hilinski's Hope" slogan.

Mike Leach fielded six questions about the quarterback who was supposed to lead his Cougars into 2018 — and probably a few more when he stepped away from the lectern at Hollywood & Highland.

Wide receiver Kyle Sweet was pressed by reporters to reflect on the legacy of his teammate and friend.

And the conference's commissioner dedicated a segment of his introductory speech to disclose the Pac-12's efforts regarding mental health awareness and CTE prevention. Surely, the timing of this particular address wasn't accidental.

"It tells us that we have to make this a priority," Larry Scott said. "And that's what we're doing with experts on our campuses."

Leach's interview at Pac-12 Media Day didn't strike the same comedic tone it typically does at the Hollywood-based gathering — at least far less of one — and part of it can be attributed to the fact that one of the over-arching themes was the tragic suicide of his quarterback Tyler Hilinski, a rising junior and Southern California native who'd be considered a local here.

How do you prepare and advise your team dealing with Tyler's death, and how did you handle that?

Are those conversations of mental health bringing mental awareness for your team?

Has it made you more aware of things as you watched your team throughout the summer?

Leach responded eloquently to each of the questions directed to him about Hilinski — "we all have very fond memories of Tyler," he said — but also assured that his quarterback wouldn't want his coaches and teammates to linger on the topic, stating, "We're proud that we had the opportunity to know him, but then also he would want us to — we believe, anyway, or I do — that he'd want us to move on and have productive lives and elevate what we can do."

As an ode to his teammate, Sweet, who represented the Cougars in Hollywood alongside safety Jalen Thompson, sported the same bracelet Kelly was wearing and two others that paid homage to Hilinski.

"When we were having a bad practice or something like that, bad day, he'd always be the one to get guys going again," Sweet said. "? It seemed like he was always there at the time we needed a pickup the most."

WSU surrounded Cougars football players with counseling in the immediate wake of Hilinski's death. Six months later, the quarterback's teammates still believe it's essential to continue the dialogue about mental health and depression.

"It's a huge problem, not just around college football or sports, but the world. It's a big deal," Sweet said. "Going through it personally, firsthand, I think it's incredibly important to get out there and understand you need to talk to someone if you're going through something."

Josh Woods, a UCLA linebacker who played with Hilinski at nearby Upland High, offered his own memories of his prep teammate.

"I'll always remember Tyler as goofy, high-energy, positive," Woods said. "He was such a sweet guy — a guy you want on your team, a guy you want in your locker room."

In response to Hilinski's death, Woods said he made it a priority to encourage his Bruins teammates to seek help if they find themselves in a position where it's needed. UCLA is one of the numerous schools that has made an offer to Hilinski's younger brother Ryan, a top-rated pocket passer in the class of 2019.

"Doctors and people have talked to us, but me personally, I stood up in front of the whole team and told them, 'Tyler was my guy, and if you ever need anything or want to have any talks, come talk to me and don't be afraid,' " Woods said. "A lot of guys have the thought you can't be soft, can't have emotions ? I tell them, 'Never be afraid, be ashamed of what you have going on.' "

The Pac-12 has worked to raise awareness and funds for mental health — something the conference has accomplished through a 5-year-old program entitled the Pac-12 Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiative. The conference pours $3.6 million annually into the program and this year awarded specific grants that will be used to address head trauma and mental health.

In June, an autopsy conducted by the Mayo Clinic revealed traces of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) in Hilinski's brain. It's unknown if, or to what level, the disease contributed to the quarterback's suicide.

But Pac-12 coaches acknowledge there's still plenty to learn when it comes to head trauma, mental health and how the two are related.

"I just think the more we make players aware the safety of the game is critical, because it's about the game, it's about the protection of the players," said Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards. "And I think it has really taken — from the '70s to right now, the era that I played in, it has advanced and helped the game tremendously."

Contact the writer: (509) 939-5928, theol@spokesman.com

 

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — It was a safe bet that the subject of sports gambling, and how it might bleed into college athletics in the near future, would be a popular talking point Wednesday at Pac-12 Football Media Day.

Sports betting has become a pervasive topic since the Supreme Court ruled in May that individual states have the freedom to regulate gambling. Legalize it or don't legalize it — that decision is in the states' hands, and three have already chosen to do the former: Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada.

So what's the direct impact on college football and the Pac-12? With the legalization of sports gambling, college coaches could be encouraged — or even required — to provide weekly player availability reports, or in more simpler terms, injury reports.

That could make things fuzzy in an era in which many coaches prefer to keep such intel concealed — for the protection of their players, and to ensure no advantage is given away during planning or preparation.

"I'm not going to reveal injuries, even if I'm qualified to, until I'm forced," Washington State coach Mike Leach said. "And they might force me. I doubt it. But they might, and if they do, then I'll try to figure out a way around it."

Stanford coach David Shaw, who spent nine years as a position coach in the NFL, held steadfast to his belief that injury reports don't belong in the college game, insisting that medical information of young adults shouldn't be made available to the public.

"I would not be comfortable with that," Shaw said. "There is a stark difference between working with professionals and working with college kids. I do not feel right giving out medical information of a 19-year-old. I think it's wrong in any way, shape or form."

"If there's something the young man and his family wants to release, that's up to him. It's his health. But as far as institutionally talking about a young person's health, we have HIPAA laws that prohibit that. I think it's wrong, it's unnecessary, and I think it would be catering towards the gambling and the betting, which we can't, in my opinion, do that."

Rule changes

Kick returns and redshirts: NCAA rule changes involving both topics were discussed at length during the proceedings.

Beginning in 2018, players are allowed to "fair catch" kick returns inside the 25-yard line and the ball will be moved up to the 25-yard line, like it would be for a touchback received in the end zone.

"I think there is a huge push from guys like me and a lot of coaches around America that don't want to see the end of the kickoff," said Shaw, who's had some of the country's best returners during his time on The Farm — Ty Montgomery, Christian McCaffrey and Chris Owusu, to name three. "I love kickoff and kickoff return. I really do."

The NCAA also passed legislation this offseason that allows redshirting players to appear in up to four games without forfeiting their eligibility. Pac-12 coaches like the modification.

"To me, it's comforting. It really is," Washington's Chris Petersen said. "It's like we can do what's right for the kids. We're not going to get ourselves into a situation where, like, your game — whatever it is — 8, and we're like, holy smokes, we need to play this guy."

"It approaches five years of eligibility, which I've always thought would make things very simple, would be a smart way to do things," Leach said. "It would eliminate a portion of the rule book."

Fresh leaders

Five conference schools introduced new head coaches this season. Excluding Chip Kelly, an old pro at the annual gathering, all made their debuts.

Kelly, the former Oregon maestro, is taking over for Jim Mora at UCLA. Ex-Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin replaces Rich Rodriguez at Arizona. Jonathan Smith, most recently the offensive coordinator at Washington, enters year No. 1 at Oregon State. Mario Cristobal was elevated at Oregon, replacing Willie Taggart, and Herm Edwards left his NFL analyst booth to takes the reins at Arizona State.

"Football is cyclical," Cristobal said. "Sometimes conferences run into that when you have a good number of coaches that are new in the conference. I look at the level and their pedigree and where they've been and what they've done."

Update on Huskies' Bryant

An injured knee will preclude talented Washington tight end Hunter Bryant from opening the season and it's unclear if, and when, the Huskies will get their Freshman All-American back.

"He's not going to be ready at the start of the season," Petersen said. "May end up being his redshirt year, especially with the four games that we can play.

"But he will not be ready at the start of the season."

Bryant was the Huskies' third-leading receiver last fall, with 22 catches for 331 yards and one touchdown.

Contact the writer: (509) 939-5928, theol@spokesman.com

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Copyright 2018 Richmond Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

William & Mary introduced a new athletics logo Wednesday, and the dark green and gold "W" and "M" linked by an ampersand will appear on the Tribe's gold football helmets starting with the program's 125th season, which kicks off Sept. 1 at Bucknell.

The school is phasing out the script "Tribe," which adorned football helmets, jerseys and other sports gear. The new logo identifies the school in a way the nebulous "Tribe" logo has not.

"While we remain the Tribe, the new logo provides us with a more powerful connection to the university and will allow us to more seamlessly elevate the entire institution's visibility on a national scale," Samantha Huge, W&M's athletics director, said in a school release.

In addition to the script "Tribe," William & Mary has been using a horizontal, or offset, "W&M" logo.

A new secondary logo involves The Griffin, a mythological creature introduced as W&M's mascot in 2010. The Griffin features the body of a lion, representing the school's 1693 creation by royal charter in London, and the head of an eagle, which symbolizes W&M's role in the American Revolution.

The NCAA determined in 2006 that feathers protruding from the interlocked "W&M" in the previous logo, when combined with the nickname Tribe, constituted a violation of the NCAA's policy regarding the use of American Indian mascots, names and imagery.

In the mid-1970s, W&M dropped the nickname "Indians, " its American Indian mascot, and all other athletics-related imagery linked to American Indians, except the feathered logo. At that time, W&M's sports teams began to be primarily known as the Tribe.

According to the school, the Tribe stands for "community and a group with common interests."

joconnor@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6233

@RTDjohnoconnor

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July 26, 2018
 
 
 

 

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

University of New Mexico football coach Bob Davie insisted Tuesday that he was never certain his sport would be safe from the ax wielded last week by the Board of Regents.

During a Mountain West Conference football media days session in Las Vegas, Nev., Davie said, "we're fortunate that football wasn't dropped," in an interview with Brandon Foster of the Casper Star-Tribune.

The board voted unanimously last Thursday to cut men's soccer, men's and women's skiing and women's beach volleyball beginning in 2019-20. Davie said in the interview that he was "never told until the announcement" of football's status.

"We went how many months there where there was no word on what was going to be dropped? Nobody told me we're not dropping football. Our program has gone through a summer of, 'Are we going to be playing football?' It's unique.... It's unique."

Football spent $8.3 million during the fiscal year that ended June 30 and has been a big reason the athletic department overall is finishing in the red financially for the ninth year in the past 11. At last week's board meeting, regent Suzanne Quillen asked, "Why aren't we talking about football?" as she referred to it as "the white elephant in the room."

First-year athletic director Eddie Nuñez cited conference affiliation, along with Title IX concerns and budgetary constraints, as factors in deciding what sports could be dropped.

Football is one of four sports the Mountain West Conference requires of its member schools. The others are men's and women's basketball and indoor volleyball.

Nuñez and President Garnett Stokes have recommended the program be reduced from 116 to 113 players (85 on scholarship) after July 1, 2019, when the cuts of the four above-mentioned programs take place. Nuñez also said there are talks to reduce some program expenses, and that the team will no longer stay in a local hotel the night before home games, which has cost the program between $20,353 and $24,996 in the 2015 through 2016 seasons.

LAST-PLACE LOBOS:

Davie's team, which finished in last place in the Mountain West Conference's Mountain Division last year, has been picked to finish last again this year by media covering the league.

The Lobos went 3-9 last season, 1-7 in the division, and are coming off a tumultuous offseason that included a 30-day suspension for Davie after in-house investigations into his misconduct. There were allegations he engaged in racist comments, among other concerns.

Boise State, last season's league champion, is picked to finish first in the Mountain Division by the media, followed by Wyoming, Colorado State, Utah State and Air Force.

UNM was picked to finish last by 21 of the 22 poll voters, with one putting the Lobos at fifth.

Fresno State was picked to finish first in the West Division, followed by San Diego State, UNLV, Nevada, Hawaii and San Jose State. Aaron Jenkins, a 6-foot-2, 307-pound senior offensive lineman, was the lone Lobo to make the Preseason All-Mountain West Conference team. There were no Lobos on defense.

Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien and Wyoming safety Andrew Wingard have been picked as the Preseason Players of the Year.

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Copyright 2018 Boston Herald Inc.
All Rights Reserved

The Boston Herald

 

The mother of a Haverhill man arrested for doing yoga poses naked at a New Hampshire gym said her son has had problems for years and Sunday's incident was a "cry for help."

Eric Stagno, 34, cited the Planet Fitness's slogan, "judgment-free zone," when he was arrested and charged with indecent exposure/lewdness and disorderly conduct. He walked into the Plaistow gym, stripped down at the door and settled into his yoga mat, where officers found him on his knees in a prayer-like position, according to police Capt. Brett Morgan.

"I was totally out of my mind," Denise Kerrigan said of the incident. "Never did I think he was going to do something like that. I'm glad the police caught him because he needs to get help.... He has severe problems."

Kerrigan, 63, of Haverhill said her son has suffered from mental health issues since he was very young and has sought treatment from therapists and psychologists over the years.

Gymgoers who witnessed the seemingly unperturbed nude man doing yoga told police they felt "uncomfortable," "sick," "disgusted" and "unsafe." Stagno was found with marijuana paraphernalia on him at the time, according to Morgan, but it was unclear if he was under the influence.

Stagno, arrested without incident, was released after paying a bail commissioner fee of $40 on personal recognizance over the weekend. An arraignment date is scheduled for Sept. 21.

He was taken to Haverhill District Court yesterday for violating his probation, which he received just over a month ago for threatening to commit a crime. He was ordered to remain drug and alcohol free with random screenings, and to attend weekly therapy sessions until his probation ends Dec. 31.

Though his mother knew about the weekly therapy sessions, she didn't hear about the threadbare yoga from her son.

"I found out on the 6 o'clock news," Kerrigan said.

Kerrigan said pictures of her son have been circulating on the web since the incident.

"What people did was cruel.... People were taking pictures of him and laughing at him - real compassionate people. But what goes around comes around. I believe in karma," she said.

Kerrigan said she hopes to get him treatment at a hospital.

"My son is very shy," Kerrigan said. "It's a cry for help."

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

 

Brock Turner's appellate attorney said the former Oakwood High School student never intended to sexually assault a woman at Stanford University in 2015, arguing he was instead engaged in "sexual outercourse" as a version of "safe sex."

A three-justice panel heard Turner's appeal Tuesday in a California appeals court, during which his attorney argued the jury made "unreasonable inferences" leading to his convictions. The panel has 90 days to rule on the appeal.

"I absolutely don't understand what you are talking about," Justice Franklin D. Elia told Turner's attorney, adding that the law "requires the jury verdict to be honored."

IN-DEPTH: What led to Brock Turner's assault case?

A jury found Turner, once a swimmer at Stanford University and Oakwood High School, guilty of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person. He was sentenced to six months in jail, but served three months of the sentence.

The appeal gives the 22-year-old an attempt to shed his lifetime status as a Tier III sex offender — Ohio's highest classification — while avoiding a potential heftier sentence under a new trial.

His attorney, Erick Multhaup, said, "The record lacks sufficient evidence to support the three convictions in this case."

Multhaup said Turner had no intent to rape the woman the court calls "Emily Doe," citing witness accounts that he was found to be "violently thrusting but fully clothed" when two exchange students broke up the encounter.

Multhaup also said Doe was "ambulatory" when she and Turner left the party together and that "the jury had to speculate that she was incapacitated."

Deputy Attorney General Alisha Carlile argued to uphold the conviction, saying "the circumstances made it abundantly clear" what Turner intended. She argued that Multhaup had presented a "far-fetched version of events" that didn't support the facts of the case.

"There was ample evidence that she [Emily Doe] was intoxicated to the point of being unconscious," she said.

Hadar Aviram, a University of California Hasting law professor, said questioning the jury's actions is a risky tactic.

"We have a jury system and the jury will seldom give reasons why they decide to convict or acquit," Aviram said. "Because of the very high burden of proof on appeal — because the person is no longer presumed innocent, they've already been found guilty — it's very, very difficult to convince a court of appeal that a jury decision has been unreasonable."

Turner now lives in Sugarcreek Twp. and did not appear in person at the hearing in San Jose, California. His Tier III designation means he is required to register with Greene County every 90 days. In separate letters to the sentencing judge, Turner's parents expressed frustration with this designation.

"Brock will have to register at the highest tier, which means he is on the same level as a pedophile/child molester," Carleen Turner wrote. Added Dan Turner, "The fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact with people and organizations."

The impact of the 2016 case continues to be felt in California, where Santa Clara County voters in June recalled Judge Aaron Persky, who sentenced Turner. A campaign to unseat him raised more than $2 million in nationwide contributions.

Turner's conviction and sentencing sparked a nationwide controversy and wide-ranging discussions about sexual assaults on college campuses. Doe's description of what happened to her, now widely published on the Internet, was so forcefully written that then-Vice President Joe Biden penned an open letter to her that said, "I do not know your name — but your words are forever seared on my soul."

Doe, in her letter, said she never believed the case would go to trial.

"Instead, I was told he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try to find details about my personal life and use it against me, find loopholes in my story to invalidate me and my sister, in order to show that this sexual assault was in fact a misunderstanding," she wrote.

 

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

 

FEDERAL WAY, WASH.A high school student-athlete died Tuesday after a workout at a Washington state high school, Federal Way Public Schools officials said.

In a letter sent to parents and families, officials said the student-athlete died suddenly after a summer conditioning workout at the school.

Officials did not identify the student.

Read the full letter from school district officials:

"It is with deep sadness that I am sharing that a student-athlete, a member of the Federal Way High School family, passed away suddenly today after participating in a summer conditioning workout at Federal Way High School. Our hearts are with the family as they deal with this loss.

"We have protocols and procedures in place to ensure student safety during summer workouts. Over the next 72 hours, we will be suspending all outdoor athletic activities at the middle and high schools to closely verify and examine the protocols we have in place.

"We are all heartsick to hear of this news, including of course, the coaching staff who all spend time every day with these players and know them all well. Our deepest sympathies go to the family and friends of this young man, and we are doing all we can to offer help at this time of grief."

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Copyright 2018 The Pantagraph

The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois)

 

BLOOMINGTON — An innovative McLean County private-public partnership to help people with developmental and intellectual disabilities to achieve their health and fitness goals has exceeded expectations, so the program will add 10 more scholarship participants with disabilities during the next two months.

The Partnership for Health Pilot Project will continue to support 26 people with disabilities and 15 of their support people from Marcfirst homes with a medically supervised exercise program at the Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center in the Center for Integrated Wellness, Bloomington. Money comes from a McLean County tax levy designated for individuals with disabilities and from the Advocate Charitable Foundation.

But 10 more adults with disabilities who are not Marcfirst clients will be added, thanks to the program's success after one year and donations to the Advocate foundation.

"Everyone deserves an opportunity to be healthy and feel good about themselves," said Shelleigh Birlingmair, vice president of development for Advocate Charitable Foundation.

Meanwhile, in a poignant nod to the program's growth and impact, an award and scholarship were named Tuesday in memory of program participant Neysa Danilson, 47, who lived with cerebral palsy but died July 17 of cancer. The announcement was made at the health and fitness center in a room filled with Marcfirst residents who participate in the program, supporters and members of Danilson's family.

"This is amazing," said her mother, Kathy Danilson of LeRoy.

"We're so proud of her," said her father, John Danilson. "I think this (award and scholarship) will be an inspiration to others. It shows you don't have to be a great athlete to make a difference."

The pilot project began April 1, 2017, because people with developmental disabilities are three times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer than people without disabilities and die, on average, 25 years earlier.

Partners in the pilot project are the health and fitness center, the foundation, McLean County Health Department, Marcfirst (which provides programs for people with disabilities) and the McLean County Board for the Care and Treatment of Persons with a Developmental Disability, also known as the 377 Board. That board approved using money from the tax levy.

After one year of the program, according to Center for Integrated Wellness Executive Director Catherine Porter, all participants experienced increased stamina, strength, social connectedness and mental health; 50 percent improved their waist circumference and decreased blood pressure; 47 percent experienced improved BMI (body-mass index); resting heart rates were reduced by 44 percent; cholesterol levels were reduced by 36 percent; and emergency room visits and hospital length of stays declined.

Program participant Liz Yates, 50, who has an intellectual disability and lives in a Marcfirst apartment in Bloomington, said she is succeeding in her goals to improve her balance and lose weight.

"I like it," Yates said. "I meet new people."

Jason Gelsthorpe, 42, who also has an intellectual disability and lives in a Marcfirst apartment, said "The reason I like to do this is I like to lose weight and get stronger. Yeah, I got stronger."

Danilson, who also lived in an apartment with Marcfirst support, was in a wheelchair when she began in the program. Her goal was to walk without crutches.

After a year, she was able to walk on the track barely holding onto the rail and was able to walk from exercise machine to exercise machine with little support, said her Marcfirst support person and workout buddy Brenda Smith.

"She almost accomplished what she wanted to do," Smith said. "With her disability, she never would have been able to walk unassisted but she came close."

"She'd call me ecstatic about what she'd done that day," Kathy Danilson said.

But in May, Neysa Danilson was diagnosed with colon cancer that had spread to her liver and lungs and there was nothing for her parents to do but bring her home and make her comfortable, they said.

Vern McGinnis, president of the 377 Board, presented a certificate of recognition to Danilson's parents and announced the Neysa Award, which will be given to future program participants who achieve their goals. He also announced a $1,000 scholarship named in Danilson's honor for a McLean County adult with a disability and in need to cover their program costs for a year.

In addition, donations to the Advocate foundation make it possible to expand the program by 10 participants, McGinnis and Birlingmair said. Each applicant must be a McLean County adult with a disability.

"The Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center has embraced this population and that is having an impact on the whole community," Birlingmair said.

How to help

McLean County adults with a disability who would like to apply to become a part of the Partnership for Health Pilot Project should call the Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center at 309-433-9355.

People who wish support the project financially may mail a check to the Advocate Charitable Foundation, 1302 Franklin Ave., Suite 2000, Normal, IL, 61701, and write "Neysa Scholarship" on the memo line, or go to advocategiving.org, click in the BroMenn page, click on "other" and type "Neysa Scholarship."

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Copyright 2018 Southeastern Newspapers Corporation
All Rights Reserved

The Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)

 

It's hard to believe, but we are less than a month away from the kickoff of high school football for 2018.

Recently, Augusta TV station WJBF (Channel 6) released its broadcast schedule for the upcoming season. This is the eighth year of WJBF's Game Night Live offering which is a live game broadcast each Friday Night during the regular season. The games have produced some incredible moments over the years, and 2018 should be no different.

There will be 12 total matchups beginning Aug. 17 when Thomson visits North Augusta in a battle of two perennial powerhouses in the area. From there, a Columbia County team is featured in five of the next 11 weeks, and all five of our public-school programs will be featured at least once.

Here is a look at the games featuring teams from Columbia County.

Aug. 24 — Evans @ North Augusta

Both of these teams have to replace most of their key performers on offense. For the Yellow Jackets, three-year starting QB Landon Washington, 1,000-yard rusher Derius Gibson and speedy two-way star Dejuan Bell were lost to graduation. Each was a Border Bowl V participant and both accounted for virtually the entire North Augusta offense last season. Evans must replace the offensive tandem of Corey Watkins (RB) and Damekus Taylor (QB). Watkins signed with Furman University, while Taylor transferred to Thomson. Expect elite athletes Dedrick Holmes and Derrick Canteen, who were defensive standouts last year, to play a big role on the offense this year.

Sept. 14 — Evans @ Burke County

As if a trip to North Augusta was not hard enough, Evans must travel to the favorite for the area's best team this year. Sure, Burke County has to replace speed-burner Damari Kelly (QB/DB) and Bill Knight (QB), but they return a star in the making in junior RB Leon McGee who could be a handful for the Knights' defense.

Sept. 21 — Jefferson County @ Harlem

Most seasons this would be an automatic win for the Warriors but perhaps not in 2018. The Bulldogs feature two of the premier offensive talents in the entire CSRA in running backs Cameron Garnett (sophomore) and A.J. Brown (senior). Both rambled for more than 1,000 yards last season and should be primed for more big numbers in 2018. Jefferson County will counter with my pre-season pick for CSRA Player of the Year in QB Jaden Jenkins. Jenkins went 70 of 100 for 1,120 yards and 16 touchdowns through the air and rushed for 935 yards and 11 more scores on 102 carries. He did this while splitting time at QB. This year the job is full-time, which could mean big things for the dual-threat QB.

Oct. 12 — Grovetown @ Greenbrier

This matchup got very interesting in January when word circulated that Greenbrier star JQ Brown had transferred to Grovetown. Brown has rushed for more than 1,000 yards each of the past two seasons and makes the loss of Deangelo Durham a little easier to deal with. The Warriors also have a few big time college prospects on defense, so the Pack's offense may have a tough night.

Oct. 19 — Lakeside @ Grovetown

As mentioned previously Grovetown has some great athletes on defense. Lakeside may not be able to match up athletically, but Coach Steve Hibbetts always has his kids ready to go and seems to do more, with less on that side of the ball. Therefore, this should be a dogfight for the Warriors.

The games will be live each Friday night on ME-TV 6-2 and streamed live at wjbf.com. The games will be rebroadcast on Sundays at 12:30 p.m. on WJBF.

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

News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

GASTONIA — A contested call on a softball field led a Gaston County man to punch an umpire.

Brooks Wayne Luckadoo, a former police officer with agencies in Gastonia and Bessemer City, admitted that he punched an umpire working a slow-pitch softball tournament game in Alamance County on Saturday after things became heated because he did not like a call on the field.

"Basically what happened is I said a vulgar word and he threw me out for that," Luckadoo said Monday. "I said, 'I can't believe you threw me out for that.' He said, 'You can take your (expletive) back to Gastonia.'"

Luckadoo said he confronted the umpire, identified by Haw River Police as 31-year-old Jonathan Paschal of Burlington, to talk things out. The umpire squared up and raised his arms, according to Luckadoo, who said he felt threatened.

"Once he threw his hand up I took that as a form of assault and I punched him," he said.

Police and Paschal describe the events different than Luckadoo. They both describe Luckadoo as the aggressor after being thrown out of the game.

"Luckadoo then charged Paschal and struck him with a closed fist on the back of the head," Haw River police said in a release Monday.

"I never squared up to get in a fight with him, that's for sure," Paschal said.

Paschal said he went to the hospital after finishing umpiring for the day to check for a possible concussion. He said he was told he did not suffer a concussion.

Luckadoo faces a charge of misdemeanor assault on a sports official.

Umpires and players at the field attempted to get Luckadoo to hang around after the incident for police to arrive, but he instead drove back to Gaston County.

"I'm not going to stay in a volatile situation," he said. "It basically turned into a mob scene. I said, 'Man, I'm leaving. If they want to talk to me they can call me.' "

He received a call later that night asking him to turn himself in. Luckadoo was booked into Gaston County Jail just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday and released on a written promise to appear in court in Alamance County.

Luckadoo said he worked 16 years in law enforcement, but left the field to start his own business. He called the incident a one-time thing.

"I've been a whole lot madder than that at the ball field and never been to the point where punches were thrown," he said.

For his part, Paschal said he'd never witnessed or been involved in a similar altercation during his two years as an umpire.

"I've had people yell at me before, but I've never seen it go that far," he said.

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

WASHINGTON — Senators questioned the sincerity of reforms at the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University in the wake of sex-abuse scandals — using legal papers, emails and accounts of conversations to portray organizations that still don't fully grasp the pain they inflicted.

At a hearing Tuesday in Washington, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut criticized leaders of the USOC and USA Gymnastics for court filings this month that seek to absolve the federations of legal responsibility for Larry Nassar's sex-abuse crimes.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and others blistered Michigan State's interim president, former Michigan Republican governor John Engler, for insensitive emails and comments he made during negotiations that produced a $500 million settlement with sex-abuse victims who attended the school.

"I think you have some repair work to do here today, to put it mildly," Hassan said, prompting applause from the 80 or so victims who attended the hearing.

Nassar, a longtime sports doctor at Michigan State who also volunteered as the team physician for USA Gymnastics, is serving decades in prison for child pornography and other crimes after hundreds of women said he sexually abused them under the guise of medical care.

Last Friday, the USOC filed a motion to be removed as a defendant in lawsuits filed by gold-medal gymnasts Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber and McKayla Maroney, arguing that it had no legal responsibility for Nassar's actions.

"There are all kinds of defenses the parties can make, but there's also a moral responsibility here," Blumenthal said. "If you're serious and sincere, you will withdraw (the court filings). You need to be part of the legal solution, not just come here and apologize."

USA Gymnastics filed papers in a different lawsuit that also deny legal liability for Nassar's actions, in part because he wasn't on the payroll. Blumenthal seized on this wording in the USAG court filing: "USAG denies that Nassar was an employee or agent of USAG."

When he pressed CEO Kerry Perry on that point, she said she was unaware of the court filing, but that "Larry Nassar was absolutely an agent of USA Gymnastics."

Also weighing in was Han Xiao, a table tennis player who serves as the USOC's athletes' representative. He called the sex-abuse scandal part of a larger problem in Olympic sports, in which the USOC and the sports organizations hold an inordinate amount of power over the athletes.

That power structure, Han said, renders athletes unwilling or unable to complain about issues including sex abuse, funding and training for fear of retribution. He applauded the launch of the U.S. Center for SafeSport, but said it needs additional sources of funding — most comes from the USOC and the sports organizations — to ensure it is independent from the sway of those federations.

"Personally, I don't think so," Han answered when asked if he heard anything at the hearing that led him to believe cultural change would occur. "I don't think so much that it's a failing organization. It's a failing of the entire system, the way it's set up."

The harshest criticism over the two-hour hearing was saved for Engler, who wrote in an April email that the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar, Rachel Denhollander, was likely to get a "kickback" from her lawyer for her role in the "manipulation" of survivors. Engler also was questioned about a conversation with survivor Kaylee Lorincz, in which Lorincz claimed he asked her if she would accept a check for $250,000.

Engler repeatedly denied making such an offer. He conceded the email was a mistake.

"Emotions do get high. It's an adversarial process," Engler said. "I confess to getting very frustrated. But at the end of the day, we did get a settlement done, we fixed policies and strengthened accountability."

Also criticized, but not represented at the witness table, was the FBI, which knew of allegations against Nassar for months before his arrest. At least 40 girls and women were molested between the time the FBI learned of the allegations and when Denhollander went public.

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Copyright 2018 Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
All Rights Reserved

Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

A former University of Tennessee football teammate of A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams testified Tuesday he was twice attacked by other players after the pair were accused of rape, but admitted he lied to a News Sentinel reporter about that and also denied any attacks when interviewed by police.

Former UT Vol Drae Bowles took the witness stand Tuesday in Knox County Criminal Court, where Johnson and Williams are standing trial on aggravated rape charges for allegedly raping a female UT athlete at a party at Johnson's South Knoxville apartment in November 2014.

Bowles testified that he encountered the pair's accuser outside Johnson's apartment that night as he was leaving.

'Would you please help me?'

"She was hyperventilating," he said. "She said, 'Would you please help me?' She said, 'Please take me home.'"

Bowles said the accuser was surrounded by other female athletes and her best friend, Anna Lawn, at the time. He said the accuser, Lawn and her friends got into his truck, and he agreed to take them to Volunteer Hall, a student-athlete dormitory where some of those female athletes lived. Bowles said it was during that drive he learned the accuser said she had been raped.

"(The accuser) told me who she had been raped by," Bowles testified. "She asked me what she should do."

Bowles called his dad, who is a police officer in West Tennessee. Later, when the accuser phoned 911 from outside Volunteer Hall, Bowles could be heard on the recording of the call, saying, "Say you got raped."

'He hit me in the face'

The next day, Bowles said, then-player Curt Maggitt, a linebacker who was close friends with Johnson, confronted him during a team "check-in" the following day.

"He was very upset with me, said I was hurting A.J.'s career," Bowles said. "He hit me in the face."

Bowles said he called then-Coach Butch Jones and told him about the rape allegations and the encounter with Maggitt. He indicated Jones was already aware of the rape allegations, but he was blocked - after a private conference at the bench of Judge Bob McGee - from disclosing the details of his conversation with Jones.

Testimony has shown Jones twice talked to former Knoxville Police Department Chief David Rausch in the hours after that 911 call from the accuser.

Prosecutors have alleged in opening statements UT athletics officials insisted on coordinating police interviews with players, though the defense said Johnson and Williams went to KPD headquarters voluntarily and accompanied only by their attorneys for an official interrogation.

Bowles testified that on the following day - two days after the alleged rape - he was "pushed" in a UT cafeteria by then-players Marlin Lane and Geraldo Orta - who themselves had been accused in 2013 in connection with a rape that did not net any charges. Orta was later hired by KPD as a police officer in 2017.

"I thought they were going to fight me," he said. "They were dissing me."

Bowles said Vols assistant strength coach Brandon Myles stepped in, and Bowles left.

"I took a week off... just because of the tension that was going on," he said. "Some people on the team weren't even speaking to me."

Bowles described the accuser as "an acquaintance of mine."

'I was doing what I was told'

But under cross-examination by Johnson's attorney, Stephen Ross Johnson, Bowles admitted he lied to a News Sentinel reporter who sought to interview him about the attacks, telling the reporter he didn't even know the accuser was claiming rape when he dropped her off at Volunteer Hall.

"I was doing what I was told at that time because police had told me not to discuss anything," Bowles said of the lie.

Attorney Johnson responded that a KPD investigator with whom Bowles spoke "never told you to lie, did he?"

Bowles answered, "No, sir, he told me not to discuss it."

When later asked by police if "everybody's treating you OK," Bowles told investigators, "Everything's fine. There have been no problems or complaints." Under additional questioning by prosecutor Kyle Hixson, Bowles said at the time of the interview there had been no other attacks, so that's why he denied any problems.

Bowles finished the 2014 football season and later transferred to the University of Tennessee's Chattanooga campus. He said he already had decided to transfer months before the alleged rape.

Prosecutor Hixson in opening statements told jurors the allegations against Johnson - coupled with his suspension at a crucial time when the Vols needed a victory to score a bowl game - caused an outrage among players and fans that led to attacks on Bowles and threats toward the accuser.

Best friend denies phone ditching

Also on Tuesday, the accuser's best friend, Anna Lawn, denied that she and the accuser intentionally ditched their cellphones - without backing up the devices to save photos, texts, messages and social media history - within a day of each other as has been alleged in court records.

She said her mother handled the phone contract and upgraded to a new phone for her daughter because she was having technical difficulties with it. Pressed on what she did with her old phone, Lawn said she couldn't recall but thinks she "threw it away" without saving anything from it.

The defense alleges the accuser is lying about the alleged rape and Lawn ditched their phones and scrubbed their messaging to keep that lie under wraps. The attorneys won the right after a lengthy court battle to try to retrieve the information, but statements in court this week indicate they were unable to recover the contents of that messaging.

The trial continues Wednesday.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

CHICAGO — Jon Reschke is back on Michigan State's football roster, 17 months after the linebacker issued an apology for using the N-word in a racially charged text message that led to his departure.

Spartans coach Mark Dantonio confirmed the decision Tuesday during the final day of Big Ten football media days.

"Honestly don't know who for sure but probably (teammate's name redacted) or another s----- f------ (N-word) with no morals," Reschke wrote in an undated text message obtained via screenshot by the Free Press.

The text listed Reschke's phone number as the sender and had the responses scribbled out. A former Michigan State teammate, who requested anonymity and did not provide the text, confirmed its contents and said the conversation involved a female acquaintance of Reschke's.

Michigan State did not make Reschke available for an interview after a Free Press request.

"I talked to our football team and our players and said, 'Hey, if you guys want him back, then you have to bring him back,'" Dantonio said. "It has to be a decision made by our African-American players, led by them, and they have to support that."

Reschke left the Michigan State program in February 2017 after reaching a mutual decision with Dantonio and other members of the coaching staff. His intention was to transfer to another school for his final year of eligibility after completing his undergraduate degree in the spring of 2017, but he did not land on another roster last fall.

The decision to leave was reached based on reaction of his teammates to the text message Reschke sent.

Dantonio said Reschke suffered a non-football knee injury after leaving the team and did not transfer. The coach said the players on his team made the decision to bring back Reschke, who will not be on scholarship for his final year.

"He paid the ultimate price by being out of football for a year," Dantonio said Tuesday.

Reschke sent an apology letter in a news release in February and said he "lost control of my emotions and made an insensitive and totally regrettable comment involving a former teammate."

"In so doing, I have hurt and offended countless number of people, and for that, I am deeply sorry," Reschke wrote. "If I could take my comment back, I would do so in a second. I have addressed my teammates and coaches and while many understand my actions were totally uncharacteristic of who I am, the hurt still lingers."

Dantonio told reporters in late April that he had talked with his players about possibly reinstating Reschke and would leave the decision up to them.

"The one thing I want our football players to understand and to learn from is that -- and to grow as people from is that they're going to have to handle big, big issues at times, such as standing for the flag or not, things we've endured at Michigan State in this past year, they're going to be a part of that, and they're going to have to weigh in on things. And I'm going to have to listen to them and listen to them weigh in on it and make decisions, ultimately. I'll ultimately have to make decisions," Dantonio said Tuesday. "But I have individuals that I'm concerned about. I'm concerned about people's families. I'm concerned about how they live their life. Jon Reschke makes the decision he wants to come back, he's trying to look things in the eye and ask for forgiveness.

"Our football team has forgiven him, I think. If they haven't, that's something we'll deal with on an ongoing basis."

Reschke received NCAA approval for a medical waiver and sixth year of eligibility in May, according to a school spokesman. He battled an ankle injury and played in just two games in 2016 as a junior, finishing with 13 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception. Reschke took a redshirt as a freshman during the 2013 season because of injuries, though he was the scout team's special teams player of the week leading up to Michigan State's win over Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game that year.

The 6-3, 235-pounder has played in 24 games, including 14 during the Spartans' Big Ten championship and playoff season in 2015. Reschke had 101 tackles, 61/2 for loss and two sacks from 2014 to 2016.

Dantonio said he does not know where Reschke is physically after his knee injury or what position he might play this fall.

"We're just trying to see if he can get on the field as a football player, and then we'll make decisions," Dantonio said. "Again, it's a step-by-step process in every respect, not just the things we talked about but physically as well I think."

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC

Newsday (New York)

 

Have you ever had a moment when you understand the reasons that something is happening, but you're still mystified?

That's the case with the pool at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood. It's closed. Six years after it was shuttered by Islip Town because of a budget deficit, four years after it was scheduled to be renovated and reopened, the pool — a community gem — still is closed.

Town officials can cite legitimate reasons for the delay. The discovery in 2014 of 40,000 tons of contaminated debris dumped in Roberto Clemente and the ensuing investigation and cleanup kept the park closed until August 2017. In October, workers discovered unanticipated weather-related damage to the pool's walls. And yet . . . six years.

The predominantly Latino community in Brentwood has long felt underserved by Islip officials. Some residents and advocates filed a lawsuit last month claiming that electing town board members from the entire town rather than districts robs them of equal representation; no Latino has ever served on the town board. The pool delay doesn't help those perceptions. Nor does the fact that two of the five men convicted in the dumping scandal were town parks officials. Nor does the recent discovery of another illegal dump site near a Brentwood middle school. Nor does the explanation by officials that an announcement about a new spray park to open at Roberto Clemente this summer was a "miscommunication" and that the spray park won't be ready until next year.

The town is pushing to finish the Brentwood pool by the end of summer. It needs to come through this time.

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Copyright 2018 Star Tribune
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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

This week's WNBA All-Star Game activities give local boosters yet another chance to define Minneapolis as the go-to site for women's championships.

The game will be played at Target Center on Saturday for the first time, providing a chance to see the best active players and future legends live on the court at the same time. Among the players at the 2 p.m. game will be Lynx stars Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles as well as the biggest names in the game, including Sue Bird, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Elena Delle Donne.

As Timberwolves and Lynx CEO Ethan Casson said, "These are the best basketball players on the planet."

The game arrives as Target Center is among the finalists to host the NCAA women's basketball Final Four in 2022, 2023 or 2024.

"Women's sports is really celebrated here, from the Lynx to the Gophers hoops and hockey," said Matt Meunier, director of the Meet Minneapolis convention bureau's sports arm, Sports Minneapolis. For example, he said, the University of Minnesota's women's hockey team has its own dedicated rink - which is mostly unheard of elsewhere. Last summer, some 1,200 girls' volleyball teams descended on the Minneapolis Convention Center for their national championship. Last winter, the Twin Cities played host to the women's NCAA Frozen Four hockey games. In December, the NCAA women's volleyball Final Four will be in town. In June 2019, the women's PGA Championship will be at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska.

'Imagine what we can do'

When the All-Star events start Thursday afternoon, Meunier and others from Meet Minneapolis will be in final preparations for a visit from eight NCAA officials in town. His message to the NCAA officials next weekend will be: "If we do this for our local teams, imagine what we can do for your national championship."

He's got plenty of selling points beyond concentrated local support for women's sports. The region's successful gig as host of the 2018 Super Bowl in the bitter depth of winter is just one of the "pedigree" national events that have been here recently or will be soon, including the Ryder Cup in 2016 and the X Games in 2018 and 2019.

The men's basketball Final Four will be at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2019.

There are brick-and-mortar assets - all those new or freshened facilities from Target Field to Target Center, U.S. Bank Stadium and, soon, Allianz Stadium for Minnesota United in St. Paul's Midway neighborhood. Then there's the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, which efficiently ushered a record 60,000 passengers out of town the day after the Super Bowl, and the destination Mall of America.

"Show me another city with all these world-class, state-of-the-art facilities," Meunier said, adding, "And they're all connected by light rail."

The WNBA game doesn't come with the claims of reaping millions in local revenue like the Super Bowl or the NCAA men's Final Four, but Meet Minneapolis spokeswoman Kathy McCarthy argued that getting people to Minnesota does have an economic benefit and return trips. "Once you actually get people here, they enjoy it and they will come back," she said.

They will also learn, Meunier pointed out, that "it doesn't snow here nine months out of the year."

For Casson, this week is a prime time to show off Target Center's shiny $140 million renovation. "We feel like this is a celebration of our fan base and our region," he said, adding that the team is in its 20th season. "The Lynx continue to be a model franchise."

'Orange carpet' open to all

To be part of the All-Star Game activities will require planning because it's a concentrated two-day event with no extended fan festival open to the public.

The only free public event is the "orange carpet" where the All-Stars will enter the Lexus Courtside Club at Target Center for their private reception.

They are expected to start arriving at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Late Thursday and early Friday, the players will conduct private clinics for a couple hundred youth.

Fans with tickets to the game Saturday can attend the practice sessions Friday from 1 to 3 p.m.

Tickets as low as $20 were still available for the game late last week. The practice will also be streamed live through the WNBA's website and social media. The game will be broadcast on ABC live Saturday.

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

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Barrington Area Unit District 220 has inked three more sponsorship deals to fund enhancements at Barrington High School's stadium. Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, Moretti's Ristorante and Pizzeria, and Barrington Bank and Trust Co. will pay a combined $150,000 for 10-year sponsorship agreements.

Those three deals approved by the District 220 board last week are on top of $500,000 in sponsorship agreements finalized last month. Through the funding, Barrington Community Stadium will receive a new scoreboard on the south end of the field with a video display three times larger than the current screen.

The 10-year-old stadium also will get an auxiliary board on the north end and two sideline clocks in time for Barrington High's football season. Estimates show the scoreboards and clocks will cost $571,000. With $650,000 from the sponsorships, other stadium upgrades could occur, District 220 board President Brian Battle said.

One possible addition officials have floated is construction of a pavilion where fans could congregate. District 220 Superintendent Brian Harris said a new paint job could be among potential stadium improvements that would be discussed by the district's advisory facilities committee.

"We'll take a look at this as a little bit of a refresh," Harris said. For $50,000 apiece, Good Shepherd and Moretti's will have advertising space on the main scoreboard. Barrington Bank and Trust, which is part of Wintrust Financial, will pay $50,000 for space atop the smaller north scoreboard.

Last month, school board members approved a combined $500,000 in sponsorship agreements covering 10 years with Motor Werks Auto Group, Long and Co. Jewelers, Lake-Cook Orthopedics and Wickstrom Auto Group.

The first round of sponsorship deals for Barrington Community Stadium expired after the 2017-18 school year. Daktronics will build a 373-square-foot, high-definition screen for game video and information as part of the new main scoreboard.

Officials said the existing scoreboards no longer have available parts for service because they were built by White Way Sign and Maintenance Co. of Mount Prospect, which went bankrupt in 2014. District 220 secured the stadium sponsors in conjunction with the private, nonprofit Barrington High School Horseshoe Club.

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

 

CHICAGOUrban Meyer arrived in Chicago for Big Ten Football Media Days needing to find a new wide receivers coach.

He also had to face questions about why he fired longtime assistant Zach Smith and what he knew about Smith's alleged history of domestic incidents with his now-former wife.

Smith was let go Monday night after reports surfaced that he had been accused of physical abuse in 2015 and 2009.

He was already facing a criminal trespassing charge in Delaware County after a dispute over where he would drop off their son at Courtney Smith's apartment complex.

Meyer, who was the head coach at Florida and employed Zach Smith as a graduate assistant at the time, explained Tuesday morning what he knew and when he knew it.

"In 2009, Zach was an intern (and they were) a very young couple," Meyer said. "As I do many times — most coaches and people in leadership positions do — you receive a phone call, first thing you do is tell your boss, let the experts do their jobs."

According to a Gainesville, Fla., police report obtained by national college football writer Brett McMurphy, Zach Smith was accused of throwing his pregnant wife against a bedroom wall.

Meyer said, "It came back to me that what was reported wasn't actually what happened," and added that he and his wife, Shelley, offered counseling to the Smiths at the time.

McMurphy reported Zach Smith was arrested in Central Ohio in 2015 and charged with felonious assault and domestic violence.

Meyer said he had not heard of that until Monday night but was told, "There was nothing. Once again, there's nothing. Once again, I don't know who creates a story like that."

He declined to go into further detail about why he ultimately fired Smith, but acknowledged the most recent incident last week making headlines was a factor.

"The decision was made. I think the details that I'm obligated to give, I gave," Meyer said. "You're talking about people's lives, etc., so the decision was made. It's time to move forward. And we are in a public world. I try not to operate — especially when you're talking about (personal lives) and people, making things because it became public — but to say that doesn't have something to do with it, it does a little bit.

"I'm one of those ones I really don't care about that. I try to stay focused on what's the most important thing — that's our players and our team — but I do understand the value. The Ohio State University is bigger than all of us. So you have to do what's right by them. And the timing. It wasn't just my decision. It was a group effort on several people that I rely on."

Smith is the grandson of the late Earle Bruce, a College Football Hall of Fame coach who served as one of Meyer's most important members until his death earlier this year.

Meyer gave Smith, a Dublin native who walked onto the Bowling Green football team when Meyer was the coach of the Falcons, his first coaching job as quality control assistant at Florida in 2005.

He joined Meyer's first Ohio State staff in 2012 and was something of a lightning rod, being credited for some important recruiting victories but questions persisted about his coaching ability as the receivers were frequently seen as a weak link for the Buckeyes over the past six seasons.

"Zach was first hired because of his skill set," Meyer said. "I knew about it because he was with me at Florida — played for me at actually Bowling Green — but Coach Bruce now is the strongest relationship I've ever had other than my father. I've made that clear many, many times.

"So the big picture that was very important in this particular situation, I think that's one of the hard jobs of a leader. You have to make decisions that are for the best of the program, and I did."

Replacing an assistant coach shortly before the start of preseason camp could be difficult, but promoting former Ohio State receiver Brian Hartline from his position as an intern might be the most logical move.

"That decision will be made later in the week," Meyer said. "Any speculation up to that point is certainly that… It happened rather quickly.

"I get back tonight. Tomorrow we'll have conversations. I'll probably release something by the end of the week is what our plans are."

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Copyright 2018 Boston Herald Inc.
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The Boston Herald

 

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey took in nearly $3.5 million in sports bets during its first nine days of accepting such bets.

And most of that came from two weekends that sandwiched a dead period for major professional sports caused by baseball's All-Star break, when there was little to bet on, with basketball and soccer World Cup over, and football and hockey months away from beginning their seasons.

Meadowlands operator Jeff Gural said it accepted just under $3.5 million worth of sports bets since it began taking them July 14.

"We did OK," Gural said yesterday. "Our goal the first weekend was to exceed $1 million which we did. The next four days were quiet with nothing to bet on due to the All-Star break."

This past Saturday, with baseball having resumed, the track took in over $650,000, and additional bets on baseball and other sports came in on Sunday.

Gural said he is pleased with the track's initial performance "despite the fact that we are not at full strength and only have 10 live tellers windows open."

The FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands will be expanded. It is located in East Rutherford, in the same sports complex 6 miles from New York City where the NFL's New York Giants and Jets play.

So far, two tracks, the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park, and two Atlantic City casinos, the Borgata and Ocean Resort, offer sports betting in New Jersey. But many others have applied for permission to begin offering sports betting, in person and online, before the start of the NFL season in September. Monmouth and the casinos reaped $16.4 million in the first two weeks of June.

New Jersey won a U.S. Supreme Court case May 14 clearing the way for all 50 states to offer legal sports betting should they so desire. It began offering sports betting June 14.

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Copyright 2018 The Columbus Dispatch
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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

 

CHICAGO — When Urban Meyer became OhioState's football coach seven years ago, he established some rules that he regarded as "core values" for his program.

One of them is a zero-tolerance policy regarding violence toward women. On Monday, after OSU receivers coach Zach Smith's ex-wife filed a civil protection order against him and an allegation of previous domestic violence surfaced, OSU fired him.

"Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has announced the termination of wide receivers coach Zach Smith," a brief statement from OSU read. "Coaching staff adjustments will be announced at a later date."

Meyer is scheduled to speak on Tuesday at Big Ten media days in Chicago. He arrived by early Monday evening but did not respond to requests for additional comment.

Smith, the grandson of former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, was the last remaining member of Meyer's original 2012 OSU coaching staff.

Courtney Smith, a resident of Powell, filed the civil protection order Friday in Delaware County Domestic Relations Court. An Aug. 3 hearing is scheduled to discuss the matter, according to court records.

Zach Smith's attorney, Bradley Koffel, has argued that a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing filed in May was baseless and that Smith was just dropping off one of his children at his ex-wife's apartment.

Koffel told The Dispatch last week that there were no threats, argument or physical altercation.

"They pick up and drop off like every other divorced family," he said. "They said, 'He was told by one of our officers five months ago not to drop off at her apartment.' I said that's not enough to override a domestic-court order on where he's allowed to drop off or pick up his kids. It's a court order that controls this."

But in a court filing, Courtney Smith said her ex-husband has harassed, stalked and intimidated her. The Smiths divorced in 2016.

"I am now in even more fear than ever before," she wrote in a sworn affidavit. "Zach believes he is above the law and has no respect for the authorities. I fear for my safety and my life."

Koffel said Courtney Smith is using the media and an order typically used for battered women to "regulate the pickup and drop-off of her kids."

Powell Police Chief Gary Vest said that there was never any evidence of physical violence or threats, as would be required for criminal charges.

"There are no elements that fit a crime," he said, noting that a protection order often is based on perception and fear.

"Sometimes in a domestic situation, (it's) 'I may not trust this person. I don't want them around,' " Vest said.

The order requires Smith to stay at least 500 feet away from his ex-wife for the next five years.

"The courts allow some distance for them to cool down a little. It's a good system to let people catch their breath," Vest said.

Vest said the order's length is likely connected to the age (8 and 6) of the couple's children. He recommends that custody exchanges take place at police stations "to reduce the stress on the kids."

According to court records in Alachua County, Florida, Smith was arrested by Gainesville Police on a charge of aggravated battery in June 2009. That charge was dismissed because of insufficient evidence.

Koffel told The Dispatch that the case eight years ago occurred after Courtney Smith recently became pregnant and she called the police after an argument.

"As they do in these cases now, the first person to call the police is the victim," Koffel said. "The second is the defendant and goes to jail."

He said that Zach Smith was "briefly detained" during that incident.

"She quickly realized what she had done and asked to have the case dismissed," Koffel said.

The charge was dismissed.

Former Buckeyes and NFL receiver Brian Hartline is now an offensive quality-control coach for Ohio State and would be a logical candidate to replace Smith. Another possibility is fellow offensive control-coach Corey Dennis, who is Meyer's son-in-law.

The new receivers coach will take over a room loaded with veterans, led by returning starters Terry McLaurin, Austin Mack and hybrid back Parris Campbell. Of the 10 receiver and/or hybrid backs who made a catch in 2017, nine are back, including the team's leading pass catcher K.J. Hill, Johnnie Dixon, C.J. Saunders, Binjimen Victor, Demario McCall and Jaylen Harris.

And on the recruiting front, the Buckeyes already have gained a commitment for the 2019 class from consensus five-star Texas prospect Garrett Wilson. He answered questions about whether he was hedging on his OSU pledge by posting on Twitter, "I'm solid. Please stop asking. #GoBucks."

Dispatch reporter Tim May contributed to this story.

brabinowitz @dispatch.com

@brdispatch

dnarciso@dispatch.com

@DeanNarciso

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Copyright 2018 Orange County Register
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Orange County Register (California)

 

Two Southern California gymnastics coaches continue to work with underage gymnasts even though the sport's national governing body has suspended them while it conducts investigations into allegations of rules violations, the Southern California News Group has learned.

Colden Raisher is coaching at The Klub Gymnastics, near the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles, where on Friday the top director was unaware of Raisher's suspension by USA Gymnastics.

Similarly, former U.S. national team coach Terry Gray has continued to work with young athletes at SCEGA, a club in Temecula, despite his suspension by USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Center for Safe Sport. Gray was placed on USA Gymnastics' suspension list on June 29, and the list was updated on the organization's website that day.

"No notice was given to us nor Terry from USA Gymnastics prior to the list going out on online," said Kathy Strate, an SCEGA director.

SCEGA officials had to call USA Gymnastics to find out information on Gray's suspension after it was brought to the club's attention by members of the gymnastics community.

"We were told by USA Gymnastics that we would be receiving a letter in the mail," Strate said. SCEGA received a letter from USA Gymnastics the following day.

Failure to notify clubs

SCNG has learned that USA Gymnastics has routinely failed to notify clubs and gyms when it suspends coaches and other employees under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct.

Under terms of their suspensions, Gray and Raisher can continue to coach, but can have "no unsupervised contact with minors."

The Gray and Raisher cases highlight loopholes in USA Gymnastics and the Safe Sport center's policies and the complexity of balancing the protection of young athletes and the rights of accused coaches and officials, according to longtime observers of American gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic movement's struggles to address sexual abuse.

The cases also raise questions about USA Gymnastics' commitment to protecting young athletes months after USA Gymnastics President Kerry Perry vowed the organization would be more transparent and accountable in pursuing sexual abuse cases in the wake of the Larry Nassar/Karolyi Ranch scandal, say former gymnasts and athlete-rights advocates.

"It's still not providing protection from alleged predators for our kids," Jessica O'Beirne said of USA Gymnastics and Safe Sport policies that allow some coaches and officials to continue to work with young athletes while under investigation. O'Beirne is the founder of the podcast GymCastic.

"But you also can't prevent a person from working and making a living," O'Beirne continued. "So what do you do? But this doesn't protect kids. Period."

Raisher denies any wrongdoing

Raisher said last week he didn't have time to go into the specifics of the allegations against him.

"There was no physical or sexual abuse," Raisher said. "I've never done anything questionable. I'm one of the good guys in the sport. USA Gymnastics is trying to cast a very wide net. They're trying to catch a lot of bad guys. I agree with that. But now anybody can report anything."

He said the allegations were made by officials at another gym. He previously worked at Golden State Gymnastics in Burbank.

"This has nothing to do with Safe Sport or anything sexual," Raisher said. "I changed gyms a couple of months ago and they're retaliating against me."

Golden State did not respond to requests for comment.

Raisher said he would be willing to talk about his case and explain why he was innocent of the allegations when he had more time, but did not respond to subsequent requests to do so.

While USA Gymnastics has not publicly described the nature of the allegations against the two coaches, Gray's suspension is based on USA Gymnastics bylaws 9.3 and 10.5, according to the organization. Raisher's suspension is based on 10.5, USA Gymnastics said.

Bylaw 9.3 states that USA Gymnastics "shall report and refer all allegations of sexual misconduct to the (U.S. Center for Safe Sport), and all such matters will be within the Center's exclusive jurisdiction. The Center shall investigate such allegations or reports, issue any interim suspension or other measures pending the conclusion of the investigation and any hearing(s), make recommendations of sanctions or disciplinary action as a result of such investigation, and fully adjudicate such matters."

Bylaw 10.5 reads, "At any point before a complaint is resolved under the provisions of this Article 10, interim measures may be imposed to ensure the safety and well-being of the gymnastics community or where an allegation is sufficiently serious that an Adverse Party's continued participation could be detrimental to the sport or its reputation."

4 others under investigation

Raisher and Gray are two of six coaches with California ties currently under investigation by USA Gymnastics and/or Safe Sport. Stephen Graham, Ron Manara, Antoine Billingsly and Michael Ujin Sanders are suspended from "all contact" pending their hearings, according to USA Gymnastics records.

Billingsly and Graham are suspended under bylaw 9.3, Manara and Sanders under 9.3 and 10.5.

Manara is a former UC Davis assistant women's gymnastics coach and member of the university's physical education faculty. A university spokesperson said Manara is no longer employed at the school. The university has no record of inappropriate behavior by Manara, the spokesperson added.

Graham, a former assistant coach at Eastern Michigan, worked at a series of California clubs and camps, including Gymnastics Olympica in Van Nuys, Pasadena's Vernon Lee Gymnastics Amateur Gymnastics Academy, SoCal Training Center in San Marcos, Monarchs National in Newbury Park and Woodward West in Tehachapi.

Billingsly previously worked at American Kids Sports Center in Bakersfield. SCNG was unable to find any employment records for Sanders.

USA Gymnastics said in a statement to SCNG, "The safety and well-being of our athletes is USA Gymnastics' top priority, and the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy and other policies and procedures are in place for that reason. USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Department sends a letter to a suspended member at his/her last known mailing and email addresses, as well as to the respective club owner. Member clubs are informed of any suspension restrictions and are responsible for enforcing those restrictions. If a parent is aware of a coach violating the terms of a suspension, they should report it. The list of members placed on the interim suspension (and permanently ineligible individuals) is posted on usagym.org"

Even when officials at local clubs and gyms are able to contact USA Gymnastics and Safe Sport about suspensions, the organizations share only minimal information about allegations against coaches or employees. This often leaves gym and club owners with incomplete data when making decisions about allowing a suspended employee to continue working with young athletes.

In Gray's case, USA Gymnastics told SCEGA the allegations were cited in bylaws 10.5 and 9.3, Strate said. USA Gymnastics told SCEGA "these allegations did not take place in our facility, and dated back to a 2012 allegation."

"We have been given no other information," Strate said.

Gray, a U.S. national team coaching staff member from 1995 to 2005, worked for Brown's Gymnastics in Las Vegas in 2012. Gray also is under investigation for an allegation of inappropriate behavior at a gym in Ohio, according to those familiar with the investigation. He previously worked under Olympic team coach Mary Lee Tracy at Cincinnati Gymnastics, where he coached two Olympians.

Brown's officials declined to comment.

Parents complain they weren't informed

Some SCEGA parents have complained that they were not informed of Gray's suspension by the club.

"We notified all the families of the gymnasts that are coached by Terry, as these were the only families impacted," Strate said.

Strate said the decision to allow Gray to continue to coach was made after USA Gymnastics "informed us that Terry was cleared to come back to the gym under an interim measure."

SCEGA's decision to allow Gray to continue coaching came shortly after the club sent out an email limiting parents' viewing access to training sessions for top boys and girls training groups.

Under the policy, there is "no viewing" from 3:30-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, a primary training period for top groups. Parents are allowed to view training on Friday and Saturday.

"In an effort to help with traffic congestion and viewing room crowding, the following policy is in effect," the email said. "We will be meeting with families who are not adhering to the policy. This also applies to watching on the bleachers at the Temecula location."

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Copyright 2018 Crain Communications
All Rights Reserved


Crain's Detroit Business

 

When it came to bidding for the Final Four, Detroit had room at the inn, but not enough inns.

The chief reason the city's bid for any of the men's basketball Finals Fours for 2023-26 failed was because the city doesn't have the capacity to book 400 rooms for each team in separate hotels, the NCAA told Detroit Sports Commission Director Kris Smith, he said. That's despite an additional 2,000 local hotel rooms under construction or planned.

Failing to land the college basketball championship is the latest in a series of sports event defeats for the city: Detroit didn't get the Major League Soccer expansion team it's been seeking for two years, and the NFL rejected its bid to host its annual draft for 2019 and 2020. The NBA also has signaled that the city's hotel room inventory isn't up to snuff for hosting an all-star game, Detroit Pistons executives have said.

As for the NCAA, it prefers that each participating team - players, coaches, staff, etc. - be housed in its own hotel, Smith said. However, Detroit's bid included splitting each team over two or three hotels. He said Detroit has the hotel rooms available, just not in four hotels.

"Unfortunately, in Detroit we're not able to do that for all for (four) teams," Smith said. The winning cities were, he added.

The NCAA also was cautious about banking on future hotels.

"The (site selection) committee has been burned in the past in other communities in what would be finished," Smith said. "It's still a risk they didn't want to take."

There are about 5,000 hotel rooms in the greater downtown, ranging from the Marriott at the Renaissance Center to the little motels on Jefferson Avenue. In the last couple years, about 350 new rooms have been added to the downtown core, between The Foundation Hotel, The Siren Hotel and the Aloft hotel at the David Whitney Building.

Another NCAA concern was the auxiliary spaces inside 64,500-seat Ford Field, the proposed Final Four venue. Final Fours since the mid-1990s have been staged in large enclosed stadiums rather than basketball arenas.

Ford Field hosted the event in 2009. The Detroit Lions, the stadium's operator and tenant, spent $100 million in 2016-17 to upgrade Ford Field's suites, scoreboards, lighting and sound system and to create new clubs and other premium spaces. However, Smith said the NCAA wasn't satisfied with those stadium spaces for games and related events.

The hotels and stadium were not issues in 2003, when the NCAA awarded Detroit and Ford Field the 2009 Final Four. But, Smith said, the event and requirements have grown since then.

"It really came down to splitting hairs. The competition came down so close that they had to be extra picky about each individual community. We had the number of rooms they needed. It was a wish-list item of keeping them in fewer hotels," he said. "We were at the table until the very end."

A message was left for NCAA officials.

On Tuesday, the NCAA announced the winning cities - Houston (2023), Phoenix (2024), San Antonio (2025) and Indianapolis (2026). Dallas and Los Angeles were among the finalists failing to land Final Fours.

When the NCAA awarded Detroit the 2009 Final Four, the other winning cities for that multi-year bid included Houston, San Antonio and Indianapolis - the same cities granted the championship games this time, with Phoenix replacing Detroit. Each has held multiple Final Fours except for Phoenix, which hosted one other.

Pitching the officials

Organizers filed their bids a year ago, and the NCAA visited Detroit for a formal site visit in early June. Officials toured Ford Field; the West Riverfront grounds, for a potential music festival; various hotels; Hart Plaza, Comerica Park, for a proposed tipoff tailgate; and Little Caesars Arena, the home of the Detroit Pistons.

Among those participating in the visit were Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo, University of Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel, representatives from other universities and representatives from the business community, including Quicken Loans, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co.

MSU and the Big Ten would have been hosts for the proposed Ford Field Final Four.

Quarterbacking the pitch effort was the Detroit Sports Commission's Detroit Sports Organizing Corp., formed in October to act as ambassadors with NCAA decision makers and others who award sporting events. The 16-member committee is made up of political, civic and business leaders and executives from Detroit's four pro-sports teams.

The Detroit Sports Commission, a nonprofit subsidiary of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau launched in 2001 as the Detroit Metro Sports Commission, markets the city for amateur and college sporting events, acts as a go-between for media and corporate relations and provides organizational services.

During the pitch, one potential negative loomed over Detroit's bid: Michigan State University as the host school. MSU has gotten intense criticism nationally for its handling of the Larry Nassar gymnastics sex abuse scandal, and the city's Final Four bid effort included lobbying by Izzo along with interim MSU President John Engler and former Athletic Director Mark Hollis.

However, the sports commission said Thursday that MSU's problems were not among the reasons the NCAA gave for not awarding Detroit a Final Four.

Hosting big games

The loss of this NCAA Final Four bid isn't the end for Detroit.

Smith said, hotel rooms and the stadium interior spaces are obstacles that can be overcome for future bids. And in April, the NCAA awarded the 2020 Frozen Four men's ice hockey tournament to Little Caesars Arena along with seven NCAA championship events in golf, wrestling, fencing and bowling. Those stem from the sports commission's August 2016 submission of 54 applications to bring 15 college championships in nine sports.

Detroit also has major events, such as the Belle Isle Grand Prix and golf majors at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township.

A PGA Tour event is coming to Detroit in 2019.

Detroit also has a long history of hosting major sporting events, including two Super Bowls and two WrestleMania events, four baseball all-star games and other rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament. Little Caesars hosted the first two rounds earlier this year and will again in 2021.

The Palace of Auburn Hills hosted the NCAA men's regional games in 2000, and Ford Field hosted the regionals in 2008. Regionals also took place at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1988 and 1991 and at the Jenison Fieldhouse, former home of Michigan State's basketball teams, in 1963.

Detroit also hosts a college football bowl game and the MAC's football championship.

For the future, the city is seeking an expansion Major League Soccer team, and Lions officials told the NFL they want to host the league's college draft, which has jumped cities in recent years.

The Detroit Pistons also filed a bid to host an NBA all-star game at LCA, an event that also would hinge on more downtown hotel rooms coming online.

Not giving up

There are no college championship bids in the pipeline right now because the NCAA has completed its latest cycle of picking sites, Smith said. However, the commission intends to bid on future NCAA tournament rounds, men's and women's Finals Fours and any other event they feel benefits the community, he added.

In the meantime, the commission plans to analyze the failed Final Four bid to glean lessons for future applications.

Of course, Detroit's post-recession comeback narrative will remain part of the bid process.

"The NCAA was here when Detroit had its downturn (in 2009). That's fresh in their minds," Smith said. "One of the narratives that we tried to convey to the NCAA is that when they bring their Final Four and championships to Detroit, they're making a forever impact on our community, our youth and on everything we do in our community."

Twitter: @Bill_Shea19

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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

The idea of a league-wide injury report in the Big Ten or throughout college football — similar to what is done in the NFL — continues to gain momentum.

Ohio State Buckeyes Athletic Director Gene Smith talked in June about the idea of being more transparent about injuries and killing the idea of gamesmanship surrounding injuries. Concealing injuries as a way to gain an advantage against an opponent is common in the game.

At Big Ten Media Days on Monday in Chicago, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said his program has had an injury report for a number of years and he's been accused of being less than honest with the injuries listed.

"I would agree with that, you know, quite frankly," Fitzgerald said. "But if we move forward to where we have to have a fully transparent conference-wide or national one, I'd have no problem with that, as long as we adhere to it. There needs to be accountability. If there's not accountability to it, then I'll do whatever I have to do to protect our players, first and foremost, and protect our program second, in full disclosure of transparency."

The introduction of injury reports to college sports would be a response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to strike down a federal law prohibiting sports gambling. The NFL's injury report was created after a gambling scandal.

Coaches are already preparing their players for the changes that come with that decision.

"As far as gambling, don't associate with gamblers, avoid it like the plague," said Michigan's Jim Harbaugh of his advice to his players. "Don't walk away from that, run."

Harbaugh is well known for giving few details about injuries, but said he would be fine with a league-wide injury report.

"If we want to do an injury report," Harbaugh said, "we can do an injury report."

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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

Dayton Public Schools' restructured athletic department is nearly complete, months after a Dunbar eligibility scandal led to a postseason ban and just weeks before fall sports begin.

New Athletic Director Shawna Welch, who was a school principal the previous 11 years, has spent the summer interviewing coaches in collaboration with a new district-level "selection committee" on hiring.

The school board on Tuesday approved one of the two associate athletic directors who will work under Welch: former Ohio State basketball star Marscilla Packer, who has recently worked as the AD for Cincinnati College Prep Academy and an assistant AD at Columbus School for Girls.

Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said the other associate AD, whom she would not identify, has been confirmed and will be voted on formally by the school board at a special meeting later this month.

In DPS' new system, the two full-time districtwide associate ADs will take the place of the six part-time ADs who served each high school in the past. DPS spokesperson Marsha Bonhart said in May the two associate ADs will handle game scheduling and rules compliance, but each school will have a separate site coordinator assigned for evening sports events.

"Those changes were made because we want to be better at serving our students, better at serving our coaches, better at following the rules," Lolli said. "As people see the results of the changes we've made, I think they will be encouraged and they'll start to trust us a little more."

The past few years, as building-level ADs worked under district ADs Jonas Smith and Mark Baker, DPS had multiple incidents of missing athletic money, an eligibility and game-rigging scandal with Dunbar football that led to multi-year probation and this year's Dunbar boys basketball eligibility errors, which led to the team being banned from the 2019 postseason. Those problems cast a shadow on DPS' sports success - seven state championship teams from Dunbar (6) and Meadowdale (1) since 2010.

Welch took over this summer for Baker, who was reassigned as Dayton schools associate director of truancy. District officials said Welch, the 2018 district employee of the year, is the first woman to serve as DPS' districtwide athletic director.

Welch was a two-time all-area softball player at Patterson Co-Op High School and led her team to back-to-back Big League World Series age-group tournaments. She earned her bachelor's degree from Indiana State, her Master's degree in educational leadership and her special education licensure from Miami University.

Welch taught briefly at Meadowdale and Belmont high schools and spent 10 years back at Patterson teaching science classes before landing on the principal track. She was at Wilbur Wright the next seven years (four as assistant principal and three as principal) before spending the past eight years as principal at Wright Brothers, which switched from an elementary to a middle school two years ago.

She also coached girls softball for 11 years, basketball for six years and volleyball for four years, according to the district. In the past two months, Welch, through district staff, declined multiple requests for interviews about her priorities going forward.

Lolli said that's because Welch has been "singularly focused" on interviewing coaches and staff.

"I think we have shown that we're serious about our athletic program … however, we are more serious about our academic program," Lolli said. "And the athletics enhance the academics."

All fall sports coaches have been hired, and only a few winter sports coaches remain to be approved, including the Dunbar and Belmont girls basketball coaches. Head coaches make $2,000 to $7,500 per year for their coaching duties, depending on the sport.

The two embattled boys programs at Dunbar both saw coaching changes. Lyle Cole will take over the basketball job from Chuck Taylor, and Corey Freed will be the head football coach, replacing Darran Powell. Longtime Dunbar football coaches Alfred Powell and James Lacking will return as assistants.

The new athletic director system will cost DPS a little more, as the combined salary for the old individual school ADs is roughly equivalent to the $73,350 per year that each of the new associate ADs will make.

Asked whether DPS will be ready for fall sports, given the new system and the late hiring of the associate ADs, Lolli said yes.

"We're happy to have the team together," she said. "(The ADs) are already working together, so it's not a matter of being behind the eight-ball."

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USA TODAY

 

MILWAUKEE — Granted, it was a small sample size and they were Brewers fans. But of the 40 or so people I spoke with in the concourse at Miller Park the other night, I didn't come across one who wasn't willing to forgive Josh Hader for the tweets he posted as a misguided teen in 2011.

No one condoned the racist, homophobic and misogynist words in his tweets, and most expressed disappointment in the relief pitcher. But there was no anger, no indignation, no sharp rebuke. Not a single Hader hater in the bunch.

Antonio McDaniel, an African-American from Milwaukee, said Hader's words "made me feel uncomfortable." But McDaniel was able to shrug them off.

"I won't hold it against him," he said. "I'll support him. He's a good player."

Whether these fans represented the larger community is debatable, though Hader did receive a standing ovation from the home crowd Saturday in his first appearance since the All-Star Game Twitter revelations.

Certainly, some people who don't cheer for the Brewers reacted differently to the news that broke while Hader was on the mound at the All-Star Game. Many have taken to social media to blast the pitcher and question the sincerity of his apology to his teammates, to Major League Baseball and to baseball fans.

But if you saw the tears gather in the corners of his eyes and his lips quiver while he addressed the media Friday night, if you saw the pain on his face, you wouldn't for one second doubt that he was genuinely sorry for what he wrote seven years ago, before he pitched one inning of professional baseball.

"We easily forgive and forget if he does the right thing," said John Grundman of Mukwonago, Wisconsin. "I think he's been sincere in his apology and it's a good first step. I'm sure being in baseball, being around people of color, he's learned a lot and changed and grown up."

Sherri Frost of West Allis, Wisconsin, agreed.

"He was a 17-year-old kid," she said. "They do stupid things. I don't think that's really him as a man. Just the way he's reacted. He owned up to it. He didn't make excuses. He apologized."

Don Schneekloth of Neenah, Wisconsin, said Hader's tweets had been a topic of discussion in his golf league Thursday and that "everybody was 100 percent behind him."

"It's inappropriate what he did, but it was a long time ago," he said. "I have kids that are young and they do stupid things. I think it's crazy that they dig this up now. Who knows what kind of peer pressure there was around him?"

Schneekloth was wearing a Ryan Braun jersey and said it took him a long time to get over Braun's PED use and the outfielder's cover-up and lies. Hader's poor judgment as a teen, Schneekloth said, did not rise to that level, though the words and phrases the pitcher used were vile and repugnant.

"I think it will go away quickly," he said. "For Josh, this is a drop in the bucket."

Debra Weiner of Pewaukee, Wisconsin, who attended the game with Frost, said, "(Braun) was a grown-up and he lied. This is different."

While many Brewers fans seemed satisfied with Hader's apology and were ready to move on, the 24-year-old reliever can't expect the same treatment on the road. The bullpens in most stadiums typically are located in close proximity to bleachers or outfield seating and Hader is bound to be subjected to some verbal abuse. He's likely to hear some things that are as ugly as his long-ago tweets.

"He's going to catch a lot of heat in other stadiums," said Jeff Schutts of Hudson, Wisconsin. "I feel bad for him. I think it's going to affect the team. It's a big distraction."

Grundman said the whole episode could serve as a teaching moment, and not only for baseball players.

"This might make people think a little more about their own beliefs," he said.

As far as Weiner was concerned, Hader's tweets were wrong and offensive but in the bigger picture they weren't something to get worked up over.

"At the risk of being political, I'm a lot more worried about what our president is doing," she said. "Josh is OK."

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

It may seem like a contradiction, but more adults in the U.S. say they are exercising at the same time more of them are becoming obese. About 24 percent of adults last year said they exercise enough each week to meet government recommendations for both muscle strengthening and aerobic exercise, according to a large annual health survey. That was up from 21 percent in 2015. The same survey says 31 percent of adults indicated they were obese last year, up slightly.

Another, more rigorous government study has also found adult obesity is inching up. So if more Americans are exercising, how can more also be getting fatter? Some experts think the findings may reflect two sets of people — the haves and have-nots of physical fitness, so to speak. "It's possible the people becoming more active are already normal weight," said John Jakicic, director of the University of Pittsburgh's Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center.

The numbers come from an in-person annual national survey that for more than 60 years has been an important gauge of U.S. health trends. Roughly 35,000 adults answer the survey every year, including questions about how often, how long and how vigorously they exercise in their leisure time. The survey gives a good sense of trends, but it's not perfect. People generally overstate how much they exercise, just as they overstate their height and lowball their weight, Jakicic said.

Ten-year-old federal recommendations say adults should do weightlifting or other muscle-strengthening exercise at least twice a week. They also advise adults to do at least 75 minutes a week of high-intensity aerobic activity, such as running, or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, or a combination of the two. In a report released last month, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at survey responses from 2010 through 2015 and found that level of leisure-time exercise was more common in some states than others.

Nearly a third of non-elderly adults in Colorado, Idaho, and New Hampshire met exercise guidelines. Only about one-seventh in Mississippi, Kentucky and South Carolina did. Higher levels of exercise were more common in people who were working than those who weren't, the study also found. Nationally, exercise levels were flat during the years covered by the CDC report. But more recent data show more adults said they were exercising at recommended levels in 2016 and 2017.

It's not clear why, said Jena Shaw Tronieri, a University of Pennsylvania weight-loss expert. One possibility: Many adults exercise to manage stress, and the last two years have seen increasing political and social turmoil. "I don't know if that will explain the increase recently, but we know those situational factors are part of the context," she said. Of course, unhealthy eating has a lot to do with obesity. Research indicates that "a change in diet is needed to see any dent or reduction in obesity," said the CDC's Tainya Clarke, one of the authors of the report.

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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

 

There are three major projects on VCU's radar.

As VCU athletics moves forward under its new five-year strategic plan, the department's biggest priority is facilities.

The plan, released Thursday and titled "VCU Athletics Rising Higher: Next Steps," replaces the previous five-year strategic plan that VCU vice president and director of athletics Ed McLaughlin announced in July 2013, the year after he began his tenure at the school.

Three big projects remain on VCU's radar: a new ballpark, a new indoor-outdoor tennis facility and a new field house with practice fields.

McLaughlin said in an interview last month the school is close on the land portion of the tennis facility and field house projects. He said Friday it's going in a good direction.

He said the school needs to get its student-athletes the things they deserve.

"That'll be our big emphasis," McLaughlin said. "Because we are so far behind on things like practice fields, on things like just the normal stuff for our Olympic sports."

One part of the VCU facilities sphere that isn't up for significant alteration is the Siegel Center. The 7,637-seat arena has hosted 117 consecutive sellouts for men's basketball dating to January 2011.

There currently are no plans to expand seating at the Siegel Center.

"We're not in the position to look at it say, 'We're going to add another X number of seats,'" McLaughlin said. "I've always been a big believer in know who you are. And bigger is not always better."

In 2014, VCU completed other enhancements to the Siegel Center, including the center-hung scoreboard, LED ribbon board, suites and sound system. Two more suites were added in 2016.

Smaller projects along those lines are on the table moving forward.

"We're going to continue to do those little things to make the fan experience really good," McLaughlin said.

Another prominent part of the strategic plan is academics. One of the five strategic themes within it is "academic excellence."

McLaughlin said that's probably the area that requires the least amount of work to get to where the Rams want to be "because we've done such a good job these last five years with it," he said.

VCU has added staff to help with academics, McLaughlin said, and has put a lot of resources in tutoring.

Athletes at VCU have posted a combined GPA of better than 3.0 each of the past seven semesters and posted their highest combined GPA this past spring. The number wasn't immediately available.

"Our kids are doing so well in school," McLaughlin said. "And a lot of that has to do with our academic support. And just our expectations academically."

Revenue generation falls under the "fiscal sustainability" theme of the strategic plan. One area in which VCU has been raising money is as part of the university-wide Make It Real Campaign. The campaign was launched publicly in September 2016 but counts donations going back to July 2012.

The Make It Real Campaign has an overall goal of $750 million and has raised $619.7 million, according to the campaign website. The campaign includes a $51.8 million goal for athletics, and $41.8 million of that has been raised.

McLaughlin said that, if successful, VCU will hit the $51.8 million goal by the end of the year, and it will continue from there. The campaign ends in June 2020.

"We got a whole lot more money to raise," McLaughlin said. "But I feel good about our achievement so far, just because it really shows how much support people have given us."

wepps@timesdispatch.com(804) 649-6442@wayneeppsjr

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

The pads come on Monday, for better or worse.

Something to consider as you sit in your air-conditioned homes: the majority of high school football teams in Tennessee will play three games in August this year, or about a third of their regular season.

That's too many.

At a time when the TSSAA has instituted strict heat policies with extra water breaks or halting practice if the heat index gets over 105 degrees, the same high school association has approved a sports calendar that includes three football games in the hottest month of the year this season.

It's the second time in six years teams will play three games in August.

Makes sense? Not at all.

It's time for it to stop for the health of Tennessee's high school athlete.

"The fact that there are three games in August is ridiculous," said Christian Brothers football coach Thomas McDaniel, who is the president of the Tennessee Football Coaches Association. "We are so worried about the heat and acclimation and heat index rules.

"It's almost an impossible feat to be ready for the season."

Forget about being ready for a season. I'm worried about safety. I'm worried about seeing reports of heat-related illness.

And as a parent of a son planning to start playing football this season for a recreational league, the thought of having to call another parent about their child that died due to the heat is something that scares me.

The health of our high school athletes must return to the forefront of discussion.

"I was just thinking about this," TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said. "This time of year a lot of us get stressed out and busy because of school starting.

"Majority of our stress, though, comes from heat and worrying about the athletes."

Why do we have three games in August

The TSSAA sets its calendar differently than the way many may think.

The association doesn't start with the first day of practice and works its way to the championship games. It turns the calendar to December where the state championships are held on the first weekend of the month and works its way back to the start of the season.

"We see when we have the state championships and count back from there," Childress said. "If we move it back in December the Council has to consider a lot of things like exams and schools getting out for break.

"And we are always concerned with overlap (in fall and winter sports)."

Typically, Tennessee has two games in August. The last time teams played three games were in 2012.

"I don't think this is good business for our young people," Brentwood coach Ron Crawford said. "I think all of us as coaches understand now how to take care of players much, much better."

Here in the South, Alabama, Louisville and Florida all start their high school football seasons later than Tennessee.

Alabama begins Aug. 24. Florida opens the season Aug. 22. Louisiana's first games are Aug. 30.

Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi all start Aug. 17 like in Tennessee.

How do you change it

Childress said it would be up to the organization's Legislative Council to change the start of the high school football season.

Typically, school administrators submit proposals for the council to consider. The TSSAA staff also can make recommendations.

The next step likely would be for the Legislative Council to poll all member schools, asking for a vote.

"If enough coaches in coaches meetings have a strong opinion, we could write a recommendation as a staff," Childress said. "But the way they normally operate is they let everyone vote for any change in the calendar."

Crawford suggested simply pushing the first week of games back one week. This year that equates to two games played in August, but most years there would be just one.

Independence coach Scott Blade suggested an even drastic change.

"I don't think we should play until September," Blade said. "I think there are too many teams in the championships. I think we should play 14 games at the most, so a 16-team bracket and start the first week of September.

"That's my own personal opinion. But we are out there right now with these kids and we should be doing 7-on-7; we should be going to the pool. But instead, we are (about to start scrimmaging).

"We are playing three games in the South."

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

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

 

PHILADELPHIA — Lawyers representing former NFL players estimated Wednesday that payouts from the concussion settlement with the league will top $1.4 billion, a $400 million jump because of thousands more players filing claims.

The number of players who filed to be a part of the settlement is outpacing all previous estimates and could keep growing, the lawyers said in a federal court filing based on estimates from an actuary. The estimate accounts for players who have filed claims and those who have officially given notice that they intend to file claims.

The actuary said participation rates are 21 percent higher than estimated when the settlement was reached. As of July 16, 499 claims totaling more than $485 million had been approved, according to the filing.

The massive increase in estimated payout came the same day a judge denied a request from the league to appoint a special investigator to look into what the league said are extensive fraudulent claims against the settlement fund.

Judge Anita Brody wrote in her federal court ruling that the league's attorneys had demonstrated that there is "sufficient evidence of probable fraud to warrant serious concern." But Brody said a special master and a claims administrator have effectively ferreted out those claims for now.

"The audit process is working effectively," Brody wrote in her deferral ruling, saying if the claims administrator or special master notify the court an investigator is needed, "the Court will rule on the motion at that time."

The league requested an investigator and cited in its May argument an independent study it said found more than 400 claims recommended for denial based on evidence of fraud by attorneys, doctors and former players attempting to cheat the program. The league has said those attempts to scam the $1 billion settlement fund have slowed down the awarding of valid claims.

The settlement, which took effect January 2017, resolved thousands of lawsuits that accused the NFL of hiding what it knew about the risks of repeated concussions.

It covers retired players who develop Lou Gehrig's disease, dementia or other neurological problems believed to be caused by concussions suffered during their pro careers, with awards as high as $5 million for the most serious cases.

Attorneys for the league had cited practices such as doctors seeing players for evaluation not in clinical settings, but in hotel rooms, law offices or other places. They also cited a doctor who said she spent seven to 12 hours evaluating each patient, but approved sometimes as many as eight patients a day.

A lawyer for several plaintiffs said Wednesday that he and others representing the players supported Brody's decision.

"Since the NFL filed its motion more than three months ago, the claims process has continued to accelerate and the current audit process is working effectively," said Chris Seeger, co-lead counsel for the retired players. "We will not allow a small number of potentially fraudulent claims to be used as an excuse by the NFL to deny payment to legitimately injured former players."

In their May arguments, Seeger and other attorneys noted that the instances of fraudulent claims would be cut dramatically after the most recent rules for claims went into effect, including a list of approved physicians to determine eligibility.

Brody warned in her ruling that she expects the process to ensure valid claims are promptly paid.

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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

Boutique fitness studios are outcompeting large, multipurpose health clubs, thanks largely to their most devoted customers: Millennials, according to a 2017 report from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). And as fitness lovers start having children, many studios are now offering group classes for kids.

"It's starting now with everything from baby yoga to activity monitoring for infants in their cribs. All these things are extensions of the parents' shifting value and belief systems," says Bryan O'Rourke, a fitness industry analyst and member of the IHRSA board of directors. He cites youth-oriented programs from SoulCycle, Zumba and UFC (that's Ultimate Fighting Championship, the mixed martial arts organization), to name a few. "There's a plethora of offerings out there, and I don't think they're going away," he says.

Children and teens are doing yoga, spin and strength-training classes in place of, or in addition to, traditional organized sports. IHRSA reports that the number of boutique gym members under 18 grew from 2.1 million to 3.7 million from 2013 to 2016.

In theory, anything that gets kids moving is good, says David Berkoff, a sports medicine doctor and professor of orthopedics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, because "we have such a crisis of overweight and under-exercised kids." But experts have some caveats when it comes to group fitness classes designed for adults.

"Kids are not miniature adults, and I would caution against kids taking classes that are formatted the same way as the adult classes," because they may not be age-appropriate, says Rick Howard, assistant professor of kinesiology at West Chester University and co-author of the National Strength and Conditioning Association's 2016 position statement on youth training.

Not all kids' fitness classes are created equal. Parents should look for studios that cater specifically to children with separate class times, equipment and instructors and employ safety measures such as separating children by age group.

They should also understand the psychological elements at play. The social benefits of teen group fitness classes are similar to those found in organized sports, such as team building, accountability and a sense of belonging, says Jaclyn Shepard, assistant professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

She also lists a host of other psychological perks of fitness groups. "We see in the literature that there's definitely improved mood, a much more positive outlook on life, increased self-esteem, improved cognitive performance and reduced anxiety and stress," Shepard says.

But she warns that group fitness can also foster "peer contagion," a process where one teen's unhealthy behaviors or emotions can undermine the positive progress of his or her peers. "This can result in potentially negative effects on body image and eating habits," she says, such as a preoccupation with weight loss.

Parents should watch out for any change in behaviors — for instance, a teen refusing to eat certain food groups, or compulsively exercising — or drastic changes in weight. Shepard says it's also crucial for parents and fitness instructors to focus on efforts and accomplishments rather than physical appearance.

Howard's take-home message is that finding the right coach is key. "It all goes back to the quality of instruction," he says. "The person working with kids needs the expertise to make sure that kids are having fun, that the fitness program is safe and that it's effective."

Here's how gyms are accommodating their new young visitors in the areas of strength training, spin and yoga.

Strength training

It may surprise parents to learn that strength training can actually be highly beneficial for children. Body-weight exercises and light to moderate weightlifting can help build stronger bones, increase bone mass, reduce the risk of injury and help kids move better, says Berkoff, whose 11-year-old son regularly attends CrossFit classes.

"The key is for strength training to be structured and supervised," he says. "I wouldn't let my 11-year-old head to the CrossFit gym alone to do clean-and-jerks with the adults there."

That means having an expert in charge. CrossFit kids' coaches complete a certification program that covers class structure and setup, safe movement and cues that resonate with children — for instance, the "angry gorilla" prompt helps kids get in position for deadlifts. Meanwhile, sports performance gyms offer specialized strength and conditioning programs that teach young athletes about weight training and recovery.

While lifting weights to increase strength and endurance is considered healthy, teens should not aim to build muscle bulk, says Shari Barkin, chief of general pediatrics at the Monroe Carrel Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University. "Until you reach your skeletal and physical maturity, you do not want to be building muscle," she says. "We recommend using light weights with high repetitions. The goal is to focus on fitness, strength and safe technique."

Spinning

Children's spin classes are less common because most spin bikes can only accommodate riders 4-foot-10 and taller, but many studios allow teens to attend adult classes with parental consent. At Saratoga Cycling Studio in Saratoga Springs, New York, owner and instructor Angela Amedio created a teen program that welcomes pre-scheduled groups, such as sports teams from the local high school.

Amedio tailors the class routine to each group's needs — some hope to increase endurance, others to build community and confidence. For teens who are less athletic, "it's a nice way to get active with your peers, because there's no pressure, no competition," she says.

Yoga

Barkin recommends kids' yoga classes, for both physical and psychological benefits, such as improvements in strength, flexibility, balance and relaxation. In Los Angeles, Zooga Yoga offers classes for kids of various ages, including parent-and-me classes where children and adults can exercise together. Rather than hiring traditional yoga teachers, studio owner Antonia King recruits kid-lovers such as preschool teachers and trains them specifically for kids' yoga. For example, King's instructors learn to focus on verbal cues and use minimal hands-on adjustment during kids' classes. If a child requires help with a specific pose, the teacher always asks permission before making physical adjustments.

"What I don't recommend for kids, or for teens, is hot yoga," Barkin says. "Hot yoga tricks your body into thinking that you can do more stretching. For kids especially, it's important not to overstrain (their) muscles."

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

Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

A new, two-story tennis clubhouse six times the size of the current one will usher in a bevy of players in 2019.

The Key West-style clubhouse will include an indoor cafe, outdoor dining and observation decks, a sports performance room, pro shop, men's and women's locker rooms and two rooms that can be rented for special occasions.

The Palm Beach Gardens Tennis Center with 18 clay courts is on 117th Court North, next to the Joseph R. Russo Athletic Complex and near Watson B. Duncan Middle School.

It has attracted top talent, including tennis royalty Venus and Serena Williams. Venus was there practicing right before the French Open, Director of Tennis Laura Schuppert said.

"We do see them quite a bit," Schuppert said of the longtime Palm Beach Gardens residents. "The kids were watching her play. It's really great to have them as our neighbors."

Tennis has become a power game in the Williams' sisters era, and the performance room will give players a place to work on strength training and conditioning.

"We're really excited to have that piece," Schuppert said.

The city expects to award a construction contract for the 12,700-square-foot clubhouse in November, and it will take about 10 months to build. Temporary trailers re-purposed from the recent golf course clubhouse construction will allow operations to continue during that time.

The clubhouse will cost an estimated $3.5 million, which will be paid from the sale of the city's public works facility. The money will initially come from the general fund because the building has not yet sold.

Public works and public services will move into a new operations center paid for with $6.7 million generated by the penny sales tax increase.

The current 2,000-square-foot tennis clubhouse dates back to 1999, Schuppert said.

The city's program has risen in popularity since then, with 800 members and women from 14 Palm Beach County Women's Tennis Association teams -- each with 16 players -- competing on the courts.

There are six men's teams and counting, not to mention summer camps, hitting frenzies and wellness programs.

"The courts have kept up with the tennis demand, but the building has not," Leisure Services Administrator Charlotte Presensky said.

In 1999, it would have been impossible to predict how much the program would grow, she said.

When it rains, the players all try to squeeze into the clubhouse or under an overhang. The new clubhouse will have ample space, plus second-floor meeting space for them to host a luncheon or celebrate a birthday after they play tennis, Presensky said.

Women ages 25 to 45 are the biggest users of the tennis center, Schuppert said.

"We've hit this niche with this age group. The whole social component is very big," she said.

In the new club, players can grab a quick bite for breakfast or lunch, Schuppert said. She expects parents may also wander over from the Joseph R. Russo Athletic Complex or the new North County District Park, another penny sales tax project. The district park also will have concession stand.

The city is also adding more parking behind the courts. No new courts are planned, Schuppert said, although the city has the capacity to build more if necessary.

Players are looking forward to the coming changes.

"They have to have a fantastic clubhouse because they have such a fantastic facility here now. They'll match it," said Linda Pelong, an Admirals Cove resident . "The public should be impressed with the way they are improving constantly."

Palm Beach Gardens resident Louise King said she's been a member of the tennis center for years. Although she's not excited about the construction period, she knows it will be worth it.

"I can't wait," she said.

speters@pbpost.com Twitter: @Speters09

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Copyright 2018 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

There is a way that college football programs use to get top prospects through the door that has grown in recent years.

Make sure it's a really fancy door. Same for the hallway and every other room.

Facility spending has ballooned as those amenities have become the new arms race in college football. The chairs and couches all are wrapped in rich leather. Huge televisions deck the walls throughout. If a players lounge doesn't include a barber shop, it's behind the times.

Clemson's $55-million upgrade to its football facility spawned a miniature golf course, Whiffle ball field and giant slide. Even Kansas, it of eight wins since 2012, broke ground in April on a new indoor football facility spurred by a $50-million donation.

When asked about it, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he could answer two ways. First, he wore the cap of conference commissioner, someone tasked with maintaining the health of every team under his umbrella.

"We certainly are spending a lot of money on brick and mortar and on support facilities and on support personnel, he said. "The arms race is alive and well.

Then he tossed the commissioner hat aside and pulled out his old athletic director's hat. Before overseeing the Big 12, he was AD at Northern Iowa, Iowa and Stanford. At that level, the mission is to ensure your own school's long-term health, the health of adversaries be damned.

"The only thing worse than being in the arms race is not being in the arms race, Bowlsby said, "because you fall behind and you don't have the tools that you need to get the job done. So there's a balance.

Some coaches, however, wonder if a balance really is there. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder admits he's old school. The 78-year-old began his coaching career when game film was captured on actual film. He's not saying that strong facilities aren't important, but he asked why other parts of the college experience aren't viewed at the same level.

"You look at it from a standpoint of if I'm a professor at a university I'm going to ask the question, what's really important here? he said. "Is it education or is it football? A professor that has an office the size of a closet and as coaches we've got offices as big as this indoor facility. You ask the question, why?

Snyder may question those priorities, but that didn't stop Kansas State from sinking $65 million into a new football facility that opened in 2015. And the answer to the question "Why? might best have been offered by Kansas coach David Beaty.

"[Recruits are] looking at universities, and we stimulate them when they come to campus, he said. "I believe sometimes they're ruling people out and they don't realize it. They're unique in terms of the way they think. They do operate off being stimulated and a lot of people have gotten that and understood it.

Then he looked around at his surroundings in the Ford Center, the Dallas Cowboys' indoor practice facility housed at the Star in Frisco.

"Look no further than this place right here, he said. "These people get fan experience. They get what fans want. This place is phenomenal.

Marshall football coach Doc Holliday, long considered a top-level recruiter, has an often-used saying that fits this scenario: People buy with their eyes. And if a prospect walks through the front door, a college coach wants to see those eyes open wide in wonder, not horror. Dingy digs might send that prospect down the road to that team's rival.

Beaty has won three games since taking over at Kansas. He also has a new AD in Jeff Long, so the temperature on his seat could spike if Long doesn't see immediate improvement. That improvement can come by signing a better caliber of athlete. And that better athlete will be more likely to sign if he sees a university proactive in improving his college experience.

Does that make non-sports fans shake their heads? Does it send professors' blood to a boil? Sure. But college athletics is a multibillion-dollar business. That's "billion with a big ol' "B. Last year, Big 12 schools each received $36.5 million in revenues from the conference. Eighty percent of that came from the league's television contracts and football bowl revenue.

So while some may question it, there's little chance of this race moving backward. College athletic programs are in it to win it. And that might mean building a waterfall in the entrance of the football building.

"No question there is a robust arms race on, Bowlsby said, "and I don't see it slowing down anytime soon because that's not the nature of the competition we're engaged in.

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

It wasn't a mess of their making, but new University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes and first-year Athletics Director Eddie Nuñez deserve credit for stepping up and making a truly difficult recommendation to start cleaning it up. And UNM's regents deserve credit for backing Stokes and Nuñez.

Although it would have been preferable if they had delayed their vote to give the community a meaningful opportunity to digest and comment on the recommendations, the university needs a president who has the support of the regents, even when making such wrenching decisions. It can't afford the revolving door of top leadership it has experienced the past 20 years.

No one is happy with the decision to cut men's soccer, men's and women's skiing and women's beach volleyball in the 2019-2020 school year. But based on the multimillion-dollar Athletics deficit, the 22 UNM sports compared to the 17-18 Mountain West Conference average, UNM being out of compliance with Title IX, and the fact the MWC requires football and basketball, the elimination of programs was likely inevitable.

In addition to finances, Title IX, the federal law requiring institutions receiving federal funding to provide equal opportunities to both men and women, drove the controversial decision to eliminate Lobo soccer. The only other real options available appeared to be axing baseball or men's track — also among UNM's most successful teams. (Many are calling for the elimination of football, but that's a nonstarter if UNM wants to remain in the MWC.)

At a news conference following Thursday's regents meeting, Stokes was effectively asked whether she had doomed her presidency by recommending the cuts.

"It is really one of the toughest things in the world to be a brand new leader at this institution and have to make such an unpopular decision. I will tell you that that's what leaders are required to do," she responded. "... I don't expect most people to fully understand how it is possible that we would get to this point. But I'm going to do everything in my power to educate at every level how it is that we got where we are."

That's crucial. Many UNM supporters still have legitimate questions not answered in the report — we trust Stokes and Nuñez can, and will, answer them. Because they will need all the support they can muster for the hard decisions ahead — and there will be many.

Eliminating the four sports programs will save the department an estimated $1.2 million in 2019-2020. There is still a $2.2 million gap before it balances the department's budget and gives it a sufficient cushion that year. (Although close to $1 million of that will likely come via university subsidies for tuition and dorm expenses for student athletes.)

The university sums up its situation in the report it released last week. The highlights include:

Athletics has been spending money it doesn't have over the past 10 years. It is currently $4.7 million in the hole — not counting the $2.1 million emergency subsidy it received last fiscal year — and has been tasked with repaying $500,000 a year, beginning in July 2020. The report suggests that the university forgive at least part of that debt.

The report warns that some UNM coach and staff salaries have fallen below the mean for the Mountain West, suggesting it will need to increase salaries.

In outlining UNM's Title IX woes, it doesn't delve into how they were allowed to happen. It only says it must now comply by improving proportionality — meaning a large increase in women and a decrease in men so they match the student population. And that women-to-men student population ratio is expected to increase.

The report raises questions about the adequacy of some facilities, and cites the "growing costs of maintaining" them.

The Lobo Club, which raises money from private donors for Athletics, is being restructured. That can't happen soon enough given recent scandals and a report by the state auditor describing the Athletics Department's financial accounting system as an "ungovernable ball of organizations" that improperly mixes public and private money.

Ten years ago, the Athletics Department borrowed $42 million to cover the cost of the $60.6 million Pit renovation. It is having to pay nearly $1.8 million a year toward that debt. Despite repeated assurances from UNM officials the Pit debt would be covered by Athletics, the department is now recommending the university pick up the tab.

The report also tries to build a case for more support from the university, students and the Legislature, arguing it doesn't receive as much financial support from the university and students as other schools in the Mountain West and doesn't get the same support from the state that New Mexico State University receives.

The situation Athletics finds itself in was years in the making under former Athletics Director Paul Krebs, outgoing finance "guru" David Harris and the various UNM presidents and regents whose kick-the-can and stars-in-their-eyes leadership drove UNM Athletics to this point. Revenues rarely lived up to projections, yet expenses were built on those inflated expectations — year after year.

But no longer. Stokes and Nuñez have been tasked with bringing expenses in line with expenditures beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

A big part of that solution should be eliminating duplicative back-office operations and right-sizing staffing levels, all of which are on the to-do list.

The report also points out it's rare that schools raise sufficient money to cover all their costs. But that has never been addressed head-on here. Instead, UNM has been allowed to have a running deficit while making promises it will "do better" when it gets new facilities or hires a new coach. It has regularly made promises it couldn't keep and then asked for a bailout.

It's time for UNM Athletics to be up front about the support it needs from the main campus and lawmakers to be successful. But it is also essential it not be allowed to spend money based on promised funding that may or may not materialize. And Stokes must be transparent about all subsidies going to Athletics — especially if it's money that otherwise would be going to main campus.

It's double overtime for UNM Athletics. Stokes has shown she has the mettle to make tough decisions. Let's hope this truly is the first step toward putting the Athletics Department's house in fiscal order and she will back it up with smart austerity moves, a revamp of the Lobo Club and accountability from the top down.

Otherwise, these first cuts — which have upended the immediate plans and dreams of some of UNM's most promising students and potential leaders in our state — will have been in vain.

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Copyright 2018 Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Sunday Telegram (Massachusetts)

 

CAVE CITY, Ky. — David Allgood and Tom Stokes glide up a slight incline to the wooden platform overlooking the Green River at Mammoth Cave National Park. From there, they watch through a glass panel as the Kentucky park's lone ferry carries a Jeep across the water below.

The longtime friends turn their wheelchairs and roll toward the recently improved Echo River Spring Trail, which is wide enough for them to travel side-by-side. Accompanied by the gurgling water and chirping birds, they chat quietly about the trail and the thought that went into the view unobstructed by railings.

"It's probably the best trail I've ever been on as far as accessibility," Stokes said. "It's really scenic. It's awesome to be out here in the trees, the mature forest, and see the sun coming through, and the birds, the nature."

The upgraded trail reopened earlier this year after a $1.1 million transformation from a rolling, rutted gravel footpath to an 8-foot-wide concrete and wood path with little slope. New exhibits include Braille and invite visitors to experience them by touch to make them more meaningful to the visually or cognitively impaired.

The Mammoth Cave project is an early step in a coordinated push by the National Park Service to improve and increase accessibility for people with disabilities. The nationwide effort, launched in 2015 with federal grant money, was aimed at increasing the diversity of park visitors.

Nine parks have received more than $10 million in federal funding to design and build projects as examples for other parks as they work toward making trails, buildings, waterways and camping more accessible, said Jeremy Buzzell, chief of the accessibility and housing program for the National Park Service.

A project at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Alaska focused on making historic buildings more accessible also is complete, and four other parks have projects in the works.

Klondike officials gutted the interior of the park museum in a railway building dating to 1900 and redesigned it to be more accessible. Before renovations, the dimly lit museum consisted primarily of displays best viewed from a standing position, visual information specialist Kira Pontius said.

Now the park has interactive exhibits, displays are at a better height for people in wheelchairs and many have small models that visitors can touch with their hands, Pontius said. Visitors also can use audio devices that describe and give background on every display.

Pontius said the changes have improved the park experience for everyone.

"We have a museum that is much more modern. It's lighter. It really tells the story, beginning to end, of the gold rush," she said.

The director of National Center on Accessibility in Bloomington, Indiana, said parks should highlight their improvements for the nearly 20 percent of Americans who have a disability.

"If you take the time to provide these opportunities, then shout it from the mountaintop, essentially, to let people know, because a lot of times people just assume they can't do something and choose not to go," Sherrill York said.

The center gave Mammoth Cave officials guidance on their changes and reviewed their designs, said Dave Wyrick, chief of interpretation and visitor services at the park.

The Echo River Spring Trail is the second above-ground trail at the park to be made accessible to wheelchair users, but it's the first all-access trail for those with other types of disabilities. The park also offers an accessible cave tour.

"We just wanted a universal trail that talked about Mammoth Cave and how it was formed, the springs and things, that everybody could experience," he said.

Allgood and Stokes, who know each other through a disability resource center in Louisville, traveled about 90 miles south to check out the trail, which has added picnic tables that allow them to sit comfortably on the sides instead of awkwardly at either end.

Allgood said he's seen accessibility improve over the 36 years he has used a wheelchair but knows there's a long way to go. He said he visited the trail before the park started working on it and was only able to travel about 150 feet before he was forced to turn back.

"It's fantastic what Mammoth Cave and the National Park System are doing to make it accessible for those of us with disabilities and mobility impairments, because now we're welcome to come and actually see aspects of the park that we were never able to do before," he said.

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Copyright 2018 The Florida Times-Union

Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)

 

ATLANTA — For all their talk about wanting what is best for players, SEC coaches draw the line at new rules pushing college football closer to free agency.

For those coaches, free agency for players ended on high school signing day.

The Southeastern Conference recently passed new rules making it easier for players to transfer within the league and be immediately eligible without a waiver, either as graduates or when leaving a team hit with NCAA sanctions. Before the new rule, graduate transfers had to sit out a year when moving to a new SEC school.

Such coaches as Georgia's Kirby Smart and Florida's Dan Mullen worry the new rules could move the league closer to free agency if more freedoms to players are granted. They cringe at the idea players could be eventually empowered to seek transfers as soon as they drop on the depth chart or are asked to run extra laps.

"I've expressed my belief in a guy who graduates from college being able to go where he wants to go," Smart said SEC Media Days. "I feel very strongly about that, but when you start talking about every year … I've got to be honest with you, it's hard."

Smart said it would be especially tempting for freshmen, struggling to adjust to college life, to look elsewhere if it were easier for them to transfer.

"It's not easy your first year in college," Smart said. "It's one of the biggest adjustments you go through in life. So to be able to make it easy to leave, I think that's tough. I think it's a fine line. I want the players to be able to have the freedom and rights, but it's tough. Put yourself in that situation when you come in there and you've been told how good you are your whole life and it's difficult to make that transition."

Smart's support for graduate transfers having immediate eligibility became well known when he successfully lobbied for defensive back Maurice Smith's move from Alabama to the Bulldogs in 2016. The league's decision on Smith helped pave the way for this year's rules change on graduate transfers.

Mullen says he's waiting to see if the new rules make a positive impact on the league.

"As it's implemented and we get to see how it works, it's hard to say whether it's going to be good or bad," Mullen said.

"I don't think anybody wants to get into having free agency in college football. But I think we also want to make sure we're doing the best we can for student-athletes and the best we can for universities."

Mullen said he wouldn't want his two children to have an opportunity to quit instead of working through adversity.

"One of the things I don't want is to ever have them put in a situation where as soon as something gets hard, I want to transfer, quit or do something else," he said. "I don't think that's good parenting. I don't think that's educating young people."

Some see greater freedoms for players leading to a second recruiting season where coaches look to attract transfers from other schools.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said he won't recruit from other schools "at this point."

"Obviously there's players who may reach out to us and look at the opportunities, but … we don't dive into that recruiting as a full process at this point, no," he said. "Obviously it's illegal, but you don't want to turn it into another form of free agency. None of us want that. We are college coaches. We like developing these players and building your teams, and that's the way I like to do it."

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Copyright 2018 Tribune Review Publishing Company
All Rights Reserved

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

 

The PIAA issued a word of caution to public school administrators who have suggested seceding from the state athletic association.

"Should a school wish to form its own organization, that school must train and certify its own officials, develop its own rules, get its own insurance and defend any litigation brought against the school," the PIAA said in a statement Friday.

The press release comes less than a week before a group of public school administrators are scheduled to convene Tuesday in State College to discuss the public vs. private school debate at the PIAA Playoff Equity Summit.

"While some have proposed separate public and private tournaments, the Board of Directors firmly believes that segregation is not the answer," the PIAA said.

The PIAA release comes two days after its board voted to impose stricter rules on transfers, and it lists 10 measures implemented in the past 15 months to address competitive balance and transfer issues:

1. Overhauled the athletic transfer waiver request form used by transferring students.

2. Adopted a mandatory 21 day sit-out for in-season transfers.

3. Adopted a provision establishing that a transferring student who was eligible to participate in 50 percent of maximum number of contests before transfer is not further eligible that season.

4. Adopted a Competitive Classification formula to add a success factor if caused by transferring students to determine new classifications in football and basketball.

5. Adopted definitions of open gyms and limited the number of times they might be utilized per week during the school year and prohibited school affiliated/related competition within 10 days before the start of practice in each sport season.

6. Mandated timely submission of eligibility lists per sport season and established a penalty for non-compliance.

7. Developed an eligibility portal to track and view all school transfers.

8. Adopted a one-year postseason ban for students who transfer after completing their 10th-grade sport season.

9. Adopted hardship provisions exceptions that would permit eligibility for new transfers, with guidelines as to what types of actions are acceptable.

10. Established a compliance committee to be used to review schools' adherence to PIAA policies and investigate abuse of the rules.

"PIAA recognizes the challenges of having member schools compete against each other," said PIAA president James Zack, superintendent at Shamokin. "The lack of enrollment boundaries, success and perceived competitive advantage over other schools are major issues of which the Board of Directors is well aware and actively pursuing equitable resolution.

"Through the process of representative democracy that allows all constituencies their voice at the Board level, we believe co-operation, not discrimination, is the correct path to find solutions to make competition equitable," Zack added.

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Copyright 2018 Independent Publishing Company
All Rights Reserved

Anderson Independent-Mail (South Carolina)

 

Clemson University offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell is a classic, country communicator. He speaks slowly and clearly. And listens intently. He would rather sit at a wooden bureau and craft a handwritten note instead of zipping a text message.

"I wouldn't have a cell phone if you didn't have to have one," said Caldwell, a 64-year-old native of rural Pageland. "I grew up in a time when you didn't have a telephone, and if you did, it was a party line, and Grandma was talking to Mrs. Burch and you pick up the phone and you say, 'Grandma, I've got to make a call,' and you hear, 'Well, you can just wait.'"

Caldwell clings to the nostalgia of simpler times, but he knows his current position leaves little room for patient conversation. One cannot wait for the mail-carrier to deliver handwritten notes along the recruiting trail. It requires fast-paced, consistent communication. The mounds of messages mounts so high that coaches can lose tracks of all their comings and outgoings.

For ordinary citizens, that simply results in an awkward redundant call. For coaches, it can result in a minor NCAA infraction. Luckily, Caldwell and other converted communicators can trust technology to monitor their messages.

College athletic compliance programs utilize robust software programs to log and monitor recruiting activity. Coaches must log each of their calls, text messages and school visits through an application on their smartphone. The activity is reported directly to the compliance office, and any potential problems are flagged.

"This is the beauty of the age we're in," Clemson associate athletic director for compliance Elliott Charles said. "Their phone locks the activity once it occurs. They have to then provide an explanation. They can't erase it. That's a key piece to the monitoring efforts. It requires communication."

After collecting that information, compliance directors can analyze it and tailor their strategies accordingly.

"Compliance administrators, we're not graded on wins and losses," Charles said. "The only way you can paint the picture of how effective your department is is by diving deep on the data, coming up with trends, using longitudinal analysis.

"We're responsive, but we're not being reactive. Even with a system like this, you have a decision as an institution about how you're going to use it. It can end up being a repository that you check periodically, or it can be an active piece of the job."

According to Charles, coaches have adapted to the software without a hitch.

"They just want clarity," Charles said. "They want you to communicate what you're looking for and deadlines. They've been pretty responsive. Coaches tell us what's not working for them and what is."

Caldwell acknowledges the value of the consolidated stream of communication. He also does not mind contributing to the positive environmental impact.

"Does it cut down on paper? Yeah, hopefully that'll keep them from killing so many trees," Caldwell said. "Do you have to have it? No, it was done a lot of years without it. When the power goes off or your battery goes dead, it's hard to beat a pencil and piece of paper."

The software eliminates more than the threat of paper cuts. It eliminates much of the time compliance departments once spent sifting through documents.

"It's extremely more efficient and more accurate. A person can only be so perfect when they're reviewing a thousand phone logs," said University of Mississippi assistant director of compliance Ross Mullet, who interned in the compliance department at the University of South Carolina while in law school.

"To go through and approve all the forms (by hand), it would take three interns and one full-time employee at least a month," Mullet said, recalling his tenure in Columbia before USC fully implemented the software. "Now at Ole Miss, we rely more heavily on the software for a lot of the forms, and one full-time employee can knock it out in a couple of weeks.

"All the NCAA forms we have to complete prior to the start of every year for all of our athletes are there- everything from permission to use their names, image and likeness to them telling us what outside scholarships they have to what vehicle they're driving. All of that is automated. So, we're not going line by line by line. We can focus on the important forms and where the red flags are. It can help catch a minor violation prior to it spinning out of control."

According to Charles, the software subscription costs Clemson approximately $45,000 each year. Clemson has two full-time staffers dedicated to monitoring the software.

Charles contended that the streamline workflow allows compliance departments to spend more time developing better relationships with the coaches and players they serve. Even the most advanced software, he argued, cannot fully replace the value of old-fashioned Caldwellian conversation.

"The grind of compliance leaves the other personal and professional development out some times," Charles said. "You don't want to limit innovation and ingenuity. You want to make sure people have room to be creative, but it's really about communicating what we're doing and why.

"It's less important for me to express my knowledge about a by-law than it is to understand what a coach is trying to accomplish. I know what I know, but it's more important how I take their issue and give them a solution."

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Copyright 2018 Orange County Register
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Orange County Register (California)

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — More than 100 former students have provided firsthand accounts of sexual misconduct by the now-dead Ohio State University team physician at the center of an ongoing investigation, the university said on Friday.

Over 200 former students and university employees have been confidentially interviewed by independent investigators reviewing allegations against Richard Strauss involving male athletes from 14 sports, as well as his work at the student health center and his off-campus medical office, University President Michael Drake said. Those allegations range from 1979 to 1997, during most of Strauss' two decades on the faculty and medical staff.

"We are grateful to those who have come forward and remain deeply concerned for anyone who may have been affected by Dr. Strauss' actions," Drake said. "We remain steadfastly committed to uncovering the truth."

Ohio State has urged anyone with information to contact the Seattle-based law firm Perkins Coie's investigators, who are looking into the allegations, what university officials knew and how they responded to any concerns about Strauss. They also are reviewing whether Strauss examined high school students.

The university announced the investigation in April after allegations about Strauss were brought forward this year.

The university said investigators plan 100 or more additional interviews. Those who say they've been interviewed include wrestlers who say they were groped during physicals and a former student who says he witnessed and experienced sexual abuse in one day while working at Strauss' off-campus medical office in the mid-1990s.

Also interviewed was Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, who denies some wrestlers' claims that he knew about abuse when he was an assistant coach at Ohio State from 1987 to 1995.

The head coach back then, Russ Hellickson, similarly has said he would have reported any abuse if he had been aware of it.

Former athletes say they verbally raised concerns about Strauss as early as the late 1970s.

His employment records released by the university referenced no reprimands or disciplinary action over any such concerns, but Ohio State has a record of at least one documented complaint against Strauss. Paperwork from 1995 shows a then-director of the student health center said a student's complaint about being inappropriately touched by Strauss during an exam was the first such complaint he'd received.

The documentation that ex-student Steve Snyder-Hill obtained from Ohio State this week shows he complained about Strauss by phone - not by letter, as he'd recalled - and heard back from the director, Ted Grace. Snyder-Hill said he was told that Strauss denied his allegations.

Strauss killed himself in 2005. His relatives have said they were shocked by sexual abuse allegations against him.

Strauss' personnel file at Ohio State indicates he previously did research, taught or practiced medicine at Harvard University, Rutgers University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington and the University of Hawaii. Most of those institutions say they have little record of Strauss, and none has said any concerns were raised about him.

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

 

CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina self-reported an NCAA violation because it found that football players were selling shoes, athletics director Bubba Cunningham says.

The news of the NCAA violation was first reported by WRAL, after UNC players and Coach Larry Fedora appeared Wednesday at the ACC's annual football media days in Charlotte.

Cunningham said he didn't know offhand how many players were selling shoes.

"There were a number of students," Cunningham said. "Off the top of my head I don't have it right in front of me, but all the penalties will be determined within the next couple of weeks."

UNC's season will start Sept. 1 at California.

The news of the violation also comes less than a year after the NCAA wrapped up a multiyear investigation into whether many of UNC's athletes benefited from African American Studies courses that never met and required little work. UNC was not penalized after the conclusion of that investigation.

The most recent violation was deemed "a secondary violation," which is considered minor. But Cunningham said it was possible that players could be facing suspension.

UNC said it self-reported the violation upon learning about it in February. According to NCAA Bylaw 16.11.2.4, "Items Received for Participation in Intercollegiate Athletics," "An item received for participation in intercollegiate athletics may not be sold or exchanged or assigned for another item of value."

"It's disappointing," Cunningham said. "You know we do a great job. I think our compliance office does a great job with education, and students know the rules, and occasionally we make mistakes. We had a couple of students who made some mistakes, and there's obviously penalties associated with that."

Cunningham said the school found out about it through social media and immediately looked into it.

"In 24 hours we had it contained and we supplied it to the NCAA as quickly as we could," he said.

According to NCAA.org, the rule outlining possible secondary-violation penalties includes possible fines, vacation of records and scholarship reductions.

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

 

Less than a month before football practice begins, St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute is wondering what might become of its season after the arrest of its standout running back.

Jaden J. Lofton, who was St. Joe's leading rusher last year, faces four felony charges stemming from a robbery in the Town of Tonawanda last month, according to a police report. Lofton has been accused of stealing marijuana, a cellphone and cash behind Ben Franklin Elementary School on Parkhurst Boulevard on the evening of June 6, according to the report.

Lofton, 18, and co-defendant Dwight D. Davis, 20, each were charged with three counts of second-degree robbery, one count of second-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. One of the robbery counts alleges the suspects displayed what appeared to be a firearm.

"We're aware of the situation," St. Joe's athletic director Brian Anken said. "We're gathering information, but as far as his status, we can't comment on his status at this time."

The school later released a statement from president Christopher Fulco: "St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute holds all of its students to high standards of conduct both at school and in our community. We are aware of this situation, and at this time, we have no additional information to share. It is St. Joe's policy to not comment on student disciplinary matters."

The victim told police he was on a basketball court behind the school at about 8 p.m. when he was approached by two people. One of the men asked the victim by name if he was a particular person and then asked, "You got weed?" according to the report.

The victim told police he told the two men that he had no marijuana, at which point they began to punch him in the face. The attack then "turned into a wrestling match," and after defending himself he decided to "give up," the report said. The attackers took his phone, identification and cash, he told police.

The victim suffered a 3-inch cut to his face and bloody and bruised knees, according to the police report.

He did not tell police anything about marijuana being stolen. That part came when police interviewed the person who said he drove the victim to the park to sell marijuana.

Lofton ran for 1,310 yards on 140 carries in 10 games for St. Joe's. His 1,424 all-purpose yards also led the team. His best performance was 230 yards rushing and four touchdowns on seven carries in a 55-0 victory against Bishop Timon-St. Jude. He was named to the Monsignor Martin first team and was recognized as sixth team all-state in Class AA.

As a sophomore, he was named to the Monsignor Martin second team and scored seven touchdowns.

Lofton is due in Tonawanda Town Court on Aug. 2, while Davis' next court date is July 26, according to court officials.

The first day of football practice is scheduled for Aug. 13.

News Sports Reporter Miguel Rodriguez contributed to this report.

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

 

Lisa Glenn, Tennessee's rowing coach for 20 years, has signed a contract extension through June 2021.

Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer announced Glenn's new deal on Wednesday.

"Lisa has represented the university well and has provided steady leadership for Tennessee rowing for two decades now," Fulmer said in a university release. "She's really built that program. We've consistently finished near the top of the conference standings in recent years, and rowers are regularly recognized for outstanding academic achievement."

The 2017-18 campaign was highlighted by performances in the Club 4+ and Women's Championship 4+ events at the Head of the Charles, where Tennessee crews finished third and fifth, respectively. Additionally, the 1V8+ was named Big 12 Boat of the Week on April 19 after taking first place in the Varsity Eight Final C at the Clemson Invitational.

Tennessee finished third in the 2018 Big 12 Championship, missing a second-place showing in the automatic qualifier standings by one point. It was the program's ninth consecutive top-three conference finish. The SEC does not sponsor a rowing championship.

"I'm appreciative of the support our administration provides for me and the Tennessee rowing program," Glenn said in the release. "We have numerous opportunities and resources here at Tennessee, and we aim to use them to their fullest as students, athletes and people."

Under Glenn's leadership, Tennessee has produced six All-Americans and has earned eight NCAA Championship appearances, including full-team selections in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010. Tennessee won Conference USA Championships in 2010 and 2012. In those seasons, Glenn was named C-USA Coach of the Year.

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

 

CHARLOTTE — Prior to the start of interview sessions Wednesday at the ACC Kickoff media event, University of North Carolina coach Larry Fedora stood at the threshold of the media workroom. He shouted a simple syllable and startled the rows of writers and broadcasters. That was not Fedora's most puzzling exclamation of the day.

"Our game is under attack," Fedora asserted during his ensuing breakout session with reporters. "I fear (football) will be pushed so far to one extreme that you won't recognize the game 10 years from now. That's what I worry about. And I do believe that if it gets to that point, that our country goes down, too."

The denial

In his initial statement and in the subsequent attempt to clarify that statement, Fedora remained reluctant to concede a connection between football and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative brain disease often found in athletes who have suffered repetitive brain trauma. The disease can induce memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, aggression, depression, anxiety, impulse control issues and sometimes suicidal behavior.

Copious research has been compiled to establish a link between the head injuries suffered in football and CTE. Two years ago, the National Football League acknowledged that link. Administrators at every level of football have implemented initiatives to reduce concussions and establish more stringent protocols to treat head injuries.

Fedora's comments dismissed the campaign of care that leagues, including the ACC, have promoted. It is a troubling stance for someone in such an influential leadership position at a major university. It could caution the parents of a potential recruit who may worry if their child will receive adequate, empathetic care.

Fedora is not the "rub-some-dirt-on-it and walk-it-off" barbarian coach. That Neanderthal cannot exist in football any longer. We know too much about the detriments of past conventions. We know too much about proper hydration, adequate rest, safety measures and sufficient treatment for injuries, both the obvious ligament tears and broken fingers and the injuries suffered under the helmet.

Fedora certainly knows these things and he also knows the ramifications for mistreating his players. But only he knows why he would speak through such filtered ignorance.

The arrogance

Fedora exaggerated the significance of football on our society as he relayed a previous conversation with a three-star general.

"I said, 'What is it that makes our military superior to every other military in the world?" Fedora recalled. "He was like, 'That's easy. We're the only football-playing nation in the world.' He said most of all of our troops have grown up and have played the game at some point in their life at some level and the lessons that they've learned from that game make us who we are."

With all due respect to the unnamed general, if Fedora accurately relayed the story, that stance is simply uninformed. American football is played on the youth, high school and club levels in several other countries, including Canada, Mexico, Spain, Germany, Italy, Poland, France, Czech Republic, Sweden, Israel, Australia, Croatia, Hungary and Japan. America does not have a monopoly on American football.

Fedora is correct- the lessons of discipline, diligence, camaraderie, cooperation and competition one learns through football are invaluable. They foster essential character traits that translate to essential life skills. They teach players how to handle defeat and triumph with the same level of grace and respect.

However, those lessons are not unique to football. Basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, rugby, lacrosse and any other team sport one can imagine offers those same lessons. However, those lessons are not unique to sports. Those of us who have grown up in sports and many of us who now make our living in sports can easily be so captivated in their virtues that we fail to acknowledge that those same virtues are readily available outside of sports. Countless activities from martial arts to creative arts require the same discipline, diligence, camaraderie, cooperation and competitive spirt.

Fedora's statements exhibit the stigma around football and sports in general. It is heralded as the chief proving ground for toughness, leadership and manhood. That stigma is arrogantly shortsighted. Football does not have a monopoly on character building. If that were true, how would Fedora explain the women fighting and leading in our military?

The diction

Portraying football as being "under attack" is simply a poor choice of words, especially considering the real attacks faced by the same military Fedora cited. It also reveals the poor state of our discourse. We are at a point where any dissenting opinion is viewed as an attack, and those dissenting opinions are met with swift and fierce counterattacks. That combative dialogue also allows one to dismiss documented, established facts. The earth under the middle ground has softened. In its place, there is nothing left but a crevice of communication.

Fedora attempted to protect his livelihood, to protect his passion. But we must ensure that football is positioned properly in our society. It is not an imperative rite of passage. If we are truly honest with ourselves, it is not even a necessary pastime.

Fedora loves the game, but his attempt to defend it against logic and science does not indicate that he loves the game more than the folks who aim to preserve it by making it safer. Football will change through the next 10 years, but that does not mean it must change for the worst.

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC

Newsday (New York)

 

Southampton Town will install surveillance cameras in several of its parks and downtown areas to improve public safety, the town supervisor said.

The town police department will have access to the recordings, although the town does not have the manpower to monitor the 40 or so cameras in real time, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said. The new equipment was requested by the parks department as well as the town police.

"They will serve as a deterrent; it keeps everyone a little more accountable," Schneiderman said of the cameras. "It protects the public. It protects your employees. It helps security."

The town board voted 5-0 during a July 10 work session to allocate $100,000 from its general fund and $130,000 from its police fund to install the new cameras.

The town also is changing its street lamps to LED lighting, and Schneiderman noted there is a cost savings in installing the cameras at the same time.

Schneiderman pointed to a July 3 incident - when $4,500 and 700 beach permits valued at $3,000 were stolen from a safe at Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays - as one reason better surveillance is needed at town parks.

Town officials did not disclose the parks where the cameras will be installed, but Schneiderman said they could be placed on the main streets of unincorporated hamlets such as Bridgehampton and Hampton Bays.

Some town parks, including Good Ground Park in Hampton Bays, already have surveillance cameras, he said. Cameras also are in place throughout Town Hall, where as of May visitors are required to present government-issued identification, a change prompted by the national rise of mass shootings in public places.

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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC

Newsday (New York)

 

Some new construction at Old Bethpage Village Restoration is shocking and chilling.

Wires are being installed to deliver electric jolts to people, and preparations are being made for a run through an ice bath.

Then there's making sure that everything involves lots and lots and lots of mud.

Yes, all of this can mean only one thing: It's time for this year's Tough Mudder Long Island events, scheduled to take place July 21 and at the historic, living museum site. The activities are advertised by the Brooklyn-based active lifestyle brand as "best-in-class challenges and adrenaline-packed obstacles" for anyone who wants to push their limits.

On July 21, there's the Tough Mudder Full, with 10 miles and 20 obstacles, and the Half, with five miles and 10 obstacles.

On July 22, the Tough Mudder 5K will be held for the first time, featuring three miles and 10 obstacles.

ABOUT THE COURSE

"There's a lot of running mixed with some obstacles [the 5K], but it's without the extreme elements of ice or electricity - some obstacles have that - it's a little insane," says David Cooper, a Tough Mudder spokesman.

That Tough Mudder events don't involve timed races or winners and losers will not make those considering the challenge crazy. Teamwork rules the day.

"It's not competitive, you just try to complete it and help everyone through the obstacles," Cooper says. "The Full has everything and the 5K is kind of your entry into obstacle-course racing. Your Half is for folks who might want to test things out and are athletes."

Tough Mudder events are held throughout the country, and Cooper says there are always all types of people participating for different reasons.

"You could be someone on a weight-loss journey, someone overcoming an illness or someone just challenging themselves," Cooper says.

Tough Mudder operations manager Evert Sers, who oversees the team that handles the design of the obstacle courses, says participants can expect the unexpected.

"The obstacles are sort of consistent [from year to year], but there are a few little curveballs," Sers says.

A new extreme challenge this year will be Kong Infinity, an obstacle involving barrels and dangling from rings 20 feet in the air.

But the extremes don't stop there. There are extremes among the participants.

Richard Falcones, 33, of Huntington, will be participating in Tough Mudder for the first time as part of his weight-loss journey, while Darth Vader - yes, that's the 46-year-old's legal name - is a lower-leg amputee from Canandaigua in upstate Ontario County who's done more than 100 events.

"I have a never-quit, never-give-up-attitude," Vader says.

Both men plan to participate in the Full Mudder on July 21.

PERSONAL CHALLENGE

Falcones, the Village of Flower Hill superintendent of public works, weighed 340 pounds a year and a half ago. "It was a lot to carry around at a young age," Falcones says. By eating right and working out at the gym, he says he has lost 140 pounds. His goal weight is "190ish."

It's now time to challenge himself by trying Tough Mudder, Falcones says. He notes that he's stepped up his gym workout in preparation, and adds, "I'm ready." He'll participate along with some other first-timers he knows, including his brother, his brother's girlfriend and some neighbors.

Vader, a former Marine who suffered his leg injury while playing recreational softball in 1995, has completed 101 Tough Mudders, four marathons, 103 half-marathons, 15 triathlons and the 2014 World's Toughest Mudder three times.

There also will be something new at the finish - of course called Happy Ending. An ever-changing human pile is formed to see which team can climb to the top of a wall covered with plastic that's at a 40-degree incline.

"Long Island will be a very different field from the year before because the obstacles will change 40 [percent] to 50 percent," says Nolan Kombol of Brooklyn, an avid climber who heads the course design team. He adds, however, "It's the interaction you have with the people around you that makes the day."

How does all this mudslinging happen in a historic venue without causing damage?

"We're careful because we're working within the restoration village, so we try to use as much of the course as possible, but we don't want to leave a footprint," Sers says.

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

 

For the second time in three months, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga vice chancellor and athletic director Mark Wharton is having to replace a head coach of one of the school's top programs.

Wrestling coach Heath Eslinger announced his resignation Thursday after nine seasons as the Mocs' leader. Assistant Kyle Ruschell, who recently joined the program after eight seasons as a Wisconsin assistant, will serve as the interim coach.

Hall of Fame women's basketball coach Jim Foster retired in April after 40 seasons of coaching, the last five at UTC. He was replaced by assistant Katie Burrows.

Eslinger, a former UTC standout wrestler, will move on to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, with a focus on coaching development as well as the "parent education side of sports."

"I just want to be a change agent for good," Eslinger told the Times Free Press on Thursday.

"It was always my hope that Heath Eslinger spend the rest of his career leading our wrestling program," Wharton said in a news release. "He is an outstanding coach and an even better human being. We are certainly going to miss him.

"As most of us know, he has become a sought-after public speaker and coaching mentor. He has an opportunity to couple that with his faith and follow a new career path. We wish him and his family nothing but the best as they embark on this new journey."

Eslinger's teams won six Southern Conference championships in his nine seasons, finishing with a career record of 101-61. He was 53-5 against SoCon competition during that time.

His 100th victory came over Gardner-Webb on Feb. 11 at Maclellan Gymnasium.

He had been wrestling with the decision for a few days, finally coming to terms Tuesday night.

"I realize I was divided, and you can't be great at anything when you're divided," Eslinger said. "I had to choose, and I really felt like this was next for me."

FCA area director Jay Fowler said Eslinger "has been an incredible volunteer for us for decades, and I can't think of anyone better than Heath Eslinger to work with the coaches who work day-to-day with the kids. I know he's going to make a huge impact in our ministry in Chattanooga, in Tennessee and beyond."

Eslinger was voted SoCon coach of the year twice (2011, 2013) and coached two SoCon wrestlers of the year, two SoCon tournament most valuable wrestlers and three SoCon freshmen of the year. UTC wrestlers won 25 individual league weight-class titles during his time.

He was also instrumental in the move of the Southern Scuffle in 2012 after UNC Greensboro — the host the eight previous years — cut its wrestling program. The Scuffle, a two-day invitational tournament held Jan. 1-2, is the top in-season collegiate tournament in the nation with over 20 teams in attendance.

The program also has finished in the top 10 in the country in team grade point average among wrestling programs three times and topped a 3.0 GPA as a team in the fall of 2016, repeating that feat in the fall of 2017.

Wharton said he expects to receive interest from "highly qualified candidates from across the country." With all the time he has invested in the program both as a competitor and a coach, Eslinger said he's willing to help with the transition however he can.

"I look back at my time with gratitude," Eslinger said. "I'm just super grateful. I see God's hand in all of it, and I trust my next season in life will be the best one yet."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.

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

 

I had the day off Wednesday, and I'm thankful for at least two reasons.

One, I got to spend the day with my 2-year-old. As they say, those are days we never get back.

Two, I missed the hysteria over what Larry Fedora said about football and head injuries, although from what I can tell the quality of discussion in my house and online was probably about the same.

In case you missed it, the North Carolina football coach made headlines by disputing the conclusion football and a degenerative brain disease (CTE) are inseparable.

He also suggested losing football (as in if it becomes drastically different from the game we see today) could hurt American culture and even the military.

I happen to agree with the cultural part, though that's an opinion anyone is welcome not to share. Every sport teaches life lessons, but I truly believe football does it best - in no small part because of the combination of strategy and physicality that's not matched in any other game.

As far as football and brain injuries, Fedora was generally correct but made the mistake of expressing himself in a world in which nuance is dead and would not be welcome if it were still alive anyway.

"I don't think that the game of football, that it's been proven that the game of football causes CTE," Fedora said. "But that's been put out there. We don't really know yet.

"Are there the chances for concussions in the game of football? Yeah, we all have common sense, right? Yeah, there are. When you have two people running into each other or multiple people running into each other, there is a chance of a concussion. But again, I'm going to say, the game is safer than it's ever been in the history of the game."

These are valid statements.

A highly publicized study from Boston University found nearly all of the brains of former football players they studied had CTE, but their sample size is small and extremely limited. They only studied people who had symptoms of neurological disorders so they can't represent the "average" person or former football player, but that isn't how their results are generally presented in media reports.

(This is where the sense "football is under attack" comes from, by the way.)

The only thing the study can really confirm is that the brains of people they have studied, who are unlike the vast majority of the population including millions of former football players who don't exhibit these symptoms, share certain physical characteristics that can be caused by any number of events and might exist in people whose behavior is perfectly "normal." (The latter's brains aren't usually studied.)

It's a valuable data point, and the NFL screwed itself in the court of public opinion by trying to obscure such information for years, but it is also not very valuable for drawing any sort of broad conclusion about the safety of the game.

That's especially true if you, like Fedora and almost everyone who ever played football plus I'm sure the majority of fans, already undersood football is dangerous.

"Are there still injuries? Yeah. It's a violent sport. You've got big, fast, strong guys running into each other. Something is going to give. But there are risks involved in the game, and everybody that plays the game understands those risks. It's not like they're going into it not knowing that something could happen. And so they have to -- personally have to weigh those risks versus the rewards.

"But I believe, there's no doubt in my mind, the changes that we're making year to year for the health and safety of our players, the game is safer than it's ever been in the history of the game."

I wanted to defend Fedora, but it's obvious from the reaction online few are interested in hearing it so I figured I would find something better to do with my time than shout into the wind.

Then I found this story from Yahoo! Sports that does a fantastic job laying out the case for Fedora so I thought it was worth sharing in hopes of improving future conversations about this topic.

The latter probably won't happen, but I know there are plenty of parents out there who aren't sure what to tell their kids who want to play football, so it's worth sharing if it will help them be more informed.

Writes Yahoo's Eric Adelson, "The problem is that the media at large has made conclusions that science has not. It's assumed that football causes CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and CTE causes terrible later-life symptoms when, in fact, CTE still cannot be confirmed except through autopsy and scientists are not yet at the stage when they can state CTE's effects as fact. This is what Fedora tried to convey, albeit inarticulately."

He quotes an expert to back him up.

"I totally agree with (Fedora)," says Peter Cummings, a neuropathologist and associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology at Boston University School of Medicine. "Association is not causation. CTE has also been found in individuals not exposed to contact sports. It's not a settled matter by any means. And football is safer today than it has ever been. In fact, I would argue that no other sport has made a more radical transformation in response to safety concerns than football. His comments reflect the reality of the scientific uncertainty surrounding CTE."

He also quotes a research article from two Canadian scientists that warns of jumping to conclusions based on research of CTE and mild traumatic brain injuries being "in its infancy" and relying on biased data pools in most (if not all) cases.

The exaggerated assumptions and assertions taken from these studies run the risk of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy for individuals who believe they are at risk and have the potential to negatively influence sports-related policymaking.

What does "negatively influenced sports-related policymaking" look like?

The well-intended but badly deployed targeting rule in college football is probably the best example, but the NFL is threatening to take it to the next level by outlawing "lowering the head to initiate contact."

There are also multiple states considering banning youth football.

While we wait to see how that plays out, I encourage everyone to do their own research, come to their own conclusions and make whatever decisions as necessary.

As for Fedora, I think he made some good points, but he also overstated his position.

Unfortunately for him, only the people on the other side of the football safety "debate" are allowed to do that.

 

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Copyright 2018 Star Tribune
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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

The NFL asked for a lot before bringing the Super Bowl to Minnesota. And Minnesota obliged.

The state's bid for the game agreed to all of the NFL's lengthy demands on cities interested in hosting the event, from free hotel rooms to exemptions on all local taxes. The bid was signed by Meet Minneapolis, the city's nonprofit booster group, in 2014, and obtained by the Star Tribune this month through a records request.

Among the highlights of the document are nearly 200 provisions that must be provided "at no cost to the NFL," as well as the condition that the League retain all ticket revenue.

The Star Tribune first published the NFL's secret, 153-page list of demands in 2014. A source at the time said local organizers had agreed to a majority of them, but the bid document shows that — with one exception relating to practice sites — they were all approved. The document also sets limits for how much local organizers would pay for certain services.

The bulk of the local costs related to hosting the game fell on the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, which raised more than $50 million in private funds to cover expenses. That money repaid the city of Minneapolis more than $7 million, for example, for law enforcement, parking and other public expenses.

The largest public cost relating to the game was tax exemptions. The state Department of Revenue estimated that a tax break on Super Bowl-related tickets and parking sales meant the state lost out on $9 million and local governments $1.3 million in potential revenue. The Host Committee had to reimburse the NFL for some taxes that were not exempted, such as player income taxes.

Maureen Bausch, who was CEO of the Host Committee, said a lot changed in the years after the bid was submitted — when the stadium was still under construction. The Host Committee has declined to make the subsequent agreements public. She said the NFL was willing to negotiate.

"They're good business partners," Bausch said. "I think back in that bid phase, it's good negotiating: Ask for everything you can get. But when they chose Minnesota, they became our partner and they wanted it to work as much as we did."

Bausch said that the Host Committee paid out just over $50 million, largely raised from corporate donors. She said the NFL's expenses were five times greater.

"It might look like a lot to the outside world, what the Host Committee did. But in reality the NFL pays more," Bausch said.

The bid document, formatted as a point-by-point response to the bid specifications, covers details large and small. It outlines a need for 35,000 parking spaces — which Bausch said was much more than they ultimately needed — free advertising, presidential suites, extra power and communications capacity, and even commitments to spend on decorations at the airport.

In a section dubbed "government guarantees," bidders agreed to provide free security, help create "clean zones" free of unwanted activities and offer law enforcement assistance to seek out counterfeit merchandise and tickets. It also agreed to reimburse the NFL for any taxes the league or its teams might have to pay while in town.

Bausch said the Host Committee spent less than the previous Super Bowl committee in Houston. Among their other expenses were hundreds of thousands of dollars for snowplowing and rent for all the facilities that were needed to accommodate Super Bowl operations.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said it is common for other sports leagues to request many of the same provisions when bringing major events into an area.

"The Host Committee did a tremendous job organizing and pulling together the entire region," McCarthy said.

Meet Minneapolis is a nonprofit entity tasked with promoting the city and attracting events. Its budget is largely supported by taxpayers through City Hall appropriations. The organization's president, Melvin Tennant, signed the Super Bowl bid agreement pages.

The Star Tribune first asked Meet Minneapolis for the bid document Feb. 5, the day after the game. It first provided a heavily redacted version of the document on April 20, citing trade secret and security provisions in state law for hiding information like the number of free parking spaces sought by the NFL. It argued that information about what it offered the NFL could give other cities an advantage against Minneapolis when competing for future large events.

Believing the redacted information was public data, the newspaper asked the state Data Practices Office to issue an opinion on the matter. Meet Minneapolis responded with another document in late June, containing fewer redactions. It then released a third copy this month that eliminated the trade secret redactions.

"Initially shielding specific trade secret information was in an effort to allow Minneapolis to continue competing on a national and international level to attract major events to our city and region," Tennant, who was not available for an interview, said in a statement.

Don Gemberling, once the state's lead data practices official, said the intent of the trade secret statute is to protect information like the formula for Coca-Cola.

"It's 'formulas,' 'patterns,' 'compilations,' 'programs,' 'devices,' 'methods,' 'techniques' or 'processes,' " Gemberling said, referring to language in the law. "How do you get number of parking spots out of those words? You don't."

(612) 673-1732, Twitter: @StribRoper

 

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2018 Valley News Jul 19, 2018

Valley News; White River Junction, Vt.

 

Bradford, Vt. — The United States Olympic Committee has renewed its feud with Oxbow High over the use of the Olympians nickname.

Oxbow principal Jean Wheeler was first contacted by USOC paralegal Carol Gross by phone in April regarding what the organization perceives as a trademark infringement by using the Olympians moniker. She cited the federal Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act of 1978, which reads, in part, that the USOC has exclusive rights to the words "Olympic," "Olympiad," or any combination of those words.

Last month, Gross sent Wheeler a copy of the law as well as a written order to phase out the Olympians nickname.

A copy of the USOC's letter was obtained by the Valley News. Among its demands:

"By no later than June 30, 2019, Oxbow High School shall elect a new school mascot and cease all use of the mark Olympian(s), and any simulation or derivation thereof in the name of its school mascot and athletic teams, on uniforms, in its newsletter or yearbook, on signage and on any administrative or business materials."

"By no later than June 30, 2019, Oxbow High School will provide the USOC with examples of uniforms, signage, newsletters, web pages and other business or administrative materials bearing its new mascot name adopted under this letter, and will confirm in writing that it has stopped use of the term Olympian in this manner."

In 2014, Oxbow had wall mats installed at Mona Garone Gym that read Oxbow Olympians, and Wheeler expressed this to Gross.

The second part of the USOC letter allows for extra time for changes to the gym, reading:

"By no later than June 30, 2023, Oxbow High School shall revise or replace the wall mats in the gym and the decal on the floor, or modify them in some way to remove the mark Olympians."

"By no later than June 30, 2023, Oxbow High School will provide the USOC with written confirmation that it has completely refinished the gym floor to eliminate any reference to Olympian, has replaced any wall mats with Olympian on them, and has stopped using the term Olympian completely."

Wheeler noted that Mona Garone Gym's floor is in the process of being refinished and that the new surface will not contain the phrase Olympians.

USOC's letter of demands, sent on June 28, requests Wheeler's signature of acknowledgement and intent to comply. It remains unsigned, the principal having forwarded it to the Orange East Supervisory Union office with a recommendation for legal counsel. It was among the first items received by first-year OESU superintendent Emilie Knisley, who began July 2.

"We are reviewing (the law and USOC letter) and are forwarding them to the school district's attorney for review," Knisley wrote in an email. "It comes down to whether or not the mascot is a violation of the U.S. Olympic Committee's right to use the name exclusively as their trademark. We certainly take the question seriously and are working on our next steps."

It's not the first time USOC has come down on Oxbow.

In 2010, the organization contacted then-athletic director Rich Thornton about the use of the Olympians nickname and, specifically, the use of a variation of the 1996 Olympic Games' five-rings logo on football helmets. Thornton agreed to remove the rings logo — Oxbow has since sported a capital O on football helmets in a similar style to the University of Oregon — but requested to keep the Olympians nickname on the basis that the Ted Stevens Act became law seven years after Oxbow opened and began using it.

Thornton, who left Oxbow in 2013 to become a basketball coach at Buckingham, Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Mass., never heard a yes or no from the USOC in response to that request.

"They reached out once or twice, and then we never heard back," Thornton said in a Wednesday phone interview. "We addressed it at a school board meeting, and the consensus was until they came back with something legal, we should ignore it. It wasn't a priority."

Wheeler, Knisley and current school board chairman Adam Lornitzo all lamented a potential nickname change, citing the tradition the school's athletics have built under the moniker since opening in 1971. Administrators at the time presumably chose the name for its alliteration and may have been influenced by the spirit of the popular 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, where the U.S. led all nations with 107 total medals and 45 golds.

Oxbow has garnered 34 state championships across all varsity sports since its inception, according to Vermont Principals Association records.

"We know that the school takes great pride in the mascot and has a proud tradition associated with its use," Knisley wrote. "We want to do everything that we can to protect that pride."

Gross, the USOC paralegal, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Reached by phone, USOC director of communications Mark Jones indicated the matter was brought to the organization's attention by several anonymous tips.

He declined further comment, saying the USOC's stance is reflected in Gross' letter.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.

 

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

 

WILLIAMSBURG — A Virginia Beach family visited a Williamsburg theme park over the weekend expecting to enjoy some roller coasters. Instead, Timolyn Tillman said, she, her husband and daughter left withconcussions.

A Busch Gardens ride operator accidentally hit the emergency brake on Apollo's Chariot, park spokesperson Ron Vample said.

About midway into the ride's 4,882-foot track, Tillman said the ride came to what she described as a screeching halt.

"My whole body jolted," she said. "I jerked forward and immediately backward, like a whiplash."

For about 10 minutes, riders sat in pitch-black, she said.

A 9-year-old girl in the row behind Tillman began screaming for her mother, who was waiting on the ground below them, she said.

"She was screaming that we were going to die. I kept trying to turn around because she was in a panic. I was afraid she was going to wiggle out of her seat," Tillman said.

Unlike several coasters at the park, Apollo's Chariot locks riders in using a restraint on their lower half.

Tillman said after the coaster returned to the platform, she asked the ride operator about what happened.

"She told me she accidentally hit the emergency brake and the maintenance technician who was there said the same thing," Tillman said.

"All guests were brought back into the ride station and safely exited the ride. The Busch Gardens team spoke with all guests, who were offered water and health services," the theme park said in a statement given to The Pilot on Wednesday. "The safety of our guests and ambassadors remains our top priority."

Tillman, an attorney at Liberty Law Group, said she began to experience some dizziness, lethargy and nausea Monday morning. That afternoon, her husband, Lance, and daughter, Alexandria Kimble, were diagnosed with concussions at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital.

Busch Gardens spokesman Ron Vample declined to answer questions about the incident beyond the statement.

"We buy season passes every year," Tillman said, "but I can say it will be a long time before I get on a roller coaster again."

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Copyright 2018 The Evansville Courier Co.
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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

New University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi showed bold leadership last week in removing the name of Papa John's from the school's football stadium and scrubbing the founder's name from a program in U of L's business school.

We applaud her.

She took action just two days after Forbes reported that John Schnatter, the founder and former chairman of Louisville-based Papa John's International Inc., had used the N-word during a business meeting in May while discussing how to respond to concerns about racially insensitive statements he made last year.

Schnatter resigned his seat on the University of Louisville board of trustees and his position as chairman of Papa John's on Wednesday.

In stripping Papa John's name from the stadium and the business program, Bendapudi put principle over money.

U of L already faces serious fundraising problems in the wake of scandal and the firing of longtime Athletics Director Tom Jurich, yet Bendapudi chose to do what was right rather than what was expedient.

It's still unclear if U of L will have to repay millions of dollars in sponsorship fees that Schnatter has given and pledged to the school in return for naming rights, but she took a principled stand anyway.

And for good reason.

Schnatter's words were offensive to many students on U of L's campus, especially the 10.4 percent of who are African-American and the many student athletes who otherwise would have had to play games each Saturday in a stadium named for someone who so callously used that hideous and hateful word.

"By taking this action, we renew our community's commitment to speaking up when it matters, doing what is right, and coming together as one team — our Cardinal family — to heal and move forward," Bendapudi wrote in a letter to the campus community. "The brightest days for this university are still ahead."

Bendapudi said Schnatter agreed with the decision to remove his name from the John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise, to which he contributed $4.5 million to establish in 2014.

She didn't say where he stood on stripping the name of the company, of which he is still a major shareholder, from the stadium, however.

But if her decision costs the school millions of dollars — plus countless other millions that Schnatter may be less-inclined to give in the future — so be it.

Creating a welcoming environment for students of all ethnicities and colors trumps money.

The University of Kentucky, which houses the John H. Schnatter Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise, cut its ties with Schnatter Friday. Purdue University, which houses the John H. Schnatter Center for Economic Research, should consider this as well.

The decision at U of L, said Benapudi, was hers and hers alone, although she said the University of Louisville's board of trustees had voiced unanimous support.

This editorial originally appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

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Copyright 2018 The E.W. Scripps Company
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Abilene Reporter-News (Texas)

 

FRISCO, Texas - Two days of thoughts after listening to Big 12 coaches and players talk about everything from football to a Heisman Trophy campaign that won't include anything regarding tricky stuff about the NCAA someday maybe allowing athletes an opportunity to profit from their name and their likeness.

But first, this word directed at peanut gallery folk continuing to believe that the Big 12 is a conference in trouble:

Wrong.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby rode the fence when asked about the recent legalization of sports gambling that's allowing states to determine if they're in or out.

When asked about that during his annual State of the Big 12 session Monday morning, he responded:

"I didn't have that in my notes, largely because I didn't have anything intelligent to say about it.

"I think we're very much in a wait-and-see environment right now. There's a lot of talk about integrity fees. There is a lot of talk about how it gets managed.

"Are we really going to end up with 50 states that all have different laws on legalized gambling?"

And are schools really going to release injury reports, like the ACC is doing?

"FERPA and HIPAA considerations are substantial," Bowlsby said of laws designed to protect privacy. "Having said that, the ACC has been announcing injury status reports for a while. They don't get into the specific injuries, but I think they use a 'questionable' and 'definitely out.'"

David Montgomery is questionable against South Dakota State. Ray Lima is definitely out.

Kidding, of course, but you get my point. Bookies get that information anyway through a number of ways. Therefore, status updates like that must be public, now that betting on sports has been legalized.

"We haven't chosen to do it, because we want to get some answers relative to the student records, but my sense is that there's going to be a human cry for that to happen," Bowlsby said. "As long as we don't get too far into the specifics of what the injury is, and what kind of medication they may be taking and what the duration is and those kinds of things - some sort of simple system may work.

"We've talked about whether or not it gets managed by the conferences or whether it gets managed at a national level - and that's unresolved at this point."

What about it, coach?"If the guy is out long term, I'll say it," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. "If I don't know, I'm not going to say it, because you never know when kids will respond to injuries and when they're going to come back.

"These guys are not pros; they're amateurs. They're still trying to figure out how to play through specific injuries.

"If a guy is out long term, I will say it. If he's not, we won't talk about it."

**

Bill Snyder exaggeratesWhen asked about the millions, probably billions of dollars that schools pump into college football facility upgrades, Kansas State's Hall of Fame coach brought up an interesting view.

"I think sometimes we lose our sense of priority in regards to what really is important," Bill Snyder said. "That's not to say that football facilities aren't important, because they certainly are.

"Looking at it from a standpoint of if I'm a professor at a university, I'm going to ask the question, what's really important here, is it education or is it football?

"A professor has an office the size of a closet, and as coaches we've got offices as big as (an) indoor facility.

"As coaches, we make an awful lot of money, and if I'm a professor at a university I'm saying I've got a salary that's 1/20th or 1/30th or 1/40th or 1/50th of those coaches.

"So where is the value of education in this system? I'm sure everybody doesn't feel that way, but maybe it's just because I'm 100 years old that I feel that way."

A 100 years old?

Geez, I thought he was just 78.

**

Randy Peterson writes for the Des Moines Register, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach Randy at rpeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.

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

 

The use of video assistant referee (VAR) will be one of the legacies of the 2018 World Cup. This year's event should instead prove once and for all that FIFA, soccer's governing body, doesn't care at all about the health of the players.

In the first of two semifinal matches, Belgium's Eden Hazard collided with France midfielder Blaise Matuidi. Matuidi's teammates looked on with concern as he was clearly dazed by the blow. Team doctors looked at him before taking him off the field. Despite what clearly looked like a concussion, Matuidi was back on the field 15 seconds later.

Within one minute, Matuidi collapsed to the pitch.

Teammates tried to help him up, but he was obviously disoriented. As the medical staff helped him off the field, this time for good, Matuidi sprayed water from a bottle they gave him. He missed his mouth.

ESPN commentator Taylor Twellman, whose own soccer career ended due to head injuries, immediately blasted FIFA for Matuidi's injury. "The World Cup is bigger than any stage. What we have seen is hypocritical, pathetic and a straight middle finger to the players."

Matuidi started the World Cup final Sunday, only five days after collapsing. France's team physicians insisted he didn't have a concussion. FIFA's guidelines state that a player diagnosed with a concussion should be kept out of action for at least six days. Even if Matuidi did have a concussion, the team could have ignored this rule and let him play anyway.

That exact scenario played out earlier in the tournament.

In Morocco's opening match, midfielder Noureddine Amrabat suffered a concussion after clashing heads with an Iranian player. Video of the match showed Moroccan team officials spraying water and slapping the player in the face, apparently to try to arouse him.

Amrabat spent 24 hours in the hospital and underwent a brain scan. He admitted that he has no memory of the match or the hours after it.

I thought FIFA learn its lesson from the last tournament. In the 2014 World Cup final, German midfielder Christoph Kramer was crushed by an Argentina defender. Team doctors did a quick exam before letting him back on the field. Just 14 minutes later he collapsed. After the game, Kramer told reporters he had no memory of the first half, his injury or how he got off the field.

FIFA medical chief Michel D'Hooghe expressed outrage over the actions of the Moroccan officials, admitting they failed to follow concussion guidelines. "FIFA has no authority over this. We produce the guidelines, but it is the team doctors who make the decision."

Ignoring the guidelines for return to play, Amrabat took the field against Portugal only five days after the concussion that erased his memory and required a hospital stay. The player wore a padded skullcap but took it off because he was too hot.

Morocco team doctor Abderrazak Hefti claimed he wouldn't allow the player to even train for a week. Amrabat told the media he overruled the doctor. One of the Moroccan coaches, Herve Renard, lauded him as a "warrior."

After Sunday's final, Dr. Chris Nowinski, founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, tweeted: "We are watching the Dark Ages of sports medicine."

How can FIFA be so oblivious to this issue? It has to recognize the terrible example these events set for the hundreds of millions of people watching around the world.

I always thought the NFL was behind when it came to head trauma. But the NFL is light years ahead of FIFA. At least football has placed independent neurologists on the sidelines and athletic trainers serving as concussion spotters in the press box. Soccer must take those steps immediately.

We also need to remove pressure on the coaches and doctors to rush a player back on the field. Allowing a temporary fourth substitution for concussions so a team doesn't have to play down a player for the 10 minutes it takes to do a thorough exam would be a good start.

FIFA must penalize any team that blatantly ignores concussion guidelines for evaluation or return to play. A fine isn't enough. It needs to be some penalty that makes it more difficult for that country to advance to the next round or qualify for the next tournament.

I don't know if we're watching ignorance on FIFA's part or intentional neglect. One thing seems clear. FIFA clearly chooses to protect the game on the field at the expense of the health of the athletes needed to play it.

Dr. Geier is an orthopedic surgeon in Charleston and author of That's Gotta Hurt: The Injuries That Changed Sports Forever.

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Charlotte, N.C. — North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said Wednesday he doesn't believe it's been proven that football causes the degenerative brain disease CTE and offered a passionate defense of a sport he believes is "under attack."

Fedora, during interviews at Atlantic Coast Conference preseason media days, described the sport as an integral part of American culture and said it is "safer right now than it's ever been," though he acknowledged the risk of concussions in a sport featuring constant collisions.

It wasn't clear who Fedora was referring to in saying the game was under attack, with the seventh-year Tar Heels coach noting, for example, "it's more about people twisting data" to argue football is unsafe. He also said players should be educated on the risks of the game.

"I don't think that the game of football, that it's been proven that the game of football causes CTE," Fedora said. "But that's been put out there. We don't really know yet.

"Are there the chances for concussions in the game of football? Yeah, we all have common sense, right? Yeah, there are. When you have two people running into each other or multiple people running into each other, there is a chance of a concussion. But again, I'm going to say, the game is safer than it's ever been in the history of the game."

Known to cause violent moods, depression, dementia and other cognitive difficulties, CTE has been linked to the repeated hits to the head endured by football and hockey players, boxers and members of the military. The NFL's billion-dollar concussion settlement included payouts for a qualifying diagnosis of CTE.

North Carolina is home to a noted center researching sports-related brain injuries and Fedora's comments caused a stir at the ACC event, which opened two days of sessions with the league's seven Coastal Division teams. He returned nearly two hours later to speak with a handful of reporters.

"I'm not sure that anything is proven that football itself causes it," he said. "Now we do know from what my understanding is that repeated blows to the head cause it. So I'm assuming that every sport that you have, football included, could be a problem with that, right? As long as you've got any kind of contact, you could have that. That does not diminish the fact that the game is still safer than it's ever been in the history of the game because we continue to tweak the game to try to make it safer for our players."

Fedora also clarified his earlier comments to say the game wasn't under attack from rule tweaks to improve or promote safety.

"No, no, that's not what I meant," Fedora said. "How's the game under attack? To me, it's more about people twisting the data and the information out there to use for whatever their agenda is. Tweaking the game doesn't mean that the game is under attack. Any time you're changing the game for the betterment for the health and safety of the players, you're doing a great thing."

Asked if he believes the findings of some research studies on the topic, Fedora responded "Depends on the study. I believe some of the studies and there's some of them that I don't. But that's why you do studies, I think."

Earlier in the afternoon, Fedora had touted the life lessons learned from the game have "a major impact on who we are as a country," even connecting that to the strength of the U.S. military.

"Oh yes, I fear that the game will get pushed so far to one extreme that you won't recognize the game 10 years from now," Fedora said. "That's what I worry about. And I do believe if it gets to that point, that our country goes down, too."

The ACC opened the day with state-of-the-league comments from Commissioner John Swofford, including his expectation of a national standardized policy for reporting injuries and ineligible players following a recent Supreme Court ruling striking down a federal law barring gambling on college sports.

The two-day session concludes Thursday with the Atlantic Division teams.

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

It's official: The New Mexico Activities Association and executive director Sally Marquez will have the latitude to punish member schools directly should the association feel developments warrant such action.

By a 59-12 vote, schools voted to confirm a referenda item that went out following last month's board of directors meeting.

With this now confirmed, schools — not only their athletes and coaches, but most especially their fan bases — have been put on notice by the NMAA.

Boorish behavior will have consequences.

"I think the whole state understands that we have a sportsmanship issue," Marquez said.

Here is part of the new language of bylaw 7.7.4: "A school is responsible for the conduct of its team, coaches, students, and fans at any interscholastic event.... The Executive Director may invoke penalties upon a member school for actions which violate the principles of 'Compete With Class.' "

Exactly what that entails is not entirely clear yet, and Marquez said she would address such instances on a case-to-case basis.

The most egregious example of outlandish fan behavior to be found during the last school year — inside a venue — occurred at the state wrestling tournament. Two mothers, one from Belen and one from St. Pius, nearly caused a full-fledged brawl in the stands at the Santa Ana Star Center, even as their sons were wrestling 30 feet in front of them.

Among the 12 who voted against this referendum were Rio Rancho and Atrisco Heritage.

"We feel like we can take care of things in-house," Atrisco Heritage athletic director and boys basketball coach Adrian Ortega said. "We have protocols in place to prevent those type of events."

Multiple efforts to reach Rio Rancho AD Vince Metzgar for comment were unsuccessful.

Marquez has said frequently that she has been frustrated with some escalating bad behavior at New Mexico's high school events, particularly from fans.

Now, an individual fan's behavior, or the behavior of multiple individuals, is, in a sense, married to the team they're cheering for. Or, more to the point, the team they're jeering.

But it may take something rather extreme, or public, as with state wrestling, for the NMAA to insert itself into the equation.

"First and foremost," Marquez said, "I'll continue to work with ADs and the school and see if we can come up with a solution. If we can't, I believe that's when this rule will be put into place."

Marquez said the NMAA would do everything it can to inform coaches and athletic directors about this new bylaw before the 2018-19 sports season begins in a few weeks.

All three of the items the NMAA sent to schools last month passed easily.

By a 59-11 margin, schools voted to affirm an update in the verbiage in the "Undue Influence of a Student" bylaws. The NMAA believes too many coaches are using intermediaries — like parents and club coaches — to recruit athletes, either one athlete or en masse as with a club program, to a school or a particular program. While there are many who believe this updated language won't change things, the NMAA hopes to upend what it believes is an ugly status quo.

"With the club rules and the influence parents have on where other athletes are going, we do not have a level playing field," Marquez said. "I'm very confident this will help assure there will be a level playing field."

Schools will have to complete their entire district schedule to qualify for the postseason. This passed 66-5. The old rule was that schools only had to compete once against each district member to quality for the playoffs.

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Copyright 2018 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

SALT LAKE CITY — For more than a year, Brent Gordon hoped he could persuade local high schools to develop girls tackle football programs.

In meetings with school and district officials, he was told there wasn't enough interest or it would be too expensive. Gordon, who started a girls recreation tackle football program four years ago, pointed out that most schools in the Salt Lake Valley are not in compliance with the Education Amendments Act of 1972 (Title lX) when it comes to offering enough opportunities for female students.

That, he said, did not persuade officials to work with him on developing high school football programs for girls.

"They have a problem with Title lX disparity," Gordon said. "And I'm trying to help out and grow opportunities for girls. I asked them, 'Will you at least let me come to the schools and hand out fliers at the schools and grow our rec leagues.' They said no. They wouldn't even let us hand out the fliers."

So last June, on the 45th anniversary of Title IX, seven female football players filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to force three Salt Lake County school districts to comply with the law, which forbids gender-based discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding.

"They had no interest in addressing the issue," he said of the defendants in the suit — the Canyons, Jordan and Granite school districts, as well as the Utah High School Activities Association. "That's why we're here. Our preference would have been to work something out.... I'm super proud of the high schools in our area. My kids go to these schools, and we don't want to be adverse to these schools that do so many great things for our kids."

But Gordon, who appeared in court with the attorneys representing the seven girls on Tuesday afternoon to ask Judge Robert Shelby to certify the lawsuit as a class action, said he also wants his daughter to have the same opportunities offered to her male counterparts.

Tuesday's hearing addressed whether or not this case will remain just about the seven girls or whether the girls can expand their fight to all female football players and/or all female athletes.

"The class certification is something we're asking for so we could have a remedy that benefits girls in the future," he said. "The disparity is so great, using their own numbers, that if you add (girls) football, that might not make up full compliance with Title IX."

The lawsuit uses UHSAA participation numbers and points out there are 700 more opportunities for male athletes than female athletes in each of the three districts.

Among the issues discussed in Tuesday's three-hour hearing was whether all female athletes or all female football players are in the same situation or suffering a similar injury, and whether there is enough interest in tackle football among women to make viable programs at each of the 22 high schools in those districts.

Assistant Attorney General Rachel Terry, who represented the districts, said each school district addresses the needs of their students through programming in very different ways.

"Each district takes this lawsuit very seriously," Terry said. "They're taking this lawsuit as an opportunity to see if they're meeting the interests and needs of their students. But what Granite might offer is very different than other districts."

She said that while it may seem female football players and female athletes competing in other sports may seem to have the same interests, they could end up at odds because schools have limited resources.

"We can't offer every sport that every student wants to participate in," she said.

UHSAA attorney Mark Van Wagoner suggested the inability to provide a viable number of possible plaintiffs was a reason not to certify the suit as a class action. "What we have today is in admissible speculation about what the numbers would be," he said. "That seems to be something we ought to know."

He said that because the plaintiffs see adding girls football as the only remedy to the Title IX deficiencies, there is a conflict with other girls sports, as school administrators could choose to fix the problem by adding other girls sports — or by eliminating boys sports.

He said a claim of equal protection requires proof of intent.

"Let's talk about what's here," he said. "What I hear is there is football, but there is no girls football.... What the plaintiffs are suggesting is that equal protection requires... some sort of change in status of these girls so they could have their own team."

While adding girls football might be an appropriate remedy under Title IX, he said it would be "an unusual remedy under equal protection."

Shelby asked the plaintiffs' attorney, Loren Washburn, what the common question was for either all female athletes or all female football players.

"The common question is whether the school districts effectively met the interest of (female students)," Washburn said.

He offered the fact that more than 200 girls played football in the recreation program started by Gordon, and suggested that because they're talking about an opportunity that's been denied, the case is similar to a civil rights case.

After a long discussion about how those numbers might be estimated, Washburn said that one thing the girls would have in common is that they were all denied opportunities.

"The fundamental injury," Washburn said, "is the failure to offer (the opportunities)."

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Copyright 2018 The State Journal- Register
All Rights Reserved

The State Journal- Register (Springfield, IL)

 

The Springfield City Council unanimously approved one of the largest tax increment financing requests in the city's history Tuesday night by authorizing the YMCA to use $5.9 million from two TIF districts for its new $35.7 million location in Enos Park.

It will also be one of the first times the city will authorize "porting," when a project in one TIF district draws down funds from an adjoining district. In this case, the new Y would be in the 300 block of East Carpenter Street, landing it in the Enos Park TIF. However, the Enos Park TIF expires in 2020, so the city has also set a schedule for the project to be reimbursed equally from the Central Area TIF, which is known as the downtown TIF, as well. About $250,000 will remain annually for other TIF projects in the Enos Park district.

"There's no dividing wall where it's just going to help the Enos Park area," Mayor Jim Langfelder said. "It's going to transcend the downtown area and help that area."

The new YMCA would be two levels and cover 87,500 square feet. The project is estimated to cost about $35 million.

If the Y didn't have the $5.9 million in TIF funds, the project likely wouldn't happen, according to Springfield YMCA CEO Angie Sowle.

"The more traction we get, the more community support we will get," Sowle said. "I don't see this project coming to fruition without this."

Before the YMCA can access any of the money, it will need to have all of the project's financing in order, Sowle said.

So far, Memorial Medical Center has pledged $9 million. Sowle said the YMCA is also hoping to qualify for at least $2.5 million in new market tax credits, raise $7 million in philanthropic gifts and get the rest of the financing through banks.

All of the council members voted for the TIF request. Some hoped the project would be "transformational" for the neighborhood.

Ward 6 Ald. Kristin DiCenso said that though she is supportive of the project, she noted that in the past, council members have said they didn't want to give TIF funds to projects that don't generate increased property taxes. Since the YMCA is a nonprofit, it doesn't pay property taxes.

Development doesn't necessarily guarantee more of the kind of growth council members want to see, either, she added.

"Just because we build something doesn't mean the things around it are going to be as cool as the initial thing," DiCenso said.

Sowle said the Y can't predict what will happen if it relocates to the Enos Park neighborhood. A new location could mean the YMCA adds another 50 jobs to its more than 500 part-timers and full-time employees.

'I think the more good things that come there, the more good things that will come there," Sowle said. "... We certainly have no control over who our neighbors are going to be, but we do hope this will transform that community as well as the entire medical district and the downtown."

According to the redevelopment contract between the city and the Y, construction is expected to start this fall and be completed by the end of 2020. The Y can only access the first installment of $1.5 million in TIF funds to reimburse project costs in August 2019. It promised to maintain and occupy the building for no less than 25 years, according to the agreement.

The current downtown YMCA building at 701 S. Fourth St. is expected to be torn down for about $1.4 million and is considered part of the overall project cost. Langfelder has said he would like to see the land be used by the Dana-Thomas House Foundation for more parking or a new visitor's center.

Contact Crystal Thomas: 788-1528, crystal.thomas@sj-r.com, twitter.com/crystalclear224.

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
All Rights Reserved

The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Columbus, Ohio — Four former wrestlers say in a new lawsuit that Ohio State University officials ignored repeated complaints about "rampant sexual misconduct" by a now-dead team doctor, and a former student confirmed Tuesday that investigators have documentation about at least one decades-old incident that prompted a complaint.

Former student Steve Snyder-Hill said he wrote to a student health center official in the 1990s after being examined by Dr. Richard Strauss, whose behavior is the subject of an independent investigation that began months ago.

Ohio State says allegations raised in recent months about Strauss involve male athletes from 14 sports, as well as the physician's work at the student health center and his off-campus medical office.

Snyder-Hill said he went to the health center because of a lump on his chest, but Strauss also conducted a genital exam and pressed himself into him, at which point the patient realized the doctor had an erection.

Snyder-Hill said officials responding to his complaint back then told him Strauss denied having an erection and said he was just doing his job.

Snyder-Hill said he told the officials he wanted to be notified if they ever got another complaint about Strauss, and he never heard more about it. He said he thought he'd put Strauss on notice that such behavior shouldn't happen.

"I felt very, very secure that that guy isn't going to do this again," Snyder-Hill said. "I thought I stopped him."

Snyder-Hill said he contacted the investigators who are looking into Strauss after seeing news reports about former athletes and students who have raised allegations about Strauss in recent months, and the investigators confirmed having some paperwork about the incident that led to his complaint. It was first reported by The Columbus Dispatch.

The athletes' allegations moved into the courts this week with the filing of a federal lawsuit against the university.

The lawsuit by former wrestlers from the 1980s and 1990s describes Strauss as "a prolific sexual predator" who might have assaulted 1,500 or more male students. Athletes who alerted officials about Strauss felt their complaints were futile and that the doctor was above the law in the eyes of the university, according to the lawsuit filed Monday.

Among the allegations in the lawsuit is that two wrestlers met with former Athletic Director Andy Geiger during the 1994-1995 season and complained about voyeurism and lewd acts by Strauss and other men at their practice facility.

The lawsuit says the university didn't take action or agree to move the team's practices following that meeting. The team did move into a new building about eight years later.

Geiger has told The Associated Press he doesn't remember meeting with the wrestlers or any complaints about Strauss. But he said he did speak with former wrestling coach Russ Hellickson about voyeurism in the showers.

Hellickson also has denied knowing about any abuse by Strauss, who killed himself after retiring from the university.

Ohio State said it is reviewing the lawsuit but didn't comment further about it. The school has repeatedly said that allegations that officials didn't appropriately respond to concerns about Strauss are troubling and are a key focus of the ongoing, independent investigation.

The four wrestlers, whose names aren't listed in the lawsuit, say Strauss sexually assaulted or harassed them in the late 1980s or 1990s.

The university in April announced that independent investigators were looking into allegations that Strauss fondled and groped male athletes during physical examinations and medical treatment.

His family has said they were "shocked and saddened" to learn of the allegations.

Strauss joined Ohio State in 1978 and retired as a professor in 1998. He later moved to California, where he killed himself in 2005 at age 67.

He left Ohio State not long after the university held a hearing on complaints against him in 1997, but the school took no legal or disciplinary action, the lawsuit said.

So far, more than 150 former athletes and witnesses have been interviewed.

The university has said that it's "focused on uncovering what may have happened during this era, what university leaders at the time may have known, and whether any response at the time was appropriate."

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages, proposes to represent all former Ohio State students or athletes who were examined by Strauss, saying the number of men is in the hundreds, if not thousands.

The wrestlers and their attorneys also want to find whether Ohio State violated federal Title IX law, which bars sex discrimination in education

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Copyright 2018 Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
All Rights Reserved

Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

ATLANTA — Walk outside the College Football Hall of Fame and onto Marietta Street and you can't miss it — Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur on a billboard, proclaiming him "Nashville's next big star" and telling folks to head to vucommodores.com for tickets.

Anyone attending SEC Media Days this week will see it. And yes, the correct first reaction is: "Hey, Vanderbilt spent some money on athletics!"

The second reaction is to continue pushing an agenda that must be pushed until it becomes reality. So let's push it again. It's going to take more time, and relentless refusal to accept the sidestepping of the folks who are getting rich off college athletics and claiming college athletes getting paid is too complicated to work. Or too problematic. Or contrary to the spirit of amateurism that guides this multi-billion dollar industry.

Eventually the Olympic model will happen, because it's the right thing morally; because it will allow college athletics to operate virtually the same as it has for decades from a product and fan standpoint; because it's the only way for athletes to be compensated without massively overhauling a system that does indeed provide significant opportunities for athletes in "non-revenue" sports. The people who run this industry don't want this to become minor league professional sports, and neither do I, and neither should you.

I just want a college football quarterback like Shurmur, or a women's basketball star like A'ja Wilson, or a college golfer, tennis player or rower to have the freedom to get paid for autographs. Or to be able to do a commercial for a local auto dealer and get some pocket money — maybe even a nice car to drive around campus.

This actually would be quite painless to implement. Allowing athletes to participate in a free market — like any other college student in any field — did not ruin the Olympics. It wouldn't ruin college sports. It would allow it to continue essentially the same, except that some of the money that moves under the table would be out in the light of day.

SEC cutting fat checks, getting ready for gambling

And that's why it's frustrating to come to events like this and hear about $597 million in revenue distributed from the SEC to its schools last year — more than $40 million per school — and to consider what legalized gambling might mean for future revenue, and to wonder when SEC quality control coaches will hit $1 million a year, and to hear nothing about a plan to make things right.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey did address gambling and the possibility of formalized "availability reports" on SEC football players in the future, along with the idea of investing in the analysis of games to watch for funny business. This is a good idea, would have been a good idea decades ago and should include a close eye on game officials.

Also, it's a reminder that college athletics will benefit financially from the expected uptick in gambling on college athletics. More eyeballs, more interest.

Some will find this unsavory, but gambling on college athletics — and point shaving and other ill effects — is not new. Neither is the payment of players beyond scholarship, room and board. Neither is the incredible waste of time and resources trying to punish schools for violating NCAA rules. The Olympic model would chop chunks out of that NCAA rule book.

'Name, image and likeness'

NCAA President Mark Emmert did tell the Associated Press in May that the Olympic model is "well deserving of serious consideration," and I hope that was more than just an empty comment meant to placate. Sankey did not get into athlete compensation in the six questions he took at SEC Media Days, but he was asked by Mike Golic in May on ESPN Radio about the Olympic model.

"People talk about something called 'name, image and likeness,'" Sankey said. "I'm waiting for everyone to define how that is operationalized. But, fundamentally, it goes back to this phrase 'student-athlete.' People take shots at it and say it was created by (former NCAA executive director) Walter Byers. Did you know we had 31 graduate patches in the national championship game? That means 31 out of about 200 players on that field already had earned bachelor's degrees."

Sankey is a highly intelligent person and he's going to be a successful SEC commissioner. He'll keep the league humming and will earn his salary (last reported at $1.9 million in 2016). But that answer is exactly why people get angry. Getting this "operationalized" would be no problem at all. And changing the subject to what "student-athlete" means is a lawyerly bailout.

It's like bringing up the platforms these college athletes have, or the value they get from their college educations. The argument here is not that there aren't great benefits to playing college athletics, and it's not that college athletes are being mistreated.

Shurmur is going to walk away from Vanderbilt with a prized degree, for free, and with exposure and development that will give him a chance at the NFL. If Vanderbilt wants to use him to help sell Vanderbilt, fine.

But there's way too much money in this industry to deny Shurmur the right to put his own face on the window of a sports card shop and make a couple of hundred bucks signing pictures one afternoon. And we're way past, "Gosh, maybe this is something we can talk about someday."

Reach Joe Rexrode at jrexrode@tennessean.com and follow him on Twitter @joerexrode.

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

WASHINGTON — Major League Baseball wants a broad discussion with players about rule changes to combat decreased offense and longer games, an initiative likely to be met by a testy union stung by declining free-agent prices and already raising the possibility of a work stoppage after the 2021 season.

Commissioner Rob Manfred and players' association head Tony Clark outlined their differing agendas during separate sessions with the Baseball Writers' Association of America before Tuesday night's All-Star Game.

"There is a growing consensus or maybe even better an existing consensus among ownership that we need to have a really serious conversation about making some changes to the way the game is being played," Manfred said. "We are not at the point where I can articulate for you what particular rule changes might get serious consideration. I can tell you the issues that concern people: I think that the period of time between putting balls in play, the number of strikeouts, to a lesser extent the number of home runs, the significance of the shift and what it's done to the game, the use of relief pitchers and the way starting pitchers are going to be used."

Clark repeatedly maintained players are reluctant to change as "stewards of the game."

"We may get to a point where those coming to the ballpark or have an interest in coming to the ballpark for whatever reason aren't 100 percent certain that what they are seeing is the type of game that they want to see," he said.

More than 100 free agents remained unsigned when spring training began this year. Many agreed to deals at a fraction of the price they thought they were worth and for fewer years than they expected.

"What we experienced last offseason was a direct attack on free agency, which has been a bedrock of our economic system, and if that is going to be different, then we have some very difficult decisions to make moving forward," Clark said.

Baseball had eight work stoppages from 1972-95 but has had labor peace since. The current five-year contract runs through the 2021 season, and Clark left open a possible return to the era of strife.

"To the extent there are challenges to those rights, historically I would suggest those have manifested themselves in a particular way," he said.

The union filed a grievance in February against Miami, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, accusing the teams of failing to appropriately spend revenue-sharing money in an effort to improve their on-field product. Manfred dismissed the allegations, saying the grievance was filed "really for publicity reasons."

Manfred said the lack of interest in free agents was because of the dearth of quality.

"At the end of the year you'll look at the performance of those players," he said, "I'm pretty sure, based on what's already in the books, you're going to make the judgment that the clubs made sound decisions as to how those players should be valued."

Management is alarmed by what is taking place on the field. Strikeouts (24,537) are on track to surpass hits (24,314) for the first time. Strikeouts also are likely to set a record for the 12th straight season, and this year's average of 17.0 per game is up from 12.6 in 2005.

The current big league batting average of .247 would be the lowest since 1972.

There have been 20,587 shifts on balls in play, according to Baseball Info Solutions. That projects to a full-season total of 34,668 — up 29.8 percent from last year and an increase from 6,882 for the entire 2013 season. That has decreased the batting average of stars such as Washington's Bryce Harper, who is hitting just .214.

And the average attendance of 28,568 is down from the 30,159 at the break last year, when the final figure was 30,042. MLB has not dropped below 30,000 since 2002.

Manfred blamed early-season bad weather.

"We've made up some ground," he said. "We were down as much as 8, 9 (percent) early, we were back to like 5.5 percent down, and I'm optimistic."

Lack of competitiveness among rebuilding teams also is a likely factor. Three teams are on track to lose 100 or more games.

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

Mayor David Condon is making the hard sell for a new downtown Spokane sports stadium ahead of school board deliberations Wednesday, a pitch that now includes the possibility of professional soccer.

In addition to new schools, modern libraries and new playfields at the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex, the mayor said this week he's been exploring an agreement to bring minor-league soccer to Spokane that would be contingent upon construction of a new downtown stadium. The deal would require voter approval of Spokane Public Schools bonds to pay for a new, 5,000-seat facility to replace Joe Albi Stadium, which also would host high school athletics and other community events.

"They are not interested in being in the middle of a big sports complex, it just isn't in their DNA for soccer," Condon said. "They want urban fields."

Condon has been meeting with San Antonio sports executive Howard Cornfield, who most recently has served as general manager for the now-defunct San Antonio Scorpions Football Club of the North American Soccer League. Cornfield said Tuesday that his company, deepRoot Sports & Entertainment, is interested in Spokane and one other city as a potential location for a new soccer franchise.

"The whole thing about soccer these days, is that the fans love meeting at the restaurants," Cornfield said. "Spokane's got a great downtown, it's pretty, you'd be crossing over the river if you had a stadium downtown."

The new club wouldn't be affiliated with Major League Soccer, but there are other options for professional soccer in Spokane, including the United Soccer League (home to the Seattle Sounders FC 2 club in Tacoma and the Portland Timbers 2 club) or the Canadian Premier League, which will begin play next year, Cornfield said. Matches would be played on Saturdays, which would leave the field open for Friday night football contests in the fall, Condon said.

At 5,000 seats, the proposed Spokane stadium would be among the smallest hosting USL matches. Teams in Irvine, California; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Fenton, Missouri all have stadiums that hold about 5,000 people. Of the seven confirmed teams for the Canadian Premier League, all of them based in Canada, 5,000 seats is the smallest-sized stadium that will host matches. That league will require a certain percentage of players to be Canadian on each roster and touts itself as "by Canada, for Canada."

Talks about the potential for a club so far have been quiet, Cornfield said. Mark Anderson, associate superintendent of Spokane Public Schools, said discussions with school board members have focused on potential other uses for the stadium beyond high school athletics, not specifics.

"The sports commission had a study done of the pros and cons of the downsizing Albi," Anderson said. "The conclusion of that study was that it's a possibility in the future that there might be some kind of minor league soccer there. They didn't base their analysis on that."

School board members directed questions on the proposal to Board President Sue Chapin, though multiple members said they were unaware of the minor league soccer proposal.

Chapin said she hadn't been informed of the city's discussions to bring professional soccer to Spokane, either. She said she still has questions about parking for the proposed downtown project.

"We've got to focus on what our students need," Chapin said. "In the end, it will be a group decision."

She said a downtown stadium "'might be wonderful" for professional soccer, and if the school board doesn't decide to ask voters for funding it might be a project the city could explore paying for themselves. The school district could then rent it for football games.

The question of whether to replace Joe Albi Stadium, which opened in 1950 and has been the city's destination for high school football since, is a remaining sticking point in plans to pitch joint city and school bond issues in the November election. School board members last month said they had concerns about security and traffic at a new downtown facility, which is just part of a proposed $505 million bond issue that would allow the district to build three new middle schools on land owned by the city and renovate existing buildings to make way for sixth-graders beginning in 2021. One of those new middle schools would be built at the current Joe Albi site.

The city plans to float its own $103 million bond issue to build three new libraries, renovate four others and expand playfield options at Merkel.

Condon said the city and schools had a unique opportunity, as a consequence of changes to the way the state is funding basic education, to add services while also reducing the local tax burden on property owners.

"Never before have we seen this type of partnership, between Spokane Public Schools, Spokane libraries, the park system, the Public Facilities District and the city government," Condon said.

Both sides are pitching the bond as a reinvestment of taxpayer dollars that will be saved as the local tax burden to support schools shifts to the state level. Property taxes supporting schools will go down $2.20 per $1,000 of assessed value in the city of Spokane beginning in 2020. The city and schools will be asking voters to approve a tax on half that amount, $1.10, to pay for all the new facilities.

That will include an expedited update of the school district's security enhancements, Anderson said. City Councilwoman Karen Stratton said she wanted to see the district stress security enhancements in their pitch for a new bond, given the recent shooting at Freeman High School and the threats at Lewis and Clark High School.

"My question is, can you use any of this money to enhance safety?" Stratton said. "If it can't be, I'm not going to support it."

The district has already used its portion of a 2015 bond measure on security features, adding cameras and a single-point-of-entry to buildings, Anderson said. Approving the bond in 2018 will add money that can be used to implement the security recommendations of a firm that will audit the district this fall, he said.

"Otherwise, we were going to have to wait until 2021," Anderson said. "We could get that funding sooner."

City Council President Ben Stuckart said he'll support whatever decision the school board makes on whether to renovate Joe Albi Stadium or move forward with new construction. Both options are on the table for discussion Wednesday afternoon, with a joint meeting between the school board and City Council planned for Aug. 1 to formalize language for the November ballot.

"I like the idea of it downtown," Stuckart said of the proposal. "I want to keep the focus on the collaborative effort between schools and the city."

Condon said the school district is "asking all the right questions" about the feasibility of a downtown stadium. He said traffic and parking studies have shown that the area could handle the anticipated volume both at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena and a proposed stadium and sports complex, and pushed back on concerns about security by praising the Public Facilities District's handling of safety around the arena. The district would operate the new stadium, with the schools as its chief tenant.

"You see the positive stuff that's going on (downtown)," Condon said. "Remember what was in Riverfront Park five years ago, versus what's there today. Positive activity supplants negative activity, as far as I can tell."

Cornfield, the sports executive, has seen a community grapple with whether to build a downtown stadium before. Before his stint in San Antonio, Cornfield served as president and general manager of the Quad City Mallards, a minor league hockey team that played in a facility built in Moline, Illinois.

"Some of the same arguments that I'm hearing now, about building a stadium in Spokane, people were saying that about the arena in Quad Cities," he said. "Now, 20 or 22 years down the road, no one can imagine what the city would be like without the arena downtown."

Cornfield said if the agreement worked out, he'd move to Spokane and oversee operations firsthand. He cited the success of the Chiefs and Indians franchises, noting that it was Kerry Toporoski, a former Spokane Chief, who originally sold him on bringing sports to the Inland Northwest. Toporoski played several seasons for the Mallards during Cornfield's tenure there, and his son, Luke, plays left wing for the Chiefs.

"We wouldn't be carpetbaggers. We would come there, we would set up operation one year in advance of opening our doors," he said. "It would be no different than the tremendous way the Bretts have operated the baseball and the hockey team."

Contact the writer: (509) 459-5429, kiph@spokesman.com

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Copyright 2018 The Evansville Courier Co.
All Rights Reserved

Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

The Indianapolis Colts and Pacers Sports & Entertainment have decried Papa John's founder John Schnatter's use of a racist term in a May conference call, and both are taking a wait-and-see attitude toward future dealings with the company.

Schnatter, who was born in Jeffersonville, Ind., resigned as chairman Wednesday after it emerged that he had used the N-word in a call with a marketing agency. He is still on the board and owns 30 percent of the company's shares, CNN reported.

At least a dozen professional teams have suspended or ended promotions with Papa John's. The Colts and Pacers are evaluating their relationships with the company.

The Colts released this statement: "As are so many others, we're disturbed by the comments reportedly attributed to Papa John's former chairman, and we are gathering more information about this situation before we move forward."

Pacers Sports & Entertainment released this statement: "We strongly condemn racism and insensitive language and they do not belong in our society under any circumstance and in no way represent the values of Pacers Sports & Entertainment. The sponsorship agreement between the Indiana Pacers and Papa John's International Inc. recently expired and the Indiana Fever sponsorship expires shortly. We are closely monitoring and evaluating the situation regarding the future."

Numerous Major League Baseball teams have taken action.

NBC reported that the Miami Marlins, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles had suspended relationships with the company. The Dallas Morning News reported that the Rangers had suspended their Papa John's promotion. Fortune reported that the Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers had suspended or ended Papa John's promotions. MLB itself has indefinitely suspended a promotion for discounted pizza after a grand slam. The Atlanta Falcons of the NFL suspended their dealings with Papa John's.

The University of Louisville promptly removed Papa John's name from its football stadium; it's now just Cardinal Stadium.

The pizza company is likewise expunging Schnatter from its future advertising or marketing, Bloomberg reported.

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

The fourth of five former Wheaton College football players facing felony charges in a 2016 hazing scandal has pleaded guilty to lesser misdemeanor charges. James Cooksey, 23, of Jacksonville, Florida, pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor count of attempted unlawful restraint and was sentenced to one month of court supervision. He also must testify truthfully in any future proceedings in the case.

A fifth man, Benjamin Pettway, is expected to stand trial early next year. The plea deal and sentence is different from the one previously agreed to by co-defendants Noah Spielman, Kyler Kregel and Samuel TeBos. Those men all pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery and were sentenced to one year of conditional discharge requiring them to each pay a $250 anti-crime fee and complete 100 hours of public service — including 25 hours of speaking to youths about the dangers of hazing.

In September, a grand jury approved a nine-count indictment against Cooksey and his four teammates, charging them with aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint in the hazing of then-teammate Charles Nagy. On Monday, prosecutors dropped the nine felony charges against Cooksey and added the new attempted unlawful restraint charge.

Cooksey, along with TeBos, of Allendale, Michigan; Spielman, of Columbus, Ohio; Pettway, of Lookout Mountain, Georgia; and Kregel, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, were accused of abducting Nagy, now 21, from his dorm on March 19, 2016. Prosecutors said the men put a pillowcase over Nagy's head and tied his arms and legs with duct tape before he was placed in a pickup truck and driven to a baseball field near Hawthorne Elementary School in Wheaton.

Prosecutors said the defendants are accused of repeatedly punching and kicking Nagy, kicking dirt on him and then leaving him partially nude on the field. Cooksey thanked Judge Brian Telander for approving the deal and allowing him to follow his dream of serving in the military. Cooksey was attending Wheaton College on a four-year ROTC scholarship at the time of the case.

The scholarship was suspended for his senior year after the charges were announced. His attorney, Michael Fleming, said Cooksey now plans to apply for a waiver from the Army to allow him to "fulfill his commitment to serve." Assistant State's Attorney Mike Pawl said Cooksey's determination to serve in the military was considered in the crafting of the plea agreement and sentencing.

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

The Schaumburg Boomers want to replace the press box at the ballpark the team leases from the village of Schaumburg and Schaumburg Park District with an exclusive lounge area for suite ticketholders.

The proposed Jim Beam Club and bar would be built at the team's expense on the suite level of the 19-year-old stadium.

Boomers General Manager Michael Larson said that while the change would make a significant visual impact on the lobby area of the suite level, the work involved to achieve it would be relatively small.

The estimated cost of the work is $25,000, according to the building permit application.

There has been a temporary, pop-up bar on that level, but Larson said it makes some sense to give it a permanent location in a spruced up area.

"I saw an opportunity to make a small improvement," he said. Other than special events, the press box area is most often used for storage, despite its premium location in the stadium, Larson said.

The project isn't directly tied to other stadium upgrades contemplated by the village and park district, Village Manager Brian Townsend said.

In December, both local governments agreed on a four-year, $10.5 million plan to upgrade the ballpark.

"However, this does represent the team making an investment in the facility, and I think the team should be commended for that," he added.

The issue will come before the village board during its committee-of-the-whole meeting at 7 p.m. today, at village hall, 101 Schaumburg Court.

Park district Executive Director Tony LaFrenere said his board of commissioners already has expressed its support for the project.

"We think it's a good use of resources," he added. Depending on the speed of the approval process, the work might be done in August, ahead of the offseason, Larson said. Because the area isn't currently being used, work could take place at any time except during games.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

USA TODAY

 

A class action suit against USA Diving accuses the national governing body of ignoring or obstructing sexual abuse allegations.

The diving lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court last week, describes the dynamic of a coach-athlete power imbalance leading to sexual abuse.

Two former divers are named accusing coach Will Bohonyi, a former Indiana University diver, of coercing and forcing them into frequent sex. IndyStar typically does not name alleged sexual assault victims.

Attorney Jon Little told IndyStar other divers have come forward and "this is just the beginning for USA Diving." He also said USA Diving is "worse than gymnastics, worse than swimming."

USA Gymnastics has been in turmoil since an IndyStar investigation that started in 2016.

A former Olympic swimmer sued USA Swimming in May, bringing renewed attention on sexual abuse in that sport.

A spokeswoman for USA Diving said in a statement Monday, "Providing a safe environment for our members is of tremendous importance to USA Diving, and we take these matters very seriously. USA Diving is unable to comment further at this time."

Bohonyi did not immediately respond to an email from IndyStar requesting comment.

Bohonyi coached at the Ohio State University Diving Club, which bills itself on its website as the "second highest ranking junior competitive USA Diving team in the United States."

Bohonyi has been on USA Diving's list of banned coaches since 2015, but the suit alleges that action didn't happen until six months after Ohio State University investigated one of the women's allegations and recommended his termination. The report, the lawsuit says, was provided to USA Diving.

During that time, the suit alleges, he forced the girl to perform sex acts numerous times while she was a minor. She also sent him hundreds of naked photos. The girl was an Olympic hopeful, having competed in the U.S. Olympic trials at 13.

"Bohonyi psychologically coerced (the woman) into believing that she was required to perform sexual services in exchange for her continued involvement in diving," the suit says. "He preyed on her age, vulnerability, and dreams of becoming an Olympian, and used the power structure and imbalance of power (coach-athlete) to make her believe she was required to sexually service him in exchange for her involvement in diving for Team USA."

The lawsuit also alleges that Ohio State University has had possession of the naked photos for almost four years and "no action has been taken."

During a meet in August 2014 in Knoxville, Tennessee, the girl's teammate informed the head coach of the Ohio State Diving Club about the abuse, the lawsuit alleges. The girl, who had just turned 17, was sent home. Bohonyi stayed.

"The Ohio State University has no interest in hurting their brand," Little said. "This is part of a massive problem at Ohio State that's not just isolated to Dr. Strauss."

Several former Ohio State wrestlers said Richard Stauss, a team doctor who committed suicide in 2005, abused them during medical treatments going back to the 1970s.

Ben Johnson, a spokesman for the university, disputed the allegation about being concerned about image over justice. He said the school has a prominent red button on its home page that links to information on the case and encourages people to come forward.

Johnson said that in 2014 the school immediately opened an administrative investigation after learning about allegations against Bohonyi and notified the county's child protection services and the university police department.

Police dropped the investigation at the request of the diver. But the administrative investigation continued and resulted in Bohonyi's firing 10 days after the school was informed. The investigation was reported to USA Diving, the spokesman said, "in 2014."

That closed investigation was reopened on Jan. 30 this year after the university was again contacted by the plaintiff, Johnson said. University police are working with the Franklin County prosecutor.

"The safety and security of our students, faculty, staff and visitors is Ohio State's top priority, and the university does not tolerate sexual misconduct of any kind," the spokesman said.

The other diver named in the lawsuit is a former member of the Indiana Diving Club and IU's diving team. Bohonyi was her coach. Starting in 2009, the suit alleges, he cultivated an abusive relationship, coercing the woman into daily sex, saying, "You owe me this."

The suit alleges that he told the other diver the same thing.

"He made clear to (the woman) that this exchange was required for him to continue coaching her as part of USA Diving," the lawsuit says.

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Copyright 2018 Star Tribune
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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

Earlier this year the Gophers athletic department moved into its new $166 million home. The annual athletic budget stands at $121 million, fueled by a whopping $51 million in Big Ten conference distribution.

This isn't a mom-and-pop operation.

The amount of money flowing through college sports and the pressure on schools to win big in their flagship programs have never been higher. Athletics have long been cast as a window or front porch to a university, but even that description feels inadequate in measuring the true scope.

Amateurism? Yeah, right. Not anymore.

A new University of Minnesota president will leap into that vortex once Eric Kaler leaves office next year. Kaler's announcement last week that he will vacate his post in July 2019 brings uncertainty about what that might mean for the future of Gophers athletics.

More specifically, how will the new president view athletics in relation to the overall mission of the university? That should be an important component of the vetting process.

Obviously, nothing supersedes academics in importance. The U's profile as a top-notch research institution with increased academic standards will always be a driving force.

The visibility of sports on campus though is interwoven with a university's brand, image and personal connection to alumni, donors and future students. That mandates full commitment and clear vision from the school's No. 1 leader.

"The Board [of Regents] hasn't spent much time, if any, talking about these characteristics, but I'm willing to go a little bit out on a limb that we're going to be looking for a president who brings the same level of engagement, interest and commitment to the athletics world that President Kaler did," Regents Chairman David McMillan said.

"Academics are going to be No. 1 but a very close second can be the athletics side of the house."

Critics of college sports often rail against erosion of amateurism ideals. That's understandable. In some ways, big-time Division I football and basketball feel semiprofessional with never-ending escalation of an arms' race driving salaries, facilities, TV revenue, scholarship seating fees, etc.

University presidents are tasked with knowing the difference between support and willful ignorance. Every athletic department requires appropriate oversight, whether that involves conduct, spending, academics or rules compliance.

Culture has become a corporate buzzword, but the meaning has merit. Culture starts at the top. Winning cultures don't happen by accident.

The Gophers need football and men's basketball to win more, but the department finally has some positive momentum with Athletes Village, recent coaching hires and a smart leader in athletic director Mark Coyle after the Norwood Teague fiasco.

Several regents have voiced concerns about the university's continued practice of subsidizing athletics (projected at $6.8 million this fiscal year). Some Division I athletic departments are self-sufficient, but comparing financial models can be tricky because schools handle accounting practices differently.

Even so, McMillan said the board should ask tough questions to keep close tabs on spending and make sure both the university and athletic department are held accountable.

"I think you will continue to see a deepening dialogue with the board around the fiscal side of the house," he said.

A strong athletic program helps the bottom line significantly. In terms of fundraising, winning inspires giving. Everyone loves a winner.

One theory based more on gut than empirical data is that a successful football and/or basketball program increases enrollment numbers by raising a school's profile. Wisconsin's brand and reputation certainly benefited from Rose Bowl appearances.

McMillan offered an anecdote in explaining the impact of college sports. His grandfather, Lloyd Mitby, quit school in the eighth grade but attended every Gophers football home game from 1924 through 1988. He parked in the same location and walked the same path to Memorial Stadium every game.

College sports have changed since then. TV revenue has transformed it into an enterprise worth billions. More money brings more pressure to keep pace with rivals.

That might make you hold your nose, but complaining won't change the year to 1980. This is the new reality. Schools either make the commitment or get left behind. The next president in Dinkytown inherits this landscape.

chip.scoggins@startribune.com

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Copyright 2018 The Florida Times-Union

Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)

 

ATLANTA — SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said on Monday that the conference is intently studying the possible fall-out over the legalization of sports gambling in the U.S. and admitted that the league may have to force its historically secretive coaches into some kind of standardized injury reports — or at least a list of those who will play.

Sankey said the league has been in consultation with the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and the PGA Tour to learn about their planned efforts to monitor legalized gambling.

"Gambling activity around sports is not new, and that includes gambling activity around collegiate sports," Sankey said at the College Football Hall of Fame on the first day of SEC Media Days. "What is new is the expansion of legalized sports gambling and the increased cultural acceptance of legalized sports gambling."

Sankey said the league's preference is to have no legal sports gambling. Failing that, he hopes state and federal legislators enact law that protect the integrity of competition and offers protection to student-athletes.

Sankey said he talked with coaches at the SEC spring meetings in Destin about more transparent injury reporting, which could lessen the chance of gamblers trying to pry inside information from athletes, student trainers or managers.

He said injury reporting in college is different from professional sports.

"The nature of any so-called injury report around college sports will have very different dynamics than are present at the professional level," he said, citing medical privacy laws for athletes under 21, academic issues that are private and suspensions for violations of rules that coaches want to keep within the program.

"[The] … issues make something more like an availability report relevant for discussion," he said.

That means schools would release a roster of eligible and healthy players, rather than a list of players who won't be able to participate.

Sankey said there won't be any changes for the 2018 season, but all but predicted it in the future.

"I expect … the change in sports gambling could be and will be likely the impetus for the creation of such reports in our future," he said.

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Copyright 2018 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

FRISCO, Texas — Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby cannot yet give a definitive opinion on how sports betting becoming legal in states like West Virginia sooner rather than later will affect the college athletics landscape.

But he isn't ignoring it.

College sports sit in a wait-and-see environment as the aftereffects from the United States Supreme Court's May ruling unfurls across the country. The Big 12 wants to be as proactive as possible in dealing with it, but being proactive isn't exactly that easy.

In May, the Supreme Court's ruling did away with the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which limited legal sports wagering to Nevada with a few exceptions. Prior to that ruling, the West Virginia Legislature passed a law legalizing sports wagering in the state, dependent upon that decision.

West Virginia's casinos hope to be ready by football season. Other states aren't as far along in the process, and Bowlsby is concerned the laws could lack uniformity.

"Are we really going to end up with 50 states that all have different laws on legalized gambling?" He asked, at Monday's Big 12 media days. "What do we end up with if a couple of our states in the Big 12 footprint have legalized gambling and three others don't? What do you end up with if some say you can bet on professional sports but you can't bet on high school and college sports?"

"It's just taking a while to settle in," he added, "and, frankly, I don't know how it's going to turn out."

Football coaches don't know, either, but they're ready to take care of it once the landscape becomes clearer. External distractions are among college coaches' most hated things. Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said he isn't sure how it will affect his players, but he is sure the new rules will.

Education, he said, is key.

"I think the distraction piece, it's like anything else that's out there right now," Campbell said. "Certainly, when you deal with 18-to-22-year-olds, it's about being educated on how topics can affect their lives."

"So when this rule goes into play, it'll be something that impacts and affects their lives. It's our job as educators to educate them."

The conference already is proactive with sports wagering. It works with a consultant group that helps the Big 12 examine when lines move abruptly or when an unusual amount of money is wagered on a particular game. The last thing the conference wants, Bowlsby said, are point-shaving or officiating issues.

Otherwise, he said, mainstream gambling has permeated the culture in other countries. Go to an English Premier League match, and there's a betting kiosk right next to the concession stand.

"It's hard to imagine that we're going to get there with college and universities," Bowlsby said, "but there is some enabling legislation out there that would permit a very far afield outcome from what we have experienced in the past."

The gambling issue brought up another topic uniform injury reports. The NFL releases one each week. The ACC has an injury report system as well, designated if players are probable, questionable, doubtful or out.

The Big 12, as well as other conferences, leave reporting of injuries to the discretion of the individual coaches. Some coaches are more forthcoming. Others are dead silent when it comes to breaks, bumps and bruises.

Bowlsby has seen what other conferences have and haven't done, but said the Big 12 is still exploring options.

"The FERPA and HIPAA considerations are substantial," Bowlsby said. "We haven't chosen to do it because we want to get some answers relative to the student records and the like. But my sense is that there's going to be a human cry for that to happen and as long as we don't get too far into the specifics of what the injury is and what kind of medication they may be taking and what the duration is and those kinds of things, but some sort of simple system may work."

Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury who said sports betting wasn't an issue for him as a Texas Tech quarterback and he didn't think it would be an issue now wouldn't be against a weekly injury report.

"I'd be fine with it," Kingsbury said. "That's not a big deal for me. I don't have a thought either way. We're not a big hide-and-go-seek team."

He did, however, get a kick out of the thought of his old Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach, now at Washington State, getting to issue an injury report.

"If that passes," Kingsbury said with a smile, "good luck getting a real one from him."

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

 

ATLANTA — "Howdy!" Jimbo Fisher greeted the room as he stepped onto the podium. There was silence from the crowd.

"If y'all didn't know, you're supposed to say howdy back," he said. "That's a Texas A&M thing."

Another Texas A&M thing is to win, and win a lot. Fisher is getting paid way too much money not to.

The numbers boggle the mind. Fisher landed a 10-year, $75 million contract to leave Florida State — where he won a national championship — to become the head football coach at College Station. What makes the number even more absurd is every cent is guaranteed, meaning Fisher will get $75 million whether he wins another championship or doesn't fare any better than the 51-27 that predecessor Kevin Sumlin did.

"I kinda like it. With the new contract (SEC Network host Paul Finebaum) signed, I might be the second highest-paid guy in the league," Fisher said jokingly. "If I didn't think we could win national championships, I wouldn't have came."

Texas A&M has made it clear it wants that, and soon. The money-printing factory in the SEC's Western outpost even hinted that it could have given Fisher more years and money.

Fisher said he's ready for the challenge. Frankly, there's no reason Texas A&M shouldn't be better than it is. In the football hotbed of America, able to build facilities and keep tapping an endless well of cash, the Aggies should be miles ahead of the three 8-5 seasons and one 7-6 they've turned in the last four years.

Yet after that initial 11-2 season in the SEC, reality set in. A&M plays in the toughest division of the toughest league in the country. The Aggies have to play Alabama and Auburn every year, and they still haven't beaten LSU since joining the SEC despite LSU being rather ordinary lately.

That's why A&M aimed high, targeting one of just four active coaches to win a national championship, and got its man. Fisher has the guaranteed money, true, but also knows he can't relax under the golden parachute that $75 million buys.

A&M asserted that, handing him a plaque that congratulated on him winning the "20-- NCAA Division I Football National Championship." The blank spaces are for him to fill in.

"We know he's a great coach. He's won a championship before," defensive lineman Kingsley Keke said. "Everyone on the team is excited about it. We're all loving what he's done so far and we're buying into everything he tells us to do."

The money overshadows anything Fisher may accomplish. If he wins 11 games this season, well, he's getting paid to do that, so congratulations and when will he win 12? He wins anything less than 10, people will question why he is getting paid $7.5 million for that.

Fisher cast all of that aside, saying it isn't about money.

"When I coached this game at Samford University, making less than $15,000 as offensive coordinator, I didn't do it for the money then, don't do it for the money now," he said. "Long as I'm putting my name on something, no matter what I'm getting paid, we're going to try to be the best we can be."

The best he can be may not be good enough. Fisher may not feel money is the name of the game, but Texas A&M made it so and expects to win that game, plus plenty of others.

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Copyright 2018 The Evansville Courier Co.
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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

The NCAA announced Monday that Indianapolis will host the 2026 Men's Basketball Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium. It will be the ninth time the city will host the event, including 2021. The 2026 event will take place April 4 and 6.

The nine Men's Final Fours in Indianapolis would be second only to the 10 hosted in Kansas City. Indianapolis hosted the Men's Final Four in 1980 at Market Square Arena, 1991, '97, 2000 and 2006 at the RCA Dome, and 2010 and '15 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The NCAA also announced that Houston (2023), Phoenix (2024) and San Antonio (2025) will also host Final Fours.

"We're just a great host city from an infrastructure standpoint," Indiana Sports Corp President Ryan Vaughn said. "We've got great hotel partners, great convention center. Unbelievable stadium."

Vaughn also mentioned how great the volunteers were in 2015 and he said that's what makes Indianapolis's bid successful.

"One of the key things that we're always mindful of, especially when you're competing to host an event for the ninth time, is that you never take it for granted," Vaughn said. "You're always trying to add some innovation to the event because we want to be a value add to the event just like we know the event is a value add to the community."

Vaughn said technology will be one major area where they will look to innovate for 2026.

The event will be hosted by the Horizon League and IUPUI. Indianapolis also bid on the 2024 Final Four.

The Final Four is just one of many NCAA Tournament events Indiana will host in upcoming years.

Terre Haute will host the Division I regional for men's and women's cross-country in 2018 and 2020, along with hosting the Division I championships in 2019. Evansville will host the Division 1 regional in 2021 for men's and women's cross country. Bloomington will host the men's and women's track and field Division 1 regional in 2022.

From 2019 to 2021, Indiana will also host NCAA tournament events for women's rowing and golf, men's swimming, golf and lacrosse.

Indianapolis serves as the annual backup site for the Final Four.

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Copyright 2018 Independent Publishing Company
All Rights Reserved

Anderson Independent-Mail (South Carolina)



Judy Van Horn is not shy about answering calls from numbers she does not recognize. She braves the danger of possibly engaging a telemarketer, knowing those unfamiliar area codes could belong to the next great coach or athletic director.

Van Horn is the executive associate athletic director for sport and risk management and senior women's administrator at the University of South Carolina. She also serves as the athletic department's Title IX deputy coordinator and liaison to the university Office of Equal Opportunity Program. She previously chaired the NCAA Inclusion Subcommittee.

Yet, outside of her litany of official duties, Van Horn also freely offers advice, guidance and her phone number to young women pursuing careers in sports. She employs her open line policy in formal networking events and impromptu chats in airport terminals.

"I just make myself available," Van Horn said. "It's important to mentor women as much as possible, just encouraging them to be willing to take on new opportunities and be adventurous in growing their career."

Van Horn contended that active and accessible mentorship is one way to rectify the dearth of women coaches in college athletics. In February, the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota, in conjunction with the Alliance of Women Coaches, reported that merely 20 percent of all college coaching positions are held by women.

The organizations released a review of women's sports coaches at 86 major NCAA Division I programs for the 2017-18 academic year. Women held 41.5 percent of the 970 coaching positions reviewed.

Researchers awarded a letter grade to each of the 86 schools. South Carolina and Clemson University received Cs. Each school reported a 50-50 split between male and female coaches for women's sports. Merely 19 of the 86 schools reported more female than male coaches in their women's programs.

"We want to stimulate a national conversation and hold decision makers accountable for their hiring practices," said Dr. Nicole LaVoi, co-director of the Tucker Center, who has compiled this report for six years.

The percentage of female coaches has increased slightly in each of the last four years, but according to LaVoi, 41.5 percent is still far from a sufficient and acceptable mark. The 86 schools included in the study recorded 91 coaching hires for women's sports in the last academic year. More than 60 percent of those openings were filled by men. In 42 of those instances, a male coach was replaced by another male coach.

"There are a lot of amazing, qualified women coaches who need to be given the opportunity to do what they love," LaVoi said. "Women get blamed for the lack of women in coaching. (Critics) say 'Women don't apply' or 'Women don't want to coach,' but they don't look at the structure and the system within the organizations that makes it more difficult for women to succeed and thrive."

South Carolina increased its female to male coach ratio from 5-to-7 the previous year to 6-to-6. Clemson improved percentage wise from 4-to-5 with the elimination of the diving program. Two Atlantic Coast Conference schools- Miami (60 percent) and Florida State (54.5 percent)- are rated higher than Clemson. Duke and Wake Forest also have a 50-50 split between male and female coaches.

Tennessee (58.3 percent) is the only Southeastern Conference school rated higher than South Carolina. Ten of the remaining 12 SEC schools received a D or F.

"Athletics is a little behind the times," LaVoi said. "In most other workplaces, diversity and gender balance is sought after and valued. Women face many more barriers and impediments to entering and staying in the coaching profession than do men. We need to really look at the organizational culture of many athletic departments that make women feel as if they're not valued and supported."

According to Clemson senior associate athletic director and senior women's administrator Stephanie Ellison, many universities hire external evaluators to assess gender equality in all aspects of the athletic department, including personnel, salaries, team travel, facilities and equipment. An additional measure she stressed was a duty of mentorship. She argued that all athletic leaders should adopt an open line policy.

"I personally would not be where I am today without the encouragement and guidance I received from my mentors," Ellison said. "We are privileged enough to interact with young women daily. We need to guide them and help develop their skill sets, when they are with us, in order to be successful within whatever area of athletics they select."

Van Horn asserted that such equality initiatives and safeguards are intended to nurture a diverse, cooperative workforce that reflects the diverse composition of the students it serves. She insisted that those measures are never intended to provide an undue crutch or compromise the integrity of a job search.

"It's important that our students see people who look like them, whether it's in coaching or administration or in the faculty. It matters. It's inspirational to see somebody you can identify with in a place you want to be at some point in your career," Van Horn said. "If you're filling a position, you want to hire the best, regardless of gender or ethnicity, but at the same time, you want to develop a diverse environment. It's possible. It's doable.

"We can have a group of diverse individuals, and they can all be rowing in the same direction. They can all have a common motivation, a common goal, and find that in so doing, we are able to accomplish great things together. We all see life through our own prism, and the only way to broaden our vision is to make sure we have people who bring different perspectives."


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Copyright 2018 Newsday LLC

Newsday (New York)

 

Garden City officials are to unveil Tuesday potential plans for the development of the St. Paul's School and seek community feedback on a proposal that would house a hockey rink and a soccer field inside the historic four-story building.

Mayor Brian Daughney said releasing the plans is just the first stage and the board of trustees wants to hear from residents. The village bought the vacant 180,000-square-foot building and surrounding 48 acres from the Episcopal Diocese in 1993.

"We did not want this going into private development hands to become whatever, a thousand development homes," Daughney said. "This village has been trying to figure out what to do with the building since then, if anything."

The Ruskinian Gothic-style building was built between 1871 and 1883 and features a clock and bell tour and stained glass windows. Its grounds are currently athletic fields used for village programs and some buildings are still in use by the village recreation department.

Daughney and Trustee Louis Minuto said residents have asked for more indoor recreational space in the village. Others also want the structure to be preserved.

"You've got this architectural treasure, really, and what do you do with it?" Minuto said.

In addition to the indoor hockey rink and the covered soccer field above it, initial renderings show a "flexible" space that could be used as a performance center or educational space, officials said.

The current structure is E-shaped. The current proposal would take part of the E and enclose the building to make it into a rectangle, while preserving the original entryway and other parts.

"The building is beautiful from the outside but it is deceiving," said Carlos Cardoso, director of construction administration at the Manhattan-based Beyer Blinder Belle architecture firm involved in the project. "How do we weave the history of St. Paul's and Garden City into this fabric with a modern component?"

Tuesday's community forum is to be held at 7 p.m. at the Garden City Casino at 51 Cathedral Ave. Another presentation will be there on July 26 and others will be scheduled in the future.

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

WASHINGTON — Mike Trout wears a C-flap. Bryce Harper does, too. They're among 10 players in Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game who wear attachments to their batting helmets that are designed to protect a batter's cheek and jaw.

But your Little Leaguer likely can't wear one, and the reason is a whole other kind of flap.

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment says add-ons to athletic helmets potentially void manufacturer safety certifications. Amateur baseball governing bodies by and large abide by NOCSAE standards. That means their players are effectively forbidden from flapping.

Wait, Little Leaguers largely can't wear this added piece of safety equipment in the name of — safety?

"That's about the size of it," says Herb Markwort, president and CEO of Markwort Sporting Goods, the small St. Louis-based company that manufactures C-Flaps. "With the legal atmosphere, Little League and Pony League and high schools and even the NCAA don't want to be liable if they don't adhere to the so-called NOCSAE rules and certifications."

NOCSAE, an independent nonprofit, says add-ons to helmets mean they are no longer identical to the ones originally certified by manufacturers, potentially voiding safety certifications.

And C-Flaps require drilling holes in helmets for three screws.

Robert Crow, a retired plastic and reconstructive surgeon, is the Abner Doubleday of the C-Flap. He cooked up the first one in his kitchen when he was a team doctor for the Atlanta Braves decades ago.

"I got some orthoplast, which is a splint material, from my orthopedic colleagues and started playing with a guard in my wife's frying pan," Crow says, "until one night I came up with a prototype."

Crow had found that players who'd been beaned in the face didn't like the bulky protective devices available for them to wear when coming back from injury. So he wanted to come up with a device that offered protection without impeding vision. He worked up a mold and had it tested at a lab at Wayne State University in Detroit. Then he worked on it some more.

Crow had players test it at spring training and by the mid-1980s felt he'd perfected it with a tough polycarbonate material. He got a patent in 1987 and called his device a C-Flap — for himself and for a part of the body his device protects. That's C as in Crow, and C as in cheek.

Crow doesn't remember which MLB player used it first in a game, but Oakland Athletics catcher Terry Steinbach was among the early adopters. The C-Flap's coming-out party was the 1988 All-Star Game, when Steinbach hit a home run off New York Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden.

For most of the decades since, players wore C-Flaps when coming back from injury. That's why Steinbach wore it 30 years ago.

But in recent seasons, more and more players are wearing them to protect against getting hit in the face in the first place. That's the case for Trout and Harper and the Milwaukee Brewers, who provide C-Flaps for the players in their farm system.

Markwort Sporting Goods, a family business that started with tennis equipment in 1931, bought out Crow in 2004. "We'd been buying C-Flaps from Dr. Crow so it made sense for us," Markwort says. "But it wasn't really a big seller for us for a long time."

Markwort says for years C-Flaps made up about 1 percent of his company's sales but that over the last three years sales have risen steadily to about 15 percent of the business. He says they are popular in South Korea, where he says they're called "gladiator guards." Markwort thinks the tipping point for the surge in sales came in 2014, when Giancarlo Stanton got hit in the face and suffered multiple facial fractures and dental damage.

Rawlings, the sports equipment manufacturer founded in 1887 — 100 years before Crow got his patent — is MLB's exclusive supplier of baseballs and helmets. Rawlings currently buys C-Flaps from Markwort Sporting Goods and attaches them to helmets for players in the major and minor leagues who want them.

Guess who else wants them? Kids who see their heroes wearing them, of course. And that might happen soon.

Mike Thompson, Rawlings' executive vice president for marketing, says the company is preparing to introduce a helmet model next month. The Mach Helmet, he says, will come with flaps preassembled. Another version, he says, will come with a helmet predrilled for what the company calls the R-Flap, as in Rawlings. He believes both versions will pass muster with NOCSAE.

"We're going to have the 'Good Housekeeping' seal of approval," Thompson says.

Crow says he's OK with a version called the R-Flap. "I can't tell them what to do or not to do," he says. "My patent ran its course and expired."

Crow says he'll watch the All-Star Game on TV. So what will he be thinking when he sees 10 All-Stars wearing the flap he first fashioned in a frying pan?

"Hopefully none of the guys get hit," Crow says, "but if they do, that it does its job."

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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)

 

WASHINGTON - Scott Boras stood over the left shoulder of J.D. Martinez on Monday afternoon, the prominent baseball agent watching intently as the Red Sox outfielder and one of his star clients took questions.

The concourse full of cameras and other media personnel at Nationals Park suggested excitement in the air. For these two days at least, baseball can put to the side some of the ills that continue a steady assault on the game itself.

Friday begins the revival of what by now has become a spectrum of complaints. Decreased attendance, competitive imbalance, a lack of action on the field and extended game times continue to drag down the return at the box office, with

patrons filing through the turnstiles six percent less frequently than in 2017.

"It's one of those things where that's the new trend in baseball," Martinez said. "Apparently they're okay with it. It's sad in my opinion, but I really can't do much about it. I totally understand what you're saying."

It's a conversation most players hope to avoid, but a situation they can tacitly acknowledge when gently prodded to peel back the curtain. To be fair, Martinez and Boston don't share most of those concerns.

Red Sox ratings on NESN have been strong in 2018, tripling and quadrupling the Celtics and Bruins, and all seven games of the Fenway Park homestand into the All-Star break were sold out.

That can't erase the decision made by several clubs opting to stash their money away and rebuild their sagging rosters through the draft and international signings. The sport's middle class has largely gone missing as a result, with seven teams having won at least 55 games and seven teams having lost at least 55 as of Monday.

The Red Sox (68-30), Yankees (62-33) and Astros (64-35) each sit at least 29 games over .500, while the Orioles (28-69), White Sox (33-62) and Royals (27-68) have all but thrown in the towel on 2018.

"Now it seems like there are a lot more teams on the other side of it," Martinez said. "That's a situation that has to get addressed."

Martinez emerged as a force with the Tigers in 2014, hitting 23 home runs and becoming a lineup staple for the American League Central champions. Detroit counted four Cy Young Award winners in its rotation by season's end, sending Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer and David Price to the mound every fifth night.

None of those four starters remain with the Tigers, as Verlander was the final holdout before the trade that sent him to defending World Series champion Houston late in 2017.

"Guys ask me that all that time, 'How did you guys not win?' " Martinez said. "I don't know. That's baseball. We had four Cy Young winners as our starters, and the lineup that we had was disgusting."

Detroit's payroll now ranks 17th overall at $149.8 million, slightly below the league average of $150.65 million. First baseman Miguel Cabrera and starting pitcher Jordan Zimmerman are the only two players signed past this season, with three others set for free agency and 13 more eligible for arbitration.

The Tigers have just $69 million committed for 2019, placing them squarely among the majority of franchises who would rather bottom out and amass draft capital than spend a small fortune to lose in or before the October postseason.

April saw the wrong kind of history made, with fewer hits recorded (6,003) than strikeouts (6,392). Power pitchers from starters to bullpen arms and an emphasis on hitting home runs have combined to stifle batters in both leagues.

The game's owners have renewed their push to utilize the designated hitter across all 30 teams, taking the bats from the hands of National League pitchers and those in the American League forced to the plate during interleague play.

"For me, unless I'm bunting, it's just a completely useless at-bat," Houston starting pitcher Charlie Morton said. "I think the game improves when you have professional hitters against professional pitchers. I think that's what people want to see."

Boston manager Alex Cora sees an opportunity to move the game in a different direction. More aggressive marketing of multitalented players like Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, Angels outfielder Mike Trout and more could return some of the appeal.

Betts and Trout are both dynamic talents capable of hitting, running and throwing their way into nightly highlight packages throughout the country.

"Somebody asked me if we're out of the norm because our guys are smaller - it seems like the small guys are performing now," Cora said Saturday. "Jose Ramirez (Cleveland), Francisco Lindor (Cleveland), Mookie Betts, Jose Altuve (Houston) - it seems like athletic guys are dominating the game."

"Probably get (the ball) on the ground and use my speed," Betts said Monday, when asked how raw tools that have produced 25 home runs, 23 doubles and a league-best .691 slugging percentage would have been utilized a decade or two ago. "Times have changed."

@BillKoch25

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

 

ATLANTA — When the Southeastern Conference commissioner steps to the microphone at the annual Football Media Days — regardless of whether they're in downtown Atlanta or in a Birmingham suburb — you can expect some pompoms on the circumstances.

It may be billed as the state of the conference, but Greg Sankey, like Mike Slive before him and Roy Kramer before him, is happy to focus on the great of the conference.

SEC Media Days have become the CiCi's Pizza of college football. It seems like a great idea because you are starving for something you love. When you get there, you are ready — fork or pompom in hand — to devour everything in sight. Meat lover's pizza. Jumbo Fisher coach-speak. Breadsticks. Ed Orgeron mumbling. Bad salad. The lesser Stoops.

So we saddled up for the noontime state of the union of the conference we love, we hate and we love that everyone including Danny Kanell loves to hate.

Sankey, as has become tradition, listed the national champions from the teams in the SEC. He praised the community service of the athletes of the teams in the SEC. He referenced examples of pleasing changes from the last year incorporated by the leaders of the teams in the SEC.

Proving there's plenty of money for the aesthetics of athletics, Sankey said there will be added replays and added officials in various sports and time clocks for TV commercial breaks for football.

There's an SEC channel on Sirius-XM up and running, and the SEC Network is available in 130 countries. Even a shoutout to Paul Finebaum, who signed a contract extension.

You get the idea.

And that's OK. If you are not going to trumpet your success, who will? (Other than the hundreds of us yahoos huddled around Fisher singing the empty praises of Jameis Winston and Stoops saying he and his program are tired of 'coming close' at Kentucky.)

But for Sankey, there needs to be more than the annual classic rock jokes — this year it was a Tom Petty reference — from a league that is happy to share the details of its athletic success.

He addressed the one issue on which the league has taken a stand, albeit a late one following similar decisions from some of the other high-profile conferences.

"The SEC continued its leadership position when our membership in Destin voted unanimously to expand the conference's serious misconduct rule to apply to all incoming student-athletes," Sankey said, "establishing clear expectations for young people seeking to participate in intercollegiate athletics on an SEC campus be they incoming freshmen or transfer student-athletes."

Cool, and that's a good step.

But it's only a step if there's another and another and another. And for a league as strong and as in demand as the SEC, those steps should be made confidently and quickly.

"I commend the league for taking a stance on domestic violence, because it is a scourge on our society and our young people," former SEC coach and current Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year committee president Bill Curry said Monday on "Press Row" on Chattanooga's ESPN 105.1 the Zone. "I guarantee you it will help at least one young person make a better decision because of the impact it could have on his future and his ability to play in the SEC.

"But is that enough? I think the league has a chance to be at the front in ways that could help all of college athletics. Uniformity in drug rules and recruiting rules and... I think the SEC is moving in that direction."

Sankey acknowledged that the gambling question is coming to college football sooner rather than later. It will be compounded that state laws will be different across the 11-state footprint of the league and how the league and schools will split revenue starting as soon as potentially this year, since Mississippi already has legalized sports betting.

The SEC has made a positive first step, but the future of the league — and potentially of college sports in general — could and almost assuredly would be improved with more uniformity, especially since the NCAA is somewhere between the three blind mice and the three "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" monkeys.

Think of the things that need to be fixed in college sports. Sure, the league's schools have myriad issues with different outcomes depending on the standards of each school, be it drug-testing or policies on arrests or truly and effectively dealing with concussions.

"The importance of integrity in college athletics is underscored by what has transpired in college basketball over the past 12 months," Sankey said referring to the FBI investigations and scandals.

When addressing the gambling issues, Sankey said plainly, "The integrity of our games is of the utmost importance."

So, too, should be direction for a league that is happy to promote how much it finishes on top.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com and 423-757-6343.

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Several suburban athletes with and without disabilities - but all with a high level of soccer skill - will take to Toyota Park this week to compete in a first-of-its kind international tournament.

The inaugural Special Olympics Unified Cup from Tuesday through Friday in Bridgeview involves 24 men's and women's teams from 21 nations, all aiming to be the first champion in the event designed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics.

The final matches are set to be aired live at 7 p.m. July 20 on ESPN2.

Special Olympics athletes and peer partners from Aurora, Naperville, Schaumburg and Vernon Hills are among the members of two Illinois-based teams representing the United States, along with teams from Texas and the Kansas City area.

"This is a big deal for a lot of people," said Aurora Special Olympian Ryan McDonough, a 21-year-old who has autism and is a student in Indian Prairie Unit District 204. "Normally we don't get this opportunity. To play France, for instance - it's a big deal."

McDonough's team, the USA Red men's squad, also is set to square off with Uruguay and Bangladesh.

"We're playing countries from every corner of the world," said 18-year-old peer partner Ethan Harvey of Naperville, who plans to play soccer next year at High Point University in North Carolina. "It's really cool, and hopefully we'll get to see different styles of play from these countries."

The style of soccer in the Unified Cup will mirror professional play. Teams will field 11 players at a time and will lodge together at downtown Chicago hotels between games, traveling, acting and competing as if they were in the World Cup itself.

"It's definitely different than normal soccer," Harvey said about playing with Special Olympians who have intellectual disabilities. "But it's surprising because the competition and the work ethic does not drop. These Special Olympians are tremendous athletes and tremendous people. They try super hard."

The top-tier competition is exactly what draws Special Olympians such as McDonough to Unified play.

Members of the USA Red team also play on the Chicago Fire Unified All Stars team, which practices monthly and competes against Unified squads in other cities where the region's Major League Soccer team goes for games.

"This allows for more of a high-level competition," said McDonough's mom, Janine. "And that's what he loves is that competition."

Michael Brennan, a 19-year-old peer partner from Naperville, said he enjoys playing with McDonough, giving him pointers and learning from his attitude. "He's a great player and has a great smile," Brennan said. "He's always positive on the field."

The main difference between regular soccer and Unified play, peer partners say, is the communication. In Unified play with Special Olympians, Brennan said athletes need to be as overt as possible with their directions.

"You have to say their name when you're going to pass them the ball and be to the point," he said. "Like, 'Ryan. Ball. Here it comes.' And it just works out."

The best part comes when Special Olympians get the glory, peer partners say.

"It's great to see people with disabilities succeed," Brennan said. "To be on the field with them and to give them a sweet pass, see them score and see them smile is like the best feeling ever."

McDonough, an ambassador for Special Olympics who takes classes at the College of DuPage and works at Game Stop, said his play with the Unified team has boosted more than his athleticism as a midfielder and backup goalie.

"It's helped me build my confidence more and I'm able to overcome my disability," he said. "I love the feel of it. Being able to communicate with my teammates and have a good time."

Suburban soccer players preparing for the Unified Cup say this is the opportunity of a lifetime to represent their nation with no nerves - just enthusiastic competition.

"It doesn't faze him," McDonough's mother said. "He just wants to go out and play."

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

 

Site plans for a proposed sports complex and microbrewery at a nearly vacant Wheatfield shopping center could be reviewed by the town Planning Board in August or September, said Jonathan E. Bennett, a Lockport architect working on the Summit project.

Plans for the Williams Road site, once called the Summit Park Mall, have lagged because of financial and other issues.

In fact, a tax break for the sports complex, approved in April 2017 by the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, is no longer valid and the mall owner would have to reapply, according to NCIDA Executive Director Susan C. Langdon.

Cynthia L. Potts, mall operations manager, said owner Zoran Cocov of Brampton, Ont., has not made a decision on reapplying for incentives for the sports complex.

Plans have changed for the sports complex. The original plan for two 96,000-square-foot buildings with inflatable roofs has been replaced by a plan for two metal field houses. They would be the same size as the domes were supposed to be: 400 by 240 feet, each 35 feet high at the eaves and 75 feet high at the peak of the roof.

Metal buildings are a better choice, because they are "more practical buildings to use," Bennett said.

Two-thirds of the space in the sports buildings will be devoted to artificial turf fields suitable for soccer, lacrosse and other team sports. There also would be three or four hardwood basketball courts.

Bennett said the project also calls for two outdoor baseball diamonds on land southeast of the mall. The field houses would be attached to the rear of the mall.

The cost estimate for the sports domes was $7.3 million. Potts said there is no official estimate yet for the cost of the metal field houses.

On the front side of the building, the former Save-a-Lot store would be the site for Big Thunder Brewing Co. and its brew pub. Bennett said the plans also call for an outdoor bar beside four outdoor volleyball courts.

The $2.67 million brewery project was to be funded chiefly through a bank loan and the investors' own money.

Cocov bought the mall and 570 acres of land in 2014 and obtained a tax break for a $17 million rescue plan.

After most of the stores closed, the mall was heavily vandalized, with copper pipes removed, causing flooding in the 810,000-square-foot building. Sears, which owned its own space in the mall, currently is having a going-out-of-business sale.

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

 

WORCESTER - The district's new middle school sports program debuting this coming school year is starting to take shape over the summer break.

Made possible by a late $70,000 transfer in the school system's fiscal 2019 operating budget last month, middle school athletics are tentatively set to start out with boys and girls volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball/softball in the spring, according to school officials. Those sports were determined through a survey, as well as based on available seasonal facility and field space.

The teams, which will represent the district's four middle schools and seventh- and eighth-graders at University Park Campus School and Claremont Academy, are slated to compete in inter-district play starting out. But Worcester's teams also could take on other school systems in the region in the future, said the district's athletic director, David Shea.

"We just want to get things moving" this year, he said. "We know having kids involved in after-school sports is so beneficial for them - we're excited about this."

The push to bring back organized athletics at the middle school level began in earnest two months ago, when community leaders urged the School Committee to consider the idea. Committee members immediately gave their support, and asked the district's administration to quickly put together a budget proposal in time for last month's fiscal 2019 school budget vote.

Since then, an advisory committee made up of school and city leaders has been working out the specifics of the middle school sports program, as well as planning its future sustainability. The panel has been looking into the possibility of securing team sponsorships, either

from businesses, colleges, or some other organization, and raising private money in general for the program.

"I just don't want what's happened in the past, where we have programs but then they get cut because of lack of funding," said Worcester School Committee member John Monfredo, who is on the advisory committee.

Mr. Monfredo said he helped set up a public-private softball team at Forest Grove Middle School last year, for example, that he said was successful, and a possible model for the district-wide middle school sports program. In the case of the Forest Grove team, all the outside help that was really needed was donations of uniforms and equipment, he said, as well as funding to hire umpires.

Former City Councilor Tony Economou, who is also on the planning committee, said a possible idea is to create a special account for the new middle school sports league that would hold privately raised money. That mechanism, he added, could help ensure the program "isn't held hostage by the (district) budget process" each year.

In the meantime, the $70,000 set aside in the budget for the initiative for the 2018-19 school year will be enough to cover coaches' salaries for the year, according to the district administration.

Worcester school Superintendent Maureen Binienda said the inaugural year of middle school sports will help determine the viability of maintaining the program in future years as well.

"Of course you'd like to expand it," she said. But there are still unresolved questions surrounding the logistics of the initiative "that we have to figure out now."

Mr. Shea, who said interest in the new league is high enough so far that team tryouts will likely be needed, was optimistic about the program's future, however.

"Hopefully this will grow into other sports coming into play" at the middle schools over the next few years, he said.

Contact Scott O'Connell at Scott.O'Connell@telegram.com Follow him on Twitter @ScottOConnellTG

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USA TODAY

 

Soccer's month-long extravaganza of international fun ended Sunday, but the conclusion of the World Cup didn't call time on the game's summer action.

There is no rest for the wickedly good when it comes to soccer, with packed club seasons leading right into the World Cup and the World Cup feeding into a dizzying mass of preseason games.

Fortunately for American fans burned by the absence of the national team from Russia, some of best buildup ahead of the new European club campaign will take place in the USA.

"There won't be a lot of rest for these guys," England coach Gareth Southgate said after his team lost its third-place playoff to Belgium. "That is part of being a top player, and you have to try to manage it."

The American market has become a magnet for many of Europe's finest clubs, and the International Champions Cup, a preseason tournament boasting some of the biggest names in the game, kicks off at Chicago's Soldier Field on Friday.

Eighteen teams will play three games for a total of 27 matches, 17 of which will be played in American stadiums, mainly the kind of giant venues usually reserved for college football or the NFL.

The organizers are at the whim of the coaches in terms of who plays on any given day, but previous evidence suggests the games are seen as a solid opportunity to get their superstars into shape.

It is hard to argue with the quality of the tournament field. The American portion of the ICC will feature Champions League finalists Real Madrid and Liverpool, plus the league champions of England, Spain, Italy and Germany (Manchester City, Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich). Add Manchester United and AC Milan to that list, and you can start to see why the ICC is into its sixth year and counting.

"Top players, we are busy," Cristiano Ronaldo said, describing the workload the modern performer must shoulder.

The extent of Ronaldo's involvement in the ICC will soon become clearer, and there remains the tantalizing possibility that Juventus' new signing could face off against former team Real Madrid on Aug. 4.

Players eliminated in the group stage, Round of 16 or quarterfinals of the World Cup are more likely to feature heavily in the ICC than those who made it to the semifinals.

Regardless, the ICC has proved to be a popular diversion for players, with visiting coaches often extolling the virtues of lavish American training facilities, many basing themselves at major colleges.

There is no need to pretend the ICC is something it isn't. Ultimately, these are preseason games, and there are still cobwebs to be shaken out for players who weren't part of their nation's World Cup squad.

"I'll be raring to go," American Christian Pulisic told USA TODAY recently. "I didn't want to have the summer off."

Pulisic's Borussia Dortmund is around for three games, one of which is that Friday opener against Manchester City in Chicago.

There will be some intriguing culture clashes, too. Two teams synonymous with "red" will play at a place that's usually a sea of blue. Manchester United and Liverpool could break an American soccer attendance record on July 28 when they meet at Michigan's "Big House."

Different clubs have different requirements for what they want from preseason. Some might look to give as much of their squad playing time as possible. Others will focus on getting their key members into optimum shape. For example, Ronaldo is 33, but Juventus will surely be keen to get its new star on display to maximize the impact of one of the most surprising moves of recent times.

The most tired legs will surely come from representatives of France, Croatia, Belgium and England, with each of those nations playing seven World Cup games.

England's Harry Kane is an avowed lover of American culture and its traditional sports, and the chance to play AC Milan at Minneapolis' US Bank Stadium, site of the most recent Super Bowl, might tempt him to try to make an appearance in Tottenham's third game. Kane has spoken often of becoming an NFL kicker at the end of his career. In the meantime, he will have to be content with the World Cup's Golden Boot award and being one of the world's most valued soccer stars.

He'll be in company over the coming weeks, and America's new soccer fans don't need to go cold turkey as soon as the World Cup ends. Soccer isn't ready to let go of its grip on summer just yet.

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Copyright 2018 Boston Herald Inc.
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The Boston Herald

 

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A northern New Jersey horse racing track has brought legal sports betting to New York City's doorstep.

The Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford began taking sports bets yesterday morning.

The track is located in the sports complex where the NFL's New York Giants and New York Jets play, about 6 miles from New York City. It's the fourth sports betting outlet in New Jersey following the state's U.S. Supreme Court victory in a case that cleared the way for all 50 states to legalize sports betting should they choose to.

"This is the beginning of a process that's going to change sports in America," said Jeff Gural, who runs the Meadowlands track. "Realistically, who watches football on a Thursday night, Jacksonville versus Cleveland, that doesn't have a bet on it?"

Former state Sen. Raymond Les­niak, whose lawsuit eight years ago against the federal government kicked off the long legal process that led to New Jersey's victory in May in the Supreme Court case, made the first bets at the Meadowlands. He doubled down on $50 bets he previously made on France to win soccer's World Cup and the Giants to win the Super Bowl.

Dan Healy drove from Brooklyn and paid $20 in tolls to make a three-team parlay bet involving the Boston Red Sox, the Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros.

"It's amazing that they're finally doing it here rather than having to hop on a plane to Vegas to do this," he said.

Monmouth Park racetrack in Oceanport, near the Jersey shore, and the Borgata and Ocean Resort casinos in Atlantic City already offered sport betting. Those outlets took in $16.4 million in sports bets in the first two weeks it was legal.

But the Meadowlands is seen as more potentially lucrative.

"There are 12 million people who live within 20 minutes of this place," Gural said. "I think this could be big."

Industry executives say the real money will start flowing once sports bets are taken online. No one has received approval from New Jersey regulators to offer sports betting over the internet, but numerous casinos are expected to try to do so before football season begins in September.

Atlantic City's Hard Rock casino is seeking to offer sports betting at its brick-and-mortar facility.

FanDuel Group, which began as a daily fantasy sports company, operates the sports book at the Meadowlands track.

Matt King, the company's CEO, said the partnership aims to be the marquee sports betting operation in America.

"The way people interact with sports is changing," he said. "We are on the cusp of something transformational."

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Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)

 

The obsession with winning and being the best is killing youth sports.

The obsession with publicizing youth sports successes exaggerates this obsession even further and forces parents into FOMO (Fear of Missing Out - my previous column) and unrealistic parental expectations. We need to bring back the fun and focus on development, quit worrying about winning and "keeping up with the Joneses" and stop publicly boasting about our kids' youth sports successes.

We are causing kids, parents and families to attach their identity and self-esteem to their youth sport achievement.

I beg publications like the Telegraph Herald to please don't publish the success of a youth sports team or individuals. Doing so puts added pressure on kids who have yet to really accomplish anything.

It puts added pressure on parents, too, as they live in a state of FOMO when they see only the successes of other kids. They probably did well in a tournament or meet that was exclusive & only exclusive because it probably cost hundreds of dollars to enter, not to mention the time and expense of travel. Further, some ego driven parent or club representative had to call this into the paper to get it published.

Just saying, but even our local paper doesn't send a reporter to cover youth sports.

Social media cranks up the pressure even more. It seems everyone is posting pictures their kid's team wearing a first-place medal. I don't see many posts about kids getting last place in a tournament, but the kids got better and had fun.

Society has made it all about winning. The pressure is cranked up for these kids for the rest of their career and there is pressure on the parents to dedicate even more time and resources for their kids to be the "best."

If they don't win every event, are they a failure?

And don't get me started about rankings. I recently had a conversation with a kid I know who told me his U10 baseball team was playing the No. 2 team in the state this weekend. I could not help but laugh. Who is ranking U10 teams? Who is looking this up and then telling their 10-year-old this information? The kids aren't ranking teams, so it has to be some obsessed parents or coaches who are in charge & and people actually check the rankings like they really mean something!

I don't know many young children who read the newspaper, and Facebook or Twitter don't allow kids under 13 to have an account. So that makes this that much more disturbing, as all of this seems to be more for the parents egos rather than the kids.

We need to get a grip as a society when it comes to youth sports. Can't we just post "loved watching Johnny and his teammates play the game they love today" and not add pressure to kids that are out there to have fun? Let's attach our kids' identities and self-esteem to our values and not youth sport achievement.

Dan Rothert is the head men's soccer coach, director of soccer and associate athletic director at Loras College.

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The Boston Herald

 

Vive la France!

Why not?

Vive la Revolution?

Not unless it moves to Boston.

France faces Croatia in the 2018 World Cup final today.

Meanwhile, the New England Revolution continue to generate ennui throughout Greater Boston.

More than 30,000 fans - the largest crowd of 2018 - were expected last night in Foxboro to see the local futbolers face the LA Galaxy. But a half-empty stadium, 30-something miles from Boston, and a crowd fueled by World Cup-adrenaline cannot translate to the long-awaited official arrival of the Revolution into the city's sports mainstream.

"Anything is possible," Kevin Garnett said once.

Indeed, some day, the Revolution may be a big deal in Boston.

But that will require help from the city to find a piece of land and lots and lots and lots of Robert Kraft's money. Lest we forget, Kraft is a guy who would not guarantee Danny Amendola $8.25 million for two seasons.

Among the items on any checklist before the opening of Amazon Stadium at Nickerson Field, the venue must:

• Be a privately funded, soccer-first facility.

• Contain high-end luxury boxes.

• Boast an intense in-game experience.

• Have easy access to public transportation.

• Host home games only when the Red Sox are out of town.

• Feature a team with "star power."

In Boston - "star power" means the likes of Gronk, Tom and Giselle, Big Papi and/or Ben Affleck having a piece of the action as owners - as much as it would mean the likes of a Ronaldo, Suarez or Messi on the field.

Robert Kraft needs someone not named Kraft to attach his or her name to the team - and give it the long-term promotional and media push it so desperately needs.

Here is why public money can never be committed to that process: My round-trip from Alewife to South Station on the Red Line Thursday had more delays (one) than goals scored in the Revolution's home game on July 7 (none).

The announced attendance that night was 16,484 - just slightly fewer than the number of people stranded at Park Street when the Red Line stopped … just because it felt like stopping.

The push to force-feed soccer into American sporting mainstream predates the designated hitter. Now, 40-something years later, the soccer side is finally moving the ball.

Multiple metrics point to the fact that soccer's growth in the United States is occurring among young people and in areas where there is a strong immigrant population - two areas of growth. New MLS teams are coming to Nashville, Cincinnati and Miami. And while myth says young people are tuning out sports - they're watching as often as ever - just in shorter bursts. A two-hour MLS tilt may be the perfect fit.

DC United christened its $400 million stadium Saturday night. The crown jewel of the MLS now sits at ground zero in Los Angeles, in the parking lot of the LA Coliseum. LAFC's Banc of California stadium is a privately financed, $350 million, 22,000-seat, soccer-first venue with 35 luxury suites and perks that would make Jerry Jones envious. Among the team's co-owners: Magic Johnson and Mia Hamm-Garciaparra. Perhaps you'll see LeBron James at a game or two before the start of the NBA season.

Boston is not Los Angeles. We thank our Creator and Larry Bird for that. But a similar Hollywood mindset could make the Revolution great again, er, for the first time.

Mayor Marty Walsh says talk of a new soccer stadium is "no secret."

And in order for the Revolution to catch a sniff of the passion and money generated by the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins or Celtics - the team will have to have to go big and go to Boston.

Or stay home in relative irrelevance.

Bill Speros (aka Obnoxious Boston Fan) can be reached at bsperos1@gmail.com and Tweets @RealOBF.

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

 

It's football time in Tennessee. And Alabama. And Georgia. And everywhere else in the Southeastern Conference, including Columbia, South Carolina, and Columbia, Missouri, which somehow — despite a span of 870 miles that separates the two college towns — seemed close enough to place South Carolina's Gamecocks and Missouri's Tigers in the same Eastern Division.

Not that the SEC has ever been revered as an academics-first league.

Yet its football teams are a different matter, what with one conference member or another winning six of the past 10 national championships and finishing runner-up on four occasions, including twice to SEC brothers. Put another way, going back to the first BCS title game at the close of the 1998 season and continuing through the first four College Football Playoff championships, only seven times in the past 20 years has the SEC not competed in the national championship game.

No wonder the hype, if not downright hysteria, to continue that excellence will begin anew Tuesday in Atlanta with the start of another SEC Media Days, perhaps the second biggest college football media event out there after the national championship game.

So while the rock group Panic at the Disco may not have had the SEC's football chops in mind in its latest hit "Say Amen," at least two lines from the chorus — "Mama, can I get another amen? Oh, it's Saturday night" — surely will be in the minds and on the lips of SEC fans the nation over by the first Saturday of September.

Yet while we may all look forward to the pageantry of the sport on autumn weekends throughout the South, our football temples often holding 100,000 or more — the game's outcome only slightly less important (we hope) to many in the audience than faith and family — there is a growing dark side to the sport that probably won't draw much attention at the SEC media event.

That troublesome truth is the mounting evidence of brain trauma for players at all levels of football due to head hits. Though concussion protocol is now standard operating procedure from peewee football to the NFL, last month's news that former Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilsinki was found to have evidence of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy after the 21-year-old committed suicide last winter has only heightened concern for all who play the sport.

"I was at a Kids And Pros clinic at Baylor (School) last week," Dr. Derek Worley said of the clinics conducted throughout the South on proper tackling technique by former Atlanta Falcons linebacker Buddy Curry. "If there were 120 kids there, there were 100 parents and all of them wanted to know about CTE. I think there's starting to be a lot more pressure on coaches and athletes to know and follow the (concussion) rules."

The protocol always sounds tough. A doctor has to clear a player to return. There's supposed to be no meddling. Health and safety come first.

But when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was working on an article about concussions last season, SEC members Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU and Tennessee said they did not keep records of such injuries, and Alabama declined to participate over "privacy rules."

Anyone could understand a school choosing to protect a specific athlete's privacy. But failing to supply a general number for total concussions without further details? SEC football coaches probably know how many potato chips their star running back ate for a midnight snack, but they don't have a record of how many concussions their roster suffered?

Mama, can I get another ahem?

"To be sure, some coaches and athletes are resistant to it," said Worley, who is board certified in sports medicine and has previously worked with University of Arkansas athletics. "There are still some who look at this as part of the sport, just getting your bell rung. On the other side, I think you're starting to see far more athletes realize how serious this is. More and more people are becoming aware of CTE now."

Anyone who has read anything about the Hilsinki tragedy knows no one can say for certain that hits to the head caused the promising junior with several career starts to take his own life.

As his mother, Kym, told Sports Illustrated recently: "Did football kill Tyler? I don't think so. Did he get CTE from football? Probably. Was that the only thing that attributed to his death? I don't know."

We don't know everything. We know that doctors told the Hilsinki family that Tyler had the brain of a 65-year-old. We know at least six former NFL players who committed suicide — Terry Long, Andre Waters, Shane Dronett, Dave Duerson, Junior Seau and former Atlanta Falcon Ray Easterling — later were found to have suffered from CTE.

"The most good we can do is to teach kids to lead with their chest instead of their head when they go to make a tackle," Worley said. "Changing tackling techniques is a huge key. There will never be a helmet made that will make your child concussion proof."

And while no one can say for certain what caused Hilsinki to end his own life, Worley has seen 12-year-old kids who have had at least three concussions.

Asked what those parents have said after that third one, Worley replied, "They said they didn't want (their son) to play anymore."

For the future of football at all levels, even the seemingly unbreakable SEC, those who champion the sport should hope that parental concern such as that never becomes the rule rather than the exception.

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com

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Copyright 2018 The E.W. Scripps Company
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Abilene Reporter-News (Texas)

 

Former Murray State athletic director Allen Ward will become Abilene Christian University's director of athletics, according to news reports.

Ward resigned as Murray State's athletic director on Friday, after 13 years with the Racers' program.

Adam King, a reporter at KFVS-TV in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, reported via Twitter Friday evening that Ward would be ACU's next athletic director according to unnamed sources. Other news organizations also have reported that King will be the Wildcats new AD.

ACU has scheduled a news conference to announce its new athletic director for 1 p.m. Monday at the Hunter Welcome Center.

The Wildcats' AD job opened up after Lee De León resigned on May 24 to become the executive senior athletic director and assistant vice president for development at Purdue. De León became ACU's eighth athletic director on Nov. 13, 2014, replacing Jared Mosley, who resigned in August 2014 to become president/CEO of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco. Mosley is currently an associate vice president and chief operating officer at the University of North Texas. At the time, De León was the youngest Division I AD in the country.

ACU begins its sixth season as a Division I athletic program in the Southland Conference in the fall. The Wildcats will be eligible for conference and NCAA postseason play for only the second year, after going through a four-year transition to full DI status.

Ward became Murray State's athletic director on March 30, 2005. On the Murray, Kentucky's Web site, Ward said he had two goals for Racer athletes.

"Our motto is Four Years — Two Goals," Ward said. "We strive for every student-athlete to leave Murray State with a diploma in one hand and a championship ring on the other. I fully expect our student-athletes to take advantage of the opportunity to receive a quality education while competing at the highest level of NCAA competition."

The Murray State site said since Ward's arrival, the overall Academic Progress Rate scores for the department is 984, while donor support is at an all-time high, highlighted by receipt of the largest gift in the history of the program — $3.3 million for the naming of the CFSB Center, the Racers basketball arena. The program regularly finishes in the top-3 of the Ohio Valley Conference Commissioners Cup, capturing the 2009 cup after an 18-year drought, and more than $13.5 million in athletic facility enhancements have been in every sport during Ward's tenure.

Ward, 51, came to Murray State from the University of North Texas, where he served in numerous capacities during 14 years for the Division I FBS program, including the last seven years as senior associate athletics director.

A native of Rolla, Missouri, Ward is a 1989 graduate of William Jewell College and earned his master's degree from Wichita State University.

Ward and his wife, Sharon, have two children: Nathan, 20, and Nicole, 17.

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Anderson Independent-Mail (South Carolina)

 

Local high schools have always tried to stretch their budgets, but lately they have begun taking a cue from big-name college programs by signing contracts with brand-name apparel companies to help increase their buying power by thousands of dollars.

Although the University of Miami was the first college athletic department to sign with Nike in 1987, that practice is the norm now as apparel deals have turned into revenue streams for the vast majority of college athletic programs.

While high schools don't get revenue-generating deals like their college counterparts, they do get discounts on apparel that area officials say greatly help them outfit their nearly 20 varsity teams per school.

Six athletic departments in Anderson County have signed deals exclusively with either Nike or Adidas. Both apparel companies declined multiple email and telephone requests for interviews for this report.

Pendleton, Palmetto and T.L. Hanna are with Adidas, while Crescent, Belton-Honea Path and Westside have deals with Nike. Both Westside and Hanna recently re-signed with their respective companies.

Westside athletic director Rayvan Teague said a major benefit being with Nike is the discount the school gets when buying uniforms.

According to the contract between Nike and Westside, the department receives at no cost $25,000 in products over a 36-month period from Nike and BSNSports. Westside also gets a discount on products, ranging from 8 to 35 percent. BSNSports is a factory-direct equipment company that supplies apparel, specifically Nike.

During the first year, Teague said, the majority of girls sports received new uniforms, with the majority of boys sports the following year. In the third year, Teague said the remaining boys and girls sports received new uniforms.

"The $15,000 we get (for that year) is credited to our Nike purchases. We spend more than $15,000 on uniforms per year, though," he said. "We design, we organize and look at the price on the uniforms."

Teague broke it down further in a hypothetical example.

"Let's say for a year I was buying baseball, wrestling, boys soccer and boys track. For those four teams, the bill would be $26,000. The first $15,000 would be written off as comped, and I'd be paying $11,000 for uniforms for that year."

According to the contract, Westside has to have all of its teams in Nike uniforms within three years. Teams are on cycles to get new uniforms every three years.

Adidas also offers signed schools discounts, though it is set up as a percentage of spending rather than a dollar amount. The discount ranges from 35 percent to 40 percent, according to the contract signed with Hanna.

While that is similar to the discount schools get without being signed with Adidas, Hanna, as well as other schools signed, receives a percent rebate from purchases, the contract reads.

"Hanna will receive 10 percent in (a) promo account from Adidas on all Adidas sales," the contract states. The money from the rebate then goes into a company account the school can use to buy more products from the online store, said John Cann, Hanna's athletic director.

The rebate, Cann says, allows the department to "more efficiently" spend its dollars.

The discounts range from footwear and uniforms, to apparel and "hard goods," such as balls and bats.

Bill Dillard, owner of Dillard Sporting Goods in Anderson which sells Adidas, said the deals also benefit apparel companies in helping get their brand out and visible, as well as ensuring money goes to them.

Dillard Sporting Goods sells Adidas apparel and is a contact between schools and Adidas.

As with Nike schools, those with Adidas must wear apparel from the company. According to the contract, schools cannot enter into other contracts with third parties without the consent of the apparel company.

"Come Friday night, they want you head to toe in their stuff," Dillard said.

The impact of having associations with the apparel companies help more than the budget, Teague and Cann said. The contracts also help branding for the athletic departments.

That branding includes having official colors for the uniforms that are matched by banners and game day accessories. The branding also works for the apparel company: Both contracts require the company logos be displayed prominently on uniforms and signage.

Both Electric City athletic directors said getting their branding in line and conducting their departments like a college program goes back to an initiative from District 5 superintendent Tom Wilson.

"We are going to do things first class," Cann said. "Mr. Wilson demands that; our administration demands it, and I demand it. If I had to cut corners and not be first class, I probably would not be here."

Teague said developing an identity was a key factor in signing four years ago with Nike when he and football coach Scott Earley arrived at the school.

That identity meant bringing gray back into the school's color scheme and getting the right shade of maroon.

"We have been able to keep our branding across (teams) the same. There are lots of shades of maroon and gray, and we have tried to make our colors uniform across the board, as well as our symbols and logos," he said.

Cann said Hanna faced a similar issue before it signed with Adidas.

"When we got here four years ago, no one could tell me what the school color was," Cann said. "Some would say yellow, some old gold, some Vegas gold; no one could tell you. We have refined and said our colors are Vegas gold, black and white.

"We are going to stick to those basic colors, and it has helped us," he said.

Crescent is the most recent department to sign, going with Nike late last year. Athletic director Jeff Craft cited building a brand as a way to build school pride as a reason his department signed.

"Every athletic director wants to build a culture, and we think this will help our (student-athletes) create that identity," Craft said. "We are also excited about creating consistency with our uniforms.

"The kids love the swoosh."

Both Cann and Teague said the branding goes back to building and cultivating a feeder system down to the middle schools and recreational leagues, which can attract athletes to come out and play for their school.

More quality athletes on a team can lead to better performances on the field, hopefully equaling higher gate revenue numbers to better fund the programs and the athletic department.

In the end, it is all cyclical, Teague said.

"The majority of our budget is raised through gate receipts," he said. "The product you put out there, and the success you have, determines how much you have to spend.

"Everything we spend goes right back into the kids and the program."


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The Buffalo News (New York)

 

Sean Kelley first noticed the disturbance to the pastoral land behind his Orchard Park home in mid-June.

"We woke up to bulldozers, literally, after Father's Day, that Monday," the Ferndale Drive resident said.

He started a petition the next weekend after he found out football fields were planned for the 36-acre parcel.

Ferndale residents and others use the land for hiking and biking, and they have fashioned trails through the grass and trees.

Orchard Park is home to the Buffalo Bills, the highly regarded Orchard Park High School Quakers and the Little Loop teams that feed the high school team. But not everyone is crazy about football, especially when it could be in their backyard.

The parcel off Webster Road backs up to homes on Ferndale, and it has been owned by the Town of Orchard Park for years and targeted for future recreation.

The future came sooner than expected for some. Town Supervisor Patrick J. Keem sent a letter to residents in late June telling them a football complex with four fields would be built on the property. There also would be a concession stand and press box, as well as a parking lot.

Now, the supervisor says it will only be two fields: a practice field and a playing field, which would have the lights that Little Loop parents paid to install on the existing field. There also would be bleachers and restrooms. The fields would replace the two Little Loop football fields at the town's Brush Mountain recreation area on California Road.

"There is no plan to put four fields in there," Keem told The Buffalo News. "Right now we're planning two, believe me."

'The right to develop'

There were no plans to move the Little Loop football field when the $16 million Community Activities Center at Brush Mountain was proposed. The idea was for players to walk off the field near the center and use the locker rooms.

But it was discovered about five months ago that the new building has to be shifted to another spot on the recreation area because of wetlands, according to town Councilman Michael Sherry.

"Part of the building is right in the middle of the football field," Keem said.

Ground where the new building will sit has to be raised 18 inches, and the size of the new building was reduced by 5,000 square feet to 59,000 square feet to save money to make up for the extra cost, Sherry said.

Keem said different Brush Mountain locations were considered for the fields, but none of them worked.

"We have a challenge, where do we put a football field," Keem said.

Of two parcels owned by the town, the Webster Road site is the only one with enough room, he said.

"We have the right to develop that property," the supervisor said. "We own it."

Proposal from residents

The fields would be used from August through November by the youth football teams, Keem said. He wants to put a playground there, too. He also said the town is "only considering it, we don't have a site plan yet."

That's what worries neighbors, who said they have had trouble getting answers from town officials. Is it two fields, or four? Will every tree be cut down? What about drainage? Where will the wildlife go? Won't this increase traffic on North Buffalo Road, which is already busy? Is it zoned properly?

Residents want to preserve the land as it is, as a greenway for walking, biking, jogging and similar activities that protect the wildlife living on the land.

Town highway crews built a road out of millings at Webster Road, Keem said. He said the town has an excavation permit and is taking fill from Brush Mountain to the Webster Road location. The estimated 14,000 cubic yards is from the construction of two retention ponds that will help alleviate flooding problems in the Bussendorfer Road area, he said.

Rocklin G. Maday of Saville Drive, who would look out over the new fields, said neighbors had no notice until after the town started moving earth. He also has another concern.

"The problem is here, we're very secluded," he said.

He sometimes has problems with uninvited youth playing in his pond. He's afraid that would get worse with more people using the field.

Residents have proposed a different layout, and have a meeting planned with town officials in an effort to compromise.

"Some kind of hybrid might work in terms of keeping some natural wildlife corridor, not to manicure the whole thing down to every blade of grass," Kelley said.

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

 

CLEMSON — On the afternoon of Feb. 5, Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor, stood in a courtroom in Eaton County, Michigan, and listened to a judge sentence him. Again.

Forty to 125 years in prison were what he was facing for abusing dozens of young women for years under the guise of treatment. About two weeks earlier, a judge in Ingham County, Mich., had already delivered Nassar up to 175 years in prison for the abuse.

The nation watched, reactions on social media ranging from disbelief to disgust.

About 750 miles to the southeast, in Upstate South Carolina, Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich was one of those people keeping up with the case. As a prominent figure in college athletics, Radakovich wanted to follow what happened and — more importantly — how it all happened, slipping through the cracks for so long.

The next morning, on Feb. 6, Radakovich called an emergency meeting with every member of Clemson's athletic department. He enlisted the help of campus police, Clemson's Title IX coordinator and the director of university compliance, as well, to have an open conversation about sexual abuse and reporting mechanisms. Wanting to avoid at all costs a similar situation under his own watch, the emergency meeting was mandatory, and it was one of several steps Clemson has taken in an effort to guard against sexual assault in college athletics.

It wasn't a new topic of conversation. Every year in September, Radakovich calls this all-staff meeting. But the Nassar news prompted him to immediately add another. He wanted to make sure his employees were clear about expectations.

"We felt it was really important with the news that came out about Nassar to make sure we're remind our staff, 'Hey, if you see something, you say something,'" said Natalie Honnen, Clemson's associate athletic director for student-athlete services and performance.

"That's something that we quickly did when everything broke out at Michigan State because one of the things that was very telling was obviously what happened, but also the fact that people weren't reporting what they saw or heard or was brought up. We thought that was really important. If something's going on, we want to report it and it's going to be investigated."

In the meeting, Radakovich reminded his staff of both internal and external resources Clemson has put into place, and decided he wanted to resend a document to his student athletes called "Reporting Resources" to remind them of their options, as well.

For about three years, Clemson has enlisted the help of the Dan Beebe Group, an external consulting group the former Big 12 commissioner runs to help train college athletic departments, and one of the areas the group specializes in is sexual abuse.

The Dan Beebe Group coincidentally had its annual visit to Clemson scheduled for Feb. 5-8, and, naturally, the Nassar news shifted more of the conversation toward sexual assault.

In part because of the group's feedback, Clemson has hired a female doctor to add to its sports medicine team. She started July 1.

Additionally, Clemson had the U.S. Council For Athletes' Health come evaluate its sports medicine practices this summer, though the university said that was less about sexual assault and more about common practices in terms of wrapping ankles or rehabilitating injured athletes under the umbrella of general care. Radakovich declined to share what kind of specific feedback Clemson received from that particular external review but indicated it was positive.

Brenda Tracy, a sexual assault advocate who started to speak to athletics programs after she was gang-raped in 1998 by four men, two of whom were Oregon State football players, praised Clemson for being proactive in terms of trying to avoid abuse. But she did caution that no school, including Clemson, is immune.

"Response is obviously great. We have to respond to things that hold people accountable, we have to make sure we have resources that help for survivors, but at some point, we have to not just respond but we have to prevent so we don't have to respond," Tracy said. "The new way of thinking needs to be, 'Yes, these things happen here and here's what we're doing to respond to it and prevent it.' It's time for schools to be transparent. It's time for schools to be upfront that everyone has a problem."

As Clemson moves forward into another athletic year under Radakovich, the staff will meet again in September for its regularly scheduled program and will continue to educate both its staff and its athletes about a topic ingrained in today's culture.

Radakovich is not so naive to think that Clemson is invincible from what happened at Michigan State. "Bad actors," he said, can be anywhere. But that doesn't mean he's not going to try.

"I guess it was Ronald Reagan who said, 'Trust but verify,'" Radakovich said. "We have a great team here. We have resources from the institution. But we're kind of nestled up here in the northwestern part of South Carolina and we would be foolish to think that some of the things that happen around the country couldn't happen.

"Let's take the pieces that we feel like are important for us and put them into place."

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

 

MOSCOW — Sunday's World Cup final between France and Croatia was disrupted briefly Sunday when four people dressed in old-fashioned police uniforms ran onto the pitch, The Independent reported.

The Russian activist punk band Pussy Riot claimed responsibility for the suspension of play at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, which occurred during the 52nd minute of Sunday's match.

"News Flash! Just a few minutes ago four Pussy Riot members performed in the FIFA World Cup final match — 'Policeman enters the Game,'" the band posted on its Twitter feed.

France was leading 2-1 when three women and a man charged onto the pitch, The Associated Press reported. The protesters were wrestled to the ground by police. Croatia defender Dejan Lovren pushed the male protester, which allowed police to subdue him, the AP reported.

The protesters were dressed in black pants and white shirts. They entered the pitch from behind the net guarded by French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, The Independent reported. One of the women reached the center of the pitch and high-fived French forward Kylian Mbappe.

On Twitter, the group released a statement urging the Russian government to release political prisoners and to end "illegal arrests" of protesters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was watching Sunday's match at the stadium, along with French President Emmanuel Macron and FIFA President Gianni Infantino, according to the AP.

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Copyright 2018 The Florida Times-Union

Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The University of Louisville is removing Papa John's from its football stadium's name after a report the pizza chain's founder used a racial slur.

The company's logo has been on Papa John's Cardinal Stadium since it was built 20 years ago.

John Schnatter, who also resigned from the university's board of trustees, apologized this week for using a racial slur during a company conference call in May.

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi said the "community has been fractured" by Schnatter's comments. The school is also removing Schnatter's name from its Center for Free Enterprise at the business school.

"These comments were hurtful and unacceptable, and they do not reflect the values of our university," Bendapudi wrote in an open letter to the university community. She said the new name would be Cardinal Stadium.

From ABUL Players Call for Renaming of Papa John's Stadium

Schnatter said Friday he is "distraught" over the comment he made.

"Anything I say or do that hurts the people I care about... is upsetting, it's not right," Schnatter said in an interview with WHAS-AM, a Louisville station. The interview was recorded before the name change announcement.

"What I wanted to make sure is we got the apology out," he said. "We don't condone racism in any way. Regardless of the context, you just can't use that vocabulary."

Bendapui said at a news conference Friday that "there's too much hurt around" the Papa John's name right now. She spoke with Schnatter and said he supported the removal of the names.

Some Louisville football players called for the stadium name change this week. Wide receiver Seth Dawkins tweeted on Thursday that "We need to change the name of the stadium ASAP, I'm not here for it."

Ricky L. Jones, a University of Louisville professor who speaks and writes about race relations, applauded Schnatter for agreeing to the name change.

"It seems that he understood it was needed," Jones said in an email. "Hopefully, this marks the beginning of a positive evolution for him not as a businessman, but as a human being."

Bendapudi said the name changes were effective immediately but gave no timetable on the removal of the signs from the stadium.

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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Three Atlanta sports teams are re-evaluating partnerships with Papa John's after the company's founder admitted to using racist language.

The Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United suspended their relationship with Papa John's Pizza following reports John Schnatter used a racial slur during a conference call in May, a group representing the teams announced Thursday.

A statement from AMB Sports and Entertainment, which is comprised of the Falcons, Atlanta United and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, said the group has indefinitely suspended its affiliation with the pizza chain and will be "evaluating the overall relationship" in the coming weeks. Mercedes-Benz Stadium has at least one Papa John's vendor inside the stadium.

"The divisive comments made and acknowledged by the company's founder are reprehensible and do not align with our core values," the statement said.

The Atlanta Braves have also put their partnership with the company on hold. The Braves moved in step with the MLB and indefinitely suspended its marketing relationship with Papa John's on Wednesday, Braves spokesperson Beth Marshall said in an email.

Forbes said Schnatter used the N-word during a media training exercise in May. When asked how he would distance himself from racist groups, Schnatter reportedly complained that Colonel Sanders never faced a backlash for using the word.

The Falcons and Atlanta United join a list of professional sports organizations that are distancing themselves from Papa John's following the revelation of the remarks. As of Friday, several MLB teams have suspended their partnerships with the company.

Schnatter, who stepped down as CEO of the company last year, resigned from his spot as board chairman Wednesday after admitting to making the comment and apologizing. On Friday, the Associated Press reported Papa John's planned to remove images of Schnatter from its promotional materials.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

As Major League Baseball takes over the Washington region for the 89th MLB All-Star Game and its accompanying activities, more than baseball is on the schedule. In fact, MLB has enough planned in the eco-friendliness department that the D.C. Council's recent bill looking to ban plastic straws may look small by comparison.

Take, for example, Friday's volunteer "greening" community service event at Richard England Clubhouse 14, a Boys and Girls Clubs outpost in Northeast Washington. The league expects more than 100 volunteers ranging from employees of the league and the Washington Nationals to youth baseball and softball players to spend their afternoon landscaping, removing trash, painting and repairing benches for the clubhouse.

Baseball is sometimes considered by its detractors a little old-fashioned, but MLB is determined to see that the modern game is on the cutting edge of environmental awareness. In what it sees as a matter of corporate social responsibility, the league has ramped up these efforts year over year since launching its sustainability program in 2008.

But this year officials have a new goal. MLB wants the 2018 All-Star Game to be the first event in professional team sports to receive certification from the Council of Responsible Sport, a board that encourages socially and environmentally conscious sporting events.

"Historically we haven't thought about throwing away the nacho tray or the soda cup, or the plastic straw in the soda cup, for example," said Shelley Villalobos, the council's managing director. "Right now there's a large movement to rapidly increase awareness and action to moving towards more sustainable alternatives that don't leave a lot of plastic going into the oceans."

The council works with willing event managers and judges them with a list of 61 available "credit points." If an event reaches enough criteria to earn at least 27 points, it will receive certification, and more points lead to gold, silver and "evergreen" levels.

Events rack up points by doing everything from reducing waste and conserving water to establishing scholarships and legacy events to continue helping a community after the event.

For instance, 66 players will travel to and from Washington from the other 26 Major League cities to play in Tuesday's game. The league plans to calculate the carbon footprint of that travel and purchase "carbon offsets," or monetary credit toward other projects that reduce greenhouse gases, through the Bonneville Energy Foundation.

Paul Hanlon, MLB's senior director of ballpark operations and sustainability, first met Villalobos last year at a conference on "green sports." His department already was doing several things the council rewards in the certification process, and Mr. Hanlon and his team felt it was the right time to try for a certification.

"A lot of what we learn is from our clubs," Mr. Hanlon said. "It's a very club-driven initiative, but we also want to show our clubs as well, 'Hey, we're able to do this for an All-Star Game. Maybe this is something you could look at (doing) for the last month of a season."

Some recent NCAA Men's and Women's Final Fours are the largest events to receive the certification so far. The rest are mainly foot or cycling races and some PGA Tour events. MLB will learn whether it earned the certification about a month after the game is played.

But why should the sport industry take a leading role in green efforts? Critics might say it's merely a marketing ploy. But Villalobos believes sports are perfectly suited toward considering a "triple bottom line" of people, planet and profit.

"We say that sport can help lead the transition to a more circular economic model because sports events are places where people consume lots of goods primarily food and beverage and it's a prime place to educate people about the materials that they're using to partake in those activities," Villalobos said.

For its part, MLB has been up-front with baseball fans about eco-friendliness for several years' worth of All-Star Games. Fans going to Nationals Park for All-Star events should expect to encounter the league's "Green Teams" young people collecting recyclables in the stands and educating park-goers on "positive environmental practices" during the week's activities.

"You'll definitely be able to feel it when you walk around Nationals Park on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, that there's a commitment to this," Mr. Hanlon said.

It helps MLB's cause that Nationals Park itself is green. It was the first pro sports stadium to receive a LEED certification from the Green Building Council back in 2008.

The Council for Responsible Sport took inspiration from the LEED certification process when it designed its own model, Villalobos said. The council was founded in Oregon in 2007, but MLB is the first of the major four sports leagues to seek certification for an event.

"We are poised for growth and we're excited about it. And we're grateful truly that Major League Baseball is taking this step of transparency, to open their doors," Villalobos said. "That's a big step and it's not a step we've seen other professional leagues take yet around their championships and their big events."

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

 

GREENSBORO — Big news for the Greensboro Aquatic Center.

Two events are coming to the GAC — the 2018 USA Swimming Winter National Championships and the 2018 Speedo Winter Junior Championships East — meets that will bring about 2,000 swimmers to Greensboro, possibly some of the best in the country.

"These will be the most elite swimmers," said Susan Braman, the Aquatic Center manager. "They'll be qualifying here for the Olympic Trials."

Both the Winter Nationals and Junior Championships have been here, but Braman said this is the first time USA Swimming has held them in the same complex in back-to-back weeks. The Winter Nationals will be held Nov. 28-Dec.1, bringing in 800 of the top swimmers in the country to compete in the long-course (meters) competition that will translate to qualifying times for the Olympic trials. The juniors will swim days later, Dec. 5-8, with 1,200 of the top juniors competing in a short-course (yards) meet.

Braman said the swimmers will start making commitments over the next couple of months. She didn't rule out highly decorated swimmers such as Katie Ledecky, who competed here in 2014 and owns five Olympic gold medals and one silver, and Winston-Salem's Kathleen Baker, who won a gold medal with the 4x100 medley relay team and a silver in the 100-meter backstroke at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

From AB's Architectural Showcase: Greensboro Aquatic Center

Braman and Greensboro Coliseum director Matt Brown said being awarded the Winter Nationals a second time in four years puts Greensboro in USA Swimming's "regular rotation," promising more such meets in the future for the Aquatic Center, which opened in 2011.

"We've had extraordinary success for the GAC in its brief history," Brown said. "Today, with these announcements, we'll continue to build on that success and the national prominence that the Aquatic Center has achieved over these past seven years."

Brown said the events join an already busy schedule at the facility, which operates 16 hours a day, 360 days a year, to host local meets and college and high school swimmers and fitness training along with recreation swimming and the continued growth of the Learn-to-Swim program designed to teach all Guilford County second-graders.

In fact, Brown and Braman rolled out the designs for a fourth pool to be added next year, pending a vote Tuesday night by the City Council. The fourth pool would be built without taxpayer contributions, instead drawing from the hotel and motel tax.

Braman said the national profile for the Aquatic Center and Greensboro as a national host for these events will likely help bring bigger events eventually. But getting the junior and winter championship events here, back-to-back, was one of her biggest goals.

"When we were first planning this pool, these were two elite championships at the top of our list that we wanted to go for," Braman said. "There was nothing above that, though I'd say the NCAAs were close and are also on that list. To get in the cycle now and get to host these events a second time is huge. And for the swimmers qualifying for the Olympic Trials, we now know that it goes through here."

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

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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times

 

Before the ceremonial ribbon was cut at Washington's new soccer-specific stadium in Buzzard Point, Charity Blackwell memorialized the moment with a poem.

The spoken word artist, also director of writing at the youth outreach program DC Scores, was the first of many guest speakers Monday afternoon. But her words landed with the most impact.

"Ten years ago I didn't know where I would be," Blackwell rapped at the conclusion of her poem, "but right now, I'm in a city that embraces diversity. 'Cause we live in times where backgrounds, beliefs and politics can be divisive but D.C., like soccer, is a space where we all can feel United."

Audi Field, a project in some sense 14 years in the making, will open for business Saturday when D.C. United hosts the Vancouver Whitecaps for a Major League Soccer match at 8 p.m.

"I want to say on behalf of all of us in Major League Soccer," longtime MLS commissioner Don Garber said Monday, "this was the one stadium that we knew we needed and that we were waiting for for so long."

History

Audi Field replaces RFK Stadium as D.C. United's home field. It is the 19th MLS stadium to open, Garber said, and the latest in a leaguewide trend of clubs constructing 20,000-seat buildings for themselves rather than sharing cavernous NFL arenas.

The first plan to build a soccer stadium in the city can be traced to 2004, when Poplar Point was the proposed location. When the Montreal Expos moved to town and became the Washington Nationals, constructing a baseball stadium jumped ahead on the priority list. Combined with complaints about displacing residents in Poplar Point, the soccer project was scrapped.

United also considered building in Prince George's County near the Redskins' FedEx Field, but the county council there opposed the plan.

In the 2010s, shortly after the club was sold to Jason Levien and Erick Thohir, Buzzard Point drew momentum as a real possibility. The club and the District reached an agreement in 2013 and D.C. City Council approved the next year.

The city contributed $150 million for land acquisition, while United spent around $250 million to build.

Audi signed on for naming rights to the stadium in February 2017, the same month the project broke ground. Because the project was not finished in time for the start of the 2018 MLS season, United has been a team of road warriors for most of the season, heading to stadiums in Maryland for just two "home games" so far.

Food and tailgating

When D.C. United left RFK Stadium, it also bid goodbye to the vast expanse of parking lots surrounding the complex. So when the Black and Red play at Audi Field, expect a different dynamic for pregame tailgating.

Gone is the raucous tunnel under Independence Avenue that connected Lot 8 to the stadium, which shepherded most of the loudest fans toward the competition. Instead, there's a fan plaza at Audi Field that will feature a concert by '90s cover band White Ford Bronco before Saturday's opener.

There are other options surrounding the stadium for pre-and postgame eating or drinking. Bardo Brewing is about a quarter-mile away from Audi Field. Bardo offers an outdoor beer garden in view of Nationals Park and the Anacostia River. Field House DC, another outdoor beer garden, is located about two blocks from the stadium.

The Nationals Park area features a plethora of dining options on the way from the Navy Yard/Ballpark station, such as Chipotle, Gordon Biersch and The Salt Line.

Inside the stadium, D.C. United announced in 2017 that they partnered with Levy and famed D.C. chef José Andrés for all food and beverage arrangements. Levy already operates at Capital One Arena, FedEx Field and Nationals Park.

D.C. United describes on its website the culinary options inside the stadium as "world class". One food item certain to continue from RFK Stadium to Audi Field is pupusas. Several locations around the concourse at RFK Stadium sold handmade pupusas, and they grew near and dear to fans' hearts.

Andrés announced in a video on Twitter last year they would be included in the Audi Field cuisine.

"You think I'm going to be taking away a tradition?" Andrés said. "Give me a break. I love you and don't worry, pupusas will be part of the D.C. United family forever."

Transportation options

Because Audi Field is just a few blocks away from Nationals Park, the closest Metro stop is Navy Yard/Ballpark. Signage at that station pointing commuters in the direction of the ballpark was recently updated to read "Ballpark and Soccer Stadium." Navy Yard is only accessible by the Green Line.

For those driving in, Audi Field is situated just off the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. There are 6,500 parking spots near Audi Field, according to its website. However, with the building's capacity at 20,000 seats, carpooling or taking public transit when possible would be advisable, as with any entertainment venue.

Finally, Audi Field offers bicycle parking outside the southwest corner of the building and complimentary bike valet parking on match days.

On the field

With all that out of the way, let's not forget the actual product on the field.

United is coupling the debut of Audi Field with the debut of star player Wayne Rooney in Black and Red. The English forward transferred to United from Everton of the English Premier League this summer.

Both at his introductory press conference on July 2 and the ribbon-cutting ceremony last Monday, Rooney made clear that Audi Field and the new era it should entail was a big factor in his decision to join United. General manager Dave Kasper said Audi Field was the first place club officials took Rooney during his first visit with the team.

The all-time leading scorer in the histories of both the English National Team and Manchester United, Rooney is expected to provide offense and star-power even at age 32. In D.C., he joins leading scorer Darren Mattocks, captain Steve Birnbaum and up-and-coming defensive midfielder Chris Durkin, who is 18.

However, United has hung near the bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference standings all season. They stand 2-7-5 entering Saturday's match, good for just 11 standings points. But United only has been outscored 29 goals to 23 on the season.

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Copyright 2018 The Evansville Courier Co.
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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

HENDERSON — With a regional and Indiana state champion under her guidance, former USA national team member Breasha Pruitt is branching out in her career as a gymnastics coach.

The Henderson resident has been coaching the sport full-time for the last two years and will open her own gym next month in Evansville.

"It's always been in the back of my mind (to own my own gym)," Pruitt said. "After I retired (from competition), I helped people doing gymnastics, private lessons and choreography. Two years ago it became more real and then six months ago, I decided this is the time to do it. I've got to have a place for my girls."

Breasha Pruitt Elite Gymnastics will open in August at 2949 N. St. Joe Ave. in Evansville, the site of the former Acros Gymnastics where Pruitt's athletes had trained previously.

"It has all of the pits and stuff that gymnasts need," said Pruitt, who plans to give the gym a total makeover when she takes possession Aug. 1. "We're going to do it Breasha Pruitt style."

Pruitt has 14 girls from ages 8 to 18 on her team, including level 8 Indiana state champion Rebekah Haas and Ellie Kemper, who won the uneven bars and was second in the all-around in the five-state regional meet.

"Coach Breasha is all about having confidence. That has been my biggest struggle in gymnastics, and Breasha has helped me gain confidence and helped me see my strengths when I didn't," said Kemper, who has been participating in gymnastics for eight years and has been training with Pruitt for the last year.

"Coach Breasha goes above and beyond with her coaching. She not only makes sure I'm succeeding as an athlete, but as a young woman as well," said Haas, who has trained with Pruitt a little more than two years and began her gymnastics career as a 9-year-old. "She puts all of her time and dedication into her gymnasts. Breasha is not only my coach but family."

With her own gym, Pruitt will take on a new role as owner and coach.

"All owners don't coach full-time. I'm coaching so I know what the girls need. To be an owner, it ties everything together," she said. "It's not a major disconnect when the owner doesn't coach, but it's major plus when the owner does coach."

"I think there are definitely advantages to having my coach be the owner too," Kemper said. "All of the past owners I've been with were not coaches, and I think when you are also the coach you know more of what is going on in the gym, what needs to happen, and what is realistic for everything to run smoothly for everyone."

Pruitt wants to provide opportunities to gymnasts in the area that she didn't have when she was progressing in the sport.

"I had to leave town to go to Texas and Pennsylvania to get top training. Now these girls can stay home. I want to be able to provide that, that's what I'm shooting for," she said. "I want to bring top people in and bring in camps so they don't have to leave home."

"To be able to bring all of that back to the Tri-state area is very special to me because this is where I grew up," Pruitt said. "I want to be able to help other people make it too. These girls have the same goals and dreams that I did."

Haas and Kemper see the benefits that gymnastics has provided in their lives. "Over the years I've gained strength, fitness, discipline, and perseverance. Gymnastics has helped shape my life in a positive way. I would love to continue down this path and collegiate gymnastics," Kemper said.

"Gymnastics has always been my thing. I've never been a part of any other sport," Haas said. "When I first started, I hoped to gain skills that I could show off to my friends. As I grew in gymnastics, I learned that it was more than that. I gained confidence and bravery. As a big goal, I hope to gain more titles like regional and national champion."

Pruitt's gym will also offer a boys team that will be coached by Zack Rickard.

Registration for classes will continue through August. For more information, follow BPEliteGym or Coach Breasha on Facebook or call 812-773-8401.


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Copyright 2018 Star Tribune
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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

 

Over the years, the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents has heard its share of bad news in the annual reports delivered by the athletic department. Athletic director Mark Coyle gave them plenty to be happy about Wednesday, as he summed up a season of academic honors, athletic success and improved oversight.

Coyle submitted his annual report at a meeting of the Board of Regents at the U's McNamara Alumni Center. He outlined progress made toward his three principal goals — accountability, consistency in leadership and creating strong campus relationships — as well as a record-breaking season of fundraising and academic achievement. Coyle also announced a budget of $121 million for the upcoming fiscal year.

The report was well-received by regents, including Chairman David McMillan, who called it "very inspiring'' and lauded the Gophers' "tremendous set of achievements.'' Regent Dean Johnson, a champion of Gophers sports who was frustrated by the misconduct and scandals of the past, praised Coyle's leadership in shepherding the department to higher ground.

"You and your team have done absolutely stellar work on behalf of the University of Minnesota,'' Johnson said. "All the statistics, all the trend lines are moving in an extremely positive position.''

Gophers athletes earned a collective grade-point average of 3.24 during the spring semester, equaling the highest in the department's history, and every sport recorded a team GPA of at least 3.00. It marked the ninth consecutive semester in which the overall GPA was 3.20 or higher.

The Gophers also set a school record with 351 academic All-Big Ten honors last school year. The department's graduation success rate of 92 percent was its best ever and the highest of any public school in the Big Ten. During the 2017-18 school year, Gophers athletes earned 10 academic All-America honors and 23 academic all-district citations, the second-highest numbers in U history.

The department's overall athletic performance also was strong. The Gophers finished 19th among all Division I schools in the Learfield Directors' Cup standings, which ranks programs according to success in postseason competition. They won six conference championships and had three athletes — Obsa Ali (outdoor track), Sarah Bacon (diving) and Kaitlyn Long (indoor track) — win NCAA individual titles.

"We want to make sure we set the tone from the top, that doing it right at Minnesota matters,'' Coyle said. "It's nice when you have good news to tell.''

Other highlights of Coyle's report:

· The department has raised more than $108 million for its Athletes Village complex, which Coyle called a "transformational facility'' that has had an immediate impact on athletes' performance and well-being. More than $123 million has been donated to the "Nothing Short of Greatness'' campaign, which will fund a host of athletic department initiatives.

· The Bierman Gym has been renovated into a new practice space for the wrestling team, with the entire cost covered by private donations. Other facility improvements also are underway, including installing air conditioning and new LED lighting in Maturi Pavilion and updates to the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center. A new golf training center and outdoor track and field stadium will be completed in the next six to eight months.

· Athletes are now receiving 7½ hours of training about issues surrounding sexual misconduct, nearly double what they had in the past. Athletic department staff also is receiving ongoing training in that area, as well as financial management.

· The department has cleared seven audits that were in progress when Coyle was hired in 2016, including one that gave Coyle and his executive team high marks.

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Copyright 2018 The Evansville Courier Co.
All Rights Reserved

Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

EVANSVILLE — Local umpires hope the ugly incident Sunday at Scott Township Baseball Fields causes coaches and parents to think twice before making a scene at youth sporting events. They've seen enough bad behavior.

Gregory VanBibber, an assistant coach with the 14U Eagles Travel Baseball Team, was arrested on a count of battery after an altercation with the home plate umpire postgame.

Umpire Rickey Cassitty called the game — part of what was considered a "charity event" — for reaching the time limit. The Eagles trailed 15-6, but their head coach questioned him about why play must end.

VanBibber, an assistant coach, then came charging out of the dugout and tackled him to the ground, Cassitty told police. Witnesses have said he was blindsided and that VanBibber had been verbally chastising him throughout the game.

David Ford, a local umpire and board chairman for the Evansville Rural Baseball League, said the physicality of this particular event is isolated, but the aggressive nature from coaches and parents in travel sports is growing "more and more volatile every year."

"If there's no repercussion for this, it's going to be seen as, 'Oh well, he just got a smack on the hand. I don't have to worry about it so now I can go after someone.' There are guys who would do that," Ford said.

Although VanBibber was charged with a Class A misdemeanor, Indiana does not have a law specifically protecting referees and umpires. But 23 other states have assault laws protecting officials — in Kentucky, the assault of a sports official is considered a Class D felony. A handful of bills have been proposed in recent years in Indiana's state legislature, but none have become law.

Umpires are trained to de-escalate hostile situations, according to Todd Tiechenor, who is the ERBL's director of umpires, overseeing 75-100 officials. When he's calling a game, the final thing Tichenor says to coaches before "play ball" is to make it fun for the kids.

"But sometimes things are at a fever pitch and I don't think (Cassitty) got a chance to de-escalate anything," Tichenor said.

Bob Davis is a local travel coach and umpire. He serves as the chairman for the Southern Baseball Officials Association, of which Cassitty is a member. He said intense coaches and parents have pushed officials to the point where they are starting to want protection. Baseball, in particular, doesn't have law enforcement on site for high school games, whereas football and basketball contests almost always do.

Umpires also usually are not provided a spot to change into and out of their gear unless they're at a college facility. Most of the time they dress in parking lots by their cars, essentially making them sitting ducks for everyone agitated enough to approach them. Almost all of them have been left vulnerable to an angry adult at some point.

"I've heard from numerous people, 'Well, you're the only one getting paid out there. You should be better,'" Davis said. "For the most part, parents are good, but there's that group that thinks they're owed something because their kid is playing travel ball."

Cassitty, who is in his 60s, has spent most of his umpiring career calling games for players 14 and under. He ventured into some high school games in recent years, but he mostly enjoys being around the kids. Yet he was the target for a physical attack, causing him to fall to the ground, hurting the same hip he previously had replaced.

Officiating is a thankless job to begin with and absolutely no one is in it to hose kids or purposely make bad calls. That certainly wasn't Cassitty's prerogative.

"To a man, every umpire there was under 50, in good shape; big guys, young guys, healthy guys — and then there's Rickey," Ford said. "This guy takes his opportunity to go after the smallest, oldest guy."

The local officials association intends to advise umpires to walk away and not call a game if VanBibber is ever seen in a dugout again.

Youth sports are about the kids. Just because mom and dad spent thousands of dollars for Johnny's spot on a travel team doesn't mean he will become a professional athlete. Especially when it comes to younger kids, it's delusional to think a 10-year-old will even earn a college scholarship, considering the long odds.

An umpire behind home plate of a youth game is someone who cares more about the sport than the little money accepted in return.

A 14-year-old travel baseball game being played for charity in rural Southern Indiana was not Game 7 of the World Series.

Kids throw balls, referees miss calls. They're all human. It's not hard to treat each other with respect.

Contact Courier & Press columnist Chad Lindskog on Twitter @chadlindskog or by email chad.lindskog@courierpress.com

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

 

Shakespeare famously asked, "What's in a name?"

A lot of money, apparently.

Collier County commissioners on Tuesday approved a contract for $150,000 — an amount that could grow significantly over five years — with the Superlative Group of Cleveland to market naming rights for county facilities.

The initial emphasis will be on selling the naming rights to the new amateur sports complex being built off Collier Boulevard near Interstate 75.

But Superlative's work could extend to other county properties as well.

Superlative claims to have generated more than $2 billion in naming rights and sponsorship agreements over the past 20 years.

According to its website, clients include the Cleveland Indians; the Cincinnati Reds; Miami-Dade County; London's Heathrow Airport; Denver; and Cook County, Illinois.

Successful efforts range from selling the naming rights to the Reds' downtown stadium to Great American Insurance, resulting in the Great American Ballpark, to securing Hulu as the sponsor for a bike sharing program in Santa Monica, Calif. Two of the company's principals have second homes in Collier County, according to its proposal.

Getting sponsors for things such as the sports complex is a sophisticated undertaking, Superlative says.

"Gone are the days of buying signage and some tickets. The value of sponsorship is continually changing," the company website explains.

As part of its contract, Superlative will look at county assets and recommend which ones might be attractive to sponsors. It will attempt to quantify the value of those sponsorships and present them to interested companies.

If successful, the company will collect a 15 percent commission in addition to the initial contract amount of $150,000. The contract is for five years.

Topping the list of potentially attractive assets is the amateur sports complex. In an earlier incarnation, when the sports complex was envisioned as a spring training home for the Atlanta Braves, county staff estimated naming rights could bring in $300,000 annually. The figure would likely be lower without a high-profile tenant like the Braves, but naming rights still could generate significant revenue, county staff believe.

"The process of naming rights has been an accepted way to generate funding for various types of facilities for many years," Collier tourism director Jack Wert said.

"Sports complexes and municipal holdings are well-documented examples of the power of naming rights to generate large sums of funding for 10 or more years at a time," he said.

Wert said more than one element of the sports complex may garner naming rights revenue. For instance, the main field and stadium may have one sponsor, the multi-purpose fields another, the scoreboards another and the beverage rights another.

"We think it will be a number of companies involved," Wert said. "That seems to be the trend."

He expects information to begin firming up in about six months but that it could be two years before rights are finalized.

"It's a lengthy process," Wert said.

The sports complex is expected to open in a little more than a year.

Superlative will look at other county assets for potential sponsorships, Wert said. The Sun N' Fun Lagoon water park in North Naples is one example.

Just a suggestion: The Morgan and Morgan Sun N' Fun Lagoon Water Park. In case someone gets hurt on a slide and needs legal representation.

Or the Cessna Marco Island Executive Jetport.

How about the Purina Monkey Chow Zoo?

The Home Depot Hurricane Preparedness Division?

The History Channel Museum?

Naples might want to get in on the action. The Bass Pro Shops Fishing Pier.

The county probably should shy away from some potential sponsorships. A few come to mind:

â(EURO)¢ The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys Jail.

â(EURO)¢ The Independent Funeral Directors of Florida Medical Examiners Office.

â(EURO)¢ The Febreze Wastewater Treatment Plant.

â(EURO)¢ The Odor Eaters Landfill.

Again, drawing on Shakespeare, a mound of trash by any other name would smell just as bad.

Connect with Brent Batten at brent.batten@naplesnews.com, on Twitter @NDN_BrentBatten and at facebook.com/ndnbrentbatten.


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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
All Rights Reserved

The Washington Times

 

At least Damon Evans knew what he was getting into when he became Maryland's new athletic director. He was elevated to the permanent position a couple of weeks ago, having spent the previous eight months in the role on an interim basis.

He wasn't naïve about the challenges ahead and wasn't blindsided by repercussions from the past. But events that transpired shortly before and after his promotion probably gave him more gray hair than existed when former AD Kevin Anderson stepped away in October.

Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jordan McNair experienced a health challenge during conditioning drills in late May and died on June 13. Evans had to address the tragedy then and he addressed it again during his introductory news conference.

"It has been a trying time," he said. "When you deal with something as significant as a student-athlete passing away, it's something that you just never imagine or expect to happen at your institution."

Nothing compares to the death of an athlete during organized team activities. It casts a pall over the campus and makes everyone ask: "Why?" Conversely, recruiting scandals, alleged sexual misconduct and budget shortfalls are common enough to cause a collective shrug... unless it's your job to handle such issues.

Lots of athletic directors have faced those full plates.

But few of Evans' peers have a dish of FBI subpoenas on the side.

We sort of forgot about the federal investigation of college basketball that threatens to topple the current system. We were reminded Friday when Maryland acknowledged that U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman has issued two sets of grand jury subpoenas.

Berman is looking for information (preferably incriminating) related to assistant coach Bino Ranson's pursuit of former Terps center Diamond Stone and former recruit Silvio De Sousa. He also wants to know about the school's relationship with former sports management executive Christian Dawkins, a leading character in the FBI probe.

"None of the responsive records shows evidence of any violations of applicable laws or NCAA bylaws by University coaches, staff or players," Maryland said in a statement. "The University has cooperated and will continue to cooperate fully with the ongoing federal investigation."

That's a great idea, cooperating and doing so fully. Evans needs to ensure that Maryland is open and honest throughout.

He learned the importance of that posture the hard way, when a DUI arrest led to his departure from the University of Georgia eight years ago. He was pulled over by a state trooper just five minutes before his new contract was to go into effect, paying him more than $500,000 per year.

The DUI was made worse because the passenger was a woman, not his wife, and the trooper said red panties were in Evans' lap. He resigned in shame and began a recovery process that brought him to Maryland as Anderson's lieutenant in the fall of 2014.

"My journey has been long," Evans said. "It's interesting when you go through things in life that are difficult for you, but most important, difficult for your family and people who count on you so much. But what you have to do is you have to get back up and you have to learn. And you have to grow."

He'll have plenty of opportunities for growth at Maryland, where he's charged with raising $19 million of the $41 million extra needed to finish the Cole Field House project. He also can use personal experience to counsel athletes on choices, trying to steer them away from compromising situations like the one Damonte Dodd landed in.

The former Terps center was arrested Thursday, accused of having sex with an intoxicated woman against her will on Halloween night. Dodd left the school in 2017 after four seasons, but his association with the Terps is fresh enough to draw Evans' attention.

For now, the athletic department must focus on reviewing the circumstances behind McNair's hospitalization and subsequent death. But the federal case can't be ignored and neither can the need for an influx of donations.

University president Wallace D. Loh said Evans is "the right person at the right time to lead Maryland athletics." Evans might have preferred a less-demanding time for his first permanent AD gig since Georgia. He also must win over segments of the Terps' base that disapproved of his selection, wanting a clean break from Anderson.

But he entered the position with his eyes wide open, knowing his hands would be full.

Welcome aboard!

⦁ Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.

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

Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

Glades Pioneer Park is getting a major face-lift.

The Orange Bowl Committee and Palm Beach County broke ground Wednesday for a $3 million renovation of the existing football stadium and field at the park, which is home to the Glades Youth Football League.

The league is a member of the Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance, a nonprofit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community.

Renovations to Glades Pioneer Park, which serves as a host site for youth football camps conducted by former and current National Football League players, include a synthetic turf field, an electronic scoreboard, an entry monument, fencing, walkways and signage.

The new field will be called Orange Bowl Field at Glades Pioneer Park.

It is the Orange Bowl's fifth Legacy Gift to the South Florida community and the first in Palm Beach County.

"The Orange Bowl Committee is proud to add Glades Pioneer Park to our Legacy Gift portfolio of park renovations, and specifically as our first in Palm Beach County," Orange Bowl Committee President and Chairman Sean Pittman said in a release.

"The county, and Belle Glade in particular, has a rich football history and tradition of raising superstar athletes who began their careers in the tri-cities. This park renovation is vitally needed to enable area youth the ability to carry on this incredible legacy."

Glades Pioneer Park is operated by the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department.

Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay said she looks forward to the new additions in Belle Glade.

"The new Orange Bowl Field will allow for greater recreation programming and enhance the sense of community for residents of the Glades area," she said.

jwagner@pbpost.com Twitter: @JRWagner5

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Copyright 2018 Gannett Company, Inc.
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USA TODAY

 

As soccer's 2018 World Cup winds down, there is no American men's team in the finals — or even the tournament. For all of America's wealth and population, the U.S. men's team was eliminated by... Panama. Adding insult to injury, Panama lost every game they played, including a 6-1 thrashing by England. What happened? Why is our men's soccer team so weak?

Pundits may place blame at the highest levels — the president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, or the coach of the national team. But maybe the problem is not at the top. Maybe it's at a local field, where kids practice in fancy uniforms under the eyes of anxious parents, hands-on coaches and vigilant referees. Kids stand in line kicking balls through cones, listening to lectures about technique and tactics.

They are not playing soccer, they're practicing it. But soccer is a game. To learn the beautiful game, they need to play it.

Around the world, kids play in mixed-age pickup games, un-coached, without parents, uniforms or shin guards. They play with different-sized balls on hard, fast, small courts packed with kids, where real skill is required just to control the ball, and the basic skills of the game teach themselves.

The greatest player of all time, the Brazilian legend Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento), learned to play soccer barefoot. The Shoeless Ones was the name of his first team. He had no cleats, cone drills or heroic soccer parents carpooling to tournaments. His ball was a sock stuffed with rags.

In some of the countries that eliminated the U.S. from the World Cup, that same lack of equipment and organization at the grassroots results in the sort of creative fast-paced game American soccer has not produced.

Many kids are left behind in a pay-to-play system that excludes huge swathes of America's youth. Those who can pay find themselves in ever fancier uniforms, participating in ever-more-tightly organized practices. Our kids travel for hours, often across state lines, and even across the entire country in search of "outstanding" competition, sometimes spending more time traveling than playing. What skill are they learning?

How to sit in the car.

Of course some may obtain a college scholarship, which in men's soccer might cover the cost of books. An even tinier sliver may make it to the pro ranks. But any fan watching our men's national team in action can recognize that the products of America's "soccer industrial complex" lack the creativity and skill on the ball to be world-class.

Just maybe, the keys to getting a U.S. men's team to the World Cup and a child's happiness are the same. Perhaps the quest for perfect equipment, perfect fields and perfect competition in an adult-driven system has prevented our kids from developing the skills, instincts and creativity to master the beautiful game.

To become a soccer-playing nation, we need to rethink how the game is learned and played at the grassroots level, even if it means not playing on grass at all. Because what we're doing right now isn't working. No wonder participation has declined by around 24 percent in recent years.

With soccer, less may be more. In the early years, forget the drills, equipment and travel. Let the kids play on the speedy blacktop and hard-packed dirt abundant across the fruited plain. Let younger kids learn by copying older kids. The simple supervision of a YMCA, parks and rec program or local club is all the organization needed.

The same countries where kids first learn a "shoeless" game have carefully controlled systems at higher levels. But at the grassroots, their kids are playing. Ours are not. Their kids are winning. Ours are not.

The solution is simple. The cost- and time-savings are staggering. And the organization and infrastructure already exist. Let's strip off the gear, throw out the expensive system and take soccer back to the creativity of the streets. Like Pele, let's go "shoeless."

Carlo Celli and Nathan Richardson are professors at Bowling Green State University and authors of the book "Shoeless Soccer: Fixing the System and Winning the World Cup."

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2018 Journal - Gazette Jul 11, 2018

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

 

While the switch from "IPFW" to "Purdue Fort Wayne" has been in effect since July 1, the transition has been slow and steady and will continue to be that for, potentially, years to come.

The Purdue Board of Trustees approved the separation of Purdue and Indiana universities at the Fort Wayne campus on Dec. 16, 2016. The Indiana University trustees had OK'd the split Dec. 1, 2016.

Purdue has control of most academic programs under the split; IU has a smaller presence in Fort Wayne and has control of health-related fields.

The trustees' votes left plenty of time to iron out the details, particularly how it would affect student-athletes majoring in health-related fields.

"We identified students who were IU majors early on and were very conscientious about what the transition meant for them," athletic director Kelley Hartley Hutton said. "At the time, we didn't know there'd be a teach-out for their IU degree in the respective fields. Were we recruiting students to those majors? We stopped recruiting those majors. When we ran the numbers, we didn't have a lot of those majors."

Hartley Hutton said that during her time coaching volleyball at IPFW, she found that student-athletes majoring in nursing had a difficult time balancing athletics and academics. Many chose different majors, though some quit playing volleyball to focus on their academics.

Students who were previously enrolled in Purdue programs that transitioned to IU Fort Wayne will graduate with a Purdue degree and are Purdue Fort Wayne students according to the registrar's office. This year's incoming freshmen in the same majors will be Indiana students and will not be eligible to be Purdue Fort Wayne athletes, based on NCAA rules.

Only one athlete, a female runner, was affected because she changed her major to nursing.

"We have no student-athletes that will lose eligibility," Hartley Hutton said. "That's because we identified that small group early and they started taking their classes and making sure they were meeting the graduation (requirements). We didn't have to do any waivers."

For the athletic department, the changes are minimal.

The logo has been changed, and Arnie Ball Court in the Gates Center now sports the new logo, which features the mastodon mascot, outlined in blue, in front of a black shield. The logo will be replaced wherever there is an old "Fort Wayne" logo, which is everywhere around the athletic department.

Harley Hutton said the university's goal is have most of the changes completed by the time the fall semester begins. She added that uniforms have been ordered.

"Some things have changed, some have not," Hartley Hutton said. " I think we'll have everything on time for the first part of the semester. Some of the student-athletes and coaches have the old gear on because some of the new gear just isn't in yet."

The decision to include blue in the mastodon logo, Hartley Hutton said, was in reference to the history of the department rather than the convenience of keeping blue around campus throughout the transition.

"When that decision was made, I don't think that had anything to do with the colors of the seats," she said of the Gates Center seating area. "It was more of an intentional decision of who we are and how this new mark can represent who we are the best."

She said when Chancellor Ronald Elsenbaumer joined the university in November, he met with people throughout the community and came away with how important the mastodon is to the university.

" The uniqueness of (the mastodon) and a little blue;... what a cool nod to our history and alumni," she said.

The curtains that separate the Gates Center courts and those in the Athletic Center Fieldhouse remain blue. The indoor track surface in the fieldhouse is blue and gray.

"Some of the scoreboards will be changed in the next year or so," Hartley Hutton said. "Some of them are older anyway. Those are the decisions we're making in the next few months. I know for a fact that just because we have a blue track that's seven years old, it has a lot of miles left. That would be fiscally irresponsible to resurface it because it's blue."

areichel@jg.net

 

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Copyright 2018 Paddock Publications, Inc.

Chicago Daily Herald

 

Fitness comes in many forms, and for a growing number of people, sports is one of the most appealing ways to stay in shape. Health and socialization are the driving forces behind the growing popularity of adult recreational sports leagues, particularly among millennials. According to Sports Marketing Surveys USA, a research company that provides data for the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, millennials are twice as likely as their Generation X counterparts to participate in team sports as adults.

However, adult leagues attract people of all ages and from both genders. Adults who played sports as children may be particularly drawn to adult sports leagues, which offer a way for them to maintain connections to sports they love. And Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a sports business software provider in Woodbury, NY, offers that adult leagues are the ideal fit for communities and especially appealing to millennials who grew up playing sports.

"Members of the millennial generation tend to have grown up with schedules packed with extracurricular sports," Willin says. "It's no surprise that this group is enthusiastic about competing in adult recreation leagues, and the supply is developing to meet the demand." In addition to leagues sponsored by local governments, the YMCA offers a number of adult programs across the country.

The YMCA says that their sports leagues provide a perfect opportunity to be active and social and to reconnect or start fresh with a sport. Some of the organization's most popular adult sports leagues include basketball, soccer, hockey, tennis, volleyball, and golf. Many community centers, churches and even local businesses sponsor adult sports leagues, which help build a sense of community among residents and often connect players with local businesses and charitable or goodwill organizations.

Although some recreational leagues are free to join, many are for-profit businesses. Costs for players can run anywhere from $50 to $90 per person for a season. These fees help cover the costs associated with setting up teams and the fees necessary to compensate referees and rent facilities where games will be played. Adult recreational sports leagues provide great alternatives to the gym for people who want to be physically active.

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Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

Surely, the irony could not be lost on anyone: the sight of Robertson Field filled with scores of prep soccer players, many of them hoping to someday compete in college, and more than a few of them for the hometown University of New Mexico Lobos.

The irony of it? That Robertson Field, UNM's practice facility, may someday soon be only a reminder of what once was in this city.

"I would love to play for UNM," said Cleveland High's Gabriel Legendre, a junior forward and someone who said he already has had conversations with the Lobos.

Of course, there may not be a Lobo program by the time Legendre is college ready. The decision to cut or keep UNM men's soccer, almost certainly the most successful men's sport at the school in the last decade, is expected to come down soon, perhaps on July 19. That's the date when the UNM Board of Regents is expected to eliminate at least one sport as a measure to cut costs in athletics.

"It really does bother me," Legendre said. "They work so much throughout the community. Since I was little, I've always wanted to be a Lobo."

A sizable chunk of the metro area's prep soccer community congregated in and around Robertson Field — and the UNM football indoor facility — for the Lobos' annual High School Summer Series event that began Tuesday afternoon.

Among the 12 boys teams in attendance were a veritable who's who of the area's elite, including defending Class 6A state champion Albuquerque High, runner-up La Cueva, plus Cleveland, Rio Rancho, St. Pius, Sandia, Atrisco Heritage and Eldorado.

One of the topics of the day was how local coaches and players are reacting to the uncertainty — and perhaps even the demise — of men's soccer at the only university in New Mexico that offers Division I soccer.

That includes two local standouts who are soon to begin their UNM careers.

"If it were to get cut, that would be devastating to all the kids who want to play here," said former Albuquerque High forward Carlos Gutierrez, who led the Bulldogs to the state title last fall over La Cueva.

Anthony Muñoz, La Cueva's outstanding goalkeeper last season, also is now a Lobo — fulfilling a dream he's long held.

"It would leave a huge (vacancy) for kids to play in front of their family and friends," Muñoz said. "That was one of the big reasons I came here."

Another Cleveland standout, senior defender Jake Lent-Koop, recently committed to Messiah (Pa.) College, the Division III national champion.

UNM was among the schools he said he was looking at. Asked if the Lobos' situation contributed to his decision to go elsewhere, Lent-Koop said, "part of it."

UNM men's coach Jeremy Fishbein, who is working this week's series of games with his staff and players, said he has to be up front with potential recruits about his program's uneasy circumstances.

"There are a lot of good players (in New Mexico)," Fishbein said. "My question is, how can we strengthen and challenge the elite players?"

The Lobos last season picked up a huge haul of metro-area talent, including Muñoz, Gutierrez, Albuquerque Academy's Nick Williams, Volcano Vista's Larsen Rogers and St. Pius' Julian Garcia. They may all need to find new homes should the worst-case scenario unfold.

"I think it's tragic," longtime AHS boys coach Lucien Starzynski said. "I think the game is so improved in this state, for a number of reasons... cultivating this game is a critical part of this state. How you can have such an important piece of this state taken away is crazy to me. It is the flagship soccer program for the entire state."

And, St. Pius coach A.J. Herrera said, the ripple effects will be felt beyond just this batch of high school athletes.

"We're talking about kids that are 5 or 6 years old right now," he said. "It would be absolutely devastating if this program got cut. I'm crossing my fingers that it doesn't come to fruition."

Several of the top metro coaches in the city — Volcano Vista's Billy Thiebaut, Atrisco Heritage's Micah Newman and La Cueva's Easy Jimenez — are former Lobo players.

"This is New Mexico, a program that is a premier program," said Thiebaut. "To just yank it after all the success, it is just mind blowing."

Both Thiebaut and Jimenez played for coach Klaus Weber at UNM.

"There is a lot of pride playing here," said Jimenez. "Albuquerque is more soccer than anything, with club soccer, high school soccer and college here. It's the biggest. So to go like that — that!... it's not like we've been struggling."

But would the elimination of men's soccer have a trickle-down, negative impact on high school-age players?

"Absolutely," Thiebaut answered. "It will impact our clubs and high school soccer in New Mexico in general. (Kids) want to be a Lobo one day. Everyone is in distress."

That includes St. Pius' Jaren Rodriguez, a senior forward for the Sartans.

"It's kind of sad," he said. "There are so many young soccer players in New Mexico. It's hard to get recruited out of state."

Said Cleveland's Lent-Koop: "To even consider taking away such a winning program is not logical to me."

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Copyright 2018 ProQuest Information and Learning
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Copyright 2018 Journal Register Co.

New Haven Register (Connecticut)

 

Esports are coming to ESPN.

The network will air the inaugural Overwatch League Grand Finals in prime time this month as part of a multiyear agreement to bring esports to the biggest sports platform on American television.

Disney and Blizzard Entertainment announced plans Wednesday to broadcast the OWL's playoffs and championship on ESPN, ABC and Disney XD. The Grand Finals on July 27 will be shown live on ESPN, marking the first time the network will carry esports in prime time.

"We think that really reflects the commitment they're making to the category," said Pete Vlastelica, President and CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues.

Coverage begins Wednesday with the playoffs on Disney XD and ESPN3. There will be 10 hours total of Grand Finals coverage, including a recap show July 29 on ABC. Disney's networks will also broadcast OWL matches next season. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

Overwatch is a team-based first-person shooter, with two teams of six players competing over various objectives. The OWL has city-based teams in four countries, including nine US franchises plus teams in London, Seoul and Shanghai. The league plans to expand after its first season.

"There's no doubt that this partnership will increase the reach of our league content," Vlastelica said. "And open up, have access to a new audience that maybe doesn't spend so much time streaming content online, but who has heard of esports and is familiar with gaming and who's a big sports fan."

The playoffs will take place at Blizzard's esports arena in Burbank, California, and the Grand Finals will be held at the Barclays Center in New York.

The OWL had been streaming all matches on Twitch, a livestream platform owned by Amazon, and it will continue to provide simulcasts there through at least 2019. The league signed a two-year agreement with Twitch prior to this season and drew 10 million viewers to the platform on its opening weekend, besting Amazon's NFL "Thursday Night Football" numbers from the 2017 season.

This won't be ESPN's first foray into events that aren't strictly sports. Its programming has included the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the World Series of Poker and the Drum Corps International championship. ESPN also aired part of the FIFA Ultimate Team Championship Series in 2017, and it previously partnered with Blizzard Entertainment on "Heroes of the Dorm," an esports tournament for college gamers.

Esports have made headway into the mainstream over the past year, with the International Olympic Committee stating its interest in adding video games last fall. The IOC is set to host an esports forum this month to explore adding video games to the Olympics.

 

Follow Jake Seiner on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jake_Seiner

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

 

College basketball legends are made in March, but they're recruited in July.

Today marks the beginning of what is perhaps the second most important month on the calendar for coaches, with three straight evaluation periods giving them one last chance to hit the road and watch prospects in action on the AAU circuit.

Let's make some sense of what's known as the "July live period":

1. What's an evaluation period, and why does it matter?

There are five evaluation periods each offseason, typically two in late April and three in July. During such periods, coaches can watch players compete live at AAU events, visit their high schools or make phone contact with prospects and their parents. Coaches aren't allowed to speak with recruits face-to-face away from their high school campus, though.

With two weeks of evaluation completed in April, July is typically where scholarship offers are handed out and coaching staffs look to make a final big impression before they turn their attention back to their teams on campus to begin preparing for the season.

2. Where's the action?

Events run by shoe companies are the most well-known, but tournaments will take place all over the country for the next several weeks.

Peach Jam, Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League final in North Augusta, S.C., is the king of all AAU hoops events, but championships for the Adidas Gauntlet in New York and the Under Armour Association in Atlanta are major draws for top programs, too.

Locally, Phenom Hoop report will host the JMAC Classic July 18-20 before partnering with Team CP3 to host a major event July 20-22.

3. Is this the last July evaluation period?

This could be it, with the National Association of Basketball Coaches pushing for a new system that would instead send players to regional evaluation camps run by USA Basketball and supported by the NCAA.

The move would come in response to the FBI probe into college basketball that broke in September with the arrest of several NCAA assistant coaches and shoe company executives who are accused of making or taking bribes designed to guide players to programs sponsored by the companies.

Under the new format, coaches would still have April evaluation periods before spending May and June evaluating players on the campuses of their high schools and in scholastic competition with the goal of having those coaches become more involved in the process.

4. Where's the N&R heading?

For the second straight year, we're heading to North Augusta for three days at Peach Jam.

Along with elite players being recruited by North Carolina's ACC programs, Team CP3 features several players with local ties, such as Wesleyan Christian's Keyshaun and Kobe Langley along with Nick Brown of Westchester.

Last season, news of Marvin Bagley's decision to reclassify before committing to Duke broke at the tournament, Kevin Durant showed up to take in a few games, and Greensboro Day coach Freddy Johnson spent time talking with Carolina's Roy Williams while watching Team CP3.

There's never a shortage of storylines at Riverview Park Activities Center.

Contact Brant Wilkerson-New at 336-373-7008.

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Copyright 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Las Vegas • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is certain that changes are coming to the league.

Some are easy.

Others, not so much.

Speaking after the NBA's Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday night, Silver said he thinks the league is ready to scrap the rule requiring players to be out of high school for a year before becoming eligible to enter the draft. That one should be relatively simple to move forward now, while notions such as how to find more competitive balance are still a puzzler to the league and its commissioner.

"I'm not here to say we have a problem," Silver said. "And I love where the league is right now. But I think we can create a better system."

Part of that better system, he thinks, will be reverting back to the policy that will allow players to go into the league right out of high school - something that should be in place in time for the 2021 NBA Draft, though that timeline has not been formally announced. Silver was a proponent of making the eligibility age older, up to 20 instead of the current 19, though he has changed his stance on that in recent weeks.

"My personal view is that we're ready to make that change," Silver said. "It won't come immediately. But when I've weighed the pros and cons, given that Condoleezza Rice and her commission have recommended to the NBA that those one-and-done players now come directly into the league and in essence the college community is saying 'We do not want those players anymore,' I think that tips the scale in my mind."

Michele Roberts, the National Basketball Players Association's newly re-elected executive director - the players' union announced a new four-year deal for her earlier Tuesday - has had talks with Silver on the topic, though she stopped short of revealing specifics. Any change to the rule will require that the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement will have to be amended.

"Stay tuned," Roberts said, adding, "I suspect that we'll have some news in the next few months."

Now that Silver is on board, that switch should be painless. So, too, will be a relatively minor tweak to free agency rules, that being a likely change to what has been the traditional 1201 a.m. EDT start time on July 1. Silver said he's no fan of the all-night news cycle that has accompanied the official start of free agency, and without divulging what will happen he made clear that it'll be different for 2019.

But creating parity, that one isn't going to be simple.

Golden State has won three of the last four NBA championships, and this summer saw the Warriors land DeMarcus Cousins for a $5.3 million - a mere pittance by NBA standards for an All-Star, even one recovering from an Achilles' tear. LeBron James left Cleveland for the Los Angeles Lakers, which will likely make the loaded Western Conference even more competitive.

Making the playoffs out West will probably be much tougher than getting there out of the East.

"It's on me and our labor relations committee ultimately to sit with the players and their committee and convince them that there may be a better way of doing things," Silver said. "By that, meaning change ultimately in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.... I don't necessarily think it's, per se, bad that the Warriors are so dominant. We're not trying to create some sort of forced parity. What we're really focused on is parity of opportunity."

Roberts said she sees no shortage of good teams in the league.

"Competitive balance, it kind of almost depends upon what your favorite team is," Roberts said. "I don't hear anyone in the Bay Area worrying about competitive balance. I also don't hear people in Philadelphia worrying about competitive balance, or Houston. We've got great teams. It's never been the case that I was not able, most of the time, be able to predict who was going to be in the finals."

Among other matters Silver addressed Tuesday

• The governors were briefed on the ongoing talks the league is having with the gaming industry, with sports betting now able to be offered by each state following a ruling in May by the U.S. Supreme Court.

• Silver called it "embarrassing" that the league currently has only one female referee, and said he's hopeful that will be changed before long. There are 19 female referees at summer league in Las Vegas this month.

• The investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct against the Dallas Mavericks should be completed by the end of July, Silver said.

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

 

Memphis officials set forth refined plans Tuesday to develop a nearly $100 million Fairgrounds sports complex grand enough to host such high-profile events as the Olympic Trials.

The project, building on a decade's worth of improvements in the 155-acre, city-owned Fairgrounds, would include a 185,000-square-foot indoor sports complex, an enhanced Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, and an outdoor track and playing field. Infrastructure also would be provided to accommodate future hotel and retail development.

"It's really putting a first-class facility right there in the middle of the city," said Paul Young, director of Housing & Community Development, who presented the plans to City Council members.

Funding to come from Tourism Development Zone

The main chunk of funding for the project, which is estimated to cost $95 million to $100 million, would come from a proposed Tourism Development Zone extending along commercial corridors to Overton Square, the Cooper-Young area, Crosstown and along portions of Union and Airways.

In a TDZ, the extra amount of sales tax revenue collected within an area after a project is built is returned to the zone to pay off the bonds used to finance the improvements.

Young said the proposed TDZ would generate an estimated $133 million over 30 years, enough to support $50 million in immediate bond proceeds.

Young said the city's application for the TDZ should be submitted to the state in late July or early August. The state Building Commission could approve it by October or November, he said.

Naming rights, philanthropic donations and contributions from stakeholders would provide much of the balance of the funding.

City officials said the funding plan meets the goal set by Mayor Jim Strickland to avoid using general-fund dollars on the project.

Complex to include indoor track, 12 basketball courts

Details of the plan show the indoor sports complex containing 12 hardwood basketball and volleyball courts, a hydraulic-banked indoor track that would rise from the surface for meets. The facility's high ceilings would accommodate gymnastics and cheer competitions as well as other events.

Also, the west tower of the Liberty Bowl, which contains the press box and suites, would be replaced, with other improvements planned in the stadium over a 10-year period.

Depending on the revenue flow, future projects could include improvements to nearby Tobey Park, enhancements to the Maxine Smith STEAM Academy and additional parking. Eventually, private developers could become interested in reactivating the now-closed Mid-South Coliseum, according to the city.

Young said the project would yield an economic impact of $978 million over 30 years. Impoverished neighborhoods such as nearby Orange Mound would benefit, he said.

The complex could put Memphis in contention for such prestigious events as Olympic Trials and AAU tournaments, he said.

Unlike previous iterations of a proposed youth sports complex, the new plan favors indoor events over such sports as baseball. However, a new outdoor track and playing field on the south side would replace the current on the north side. The Pipkin and Creative Arts buildings also are slated for improvements or repairs.

City hopes to host at least 50 events in first year

The city anticipates the site hosting 50 events during its first year rising to 80 or more by the fifth year, when the complex would reach break-even status. The facility would be open to Memphis on days when no events are scheduled.

Responding to a question from council member Martavius Jones, Young said an aquatic complex wasn't included in the plans because the University of Memphis' swimming facilities will be improved.

The Fairground area has been the focus of several projects completed during the past decade, including Tiger Lane tailgating area and the Kroc Center.

The revised plans come eight months after the city announced plans to develop a youth sports complex at the Fairgrounds and indefinitely mothball the Mid-South Coliseum.

Reach Tom Charlier at thomas.charlier@commercialappeal.com or 901-529-2572 and on Twitter at @thomasrcharlier.

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

 

The NFL Players Association filed a grievance on Tuesday against the league's new national anthem policy.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced in May that the league would enact a national anthem policy for the 2018 season that requires players and league personnel to either stand for the anthem or remain in the locker room.

The policy subjects teams to a fine if a player or any other personnel do not show respect for the anthem.

"Our union filed its non-injury grievance today on behalf of all players challenging the NFL's recently imposed anthem policy," the NFLPA said in a statement. "The union's claim is that this new policy, imposed by the NFL's governing body without consultation with the NFLPA, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights.

"In advance of our filing today, we proposed to the NFL to begin confidential discussions with the NFLPA Executive Committee to find a solution to this issue instead of immediately proceeding with litigation. The NFL has agreed to proceed with those discussions and we look forward to starting them soon."

Under Article 43 of the collective bargaining agreement, franchises have the right to implement "reasonable club rules."

The NFL will have 10 days to respond in writing to the accusations in the grievance.

NFLPA president Eric Winston told Sirius XM NFL Radio on Tuesday that he is hopeful the talks will lead to a compromise between the sides.

"Players are hoping to get together and come together with ownership and find a solution," said Winston. "I think that's what's best for the game. I think when we've done that, when we've had solutions that have come from both sides, that's been good."

The anthem issue has been a divisive one, with some feeling that players who don't stand for the song are being disrespectful to, among others, the U.S. military. Others feel it is the players' right to protest perceived social injustice peacefully.

Tepper wants change

New Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper wants to create a more open "family" atmosphere in the wake of the troubles that surrounded previous owner Jerry Richardson.

Tepper addressed this topic, the Richardson statue outside Bank of America Stadium and the team's coaching staff during Tuesday's introductory press conference with reporters.

"I like to have an open environment. Where everybody feels safe like a family," said Tepper, the founder of global hedge fund Appaloosa Management, based in Miami Beach, Fla. He paid $2.275 billion for the right to own the team.

The Panthers came under fire in December when Sports Illustrated published a report alleging that Richardson was accused of racial and sexual harassment. The 81-year-old Richardson, who elected to sell the team amid a league investigation, was fined $2.75 million by the NFL on June 28.

Tepper said on Tuesday that he was "contractually obligated" to leave the 13-foot bronze statue of Richardson outside of Bank of America Stadium.

The 60-year-old Tepper praised the coaching staff, namely head coach Ron Rivera, who has guided the Panthers to a 64-47-1 record and four postseason appearances in seven years. Carolina also won the NFC South in 2013-15 and advanced to the Super Bowl in 2015.

"You're actually blessed with a pretty good football side here," Tepper said. "A head coach who kind of understands and understands himself."

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Copyright 2018 Star-News, Inc.
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Star-News (Wilmington, NC)

 

Editor's note: This story contains graphic content that may offend some readers.

In less than a minute, you get an idea of Brian Cain.

A video on his YouTube channel of a 2015 presentation to Houston student-athletes gives you a peek at his methods. He demands you match his energy. His voice is loud, but he's not yelling. He strides around the room with confidence and bravado. He quickly reminds you this is an interactive presentation.

Cain has been traveling the country for more than a decade as a mental performance coach. His clients include powerhouse college programs and professional athletes. He's built a reputation in sports psychology that has made him extremely sought after.

Yet to UNCW fans, he'll always be known as the "Dick of Death" guy. The person whose 2017 Skype session with the baseball team was the start of a path that resulted in pitching coach Matt Williams losing his job.

This was never Cain's intent.

"I will always own my behavior. I have nothing to hide," Cain said. Through a media relations firm, Cain agreed to provide written answers to questions about his career, the presentation with UNCW and the aftermath. "My life is simply a laboratory and learning experience that I share with the world so that they can avoid the pain and problems that I have experienced."

Turning failure into success

Cain has a word for his career with Vermont baseball - terrible. As a pitcher, he struggled, never meeting the expectations he'd set for himself. Bad days on the field laid a foundation for his career off it.

Before his senior year, Cain stumbled upon a copy of "Heads Up Baseball" by Ken Ravizza and Tom Hanson. The book's message: Focus on the process rather than outcome. It was a way Cain had never thought of the game before. It led him to become a grad assistant with the Cal State Fullerton baseball program so he could study under Ravizza while getting his master's degree in applied sports psychology.

"I went there wanting to be a baseball coach and I came out wanting to be a peak mental performance coach because I saw firsthand how peak mental performance was the missing link to elite level performance," Cain said.

After getting his degree, Cain was a high school athletic director. He landed his first mental performance client in 2006 when Dave Serrano, a former assistant at Fullerton, took over at UC Irvine. Later that year, Cain added TCU, Vanderbilt and UNCW.

"By 2009 I was on the road 40-plus weekends a year and was using my vacation time as an AD to do more coaching. I had two full time jobs and loved it," Cain said. "I was torn. I really loved my job as an athletic director, but couldn't imagine my life not doing peak mental performance coaching."

The death of his mother in 2010 became the turning point, and he eventually made the decision to turn his pastime into a career.

Cain estimates he now spends 280-plus days a year on the road. Even when he's not traveling, his schedule includes Skype sessions or phone calls with teams or players. Annually, he handles about 10 individual athletes and 25-30 teams. Over the years, his client list has included former UFC champion Georges St-Pierre, the Washington Nationals, Fuddruckers, and college teams at Alabama, Notre Dame and Michigan.

"We've used Brian Cain over the years as a Peak Performance coach, working with our players on the mental side of the game of baseball. Brian has been nothing but terrific in working with and motivating our players," Ole Miss baseball said in a statement.

Cain's services come at a cost.

Two contracts with Houston baseball for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years were worth $20,000 each. Another contract with Iowa baseball during the 2012-13 school year was worth $15,000 plus travel expenses. Requests by the StarNews for contracts from some 10 schools around the country, including East Carolina and North Carolina, have not been returned as of Tuesday.

His first presentation at UNCW was Sept. 8-10, 2006, when baseball coach Mark Scalf employed his services. The session cost $3,000. Scalf scheduled a similar program in 2015 for $5,000. During the 2015-16 school year, Cain made two appearances, each costing $7,500. His 2016-17 work with baseball was also two in-person sessions, each running $8,750. Additionally, Cain worked with the women's basketball team in 2016, speaking on-campus twice at a cost of $10,000 per appearance. Each of those agreements included additional support via email, phone or Skype.

University funds did not pay for these services. Each team has a discretionary support fund managed by the Seahawk Club, which consists of money raised from fundraising events and donations.

'30 seconds'

Cain asked UNCW staff members and players what needed to be addressed during the Skype session with pitchers in May 2017.

Three topics came up: Confident body language, attacking the strike zone versus pitching passively, and playing the game loose.

Cain drew inspiration from the 2000 film Boiler Room. In a speech to stock traders, Ben Affleck uses the phrase 'Act as if.' Affleck begins by telling his team to go out and buy new suits so that they look more professional. He hopes the new look leads them to "act as if you're the [expletive] president of this firm. Act as if you've got a nine-inch cock."

Cain's speech - and use of a rubber mold of the male anatomy that became known as the Dick of Death - were never intended to be sexual in nature. Cain called it a prop that took up about 30 seconds in a 30-minute session, noting that its use was an "isolated incident."

"It was my intention to deliver a message, in a light-hearted way, that the men in the room would connect with and understand the point we were trying to make about carrying yourself with bigger body language and confidence while attacking the strike zone with your pitches vs. pitching passively. Both of which would help them to pitch better," Cain said.

Players interviewed have said that, at the time, no one openly objected during the presentation or immediately after. The group had two instant reactions - laughter or shock.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a female mental performance coach, who has been working in the field for more than two decades, said testing the limits and sometimes using language some might consider vulgar is a part of making an impact. Every team or school has a line and it's up to the speaker to figure out where it is. That doesn't mean they can't cross it without knowing or that the intent of the message was wrong.

"If you go in and just give this soft, little talk, no one really remembers that. It doesn't have much of an impact," she said. "I've never pulled out something like that, but I've certainly said some things that made people in the audience go, 'What?' for the purposes of grabbing their attention, so they have something to rally around."

Eventually, that moment was presented to university officials and became the starting point for an investigation that ran months and led to Williams' dismissal in June.

Cain says that during the investigation process, no one from UNCW contacted him. Through a spokesperson, the university said it could not comment on the details of a personnel investigation.

"I'd imagine if what was said that day was really an issue for the people in the room, the pitchers and pitching coach who received the message live and as it was intended, in the proper context, I would have been contacted by Coach Scalf," Cain said. "(Scalf) has deep relationships with his players and is a man of high character that would address any below the line behavior that was in anyway related to his program."

What's next?

Details of the ordeal spread rapidly on social media after the StarNews published its original story about the incident on June 15.

Within hours, Cain was receiving calls and messages from people he's worked with for years.

"In my mind right away, I was like, 'Someone misconstrued something. Someone took something a little a too far and it got caught up in the social media world.' Not at one minute was I like, 'Are you kidding me?'" Florida State softball coach Lonni Alameda said. Cain has worked with the Seminoles since her arrival in 2009. The team won the 2018 NCAA Championship in June.

The support has been welcome, because Cain has witnessed the flip side.

Online, people have called him a charlatan and asked for schools to boycott his use in the future.

Those who know Cain have a different point of view.

Alameda and her assistant coaches met with him in Chicago a few weeks after winning the national title, and the story's publication. It was a chance to talk and regroup after the grind of a rewarding season.

She calls the FSU players and staff her family and said she would never bring anyone into that group that would jeopardize keeping them safe. She's known Cain since her days at UNLV and has seen how valuable his work is - which is why she plans to bring him back next season.

"He's so professional, he's almost like a big brother to the girls," Alameda said. "They can call him at any moment. He gives his cell phone to all of them and they can call him at any moment and he can work them through when they're struggling."

Cain hopes coaches and athletic directors will call him. He understands there will be questions and he's happy to answer them. He has nothing to hide.

"We are all human and make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. I own my actions and hope that others will reconsider their decisions, forgive themselves and others and move forward," Cain said. "People need to come together during difficult times and learn, not turn their back, run and hide. There is a lot of lessons to be learned here by all. We all need to swallow pride and ego and focus on progress and keep moving forward."

Reporter Alex Riley can be reached at 910-343-2034 or Alex.Riley@StarNewsOnline.com

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Copyright 2018 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

NEW YORK - Sometimes bigger isn't necessarily better, the WNBA is learning as far as arena sizes go.

There has been a move over the past few years to downsize venues that will save franchises money and provide a more intimate experience for the fans.

Next season, only four of the 12 teams will be playing in current NBA arenas - Los Angeles, Minnesota, Phoenix and Indiana. When the league first started 22 years ago all the franchises were in NBA venues.

"We started in NBA buildings because they were available, WNBA President Lisa Borders told the AP in an interview. "NBA owners, with the infrastructure they had, it was easy to drop a team in.

Now WNBA teams are scaling back where they play. It seems that the perfect-sized venue for the WNBA as far as economics and fan experience is roughly an 8,000-seat arena such as the Mohegan Sun where Connecticut plays.

"What I want to do is get the product in the right-sized buildings, Borders said.

Borders said the league has hired an innovation and brand design consulting firm to come up with a wide-ranging five-year strategic plan and that everything is on the table, including looking at venues and venue size.

"We want to get it right, she added.

The biggest move this offseason was in New York with the Liberty going from Madison Square Garden to the Westchester County Center. Washington is moving into a new building next year that will have a capacity of just 4,200.

The change of venue for New York saves millions of dollars in operating costs for the Liberty because the Garden costs nearly 20 times as much to play in. The Liberty will lose some revenue from sponsorships associated with playing at the Garden. The new arena is much smaller than the Garden, with maximum seating at nearly 4,500. The team configured the arena to seat 2,319 fans, a size that will be used for the immediate future.

While New York can't consistently fill up the smaller arena, drawing around 1,700 fans on average at Westchester this season, it's financially working out better. The Liberty are covering the cost of opening the arena with ticket revenue. Something that rarely happened at MSG.

The Liberty averaged 9,889 fans last season, the fourth highest of the league's 12 teams. New York said that number was a combination of paid tickets and complimentary ones and that the paid attendance was fewer than 5,000 fans.

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Copyright 2018 Sarasota Herald-Tribune Co.
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Sarasota Herald Tribune (Florida)

 

NORTH PORT — City commissioners plan to close the North Port Aquatic Center on Wednesdays and raise the non-resident daily fee to use it from $10 to $12, as part of a plan to decrease potential operating costs for a park that won't even be open for business until next July.

The city broke ground on the long-awaited aquatic amenity on June 30, in hopes that it would be open next summer.

The $10.8 million aquatic complex will include both a 25-yard stretch competition swimming pool suitable for most high school and college swim meets, a lazy river leisure pool, a kids activity pool with zero entry, two body flumes, a bowl slide, shade structures, a bath house with locker rooms and concessions.

The stretch pool has a

movable bulkhead and will be able to accommodate both 25-meter and 25-yard competition swim meets.

Originally the pool was supposed to be open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, excluding certain holidays.

The aquatic center recreational amenities were scheduled to be opened from noon to 7 p.m. on weekends only from April 1 to Memorial Day; from Memorial Day to Labor Day, it would have been open daily from noon to 8 p.m. It would open on weekends only again from noon to 7 p.m. from Labor Day through Halloween.

Based on estimates from consultant Counsilman-Hunsaker, the aquatic center could expect an attendance of 87,228 in its first full year of operation, with revenues of $670,990 and expenses of nearly $1.3 million — creating a projected deficit of $611,447.

If the park opens on schedule in July 2019, it will be available for 41 percent of the typical season. Even then, the projected revenue would be $276,110, compared with projected expenses of $545,730, for a $269,620 deficit.

The deficit could be reduced somewhat once the Sarasota County School District and the city sign a use agreement for school swim teams. A similar agreement could be struck with Image School's North Port campus.

City Manager Peter Lear noted that while school district officials had no interest in paying to help construct the pool, they had expressed willingness to pay for its use. But any agreement would not be in place prior to the 2019-20 school year.

"At the end of the day, the pool is opening, as far as the school is concerned, for the next school year, not the one that's about to start," Lear said.

City commissioners have long contended that while it's doubtful the park will break even, the deficit won't be severe.

Mayor Vanessa Carusone thought the facility would be overstaffed.

"I just think there are way too many lifeguards for this facility," said Carusone, who doubted the consultant's recommendation that 19 lifeguards should be on duty when the entire complex is open.

She suggested staff find out the numbers for Sun Splash Family Water Park in Cape Coral, Adventure Island in Tampa and Rogers Aquatic Center in Rogers, Arkansas, to figure out what the city should budget.

Vice Mayor Linda Yates added that it would be easier to reduce the number of lifeguard hours needed, once the park opens, rather than cut back prematurely.

The city is already hiring a mix of full-time and part-time lifeguards.

Basic coverage, when the lap pool alone is open, calls for three lifeguards, a recreation attendant and one supervisor.

Year-round, that would mean hiring four full-time lifeguards and anywhere from two to 39 part-time lifeguards, whose work week would be capped at 29 hours — enough to qualify for partial vacation benefits but not enough for health benefits.

Joan Morgan, a former city commissioner and longtime proponent of the pool, said many of those part-time lifeguards would be high school students.

"Kids want the extra money on the vacation dates; we need the extra lifeguards," she added.

To decrease costs, the commission unanimously voted to close on Wednesdays, which were cited by City Commissioner Jill Luke, who has previous pool management experience, as down days — for a projected savings of as much as $92,360. School holidays and in-service days were exempted.

Gid Pool, another longtime pool champion, questioned the wisdom of closing Wednesdays in the summer.

"There are about eight weeks of school vacation, and you're going to close eight days during the height of use by kids," Pool said.

It was easier to bump the rates for non-resident use from $10 to $12 plus tax for adults and to $10 plus tax for children, seniors and veterans — creating more separation from the proposed resident day rates of $8 plus tax for adults and $6 plus tax for seniors and veterans, with babies up to 23 months free.

Annual park passes for residents would be $150 for adults, $110 for children, veterans and seniors, with a four-person family pack set at $375. Additional family members would cost $30 per pass, while annual passes for the swimming pool only are $75 per year.

The board also unanimously voted to direct staff to develop plans for people to sponsor the pool with decorative pavers inscribed with names, as well as seasonal corporate sponsorship signage.

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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

CHARLOTTE — The David Tepper era of the Carolina Panthers organization has begun.

The $2.275-billion sale of the franchise to Tepper was made official Monday, the team announced.

"I am thrilled to begin this new era of Carolina Panthers football and am humbled by the overwhelming excitement and support for the team," Tepper said in a statement. "On behalf of the fans and myself, I thank (former owner and founder) Jerry Richardson for bringing the team to the Carolinas and for entrusting me with its future.

"Winning is the most important thing both on and off the field and in the community, and I am committed to winning a Super Bowl championship together. I look forward to being part of the Panthers' family and to supporting this flourishing region."

Tepper, 60, is the founder and CEO of global hedge fund Appaloosa Management, and has a net worth of over $11 billion according to a 2017 Forbes assessment.

A Pittsburgh native, he was also formerly a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise, but had to sell his 5 percent stake before becoming the Panthers' owner.

The team was put up for sale in December by Richardson, following allegations of workplace misconduct against Richardson that launched an NFL investigation into the organization.

Tepper beat out multiple bidders over a nearly six-month process with a cash bid of $2.2 billion (the bid totaled $2.275 billion), and was approved unanimously by the NFL's 31 other owners at the league meetings in Atlanta in May.

Tepper said at his introductory press conference during those meetings that the first, second and third things he cares about as the owner of the Panthers is "winning, on and off the field."

Now, more details about his plans for the franchise will take shape.

Tepper has pledged to keep the team in Charlotte, the city in which it was founded in 1993. The Panthers started play in 1995, with the inaugural season played in Clemson, S.C., and moved to its uptown Charlotte stadium in 1996.

Tepper also said he wants to continue to honor the Panthers' two-state fanbase. The Observer reported in June that the team could build a state-of-the-art mixed-use practice facility on either side of the state line.

It is unclear what Tepper's immediate plans for minority partnership are, though he did say he saw the benefits of having minority partners and will consider groups with local ties.

It is additionally unclear how many people on the Panthers' staff will be retained.

Less than 30 minutes after the announcement that the sale had been finalized, chief operating officer Tina Becker announced her resignation.

Becker, a 19-year Panthers employee, was promoted to the position the day after Richardson announced he'd be stepping away from day-to-day team operations and selling the franchise.

Other than a brief question-and-answer segment with the team's website, Becker did not publicly address media during her short time in the position and did not comment on the allegations against Richardson, the sale or the investigation.

The team is also with out a president, following the resignation of Danny Morrison in spring of 2017.

Tepper has already evaluated the football operations staff, including head coach Ron Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney, and was "incredibly impressed" according to CBS Sports' Jason LaCanfora.

Hurney and Rivera each has a contract that runs through the 2020 season.

The investigation into Richardson and the Panthers organization concluded in June, finding evidence that substantiated claims of workplace misconduct by Richardson. He was fined $2.75 million by the league.

According to a statement released by the NFL, Tepper was privately briefed on the details of the NFL's investigation. The investigation also found that the Panthers failed to report misconduct to the league's personal conduct committee, but found no evidence of misconduct from other organization employees.

Richardson has not publicly addressed the allegations or NFL investigation since the initial report in December.

After the team announced the finalization of the sale Monday, he released a statement that thanked the Carolina community for its support of the Panthers, the organization for providing a "great fan experience" and wished Tepper the best.

The statement did not address the reason for the sale, or the investigation and its findings.

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The Daily News of Los Angeles

 

Dr. Ken Ravizza, a sports psychologist whose work touched generations in Southern California and beyond, died Sunday. He was 70.

Ravizza taught in the kinesiology department on the campus of Cal State Fullerton over parts of five decades. His professional clients included the Angels, with whom he began working in 1985. He had been a consultant to the Chicago Cubs since 2015.

A resident of Redondo Beach, Ravizza met with players from the Dodgers and Cubs in person during a series at Dodger Stadium in June. On July 2, Ravizza was hospitalized after suffering an apparent heart attack.

Ravizza was a pioneer in the field of applied sports psychology consulting. The Oxford Handbook of Sport and Performance Psychology cites him as having started consulting in 1973. His clients included amateur and professional athletes in a variety of sports. Since 2010, Ravizza was also the sports psychologist for the UCLA baseball team.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner and pitcher Dylan Floro both took Ravizza's sports psychology classes while they were student-athletes at Fullerton.

"When you think things are so terrible for you, he was able to give you a perspective to make you feel like what you're going through is not really anything bad at all," Turner said. "It could be way worse. It was an iconic voice. If he was in another room and you heard him talking, you knew exactly who it was. 'Yo - JT! Ya workin' it?' Nothing like it. An incredible guy."

Ravizza earned a Ph.D. from USC in 1973 and began teaching on the Fullerton campus in 1977. His courses included stress management, applied sports psychology and the philosophical and historic perspective of human movement. He also served as an adviser to undergraduate and graduate students of applied sports psychology.

"He was one of Fullerton's secret weapons," former CSF gymnastics coach Lynn Rogers told the Southern California News Group in 2014.

In 2004, a Fullerton baseball team featuring Turner and seven other future major leaguers won the College World Series. After a slow start to their season, Turner said the Titans began keeping a miniature toilet in their dugout to "flush away" bad at-bats.

"He had a lot to do with our championship," Turner said. "We started off 15-16 that year and had many, many Ken Ravizza sessions.... He put the little portable toilet in our dugout, talked about flushing away the bad at-bats, flushing away the bad results and moving on, getting to the next pitch. A lot of things I still talk about on a daily basis here are directly from him."

A scholarship for kinesiology students at Fullerton, the Ken Ravizza Scholarship in Performance Enhancement and Sport Psychology, was established in 2015.

Ravizza and Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon worked together for 30 years, according to the team's official website. Maddon was responsible for bringing Ravizza to the Cubs' staff after both worked for the Angels and Tampa Bay Rays. The Cubs won the World Series in 2016.

"I think he's one of the best in the business," Maddon told SCNG in 2017.

"His impact on so many is immeasurable and his legacy will be a lasting one," Angels VP of Communications Tim Mead wrote on Twitter. "Ken used not only his professional skills, but his genuine compassion, honesty, and caring for each individual he connected with."

Ravizza and Dr. Tom Hanson co-authored the book Heads-Up Baseball 2.0 in 2017, which outlined many of Ravizza's techniques for athletes of all ages and ability levels.

"What I took away from him I still do it to this day," Floro said. "If you watch me with my glove, I use his breathing technique. I get set, take my deep breath and focus every now and then when I need to I find my focal point. Those are things I took from him."

"Ken Man was a true pioneer in the mental skills field for baseball and someone who I continually credit for helping me get where I am today," Giants third baseman Evan Longoria wrote in a social media post. "I'm eternally grateful for the things I learned from him. The baseball world lost a good one."

Staff Writer Bill Plunkett contributed to this report.

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